How to Get a Job with a Misdemeanor

Having a misdemeanor record can hurt you when you are looking for a job, but it should not hold you back. Many people have done things in their past that they wished they hadn’t.

It is approximated that one-third of Americans have been arrested by the age of 23 for various crimes. This article will answer frequently asked questions and help you to know how to get a job with a misdemeanor.   

Do Misdemeanor Records Appear on Background Check?

Yes. Misdemeanors appear on background checks. A misdemeanor remains in your record permanently. Luckily, a misdemeanor has less impact compared to a felony.

Some employers may overlook your misdemeanor depending on the sensitivity of the job. During an interview, be honest to disclose it and explain what happened.

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How to Qualify for a Job with a Misdemeanor

The rule of thumb, honesty is the best policy. After all, employers are looking for honest employees.

1. Disclose the misdemeanor during the interview

Come out clean and explain what happened. Owning up to the mistake is also a great virtue that employers look for in employees.

So, don’t mention “it wasn’t my fault,” rather, admit the mistake and state that you rectified it. Give examples of ways that you have changed to let the employer know that you have learned your lesson.

Failing to disclose it may appear later in the background check. By then it will be too late to explain yourself.

2. You can have the misdemeanor expunged

To increase your chance of getting a job, the other option you have is through expungement. If the misdemeanor is significantly limiting you from getting a job, you can have it sealed or removed from your record.

You may need the help of an attorney. The process differs from one state to the other.

In some states, when an offender completes a rehabilitative program, he receives an automatic expungement. Once the conviction is removed from your record, follow up with background check agencies to confirm that it has been removed from your report.

3. Seek jobs that do not correlate with the crime you committed

The third option is to seek jobs that do not correlate with the crime you committed. For instance, an offense against a minor is a deterrent to getting a job in a childcare facility. Likewise, someone convicted of theft may find it hard to get a job that deals with money.

Luckily, some jobs are forgiving. Employers in fields such as culinary arts, food and beverages, and automotive tend to overlook your record and give you a second chance. It is best to go for jobs where the crime you committed is less significant.

woman in hard hat holding vehicle part

4. Allow time since misdemeanor occurred to pass

Some state laws limit employers on how far they can check your misdemeanor record. For instance, the provisions of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) allow employers to only look at crimes committed in the last seven years.

It also provides that employers should get written consent from candidates before they can carry out a background check.  Employers should then inform the candidates if they have been denied the job because of their crime records.  

5. Be highly professional and prepared

Finally, make sure to win the employer’s heart and mercy. When attending the interview, make sure to dress neatly and portray a high level of professionalism.

man sitting in plaid suit and tie

Also, have a well-written resume and present your work history and achievements well. Demonstrate how you will be useful to the employer and that you are honest and dependable.

This is a great way to prove to the employer that you have taken steps to change from your past.

Do Dismissed Cases Appear on The Background Check?

If you were not convicted, the crime might not appear on the background check. In such a case, it is not a must to disclose this to the employer.

However, if you were convicted and the case was dismissed, this is likely to show up. In this case, explain the circumstances to the employer. Tell the employer what you learned from the conviction and steps you have taken to become a better person.

Do Arrests and Pending Convictions Appear on Background Checks?

Yes. When you are arrested, the police keep your records, which show up in background checks. The records can be used to decide whether or not to hire.

However, this depends on the state you reside in. In some states, police arrests do not appear in background checks. In case you are not sure whether your arrest record is available in your records, it is best to disclose it and explain the circumstances.

Also, pending convictions will show up on background checks. The FCRA allows the use of pending convictions to make hiring decisions, but some states restrict their use.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission requires the employer to consider when the crime was committed and the relationship between the crime and the nature of the job. If the crime was committed recently and has a correlation with the job, the employer can use the information.

What Type of Jobs Can I Apply for With a Misdemeanor?

Although a misdemeanor is not as serious as a felony, somehow, it will limit your employment opportunities. Therefore, it is wise to go for jobs that may overlook criminal records.

Luckily, there are many of them, including arts, design, repair, automotive industry, food and beverage, as well as computer and technology. As a matter of fact, there are thousands of companies that are considered “felon-friendly”.

If these companies are willing to offer felons a second chance then you may have a good chance of getting a job with a misdemeanor.

Can I Get Fired For a Misdemeanor?

man sitting in plaid shirt touching his hair

If you get convicted for a misdemeanor while in your current job, the employer’s ability to fire you depends on some factors like if you employed on contract, permanent or you are an “at-will” employee.

If you are an “at-will” employee, then the employee can fire you without disclosing any reason. Some states have regulations so that employers must give a reason for firing an employee.

If you get fired because of the conviction, then the employer must disclose how the sentence is affecting the employer. There is no provision for disclosure of pending convictions.

However, missing out on your job to attend a court hearing can draw the attention of your employer. Therefore, it is always best to be honest. It is better to lose a job in dignity than to stay in one in dishonesty.

How Many Years Back Do Background Checks Go?

Federal laws do not limit how far employers can look into your records. However, some state laws limit background checks up to seven years.

However, some employers may want to check your record for the last ten years. In such a case, the employer can ask you if you have ever been convicted of a misdemeanor.

In such a case, you need to say “yes.” Usually, you will get a chance to explain the circumstance.


The truth is that at some point, a misdemeanor record can affect your employment chances. The best way to go about it is to be honest, and disclose the circumstances to the employer.

If you are still wondering how to get a job with a misdemeanor, just remember that you will need to be prepared and diligent. If you have a misdemeanor record, don’t let it hold you back from getting a good job.