Being convicted of a crime is certainly detrimental to finding employment. But did you know it’s becoming less of a barrier?
A recent survey found 80% of HR managers believe those with criminal records bring value that’s the same or better to an organization.
Are you looking to get a job with a criminal record? Then this article contains some key things you should know.
Why Do Employers Check Your Criminal History?
To put it simply, employers don’t want to hire anyone who might be a risk to their company. They want to make sure they’re not hiring a convicted embezzler to be their next accountant or a convicted thief to be a cashier. While many criminals are reformed, companies quite often don’t want to take that chance.
Also, if a company doesn’t do a proper background check on an employee, they could be liable if something goes wrong. If someone with a violent record is hired and harms someone in the workplace, the company could be held accountable, as well as the criminal.
So Which Companies Can Check Your Record?
Unfortunately, this isn’t an easy question to answer. The laws surrounding what information an employer can use regarding criminal convictions varies by state.
For example, some states allow employers to only look back at the last 5 years of your criminal history. They also might only be allowed to count felony charges and not misdemeanors.
There isn’t a national database of felony convictions available, but some states make this information accessible. The Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system can be used by employers to check if you’ve been involved in any civil or criminal court cases.
Under federal law, any criminal convictions are reportable indefinitely. The only exception is if your state law says otherwise.
So what if you’ve been arrested, but you were never actually convicted of a crime? Employers have the ability to check the arrest records for the last 7 years.
Again, in some states, there are limits to what you can do with this information. In some, employers may be legally prohibited from using this information against you.
It’s also important to note employers can check your DMV records. If you have things on your record like speeding tickets, potential employers can see them.
Is Your Record Always Considered?
There is a growing number of states adopting the “ban the box” system. Under this system, it’s illegal to ask about criminal convictions during your initial job application. In some states, this law goes as far as to ban questioning until the very final stages of your application.
Around 10 states currently have these laws in place. To learn if these laws could benefit you, contact your local government.
How Your Criminal Background Can Affect You
If your criminal background is related to the job you’re trying to get, it’s likely your record will be used to justify you not getting the job. For example, if you’ve been convicted of embezzlement, there’s no way you’re going to get a job as an accountant.
There may be mitigating factors employers will take into account. Say, for instance, you were convicted of a crime such as a drug possession 20 years ago. This is likely to have significantly less impact than if you’ve been convicted of drug possession once every couple of years.
Be Proactive if You’ve Been Convicted of a Crime
If you’re worried about the results of a criminal background check, one of the best things you can do is be proactive.
There’s nothing stopping you from running a criminal background check on yourself. Use this strategy to find out exactly what potential employers will find out about you. There’s a decent chance the information you find will be totally inaccurate or incorrect.
People looking up their own records frequently find they’ve been mismatched to someone else with a similar name. Your record might also show an arrest but neglects to mention the charges were completely dropped. They might also show charges which should’ve been expunged from the record.
When you run a check on yourself, you can get any of these issues addressed. You’ll also have the opportunity to prepare for some damage mitigation.
In addition, you can consider enlisting the help of a professional legal company. They can help you to understand exactly how charges like drug possession will affect your professional life.
What About Starting a Business?
Looking for employment with criminal convictions can be challenging. So can you just bypass all the trouble by starting a business by yourself?
Unfortunately, it’s not always this straightforward. In some cases, starting a business might require you to get licensed. Examples of businesses requiring a license include businesses working with dangerous chemicals or with restricted items, such as firearms.
If you have a criminal record for any kind of sexual misconduct, this also causes a lot of complications. You may only be permitted to open up a business located a certain distance away from schools. You might also be required to disclose the location of the business on a public sex registration list.
Obviously, this could have a detrimental impact on your business. You should always consider hiring a business lawyer when you look into this. This is especially true if you have a record.
Consider Your Reputation
Given how easy it is to look up criminal convictions on the internet, it’s a matter of if – not when – the local community finds out. For many businesses, this could have a very negative impact on your operation.
On the flip side, creating a business could enable you to “sanitize” your online reputation. Using your business, you can flood the internet with positive stories about yourself. This will make it more difficult for your record to come to light.
If you’ve been convicted of a crime and you want to apply to jobs, the best thing you can do is to get informed. Either enlist the help of a legal company or do your own research. Every state is different, so make sure you only use sources based on where you live.
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