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I have extensive education, experience and, unfortunately, a criminal record. Although I have a successful small business, I would like to add a 9-to-5 job in a sales capacity. Is this possible?


Julie Labrie President, BlueSky Personnel Solutions, Mississauga

First, ensure the type of sales job you are targeting isn't relevant to your criminal record. For example, employers may not want to hire someone for a job that involves handling monetary transactions if they have been convicted of fraud.

Second, research the target companies where you want to work. Visit their websites' career sections as companies often outline their hiring processes there. You can also call their offices as a general consumer and ask if they require background checks on job candidates.

If you are in Ontario, you should be aware of a new legislation, called the Police Record Checks Reform Act, 2015. According to Stuart Rudner, founding partner of employment law firm, Rudner MacDonald LLP, "In some cases, a job candidate is now entitled to review information from his or her record checks first, before it is disclosed to the employer." In those cases, Mr. Rudner says, employers will now only receive information if the job candidate consents.

With this legislation, you can now decide if you want to share certain information with your potential employer, and it will give you a chance to offer some context in advance. Remember, too, that you can always withdraw your application without disclosing specific information about your criminal record.


Colleen Clarke

Corporate trainer, author of How to Get a Job and Keep It, Toronto

Absolutely possible. About 75 to 80 per cent of all jobs are found through networking. If you have your own business you must know a wide range of people in different capacities of employment in your community that you can network with. Tell – do not sell – everyone you know what you are looking for. Many ears make light work. Competing with the world on an Internet job search could be problematic and demoralizing. Keep in mind that having a sales background with proven sales results will be crucial, with or without a record.

When you network your way into a meeting/interview through a mutual contact, that person is your reference, and the trust factor is already being built with the interviewer. You may, more than likely, still need a well crafted résumé, results of past sales successes or, minimally, transferable work experience that is quantitative and benefits-driven as proof that you are a viable candidate for the position.

Ensure that you are able to explain your past and your rehabilitation. And, depending on what the crime was, that it is in no way related to the product or customers the potential employer represents, just in case you are asked or need to disclose.

Stay focused on what you can do for the company. Closing a deal is all about benefit selling. Use positive, upbeat examples of your past business successes and stick to the benefits/results you will bring to the position.

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