Your Criminal Record Doesn’t Have to Hold You Back from Career Success

A criminal record can seriously mess up your life. It can cost you relationships, job prospects, and seriously deteriorate your finances. After all, if you can’t get a job you can’t afford to go on dates, purchase a home or apartment, or afford all the necessities in life. Even if you’re a college graduate, a criminal record can hurt your chances of being hired for jobs you’re qualified for and even those you’re overqualified for.

If a criminal record is ruining your life, you’re not without options. The following lists the things you can do to improve your situation. If you’ve changed, your mistakes shouldn’t haunt you forever. These tips can help you move forward and help you better your financial situation with the job you want and deserve.

Try to Get It Expunged

Every state across the United States has options for expunging criminal records. According to the experts at, record expungement is “powerful.” “If a person convicted of a crime that falls under the purview of a state’s expungement laws and they successfully expunge that record, then if they are asked on a job, rental or mortgage application if they have ever been arrested or convicted of a criminal offense, they can honestly answer ‘no.’”

That’s ideal, right? The records of your criminal offense will be completely destroyed. To be considered for expungement, you’ll need to fit several criteria. These criteria varies state to state, but in most cases you can’t have any new or pending charges, be in any diversion programs, or have any outstanding fines.

Network and Be Honest About Your Situation

If you’re finding that employers aren’t hiring you after background checks or are noting your criminal record on applications and not scheduling interviews, then you will benefit from closer relationships. Consider reaching out to friends and family members. Let them know the difficulties you’re facing and the changes you’ve made in life. They may have opportunities for you in their companies or can open the door somewhere else.

Networking events are another place to forge new relationships. Don’t beg for jobs. Instead make friends and new colleagues. Open up to those who you admire, let them know the troubles you’ve been having securing employment. Most of all, be an obvious go-getter. Put what you have to offer on display, so people know you’re a hard worker despite your pervious setbacks.

Be Candid When Interviewing

You should never lie about your criminal record, but how you mention it is important. You’ll want to bring it up as soon as possible; that way, it doesn’t look like you’re trying to hide anything. recommends bringing it up in the interview. “Most interviews begin with a general question like, ‘Tell me about yourself.’ Kick it off by mentioning two or three positive credentials in about 60 seconds, then divulge your record.”

The popular job search site offers a template for divulging this information. “I’d also like to bring your attention to the fact that I served [X] years of time… Here’s what I learned about that…” The link offers a more detailed template for what to say.

Build Your Skills

If you have skills that make you a real asset, skills that other job candidates may not have, your criminal record will matter less. Use the time you’re unemployed to build skills that will help you stand apart from other candidates. For example, if you’re in marketing, you could take free Google certification classes to build your online advertising skills. MOZ also offers free SEO marketing courses. These come with printable certifications, and others may not have made the effort.

There’s skill building opportunities in each and every job sector. If you bundle these skills with honesty and integrity, you should be able to overcome your past. Everyone makes mistakes, but it shouldn’t stop you from living a full life. Don’t let job search difficulties destroy your confidence, as confidence will be another asset during your job search.


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