The Impact of Criminal Convictions on Employment Opportunities

When you’ve been convicted of a crime, the consequences often go far beyond the penalties. Even after you’ve fulfilled your obligations via jail, prison, fines, probation, or community service, you may face other impacts in your life.

One of the biggest areas of concern for those with a criminal record is finding gainful employment. Employers have many tools at their disposal to screen potential applicants. Criminal background checks are part of the screening process.

Here’s how a criminal conviction could hinder your employment opportunities.

Job Applications

Most employers will ask job candidates to disclose any criminal convictions. This may immediately disqualify you from their consideration, especially if it is a position in finance, law enforcement, or healthcare where a high level of trust is involved. There may be policies for not hiring people with certain types of criminal convictions, even if it is unrelated to the job.

While some employers may be willing to consider someone with a criminal conviction, it may make them less hireable compared to other candidates. Some employers are also concerned about legal liabilities for hiring someone with a criminal background or the negative publicity that could come from it.

Employers will usually conduct background checks to verify that an applicant’s employment and education history are accurate. They will also check for criminal convictions or other risk factors.

You may need to prove you participated in a treatment program or get letters of recommendation to persuade employers. However, this may not be enough, especially in certain industries.

Employer Policies and Workplace Culture

It’s not just the job application that may stand in your way. The policies of the employer and their workplace culture may also be a factor. Some companies have strict policies that forbid hiring applicants with criminal convictions. Some will allow it but limit the types of jobs that former convicts can hold in the organization.

Regarding workplace culture, even if a company is permitted to hire someone with a criminal record, other employees may treat them unfairly. This negativity can create hostility in the workplace. If those in supervisory roles are being judgmental, it may mean that you never get the opportunity to advance in the company.

What Considerations Do Employers Make When Deciding to Hire Someone with a Criminal History?

Employers consider the following factors as they evaluate job applicants with criminal records:

The Nature of the Offense

For many employers, they may adopt a more progressive attitude towards those that have a criminal history of non-violent or minor offenses. However, if you were convicted of a violent crime or one that involved fraud or theft, they might be less likely to consider you as a candidate.

The Length of Time Since the Offense

Some employers generally find it easier to overlook past criminal convictions if they took place a long time ago. Maybe you were 18 at the time and now you’re nearly 40 with no other subsequent criminal activity on your record, in which case, you might have a chance of getting hired.

The Relevance to The Job Position

When a criminal offense is not directly related to your job responsibilities, an employer may be sympathetic and give you a chance. Perhaps you had a drug conviction years ago, which wouldn’t matter for a job in advertising, but if you were looking for a job in law enforcement, it might.

Your Level of Remorse and Rehabilitation

Everyone has made mistakes at some point in their lives, but the key is moving forward from them in a positive direction. An employer may still consider you as a viable applicant if you have taken steps to address the underlying issues that led to the criminal events in your life.

Potential Risks for the Company and Its Employees

Someone with a non-violent criminal record will pose less risk than someone who has been convicted of violent acts. Employers will be more likely to consider you if you’re of low risk to the position, the company, and the other employees.

How to Boost Your Chances of Employment with a Criminal Conviction

The road to your future isn’t going to be a smooth one, even though you’re free. Finding employment if you have a criminal history can be tough, but there are some things you can do to boost your chances.

Be Honest and Upfront

Never try to hide your past or downplay what you did. Owning up to it and being transparent is the best course of action. Employers might find out, and if you don’t tell them first, they won’t be able to trust you.

Steer the Focus onto Your Skills and Qualifications

Highlight your qualifications and skills that make you right for the job. By emphasizing your skills, you’ll show you are a good fit.

Look for Open-Minded Employers

There are employers willing to give those with criminal convictions a second chance to start fresh with a good job. Look for them, and you’ll have a better chance of being considered.

Get More Training or Further Your Education

The more you know, the more your career can potentially grow. Learn a new skill in your field or continue your education. It will make you more hireable and could make potential employers overlook the blemishes of your past.

Try Something Different

Temporary work or even self-employment may be an option for you, depending on your skills. Showing you’re willing to work in any capacity will demonstrate that you are trying to do the right thing in life.

There are organizations that are devoted to helping people find employment, even for those with a criminal record. While you may have a conviction, it shouldn’t always hold you back from moving forward in the right direction.In fact, if you are being unfairly discriminated against, you should better understand your rights. Speak with attorneys at a Miami criminal defense law firm, and you’ll gain more insight into these laws and valuable advice on how to avoid being forever tarnished by your criminal record.

Featured image by Pexels

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