Finding a job was stressful enough, and now if you have a criminal record it becomes all the more difficult. Irrespective of whether you have been in prison or have had just a minor brush-through with the law, employers get reluctant to hire you the moment they discover there is any kind of criminal record involved. What other’s do would not be in your hand, but what is in your hands, is how you carry the record, and how you look for a job. With the right persistence and perseverance, finding a job, even if you have a criminal record may not be as impossible as it seems.
Be aware of your rights
You don’t have to let all the cats out of the bag, and you legally have a right to do that. Suppose your arrest is currently pending, or you are going through a pre-trial adjudication for an offence that is not criminal by statute, or you have had a minor drug offence and quite some years have passed since the conviction, or you have been able to erase your offence by obtaining a certificate of rehabilitation (or any other similar legally valid document). The same also would apply if you had been accused by a juvenile court and have now matured into a full-fledged adult citizen of the country. In this case, you may have to get your juvenile records sealed or expunged.
Getting offences expunged or sealed
Not only if you are juvenile, you could get your offences sealed or expunged even if the offence was committed as an adult. Get in touch with your attorney, parole/probation officer or public defender if this could be done so that the next time somebody asks you the conviction question, you can legally say ‘No’.
Get a good referral
Talk to people who you know may be hiring or they know people who might be hiring, so they can advocate for you. Your chances of getting a job get boosted multi-fold if you have somebody like that pitching for you.
If you know that a certain position, especially government jobs requires a clean record and that you wouldn’t qualify for it, it is better to eliminate the job from your list right away. It would do no good to have to face a rejection after facing some awkward questions. Let go of such opportunities and focus on the real ones that could work for you. But that doesn’t mean you just assume you will get rejected and let it go.
Take baby steps
A criminal record brings in certain reluctance in the employer to employ you, especially if the position involves considerable accountability and responsibility. However, the employer may have a lower paying position with less responsibility for which he may be willing to hire you. It might as well help you get your foot in the door from where you can make some space and push through as time passes. But you need to start small, with baby steps, before you can take giant strides to career growth.
Honesty is still the best policy
It is tempting to lie about the criminal record, but in the long run it is better to be honest about it. A large majority of employers has now taken to conduct background checks and they will dig up your record even if you lie about it, which would have you cut a sorry figure later. In fact, lying on some of the applications could be a criminal offence!
If nothing works, get self-employed. Start taking up freelance assignments in your area of expertise/interest. Or if you have the available means and resources, why not start up that business of your own that you had always dreamt of. It’s time you took a chance and took the plunge.
Going the military way
Joining the military and serving the nation is also a good option. Depending on the types and numbers of offences, there is a scope to avail a waiver that would let you join the armed forces. Military life is dangerous but has its own set of benefits.
Having a criminal record is not the end of the world, there is a life even after getting convicted. If you look in the right places with the right attitude, while being patient and perseverance, you can always start life afresh.