Disclosing Your Criminal History in the Hunt for a Job
One in three Americans—nearly 100 million people—have a criminal history. Many adults have been arrested at least once by the age of 23. While arrests are widely disproportionate among different ethnicities and minority groups, many people with criminal records may experience discrimination during the job search.
The community has made efforts to encourage people with criminal records to be more confident in returning to life as a productive member of society, especially in the corporate world. A campaign called Ban The Box is even pushing for the prohibition of employers from asking applicants about their criminal history in the initial hiring process.
If you have been convicted of a criminal offense, the most important thing now is that you have already done your time. While you might still be uncomfortable talking about your criminal history, remind yourself that you will have to do it eventually. Therefore, you have to be prepared when your potential employer wants to know more about the details.
Discuss it personally
If the situation permits, it’s always good to disclose the details of your criminal history face-to-face, but if not, you may also discuss it through the phone or via zoom. Talking about your experience in a written form may result in a biased judgment about you. Make sure it’s two-way communication so you can invite them to ask more questions they have in mind so you can also correct their formed judgments.
Talk about it willingly and honestly.
During the discussion, let them know that you are grateful for the opportunity. Repay their kindness by being honest about the details. Don’t sugarcoat it because they will find out anyway.
If they conduct a background check and see that everything you’ve said is factual, they will appreciate you more for telling the truth. Most importantly, make sure you neutrally narrate the story—without any emotions from what has happened.
Mention it sooner in the process
Do not let the opportunity slip through your fingers. Do not mention your criminal history in your cover letter but declare it as soon as you are invited to the initial interview.
The “Tell me something about yourself,” part of the interview is the perfect time to mention this. Start with the unique qualities you have then insert brief information about your criminal record. Follow it up with valuable contributions you can bring to the company.
Discussing a criminal history can be more frightening than telling a story about previous job experience. Make your explanation brief. Although you are encouraged to be honest, you don’t have to disclose every dirty detail if it was not asked. Lastly, find the lesson in what you did and tell them how you have tried to improve yourself since then. You can improve this all by joining charitable organizations and participating in charitable activities.
Recreate your resume
If you’ve been jobless for a while now, the first thing you should do when searching for a job is to update your resume. There are many free templates online that can help. All you need to do is make sure that the details are accurate and error-free.
When you return to society, you are fully entitled to a good living and basic human necessities. While having past criminal records be challenging, you must be honest about it. Talking about your criminal history is never easy, but remember these tips and sit in the interview with confidence.
Fallen Valor coordinates with over 3,500 employers in Oklahoma to give career opportunities to people with past criminal records so they can have a better life back in society. Find your +fresh start with Fallen Valor.