How to Apply for a Job When You Have a Criminal Record

Nancy Anderson
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The job search process is already challenging, and if you add a criminal history into the mix, the process becomes even more stressful. When you're offered an interview, don't let panic set in as you think about how to handle the hiring manager's questions about your past. Follow these six tips for job seekers with a criminal history.

1. Review Your Criminal Record

Before you even send in an application or accept an offer for an interview, perform a background check on yourself to find out exactly what is listed as your criminal history. Contact the courts in the county of your arrest to request a copy of your case.

2. Investigate Having Your Record Expunged

After you determine what's listed on your criminal record, contact the courts again to find out if any of your charges can be expunged. If you complete probation, community service or other requirements set forth by the courts, you may be able to have the charges removed from your records. Be prepared to fill out forms or pay a fee to have this information removed.

3. Determine What the Potential Employer Is Asking

If an application asks you to list the details of any arrests or criminal convictions, provide the information that's shown on your criminal record. Play close attention to the application. Some potential employers may only require you to list felony charges. Check your record; if your crimes are misdemeanors, you might not have to disclose the information.

4. Tell the Truth

Never lie about your criminal history during a job interview. Potential employers have the ability to perform background checks, and most of them do. If you lie about even the most insignificant detail, it's a red flag to the hiring manager that you can't be trusted.

5. Provide an Explanation

While the hiring manager can perform a background check to see the charges on your criminal record, he doesn't receive a full rundown of the case. It may be uncomfortable, but it helps if you discuss the details honestly during your interview. Provide a brief explanation of the circumstances, and be open to answering any questions the hiring manager may have.

6. Send the Right Message

Take responsibility for your past mistakes, and avoid any language that blames someone else for your actions. Talk about what you learned from the experience or how you're making amends. For example, if you were once convicted of driving under the influence, discuss how you sponsor others through Alcoholics Anonymous.

Having a criminal history may complicate the job search process, but it doesn't have to stand between you and the job you want. Consider these six tips for handling the application and interview process when you have a criminal history to boost your chances of a successful outcome.

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