How to Get a Job with a Felony

If you have been convicted of a felony, finding a job can be a very tiresome and demoralizing process. In my opinion, our society makes it especially hard for felons and those with a criminal record to get back on track. Unfortunately, it is true that most employers are reluctant to hire people who have a felony or criminal records. Emphasis on “most”, it’s not always the case. Here are a few things to do if you are going to look for a job with a felony on your record:

1. Do your research ahead of time

Know what’s on your background check and be prepared to tell employers everything they need to know if asked. Never lie to your potential employer, because if they do a background check and you lied you won’t get the job. If you know it is likely that you will be asked questions regarding your record in the interview or hiring process, or if you have already been asked questions about your background, be able to explain your situation quickly and concisely. Walking into an interview without knowing what is on your background check is like driving a car with a blindfold on. You may be surprised what is there and even more surprised about what may not be there.


Come Clean!

2. Eliminate the non-starters (don’t waste your time)

You should know what companies and types of companies will immediately disqualify you for your felony record, so don’t waste your time applying to them. Apply to the jobs that you are more likely to have a shot at to maximize your job search efficiency. For example, don’t waste time applying for school teacher positions or financial advisor jobs that are very strict on this type of thing.

There are many organizations that are given a tax break by the government to hire ex-felons so look out for such organizations as you will have much less of a difficulty finding a job there. Specifically, this tax break is primarily given during the first year after conviction or release.

Also, small local businesses will be more welcoming than larger ones. Large companies often need to comply with strict processes and procedures for hiring.

3. Don’t go at it alone

Whenever looking for a job as an ex-felon, do not go it all alone. Look for organizations that can help you. There are many workforce development centers that are there to help ex-felons secure a job for themselves. Check out the social services center in your city and see if someone there can help you. On the internet, resources like xamire.

Check out the ex-felon resources page here at for guidance


Check out the services in your area.

5. Forget working for someone else, set up your own business

There are no limitations if you have the entrepreneurial skills to start your own business, freelance, or be a consultant. Nothing can stop you from starting your own business, you will face the common market threats that all entrepreneurs face on an even playing field. Your felony record will unlikely ever come up. Customers will not spend money to do a background check on a small business.

6. Freelance Online

Online freelancing is one good way to earn money and a criminal background is irrelevant. There are all sorts of jobs online, but make sure to not be sucked into any work from home scams that require upfront payments. NEVER PAY AN UPFRONT FEE FOR A JOB. The best way to get involved correctly is by setting up quality profiles on freelancing websites and bidding on different jobs and tasks. You don’t have to mention your felony record anywhere.

It isn’t just super tech savvy positions, potential jobs through online freelancing could consist of doing in person marketing, being a virtual assistant, or researching online. Online freelancing is a great option for those who are willing to work hard, but don’t have a world class Resume.

A few sites that broker employers, contract jobs, and online talent are, and  All of these companies do not charge freelancers upfront fees for finding them jobs and projects. Odesk Jobs-Optiosn for Felony Employment

7. Get back to your education

Another smart move would be to get back to your education. There is never a wrong time to improve your academic background and skill set. There are many jobs in technology, that care only about your skills and could care less about other limiting factors. If you can do the job you are hired. Start by trying classes at a local and inexpensive community college. Take classes to keep your skills up to date, take a training program, or complete your GED if you still need it. This carries weight, shows you are making  progress in a positive direction, creates lifelong skills, and will give you a boost of confidence. Make sure you read up on the pros and cons of for-profit colleges.

graduation going back to school

Going back to school!

8. Clear your record

Depending on the state and type of crime, you may have the right to get your felony removed from your records in a legal manner. Do some research, find a lawyer, and discuss with him or her how you can get the felony deleted from your records. Is it expensive? Most will do a free consultation, ask as many questions as possible! The answers along with internet research may help you file this yourself.

