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Aggressive. Experienced.

Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney
Former Cook County Felony Prosecutor

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How to Get a Job in Illinois If You Have a Criminal Record

You were arrested for a crime you did or didn’t commit. You served your time – or may have been found innocent.

You’re probably thinking the whole thing is behind you now and you can get back on with your life. Unfortunately, you now have a criminal record in Illinois, and it’s probably going to be a lot harder to get a job.

When you find yourself in such a situation, you’re going to need to know what kind of job to look for in order to get back on your feet.

Illinois Companies Pledge to Reduce Hiring Barriers

Many individuals have a difficult time even getting to the interview stage, let alone getting a callback. We’ll cut to the chase. There is a public move towards giving those with a record a second chance, and it seems to be picking up steam. This is the ideal place to start.

Companies such as Google and Starbucks have pledged to reduce hiring barriers for those with a record. Other companies that are known for reaching out to the formerly incarcerated include Kohl’s, Ace, PetSmart, and Sprint.

Furthermore, many cities and states are “banning the box,” which means employers aren’t even allowed to ask about or check for a criminal record prior to a job offer.

What’s in it for participating employers? Plenty. Any company that does hire a formerly incarcerated individual gets a tax credit as well.

Well-Paying Jobs in Illinois That Often Don’t Look at Criminal History

Aside from specific companies to target, there is also a suite of well-paying jobs that don’t depend on you having a clear criminal record.

Computer and Tech Jobs

You can easily become a web developer without having to pass a background check. In fact, many web developers are also able to work full-time for themselves.

Another great option is a computer programmer. You can usually get into this with an associate’s degree, and because it’s such a high-demand job, companies are often willing to look past minor offenses for the right candidate.

Sales Representative

Almost all companies are on the lookout for good salespeople. This is another position that often doesn’t require a background check, simply the skill.

Another bonus is that this can be a good-paying job for someone with only a high school education or not much more.

If you were convicted of embezzlement, theft, or a related crime, you may be disqualified from some opportunities, but otherwise, a salesperson position often has great earning potential.

Hands-On Jobs

Jobs revolving around manual labor are also a good opportunity for those with a criminal record. Although it’s hard work, you can make a very good living.

Many in technical and specialty fields like this actually go on to run their own shops after apprenticing for a few years. Some of these jobs include auto mechanic, carpenter, and industrial mechanic.

Increasing Your Chances at a Good Illinois Job After Conviction

Whether you have a record or not, you should have a professional look over your resume. You can also get a free resume review from many job-search sites. This will ensure you accurately capture all relevant knowledge and experience for the job you apply for.

There are also job programs and grants that exist solely to help those with a criminal record get employed. It also may be helpful to run a background check on yourself, so you know exactly what an employer would see, and you can address and alleviate any of their concerns.

Increasing Your Chances at a Good Illinois Job After Conviction

Although there is hope for a good career even after a record, it’s much easier to avoid the situation and make sure employers never see your record in the first place.

Your best bet is to have your record expunged. After you have your record sealed, it is only available to court or law enforcement personnel; your criminal record will no longer be visible to potential employers.


About the Author:

Andrew M. Weisberg is a former felony prosecutor who now serves as a defense attorney in the greater Chicago area. He has extensive experience in handling all types of criminal cases, from sex offenses and domestic violence to retail theft-related crimes, murder, and drug crimes.


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