How Convicts Get Jobs Without Lying

get a job criminal recordsAccording to a 2010 survey by the Society for Human Resource Management, 73 percent of polled HR professionals said their company, or an agency hired by their company, conducted criminal background checks for all job candidates. That you may receive a background check upon applying for a job isn't noteworthy, but for job seekers with a criminal record it can feel like an inevitable uphill battle.

"While persons with a criminal record cannot be discriminated against, they may be prohibited from working in some industries such as health care and financial services," says Bruce Hurwitz, president and CEO of Hurwitz Strategic Staffing. "Except in rare cases, employers will want to do a background check on the candidate."

Yet not all hope is lost. Because you know a background check is likely coming, you can take steps to prove to hiring managers that you are an upstanding member of society. Ultimately employers want to know you have the skills necessary to be successful in the civilian workforce. Here are some ways to do so:

1. Look into getting your criminal record expunged.

Depending on the type of crime committed, it may be possible to get your criminal record expunged, or sealed. While this doesn't mean your record is erased completely, it does limit who can access it. Consult a legal professional about your options or visit your state government's website for more information. The website provides additional information on how this can be done and the process it takes to get one's record expunged.

2. Know everything about your conviction.

Donna Ballman, a Florida-based employment attorney and author of "Stand Up for Yourself Without Getting Fired," says it's important to know exactly what you've been convicted of and whether the record was expunged. "Lots of people have no idea [about] the actual charges that they were convicted of," Ballman says. "It makes a difference. If you don't care enough about your criminal record to explain the details, employers may assume you think committing crimes is okay."

3. Explore volunteer opportunities.

"If people want to shake the stigma of a questionable past, they need to find at least two civic organizations to volunteer at so they have solid references behind their applications," says David Perry, co-author of "Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters 3.0." "Six to 18 months of volunteer work -- and I do mean sincere volunteer work -- will go a long way in getting a useable reference."

4. Consider the type of company to which you're applying.

Depending on the type, size or management style of a company, it may or may not conduct a criminal background check or be more lenient in terms of accepting applicants with a criminal past. "Most applications ask whether you have been arrested or convicted of a crime," says Mary Greenwood, attorney, human resources director and author of "How to Interview Like a Pro." "Some will say felony so that conviction of a misdemeanor might be allowed."

John Millikin, clinical professor of management at Arizona State University's W.P. Carey School of Business, adds, "For a convicted felon, it may be better to look for something in small business, where you may have an opportunity to explain what happened directly to the owner."

5. Participate in a re-entry program.

There are programs available to help job seekers with a criminal record re-enter society and secure employment. One such initiative is the Prison Entrepreneurship Program, a Houston-based nonprofit whose mission is to "stimulate positive life transformation for executives and inmates, uniting them through entrepreneurial passion, education and mentoring." According to Jeremy Gregg, the organization's chief development officer, their "entrepreneurship boot camp" connects convicted felons with top executives, MBA students and politicians, and provides education, training and support. While this is just one example, search the Web for local organizations that offer similar services.

6. Be honest.

Perhaps the best piece of advice? Be honest. It's true for all job seekers -- whether you're talking about work history, references or past salaries. It's especially true for job seekers with a record. "If you fail to disclose a criminal record when asked, and you aren't allowed to say it didn't happen -- as with an expunction -- then the employer can fire you for failing to disclose it, even if you've worked there for years with no problems," Ballman says.

Adds Millikin: "A job seeker with a felony record who has 'paid his or her debt' should be transparent about it without having to wear it on his or her sleeve. You should mention it after real interest has been expressed in you but before you get an offer. You should always answer questions about it truthfully, and never act as if you are hiding something, as it is worse to have it exposed in a background check."

