Getting an opportunity to explain your criminal history to a prospective employer might be the best way to overcome this hurdle to employment. Many employers will ask you to write a letter explaining your circumstances, so they can put your background in the proper light with respect to potential employment.
The best way to explain is in a letter. This way, you have a chance to choose your words carefully, and your explanation becomes part of your application package. You may feel like you do not want everyone who reads your application to hear your story, but if it is a compelling one, it could get you the job you want.
Here are some tips for writing a letter of explanation:
Keep your description brief. Your whole letter should be about three paragraphs. Begin by telling how you got in trouble in the first place, but keep this part short. Give just enough detail for the employer to understand the nature of your infraction, but do not give too much detail. If you go on and on about the incident, you run the risk of sounding self-righteous or even glorifying what happened.
Try not to make excuses for what you did. If you were not involved in the incident but were arrested anyway, you should explain that — but do not go into any detail about things other people did wrong. Blaming the arresting officer for being unprofessional or claiming the court personnel were rude to you will not put you in a good light. It if far more noble to accept the blame yourself for something you did wrong than to try to blame it on others.
Describe what you have done since the incident to correct your behavior. If you took an anger management class, got counseling for alcohol abuse or completed a debt relief program, now is the time to mention it. No need to go into too much detail here, either. Just list the things you have done to learn from your mistake.
Illustrate how your life is different now than it was when you got arrested. Your involvement with the criminal justice system might have been a negative experience, but because of it and everything you did to help yourself, you are different now. Give examples of your current behavior, like caring for others, caring for yourself and acting responsibly, that illustrate you would never get into trouble again.
Explain how hiring you would be a benefit to the employer. Be sure to highlight how getting and succeeding at this job is a milestone on your future path. Describe how having someone with your goals and determination to succeed would benefit the company.
Consult with an attorney before putting anything in writing. According to Mark Morales, founder and owner of Mark Morales & Associates, “Anything a person submits in writing about their criminal history could potentially be leaked and become public knowledge; therefore, it is advisable to seek legal advice before submitting any letter explaining criminal background to a potential employer.” Your Texas criminal defense attorney can advise you best with their legal knowledge and experience with your case.
How to Explain Criminal History
If you are wondering how to get a job even though you have a misdemeanor, the answer is to be honest about your criminal history. It is a good idea to mention your record early in the application process. You may be inclined to hide your past and only deal with it if it should come up, but bringing it up yourself is a better strategy.
While you do not want to dwell on the details of your criminal record, bringing it up first, before you are asked about it, shows a sense of responsibility. When you bring it up, do so in the context of other more positive attributes. You do not want the fact that you have a criminal history to define you as a job applicant. Offer details of your work history that show you are capable and conscientious.
When you bring up your criminal record, offer a few details but do not go into it depth. Once it is out there, there is no reason to wait for a response, either. Just move on to talking about more positive aspects of your past and work history. Remain open to answering questions if the interviewer should have any. You do not want to appear defensive in a job interview. A defensive posture will draw negative attention to your qualifications.
If you are asked specific questions about your criminal history, answer them truthfully but be brief. Try not to offer any more information than the interviewer wants to know. Take responsibility for your past — never make excuses, but limit your explanation. You do not want to appear to be justifying criminal behavior, no matter how minor it seems to you.
Always follow up your answers with some positive information about the skills and qualities you bring to the job. You do not want to leave the conversation on the topic of your criminal history. Demonstrate how you have turned it around and taken some good lessons from a bad situation.
You may want to practice explaining your criminal history before the actual job interview. An interview can be stressful, and many people talk too much or ramble on when they are nervous. Decide what you are going to say about your criminal record and rehearse it. This way, even under stress, you will keep it brief and to the point.
Texas Criminal Defense Attorneys can be your best guide to negotiating a job interview even if you have a criminal record. It is not a bad idea to talk with a Texas criminal defense attorney about your specific case and what information a prospective employer can legally obtain.
If you have ever been arrested, contact our experienced defense attorneys at Mark Morales & Associates to find out whether you have to disclose your arrest record to employers. Contact us online or call our office for more information.
The purpose of this post is to provide general information and is not to be constituted as legal advice. If you need help with a specific issue, please seek the advice of an attorney.