Felony Holding Him Back?

Chris is trying to overcome some legal problems from his teen years to jump into a good career. Chris also admits he floated through life until about a year ago.

QUESTION: Chris in North Carolina is trying to overcome some legal problems from his teen years to jump into a good career. He was convicted of a felony and has straightened his life out, but he says it’s keeping him from getting a good job. Chris also admits he floated through life until about a year ago. Dave tells Chris it’s his history of floating through life that’s the bigger problem.

ANSWER: That’s not true. Is it limiting? Yes. Are there some positions that absolutely won’t even consider you for that? Yes. But “no matter where you go or what you do” is overstated. Truthfully—I’m an employer, I employ 350 people—the bigger problem with you right now being interviewed than your felony is you’re floating up until now. Your adulthood, your track record during adulthood, is a bigger problem for you being employed than your track record as a teen.

I think the big thing is it may be a self-employed application for you. It may be something that you look at, and you say, “Hey, I’m going to start my business doing this and doing that.” Some things you absolutely—with traditional, big company-type jobs—they’re just simply not going to put somebody on with a felony record anywhere. That’s a possibility, but it doesn’t keep you from getting a real estate license. You could do that and go sell real estate. You can have a felony and have a real estate license. It doesn’t keep you from selling. Lots of places would allow you to sell cars or… There are all kinds of things you could do out there.

I think part of this has just been your career track in general. The thing you ran into in your teens just kind of set you off on a negative course overall. You’ve got to change the trajectory of your overall course. I can promise you ... it is limiting, and it is a problem, but it doesn’t completely destroy your life and keep you from being able to win. It just doesn’t. I know too many people with felonies who have done well in their lives and made decisions to go on. That’s what I think your issue is.

Let me send you a book to read that’ll help you with this. It’s called 48 Days to the Work You Love. Granted, you’re not going to get a job where you have to be bonded because you can’t be bonded at this stage of your life. You’re not going to get a job in securities or something like that. That kind of stuff is not going to work for you. I get that. There are tons of self-employed options. There’s no reason you couldn’t run a construction company. There’s no reason you couldn’t build something. There’s no reason you couldn’t sell something. There are all kinds of options out there. Read this book. It’s by Dan Miller, a good friend of mine—48 Days to the Work You Love. Begin to think that way, and get outside of being defined by this.

I went through a bankruptcy 20-something years ago. That limits you too. There are some things you can’t apply to do if you have a bankruptcy on your record. But when you have a bankruptcy on your record 25 years ago, it’s different than you having one 25 minutes ago. Time also heals some of these things. Yes, there is the actual fact of the limitation, but the bigger limitation is if you let it define you. That’s my point.