You will see from our previous blogs that our position is clear: you should disclose your criminal record at the point at which you are asked to declare it. This is for two reasons: employers prefer it and it will help your own peace of mind. If an employer has a problem with your criminal record, it is better to know early on.
The stage at which you disclose your criminal record may depend on how you are applying for the job.
Applying with a CV and covering letter
Submitting a CV gives you an opportunity to sell yourself by writing about your experience, knowledge and skills and why you are the best person for the job.
Hint: You should not include any information about your criminal record on your CV. If you have gaps in your employment history which are due to time in prison and you are not asked directly to write about your criminal record in your application, you could explain these gaps by stating that you were unavailable for work. If you gained new skills in prison, undertook employment or did any courses, these should be included on your CV. You can put the name of your employer or awarding body (e.g. City and Guilds) rather than the name of the prison.
Remember: If you are not asked for a criminal record declaration directly, then there is no need for you to disclose this information at this stage. But you must be prepared to answer fully and honestly if you are asked at interview to explain what you mean by unavailable for work.
We advise that you prepare your disclosure in writing so you have evidence that you disclosed your criminal record.
Applying with an application form
You may have to complete an application form which includes a section asking you to make a criminal record declaration. Either state on the form that you have a conviction and that you will be happy to discuss it if selected for interview, or prepare a written disclosure statement that can be sent with the application form.
Hint: The statement should be sent in a sealed envelope which is marked confidential and states your name and details of the post for which you are applying.
Remember: If you decide to send a disclosure statement, you should state on the application form that you are sending a disclosure statement under a separate cover.
Disclosing at the interview
You might be better at explaining things verbally rather than in writing. However, it is a good idea to have a written statement as well. If you are asked about your criminal record during the interview and lose your nerve, you can say that you have put an explanation in writing and hand over your statement. A written statement will also serve as evidence of what you disclosed, in case clarification is required later on.
Hint: If disclosing verbally, you should prepare what you intend to say very carefully in advance.
Remember: It is difficult to be totally relaxed in an interview and you do not want to be in the position of either letting the disclosure dominate the interview or, on the other hand, finding that you become confused when giving information about your criminal record.
You might find this video about disclosing previous convictions to employers helpful.
If you are an employment support worker and want to know how to advise your client about disclosing their criminal record to an employer read our next blog on how to disclose details of a criminal record: useful tips and hints for employment support workers or follow us on twitter @Nacro_.
* Names have been changed to protect confidentiality.