Getting a job when you have a criminal record may seem impossible, but you can do it if you accentuate your skills and positive attitude. You should also be prepared to explain how you were convicted. You'll never know if a company will hire you unless you try, and there are a few things you can do to give yourself an edge.
You should not try to hide a conviction from prospective employers. If they ask about it, be upfront and honest about the situation. Honesty is a good quality in any employee, and most interviewers appreciate and respect honesty. Besides, lying on certain government job applications is a crime. If you lie to get a job, you can later be fired if you're found out.
Some employers no longer ask upfront about a criminal record, but they may conduct background checks. Not every legal encounter will show up, especially if you weren't convicted. You may even encounter interviewers who want to give those who have made a mistake a second chance.
A good resume that focuses on your skills can overcome many weaknesses. It can also show your overall character. If you learned relevant skills while doing volunteer work, for example, placing those skills above work experience can get an employer's attention. Specific computer skills are relevant to most workplaces and can help enhance a resume too. If your work experience is thin or includes gaps, move the work history section to later in your resume. Make sure the document begins and ends with positive information.
If you were arrested but not convicted, you may be eligible for criminal record expungement. While eligibility varies by state, elimination of your criminal record may be possible if you were released without charges, if the charges against you were dismissed, or if you were found not guilty or were acquitted. A criminal record expungement attorney can look at your case and help you work through the options. There are fees involved, and an attorney can tell you if you have a good chance of success.
You may get many rejections during your job search. Most people do, but that's no reason to give up. Be persistent in filling out applications and in following up. All you need is one employer to give you a chance. Once you're in the door, you can use your employment status as a stepping stone to move up in that company, enhancing your resume and your skills. Having a job also puts you in a stronger position if you decide to apply at another firm later.
Many people find getting a job difficult, frustrating, and time-consuming. A criminal record complicates the process, but it doesn't have to derail it. If you can't get your record expunged, be honest and persistent as you let your positive attributes shine.