The Effect of a Criminal Record on Job Opportunities

Updated on 08/11/2023 / Under

A criminal record can have a significant impact on your ability to access employment. Many employers will automatically disqualify applicants with a criminal record, regardless of the nature of the offense or how long ago it occurred. Even if you are able to get an interview, your criminal history may be used against you during the hiring process.

Chicago criminal defense lawyer Alex Ktenas

In this article, we will discuss all you to know about a criminal record on job opportunities. By understanding the issues and taking steps to mitigate the impact of your criminal history, you can improve your chances of finding a job. For any questions about your criminal record, please do not hesitate to call Ktenas Law and speak to our Chicago criminal defense attorneys and receive a free consultation!

What is a Criminal Record?

A criminal record is a formal record of a person’s criminal history. In the United States, criminal records are maintained by state and federal law enforcement agencies and courts at the county and city levels.

Most criminal records include information on felonies and misdemeanors but may also include other types of offenses such as traffic violations. Depending on the jurisdiction, a criminal record may also include information on arrests that did not lead to a criminal conviction, as well as sealed or expunged records.

In some cases, a criminal record may be used to deny someone a dream job, an apartment, or insurance. In other cases, a criminal record may not have any impact at all. It all depends on the specific situation.

person holding a criminal record binder, Criminal Record on Job Opportunities

Types of Offenses that Lead to Employment Discrimination

Certain types of offenses are more likely to lead to employment discrimination than others. Generally speaking, offenses that are considered “violent” or “sexual” in nature are the most likely to result in a type of job discrimination.

Examples of offenses that may lead to employment discrimination include:





• Child molestation

• Sexual harassment


• Domestic violence

In addition to the type of offense, the type of conviction can also impact your ability to find a job. For example, a felony conviction is more likely to lead to employment discrimination than a misdemeanor conviction.

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While this is not an exhaustive list, these are some of the most common offenses that will lead to employment discrimination.

Job Hunting with a Criminal Background

Depending on the severity of your offense, having a criminal record can constitute barriers to job hunting. Many prospective employers will not even consider applicants with a criminal record, regardless of the nature of the offense or how long ago it occurred.

For others, the hiring process may be more difficult, but not impossible. In some cases, an employer may be willing to overlook a criminal record if the applicant is otherwise qualified for the position.

In other cases, an employer may be willing to consider an applicant with a criminal record if the offense is unrelated to the job duties. For example, an employer may be willing to consider an applicant with a drug possession charge for a clerical position, but not for a position that requires handling cash.

Industries That Overlook Criminal Record

There are a few places you can work with a criminal record, but it really depends on the severity and nature of your offense. For example, most banking and finance jobs will not hire people with any type of criminal record. However, there are some retail jobs that may be willing to overlook a nonviolent offense. Some companies have programs in place that specifically hire people with criminal or arrest records. These programs typically provide on-the-job training and support to help employees succeed. Examples of companies that have such programs include:


The construction industry is one of the few industries that are willing to overlook a criminal record. This is because there are so many positions in the construction industry that do not require a background record check. For example, jobs like manual labor, painting, and carpentry do not typically require a background check.


Manufacturing is another industry that is willing to overlook a criminal record. Background check for jobs in this niche is rarely done. For example, jobs like assembly line work, packaging, and quality control do not typically require a background check.


The food service industry is one of the few industries that are willing to overlook a criminal record. The reason is that there are many positions in the food service industry that do not require a background check, as well. For instance, jobs like dishwashing, prep cooking, and line cooking do not typically require a background check.

Others include:

  • Trucking
  • Waste management
  • Landscaping.

Finding jobs due to Criminal Record

If you’re having trouble finding a job because of your criminal record, there are a few things you can do.

• First, try to find companies that have programs in place to hire people with criminal records.

•Second, look for the kinds of jobs that are willing to overlook your criminal record.

• Finally, many people with criminal records face unnecessary barriers to employment. Even a simple assault charge can make it difficult to gain access to employment. Fortunately, there are professional employment services that can help you find jobs that are willing to overlook your criminal record. In doing this, you will need an employment application to determine your employment prospects.

criminal history search request, Criminal Record on Job Opportunities

Background Check and How to be Prepared

Background checks are a necessary part of many job applications, but they can be nerve-wracking if you're not prepared. If you know that a potential employer will be running a criminal background search, there are a few things you can do to prepare.

Here are a few tips to help you get through your background check with ease:

Know What Will be Included in the Check

Most employers will request a criminal history report, and some may also request information on your credit history or past employment. Knowing what's going to be included in the check ahead of time can help you prepare mentally and ensure that there won't be any surprises.

Gather All Relevant Documents and Records

You'll need to provide accurate information on your application form, so make sure you have all of the supporting documentation handy before starting the process. This includes things like transcripts, references, and previous employment records.

Update all Information

Make sure everything is up-to-date and accurate. Information from these sources will create an easier transition during this step gathering evidence

Be Prepared

You want to avoid anything being flagged as incomplete, which depending on how stringent the requirements for said position, may cause an issue further down the line. Be prepared to explain your criminal history in a better light such as by making positive contributions. For example, you might want to emphasize that you have learned from your mistakes and that you are now a law-abiding citizen.

How Can I Get my Criminal Record Expunged?

The process of expunging a criminal record is complicated and varies from state to state. In general, however, you will need to file a petition with the court and show that you have been rehabilitated. You will also need to pay a filing fee.

If you are successful in getting your criminal record expunged, it will not be visible to potential employers. However, you will still need to disclose your criminal activity or history if you are applying for a job that requires a background check.

This being the case, it would be extremely necessary that before anything, you get in touch with an attorney whose legal services center around this area to be well versed with the procedures of each state as it relates to getting a criminal record expunged.

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Such a criminal defense attorney will not only help you understand the process but also guide you through it and represent you in court if necessary.

How to Increase Your Chances of Getting Hired Even With a Criminal Record

If you have a criminal record, there are a few things you can do to improve your chances of getting hired.

First, you can try to get your record expunged or sealed. Expunging or sealing your record means that it will not show up on background checks. This can be a difficult process, but it is worth it if it improves your chances of being hired. If you are eligible to have your record sealed or expunged, it is important to take advantage of this opportunity.

Another option is to be upfront about your criminal history. If you are asked about it during an interview, be honest and explain what happened. Many employers are willing to give applicants with criminal histories a chance if they are honest about their past and seem to have reformed.

Finally, you may want to consider applying for jobs with companies that have “ban the box” policies. Ban the box policies prohibit employers from asking about criminal history on job applications. This gives applicants with criminal history records a better chance of getting their foot in the door.

Call Our Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer Today!

While it can be difficult to find a job with a criminal record, it is not impossible. With persistence and a positive attitude, you can improve your chances of landing a job, even with a criminal background. Engage an experienced employment attorney to help you understand your rights and guide you through the job search process. At Ktenas Law, we have successfully helped many clients with criminal records and we can help you too. Call us today at (312) 756-8652 for a consultation.