Sophia Young 4m 982 #jobhunting
The views of this article are the perspective of the author and may not be reflective of Confessions of the Professions.
Job hunting today is tough enough on its own but ex-offenders experience challenges that even the most jaded job hunter can imagine. Aside from employers being wary of hiring someone with a criminal record, many ex-offenders face difficulties adjusting to the work environment and the expectations of their new employers.
We’re not saying that job hunting as an ex-offender is impossible. But it can be tough out there, so you need to be armed with the best possible advice and resources.
Let’s go over some handy tips to help you in your job search. With enough preparation and perseverance, you’ll be able to find gainful employment and get back on your feet.
Be Honest About Your History
We can’t stress this enough: being honest about your criminal past is crucial when applying for jobs. Trying to hide it will only come back to bite you later on.
You might be tempted to omit this information from your resume or application, but that’s a bad idea. Many employers require applicants to list any convictions they have on their forms. If you’re caught lying, you’ll be instantly disqualified from the job.
What’s more, most employers will conduct a background check on their applicants. If your criminal record comes up during the screening process, the employer will likely assume you were dishonest on your application and reject you outright.
So play it safe and be upfront about your history from the get-go. There’s no need to go into detail about your crimes on your application, but you should list any convictions honestly.
This helps not just you but also your potential employer. They can make an informed decision about whether or not you’re a good fit for the job, and you won’t have to worry about getting caught in a lie.
Look for Opportunities
Just because you have a criminal record doesn’t mean you’re doomed to a life of minimum-wage jobs.
The best way to find these opportunities is to do your research. Search your area for companies that have programs for ex-offenders, and look into government initiatives that can help you find a job.
You should also reach out to your local community organizations. They might know of employers who are willing to give ex-offenders a chance, or they might be able to connect you with resources that can help you in your job search.
Make a Good First Impression
First impressions are important for everyone, but they’re especially crucial for ex-offenders.
Polish your resume, dress for success, and be on your best behavior during the interview. Pay special attention to your posture while you’re talking, and make sure to make eye contact. You want your potential employer to be at ease with you—fidgeting and averting your gaze will only make them more nervous.
It’s also best to be extra polite and professional to everyone you encounter during the hiring process. This includes the receptionist, the interviewer, and anyone else you come into contact with. Many people hold biases against ex-offenders, so you need to do everything you can to prove them wrong—and make it easier to hire you!
Focus on How You Can Help
While being honest about your criminal past is important, you don’t want the focus of your application or interview to be on your crimes.
You should spend more time talking about your skills and experience and what you can do for the company. This is especially important during the interview. You want the interviewer to see you as an asset, not a liability or a charity case.
If you’re asked about your criminal history, keep your answer brief and to the point. Don’t try to make excuses for your actions, but don’t dwell on them either. Focus on what you’ve learned from the experience and how it’s made you a better person.
Work on Your Skills
You can’t pivot the conversation away from your criminal past if that’s all you have to offer. Remember that your skills and experience are what matter most to employers, which is why it’s essential to continue learning and growing while incarcerated.
If you haven’t already, start taking steps to improve your skills. This could mean getting a GED or taking college courses, learning a trade, or completing job training programs. The more skills you have, the easier it will be to find a job that’s a good fit for you.
Volunteer work is also a great way to gain new skills and experiences. Not only will it help you give back to your community, but it will also make you more marketable to potential employers.
Build a Support Network
Rejection is a common enough experience for job-seekers without having a criminal record in the mix. The price of rejection for ex-offenders, however, is much higher. The longer you go without a job, the harder it becomes to find one—and the likelier it is that you’ll go back to a life of crime.
To avoid this, it’s important to build a support network of family, friends, and community members who can help you through the tough times. These people can provide you with financial assistance, emotional support, and job leads. They can also put in a good word for you with potential employers.
Having someone to lean on can help you stay out of trouble and on the right track while you’re job-hunting.
For many ex-offenders, the hardest part of getting a job is not the actual job hunting, but dealing with the biases and preconceptions that potential employers have. If you’re an ex-offender, don’t let this stop you from finding gainful employment. The tips we outlined above won’t take away the challenges you face, but they will help you overcome them. With perseverance and a positive attitude, you can find a job that’s a great fit for your skills and experience—and start building a better future for yourself!