“Never let your head hang down. Never give up and sit down and grieve. Find another way. And don’t pray when it rains if you don’t pray when the sun shines.”
– Richard M. Nixon
Keeping the tenure of a convict in prison aside, the challenges they face when searching for employment is another story all together. Looking for work is no mean feat, but when ex-convicts start probing for a job, they are faced with additional hurdles and trials.
Some employers may cringe from hiring such individuals. But many organizations across the globe – felon friendly employers – do take them on, thereby leaving an exemplary example in their wake.
Companies, at times, conduct a background check after 2 – 3 rounds into the interview. According to a report by Prison Policy Initiative (PPI), a criminal-justice research and advocacy group, in United States, around 688,000 people are released from prison every year.
Ex-convicts need to keep certain pointers in mind before they embark on the arduous journey of looking for a job. The suggestions given here may help.
Networking: The first thing to do before looking for any job is to ask around. Most jobs are acquired through contacts. A stint in prison leaves you quite disoriented; hence, ask friends and family to vouch for you if you find something interesting.
Part-time work: Acquiring full-fledged employment instantly is difficult. If you are tired of twiddling your toes at home, look for some part-time evening work. Employers don’t often conduct background checks for such positions.
Follow your passion: Being an ex-convict does not make you talentless. You could have a flair for painting, writing, or tattoo designing. Music and dance might flow freely in your veins. Some ex-convicts are great with their technical skills and could find work as computer operators. If you think you have a hobby which can be turned into a career, go with it.
Look for specific jobs: Certain companies are comfortable with hiring former felons and deem background checks unnecessary. Construction work, driving and customer service positions, delivery work, etc. are some of the job profiles that could serve your purpose for starters.
Start your own business: This is the era of start-ups. Whether it is marketing your paintings or writing content-pieces as a freelancer, being your own boss is not only gratifying but shifts focus from your conviction as well.
Where to begin
The dilemma faced by all – where do I look? – can be answered very simply. There are many ways for ex-convicts to begin their job search. By employing traditional methods you could find a company that does not conduct background checks, or a company that may not reject you based on your criminal record.
Look to cold calling, going through community assistance programs, and the best option – job search engines that list all possible jobs by category and requirement. Start communicating with people and let them know that you are ready to rejoin society and are seeking employment.
Create an account on social media websites like Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. which help in making connections in a small time frame.
Ex-convicts can improve their skill-set by undertaking diploma or certification courses. Short courses or workshops of three= six months are being conducted by leading academic institutions all over the world. Enrollment requires a nominal fee and classes can be taken in shifts if required.
A crash course in design, computer operating, programming languages, communication, etc. can definitely provide an edge. Use this opportunity to upgrade your competencies and build out your resume.
Justifying your Resume
The one thing that gives every ex-convict cold feet is how to justify a conviction on the resume.
Expecting a background check, it is wise to tell the whole truth. Here is what you need to do:
• Do not give out additional information. Read the questions carefully and supply to-the-point truthful answers. Giving unnecessary leads is not required.
• Conduct your own background check before sitting for an interview. Knowing what the employer knows will give you the added benefit of preparing appropriate answers for the difficult questions.
• Recite a platonic version of what happened. Do not sound needy or desperate.
• Have a positive attitude. Appear friendly and not menacing. Give the employer constructive reasons to hire you by exhibiting a desire for change and development.
Keeping the global economic crisis in mind, looking for employment in the current job market is quite a harrowing experience. Ex-convicts require perseverance when embarking on this trail. They must be prepared to accept work that is low-paying and sometimes, menial. Despite all the applications and interview calls, ex-convicts still need a little extra help.
Agencies that provide professional assistance to such job seekers are:
• National H.I.R.E Network
• America Works
• One Stop Career Centre
• Delancey Street Foundation
Organizations such as these not only provide expert help, but endeavour to improve the lives of many dejected souls. Investigate some of these resources to get the best assistance for increasing your chances of getting a job.
Guest blogger Tina Jindal
Author Bio: Tina Jindal is a professional content writer who works on a variety of topics like employment, real estate, and education. She has been involved with publications such as Cookery, Gardening, Pregnancy, and Healthcare. She loves to travel and is crazy about dogs. You can contact her @Gmail | LinkedIn | Google+.