How can people with criminal records overcome obstacles to become employed in tech? originally appeared on Quora - the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by Ysiad Ferreiras, COO at Hustle, overseeing Sales, Marketing, and Operations, on Quora:

I have a criminal record from being arrested at fifteen. 

At first that intimidated me from trying for a conventional job, so I took commission only sales jobs and started my own companies. But then, starting when I was twenty three and through my late twenties, I started working as a software development consultant in hedge funds that were small enough not to have bothered with conducting background checks on consultants. So it's definitely possible. After gaining a few years' experience as a software developer, I moved to being a Sales Engineer at an enterprise software company which got me exposure to enterprise sales and started a more formal sales career. Once you can demonstrate you know how to sell, you literally generate more money than you cost, so you'll be able to get a job anywhere that has a product that has achieved product-market fit. There is a shortage of hungry, qualified labor in tech. It can be relatively easy to find a job if you demonstrate you're intelligent and willing to work hard. To replicate how I did it:

  1. Apply for work at small companies rather than large companies. Small companies generally do not run background checks.
  2. Once you get a job, learn everything you can about that job and strive to be one of the best people on the planet at whatever job it is you are doing. You want to make yourself indispensable. Not so much so you don't get fired from that company - that's a byproduct but not the point. You need to get the confidence that comes from knowing you bring value to an organization.
  3. Then, lean on that confidence to support you while you sell your skills to either get promoted or hired at a new organization that desperately needs to solve the problems that you've become one of the experts at solving.
  4. Then repeat steps two and three until you can add enough value to an organization that a competent leader will overlook whatever it says on your background check.

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Published on: Nov 14, 2017