You have done your time and paid your fines, but now you are trying to get your life back together. As you start looking for a job, it is only normal to worry about what having a criminal conviction on your record will mean for your employment chances.
Employer can ask about relevant convictions
Will potential employers automatically say no when they hear of a prior conviction? What types of questions can they even legally ask? Are some convictions worse than others? Am I at an unfair disadvantage because of a criminal record? These are all common questions to have.
The Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation for the state of Maryland provides information on guidelines for pre-employment. These are the rules that dictate what information a potential employer can ask you and what that employer can decide to do with the information.
While a potential employer cannot ask about general arrests or convictions, employers can ask about relevant convictions. And while the guidelines say consideration should be given to how long ago the crime occurred, the nature of the crime itself and how you have acted since then – some employers may still take a hard stance.
Additionally, while some employers may not hold a conviction against someone from years ago, this does not provide much comfort to someone with a more recent conviction on their record. Just how are they supposed to even start to get their life back on track if no one will give them a chance in the first place?
Convictions have very real impacts on career aspirations
The bottom line is that there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to criminal convictions and employment. Whether your conviction will matter is greatly dependent on the type of job you are trying to get.
For example, if you have a conviction tied to employee theft on your record, finding a job is going to be more challenging. The same would also hold true if you have a drunk driving conviction on your record and you are trying to get a job that involves driving in any way. Assault convictions can also automatically bar you from certain types of jobs.
It’s important for everyone to understand the true impact of a conviction after an arrest – before any type of plea is entered or any type of case even starts. Per the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, just an arrest record alone cannot be used as a reason not to hire someone. Knowing what you are up against is always a good idea and it’s best to have all the information – what a conviction will mean to your life both now and into the future – before taking any next steps after an arrest or charge.