Life throws curveballs – and sometimes, they’re in the form of a misdemeanor shoplifting charge on your record. You’re not the same person you were then, but that little checkmark on a job application can feel like an indelible stain on your future.
You’re here for real talk and actionable advice, and that’s exactly what you’ll find in the next few scrolls.
Can You Get a Job with a Misdemeanor on Your Record?
The short answer is yes, you can get a job with a misdemeanor on your record, but it’s going to take some honesty, legwork, and strategy.
A shoplifting charge or any misdemeanor can be a red flag to potential employers, making the job search a bit more challenging. However, it’s important to understand that not all doors are closed. Employers might weigh the nature of the offense, how long ago it occurred, and how relevant it is to the job you’re applying for.
For instance, a misdemeanor might be viewed more lenently if it’s unrelated to the job’s responsibilities. Moreover, many states have regulations in place, like ban-the-box laws, requiring employers to remove the question of criminal history from job applications and delay the background check until later in the hiring process.
In addition, some companies actively participate in second-chance programs (more on this below), aiming to give individuals with a criminal record a fresh start. It’s worth researching which organizations have such initiatives, as they might be more open to considering your application despite your misdemeanor.
What Are My Rights During the Job Search?
Navigating the job market with a criminal record means knowing your rights to prevent discrimination. Under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), employers must gain your written consent to conduct a background check. Plus, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin, which the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) interprets to include employment decisions based on criminal records that unfairly affect these groups.
If an employer decides not to hire you based on the background check findings, they are required by the FCRA to give you a copy of the report, a notice of your rights, and the opportunity to dispute the information before making the final decision.
Several jurisdictions even have laws restricting employer inquiries into criminal history until after an initial job interview, or in some cases, a job offer. For instance, the New York City Fair Chance Act prevents employers from asking about criminal history before making a job offer.
How Can You Make Your Application Stand Out?
Standing out in a pool of applicants when you have a misdemeanor in your past is about pivoting attention to your strengths and the positive contributions you can offer. Here’s a breakdown of strategies to employ:
- Craft a Killer Resume: Focus on your skills and achievements. Use clear, vibrant language to demonstrate your capabilities. If possible, include quantifiable achievements to back up your claims.
- Write a Compelling Cover Letter: Use this space to tell your story. You don’t need to mention your misdemeanor here; instead, highlight your professional journey, your growth, and your commitment to your field.
- Obtain Positive References: References can be a game-changer. Contact previous employers, mentors, or community leaders who can vouch for your character and work ethic.
- Consider Character References: These can sometimes speak louder than traditional professional references, especially when they come from respected community members or organizations you’ve volunteered with.
- Continuously Upskill: Whether it’s taking new courses, certifications, or attending workshops related to your field, show potential employers that you’re committed to your professional development.
- Be Prepared to Address the Issue: If the topic of your criminal record comes up, frame your response with a focus on what you learned from the experience and how you’ve grown since then.
- Exercise Patience: It’s important to apply selectively and patiently wait for the right opportunity, rather than mass-applying to every opening.
One often overlooked tip is to create a personal brand online. Build a professional presence on platforms like LinkedIn, share your expertise, and engage with your industry community. This online footprint can provide employers with a broader picture of who you are beyond a background check.
By following these strategies, you can make the misdemeanor on your record a footnote rather than a headline in your job search story. Remember, your past doesn’t define your future, and with the right approach, you’ll find an employer willing to appreciate your talents and contributions. Keep your chin up and keep pressing forward – your persistence will pay off.
Which Industries Are More Open to Hiring Someone with a Misdemeanor?
When you’re eager to get back on the job wagon after a shoplifting misdemeanor, it’s crucial to know which industries typically extend a welcoming hand. Hospitality is one such sector, often focused on customer service and teamwork, making it a prime spot for second chances. Whether it’s working in a bustling hotel or a vibrant restaurant, the hospitality world is fast-paced and dynamic, often seeking employees who are ready to roll up their sleeves and dive in.
The construction industry can also be a solid foundation for your job search. This field is known for valuing hard work over background checks, assuming you’re ready to work hard and show you’re reliable. Additionally, roles in warehousing and manufacturing may not be as stringent with background checks, especially when they need to fill positions quickly due to high demand for labor.
Now, if you’re a creative soul or have a knack for technology, the arts, multimedia, and tech industries are worth exploring. These fields often prioritize skills and portfolio strength over past missteps. If you’ve got the right talents and can prove your worth, a misdemeanor might not weigh you down here.
Lastly, and perhaps interestingly, green industries – think renewable energy companies or environmental organizations – are emerging as second-chance champions. They’re not just focused on saving the planet; they’re also investing in the potential of people willing to contribute positively to society.
Exploring Second-Chance Programs
Peek into the world of second-chance programs and you’ll find a treasure trove of opportunities. These initiatives understand that everyone deserves a fair shot at turning their lives around. For instance, The National Reentry Resource Center provides a wealth of information on employment assistance for those with criminal records.
What’s more, many big-name companies like Starbucks and Home Depot have openly stated that they consider applicants with criminal records – including misdemeanors. There’s also Ban the Box movement, which advocates for removing criminal history questions from job applications, helping to level the playing field.
