In Australia, employees in certain economic fields need to submit to a background check. Such tests are mandatory for jobs in healthcare, schools, aged care, financial institutions, etc.
Many other Australian businesses have also introduced routine background checks on their employees, even if they’re not mandated by law to do so. If you know you’ve never been in trouble with the law, you have nothing to worry about. It’s just another formality.
What can you do if you know you have a criminal record and the employer will find out about your convictions?
Here are some tips to help you get the job you want.
Relevance to the job
Employers are not allowed to refuse you employment if the offences on your criminal record are not relevant in any way to the job you’re applying for. If you’re looking for an IT job, a driving offence on your record is in no way relevant.
Pick a job carefully
To avoid wasting time, do not apply for those jobs where background checks are essential and you know you’re not going to make the cut with the convictions on your record.
Run a background check on yourself
You know you have a record, but you should know in advance what your employer will see. You can use an online police check agency. It’s far more convenient than going to the police department in person and it takes less time. There’s no red tape involved and you’ll get your police check in a few business days if not 24 hours.
Learn about spent convictions
In Australia, minor offences become spent after 10 years, if you were convicted as an adult, or 5 if you were convicted as a minor. Spent convictions are not disclosable, so they won’t appear on your criminal record any more. In most states, this is an automatic process, but in Western Australia, you’ll have to apply to have your conviction expunged from your record. Do that well before applying for a job.
Beat your employer to it
If you know the employer is going to ask about your criminal history, be prepared to present them with your national police check such as it is. This is a good way of showing you’re not trying to hide your past. You acknowledge your past behaviour and want to prove you’re no longer the person that committed those offences.
Be prepared to discuss
This is not something you can sweep under the rug. Talk about your past offences, focusing on explaining the circumstances that led to them and on the life lesson you learned from that experience.
Show you’re eager to work
Recruiting agents are human and everybody loves a good story about redemption. Show them you’re making an effort to turn your life around. Talk about your plans for the future and how much this job means to you.
Showcase your abilities
Alright, maybe you did something wrong at one point in your life, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be a good employee. Talk about the courses you took, your skills, the things that make you suitable for that position. If you present yourself as a valuable employee, they’ll be inclined to overlook your record.
Don’t be afraid
If you walk looking like you know you won’t get the job, you might as well not go at all. Show some confidence. Behave like a person who is worthy of employment. Obviously, don’t overdo it. The last thing you want to show is arrogance. Try dignity, instead.
Don’t say more than you need to
Remember that you have the legal right not to mention past convictions that have become spent. Only talk about the convictions that appear on your criminal record. For example, if you want to work as a taxi driver, there is no need for you to explain about a petty theft offence that may have occurred when you were a child. This is why you should order your background check in advance. The spent ones don’t matter anymore in terms of employment so don’t say anything about them.