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Disclosing to an employer – Some ‘do’s’ and ‘don’ts’

Having been through the process of disclosing her conviction to several employers over the years, Stacey provides some tips on what’s worked for her.


My conviction is now quite old and for many years I’ve been working very successfully in spite of it. In fact I’d say my criminal record is most definitely in the past and hasn’t bothered me for many years. However, this hasn’t always been the case and I’ve had my fair share of up’s and down’s when applying for jobs.

However, along the way, I’ve learned a few things about disclosure which I’d like to share. Some of these things may be quite obvious but when you’re going through the process it’s not always easy to see things clearly.

Applying for jobs very soon after you’ve been convicted can be difficult and, as time passes between the past and the present, prospective employers will be able to see that for x number of years you’ve had a clean record.

When to disclose will often be determined by the employer – they could ask on the application form, at interview or once you’ve been offered the job. The best scenario for me was being asked to disclose once I’d been offered a job. At that stage, I was able to get an idea of how approachable my ‘boss’ was going to be and this often helped with the things I included in my disclosure.

I’d always prepare a disclosure statement in advance so I knew exactly what I was going to say; I’d practice it in front of a mirror. I found this made it easier to get my story across without getting distracted or upset and meant that I didn’t go home afterwards wishing I’d said this or that. Other than disclosing the actual conviction, there are a few other things I’d suggest:


  • Blame anyone else for your offence, always take responsibility for your actions
  • Complain about the consequences (for example how harsh you thought your sentence was)
  • Make excuses – there’s a fine line between mitigating factors and trying to condone your behaviour.


  • Point out that you’d never had any dealings with the police before your conviction (assuming you hadn’t) and you have no intention of ever having dealings with them in the future
  • Describe it as a lapse in good judgement (if you can) and if there were extenuating circumstances do explain them, especially if the circumstances are no longer an issue. If they are, explain the actions you’ve taken to deal with them in an appropriate way
  • Be remorseful (about committing the crime – not about getting caught!)
  • Explain it as something that happened but that you have learned from it and are now ready and determined to rebuild your life. Speak positively and confidently.

If you’re finding it hard to get a paid job, you might want to think about doing some voluntary work. Once you’ve got your foot in the door and shown that you’re willing to work for nothing, then many organisations will consider you favourably as and when a paid vacancy becomes available.  It always looks good on your CV and prospective employers admire the fact that you’ve given your services for free.

There are some situations where your criminal conviction will actually be a bonus because you’ll be able to relate to and empathise with certain clients groups. A classic case of turning a negative into a positive.

I hope this helps and for anybody that’s currently looking for a job, I wish you the very best of luck – it will happen.

By Stacey (name changed to protect identity)


Useful links

  • Comment – Let us know your thoughts on this post by commenting below
  • Information – We have some practical self-help information on disclosing to an employer
  • Discuss this issue – There are some interesting discussions related to this issue on our online forum


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