Interviewing is a stressful without revealing that you are one of many felons or ex-cons looking to make a new start. At what point do you tell a future employer or recruiter about your criminal history? You may think it is not relevant – why reveal something so personal? There are employment laws that prevent employers from making decisions on age, gender, race and religion. How is this different?

Copyright: <a href=''>kencor / 123RF Stock Photo</a>Unfortunately, it is different. The reason your criminal history is important to an employer is some positions may need certifications that you are unable to get. Perhaps, the job requires you to come into contact or be responsible for what you were convicted for. From the employer’s perspective, they evaluate if you are a risky hire.

Let’s say you have a theft conviction. Future employers may not hire you to handle money or put you in a sales job. The employer views you as a high risk employee for these jobs. However, you may be a perfect fit for other jobs in the company.

How to Handle the Job Application

If the job application asks if you have been convicted of a crime, you must answer truthfully. The job application is a legal document and if you lie, you will be fired. At that point you will have to explain two things – your criminal past and that you lie. Some states are passing ban-the-box laws that delay when an employer can ask about your criminal past. You may avoid the discussion initially, increasing your odds of getting the interview.

Tips for Interviewing

There is no best time to let the future employer know about your criminal history. If you discuss it too soon, you run the chance the interviewer will not take you seriously for the job. I recommend waiting until you cross the first hurdle – passing the first interview and getting to the second interview. However, if you have a great rapport with the interviewer, you may introduce the discussion earlier.

If you are working with a recruiter, let them know in advance. Discuss the situation and ask how they will handle presenting you to their client. Recruiters do not like surprises. They will navigate your introduction better with the hiring company if they have the story. If the recruiter responds poorly, most likely they know the employer is unfriendly to felons and ex-cons.

Establish a New Track Record

One of the best ways to overcome your criminal past is to bury it as deep. Find a company or manager who will give you an opportunity to show your worth. When you prove that you are trustworthy and valuable, it minimizes your criminal past. With a solid track record of performance and a successful integration into a company, you will be more confident about the next job you apply for.

Friendly Employers for Felons and Ex-Cons

Luckily, there are some friendly employers who have policies that level the playing field for employment. You can find the friendly employer for felons and ex-cons list here. This list has many large employers where Human Resources and management will give you a fair employment opportunity because they are committed to hiring the best person for the job.

Bottom line, if you do not meet the basic qualifications of the job, it is the same as a lay person applying to be a surgeon without being qualified.  Think carefully about the jobs you apply to and if the employer will disqualify you because of your criminal past.