How to find employment with a criminal record

Updated March 23, 2017

Many of those with arrests and convictions have a difficult time finding employment. Do not let your criminal record get you down. There are ways to find employment with a criminal record. Some employers will overlook past convictions with leniency, while others will not even consider employing those with criminal record. However, there is hope. Read on to learn how to find employment with a criminal record.

Utilise the worker-trainee program. This is a government program to help the unemployed or the displaced worker. It offers employment support for those who cannot find employment for various reasons, including those with a criminal record. Agencies will hire those in this program for three years and if you complete the program, and demonstrate good work habits, they will hire you for a full-time job. Many of those with criminal records have success in achieving a full-time career using this program. Contact an unemployment agency in your area for more information on this program.

Show remorse about your criminal record to potential employers during interviews. If you show your employer remorse and your rehabilitation efforts, you have a higher chance of getting employment. Do not show bitterness or anger when talking about this in an interview. Show how your convictions have made you grow and your humble attitude towards it. Your positive demeanour may very well get you hired.

Expunge your criminal record. This will seal those arrests and convictions, so you will not be obligated to report your criminal record to an employer. For those who have not had your criminal records sealed, it may not affect your employment in some cases. Today's employment applications only ask for your arrests and convictions that have occurred within the last seven years. If you have not been convicted of a crime within the last seven years, then you will not need to mention your criminal record. Ask an attorney to help you with getting your criminal records expunged. Policies for this procedure vary from state to state.

Apply for Certificate of Relief from Disabilities or a Certificate of Good Conduct. The Certificate of Relief from Disabilities is a pardon for those who have had been convicted of misdemeanours and those with only one felony. The Certificate of Good Conduct is for those who have been convicted of more than one felony. Both of these certificates are important if you want to work in public office or for licensing jobs such as in pharmacy, public notary, or real estate. Without these certificates, you will not eligible for those positions. These certificates open your employment future with more choices and freedoms. You can receive a Relief from Disabilities Certificate right after your conviction, but those who apply for a Certificate of Good Conduct must wait at least three years after sentencing.


Remember, employers are not judging you as a person, but as a potential employee. Do not get discouraged. Be confident that a future is ahead of you. You may have to take extra steps to find employment in contrast to someone without a criminal record. These steps are the highway to freedom, employment, and empowerment. A criminal record does not define you as a person. Prove that you have work ethics, as this will define you as employable. If you work on your ethics, you will soon have a record as an employable worker.


It is never wise to lie about your criminal record to an employer. If your employment application only asks for your criminal record for the last seven years, then don't mention it if it has been longer than seven years. You will be telling the truth. However, you must report your criminal record on your application if it has been less than seven years, granted that the application only asks for the last seven years. Lying on your application or to your employer will make you unemployable. Telling the truth is what employers want--an honest, ethical worker.

Things You'll Need

  • Resume
  • References
  • Certificate of Relief from Disabilities (optional)
  • Certificate of Good Conduct (optional)
  • Attorney (optional)
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About the Author

Cheryl Myers has has a master's degree from Saint Leo University and currently writes for several publications including Fit Pregnancy, Guideposts and Parent's Magazine.