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How To Address A Difficult Past When Applying For A Job

Putting your best foot forward makes sense if you want to land the job of your dreams – or any job for that matter. A difficult past can make this tricky but don’t worry, it’s never impossible to cope with this issue. There are ways to get beyond negative employment history or even a criminal record.

There are many forms in which criminal records manifest. The absence of legal issues does not guarantee a clean presence online. News reports of a long-forgotten arrest, a video of an embarrassing incident, or a mugshot on Mugshots.com might surface when one least expects them to. You can use a background screening provider like Check People to see if any negative information about your past is available online. 

Remove Potentially Damaging Information 

The process of removing a criminal record varies depending on whether it’s in a public or a private database. According to legal experts, you can’t completely erase or delete an online record. Everyone who has ever been convicted or even charged with a misdemeanor or felony without being convicted must deal with this information appearing on the internet at some point. If false information emerges or the record has expired, get in touch with the site displaying it and ask them to remove it.

Dispute a Sealed Record

You’re not required to disclose a criminal record that has been expunged or sealed if you’re applying for a job or housing. This means that if someone asks you about criminal history, you can say you don’t have one as long as the record was officially erased or sealed. This is something you will need to prove and explain if a prospective employer finds information about an arrest or a conviction. The laws in your state determine how this information can be used.  

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Be Ready to Explain 

No matter what the issue is – a criminal record or poor performance on a past job – be prepared to explain it. Every potential employer is required to give you a chance to do so. Since the majority of employers perform background checks today, they’re likely to find out, and being confronted with damaging information unexpectedly is the last thing you want. 

Dishonesty makes a very poor impression, even if it’s a white lie by your standards. The person interviewing you will probably think, “If he’s hiding things or lying now, imagine what he’ll do when we hire him” and move on to another candidate. 

Basically, you need to give a brief explanation of what happened and say what you learned from the experience. That’s what any prospective employer will focus on. Nobody is immune to mistakes; it’s how we move on from them that counts. 

Be prepared to explain any past disagreements with an employer, clients, or coworkers. Say that you took measures to make sure it wouldn’t happen again and what they were. Most people will show understanding that such issues can occur and focus on how you overcame them. 

In case you didn’t take measures in the wake of that particular event, talk about what you would do to keep it from reoccurring at some point. If you had a dispute with a client, you could say you’re willing to take a customer service course. 

In case of bad performance at a previous job, you might try to agree with your ex-boss as to what they’ll say about you when asked. If you think it will work, give it a shot. 

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Get Good References

It’s easy to let something like changing your references slip your mind, particularly if someone called you about an interview out of the blue. Replace poor references with positive ones and update your resume as soon as possible. You could get academic references too. 

Overcome Poor Job Skills

There are employers who expect new employees to cope without offering any on the job training. If you aren’t sure what you’re doing, this can earn you a poor evaluation. You could take a course to improve your job skills if you got a bad report. Sales, math, accounting, and communication courses are offered by adult colleges, and many of them issue certificates upon completion. 

Planning pays off in this regard as well. If you’re asked about a poor report during an interview, simply have this certificate handy and show it. That will do away with any negative expectations or impressions of you.

Market Your Best Self

On a final note, your cover letter shouldn’t include negative information about you. This seems obvious, but it’s another one of those things we tend to forget about. Update your cover letter before you apply for jobs. Talk about your strengths. 

Be relaxed but focused during every interview and above all, polite. Being able to maintain assertiveness could lead a recruiter to bypass negative information from the past. 

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