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The LowDown

Tips on Getting A Job with a Criminal Record

Feb 20, 2019 | The Lowdown | 0 comments

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Close-up Of Person Applying for a job with a criminal record.

Hearing the infamous words, “We are going to run a background check.” can make anyone panic. The added pressure of worrying about your criminal record makes finding a job 10 times more stressful. Then depending on your background check, your past criminal record can interfere with your ability to get hired.

Temp agencies that hire felons tend to be a bit more understanding and realize that there are mitigating factors to take into consideration. The majority of the time, if your crime is related to the position you are applying for, it can disqualify you from the job. For example, if you were convicted for theft, then the chances of you being hired as a bank teller are slim to none. There is also a difference between a single instance of a crime 10 years ago and a dozen felony convictions. With all this being said, having a criminal record should not deter you from seeking employment. Finding a staffing agency that is felon friendly is the most straightforward portion of your job hunt. It is getting the job offer. Following these tips can help the job hunt be a bit less stressful.

Know Your Record

The most important thing to realize that not every single charge, ticket, or infraction will show up on a background check. This is often true if you were convicted outside of the state that you are currently living in. You should be 100% sure of what your criminal background looks like on paper. This will keep you from talking about anything that you don’t have too. Also, knowing what your interviewer is seeing gives you an advantage. You will get the opportunity to think about the questions and create good answers. There are many online sources you can use to run a background check on yourself.

Remember, not everyone that is turned away from a job based on a criminal record has a criminal record. A criminal background check may result in incomplete or inaccurate information. For a small fee, you can order a criminal background check using a third party like Checkr, Good Hire, or your local State Bureau of Investigation. Take the proactive approach and run a background check on yourself to see if there are any inaccuracies. Later on, we are going to discuss the ways you can fix the errors on a background check.

Felony Disclosure: When and What to tell

Always ask, “How does your hiring process work?” This question will give you a lot of insight as to whether a company runs background checks on potential employees.

Sometimes it is best, to be honest about your felony background and sometimes you should just keep your mouth closed. This is a judgment call that you will have to make on the spot. If you think that they will run a background check then you need to say something. If they are needing someone ASAP and they never mention anything then just let it go.

Education and Certifications

While looking for a job opportunity, it is a good idea to get back to your education. It doesn’t matter if it is college, trade school, or certification classes. A criminal record should not stop you from continuing your education or trade skills. Light industrial jobs such as carpentry, electrical, plumbing, roofing, and welding are great examples. Employers tend to hire from a variety of talent pools, regardless if you are skilled or unskilled. There are also many jobs in the technology field, that only care about a potential employee skill an3d less about other outside personal factors. If you can do the job you are hired.

If you are looking to take college courses, look at your local community colleges. It is not a bad idea to take classes to keep your skills up to date. Take a training program, or complete your GED if you still need it. This is extremely important to employers. It shows you are making progress in a positive direction.


Communication is such an important key to getting a job. Make sure you take time in your interview to ask questions and show your interest in the company. Show the interviewer that you will be an asset to the company and that your skills are valuable.

Re-Entry Programs and Community Organizations

Many organizations are given a tax break by the government to hire ex-felons so look out for such organizations as you will have much less of a difficulty finding a job there. Specifically, this tax break is primarily given during the first year after conviction or release. Also, local small businesses will be more welcoming than larger ones. Large companies often need to comply with strict processes and procedures for hiring. It is completely ok to start from the bottom and work your way up to the top.

Get References

Finding and landing a job is a lot easier if you have verifiable references that can vouch for your character. It is important to choose references that are solid and able to communicate clearly to potential employers about your value. Good references will be able to describe your previous jobs, skills, and qualifications, and your abilities to perform at this potential job.

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