How to Get Employment with a Crime Record in Australia

Persons with criminal history records may find it challenging to obtain employment. Rest be assured, it is not impossible to find employment with a criminal record in Australia. This page explains various options to persons who are looking for employment and have a record on their police check certificate.

How to get employment with a crime record in Australia

With more and more Australian businesses now asking for a background check as part of their recruitment strategy, no wonder many ex-felons wonder if they stand a chance to get a decent job. The answer is yes, you can find employment, if you know your rights and, most important, how to address the issue during the pre-hiring screening. Here’s what you need to know.

Do you have the skills for the job you’re applying for?

This is the number one question you should be asking yourself because this is what matters most to a business owner. Think about it – when advertising for a vacancy any business is looking for someone able to fill that position. Someone good at his job, able to do the work fast and up to the standards.

If you can say that about yourself, having some past offence on your record becomes less important and the prospective employer might be inclined to overlook your past mistakes. Apply for those jobs you can prove to be good at.

Be forward about your past

Job interview

When you’re preparing for the job interview, you need to formulate a clear strategy on how to answer should the question of your criminal record arise. Some HR managers won’t ask such delicate questions, but some will.

If the job advertisement mentions a background check as a requirement for the job the only thing you can do is to be honest about your past. Obviously, the company cannot conduct a background check on you without your consent, but not giving that consent might very well cost you the job.

Even if the company does not have a clear requirement concerning background screening, an experienced recruiting agent will notice a significant gap in your employment history and will ask you to explain. Do not try to lie as they might get suspicious and ask for a background check even if they weren’t planning to do so.

Be honest and explain that you were in jail during that period. Talk about the offence committed, explain the circumstances briefly and show your remorse for that stupid mistake. Talk about the time spent behind bars being a sobering lesson and explain what you learned and how you changed your life after that.

It would be of great help if you could come up with solid facts to back your claims, like accepting even the most menial jobs just to earn a decent living, doing volunteer work and undertaking professional training to better your chances. In other words, show them you’re not afraid to acknowledge your mistakes and you’re working hard to put your past behind you.

Do you need to disclose everything?

If you’re wondering whether all your past convictions will show up on the national police check, you should assume they will. These days most businesses work with online accredited agencies like Australian National Character Check (Link: that provide 100% percent valid police checks detailing all the offences committed by an individual anywhere on Australian territory. Even if you were convicted in a different state, it will still show up on your record.

However, you also need to know about the spent convictions scheme which refers to minor offences committed a long time ago. Under Australian law, minor offences committed more than 10 year before will no longer appear on your record. More than that, you are not required to disclose them to the employer and you cannot be charged with anything for failing to mention lapsed convictions.

The purpose of the law is exactly that – to help people like you put their past behind them. The spent conviction scheme does not apply for positions where the law mandates thorough background checks, like working with children or vulnerable people.

Another thing you should know is that employers cannot turn down your application based on your criminal record if your past offense is in no way relevant to the job description.

Getting a job when you have a criminal record is not easy, but it is doable and your best chance is to come across as a decent person, a changed person.

Places that help persons with criminal records find work

There exists a number of services in Australia that assist persons with a crime record to find employment. Persons with a crime record can consider one of these specialist services if they are in need of employment:

Wrapping up

In essence, having a criminal record will not bar someone from obtaining employment. There are numerous options available to persons with a criminal record on their police check. Simply keep in mind the type of job that you are applying for and note whether or not the circumstances of the criminal record will impact the job role. Be straightforward about your past and don't hide information that may end up getting uncovered.

Keep in mind that there is a spent convictions scheme that may end up removing your criminal record if a certain time period has lapsed. All in all, also keep in mind the various options that are available for persons to seek help from services that assist persons with a criminal record to find employment.

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