How To’s: Explaining Your Criminal History

Explaining Your Criminal History

How to Explain a Criminal History to Potential Employers and Others

1. Know Your History

Make sure you are fully aware of what potential employers and other decision-makers will see when they check your criminal background. Get a copy of your official Georgia criminal history record from a local police department or sheriff’s office, and, if possible, get a private background report from a provider such as HireRight or First Advantage. Be sure you know the number of times you have been arrested and whether each charge(s) and conviction(s) was a misdemeanor or felony so you can provide correct information to potential employers.

2. Be Prepared

If you find incorrect information, correct the information with the provider of the report and inform potential employers of the situation. Find out whether any of the charges on your criminal history qualify for restriction (expungement) and complete the process. Be prepared for your job search by getting copies of any relevant court records showing that charges were dismissed or restricted (expunged) in case an employer should ask. If you wait to get these items until after the employer asks, you may miss the opportunity.

3. Answer Questions Truthfully

Always answers questions about your criminal history truthfully, but do not provide more information than is requested. If an application only asks about convictions, do not list arrests that did not result in conviction. If the application only asks about felony convictions, do not provide information about misdemeanor offenses.

4. Take Responsibility

When talking about your criminal history, take responsibility for past actions and emphasize how you have moved forward in a positive way. Share positive experiences with potential employers. Potential employers will not be impressed by hearing negative feelings you have about your case.

(Sample letters for potential employers are included with these instructions)