How to Deal

Job Hunting With a Felony Conviction

By Lily Garcia
Special to
Thursday, June 29, 2006; 5:49 AM

I've been convicted of a felony, embezzlement, this year. I just wanted to know whether I will ever get a second chance at a job. What are my options? Will a temp agency hire me or find me work?

The short answer is yes.

But you must be patient, persistent and, above all, honest.

When it comes to criminal records, I firmly believe that honesty is the best policy. I will not pretend this will not impede your chances of securing a job, especially in accounting or finance. Still, it is better to be honest and make a strong case that you have learned from your mistakes than attempt to keep them quiet, be found out, and get fired.

The employment applications of many companies ask about prior convictions and many companies conduct routine criminal background checks on new hires. If you are caught lying on your employment application, you will likely be fired -- or not hired at all.

If possible, I recommend waiting to disclose your conviction until you are far along in the interview process and an offer has been made or seems likely. If you have made it that far, any employer will be far more likely to give you a chance.

You are fortunate, by the way, that you were not convicted of a violent offense. In such a case, your chances of finding an employer willing to overlook your past would be much narrower.

This is a controversial subject and reasonable minds differ on the best approach for job seekers. For more help, visit the D.C. Employment Justice Center's web site, which offers information and support.

Lily Garcia is the Director of Human Resources for Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive. She has been offering employment law and human resources advice to companies of all sizes for nine years.

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Disclaimer: How to Deal is not meant to be a replacement for actual legal advice. Please contact your HR representative for issues that pertain to your organization. We reserve the right to edit submitted questions for length and clarity.

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