Job Hunting with a Felony Conviction: Should You Tell?

Job Hunting with a Felony Conviction: Should You Tell?

Finding a job in a difficult economy can be challenging for the unemployed. Finding a job with a felony offense on your record adds considerably to that challenge. Strategies to overcome a conviction and land a job should be focused on securing an interview. Face-to-face contact with a would-be employer is your best opportunity to show there is more to you than your past mistake.

Should You Tell?

Many times a job application will ask if you've been convicted of a crime. It is important to read the question carefully before answering. Sometimes the question will ask about specific kinds of criminal offenses, such as theft or fraud. Sometimes the question may ask about offenses within a certain period, say the past five or ten years. Answering the question as it is asked may allow you to be truthful without having to divulge information about your conviction. If you choose to withhold information or lie about your criminal record, you can be caught during a background check and forfeit any chance you may have had to explain.

Explaining Your Past

When explaining your felony conviction, include your regret and what you learned as a result. Your best bet in overcoming a criminal record is showing the representative of the company with whom you are speaking that the situation was an opportunity for growth from you. Offering excuses or downplaying the events or the punishment can project an image that you are likely to re-offend. You should use the record to describe the ways in which you have changed, how you approach life and work, and an appreciation for the opportunities that you still have.

Other Avenues to Employment

Seek avenues to employment that may not conduct criminal background checks. If you wish to work for a company, find a temporary agency or contractors that provide services for the company. The goal is to allow those who would be deciding to hire you that you have value not represented by your application or resume. Being able to show what you can do will go a long way to diminishing the impact of revealing your felony record.

Get Help

Contact your local or state department of labor and inquire about programs designed to provide support for job seekers with a criminal record. Tap your personal resources for references. If you have an associate who will vouch for you to a prospective employer, use their endorsement to secure an interview.

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