Applying For A Job With A Criminal Record: Important Dos And Don’ts

If you have a conviction on your record--whether it be a misdemeanor or felony--you may be understandably concerned about your ability to find a job once you've done your time or received your sentence. While gaining employment with a criminal record isn't easy, there are some important things you can keep in mind and steps you can take to increase your chances of success. From there, you can get on with your life and work towards a successful career.

DO Look Into Expungement

First of all, understand that depending on where you live, you could be eligible to have your conviction expunged. This means that your criminal record will essentially be sealed so that you can legally answer the question of whether or not you've ever been convicted of a crime with "no." Keep in mind that expungement is generally only available for certain misdemeanor crimes. If you think you could be eligible, speak with your criminal defense attorney for assistance with filing the necessary paperwork.

DON'T Lie on Your Application

The worst thing you can do is to lie on your job application about your criminal record. If you falsely answer "no" to a question about crime convictions when you have convictions on your record, your potential employer will most likely find out about it during a background screening. At that point, you'll be terminated from your position and sent back to square one of your job search. It's not worth the risk, especially considering that most employers run background checks these days.

DO Attach a Cover Letter

If you're submitting a job application where you've had to disclose that you have a criminal record, you might want to consider attaching a cover letter that briefly explains your criminal convictions, along with what you've done to improve your life since then and why you're still a viable candidate for the job. You should also include in your cover letter that you're willing to speak further about the convictions in an interview, if so desired.

DON'T Skim the Application

Finally, be sure to read questions on a job application carefully so you don't disclose anything that you don't need to disclose. For example, many job applications these days will only ask about felony convictions, so if you only have misdemeanors on your record, you don't have to disclose these. Furthermore, some applications will ask specifically about drug or sex crime convictions.