Finding a Job After Prison

In today’s market, finding a job under the best of circumstances may prove to be a challenge.

It takes considerable time, effort and dedication to creating a resume, exploring job opportunities, sending resumes out and preparing for job interviews.

If you have a criminal record or a history of incarceration, you might find your job search downright daunting.

If you’re among the half a million people in the U.S. released from prison this year, you’ll certainly face challenges in obtaining employment, but the guidelines to successful job hunting are fairly similar for all individuals.

  • Get your resume in order. Highlight your past jobs and the skills and achievements you’ve developed.
  • You don’t have to list your time of incarceration, but note that an employer will notice any time gaps in your resume and will have questions. Think about how you will respond to those questions.
  • Practice talking about yourself with confidence. It’s crucial to having a successful interview.
  • If you know you can add value to an organization, stand behind that knowledge and help the interviewer see it by presenting yourself as a professional, hard-working individual who works well with others.
  • Research the company before your interview. You want to know who they are, what they make or provide, and who their customers are. You also want to be able to state clearly how your skills will benefit the company goals. You can only do this if you take the time to find out what the company is all about and align it with your skills and abilities.
  • Be on time—or early—for your interview. You don’t want to start off on the wrong foot. Wear appropriate, business-like clothing, be relaxed and confident, and keep a positive attitude throughout.
  • If, during an interview, an employer asks, “have you ever been convicted of a crime,” don’t lie or try to skirt the issue.
  • You are who you are…and that’s the right person for the job. Be honest and open then direct the conversation to the skills and abilities that show you are the ideal candidate for the job.

When you search for a job, it can feel like people re-punish you for your crime.

It’s not fair, but it is legal for an employer to deny a potential applicant based solely on his or her past criminal record.

If you find that your prison record is hindering your job search, there are a few ways to improve your odds.

You have resources close at hand that can help smooth your job hunting process.

You should be aware that some professions are not open to individuals with a felony conviction through statutory prohibitions: accounting, driving an ambulance, nursing, selling real estate, and teaching to name a few.

Do your research or talk with your attorney or probation officer. They have information that can help you with your job search.

Many prisons offer employment search support for ex-felons.

Look into the help offered in your area and take advantage of these services. They can eliminate blind searches and unnecessary frustrations.

Some prisons or justice advocates offer job training and support in developing job interview skills.

There are organizations that provide professional advice to ex-felons and job training as well.

Finally, there are companies that receive tax benefits or incentives for hiring people with a criminal record. You can further explore all of your options online, using the following resources: