Job Hunting With A Criminal Record: Everything You Need to Know

Job Hunting With A Criminal Record: Everything You Need to Know

Under any circumstances, finding a job is challenging. But when you have a criminal record, obtaining employment is even more difficult. No matter how much you try to run from your past, your record will follow you. It's important to know that there are ways to find employment, regardless of your criminal history. However, there are certain things you should know before you get started on the job hunt.

What's the Purpose of a Background Check?

The reason it's difficult for people with criminal records to find employment is the fact that most employers run background checks. And can you blame them? Employers want to know that they're hiring someone they can trust. By looking into your criminal history, employers can learn whether or not you've been trustworthy in the past.

You may know that you're more than your criminal history. However, a prospective employer doesn't know otherwise. There's less risk for them to hire someone if they choose a candidate with a clear criminal history.

Know the Laws

During the job search, you're bound to be subject to a background check. However, it's crucial to know the limitations of an employer and to understand your rights.

First, you should realize that there's no national database of felony convictions. That said, most states make criminal background details readily available. To find federal court records, an employer can check the Public Access to Court Records Electronic Records system. They may use the system to identify civil or criminal cases.

Check into local state laws to determine if your state has any restrictions to accessing records. Typically, there are a few laws regarding what employers can check. Some states only allow prospective employers to look back for a period of five years. Others limit their searches to felonies only, which means that misdemeanors are confidential.

Arrest Records

If you were arrested but never faced a conviction, there's a record of your arrest. According to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, that arrest could be used against you. Employers can use arrest records that date back up to seven years for hiring decisions.

Once again, this depends on your state. In certain states, arrest records are off limits based on where the arrest occurred.

DMV Records

It's worth mentioning that your DMV record could come into play. If you have a DUI, speeding ticket, or moving violation, an employer can find out about it. Generally, a job opportunity that involves driving on-the-job will demand a DMV record search.

Your Record Might Not Come Up

As you look for employment, you might be certain that your record will be an issue. But there's a chance that your record won't even be mentioned. Today, more and more states have "ban-the-box" laws. They don't believe that a background check should be permitted until the final step of the hiring process. As a result, you have an opportunity to prove that you're the right fit for the job.

Additionally, there are some employers that don't run background checks. It all depends on the type of job you're seeking. For a corporate position, you are almost guaranteed to have a background check. But for a small start-up, you may not have any background check. If you truly have concerns about your criminal history, seek out positions that are less likely to require background checks.

When you start the job search, it's best to have a positive mentality. Sure, your background could hurt you. But you might impress the hiring manager enough to overcome any opinions they have about your history. They may never even find out about it. If you can remain positive, your prospects will be better.

How Will Your Background Impact Your Job Hunt?

Assuming your criminal history is discovered, it might not keep you from getting a job offer. Most employers take the time to consider the crime and any mitigating factors. For example, you could have a conviction for a prank you played 20 years ago. In this case, the employer may overlook the crime.

On the other hand, multiple theft convictions from two years ago won't give an employer much incentive to hire you. The more recent the crime, the more it could hurt your chance of gainful employment.

The Position Matters

The employer also considers how your crime relates to your position. For instance, you could have an embezzlement conviction. Applying for a job as an accountant isn't a good idea, because your crime directly relates to the position.

To limit the impact of your conviction, apply for a position that has no connection to your crime. After learning about your record, the hiring manager is more likely to hire you.

Know What You're Getting Into

Do you know what shows up on a background check? Before you start looking for employment, be proactive. Run a background check on yourself. Analyze the results and look for errors. It's possible that the background check will mismatch you with someone else's background.

If you have a sealed or expunged record, make sure it doesn't show up in the document. You can dispute an error with the company, or consult with a lawyer.

By knowing what will show up on your background check, you can have more confidence. You may not have as much to fear as you expect.

You Can Make the Most of the Situation

Is your criminal record an asset? Probably not. However, it doesn't need to keep you from finding a job. All of the following tips can help you get work, despite your record:

When you do your job search, look for jobs that might not run background checks. Steer clear of jobs that directly related to your conviction.

Explain the Situation

It can't hurt to explain more about your conviction. If you learned from your mistake, let the hiring manager know that. They'll appreciate the fact that you own up to your errors.

Overcome Your Record

Let your personality, skills, and experience overcome your criminal record. If you can he impressive enough, the hiring manager might hire you anyway. There is hope for a bright future.

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