If you are a job seeker with a criminal record, you may find that landing a position is exceedingly difficult. While there is a significant push to make employment easier to come by for ex-offenders thanks to trends like ban the box, criminal history remains a consideration for most employers. According to a 2017 survey from HR.com, 97 percent of employers conduct at least one type of pre-employment background screening—county and state criminal history checks are the most common.
If you are trying to find a job with no background check required, it can feel like searching for a needle in a haystack. Even among the small percent of jobs that don’t require a background check, there are no clearly-defined categories, industries, or positions for which you can find out ahead of time that you won’t be asked to consent to a background check.
Employers have their reasons for conducting background checks on most or all positions. In some cases, companies are required by federal, state, or industry regulations to conduct background checks. Usually, private employers are free to devise their own background check strategies.
Many industries have no laws requiring background screenings, which means that private companies can theoretically decide to offer positions on a “no background check required” basis. However, because of liability risks and the threat of negligent hiring lawsuits, most employers are not willing to take this risk. Running employee background checks is a method that organizations use to shield themselves against legal danger.
When professional licensing is involved—for positions from healthcare to education to real estate—you can often expect multiple background checks. You’ll go through a check at the licensing stage and another with a prospective employer.
Entry-level positions are the most likely to be “no background check required.” Retail businesses, restaurants (especially fast food), and other establishments that tend to see a lot of employee turnover fall into this category.
Keep in mind that there are never any guarantees. These types of businesses face the same risks for negligent hiring as any other. In other words, if you apply for a job with a fast food restaurant, the hiring manager may well ask you to submit to a background check.
Rather than looking for companies that don’t run background checks, look for businesses with a reputation for hiring ex-offenders. There are online resources designed to help individuals with criminal records—especially those with felony convictions—find jobs. You can also improve your chances at employment by using local or state laws to your advantage: seeking jobs in areas with ban the box policies or in states where employers aren’t allowed to consider arrest records may give you better odds.
Finally, you might consider looking into expungement. If you are eligible, expunging your criminal record could improve your hiring chances dramatically. At backgroundchecks.com, we have a program called MyClearStart designed to help ex-offenders secure criminal record expungement.