Seeking Employment with a Criminal Record

Rest assured: A criminal record does not mean you are patently unemployable. However, it does make a job hunt more difficult, as most employers conduct criminal background checks before making offers. 

If you are searching for a job and have a criminal record, here is what you should know.  

Why Employers Check Criminal Records: And What They Consider

It is common practice for employers to conduct criminal background checks and disqualify applicants with a criminal history. Every employer has its own reasons, but generally, employers cite wanting to protect their employees and customers from potential criminal behavior. In fact, certain employers – like those in law enforcement – may be obligated to exclude people with criminal records from certain positions.

To help employers make their hiring determinations, the EEOC has set forth guidance in the form of a three-part test. Per these guidelines, employers consider:

  1. The nature and gravity of the criminal offense;
  2. How much time has passed since the offense was committed; and
  3. The nature of the job the prospective employee is seeking (such as how much interaction the employee will have with other employees or customers). 

Preparing for Questions About Your Criminal Record

  • First and foremost, tell the truth. Lying about your criminal record is fruitless, as the employer will ultimately find the information in the background check. As such, it is best to be honest and straightforward about your record from the beginning.
  • Second, prepare a brief explanation of what happened, why, and whether any mitigating circumstances lessened the severity of your charges.
  • Finally, line up your references. Contact a former colleague or employer who can vouch for your character and ask if he or she would be willing to speak on your behalf.

Seeking Expungement

If your conviction is old or was entered when you were a minor, you may be able to pursue expungement. Once expunged, the conviction will no longer appear on your criminal record. For assistance with seeking an expungement, contact an experienced North Carolina criminal defense attorney to review your case. Your attorney can also counsel you as to the best steps to take to find a job post-conviction.

If you find yourself in need of assistance in a job search or expungement process, contact Jeremy Cotten. He has served hundreds of satisfied clients through Wake, Johnston, Harnett, Orange, Sampson, Lee, and Chatham Counties and is ready to meet with you to discuss your case. Give him a call or click over to the main page to speak with a legal assistant 24 hours a day.