You may be surprised to learn that nearly one-third of the US working population has a criminal record. That means that over 73.5 million adults in this country have some less than favorable information in their past.
However, given our nation’s current job market and extreme shortage of skilled labor, most employers do not consider a criminal record to be a deal breaker in deciding whether to hire someone. According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), almost 50% of HR professional do not feel strongly that a criminal record should determine if someone is hired; however, over 60% said that their companies conduct background checks. Second, nearly 50% of companies include a question about criminal background on their application.
So What Does this Mean? . . . You will have to address your background
First thing first, be honest. The best possible advice I could give you is the same advice your mother would give you, don’t lie. There is nothing worse than if an employer is whiling to hear you out and give you a pass on your background, yet they feel you or holding something back or worse lying. Therefore, I recommend that you request your official “RAP” sheet from your state’s Department of Justice and the FBI. A rap sheet is short for Record Arrest and Prosecutions. Unlike a criminal record, this document is confidential, and employers cannot access the information. In most states, you will have to pay a fee and submit fingerprints to obtain it; however, a rap sheet is a person’s most complete criminal history document. With this document, you can verify that the information in it is accurate, and note what, if any crimes are now sealed, and whether a crime is reported as a misdemeanor or felony. This way, you can continue to be honest with an employer about your past, but not have to reveal information about when you were a minor, if they only ask about felonies, and/or are only concerned with crimes committed within the past 3,5,7, etc. years. Again, be honest but there is no need to reveal information that they have no reason or right to know.
They Didn’t Ask About My Criminal Record, Should I Say Anything? . . . YES
Even if an employer did not ask about your criminal record during an interview, they will eventually find out. So once again, be honest and tell them. Afterall, if an employer did not ask, that most likely means that a criminal record is not a deal breaker and they will appreciate your honesty. Everyone has made mistakes, what matters is that we learn from our mistakes and failures. Thus, be honest, tell them what happened, what you learned, and why you will never conduct such behavior/actions again.
A criminal record can be a serious barrier to employment but following these simple steps can greatly reduce its severity. Again, be prepared, be honest, and good luck.