eraser.jpgHow do you erase past sins that are keeping you from getting a job?

You can try and have a criminal conviction or an arrest taken off your record, a process called expungement.

I’ve been reporting on how hard it is for ex-cons to find work, especially in this tough economy, and I came across a hot trend right now, expungement mania.

States and municipalities are reporting a record number of you trying to remove any trace of your run ins with the law. And what seems to be driving it is the crummy job market.

It’s harder than ever to land a gig, and hiring managers are keen to find any blemish in your past to disqualify you from the endless sea of applicants.

Desperate times call for desperate measures.

In Dayton, OH, there’s been a 54 percent jump in the number of people trying to expunge their records.

And in Florida, according to the St. Petersburg Times:

Judges statewide sealed and expunged more than 14,000 cases in the fiscal year ending June 30, a nearly 51 percent spike over the previous year. Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco counties each posted double-digit increases percentage-wise.

“People are having a really hard time finding jobs in general,” said Stephanie Pawuk, a criminal attorney in Trinity. “If they have anything at all on their record, in an already tough market it’s going to make it even worse for them.”

If you think expungement is for you, check out this site for some information on the basics. But the process differs by state so you’ll need to contact local jurisdictions where you committed a crime or ended up in court to find out how it works for your specific situation.

And keep in mind, even if you have your record expunged, there still may be information in cyber space about a past transgression. If you were arrested, or ended up in court, a newspaper article, blog post, or website may have mentioned it and that could come up if someone Googles your name.

That’s when you may want to consider erasing the web for negatives information about you, which may be harder to do than being granted an expungement. I did a story on this a while back.

Bottom line, even though there are laws in some states that are supposed to protect discrimination based on your past as it relates to crimes, employers rarely heed the law, experts say.

There’s definitely a school of thought out there that says, “why should someone with a record get the same chances as those who are law abiding?”

I wonder what hope we have if we never allow folks to leave their pasts behind.

What’s our take?

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