Sometimes people make mistakes that they spend years trying to fix. You might be in this position if you have a criminal record and are now trying to build a better life. Having a criminal record can hold you back from achieving your employment goals even if you were not convicted of violent crimes or have not been in trouble in years.
If you are having difficulty finding employment, you should consider becoming a volunteer. Search for organizations that will allow you to volunteer your time. Volunteer work will be a good way to demonstrate that you are making a fresh start. It will also provide you with the opportunity to start networking and making connections for when the time comes that you need to provide references for a job.
Consider stepping into any employment role if you are hitting a dead wall for your employment goals. Obviously, you do not want to work a low-paying job for long. However, having a job will help you to rebuild your employment history. Once again you can start building a list of supervisors and coworkers so that you can demonstrate your strong work ethic and positive working relationships when you apply for a better job.
Do not try to hide the fact that you have a criminal record. You can be fired (and for some jobs it can even be a criminal offense) if you lie and say that you do not have a criminal record. There can be some exceptions to this rule, such as having an arrest expunged from your record or a sealed file from when you were a juvenile. If you feel you have a situation in which you do not need to divulge your criminal record, you should first consult with your attorney to discuss all legalities.
Be open and honest with an interviewer if you must tell them about your criminal record. Let them know that the crimes you committed are in the past. You are working to live a better life. Talk from your heart and explain why you are working to improve your life through good actions and a better job. Being sincere about where you have been and where you are going can go a long way in helping you to overcome your past.
Do not try to make excuses for anything on your criminal record. If you believe you were innocent of a crime but were found guilty and served the time, do not try to convince a potential employer that you were actually innocent. Do not comment that you committed a crime while under the influence of alcohol or drugs and did not know what you were doing. Comments such as those will not help your case.
Provide outstanding references on your application. Work hard to secure well-respected references before starting your job search. Talk to people who know firsthand that you have changed or who know that you made some mistakes but were always a good person. It is best to find some references from professionals in your community whose opinions will be valued.
You realize that it is not going to be easy to obtain good employment after serving time in prison. With some hard work, honesty and dedication, however, it is not impossible.
A career change can be liberating. However, it can also be expensive once you factor in a potentially lower income and the cost of going back to school. Yet not all career changes have to involve classes.
Check out our career change guide to learn if a career change is right for you.