Finding a job with a criminal record

November 16, 2020

What do you need to know:

Finding employment in today’s economy is a monumental task all by itself when you have everything that employers are typically looking for including a clean background check, education, and experience. However, when you’re job hunting with a criminal record, things get more complicated. 


A criminal record decreases a person's chances of receiving a job offer or being called back by almost 50 percent. Over the years, a lot of work has been done to remove the stigma and provide extra benefits to employers who offer a “second-chance” program to those who are looking to start again after prison. 


When speaking to a potential employer who does not currently have background friendly hiring practices, mentioning these benefits could encourage them to adjust their policies:

  • Employees that stay longer- According to Efficient Hire who quoted a 2017 study from Northwestern University, “individuals with criminal records have a much longer tenure and are less likely to quit their jobs voluntarily than other workers.”
  • Tax Credits- There are available tax credits like the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) for hiring individuals within specific groups that experience significant barriers to employment.

Because of the shift in perception and the added benefits given to employers, it’s becoming a bit easier to find a job with a not so perfect record. 


What are some jobs that don’t require a background check?

Occupations that are more flexible including roles at smaller companies, work from home positions, and self-employment as a freelancer are more likely to forego including a background check in their hiring process. Some well-paying jobs include:


  • Mobile App Developer
  • Computer Programmer
  • Web Developer
  • Writer
  • Sales Representative
  • Graphic Designer
  • Chef
  • Industrial Machinery Mechanic
  • Carpenter
  • Auto Body Technician
  • Commercial Truck Driver
  • Auto Mechanic
  • Delivery Driver

What to do before you apply:

Before you apply, you may want to see if your record can be expunged. Or, you’d like to be connected to employers who already have a hiring process that is welcoming to those with a criminal record. RiseKit works with a lot of nonprofits dedicated to serving the formerly incarcerated population and assisting them with finding resources and finding gainful employment, including Defy Ventures and Teamwork Englewood.