9. Get references

Landing a job offer is much easier if you have solid references that can vouch for you. Select references that will be strong advocates for you and communicate your value to potential employers. They should be able to explain that you worked very well on previous jobs or projects and that you can perform this potential job. By using references you are borrowing the creditably of the other individuals character as well as yours.

– JobUnlocker Team

Updated 3-31-2017

How to Get a Job

26 thoughts on “How to Get a Job with a Felony

  1. Hassan on Reply

    What about people with misdemeanors? I had a squeaky clean record until I got hit with a DUI earlier this year. I had no idea a misdemeanor would ruin my life so completely. In the past few months I’ve come SO close to getting a job so many times, but the second they see the DUI, they show me the door. This is so frustrating. I held onto my last job for nearly a decade, and I’m a hard worker. I want nothing more than to get back to earning a living, but no one’s giving me a chance. What do I do? It all just seems so hopeless.

  2. samantha on Reply

    My fiance is haveing a hard time finding a job. He has numerous felonies. I’ve had a chance to work with him at a job that’s where we met accually. Hes a very hard worker and will strive to reach new levels but no one will give him a chance. Where we met it was seasonal. He trys so hard and I feel really bad I see it in his eyes he feels like a failure. I know everyone says they’ve changed and very few people do but my fiance really has. His crimes were done in 2009 and was charged in 2010. He spent time in jail. And since he’s been out 2 years he’s been strugglen. It kills me to see him upset. I just wish someone would give him a chance and soon he’s going crazy.

    1. Joe B. on Reply


      I’m in the same boat as your fiancée. I have a Felony (theft) conviction and it’s quite difficult finding work. Encourage him to volunteer his time, educate himself further, and to forgive himself. Staying active is key. I am beginning to follow these steps and creating new opportunities for myself. I will keep him in my prayers. God Bless and best of luck.

  3. Lurenda on Reply

    Hello! I am a college graduate and I am looking for employment. I have an Associates degree in General studies and I will have my Bachelor degree in Psychology with an emphasis in Human Resource Development on December 13th, 2013. I am a convicted felon (non-violent) & I live in the mid-West. I am willing to relocate. If anyone knows of any organizations who are willing to hire ex-offenders, please let me know. Your input will be greatly appreciated. – Thanks
    (ps. I am currently filing to receive a pardon from one state and I have expunged some of my record in another. While I will not be eligible to expunge my last felony in that state until 2015, I do plan to do so at that time)

  4. Shawn Hutton on Reply

    I have worked for thiss company for 8 years in this time i worked my way into middle management and along the way aquired a felony conviction. This meant nothing to my employer till they got bought by a larger corp. Now i cant pass background test for transitional hiring process and i am facing a layoff. Im depressed and very frustrated. Iam a single father and i have an 8 year old son to raise. Im lost.

    1. Marie on Reply

      How did it work out for you? Did they lay you off, or were you able to keep your job. I am just curious as I think I am about to go thru the same thing. My company just got bought, and I’m not sure what’s going to happen.

  5. Q on Reply

    I am not a felon but could easily be. My brother is though. He was and still is a good guy. Back in the day some guys jumped him and he went out and guy a gun. They saw him again and attempted to jump him again and he shot one in the butt. Sence then things have been all down hill for him. The laws are so messed up. I think all felons to include non felons should come together and protest. And don’t stop in-til something in done.Its a lot of good people out there that is willing to work but cant because of there record rather he be a simple mistake or I did it and did the time, now I wont to move on and better myself. And whats sad is while in prison as a felon you can work for a dollar or less a day with the local Department of Transportation conducting public safety ext. out amongst the regular population.But when I get out and come apply for a job getting paid regular pay and not slave labor pay you wont hire me because I am a felon. That’s so twisted and something needs to be done.

  6. amanda s. on Reply

    I have a ten year old felony and still struggle with getting a job. Thank God i have a wonderful boyfriend that supports me. I recently applied to Target for a cashier position.. I have 20 years experience… and I was turned down due to my felony. Its not a theft charge either! I am currently working as a cashier. I need out of this rut and into a new field.

