Seeking Employment With a Criminal Background or Misdemeanor on Record
When potential employers and recruiters review an application
for employment and they see a gap of x amount of months, or years, a red flag comes up. I know medical
assistants with minor misdemeanors, let alone a criminal record, who changed their lives but still have a hard
time finding employment to earn a living and move on. Finding a job for someone
with legal or criminal issues in the past is difficult, even if it was just for a misdemeanor. Many companies
today run background
checks and employers use standardized application forms to screen their job applicants.
How to Proceed On the Job Application
If an application form did not ask for the information, it is probably not relevant to the position, however, if
it specifically asks: have you ever been convicted of a felony, then the answer should be yes, and you can list the
offense. Unless the application asked specifically about convictions, it is okay to avoid bringing it up as a
reason for leaving any prior employment. On the application, I would put "personal reasons."
During the Face-To-Face Interview
Do not add on your application: I went to prison on the application form where it asks for
the reason for leaving any prior employment, but rather, and if you must, put "personal reasons", or
"will discuss at interview" and then discuss it during the interview.
During the face-to-face interview do this:
- Bring it up early
- Be upfront
- Admit to making a mistake
- Say you have learned from this
- Keep it short
- Move on
It may take longer to get an interview then normal, but once you got it, be upfront. Your
discussion with the interviewer should be honest and brief! Brief answers should go along the lines that you have
made a mistake and paid for it, you have learned a valuable lesson, and would like a chance to prove to yourself
and the community that you are a better person than that. That's it! Generalize rather that specify, and provide
only what was requested.
"I would like an opportunity to speak to you about my
past problems with the law privately."
If the interviewer wants to know more, answer all questions politely, accurately, and
without shame. Your reactions and demeanor will add to the over all impression that you fully understand the
mistake you have made, intend to work hard, and not go back to your old ways. The interview is your chance to talk
about your skills, discuss details of the job, and not to dwell on the ugly part of your past. Try to keep the conversation as general as possible and continue to remind the employer that
it was in the past, you have made restitution, and moved on.
Everybody Deserves a Second Chance
Whenever someone is finger printed this record stays on file with the FBI for ever, even after an expungement,
or when the charges were dropped the deferment will always be visible to law enforcement, the court system, and
Finally, those seeking a medical assistant
job or vocational training that leads to medical assistant diploma should contact the school, or the
Department of Education to find out whether they will qualify for federal educational funding, and also contact
the AAMA legal department to find out if a former conviction will keep you from taking their medical assistant
certification exam and perhaps ineligible to work as a CMA.
ORGANIZATIONS THAT CAN HELP
Many states and communities in most states have so-called vocational rehab (VR), Work Force Development, and
One-Stop Career Center services, some sponsored privately, others sponsored by the US Department of Labor to assist
ex-offenders and felons seeking work. Also, there often are various community self-help agencies and workshops
specifically targeted toward individuals coming out of jail and trying to make a new start.
We recommend to explore these options in your own
- Visalia Re-Entry Center (Turning Point, REAP Training Program) is a private company categorized under
Employment Agencies and Opportunities that involves a wide network of employers who are willing to give felons
a second chance.
- FEAP (Fresno Employment Assistance & Placement).
- Alaska's Department of Labor and Workforce Development has a Fidelity Bond which offers the employer as an
incentive to hire a felon. The bond protects the employer from losses up to $25,000.00 with approval from the