Searching for a job with a criminal record

Dear Working Wise: I lost my job as an electronics salesperson a year ago due to theft.

Dear Working Wise: I lost my job as an electronics salesperson a year ago due to theft. I’ve learned my lesson and will never do it again, but I haven’t been able to find a good job since and I think it’s my record that’s holding me back. How can I get a good job and move on with my life? — Frustrated

Dear Frustrated: A criminal record really can handcuff your job search in a lot of ways. It can create gaps on your resume and limit the types of jobs you’ll be eligible for.

You may be able to apply for a pardon, but this process can take up to five years from the date you complete your sentence.

Don’t lose hope though — the following tips can help you overcome these challenges and get back into the workforce.

• Start with your resume — If you have a significant gap in your employment history, you may want to organize your resume by skills.

Chronological resumes are the most common, but they are not always the best option for someone with a gap in their employment history. Check out the Resume Types tip sheet on to see examples of functional and combination-style resumes, which emphasize your skills and experience instead of your work history.

• Where to look -— Some jobs will be easier to get than others because they do not require a criminal record check. For example, construction and retail rarely ask for a criminal record check while a check is mandatory in the health-care and child-care fields.

Electronics sales is an industry that’s likely to ask about a criminal record and so you will likely have to look at other fields, at least in the short term.

One option might be to look for work with a staffing agency. Some staff who are hired through a staffing agency are hired on permanently later on.

Working as a “temp” may give you a chance to build a relationship with an employer and demonstrate that you can be trusted.

• To tell or not to tell — You don’t have to disclose your record if you are not asked and you will likely clear a criminal record check if you were: charged, but not convicted; pardoned; or referred to alternative measures such as community service, anger management training, etc.

If the question appears on the application form, you can:

• Fill in your name and contact information and attach your resume;

• Complete the application, but leave the criminal record question blank and talk about it in the interview; or

• Answer “Yes” and add, “Let’s talk about it in the interview.”

Remember, your goal in filling out the application is to gain an interview. The best time to talk about your record is face-to-face with a potential employer.

Many career consultants suggest not disclosing your record up front with employers until they have had a chance to get to know. However, if you are asked, you should tell the truth. If you lie and your employer finds out, it will damage your credibility further.

When you do talk to your employer about your record, focus on the positive aspects, such as what you have learned since then, steps that you have taken to change, and why it will never happen again. Some employers may look at the nature of your offence and how long ago it happened and decide that your record isn’t an issue.

Am I bondable? Bondable means that an employer can take out insurance against the possibility that you might steal. The insurance may be expensive or hard to get depending on the nature of your conviction, but having a criminal record does not necessarily mean you are not bondable.

Credibility is the key to searching for a job with a criminal record. This includes working hard, building trust and developing a good relationship with all your employers, plus cultivating good references.

The Red Deer John Howard Society helps Albertans, with or without criminal records, build better lives. For help overcoming your criminal record, applying for a pardon, or searching for a job, contact the Red Deer John Howard Society at 403-343-1770 or visit their website at”

Working Wise is compiled weekly by Charles Strachey, a regional manager with Alberta Employment and Immigration. Work-related questions can be sent to him at Working Wise is provided for general information only. Help with specific situations is available through Alberta Employment Standards by calling 1-877-427-3731.

Just Posted

UPDATED: Officials tour Hwy 2/Gaetz Avenue interchange

Deputy Premier Sarah Hoffman and local MLAs visit construction site

Bike thefts becoming ‘significant problem’ in Red Deer

Residents are sounding the alarm on the growing problem of bike theft… Continue reading

Red Deer approves 10 cannabis retail stores

Locations approved around the city

One trillion litres of sewage leaked into lakes and rivers over last five years

OTTAWA — Last Wednesday, a team of people from the Lake Ontario… Continue reading

Woman bitten at Red Deer dog park

Dog owners reminded to control their pets

WATCH: A horse was neglected by its owner. Now the horse is suing

ESTACADA, Ore. - Justice is an 8-year-old American quarter horse who used… Continue reading

Red Sox old-timer’s memorabilia going up for sale

BIDDEFORD, Maine — Some items belonging to one of the Boston Red… Continue reading

Rival Korea leaders to meet in Pyongyang in September

SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of — The rival Koreas announced Monday that North… Continue reading

Charlottesville anniversary: Peaceful protests, few arrests

WASHINGTON — Thousands of people wanting to send a message that racism… Continue reading

‘I believe music heals people’: 12-year-old records tribute for shooting victims

YARMOUTH, N.S. — Twelve-year-old Josh Cochrane of Yarmouth, N.S., watched the news… Continue reading

Fallen officers’ families gather with Justin Trudeau after tragedy

The prime minister laid flowers at the growing memorial to the four victims of Friday’s violence

Fallen officers’ families gather with prime minister after tragedy

FREDERICTON — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with families of fallen Fredericton… Continue reading

Liberals showcase benefits of billions spent on infrastructure projects

OTTAWA — Little more than a year before the next federal election,… Continue reading

Fredericton parade ‘a way to celebrate even in the midst of this grief’: mayor

FREDERICTON — Two days after four people were gunned down in a… Continue reading

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month