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A Helpful Guide on How to Get a Job With a Criminal Record

How to get a job with a criminal record

March 20 2020 - Did you know†77 million Americans†have a criminal record?

The number may seem staggering, but many of these citizens are ready to work and contribute to society again.

If you hold a criminal record, itís completely possible to find a fulfilling job in your new life. You have specific rights, and there are organizations on your side to get you where you want to be.

You may face unique challenges as you search for jobs, apply, and interview. Our guide will help you understand how to get a job with a criminal record and the steps to make it an easier journey.

How to Get a Job With a Criminal Record

In the U.S., former criminals can face prejudice. Some hiring managers may think that a former criminal won't succeed at a job.

Getting a job with a criminal record should begin with understanding your rights and recognizing injustice.

As a former criminal, youíre still entitled to a job without facing discrimination. Federal and state laws exist to give you an equal opportunity for certain positions.

But, itís important to know that some types of jobs wonít hire someone with a criminal record. This includes finance and government jobs.

Finding the job thatís right for you comes down to looking in the right places and getting help along the way.

Understanding Your Rights as a Former Criminal

Two main laws protect your rights while searching for a job.

The†Fair Credit Reporting Act of 1970†places requirements on anyone who runs credit checks and criminal background checks. On criminal records, arrests arenít allowed to be reported if theyíre more than seven years old. This rule applied to all positions unless the applicant will make more than $75,000 per year.

Because of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, organizations have to let you know when they use your credit or criminal record for any use.

If an employer decides not to hire you based on information from your record, they have to tell you. Furthermore, if you believe there is an error on your report, youíre entitled to dispute the information. You can request a proper investigation to fix the information provided.

The second law that offers protection for job applicants is Title VII, which is enforced by the†Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

This act was passed in 1964 during the Civil Rights Movement. There isnít a federal law that protects against discrimination based on criminal backgrounds. Title VII protects against racial discrimination that may be associated with criminal convictions.

Through Title VII, the EEOC lays out guidelines for employers. The law requires companies to assess former offenses, severity, the amount of time since a conviction or sentence, and the nature of the desired job.

Employers are discriminating if they have a policy in place that negatively affects certain races.

Title VII bans disparate treatment and makes it subject to legal action. Disparate treatment includes racist background checks or different interviewing procedures based on race.

For certain types of convictions, you may also have the right to expunge or seal your criminal record. To do so, youíll need to contact your local clerkís office as the process may differ from state to state.

Expunging will clear your record. Sealing your record means that it isnít available to the public. Keep in mind that federal crimes are not eligible.

Expunging your record may be one of the†reasons you need a lawyer†to help maintain your rights.

Before you begin your job hunt, take a look at your stateís specific laws about job eligibility for former criminals. You may find that they have additional protections in place to prevent discrimination.

Thirteen states have laws that prohibit questions about criminal history on job applications.

These laws allow nearly†258 million Americans†to a more fair chance at being hired.

Know Where to Look for a Job

Some types of jobs will not allow employees with criminal records under any circumstances.

To increase your success rate, only apply to the types of jobs that are more likely to hire former criminals.

Before you start sending out applications, do your research. Are there certain industries that ban employees who've committed similar crimes?

State laws may differ, but the following industries are significantly less likely to hire former criminals:

  • Education
  • Government
  • Health and Child Care
  • Law Enforcement
  • Finance and Banking

Serious crimes like domestic violence and sexual battery are banned from these industries. Many companies these days are more lenient with substance abuse records.

Make your job hunt easier by focusing on the industries that are more likely to hire people with criminal records. This includes restaurants and bars, manufacturing, and retail.

While you're choosing jobs to apply for, focus on more behind-the-scenes jobs.

For example, a grocery store will be more likely to hire you for a stocking and inventory position. At restaurants and bars, many kitchen staff includes people with criminal records.

Donít be discouraged when applying for these types of jobs. If you have a goal job in mind you may be able to work your way up with the same company through diligence and hard work.

Getting Help for Your Job Search

The job search is difficult for everyone, and itís important to know youíre not alone.

Many organizations and government resources assist to help former criminals get back on their feet and back into society.

Get started by finding the local organizations dedicated to helping with your job search. City governments sometimes have reentry councils. These help citizens leaving prison by providing resources for education, employment, and entrepreneurship.

Some nationwide companies†like†Goodwill†even offer comprehensive plans for those formerly incarcerated. Goodwill offers basic education classes, occupational skill training, and job placement.

When youíre searching for a job, these programs can help you develop a resume and practice your interview skills. You must be honest and open in your interviews while also understanding your rights against discrimination.


Understanding how to get a job with a criminal record can feel overwhelming, especially if youíre transition into society.

Getting hired with a criminal record is not impossible, and it just takes some planning, persistence, and help. Always remember that youíre not alone and there are free resources available for you to use.

If youíre interested in learning more about human resources throughout the U.S., visit HRM Guide today.

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