How to Get a Job with a Criminal Record (or otherwise Complex History)

Jan 31, 2022

We won’t sugarcoat the fact that having a criminal record (or otherwise complex history) can make a person’s job search more difficult. For many, it’s seen as the ultimate barrier to getting a job, especially since most companies tend to perform background checks on their candidates. Add to that, depending on your record, you may find yourself barred from landing a job in a specific industry (i.e. banking or finance) altogether. 

That said, if you’re someone looking to forge a positive career path despite an irregular past, the land profession could be for you. Below, we offer tips to help make your job search a successful one.


Of course, don’t neglect to look for roles at companies that are open about hiring candidate regardless of criminal history. But don’t limit yourself ––  go for any jobs that align with your skills, interests, and overall career goals. 

Remember that honesty is the best policy when applying for jobs if you have a criminal record. If your criminal record includes a felony, your first opportunity to be honest about your past will likely be when filling out the job application. A background check will reveal anything else. You don’t want to risk a lie (even one done by omission) hurting both your current and future job hunt!

Don’t be afraid to be proactive! Prepare for a background check by:

  1. Verifying that your criminal record is accurate by looking for any errors that should be corrected
  2. Getting early items on your criminal record expunged –– you may be able to have old misdemeanors removed from your record
  3. Preparing an honest response for anything that may come up in a background check –– don’t risk a lie (even one done by omission) hurting both your current and future job hunt

If you have a complex history, your skills need to be undeniable. Prepare for a job opportunity before you apply by getting the training you need for the position. Consider getting trained in areas that could prove to be helpful in the future as well. Not only will this sort of personal training and development prepare you for the job, but it will make you a more attractive candidate.


Show your potential employer that you’ve owned up to your past mistakes and that you’re serious about rectifying them. In your cover letter (and during the interviewing process), give examples of what you’ve done to change your past behavior. Whatever you do, don’t act like your complex past doesn’t exist. The truth is almost always revealed.

Below are some additional things you can highlight that show your change in behavior:

  • Personal development courses and/or programs you’ve completed (e.g. Alcoholics Anonymous)
  • Relevant achievements from previous jobs
  • Recommendations and referrals (even better if they work at the company you’re applying for)
  • Volunteer work

These and other examples can all help give hiring managers additional confidence in you as a candidate and appease any doubts they may have. We’d all like to be judged by our present rather than past mistakes; taking charge of your narrative and facing it head on with full transparency is a great way to make that happen. 

On the Hunt for a Job?

Part & Parcel can help you navigate your complex past and become the best land pro you can be so you can find (and succeed at) your dream opportunity.