  7. Amy on Reply

    I had not been convicted, but have been arrested with a felony theft by taking. I cannot find a job now even though it will be expunged from my record. I need a job now though and do not know what to do. I leave a great first impression with the managers when I have an interview but once they see my record is not clean, they turn me down. It really puts me down and gives me no motivation at all..

  8. Tiffany on Reply

    I’m at my witts end. I never had a felony or had even been arrested until august of 2012. My kids father was in a huge gun purchasing arena and was threatening to kill me and my kids if I didn’t participate. Needless to say I was indicted by the federal government and now I have a class c felony on my record. I am told that it will never be able to be expunged and I am so depressed. I was laid off my job and have been in the search for one for 6 months. No leads. The only thing I know how to do is clerical support and I am not physically able to work at a warehouse. Is there any hope or should I just throw in the towel?

  9. Johnny on Reply

    There are many things to utilize on the web to find a job as a felon. For starters places like list all the services that you can use, and is a pretty large felon to job matchmaking places online. Check with your local one stop career centers, and also with unemployment centers near you.

  10. Christopher on Reply

    I W’s convicted of a felony 2 years ago and served my time in Arizona. I’m moving back to Michigan closer to family and friends. I have done tile work as a helper for a few months in az. I am having a difficult time finding any work or an apt that with deal we the offense. I have researched websites for felons but I can’t t find anything here:( please help. Thanks chris

  11. brandon on Reply

    heck I got convicted of a felony in Illinois for riding and atv without a valid drivers license. they charged with fleeing and eluding. I cant get a job over some bs like that. be different if it was a drug charge or murder even thief i am an industrial electrician. i get plenty of interviews and go to them. up front with the place interviewing me. i have 12 yrs experience. i get emails back saying we have found someone that better fits our job. then you go back to job board or paper a couple days later new job posting for same job i applied for. oh and my favorite. we would like to thank you for your time and sharing your work background with us. we encourage you to keep applying for jobs with us. i hate that crap when human resources lie. just come out and say we don’t hire felons don’t waste my time or yours. makes me so mad when i get an email like that.

  12. Dayna on Reply

    My husband is a felon and can’t seem to get hired anywhere. I was wondering if you knew how someone could look at their background check? Like you said earlier, you would be surprised what ISN’T on their sometimes. We would just like to know exactly what it says. Thanks so much! Dayna from AL

  13. Randy Garcia on Reply

    I’ve been searching for a job in the past 12 months and nothing good yet.. It’s sad how you get treated after you mess up your first time with a felony. Never break the law!!! You will be devoured by the system and only the strong will survive.

  14. Luis on Reply

    I was charged with ID Theft in 2013 served six months in county and sentenced to 24 months probation. first time felony. Prior to that I have worked nothing but retail/sales. I have been looking for work for more than 1 year. I have been honest in every single application and interview and I am always turned down because of my past. I mean we all make mistakes. This system is all messed up. How about giving felons a second chance? No wonder most felons end back in jail because they lose hope all because they are not given a second chance. I have been to so many interviews this past year and had it not been for my felony I would have landed every single position. I live in north carolina if anyone knows of an organization that will help felons find a job please let me know. You know what I would do if i had a large amount of money? I would open up an organization that helps convicted felons who are willing to better their life and pursue education and employment.

  15. Sandra on Reply

    This organization has a lot of good information for anyone that has a felony on their record. They have articles about jobs, companies that hire felons, housing and stuff like that.

    Here is a list of companies that hire felons –

    This is an article about low cost housing/apartments –

    Hope the info helps out someone!

  16. Sandra on Reply

    Each locations policies can differ as with hiring managers. The time since conviction and the actual type of felony also plays a big part. Just because a company hires felons does not mean that they will hire you.

  17. Misty McCoy on Reply

    I have a grand theft charge on my record from 4 years ago. I have been working for a private family being a nanny and that has come to an end. I am looking for a job where some one will just give me a chance. It seems like when I tell them im on probation for grand theft, they show me the door….what can I do differently?

