Employment Law

Have you ever been convicted of a crime, either a misdemeanor or felony?” If yes, describe in detail
Do you currently have any pending charges against you?” If yes, describe in detail.

We have all seen these questions on job applications. For some people, the answer is a simple “NO” or “N/A “and it’s on to the next question. For others, these questions might be the reason you aren’t getting calls for interviews or receiving job offers.
So what can you do?

  • Read carefully to determine exactly what information the question is asking about. The question may only require you to disclose felony convictions, so you do not have to include any misdemeanor convictions. In some instances, employers are only looking for recent convictions. If the questions ask about convictions in the last 5 years and you were convicted 10 years ago, you do not need to include this information.
  • Be honest. Most employers will conduct routine background checks on potential employees, even if they answer “No” to criminal history questions. If you are not completely honest or lie about anything, they will find out. Lying could hurt your chances of getting the job even more than anything that is discovered on your criminal record.
  • Get a copy of your criminal history. You should know exactly what your record looks like, exactly what your convictions were for, and how old they are. Most likely your employer will obtain and keep a copy of your criminal record, so you should have this information too.
  • Get your record Expunged. Certain criminal convictions can be “expunged” or removed from your record so that employers can no longer see them when doing a background check. To determine if your criminal conviction is eligible, refer to our blog post “Expunging (Setting Aside) a Conviction from your Criminal Record in Michigan”.