More than 650,000 people in the U.S. are released from prison every year. After serving their time, they face many obstacles including finding a job. Many who have served time struggle finding employment because of their criminal record. Even an arrest for a felony not resulting in a conviction stays on record and can cause trouble for someone who wants to start their career.
It can feel like those trying to enter the job market after serving time are constantly being re-punished. It may be a challenge, but it’s a challenge you can overcome. Here are some tips on how to pick yourself back up, build up confidence, and re-enter the job market.
Understand Your Current Situation
It’s important to know what options are available in your job search. Before you start looking for a job, take the time to research what jobs are open to you. You might not be eligible for some jobs due to statutory prohibitions.
For instance, if a job requires earning a license, some felonies or convictions disqualify you from getting those licenses and therefore disqualifies you from jobs like being teachers, physicians, real estate agents, or attorneys. Another example would be if you were, if being on parole or probation resulting from a drug-related crime, it’s possible that you may not be allowed to work in a pharmacy.
Take the time to consult with administrators related to your case like a counselor, judge, or parole officer to help you make an informed decision on what direction to take your job search.
It’s a hard truth, but you might have to take a job starting at the bottom of the barrel. On the bright side, the only place to go is up.
If offered a low paying job, ask if there are opportunities for pay increases after proving your value to the company. With some hard work and after developing leadership skills, you can eventually earn a higher pay rate. After several months of earning experience, you can start looking for something better. But, try to stay with the same employer for as long as possible. It helps strengthen your résumé and makes you look reliable to potential employers.
Out in the Open
Your gut instinct might be to hide your criminal record, but you should learn how to honestly discuss it with potential employers. On job applications, when you get to the section asking if you have been convicted of a crime, consider putting “please let me discuss this with you when we meet,” after checking the “yes” option.
Work on confidently getting the point across in interviews that you have paid your debt, put that part of your life behind you, and are working to become a better person. It’s not easy, but you are a different person. With lots of practice, you can build self-confidence and prove that you have taken responsibility for your actions and are ready to move on.
You’re Not Alone
Don’t underestimate the benefits of going to a staffing agency. Not only will the staffing company be helpful in finding long-term employment, but choosing to go with temporary jobs can help build valuable skills to help make you more marketable to employers.
Look into your community programs. Some offer training programs that, upon finishing certain requirements, may guarantee interviews with local companies. Talk to social service workers, counselors, or probation officers to see what options are available in your area.
There are several online resources for you to take advantage of when looking for work after serving time. Try visiting the Legal Action Center, National H.I.R.E. Network, Project Footprints, and The Women’s Prison Association to help connect with others, information, and helpful resources that can help you make a career after prison.