Finding a job is hard enough.

It can become even harder if you’ve done hard time, or have a criminal record of any kind.

Fortunately for you, we’ve prepared a list of the most important things you need to do in order to find a career despite having a criminal record.

If you believe that you’ve grown up and owned up to your crimes, then you need to believe that you deserve everything that society has to offer — including a great job!

So with that confidence in mind, here’s what you need to do to make your job search work…

1. Prepare an explanation

Just like you research a business before you take a job there, employers will do their research on you before offering you a job. This can, of course, mean a police background check, but depending on your crime this is something they may even be able to find by searching you online.

Your potential employers will already know what you’ve done — but only you can say why you did what you did.

When discussing your record, stick to the facts and take any emotion out of it. Avoid making generic excuses, and definitely don’t avoid discussing it entirely.

Just tell them in simple terms what the situation was, and what happened as a result.

And then, tell them what you LEARNED. Sharing your growth mindset proves to them that you care about positive development.

2. Take responsibility

It’s not just crimes — no one likes to own up to any mistake they’ve made.

Part of this is because we fear looking weak to others. Oddly enough, one of the most human things is to be ashamed of natural human error. We all want to seem perfect, but none of us are.

But if you flip that narrative on its head — if you OWN the situation instead of shying away from it — you’re not just taking responsibility, you’re taking control of your own narrative.

It’s only when you have the fortitude to show that you accept your situation that you will be able to control the outcome.

Don’t present yourself as a victim, easily steamrolled by their circumstances. And don’t blame someone or something else, showing that you can’t take responsibility. The best defense, if you want to keep your credibility in the eyes of a recruiter, is to just let the blows land without flinching.

3.  Emphasize how you’ve changed

You’re not the only one who can imagine how difficult it is for a person with a criminal record to find employment. And one other person who can understand? Your recruiter.

Be honest with your recruiter about the difficulties you’re facing. But use that as a jumping point to discuss the ways you’re changing in order to overcome them!

What you’ll be doing is showing them your thought process is trustworthy, and your sense of judgement is well-calibrated.

Share what you’re doing to put your experience behind you, and to work through it. In many ways, this is a unique opportunity for you to show how you handle obstacles, and whether you’re coachable or not. A good employer will value the right mindset more than a flawless history.

And admitting you know you need to regain people’s trust also shows you have the wherewithal to see your situation honestly.

4. Check out the John Howard Society

The John Howard Society of Ontario is a not-for-profit organization of 19 local offices dedicated to effective, just and humane responses to crime and its causes.

For more than 90 years, they’ve worked to keep humanity in justice. Today, they continue to build a safer Ontario by supporting the people and communities affected by the criminal justice system.

Their local offices deliver more than 80 evidence-based programs and services focused on prevention, intervention and re-integration across the province. These range from helping youth develop the life skills that will let them achieve their full potential, to helping families navigate issues of criminal justice, to providing job training for those leaving incarceration so they can contribute to their community in a meaningful way.

They promote practical, equitable policies while raising awareness of the root causes of crime and calling on Ontarians to share responsibility for addressing them. Within the system itself, they advocate for the fair treatment of every individual.

The John Howard Society of Kingston and District even has trained staff who are able to assess you for eligibility and guide you through the record suspension process.

Each year, their work impacts the lives of more than 100,000 Ontarians. You could be one of them!