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8 Clever Strategies for Getting a Job if You Have a Criminal Record

Updated: Oct 6, 2022

Finding a good job can be difficult for almost anyone. However, if you have a criminal record, it may be even more difficult. The vast majority of businesses conduct criminal background checks on job applicants and many of them will quickly reject applicants if the background checks reveal any arrests or convictions.


Don't give up on your dreams because you can probably get a lot of jobs with a criminal record if you have enough knowledge to develop a good plan of action. Follow the advice provided below to help you achieve a more secure future.


The suggestions below are intended to assist you in achieving a more secure future.


1. Learn Your Rights.

This is an extremely important step. After all, knowledge is a form of power. The Arkansas Department of Labor is a good place to start. Contact the Arkansas Department of Labor and inquire about all of the pre-employment screening laws that apply to people with criminal records.


2. Look over your criminal record to see if there are any mistakes.

According to the National Employment Law Project, roughly half of all FBI background checks turn up outdated information or fail to show whether or not arrests resulted in convictions. Furthermore, this research explains that reports from commercial background check providers contain inaccurate information on a regular basis.


That is why it is critical to review your own record before giving it to potential employers. It is possible that it contains incorrect information. If it does, you should be able to file a request to have the errors corrected. Of course, because criminal records are kept by more than just courts and law enforcement agencies, you may have to submit multiple requests.


Hiring a private investigator may be of interest to you because it is one of the simplest and most effective ways to check your background. For a small fee, many investigators will compile all public records available about you.


3. If possible, have your record expunged or sealed.

In Arkansas, eligibility and requirements for sealing conviction records are determined by the offense level (misdemeanor or felony), as well as a few other special provisions. In the case of non-conviction records, the determination is usually based on how the matter was resolved.


If you have misdemeanors or nonviolent offenses on your record, it may be worthwhile to see if you can have them expunged or sealed. Seek the advice of an attorney or contact the criminal court in the county where your offenses occurred to learn more about your options.


The advantages of sealing your records include the possibility of having an easier time finding employment and housing if your criminal records are sealed. Our partner, the Center for Arkansas Legal Services, is an excellent resource for information on sealing your record.


4. Obtain training in a field that isn't off limits to you.

When you have the skills that employers require, it is much more difficult for them to turn you down. This is especially true if you have skills in a field where qualified workers are in short supply. In Arkansas, you may can develop in-demand skills by receiving training through a variety of options including vocational colleges and apprenticeships.


Did you know that even if you have a criminal record, you may be eligible for financial aid? That is correct. As a result, if you need financial assistance to pay for college, you should fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Even if you do not qualify for federal aid, you may be eligible for aid from other sources, which is frequently based on the information you provide on the FAFSA.


The following are the main factors that could limit your eligibility for federal student aid:

  • Being incarcerated at any time while seeking assistance

  • Having any drug-related convictions while receiving federal assistance

  • Having any sexual offense convictions

5. Find Opportunities to Build Your Skills and Experience!

Even if you're having difficulty finding steady work, you should always look for ways to expand your resume. The main idea is to stay active and demonstrate to potential employers that you have a strong work ethic and a strong desire to succeed. For example, perhaps you have skills that a charity or non-profit organization could benefit from. Why not offer your assistance? Not only will you gain experience, but you will also make professional contacts who may be able to provide good references or help you find other potential job opportunities.


If you make an effort to meet with several professionals who work in the industry that you want to work in, you can greatly improve your chances of finding good work. Many industry associations hold regular meet-and-greets. Furthermore, many business organizations host public networking events such as hiring events and job fairs.


6. Find Organizations That Can Help You.

We are one of numerous organizations in Arkansas that provide services to ex-offenders. So, it is possible to find programs that assist with job training, job placement, and the development of life skills that lead to success.


Furthermore, you may be able to find subsidized employment programs, such as the Federal Bonding Program, that assist ex-offenders. When employers hire participants in such programs, they receive assistance in paying the wages of the new employees for a trial period of time. Employers will have a greater incentive to hire people with a criminal record in this manner. You can also find additional assistance through the Arkansas Community Foundation's Non-profit Directory, which contains a list of potential organizations that may be able to assist you.


7. Showcase Your Most Positive Attributes When Meeting With Potential Employers!

When you meet with potential employers, your criminal record does not have to be brought up. Instead, emphasize what you've learned from previous experiences and provide evidence of how much you've changed, how long it's been since your interaction with the criminal justice system, and why you'd be a great employee.


In addition, never underestimate the importance of making a good first impression. Maintain a neat, professional appearance before attending interviews, job fairs, or networking events, and feel free to use our Virtual Career Center, which can help you with your job search from start to finish.


8. Follow Up is Key.

This is a step that many job seekers skip. It can, however, mean the difference between success and failure. Following up with prospective employers after submitting an application or being interviewed is, in general, a good idea. It is especially critical following interviews. Make sure to send a thank-you card or email to everyone who interviewed you. Remember to reiterate your desire to work for their company.


We hope that these strategies help you in your job search, and if you require any additional assistance, please feel free to chat with us online or contact one of our Workforce Centers.

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