THE LAW: The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 – Criminal convictions of no more than 2.5 years in prison became 'spent' or ignored after a period of rehabilitation. The rehabilitation period varies from each offense. To find out more, visit the Criminal Records Bureau website
YOUR OBLIGATION: Employers can find out whether you have a conviction so it is best to be honest. You should check the individual company's status on employing people with a record when deciding whether to put it on your CV. Even if you do not put it in your CV, if it is not 'spent' you should definitely dislose this information at an interview. Professions such as teaching, legal and medical organizations have more stringent policies regarding the employment of people with criminal convictions. Regardless of whether the conviction is 'spent' you will still need to declare it to these employers.
Disclosing your criminal record gives you the chance to explain the circumstances of your conviction and let the employer know that they no longer apply. You need to reassure the employer that they are not under any risk by employing you and focus on how you have learned from your mistakes. It might also be a good idea to note any achievements you have since since the conviction.
PRECONCEPTIONS: People may believe that anyone with a criminal past has a certain disadvantage in the job market and is likely to be unable to find work. A jobseeker with a conviction will not be considered fairly against those with no misdemeanours.
THE REALITY: A criminal past is not necessarily an issue to an employer as long as it does not affect the job you are hired for. Jobs should not discriminate based on any of the information you provide at an interview or on your CV. However, there will be some jobs you will not be able to obtain with a record. How a criminal record will affect your job prospects will also depend on the severity of the crime. A minor indemnity that you committed when you were a lot younger might not affect your chances whereas a major liability committed in the recent past will have implications on your employability.