our everyday life

How to Find a Job After a Court Martial

by David Lipscomb, studioD

A military court martial is as serious as a civilian criminal conviction. In fact, military convictions carry over to your civilian life post-discharge. Anyone with a criminal background will find it difficult to become employed, especially in an already competitive job market. Although you face a bit of an uphill battle in overcoming the negative connotation associated with a court martial, there are steps you can take to get back into the civilian workforce.

Contact an attorney. Determine if your court martial can be reversed on appeal. Often, military defense attorneys can reverse the conviction if you have spent a year or more in confinement or received a dishonorable discharge. In these cases, the convening authority -- usually the commanding officer that recommended the court martial -- automatically reviews it.

Apply to jobs that do not require you to fill out an application. Often these ask specifically about felony convictions, but you do not need to disclose this on your resume. If you are asked directly, always be truthful and forthright about the circumstances surrounding the conviction. Many times, the general respect given to service members will overshadow the conviction, especially if the issue was minor, such as fraternization.

Look for jobs that may be beneath your education and experience, such as construction or manual labor. One of your first priorities if you cannot get your case reversed is to re-establish your trustworthiness to future, more desirable employers. A solid work history is essential in this goal.

Perform freelance work that does not require a criminal background check or application. Use any skills you have as an opportunity to go open a small business or service.

Do not voluntarily disclose being a defendant in a court marital if you were cleared. There is no legal -- and arguably no moral -- obligation for doing so. Honest people may feel compelled to talk about the case, but in many situations, disclosing any involvement may carry an unnecessary negative connotation.


  • Be contrite when asked directly about any conviction. Own your mistake, acknowledging that you earned the penalty you paid. Emphasize the positives in your life and the steps taken to get back on course.


  • Never lie on an application or in an interview. One of the worst things you can do is look more dishonest after a conviction in a failed effort to hide it. An employer can check for criminal convictions with a few clicks.

About the Author

David Lipscomb is a professional writer and public relations practitioner. Lipscomb brings more than a decade of experience in the consumer electronics and advertising industries. Lipscomb holds a degree in public relations from Webster University.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images