To snag these opportunities, keep your eyes peeled for “Fair Chance Business Pledge” signatories – a commitment by businesses to provide fair chances for all job seekers. Networking and social media platforms such as LinkedIn can also point you in the direction of sympathetic employers. Do a little digging, and the results might surprise you!
Checking the second-chance business coalition company pages can get you more familiar with which companies are a part of it, and which ones offer a re-entry into the workforce for those looking for it. Some of these companies include:
- Dick’s Sporting Goods
- Bank of America
- American Airlines,
and many more. All you have to do is keep an eye out of new openings, and keep applying. Do not be discouraged by rejections, and keep going. You’ll get a job if you don’t stop.
Freelancing and Entrepreneurship as Alternatives
For those who’ve hit a wall in the traditional job market, freelancing and entrepreneurship aren’t just backdoors – they’re wide open gates to a new career path. As a freelancer, you’re the boss, and your criminal record is a non-issue as long as you deliver top-notch work. Platforms like Upwork or Fiverr can be goldmines for picking up gigs in writing, graphic design, programming, and more.
Embracing entrepreneurship could also be a game-changer. Starting your own business means focusing on your strengths and passion rather than explaining your past. Plus, there’s an array of resources for budding entrepreneurs, including SCORE and Small Business Administration, ready to provide mentorship and guidance.
One unique angle that’s often overlooked? Tap into your own experience with the justice system by offering consulting or support services to others navigating similar waters. It’s a niche market that’s not only underserved but could benefit tremendously from your firsthand insight – now, that’s turning lemons into lemonade.
Remember, success is about persistence and creativity. Whether you’re seeking a job post-misdemeanor, exploring second-chance programs, or launching your own gig, the key is to be resilient. Opportunities are out there – you just need to knock on the right doors and present yourself as the go-getter you are. Keep your chin up, keep moving forward, and you’ll find your place where your past doesn’t overshadow your potential.
What Steps Can You Take to Minimize the Impact of Your Misdemeanor?
Landing on your feet after a misdemeanor can feel like walking a tightrope. But chin up! It’s quite possible to bounce back with the right strategies. It’s crucial to acknowledge the hurdle but also to understand it’s not an insurmountable wall. Take the bull by the horns and steer your future where you want it to go. Here’s some essential advice to minimize the impact of your misdemeanor on your job hunt.
Seek Legal Remedies: Clear the Slate
First things first, let’s talk about getting your record as squeaky clean as possible. If you’re eligible, expungement is like a magic eraser for your criminal record. It’s a legal process that can potentially seal your record from public view. Not all misdemeanors are eligible, but it’s worth shooting your shot by consulting with an attorney or checking out resources like Nolo to understand the nuts and bolts of this process.
Embrace Transparency: Honesty as Policy
When it comes to job interviews, honesty isn’t just the best policy—it’s your new credo. Trying to hide your misdemeanor is like playing hide and seek with a toddler: it’s adorable you think it’ll work, but it’s probably not going to pan out. Instead, be upfront when asked. This doesn’t mean you need to wear your misdemeanor like a badge, but rather present it as a learning experience when appropriate.
This doesn’t mean you have to be the first one to mention it, and it probably won’t come up until the background check (sometimes not even then). In my opinion, don’t mention it until they ask, but be prepared to talk about it and think about what you’re going to say if it does pop up.
Reframe the Narrative: Spin a Yarn of Growth
Everyone loves a comeback story. Here’s your chance to pen your own. When you do discuss your misdemeanor, frame it as a catalyst for personal growth. Talk about the lessons learned and how it’s made you a more responsible and conscientious individual. Showing that you’ve grown from the experience can often impress an employer, as it demonstrates resilience and maturity.
Add Color to Your Canvas: Paint a Picture of Now
A misdemeanor might be part of your story, but it doesn’t define you. Flesh out your narrative by highlighting your qualifications, skills, and experiences that are relevant to the job. Employers are interested in who you are today and how you can contribute to their organization.
Unique Value: Tap into Untapped Networks
Here’s an angle that’s often overlooked: utilize non-traditional job networks that specialize in helping those with a criminal record find employment. Organizations like Honest Jobs cater to job seekers with criminal histories by partnering with employers who value second chances. This targeted approach can increase your chances of finding an employer who is more understanding of your background.
Stay the Course: Show Steadfast Commitment
Be ready to demonstrate your commitment to maintaining good behavior. A spotless track record after the incident can be a strong indicator of reliability. Show potential employers your dedication through consistent work history, positive references, or community involvement.
Master the Art of Explanation
If you are asked about your misdemeanor in an interview, take a deep breath and keep it simple and brief. Explain the situation factually, what you learned, and, most importantly, what you have done since then to ensure it was an isolated incident. A sentence or two should suffice.
Remember, every saint has a past and every sinner has a future. You’re not seeking perfection but the chance to prove your worth. Approach every application and interview with your head held high, ready to showcase who you are now, not who you were then.
By taking these steps, you’re not just preparing for job interviews; you’re setting the stage for personal redemption and professional success. Change is possible on your path, it’s just a matter of time until you find an employer who recognizes the value you bring to the table, misdemeanor and all.