Help for Felons Reentering the Workforce
Checking the “Felon” Box Can be a Catch 22
Convicted felons can find it difficult to find a job. When applications ask “Have you ever been convicted…” everything stops.
If you are a convicted felon and don’t check the box, you may get an interview. During that session, the interviewer will probably say, “Oh, you forgot to fill in one of the parts of the application…” You may say, “I didn’t forget to check the box. I wanted the opportunity to explain the situation first.” If the company has a policy against hiring convicted felons, the interview will stop.
What can people do who have served their time, paid their debt and need to make a living like the rest of us? Here are some suggestions.
Some companies advertise themselves as “felon friendly.” You can Google them and start applying there.
You can start your own business. As an entrepreneur, you may be able to avoid some of the barriers a traditional job search entails plus it could be a source of self-worth and sense of purpose.
There are some nonprofits that can help ex-offenders start their own businesses. The Prisoner Entrepreneur Program (http://www.prisonentrepreneurship.org/) has reduced recidivism of former incarcerated individuals. Rising Tide Capital in New Jersey (http://www.risingtidecapital.org/) has also been successful in this area.
There is also a law in some cities that says a person does not have to reveal if they have been to prison over the last 7 years. But check in your area because it’s a city-by-city case.
Look at the National Hire Network (www.hirenetwork.org). It has been helping individuals with criminal records reenter society through employment since 2001.
In the end, ex-offenders will have to do the same things we all do to look for jobs and that is to strategically plan a course of action and stay on it. Get their resumes, cover letters and LinkedIn profiles ready. I believe LinkedIn even offers ex-inmate career resources.
Sue Montgomery is founder and president of Resume Plus (www.resumeplus.com). She is a professional resume writer and career coach who markets people for the jobs they want. Contact Sue directly at 937-254-5627 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.