When you’re looking for a new job, the entire process is dependant on your past.
We craft resumés that are essentially documented evidence of the things we have done. We list our achievements, our previous work experience, and all the other information we think that recruiters would want to know. We try to sell ourselves as the best, most desirable candidate; one so good that any company should be delighted to have the chance to employ us.
Or at least, that’s the idea.
For some of us -- perhaps including yourself -- our resumé is an inherently difficult document. It’s difficult because, if we write it factually, it contains information that we would rather recruiters don’t know; details of a past or present issue regarding previous brushes with the law, and potentially a criminal record.
If you have these marks from your past influencing your future, what can you do about them?
A huge number of people outright lie on their resumé; over 50 percent of recruiters told a survey they had outright caught a prospective employee in a lie. Don’t be one of these applicants, even if you are only lying by omission. You have to include your prior history, because the company has a right to know who they are employing.
DO: Be Proactive
You need to address the fact that you know there is something less-than-wonderful on your resumé, and then make it clear that you’re working to fix it. There’s a few ways you can address this:
- If you have previous criminal convictions, emphasize the work you have done -- for example, with counseling services -- to overcome what happened, and how you now see it very much as a part of your past.
- If you are experiencing ongoing legal issues, then be brief, talk about how you have taken the time to browse WKLaw.com and similar services to find an attorney, how you have the matter in hand. This at least makes it seems like you are responsible for the issue, and the mention of your legal representation will hopefully remind the recruiter that you should be presumed innocent until proven guilty. It’s also a good idea to ask your attorney to check what you have written, just so you can be sure you’ve not given too much detail about the case.
Don’t: Overdo It
With all of the above said, you don’t want to overdo the explanation of the black marks on your resumé. Cover the topic, give the necessary details as described above, then move on to more positive subjects.
DO: Know Your Rights
There have been a number of cases brought in recent years as to when an employer can refuse work due to a criminal record, as described on Forbes.com. If you are concerned that someone has refused to hire you purely due to your record, there is a chance you are being unfairly discriminated against. Speak to a legal representative about this issue.
It’s always tough hunting for a job when your record isn’t the glowing wonder you might wish it was, but by following the above, you’ll be well placed to make a decent impression to potential recruiters.