How to get a job after prison or a criminal conviction

A new employee and their manager shaking hands

Tips for finding work if you have a criminal record.

If you’ve been in prison or have a criminal conviction, you may be looking for help to find a new job.

There are employers in New Zealand who will give people with a criminal record a chance. Since 2016, over 2,000 people with criminal convictions have found jobs through a Department of Corrections scheme, “This Way for Work”.

Here are some tips on finding work so you can support yourself and your family/whānau.

Find work through your connections

It can be easier to find work or gain work experience through people you know. You could:

  • ask family and friends if they know anyone looking for workers, and if they are willing to recommend you
  • contact previous employers who may recommend you for a job or be a referee
  • consider volunteering to get experience
  • become self-employed, for example, as a gardener.
  • How to get work experience
  • Working for yourself

Where to get help to find a job

“This Way for Work” is a Department of Corrections scheme that can match you with an employer and a job when you leave prison or if you’re serving a sentence in the community.

They introduce you to the employer, which means you don’t have to worry about telling the employer about your criminal record.

Corrections can also help you with practical issues such as budgeting and getting transport to work.

Other organisations that can help

Organisations such as People at Risk Solutions (PARS) and Reclaim Another Woman (RAW) help people who have finished serving their sentences.

Clean slate scheme

If you qualify for the clean slate scheme, you can say you have no criminal record if an employer asks. You may qualify if:

  • your conviction was over seven years ago
  • you have never been imprisoned
  • you meet other conditions.

The clean slate scheme doesn’t apply in some cases, such as looking for a job with the Police or a job caring for children.

Find out more


  • Chisholm, D, “The Kiwi Firms Giving Offenders a Second Chance with a Real Job,” Noted, 8 March 2018, (
  • Community Law, “The Clean Slate Scheme,” accessed July 2019, (
  • Department of Corrections Communications team, interview, June 2019.

Updated 30 Nov 2021