In today’s “who you know” economy, the job search process has become extremely difficult and stressful. Employers are very hesitant to hire those with background issues, but with the right preparation and persistence, you can land a job even if you have a criminal record.

Know your rights before you apply.

There are situations where you don’t have to tell a potential employer about your background. These situations may include:

  • When there is no pending arrest or when there is no conviction
  • A pre-trial adjudication for a non-criminal conviction
  • A minor drug offense where years have passed since conviction
  • The offense has been erased via a certificate of rehabilitation or a similar document
  • A juvenile court conviction and as an adult you can have your juvenile records sealed or expunged.

Adults who’ve committed offenses can pursue record sealing or expungement.

The Law Office of Kevin M. Cobbin can help you get your offense removed or expunged from your record so that you can legally and ethically answer “no” to conviction questions. (In the common law legal system, an expungement proceeding is a type of lawsuit in which a first time offender of a prior criminal conviction seeks that the records of that earlier process be sealed, thereby making the records unavailable through the state or federal repositories.)

Build your network and connect with your existing relationships.

Friends or family members may be hiring or know someone who is. Ask friends and family to hire you or to advocate for you. Your chances of finding work are much higher when you talk with someone who is interested in helping you.

Don’t pursue jobs where you will automatically be disqualified.

Your background may not allow you to apply for some positions, especially jobs requiring security clearances, military jobs, positions in insurance, banking or jobs working with children.

  • Be realistic and don’t waste time on pursuing jobs where you aren’t qualified and you’ll avoid discouragement. Evaluate your qualifications beforehand.
  • Research is important and you don’t want to assume that your record will disqualify you from holding a particular job or position.

Jobs that don’t require security clearance should be your priority.

Pursue “behind the scenes” positions as opposed to money handling positions or positions in the face of customers or clients. Focus your job search on positions where you won’t have to deal directly with customers or the public. Once you’ve established a good track record with a company, you can apply for a higher role.

Entry-level may be a good start.

Positions with a lot of responsibility may not be a hiring manager’s first choice for you. However, that hiring manager may be willing to give you a chance in an entry-level role.

  • Most challenges may not be related to your conviction, but rather your time between jobs. Returning to a previous career may require additional training to be competitive for the same job opportunity. Seek out ways to gain new skills or sharpen old ones.
  • Entry level may not sound appealing, but once you get your foot in the door, you’ll have a chance to move up. You can also use the time and experience to build your resume.

Honesty is the best policy.

You must resist the temptation to stretch the truth about your background.

  • Employers conduct background checks and even if you’re hired, a background check can lead to being fired even after being on the job for a period of time.
  • Remember lying on applications is a criminal offense.
  • Whether in an interview or a job application, find an opportunity to explain your situation. Everyone has challenges in life and you’d be surprised on what honesty and explanation can do for you. An interviewer may be interested in helping someone who is motivated by a job opportunity and committed to overcoming background challenges.