How to address your criminal record during your job search

May 11th, 2012

As if the fierce competition in the job market weren’t enough, job seekers with criminal records face an added hurdle to finding employment. Whether your criminal record stems from a minor incident years ago or a pattern of behavior that you have overcome, here is some advice for addressing your past as you navigate the path to your next job.

Be honest

Your resume should include an accurate representation of your employment and educational experience. For job seekers who used time in prison for training or academic courses, you should include that in your resume. The same applies for work experience while incarcerated; include your job title and skills used in that position.

Be advised that this may signal to an employer to ask you about any past convictions, and that would open up the chance for you to give a brief description of your record, followed by an explanation of what you learned and how you have been rehabilitated. Lying by omission is still a lie, and companies routinely run background checks on job candidates. Being caught in a lie will cost you a job, and people within an industry do talk to each other. Word that you were untruthful could get to other potential employers.

Be positive

During an interview, a hiring manager may address gaps in your employment.  Mention any rehabilitative or educational opportunities that you worked through during those periods. Being dishonest on an application or in an interview would be cause for

No matter in what part of the interview process that happens, you should be prepared to give a solid and coherent answer. Practice it, and be sincere and thoughtful in your response. Conveying a sense of optimism, both about your situation and your future, can be infectious, and will leave a better impression on an interviewer. There are few people in this world who have not needed a second chance at some point, and there are many employers out there who understand that.

Be prepared

You do have rights, which vary by state, about what employers can and can’t ask you about your arrest and conviction record. As you search for a job, make sure you are aware of those specific rights, either by speaking to a lawyer, a parole officer, or your state’s attorney general’s office or department of labor. These resources, along with members of your church or local professional organizations, can be of great help to you as you look for a job.

During your job search, your criminal record may hold you back, but don’t let it stop you. Take each day, each interview and each opportunity as it comes.

For employers and job seekers who have questions about addressing a criminal record when filling a position, ask Olympic Staffing how we can help you.