If you have ever been on the hunt for a new job, you know the search is not easy. It's even more difficult to find a great job when you have prior convictions tarnishing your public record. After all, it's no secret that many employers conduct background checks on potential candidates for jobs. They want to know what kind of trouble, if any, you have gotten into over the years and how that will impact your job with them. Because your criminal record is public information, anyone can do a quick search online to find out about your troubled past.
While that may seem pretty discouraging, you don't have to let it get you down. Despite having a few convictions on your record, you can still land yourself a good job. To help you understand more about background checks and the details employers can obtain, keep reading the information below.
Conducting Background Checks
While not all employers conduct background checks on potential employees, many of them will. There are certain jobs that absolutely require background checks in order to be considered, including: nurse, childcare provider, and positions within the public school. Of course, there are many other jobs that will require background checks as well. These positions tend to have strict requirements that need to be met in order to be chosen for the job, so they will look carefully at your criminal history. In some cases, criminal charges can even prevent you from obtaining certain licenses you might need for a job. If this happens to you, you can appeal in an attempt to still get the license.
The reality is, many employers will turn you down for a job based on your criminal record. Although they are not supposed to discriminate and should choose the best person for the job, it does not always happen that way. In the end, it is ultimately the employer's choice on who gets the job.
What Can an Employer Find Out From Your Criminal Record?
As mentioned above, anyone can go online and do a quick search to pull up your criminal record, as much of the information is available for the public to see. When an employer conducts a background search for a potential employee, he or she will find a list of your arrests from the past seven years. They can also find details surrounding any previous convictions you have had, no matter how long ago they occurred.
Employers will not be able to find out information about arrests that occurred more than seven years prior. They will also not be able to pull up details on records that were erased or expunged.
Handling Questions About Your Criminal History
If you are on the hunt for a new job, you have probably completed a lot of applications and had some in-person interviews. By now you have likely realized your criminal history is an important aspect when applying for jobs. It's rare that you will find a job application that does not ask about your criminal record and the question will often come up during job interviews. So, how should you handle it?
The best thing you can do is to always tell the truth about your criminal history. Lying about your past will likely get you into even more trouble if you were to receive the job and the truth were to come out later. This would most likely result in the loss of your job due to lying about the information on your criminal record.
Instead, be honest about your past. Take the opportunity to explain any wrongdoings. You should also use this as a time to let the company or the person conducting the interview know that you are a good employee and that your criminal record would never stand in the way of you doing your job. Let them know you have learned from your mistakes and are a better person now. The reality is, we all make mistakes and you can make a positive change in your life. You just need to make sure a potential employer sees that change in you.
Because your criminal history, including past felonies and misdemeanors, will more than likely come up on a job application or in an interview, there is no excuse for not being prepared. Think about what you would say in the event you are asked about your criminal record and prepare an answer in advance so you don't fumble or mess up the opportunity to show that you can be a great, hard-working employee. Coming into a job interview with a list of references is also great in this instance because you can have others vouch for you, which just might land you the job.
Can a Criminal Record be Erased or Expunged?
It is possible to have your criminal record erased or expunged. By doing this, the conviction you received will not show up on your criminal record and will not be found by potential employers conducting background checks. However, not all types of records can be erased.
If you were found not guilty, you can get the record erased. You can also erase records in the instance of cases that were dismissed or thrown out, cases that have been nolled for at least 13 months, or in cases where you were a youthful offender and the incident occurred before the age of 21.
For an expungement, there is a timeline in which you will have to wait before applying for an expungement. You will have to wait three years for a misdemeanor and five years for a felony offense. You can also look into getting a provisional pardon, which does not erase your criminal record, but can make it easier for you to secure employment.
You can contact the court or an experienced attorney about getting criminal records erased or expunged. This is something you will want to look into if you are worried about potential employers finding out the details surrounding prior convictions.