A Little Awkward: Convict To Career.

If you have a criminal record in your past, will you be barred from corporate America and taking advantage of professional opportunities? Not necessarily, but it won’t be easy. It can and has been done.  With sites out there likeResearchAnyone.com, companies large, medium, and small have the ability gain access to nearly all the information available on just about anyone.  Today’s terror-aware atmosphere, illegal immigration, and litigious society, employers are responsible to a greater degree for checking out the candidates they hire.

It’s difficult for employers to get past a conviction on an applicant’s record, so be prepared for rejection., so here are some suggestions for getting back to work:

  • Consult with an attorney about getting your record expunged, sealed or the conviction reduced. There are some cases where this just won’t happen, but it is definitely worth looking into.
  • Contact human services organizations in your area to see if they offer programs for ex-felons. Go to the American Public Human Services Association site and you’ll findquite a few organizations that help ex-felons re-enter the workforce and reconnect with their kids, and start rebuilding their lives.  The fact is that there are companies that will hire ex-felons as long as the crimes are not violent crimes.
  • Take whatever job you can to start rebuilding your experience and credibility. Now is not the time to be picky. Start with a job in manufacturing or fast food. The pay is mostly minimum wage and often the hours are long; but, you’ll find opportunities to move up, go to a warehouse job where you can learn to drive a fork lift and gain other skills. Take the job and use it as an opportunity to demonstrate good job performance and to rebuild your experience and others’ trust in you.
  • Look to personal contacts and friends to help you get a job as someone who knows you might be more willing to take a chance on you.
  • Seek employment with smaller local companies, and independent businesses or employers rather than the major chains. Local businesses may have less stringent hiring requirements and be more willing to give you a chance.
  • Consider self-employment.   For example, I know of a young man who was convicted at age 19 of drug possession and attempted sale. After serving his sentence, he took jobs in various auto shops to learn about car repair. He now owns a successful auto repair shop.  A felony conviction probably won’t get in the way of you in becoming a skilled trades laborer, construction contractor, and eventually becoming your own boss.
  • Don’t put the conviction on your resume.  Put it in your cover letter along with letters of recommendation to off-set the reaction. Be honest and upfront.  Most applications require you to state if you’ve been convicted of a felony.  Even if the question is not on the application, you don’t want to let the process go too long without telling them.   It will show up.
  • Be professional and confident.  When you go to an interview dress appropriately, speak well, and have confidence because it will show.  Employers are more willing to take a chance on someone who demonstrates confidence through sincere presentation.
  • Don’t get your hopes up. It’s going to be hard. Having a felony on your record is a real obstacle, you will be rejected. Just don’t give up.
  • Seek emotional support. Whether it’s family, close friends, pastor, or a professional counselor, you will need to talk to someone about your frustrations and successes. Many ex-convicts experience depression when they meet repeated resistance in trying to once again find employment. Having that support system will help you stay focused and motivated when you feel discouraged.

Here are some helpful sites for ex-convicts looking to re-enter the workforce:

My Story: Clarence Smith

“Many people look at people with criminal backgrounds and think we’re just going to continue to get in trouble and that we don’t know what we want with our lives. Everything I’ve been through and learned has taught me to succeed in life and to never let anything hold me back.”  Read More.


Posted on October 23, 2011, in Job Search and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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