How to Find a Job With a Criminal Record

Once you complete your jail sentence, and are ready to re-enter society, it can feel like a daunting task to find work. Your heart plummets every time a job application asks if you’ve ever been convicted, and you realize you probably won’t even be called for an interview. Finding a job is an important part of getting your life started again and staying on the straight and narrow. In the past, newly rehabilitated individuals struggled to find work, sending many back to their old habits and creating repeat offenders. Now, there are many options for work, and you can find job security and opportunities for career advancement. 

Be Honest

Honesty is key to finding a job upon your release from jail. It’s better to disclose your conviction when you apply, than run damage control after your future employer runs a background check. A study by PBSA found that roughly 94% of employers ran background checks on applicants in 2020. When you get ahead of your employer, you can explain your charges and the steps you’ve taken to rehabilitate yourself. While it’s smart to be upfront about your record, you should be careful not to overshare. If you can, find out if your employer even runs background checks. You may be able to get by without ever exposing your criminal record. 

Use Personal Connections

People who have a connection to you are generally more willing to take a chance on hiring you. If friends or family can’t offer you a job, they may be able to put in a good word with someone who can. You can also ask a reference to write you a letter of recommendation to submit with your resume. An industry professional or someone who was a part of your rehabilitation can vouch for your character and work ethic. 

Second Chance Employers

A lot of companies are second chance employers, and even more are considering it. These employers specifically hire people with a criminal record to help them find gainful employment, and stay out of the legal system. These employers know that individuals with a criminal record are motivated to get a job and tend to have a plethora of useful skills. Second-chance employees like this option because they start getting a consistent paycheck, and there’s often room for advancement with the company. 

A lot of big companies hire people with a record these days. Walmart, Ace Hardware, Tyson Foods, Starbucks, and Bed Bath & Beyond are some well-known brands that offer service jobs to people with a criminal past. However, if you started learning new skills while in jail you can also expand to other industries that offer higher pay. A lot of ex-convicts find success as welders, electricians, military servicemen, truck drivers, oil field workers, carpenters, marketers, and designers. 


Each state sets guidelines about what information a company is legally allowed to ask applicants for. In Texas, employers are only allowed to look at the applicant’s criminal history over the last seven years. The only exceptions are if your annual salary will exceed $75,000 per year, or you’re applying for a government or insurance job. Then, they can review your entire criminal history, starting at age 18. An employer shouldn’t be able to see your criminal history before age 18, because minor records are typically sealed. There is also some leeway if you will be providing in-home services. These rules only apply for employers who use consumer reporting agencies to run background checks. However, it’s extremely uncommon for employers to run background checks themselves. 

ABC Bail Bonds

Our bondsmen at ABC Bail Bonds are ready to bail you out at any time! We offer a variety of payment plans, so you or a loved one don’t have to waste time behind bars coming up with the cash for a one-time payment. An arrest can already be stressful and add challenges to your life. Don’t add the stress of missing out on school, work, and family time while you’re waiting for your hearing. At ABC Bail Bonds, we want to help you get back to your regularly scheduled life fast. Contact us today to see what we can do for you.

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