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Michigan Criminal Law Blog

Job Hunting with a Criminal Record? Here’s What You Need to Know

Job hunting is a tough enough challenge for the average person, but if you have a criminal record, finding a job can seem downright impossible.

Some employers don’t bother checking your background, but some choose to exercise their authority to check your criminal history after they make you a conditional offer. Despite efforts to “ban the box,” there are still plenty of qualified candidates turned down for jobs because of past mistakes.

In some cases, depending on the job and depending on the crime, you might be automatically disqualified from being hired. In other cases, even if the crime for which you were convicted would have no bearing on the job for which you’ve applied, you might still be bumped to the bottom of the applicant pool. And if it comes down to a decision between you and someone without a criminal history, chances are you’re not going to be the choice.

So what can you do? Is there a way to make your chances of being hired better, even if you have a criminal history?

These tips might help:

• Don’t go out of your way to hide your criminal history. You don’t need to carry a sign with you announcing your past, but if you’re asked it’s important to be honest. The sooner you get the issue out of the way the better. Despite your past actions, you’re frankness will show you’re trustworthy and that you’ve put things behind you. You’ll be able to explain your situation and begin proving you’re otherwise the best candidate for the job.

• Make sure you know what’s visible to potential employers. You should be honest, but there is no sense sharing information nobody can ever find out about you. For instance, maybe you were in the wrong place at the wrong time and arrested in relation to a crime. If it never went further than your arrest, there’s probably no reason to share this information.

• Keep in mind the employer is going to consider the crime. A criminal record that includes one instance of public intoxication while you were in college is going to be viewed differently than a history of multiple drug convictions. Even a recent DUI will carry more weight than one that occurred decades ago. You still need to disclose a conviction, but you shouldn’t be as concerned about a past event as one that is more recent.

Should I Try Having My Record Expunged?

If you’re still concerned about finding employment with a criminal record, there might be a way to make it go away. It’s possible to have charged against you expunged from your record, so even if an employer runs a background check the event won’t be visible. Having your record expunged takes a bit of effort, but it’s worth it if it gives you a clean slate.

To learn more about the basic process of expungement, check out this information from

If you’d like to discuss your criminal history as it relates to your job search or you have questions about expunging your record, we can help. To schedule a consultation to discuss the details of your situation, contact Andrew W. Kowalkowski, PLLC at 248.974.9594.

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