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The differing attitudes of employers towards criminal records makes securing a job even harder

Having received a particularly negative response to her criminal record from an employer (despite having worked for them on a temporary basis), Christine was on the verge of changing career. However, a more positive approach at her next interview convinced Christine that although the job she’d applied for was the same, the employer was very very different.

My criminal record didn’t look great. Nothing more than shoplifting convictions but there were a lot of them. I imagine I’d be referred to as a serial offender. I won’t go into the details of why I received so many, my story is probably similar to a lot of other peoples who have issues with drugs or alcohol. Stealing became my only way of maintaining my habit.

I was really lucky and with the support of some fantastic family, friends and professionals, managed to come through this difficult time in my life and cleaned myself up. I went back to college and did a health and social care qualification and before too long I’d managed to secure myself a temporary job as a support worker through an agency.

Disclosing to the agency was the first time I’d talked about my convictions and what had led me to get them and it was a horrendous experience. Surprisingly, the agency didn’t seem to have any problems with my convictions, they were far more impressed with what I’d achieved since.

I loved my job working with individuals who were experiencing real difficulties and being able to work with them to address the challenges they faced and reduce some of the problems and risks. Not only did I love the job but more importantly, I was good at it and this soon came to the attention of the employer who offered me a full time permanent position.

I was told that I’d have to have an enhanced DBS check done but I’d already had one through the agency and I was absolutely certain that they’d passed these details onto the employer before I started the temporary work. It transpired that this wasn’t the case.

As soon as I received my new DBS certificate I handed it over to my manager and was completely stunned when she told me to go wait in her office. I’d not been waiting long when she returned and told me that she was very sorry but due to the results of my enhanced check the permanent job offer was being withdrawn and I would have to leave the premises straight away. I tried to explain that I’d disclosed to the agency and had assumed that this information had been passed on. I’m pretty certain that she believed me but the company policy prevented her from employing me. I could see that she was embarrassed and upset about the situation, but not as much as I was.

For the next month I did nothing, I questioned whether I’d be able to continue working in this field or whether I should give up and turn my hand to something else. After seeking advice from friends and family I decided to give it one last shot and started applying for other support worker roles.

I was offered a couple of interviews and disclosed my convictions at both. I’d be lying if I said it was easier than the first time but it had to be done and the interview seemed the best time. Within a couple of weeks I’d been offered a job. I’d told the HR manager at the interview that I had a recent enhanced DBS certificate and she asked me if I could take it in to her. She also explained that she would be carrying out a risk assessment at the same time.

Following my previous experience I’d pretty much convinced myself that the job offer would be withdrawn and I prepared myself for an interrogation. As I sat in front of the HR manager I could feel my eyes welling up and my lips becoming dry but she told me to relax and just explain my convictions in my own words. She didn’t ask me any questions, just listened and, after my disclosure I saw her sign the form in front of her and then ask me when I could start work.

By Christine (name changed to protect identity)


Useful links

  1. Comment – Let us know your thoughts on this post by commenting below
  2. Information – We have practical self-help information on disclosing criminal records to employers
  3. Discuss this issue – There are some interesting discussions on disclosing criminal records to employers on our online forum.

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