  18. yakira vivo on Reply

    I have a Felony on my record form 7 years ago, never got arrested but had 2 years probation for scheme to defraud. I am a 33 year old mother of three, I spent time and money on getting 2 degrees one for medical assistant and another for health service administration and just waisted my time nobody is willing to give me a chance. I am a good person who was caught in the wrong place at the wrong time and my lawyer did not do me justice. I am stuck with all these student loans I can’t even pay and 2 degrees I can’t even use. I do not know what to do, I just found out after spending more money that my offense does not qualify to be sealed with Department of Law Enforcement. I am in a hole that I can not get out than god for my husband that takes care of me and the kids but that is just not enough for me. It is so frustrating to be in this situation.

    1. Brian Stephan Parsons on Reply

      I had a false charge placed on me and somehow got convicted of a felony back in 07. The situation made me look at the legal system harder. I already knew that there was some unfinished business with the Constitution, adding of illegal laws, and the impossibility of modern day people interpreting the Constitution (fore fathers probally did too), but the level of my awareness of how far a nation will go to continue this anarchy had risen to the point that I received a headache. This guy is out of his mind for speaking so bluntly of such a great nation, right. Well there is enough things that has happened to waste good peoples time to fill 100 nations. For example, civil rights, why do you need to fight to when its already given to you. Another example, Obamacare, wasted time, free insurance should have been here decades ago. It should be illegal for government officials to not execute the duties that they are sent to do. Its good people that you must find to help you because government officials aren’t going to help people in our cases anytime soon. Find somebody in your pass that has helped you in your pass, and if you find help make sure you help somebody else out. I’m a person of color and will never use race or a felony to justify any injustices. The injustices are stated in the previous sentences. There is a lot of “government repair” that needs to be done. What can we do you say? Something I hope. You have offspring.

    2. Darlene on Reply

      My prayers goes out to you and your family. Did you ever find a job? God hears and see all your efforts. You will be blessed!!!!

  19. Cameron on Reply

    Have a conviction from 2008 and still can’t get a job. Can anyone help ? Looking for jobs in Las Cruces, NM region. Anyone know any places or help I can get?

  20. CJH on Reply

    I have prescription fraud and possession of diazepam convictions on my record from 2002 and 2003. Fortunately I was able to obtain employment in manufacturing out of state for 10 years. However, I obtained information technology certifications and have just about finished a degree in network systems administration… just to find out most IT positions require a security clearance of some sort. I was employed in IT for a little over a year in an office setting; they never asked about my background on initial hire, however one day the project manager announced that every employee had to sign a background consent form… I was honest on the form but eight days later I was told my position was being eliminated and I was let go, even though I had the most seniority of all the help desk people. Since then I’ve had about twenty calls from recruiters looking to place me but couldn’t once they found out I had a record from 12 and 13 years ago. I’m back in manufacturing now and will retrain in industrial electronics and will dump the IT career path. I read that once some 70 year old customer service representative was fired from a bank because they found out he stuck a fake dime in a laundromat washing machine back in 1963. I am now back in manufacturing and plan on retraining as an industrial control systems technician. A company will hire a felon… if they can make them money. The problem with IT is the threat of identity theft and this will cause companies to lose business because their reputation will take a hit if they employ convicted felons of any kind. They will lose contracts, both present and future so a felon will be a big money loser to them if employed.

    The Department of Education needs to come down on the colleges and force them to let potential students know what degree programs they will have success in finding employment in… the certifications I have didn’t cost a whole lot of money, only dedicated study, but my degree cost me almost $50,000 and it looks like I won’t be able to work in that field. I would have rather been denied student aid at the time of enrollment than have to pay back a student loan for a degree I can’t use. If enough people default on their student loans for this reason there may be regulatory pressure in the future for colleges to inquire about a potential student’s background and guide them accordingly.

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