Looking for a job as a person with a criminal history can be challenging. Numerous obstacles will be in your way. However, it is not impossible to find the job for you. You can be hired!
Ninety-two percent of employers will consider hiring men and women who have served time (“Employment Information Handbook For Ex-Offenders,” U. S. Department of Labor.) And while there are companies that are considered “felon-friendly,” it is still recommended that you consider all potential employers.
YOUR JOB SEARCH IS YOUR JOB
In his book “What Color is Your Parachute,” Richard Bolles says to treat your job search as if it is your job. Work at it eight hours a day and plan your search strategy:
- Make a “To-Do” list and outline your daily activities.
- Apply for jobs early in the day.
- Call employers to find out the best time to apply in person.
- Keep track of employers you talk to, including dates, names, and company notes.
- Be prepared with resumes, pens, notebook, maps, and job information.
- Follow up on leads immediately. DO NOT WAIT!
- Network and let everyone know you are job searching.
- Set up appropriate job alerts through internet job boards such as Indeed, Monster, ZipRecruiter, and CareerBuilder.
YOU WILL NEED A RESUME
Your resume is a multipurpose tool. It is used to highlight your abilities and experience. Use it to communicate to potential employers your skills, experience, education, and what you can do for them. You will need a resume to get an interview.
Your resume should be:
- TRUTHFUL: List your skills in a positive way
- TARGETED: Highlight skills and abilities for specific jobs
- BRIEF: Limit your resume to one page if possible
- ACCURATE: Proofread for typing and spelling and have a trusted friend do the same
Kim Isaacs, Monster resume expert, gives four tips to ensure your resume is ready. In her article, “How to Address Your Background,” Isaacs suggests you:
HIGHLIGHT RELATED TRAINING AND WORK EXPERIENCE
Include training and work done while in prison. Treat this information as any other work experience. Keep it positive.
DON’T EMPHASIZE UNRELATED EXPERIENCE
Focus on the skills the employer is looking for that you possess. Additional experience can be added later in your resume.
USE AVAILABLE JOB SEARCH RESOURCES
Talk to your local employment agencies and help centers. Check out your state employment agency, your local Goodwill, and any others that offer job seeker support.
YOUR CONVICTION WILL COME UP
Sometime during your job search and hiring process, employers will use background checks to confirm your qualifications and application information.
Do NOT lie on your resume, application, or any other employer documentation. False information will eventually be found out. This could keep you from any position the particular employer may have available.
KEEP THINGS SIMPLE
Answer what you’ve been asked, keeping answers positive. Steer things to your skills and abilities—what you bring to the company.
MAKE A GOOD IMPRESSION
Give a firm handshake, if offered. Stay positive. End with a summary of your qualifications and your interest in the position applied for.
SHARE YOUR CAREER GOALS
Focus on current and future plans.
MAINTAIN GOOD EYE CONTACT
Have good eye contact, without staring. Not looking the person in the eye suggests deceit.
Smile and show interest in what the interviewer is saying. Pay attention and nod and smile at appropriate times. Be prepared for questions at any time.
Getting a job is your job until you are hired! There will be obstacles in your way—obstacles others will not have. However, you can present yourself as employable. Focus on the positives you bring to the employer. Highlight what you can do for them. Remain positive, plan ahead, and be prepared. Your new job is waiting for you. Go get it!
Note: Prison Fellowship does not maintain a partner relationship with the above authors and organizations, and their appearance here does not constitute an endorsement by Prison Fellowship