Many cities, states and counties have "banned the box" on job applications -- the box that candidates must check if they've been convicted of a felony. As a result, some employers don't perform background checks unless the position specifically deals with law enforcement, child or nursing care, school employment or safety and security issues, according to the Huffington Post. Even though some states don't allow private-sector employers to request criminal background information on job applications, nearly three times as many states disallow those types of questions on public, government-sponsored job applications.
As of May 2015, state legislators in more than 100 cities and counties in 17 states, including California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Rhode Island, Vermont and Virginia, have "banned the box" on applications for government jobs. Six of those states -- Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey and Rhode Island -- have legislation that disallows conviction history questions on job applications for private employers.
Government jobs that don't require background checks are available in a wide range of job title categories, such as engineering, clerical work, quality assurance, maintenance, construction, food service, food preparation, industrial equipment operation, packing and processing. However, you must review your state's employment laws and discuss application requirements with individual employers. There's no official list of jobs that guarantees you won't be required to comply with an employer's background check request. In states that don't have "ban the box" legislation, you must talk to the employer to find out whether a background check is required for the position.
Consider hiring yourself out as an independent contractor to avoid background checks altogether. You might know how perform windshield repairs, work as a barber, replace or repair locks, paint houses, work as a landscaper or have an idea for your own retail business, suggests Michael Ford in his book Jobs for Felons. Discuss your skill sets with friends and family members who can help build your client base.
Some companies hire ex-offenders, with or without conducting background checks, to perform telephone customer service duties. According to Ford, some customer service agencies are willing to take a risk on felons because all customer relations are handled over the phone. There's often a high demand for telephone customer service agents because of high turnover rates. Ford says to avoid cold-call telemarketing jobs because you'll likely have to deal with angry people who are upset that you called them.
Some restaurants, shipping companies and businesses hire delivery drivers without conducting criminal background checks. However, a clean driving record is a must -- DUIs and at-fault accidents greatly reduce the likelihood that the company will hire you. Employers may not require background checks for other types of restaurant jobs, such as servers, cooks and dishwashers. A positive attitude and a team-centered mindset could land you a favorable position at a restaurant, suggests Ford.
- Huffington Post -- Courtesy of Stateline: A Criminal Record May No Longer Be a Stumbling Block to Employment in Some Places
- National Employment Law Project: Ban the Box -- U.S. Cities, Counties and States Adopt Fair Hiring Policies
- Federal Government Jobs: Federal Job Title Categories
- Google Books: Jobs for Felons; Michael Ford