Finding a Job
Finding employment with a criminal conviction can be tough, but don’t worry… you are not alone.
There are an estimated 11 million people with criminal convictions in the UK, many of whom are in sustainable employment and meaningful careers. A criminal conviction is not a barrier to employment.
We believe everyone who wants to work, deserves to work. Our team of Social Employment Advisors are here to help.
We employ people who have had a criminal conviction and will be able to support you through our nine-step candidate journey to help you secure employment. We will never reject anyone from our programme in the areas we operate.
Please speak with your Probation Officer or DWP Work Coach to be referred to our service, they will know if we operate in your area. We can only offer mentoring if you have been referred by your Probation Officer or Work Coach.
Whether you are going for your first job interview, your 50th job interview or you are changing careers, consider these few essential actions to ensure the best chances of success.
1. Think ABC
Any Job, Better Job, Career! Spend time to think about which industry you want to get into and what your dream career might be – what qualifications and skills should you gain? Should you volunteer to increase work experience, and might you have to consider starting further down the career ladder to work your way up?
It’s important to keep yourself pro-active, earn an honest income and prove your employability. Consider using recruitment agencies to find ‘Any Job’. Continue to work your way to a ‘Better Job’ with better hours, pay and conditions until you achieve that first day at your ‘Career Job’.
2. Keep your CV sharp
We read hundreds of CVs, working well as an individual or as part of a team just doesn’t cut it any more.
Keep your opening statement short and full of character.
Starting with the most recent, place employment history above qualifications.
Avoid highlighting voluntary work as paid employment as it is often preferable to employers.
Any employment is better than none as it shows you can maintain a placement.
Avoid spelling mistakes, use a spell checker and ask people like your work coach or a local careers service to proof read for you.
3. Tailor your covering letter
We regularly interview for positions… candidates who research us, are passionate about our sector and show how they see themselves in our business are most likely to be invited for interview.
A cover letter is not only about you, but you and the employer. Again, get two people to check the spelling and grammar of your cover letter.
4. Have a disclosure letter ready
Where the above documents are quite standard, writing a disclosure letter explaining your conviction and how your circumstances have changed can be daunting. For most jobs, you do not have to disclose a spent conviction when asked.
Employers may not have interviewed someone so open about convictions before, so be honest and expect they may need to be led by you. A face-to-face discussion is best, given the opportunity, but if this isn’t possible or if you feel uncomfortable then send a disclosure letter.
Consider inviting the employer to ask questions and try to not be offended if they ask something personal or use the wrong word. You do not have to disclose ‘spent' convictions under the Rehabilitation of Offender’s Act. If you are unsure if your convictions are spent call the Nacro Helpline on 0300 123 1999 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
5. Fill out the application form correctly
Take your time on application forms, it is important that all information is neat and correct. Application forms are likely to ask if you have any unspent criminal convictions, we recommend answering with:
I have enclosed this information in a disclosure letter but welcome the opportunity to discuss this over the phone or face-to-face.
For digital applications send the company an email asking for the best place to forward a confidential disclosure letter in order to be considered for interview.
Remember: Do not disclose anything that is spent if the role does not require it. If you are unsure contact the Nacro Helpline on 0300 123 1999 or email email@example.com
6. Anticipate their interview questions
Here are the most popular interview questions, prepare an answer for each.
• What can you tell me about yourself?
• Can you list your strengths?
• What weaknesses do you have?
• Why should I consider hiring you?
• Where do you see yourself five years from now?
• Why do you want to work here?
• What is your salary expectation?
• What motivates you?
• What makes a good team player?
• Is there anything that you would like to ask me?
You are likely to be asked if you have any questions, and this is still part of the interview. Employers often want to see if an interviewee is truly interested in the opportunity and if they have done any research beforehand.
The most common questions people ask are about hours and pay but these questions are not for you, they’re for the employer! You can ask this via a call after the interview, before you accept the position.
We suggest the following:
I have read the company has strong [Family, Moral, Hard-Working] values, How would you expect an employee to conduct themselves on a daily basis to represent to these values?
I am keen to progress in my career, what development and progression opportunities could I expect if I am successful in starting a position with your organisation?
As an employer, what do you want your employees to be saying about your people management and working conditions?
The above questions show:
That you have researched the business
You are ambitious and see this as a long term placement
You’re keen to be treated with decency and respect
8. Dress appropriately
No matter what job you’re going for, a shirt and smart shoes will never see you wrong. Jeans may or may not be appropriate… if you are unsure, consider some smart trousers / a skirt.
If you don’t have these items of clothing speak with your work coach about their ‘Flexible Support Fund’ and consider getting yourself a set from retailers or charity shops. Johnson Cleaners and Timpsons will clean any suit if you are unemployed and going for an interview.
9. Hold your head high, be polite
You have nothing to be nervous about, you are eager to work and that puts you head and shoulders above many other candidates.
Do not sit down until you’re invited to do so.
Say yes to a glass of water (it gives you time to think about answers whilst having a sip and will stop you fidgeting if you hold onto it)
Don’t fidget with a pen or click it during your interview
Wait until the interviewer has finished speaking before you respond
Avoiding pointing directly at people
DO NOT SWEAR
Finally, always thank the interviewers for their time regardless of how you think it went.
10. Ask for feedback
If you do or do not get offered the position, ensure you always ask for feedback and ways in which you could improve as you would value their honest opinion to avoid any obvious issues for the next opportunity with other employers.
If you do not get this job then it wasn’t right for you, take a deep breath and apply for three more jobs each time you get a rejection.
There is a future where you are employed in a career you love, it may mean many interviews and doing some work you do not enjoy but this is all working towards a time when you can look back on this see how far you’ve come.
You’re going to be great, good luck.
If you'd like to begin applying for roles with inclusive employers you can do so through the Bridge of Hope website, below.