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 FBI Backgroundcheck Blog

Landing a Job with a Criminal History - How to Pass a Criminal Background Check

If you have a misdemeanor or felony on your record, being asked to submit to a background check can be a scary situation. Most background checks are requested by employers who wish to prescreen their employees prior to hiring them. Having a smear on your record doesnít have to make you unemployable. There are several tips you can follow that will help you pass a background check, even without a squeaky clean past. 

Run Your Own
Running a background check on yourself allows you to check your record for accuracy. Also, if youíve ever had a charge dismissed, expunged or reduced, you should make sure your record accurately reflects this change. Your potential employer may not be quick to believe you if you deny a charge that appears on your record. Itís better to be prepared and know, ahead of time, what your record will reflect. 

Full Disclosure
If it shows up on your background check, include it in the criminal history section of your application, if applicable. Most companies have zero tolerance for falsifying documents. If you claim to have a clean criminal history and a small charge from ten years ago shows up, youíre not getting the job. Always be completely honest, but explain the circumstances of the charge as well. 

Up Front Honesty
Itís better to have a chance to explain any discretion before the hiring manager sees it on your record. A petty charge from five years ago doesnít have to ruin your chances at employment, but you will stand a much better chance if you address these issues before the results of your background check come in. By being honest ahead of time, you can be sure that there will be no surprises for your future employer, and you will have a chance to tell your side of the story. 

Make Your Case
When discussing your criminal background with a potential employer, itís important to know what information to cover. The circumstances of the charge can make a difference. These circumstances include, but are not limited to: severity of the crime, how long ago it occurred, how many offenses you have, and whether or not you were honest about it. 

Excellent References
Hiring managers will often let a minor criminal history slide, under certain circumstances. If you provide a list of references that will vouch for your character and trustworthiness, this will go a long way toward convincing your boss that thereís more to you than what theyíre reading on a piece of paper. 

There is no easy fix for a bad criminal record. If it were that easy, background checks would be pointless. While you canít always get rid of the markings of your past, you can prove that you are no longer that person and should be given a chance. By making sure your record is accurate, being upfront and honest, knowing how to make your case, and providing good references to counter your past misdeeds, you will have the best chance of landing the job, despite your criminal history. 

Tyler Brandt writes about law, finance & finding a cheap quote for group health insurance.