How to Talk About Your Criminal Record
The job search alone is difficult enough, but the job search with a criminal record can be almost impossible. This is why it is important to understand the fine line between being honest and saying way too much. Your interview will be mainly about your past, so trying to avoid the subject altogether will do more harm than good. Therefore, whenever the moment comes about, there are a few tips you can use to explain your criminal record and still have a chance of getting the job.
Background Checks and Employment
In a 2009 study, approximately one-third of Americans have been arrested by their 23rd birthday, with a large majority of those arrests being nonviolent. While these nonviolent crimes are no threat to society, it still may show employers liability, which they will do anything to avoid. This eventually leads to difficulty in obtaining jobs and leads to re-incarceration later in life. This why finding a job that you can stick with shows other employers that you have learned from the past and moved on. Here are a few laws that pertain to the criminal history and background checks:
Civil Rights Acts of 1964
While this law deals mainly with discrimination, it also pertains to individuals with a criminal history as well. The act establishes that employers can use background checks in hiring decisions whenever the information is related to the job. This is to combat any employers that use someone’s criminal history to completely disqualify them from the job.
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
The EEOC states that criminal records can be incomplete. There are also many mistakes within criminal records, such as inaccuracies and other jurisdictions that overlap. This allows individuals with a criminal history to have equal opportunities when it comes to being hired.
Knowing this information can be extremely beneficial when interviewing for a job, but before you even get your foot in the door, you have to answer the dreaded criminal history question.
Handling the Job Application Criminal History Question
Filling out the criminal history section of the job application is a must because if left out and your employer finds out, it can mean the automatic dismissal of your application. This also can depend on when your conviction or arrest took place, which is why it is important to know the dates that are important before filling out an application.
Now, although there more than likely will be a criminal history question, read the question thoroughly; the question could pertain only to arrest, convictions, felonies, or even misdemeanors. Then figure out if it is just a yes or no question. If it is, you do not have to share the story on your application. If it is not, be honest, but you do not have to share details. Anything considered dishonest to your employer can easily be located online and will lead to dismissal of your application.
Write an Effective Letter About Your Criminal History
There are a few tips you can use to write an effective explanation letter about your criminal history:
Do Not Make Excuses
Blaming the arrest on anyone else but yourself just shows the employer that you have a tendency to not take accountability. Even if the arrest was not completely your fault, take the blame for your portion. This is a much more professional and righteous path to take.
Keeping It Brief
You do not have to go into full detail about everything that happened in the situation. Just give a brief summary of what happened and how it pertains to you. Going into detail about the situation may present the misconception that you are glorifying what happened and are somewhat proud of it.
Stress That You Have Changed
The past is the past, and stressing how you are not the same person can really show the employer that you have changed or want to change. Stress that you have learned from the experience and are looking forward to a positive future.
Along with writing a letter about your criminal history, using online reputation management can aid in getting rid of any personal information about you online.
Using Online Reputation Management (ORM)
A criminal record usually means a mugshot, which is plastered all over the search results for your name. Online reputation management (ORM) can help with removing a mugshot from busted newspaper (and many other sites) and allow you to present your best foot forward with employers. For more information on online reputation management needs, contact us!