How to Get a Job With a Criminal Record

While not everyone has a perfect record, it is much easier for someone who doesn't have a criminal record to get a job. If you are trying to get a job with a criminal record, you may have found that employers are less likely to hire you than someone with a clean record. If this has ever happened to you, you may be wondering what you can do to give yourself an edge and get your life back.

Know your rights. While you have a criminal record, you may have rights that you aren't aware of. Remember that in many states you do not have to report arrests that didn't end in convictions or are not currently pending. There may be restrictions on minor drug offenses depending on your state, and some states have procedures to actually "erase" criminal records.

Prepare your resume, with everything out in the open. Being honest is the best policy and if you don't have a resume, build one. Take any job you can get, be it fast food or retail, and do it well. This will be more impressive in time than your criminal record.

Use a resume builder to help make your resume more impressive to potential employers. Web sites like Resume Builder and e-Resume offer resume building help (see Resources).

Use the resources available to you. There are programs out there, such as The Safer Foundation, that help people with criminal records get jobs. You can also find places through a parole officer if you're still on parole or seek advice from an attorney if you want to try and get the charges lessened or lowered.

Apply for as many jobs as you can, even with employers whom you think would never hire someone with a criminal record. If you interview with a particular company, you can tell them what you've learned from the experiences you've had and hope that your sincere answers are enough to convince them that you'll be a good employee.

Be realistic and eliminate jobs that your record automatically disqualifies you for, such as police work and educational positions. This will only waste your time, while the employer that might say "yes" could slip through your fingers.


Learn about the qualifications in your state in regards to what employers can ask on a job application. Know what you're using with a resume builder. Some sites, like e-Resume, offer their services for free, while sites like Resume Builder charge for their services. You will usually get more services from a pay site, so you will need to decide if the extra attention is worth the money.


Always be honest. Lying about your record will not only get you disqualified, but even if it does land you a job, it will eventually get you fired.

Things You'll Need

  • Resume
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