What is the proper protocol for applying for a state job while having a felony on my record? The conviction occurred in 2010. I know NY has a “ban the box” policy but do I inform the prospective state employer anyway, and if so, when? Can I rest assured that I will get a job if my crime is not related to the job being offered? Is there a certain time after conviction that a felony won’t matter? Is there anything I can do to help my chances?
“Ban the box” is a catchy phrase to describe the initiative to prohibit employers from asking applicants to check the box on pre-employment applications if they’ve been arrested or convicted of a crime. Laws regarding inquiries about past criminal arrests and convictions vary from state to state.
In NYC, the Fair Chance Act went into effect in 2015 and prohibits employers from inquiring about candidates’ criminal records until after they have made a conditional offer of employment. The rationale is that employers won’t give applicants a “fair chance” in the interview if they know ahead of time about their criminal history. Once an offer of employment is extended, employers will likely find out about any past crimes when a background check is completed, at which point they may consider the criminal history in their hiring decisions only if they can connect the activity to the job duties or if it creates an unreasonable risk.
Therefore, I wouldn’t volunteer this information ahead of time. As the law provides, give yourself a chance to demonstrate your qualifications for the job. Make them want to hire you before you give them any reason or excuse not to.
I would, however, volunteer the information after the job offer but before the background check reveals it. Explain what happened and why. Reassure them about how remorseful you are and that your mistake doesn’t define who you really are. You’ve paid your debt, learned a valuable life lesson and put your life back together. I’ve given many…