It is never easy to talk about your past particularly if you have been on the wrong side of the law. Various studies suggest that a person with a criminal conviction can find it up to 8 times more difficult to get a job then someone who has not offended. I can tell you from personal experience that this figure is absolutely correct even though it is estimated that a fifth of the UK working population has a criminal record.
I’m not going to lie to you and say that it’s easy to get a job with a criminal conviction, the truth is – it isn’t. However, employers nowadays are a lot more lenient and understanding than before and due to various government legislations (Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974) they will give you a chance. Needless to say, you shouldn’t take this for granted because not all employers are the same and if you have a criminal conviction then there’s a good chance you won’t even get a look in e.g. working with children and vulnerable adults.
There’s no doubt that you will have to reveal your conviction at some stage of the application process. My advice is plain and simple, never put down any criminal convictions on your CV. If you feel the need to disclose your conviction then do it during the face to face interview. At least that way, you have more time to put your case forward and convince the employer that despite your conviction you are the best person for the job.
If you do have a gap in your employment history due to a conviction and you don’t want to disclose it on your CV, then simply put ‘unavailable to work due to personal circumstances’. Remember, employers look for reasons to reject your CV as oppose to accept them. Don’t give them a reason to reject yours.