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While I do understand the need for scrutiny and security, hence performing background screening during the employment process. We have so many 20 year old HR managers and "apps" performing a litany of personality profiles, where we have lost the human communication and just "trusting your instinct" as a manager.
I am 48 years old, have a 15 year old felony that has been expunged and still have this come into play during a job search. I have a BS and an MBA and still 15 years later have problems getting employment. This case took 9 years to resolve and I was able to work without incident during the entire process. The crime occurred in 2000, final case sentencing was in 2009 after we worked and re-worked plea after plea. 2 years ago our company filed BK and our new ownership basically went through the hiring process with all staff members, resulting in not only my job loss, but even others with such trivial things as a bounced check. My expungement is basically a waste of paper. If an employer only pulls a local background check, my case is not revealed. If they pull a national search, it is revealed. Maybe ther states are different. I had 11 years with last my employer and now I have a file full of denials. I understand why people reoffend in certain instances. Maybe it is their only option, as they do not have a nest egg or family to fall back on. No one wants to live under a rock. These articles are a joke. No one essentially cares that you paid your debt to society (other than the judge) and you will forever be tarnished by your crime, regardless of how small or large it is. Most employers that are "felony friendly" are food service, packaging, driving or some other trivial job that doesn't permit you to support yourself or utilize your education. Really, I get it, don't get in trouble if you want to face the consequences.

June 14 2015 at 6:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

What a bunch of jackasses to think that felons are scumbags. What do you do? Probably sit around an preach to people about who's who. You obviously must be a Christian to say one thing and be another. What a load of **** especially the gardener comment. Probably did **** an dint get caught prolly cheating on his wife or boyfriend or his wife is sleeping around with an ex con lol. THE GARDENER... Sure he is lol. Ok back to the point people are people an human we make mistakes whether it be a crime or not paying a bill on time WE ARE HUMAN. besides there is a big markup for crime right now what money to be had off a criminals so give it a rest gardener guy sheeesh

February 28 2014 at 12:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

For a step-by-step guide on getting a job with a criminal record visit

April 30 2013 at 12:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The last person you'd want to hire is a felony gardener...imagine what that freaking scumbag might do to society!! "You grew what? Medicine? No such thing, unless it comes from Big Pharma! And had too many plants? I'd hire a serial killer first!! Eeeewwww!!!" How do you rehabilitate these scumbags who actually think they changed the drug laws, when we know there's no such thing as democracy for lowlife scum just because they vote! They legalize dope and get to pee in a cup and prove their "democracy" is a joke!! Nobody gets to "outlaw" fascism!! Fascists don't play the same rules! Sieg Heil!!

March 31 2013 at 11:11 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Jails, Prisons, Federal and State has become a hugh business for a few that are making billions with mens and womans that are paying their degt to society, but have punishment and no rehabilitation. The conditions of the Prison system in USA is almost as bad as in most of third world countries. Why is that we have the bigger prison population per capita in this planet??? Only when you have the disgraced to have someone you love in prison, you start to know the beastelity of the present system. The prison population do not descend, neither the crimes. Something is very sick in our society that needs to be cured.

November 06 2012 at 7:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
tim s

Bullshit. Your whole article is bullshit. Recidivism is at an all time high. Do not pretend like you know what the hell you are talking about.

October 16 2012 at 5:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to tim s's comment

Some convicted felons do NOT return to prison, bro. And some return to crime not because it's their first choice, but because of an inability to earn a living legitimately. And if a convicted felon is arrested and convicted of another offense, totally unrelated to any previous conviction, the sentence handed down is much harsher than on a person who is a first-time offender. What are YOU talking about? I'm talking about people who know they've made mistakes, not faceless numbers.

November 06 2012 at 6:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

And I bet you consider Sex Offenders the very worst, too, eh? Check:

After 15 years, there's an 85% chance that someone who molested a girl will have NOT re-offended.....I do think however, that having their names on the Internet with most States essentially perpetuating their "punishment" for LIFE could very easily CAUSE them to re-offend.......people have a tendency to ACT as they are treated.......if you treat them as SCUM, don't be surprised when they "try to live up to your expectations!!!"

November 10 2012 at 6:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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