Beating the Odds
Job hunting is hard enough. You have to dress the right way, talk the right way, and know the right people just to get your foot in the door. Factor in a criminal record, and you can face some serious adversity in the job market, no matter the charge. We all have to work, and having a criminal record shouldn't prohibit you from finding employment. You can overcome adversity and find a job with a criminal record if you know your rights and responsibilities when it comes to disclosing your criminal past. To do this and still impress potential employees, follow these tips:
Know what is on your record. Do a commercial background check on yourself; don't just go over old case documents. Find out what potential employers can see on your record. It may surprise you. You may need the details of your conviction when filling out applications, too, so do this before even beginning your job search. Having those details handy will make applying for jobs easier and quicker.
Consider cleaning your record before applying for certain jobs. Getting a conviction dismissed through the process of expungement will mean the conviction no longer appears as such on your record. It will appear as dismissed in the interests of justice. You can then also answer “no” on many applications if a potential employer asks you if you've ever been convicted of a crime.
Know your rights. Many California employers are prohibited from asking about an arrest that did not end in a conviction. If you were arrested but never convicted or you had a conviction dismissed, you will not need to disclose the conviction or the arrest to most employers. The employer also cannot hold this information against you if it comes to light. This right does not extend when applying to governmental agencies, which require full disclosure.
Be honest. Honestly is a valuable trait in an employee. It may seem like a bad idea to disclose a conviction honestly and openly, especially if you are not required to, but doing so can demonstrate good character. Some employers would rather have an honest employee with a criminal past than one that tried to hide something. So, if you know an employer will be doing a background check, you may want to notify them in advance of what they might find. Make sure you are prepared to discuss it and be able to convince the employer that you have moved on from your past and have been rehabilitated from your criminal ways. Be able to say that you have served your debt to society.
Think about where you apply and for what positions. Some fields will be very hard to get into with a criminal conviction. For instance, if you have a theft conviction, you may want to think twice before applying for a position in banking or retail management. Similarly, if you were convicted of domestic violence, you may want to overlook positions working with disadvantaged women. And having a DUI on your record may render you ineligible for a commercial license. Be smart about your chances and know that certain criminal convictions will bar you from working in certain fields. Look into industry regulations on criminal convictions before applying to make sure you aren't wasting your time or to see if there is anything you can do to help your chances of being hired, such as cleaning your record.
Be willing to go the extra mile. Job hunting can take a lot out of you, especially if you are still working or have a family to care for. Just make sure you have done enough since your last conviction to be able to clearly demonstrate on paper that you are a decent, law-abiding citizen now. Fulfill the requirements of your sentencing on time. Never violate your probation. Volunteer or do work in your community to give back. Having a criminal conviction may mean you have to jump through a few more hoops to be in the running, but it doesn't necessarily mean you'll never get a chance. Many people have criminal convictions but still work. So don't despair; just make sure you know your rights and be ready to exercise them while you search for a job.
Do you have questions about cleaning your record? California attorney Christopher Martens knows California criminal defense and will work hard to help you get a conviction dismissed so you can regain your dignity and your confidence when in the job market. With over ten years of criminal defense experience, Mr. Martens has handled thousands of cases and has helped many Californians move on from their conviction. Serving the Visalia and Fresno areas, The Law Offices of Christopher Martens can provide expert criminal defense counsel. Call our office at 559-967-7386 or email us at [email protected] for a free consultation.