Trying to find a job when you have a criminal record is a very challenging situation. On the one hand, you do need a job to lead an honest life, but, on the other hand, some employers might be reluctant to hire someone with a conviction on his record. However, there are ways for you to overcome this problem and here are a few suggestions.
Honesty is the best policy
As you prepare for a job interview, you need to make up your mind on how you are going to address the thorny issue of your criminal record. If there’s a gap in your work history, the recruiting agent will probably wonder what happened during that period.
The best thing you can do is to come clean and explain you did time for a criminal offence. It’s a gamble, but then so is lying.
What you need to know is that many companies will ask you to consent to a background check and they will find out about the conviction anyway. If that happens and you lied during the interview, you practically blew your chances.
Explain how you have changed
It’s hard to talk about a conviction and the best strategy is to explain briefly what you were convicted of and focus on what you have learned from your mistake. You need to convince the hiring agent that you’re not the same guy anymore. Focus on how you’ve turned around your life and why you deserve a chance. If you own up to your mistakes and convince the person in front of you that you’re honest, you have a better chance of getting that job.
If you know about the company’s hiring policy and know the question of a background screening will come up anyway, you can surprise the hiring agent by supplying the police check before you are asked to do so.
You can ask for a police check from a reputable online agency. This way you avoid going to the police station yourself and relive unpleasant memories.
When you present the employer with a police certificate yourself, the HR team will understand that you never even thought of hiding your past or any criminal history. You can also supply a written statement explaining how you’ve turned your life around. If you can provide recommendations from another employer, friends, family or a community group, even better.
What about spent convictions
Under Australian law, after 10 years (or 7 in New Zealand) many convictions are considered spent and they probably won’t appear in a police check. You have the right not to disclose a spent conviction to an employer and it is an offence for a company to reject your application based on a spent conviction, should it come to light in some way. Spent convictions may also vary by states and territories. For example, the spent convictions law for a police clearance wa is currently not the same as other other states in Australia. You can check this with the criminal records section of your state.
Know your rights
According to the law, police checks are allowed if they are job relevant. A drunk-driving conviction that is 9 years old is hardly relevant if you’re applying for an office job where you won’t be doing any driving.
It is important to know about anti-discrimination and privacy laws, but on the other hand remember that you’re in no position to confront a potential employer outright.
Your best chance of getting a job is to strike the recruiting agent as an honest person.