How to Successfully Apply for Work with a Criminal Record


Job hunting is challenging for most people, but for those with a criminal record, it can seem almost mission impossible. The overwhelming majority of employers run background checks on their potential hires, so if you have a spot on your record, you can be pretty sure that it will come up as part of the check. 

Having a criminal record, however, is not a death sentence. There are ways that you can mitigate your record and find good-paying, secure jobs that match your skillset.  

The Good News 

According to a survey by the Society for Human Resource Management, more than 80 percent of managers think that people with criminal records bring just as much value to organizations as those without. This means that for the millions of Americans who have criminal records, the tide is changing and there are more opportunities than ever before. 

As of 2020, California has become the first state to introduce legislation allowing more than 8 million people with stained criminal records to obtain professional licenses that can be used to earn a living.  

Know Where to Look


The first step in finding a job if you have a criminal record is to focus on fields that are traditionally open to hiring people with criminal pasts. Logistics, manufacturing, cooking, and technology are massive industries that are typically receptive to hiring those with criminal records. 

Americans with felony convictions will generally find it harder to find jobs in finance, healthcare, government, and law enforcement. But some companies are known for being criminal-record friendly. Ace Hardware, Olive Garden, Sprint, and PetSmart are just a few of the large retailers that are known to hire people with previous misdemeanor or felony convictions. 

Start at the bottom with entry-level roles that allow you to get your foot in the door at a company while working your way up to better positions.  

Be Transparent

Run a background check on yourself so that you can see exactly what a prospective employer might see. Be upfront with your potential employer. Check the box on the application that indicates that you have a criminal record. If you make it to the interview, you will know that this employer is willing to hire you despite your past. 

If the question comes up in the interview, you can acknowledge your record, but quickly move on to discuss how your skill set will benefit the company and the positive work history that you have had since your conviction.  

Know the laws in your state. In some states, you only have to mention crimes for which you have been convicted, not simply charged. In others, you only have to disclose misdemeanors. Review the wording on the application and know what is required before you give a job interview.  

Reach Out 

Perhaps you have friends who own a restaurant, or you know how to fix certain heating and cooling systems. Start with your social network first and use this network as a way to work your way to positions with more responsibility. 

Good references from your previous employer will go a long way when it comes to convincing new employers to hire you post-conviction.  

Talk to an Attorney 

Asking an attorney to help you post-conviction can be beneficial for several reasons. First, you and your lawyer will discuss the laws in your home state and how they may apply to finding and keeping certain positions with a criminal record. You might even sue some potential employers for discrimination. In addition, a lawyer can help you read through applications during your search and contracts after you have been hired.  

Nevertheless, the best defense is a good offense. Don’t let drug possession or other minor charges leave an ugly stain on your criminal record. An aggressive attorney like Houston criminal defense lawyer Jay Blass Cohen will be able to find cracks in the police report or the prosecution’s case and help keep their clients criminal records in pristine condition. Call for a free consultation today!


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