Searching for a job is hard for everyone. But if you have a criminal record to tack onto your résumé, that application just got a lot tougher. However, a record isn't a deal-breaker: A new study by CareerBuilder.com found that 51 percent of human resource managers claim to have hired ex-offenders.
How do you find a new job today despite past run-ins with the law? For starters, be upfront about your convictions. "Those with previous criminal records in pursuit of employment should take the initiative," explains Bruce Clarke, president and CEO of human resource management firm CAI. "Be the first to inform your potential employer about your criminal record. The last thing you want is for an employer to find out from another source."
Being in a city puts you at an advantage, according to Glenn Martin, the vice president of development and public affairs at the Fortune Society, a nonprofit that supports former prisoners when re-entering society. "Employers located in cities that are ethnically diverse often have fairer hiring policies," says Martin, who recommends seeking out companies that advertise as "equal opportunity employers."
Ultimately, this is just like any other job search: You must focus on how to discuss and frame your past, and make sure you keep moving forward. "The No. 1 recommendation hiring managers have is to own your past and focus on what you learned from it to grow professionally and personally," says Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder. "You also want to stay active. Taking classes, volunteering and tapping into social networks can be good ways to help overcome obstacles associated with job hunting with a criminal past."
Top 5 tips
Hiring managers polled by CareerBuilder had plenty of suggestions for job seekers with criminal records. Here were the most popular responses:
Be up front and honest about the conviction: 68 percent
Be willing to work your way up: 48 percent
Stay positive: 46 percent
Prepare and seek out training while you’re in prison: 39 percent
Don’t apply to jobs where your record would automatically disqualify you: 31 percent