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Crafting a Compelling Cover Letter When Applying for Job with a Criminal Record

Finding employment after having a criminal record can be extremely challenging. It’s not impossible, but it requires a special approach. It’s essential to note that hiring managers often hold unfavorable impressions towards applicants with criminal records. A well-written cover letter that addresses your past mistakes and how you’re ready to become a useful member of the workforce can make a significant impact on your employment candidacy.

In this guide, we will provide you with a step-by-step manual detailing how to create a powerful cover letter when applying for a job with a criminal record.

Understanding the Criminal History Sample Cover Letter

A criminal history sample cover letter is a formal document that job seekers with a criminal record include in their job application to explain their legal history. It’s intended to assure potential employers that your criminal history doesn’t signify your behavior in the workforce. The purpose of a criminal history cover letter is to dispel any preconceived misconceptions that may affect your employment candidacy.

How to Write an Effective Criminal History Sample Cover Letter

1. Start with a Professional Greeting

It’s essential to begin your cover letter by addressing the hiring manager or recruiter directly. You want your application to come across as seriously as possible, so keep the language formal and professional.

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2. Explain Your Criminal Record as Briefly as Possible

Avoid dwelling too much on your criminal record. Remember, you’re not trying to hide anything, but instead suggest that you’re ready to put the past behind you and become an ideal employee. Keep the explanation short and to the point. Your primary goal should be to convince the hiring manager that you’ve moved past any poor decisions and how the experience has impacted you positively.

3. Cover What You’ve Accomplished Beyond Your Criminal Record

The essential information a hiring manager will want to know is how it will affect your work. That’s why it’s crucial to highlight your career achievements, professional development, and significant accomplishments that have nothing to do with your past. Show how your abilities match the job specifications, and provide examples that demonstrate your qualifications.

4. Discuss What You’ve Learned and How You’ve Grown

In this part of the letter, explain what you have taken from your experience and how it has helped you grow. For example, you could talk about how it contributed to you having more empathy or mindfulness, which has made you a more conscientious employee. Demonstrate that you’ve accepted responsibility for your past, learned from it, and now have personal accountability.

5. Offer to Give Further Details

Your criminal history sample cover letter shouldn’t be a tell-all document. It’s best to avoid divulging every detail of your past. Instead, briefly touch on what happened, what you’ve learned and how you’ve grown, then offer to explain further. If the hiring manager is interested in knowing more, they can then invite you for an interview.

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Key Takeaways

  • A compelling cover letter can mitigate the impact of having a criminal record when looking for work.
  • Keep your tone formal and professional.
  • Explain your past mistakes but don’t dwell on them.
  • Focus on what you’ve accomplished beyond your criminal record.
  • Demonstrate what you’ve learned and how you’ve grown professionally and personally.
  • Offer to give further details if asked.


Finding employment with a criminal record can be challenging, but it’s not impossible. The key to success is to show hiring managers that you’re ready to become a productive member of their team, notwithstanding your criminal history. A well-written criminal history sample cover letter is an excellent way to do just that.


Should I disclose my criminal record?

Yes, it’s recommended to disclose your criminal record in your cover letter. Be honest and forthcoming, but also remember to focus on what you’ve accomplished beyond your record and what you’ve learned from your experiences.

Can I write my criminal history on my resume?

No. A criminal record may negatively impact a job application. It’s best to address the issue in your cover letter and avoid mentioning it in your resume.

Will a criminal record always disqualify me from employment?

No, it doesn’t. Many companies give second chances to candidates with criminal records. If you’re a competent candidate and provide a compelling cover letter, you could land the job.

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