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Finding a job is already stressful enough without the added pressures of worrying about if your criminal record is going to interfere with your ability to get hired.  Depending on what your crime was, when it happened, and the job that you’re applying for, there may be mitigating factors that employers will take into consideration. For instance, there’s a difference between a single instance of a crime 10 years ago, and a dozen convictions.  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 bank teller are slim to none.  With all this being said, having a criminal record should not deter you from seeking employment.  Following these tips can help the job hunt be a bit less stressful.

Know Your Record

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. The point is that you should be 100% sure of what your criminal background looks like on paper. This will keep you from disclosing anything that you don’t have to.

Take the proactive approach and run a background check on yourself to see the things that your potential employer might find.  Knowing exactly what your interviewer is seeing also gives you a great advantage. You will get the chance to think about the questions you will be asked and create good professional answers. There are a number of online sources you can use to run a background check on yourself.

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 shut. 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 and waiting for a job opportunity, it is a good idea to get back to your education and certifications. Just because you are a felon does not mean that you shouldn’t be interested in continuing your education. Technical jobs such as carpentry, electrical, plumbing, roofing and welding are easier to get with a felony record than blue collar jobs.  There are also many jobs in the technology field, that only care about a potential employee skill and less about other outside personal factors.  If you can do the job you are hired.

If you are looking to take college course, start by looking at a local and inexpensive community college. 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 in 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

There are many organizations that 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, small local 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 lost easier if you have verifiable references that can vouch for your character.  It is important that you chose 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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