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Overcoming a Criminal History

Diversity and Inclusion 11.29.21 Morales Group

Most companies run background checks on potential employees. Potential employers tend to frown upon a criminal record and will often not hire anyone with a criminal record. Some landlords, lenders, and attorneys may also run a background check before enlisting new clients. Background checks do not just show conviction records—they may also show previous arrest records. Some people may be lucky to get their criminal records expunged, but what if yours cannot? A criminal record can significantly impact your socio-economic status long after you have served your time. Here are a few ways as a past offender, you can overcome a criminal history.

1. Honesty Is The Best Policy.

Be ready to tell the truth about your criminal record. Employers have the legal right to use criminal records from the last seven years against you. Lying about your criminal records will reduce your chances of getting hired. Employers may overlook previous criminal records for the right candidate, but they definitely will not offer the job to a liar.

At the interview, calmly answer any questions regarding your criminal past without going into the details. Focus your answers on the amount of time that has passed since the offense. Do not forget to mention any progress you have made since then. It would help if you practiced your interview by answering mock interview questions.

2. Equip Your Resume with Letters Of Recommendation

A letter of recommendation from a respected and responsible member of society can help increase your chances of getting hired. Your letter of recommendation should speak to the strength of your character and exceptional abilities. Ask your letter writers to be as specific as possible regarding your personality and character. Suitable candidates can be previous employers, landlords, and prominent members of society.

3. Know Your Legal Options

As an ex-offender, you still have legal rights when seeking employment, looking for housing, or looking for financial aid. Depending on the state you live in, your landlord or employer may be allowed to use criminal records from seven years back as grounds to turn you away. The rule of thumb is that employers will use your record to deny you employment only if the offense is reasonably related to the position you are seeking.

An employer can ask you about your criminal record during an interview but should not ask discriminatory questions. In California, it is illegal for an employer to ask you about an arrest record. Ensure that all questions are relevant to the interview and the job opening in question.

4. Seek the Services of an Employment Agency

Most employment agencies are willing to help ex-offenders get employment. Federal, state, and local agencies know how important it is to get reformed ex-convicts integrated back into society. The agencies may offer training programs and coaching sessions that improve your chances of getting employed. Employment agencies also have established relationships with employers. The agencies can leverage these long-standing relationships to get their justice-involved applicants a job opportunity. Employers are often willing to hire qualified employees that fit the job requirements regardless of previous criminal offenses. Companies want value for their money.

5. Your Criminal Record Can be an Asset.

Did you know that federal law authorizes tax credits for hiring ex-offenders? Now you know. Employers also get reimbursed for training ex-offenders for a job. In addition, employers stand a chance to win a grant for providing services to former convicts. These incentives allow ex-offenders to use their criminal record as an asset when looking for employment. Companies that hire ex-offenders have stated that they can be loyal, hard-working, and diligent employees. Do not be discouraged by the low odds of getting a job; as long as you stay optimistic, change your ways, and remain a hard-working employee, you should be able to secure a job in no time.

6. Confidentiality

It is essential to remain discreet about your criminal record. Ex-offenders should only share details of their criminal activities and incarceration on a need-to-know basis. Some people may use this information against you for their gain. The workplace is usually a pretty competitive environment, and it’s key to remember that your past is your private matter and information.

Bottom Line

There is increasing support from activists demanding employers ask potential employees about their criminal history. Ban the box is a nationwide movement fighting to have the check box asking if applicants have criminal records removed. This initiative is aimed at making it easier for ex-offenders to get integrated back into society. States also offer clean slate programs that can help ex-convicts clear their records by expungement, destruction, or closure of records. Should these initiatives work, convicts will find it easy to find jobs, seek higher education and get financial aid from lenders.

Diversity and Inclusion 11.29.21 Morales Group