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Explaining Criminal History

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 *A simple way for an individual to view what an employer would see is to visit the county in which the offense/arrest occurred and ask for their records.  These are public records and are freely available.


For an ex-offender, the most dreaded part of the job search can be explaining a felony conviction to a potential employer.  Many ex-offenders have never honestly answered the question, "Have you ever been convicted of a crime?" on an application.  As a result, they drift in and out of employment -- staying with a job until the employer finds out through a background check, a call from a parole agent, or some other way.


Ex-offenders may be fired for falsifying information on their job application -- not because they are ex-offenders.  There are many companies out there who hire ex-offenders, but they have a policy of terminating anyone for lying on an application.

It is up to you whether you tell an employer about felony convictions.  However, STS believes that "honesty is the best policy."   Your goal of the application is to GET THE INTERVIEW.   There may be times when filling out your application that it may be in your best interest to write in a description of your felony.  But in most cases the best thing to do is to write "will discuss in the interview." Very few employers will screen your application out based on this information alone.  If they like everything else about your application, they'll call you in and give you a chance to explain.  That's what you want.  STS staff are available for assistance on this issue, and it is also covered in the Interview Class in WFD.


Again, STS believes that "honesty if the best policy," BUT there is certainly no need to explain your story in detail.  Our experience shows HOW you communicate this information makes a difference.  The best way is to state the facts and any mitigating circumstances as briefly as possible, to make it clear that this mistake is now in your past, and that you are ready and anxious to move on.  Many employers will hire ex-felons, but they want to hire an ex-felon who takes responsibility for their actions and has a clear vision of where they want to be today and in the future.  You must see yourself as a worthwhile and valuable asset who has the skills and abilities an employer needs, not as an ex-convict unworthy of employment.  You need to portray a positive self-image, have confidence in your skills and abilities, and learn to "sell yourself" to an employer.  Lastly, RELAX.  If you do not look and feel comfortable talking about your conviction, it makes it harder for an employer to be comfortable with your explanation and confident that you are serious about moving forward in your life.

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Niney-nine percent of failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses.
George W. Carver