Employment Tips for Ex-Offenders
“Don’t Let Your Past Stop Your Future”
It is very difficult in this current economy to locate employment. There are people with extensive experience and advance degrees, applying for entry-level positions. For anyone that will seem daunting. Adding a criminal background to the equation only compounds the situation. The following are some tips that can ease some of the worries of finding employment even with a tarnished past.
Turn every negative into a positive: Your background information will eventually come up. Don’t spend your entire resume bashing yourself. This is a time to focus on the positive abilities and traits that you bring to the table. Highlight your skills, accomplishments, and determination to be a productive teammate.
Beware of employment gaps: Use a functional resume format rather than a chronological format. In any situation, employment gaps can be viewed upon as a negative. With possible extended employment gaps due to prison time, a chronological resume wouldn’t be the best format for you.
Proper wording of experience is important: We never discount any relevant experience. It is important however to label prison work experience as experience, and not as prison experience. You should rather focus on the experience and how it helps you as a candidate. Using a functional resume can aid in assisting you in documenting your experience properly.
Seek out supportive companies: I know I know, in an economy like this “beggers can’t be choosers”, but you can be strategic. There are some companies that will never deal with anyone with a criminal background. Then there are some that see the importance and benefit in doing so. They tend to be apart of assistance programs. You can find more information on these types of employers from the U.S. Department of Labor.
Know your rights: There are certain offenses that do not require disclosure once you’ve been pardoned. Those offenses also can’t be discriminated against by employers. Certain employment types may be exempt from this law. Be sure to do your research and know your rights.
When you disclose, disclose completely: There will be a section on most applications where they will ask you to disclose any offenses. If you are legally required to do so, then do so completely. Create a pre-written offense explanation letter that explains the entire situation. Submit this as an attachment to your application. It is better for you to explain than for the company to have to assume anything about your history.
Know your record: Like a credit report, it is important to know what’s on your record. Verify to make sure that whatever is on there is correct and valid.
Be ready: In an interview, it is highly likely that you will be asked about your past. Answer honestly, clearly, and with sincerity. Make sure to emphasize your desire to develop your skills, and to express how your skills can benefit the company.
Education might be the key: In a tough market like this, it becomes almost imperative to have some sort of related education. Take the time to research the area you want to enter; it might be more beneficial for you to seek more education as you make the transition.
Ask, Ask, Ask: You’ve made a mistake, and you’ve paid your debt to society. Don’t be afraid to ask the employer for another opportunity at life, and to make a positive contribution to society by working.