Getting out of prison gives you a second chance at making a life for yourself, however, throughout this new lease on life there can be a lot of obstacles. In particular, one of the biggest hurdles to get over as an individual with a criminal record is finding a job. Most employers will ask you “Have you been convicted of a crime in the past 10 years?” on your job application, and answering with the truth can mean an automatic rejection from a lot of work. 

Starting your job search with a felony conviction on your record can feel overwhelming and very discouraging. However, employers are starting to become more and more open to hiring people with criminal records. Since 2016, laws have been passed across the country preventing employers in some sectors from asking about conviction history before a conditional job offer. After this offer is made however, employers can still inquire about your record, so it is best to be prepared to handle the matter upfront.   

If you are entering the workforce with a criminal record, here are some tips for navigating the interview and job search process. 

Be Honest

You’re initial instinct when asked the dreaded question, “have you ever been convicted of a felony?” might be to lie, but this is not a good idea. Even though it may feel embarrassing to admit to a potential employer that “yes”, you have been convicted of a felony, it is best to get this out of the way immediately. You won’t be able to hide the fact that you have a record, and if you lie and get hired you can risk being fired when your boss finds out. 

Additionally, if you are applying for a job at a place that is willing to hire convicted felons, they are going to be looking for people who are honest. The potential employer is going to appreciate the fact that you have taken responsibility for your past and are not trying to get a job in a dishonest way. 

This is not to say all employers will have a positive reaction to your honesty, some will still turn you away because your answer is yes, whether they appreciate your honesty or not. However, they will probably find out the truth one way or another, so best to get it out of the way before wasting your time starting a job only to get let go soon after. 

A Job is a Job

Although it may not be an ideal choice for you, you want to try not to be too picky. It will be easier to get a second, more desirable job after you have been hired for one. When you are just starting out on your job search, your main objective should be to establish yourself as someone who is reliable, meaning you show up, do the work, and don’t complain. As someone who has a felony on their record, people are going to be wary of hiring you, so your first step should be to find work that will help you establish your work ethic and accountability. 

Look For Industries In Need of Workers

There are lots of industries that are always in search of employees and would be likely to hire people with a criminal record. These industries have looser policies and often value having someone to do the work over avoiding individuals who have a record. In wake of Covid-19 and employment shortages, employers in industries like manual labor, manufacturing, restaurants, and customer service are desperate to hire anyone. They might be more likely to hire someone with a criminal record because of this.