Finding a job after getting out of prison can be tough for convicted criminals. Employers are not always willing to hire someone with a criminal history. So, this could be the hardest part of returning to normal life. But, this is not always the case.
Trade and technical fields are usually a go to for convicted criminals that want to work. One benefit is that you usually do not need higher education degrees to get these jobs. Skills training is still important, but you generally will not need a college degree.
These fields are also more open to people with criminal records. Other fields may not have as many opportunities.
How to Prepare for an Application
It may be helpful to you to run some background checks on yourself before applying. Look through your criminal and driving history before Autozone does. This way, you will be able to have a way of explaining your conviction and current status.
Understand that your criminal record does not define you. Even though it can make it more difficult to find work, you can still be a good employee.
Below you will find information on the types of background checks that Autozone runs. You will also find information on how to deal with your criminal record in the future.
Types of Background Checks
Autozone runs a few different types of background checks on their applicants. At first, they will run background checks on criminal and driving history. After that, they may ask you to do a drug screening.
The nice thing is that Autozone is willing to hire someone with a criminal history. They want to know about it first, though. As a business, they need to make sure that you are trustworthy and can be helpful to them.
The amount of time since the charge is also important. If it was recent, they may be less willing to hire you than if it was years ago. If you have had a clear record for several years, it shows that you have grown as a person. It will also allow them to pay more attention to your current skills and less attention to your history.
The first type of background check is criminal history. Autozone will check local and federal records for any criminal charges you may have. Both misdemeanors and felonies will appear on these checks.
Again, though, this will not disqualify you from employment. Because of this, it is important to be honest on your application. It is better for you to tell them about your criminal history than for them to find out through a background check. If they find out that you lied, they will likely immediately discard your application.
The second type of background check is driving history. Since you may be driving a company vehicle at times, Autozone wants to know that you are a safe driver. This check will include accident history, tickets, DUI’s, etc.
Like the criminal history check, this will not immediately disqualify you. So, be honest about this as well. Timing here is very important as well.
The background checks and interview process are the first step in hiring. Autozone may then ask you to do a drug screening before completing the hiring process.
These can detect both illegal and prescription drugs. As long as you have a valid prescription for any medication that appears on the test, you will be fine. Note that certain prescription drugs prohibit people from doing certain types of work. For example, a company will not allow you to drive if you are on a medication that makes you drowsy.
Autozone does not have a strict policy against hiring felons. But, they will not always be willing to hire them. They will also not hire anyone with violent or sexual offense convictions. They may not hire anyone with convictions of financial crimes either.
Getting a Record Cleared: Who qualifies and how do you do it?
If you do have a criminal history, one option for you is getting your record sealed or expunged. Sealing is when the charges are no longer available for public knowledge. Expungement is similar, but goes a step further by making it as if the crime never occurred in the first place. Both allow you to state that you do not have a criminal record.
These usually do not show up on background checks, but they may. Speak to an attorney or the court to ensure that they will not appear on future background checks.
You cannot do this with every type of crime, though. Some crimes you cannot clear are murder, some sexual crimes, and some weapons charges. Crimes against minors may not qualify either.
There is an exception for sexual crimes, though. For example, indecent exposure or statutory rape between consenting teenagers may qualify. Juvenile records are usually expunged as soon as you turn 18, but not always.
Petition for Expungement
To get your record cleared, you need to petition through the courthouse. You might need to go to the courthouse in the county that charged you with the crime. But, this is different in every state, so check with your local authorities to be sure. You will have to pay to get your record cleared.
You may want to consider getting a lawyer to help you petition the court. Dealing with the legal system can be difficult and confusing. Having a lawyer may be helpful in navigating the system.
Other Options for Criminal Records
Sometimes, you may not qualify for getting your record cleared. But, you may have changed and learned from your experience. If this is your situation, then you can look into a few different options. These will help you to show potential employers that you are no longer a risk.
Pardons are becoming more rare these days. But, if granted, they are another great way to state that you do not have a criminal record.
After completing your sentence, probation, or parole, you can seek a pardon. This is a process of forgiveness granted by the court. It restores certain rights and sort of says that the crime never happened, like clearing a record.
Each state has a different process for granting pardons, so you can ask the court for information.
Certificate of Innocence
Unfortunately, background checks show all charges. This includes dropped or dismissed charges. Even if you did not commit the crime, the charges may appear on your record. In this case, you can try to get a certificate of innocence.
A certificate of innocence is a way to show that the arrest or conviction should not have happened. Like with other processes mentioned, each state’s process is different. Sometimes, you can go through the court. Other times, you need to go through the law enforcement agency that arrested you.
Certificate of Rehabilitation
A certificate of rehabilitation acknowledges that the crime occurred. But, it allows you to show that you are a changed person. It is a way for the court system to say that you have had rehabilitation.
In general, you must have a clean record for a certain amount of time since your previous conviction. It is different in every state, but this is usually a few years.
You will usually need to go through the court to get this. You will need to provide proof of rehabilitation. Some ways to do this include education, work, recommendation letters, and therapy. Recommendation letters can come from probation or parole officers, social service caseworkers. etc.
Other Qualifications to Mention on Your Application
A lot of correctional facilities offer technical training to inmates. If you have received this during your sentence, make sure you talk about it on your application. Also let them know if you have received any general education during your sentence.
Mechanical skills may set you apart from other applicants. The fact that you took a class during your sentence also shows your willingness to change.
If you have not yet started your sentence, make sure you look into these opportunities. It is hard enough as is for people with criminal records to find work after release. These classes will help your job searching in the future.
Put any work release or inmate job experience on your application as well. This shows motivation and willingness to work.
Having a criminal record does not mean that you will never be able to find work. Yes, it will be harder to find work than if you did not have a criminal record. But, you have options.
Hopefully, this information has been helpful to you. You now understand what Autozone looks for in a background check. You also know what options you have in clearing your record if need be.
In general, remember to be honest on your application and show that you are a changed person. A criminal record matters, but it is less important when you can show that you are an asset to the company.