Will a Criminal Record Affect Me Getting a Job?

About every 1 in 4 U.S. adults have an arrest or conviction record that will be detected on a professional criminal record background check for many years after the fact. So how will a criminal record affect me getting a job in the future? It is important for a company to know who you are before hiring. A background check is not always meant to be the only determining factor to consider. Primarily, its purpose is to provide essential information before making a hiring decision.

In 2012 The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission released guidelines that recommended employers limit their use of arrest and conviction records in hiring, promotions, and other employment decisions. Why might they do that? Well because it could be deemed discriminatory to their employees.

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Know Your Rights When Applying for a Job

First and foremost most companies will hire people with a criminal record, depending on the offense. In some states there are restrictions on going back further than 5 years for criminal activity so it is worth it to be up on your states’s rules and regulations for criminal records. In some states companies are restricted in how far back they can look into a person. “Ban The Box” laws in specific regions prevent employment applications from asking if you have a criminal record. In some locations the employer is not allowed to ask about records that did not result in conviction at all. 

6 Things to Consider about a Criminal Record

1. The nature of the criminal offense
Some types of criminals show a propensity to repeat their criminal activity. Some crimes, such as certain sex offenses may indicate a potential risk that most businesses can’t afford to take. On the other hand, a singular charge of disorderly conduct may not be viewed as disqualifying an applicant for a job.

2. The amount of time that has gone by since the conviction
How long ago did the offense occur? Often people do indeed learn from their mistakes and an applicant that has not had contact with law enforcement for many years are not likely to commit another offense. 

3. Repeat offenders
Repeat offenders are statistically more likely to re-offend. A long criminal history typically shows a willingness to continue criminal activity.

4. Details of the crime.
The nature, severity, and the applicant’s level of participation in the criminal activity is crucial information companies will look into. Was he/she the planner, the major player, or only participant? This is specifically what a potential employer will look into.

5. Giving the applicant an opportunity to explain
Employers will more often than not, ask about a criminal record. It is in the applicants best interest to be completely transparent during this hiring process. Some criminal charges are not as bad as they seem

6. Relationship of the crime to the job
If a company is hiring a manufacturing or clerical employee and the candidate was arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) 4 years ago, this will not likely affect how well they do their job. Although, if you’re hiring an accounting employee and your candidate was recently convicted of credit card fraud, business’ will want to consider those facts.

What The Federal Bureau Of Justice says about Criminal Records Affecting you in the Hiring Process

Ban The Box Laws
In an effort to remedy this perceived discrimination these laws are meant to stop businesses from automatically disqualifying candidates who have criminal records. According to a study by the National Employment Law Project over 100 states, cities, and counties have enacted legislation that has removed questions concerning arrest and conviction history from job applications.

Ban The Box laws postpone addressing the questions about criminal records to later in the hiring process after a conditional job offer has been made.
While these changes may have unintended consequences (See our page on “Ban The Box” laws) they may not necessarily always put businesses at risk. In fact, most businesses have already taken these factors into consideration as part of their hiring process. Many times it is more of a question as to whether or not the applicant had been truthful on the application by providing a complete disclosure upfront. 

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