Don't count yourself out: Apply with conviction

20 Oct 2021

Just because you have experience of the justice system, whether that’s a previous conviction or you’re currently engaging with the probation service, it doesn’t mean you can’t volunteer or apply for a job. The justice sector itself may well value your first-hand knowledge and experience; many companies are keen to employ people with varied life experiences and backgrounds to bring diversity and new ways of thinking to their organisations. Find your future with an employer that sees past your past.
Firstly, make sure you understand whether you need to disclose your conviction, and when. A probation practitioner, Jobcentre Plus work coach or employment advisor can give guidance on this, or visit:
Different employers will have varied recruitment processes – some request CVs, some ask you to fill in an application form. See if there is any published information on the form or the company’s website about their policy for employing people with criminal convictions. Generally, the best policy is to disclose your conviction at the first point of asking; be open and honest and don’t let a standard check throw up any surprises to your potential employer.
However, it is not common practice to include your conviction on your CV. Fill gaps in time with ‘not available to work’. If you are asked at an interview, you can explain.
If you are invited for interview, discuss your past life face to face. It’s more effective and can give you the chance to explain what led you to offend and what is different about your life now. It is a legal requirement to answer truthfully if you are asked about a criminal conviction during an interview.
Above all, be positive. Remember you have lots to offer, and an interview is a chance to highlight your skills and abilities. Have your past experiences given you transferrable skills to offer to an employer? Are you resilient, good at handling change and thinking on your feet? Do you empathise with people in similar situations, and have practical advice to offer on turning your life around? Prepare what you are going to say so you can deliver it with confidence.
Some companies may require a DBS, or similar checks. Don’t stress if these take time to process. They will pick up any convictions or cautions but if you’ve been completely open, there will be no surprises.
If your dream job involves you working with people in prison or on probation, there may be a requirement from the Ministry of Justice to undertake Standard Plus Vetting. Your potential employer will handle this and may contact your current probation practitioner if you have one.
Ticked all these proverbial boxes? Got an offer? Accepted?
Congratulations! You are a new valued employee. No doubt they can’t wait for you to start.
You can find out more helpful hints here and see the range of jobs available at Ingeus here. We welcome applications from anyone with the aptitude, enthusiasm and commitment to help us on our mission to Enable Better Lives.

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