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Criminal Records

I have a criminal record. How do I get an employer to give me a chance?

If you have a criminal record, an employer is more likely to give you a chance if they feel you have become an honest, dependable person. Do not lie about your history; parol officers often call employers to confirm they know of an employee's criminal conviction. If you lie on an application, you can be fired, regardless of how well you are doing your job.

When an employer asks about your criminal conviction, state your crime but do not go into detail. Instead, your reply should focus on your current and future plans for improvement. Do not make excuses or downplay your criminal record in any way. Mention any training that has helped you change your behavior, such as the Intentional Skill Development (I.S.D.)

For example:
Q: "I see on your application that you have had a criminal conviction. What were you convicted of?"
A: "I was convicted of armed robbery. My two-year sentence gave me the opportunity to face my mistakes and decide where my future was headed. After being released early for good behavior, I enrolled in a class to earn my G.E.D., have reconnected with my family, and am seeking employment to support myself."

Pursuing education or training and volunteer work are good ways to establish your reliability and build references. The more skills you develop, the more an employer will be willing to hire you.

Be realistic about where you apply. For instance, if your criminal conviction involves monetary theft, you probably won't be able to get a position working in a bank or as a cashier. Remember to take things one step at a time; your first job is merely a stepping stone to a better one. As you continue to work you will build a reputation, contacts, and referrals to help you develop your career.

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