If you have been convicted of a felony, finding a job can be a very tiresome and demoralizing process. In my opinion, our society makes it especially hard for felons and those with a criminal record to get back on track. Unfortunately, it is true that most employers are reluctant to hire people who have a felony or criminal records. Emphasis on “most”, it’s not always the case. Here are a few things to do if you are going to look for a job with a felony on your record:
1. Do your research ahead of time
Know what’s on your background check and be prepared to tell employers everything they need to know if asked. Never lie to your potential employer, because if they do a background check and you lied you won’t get the job. If you know it is likely that you will be asked questions regarding your record in the interview or hiring process, or if you have already been asked questions about your background, be able to explain your situation quickly and concisely. Walking into an interview without knowing what is on your background check is like driving a car with a blindfold on. You may be surprised what is there and even more surprised about what may not be there.
2. Eliminate the non-starters (don’t waste your time)
You should know what companies and types of companies will immediately disqualify you for your felony record, so don’t waste your time applying to them. Apply to the jobs that you are more likely to have a shot at to maximize your job search efficiency. For example, don’t waste time applying for school teacher positions or financial advisor jobs that are very strict on this type of thing.
There are many organizations that are given a tax break by the government to hire ex-felons so look out for such organizations as you will have much less of a difficulty finding a job there. Specifically, this tax break is primarily given during the first year after conviction or release.
Also, small local businesses will be more welcoming than larger ones. Large companies often need to comply with strict processes and procedures for hiring.
3. Don’t go at it alone
Whenever looking for a job as an ex-felon, do not go it all alone. Look for organizations that can help you. There are many workforce development centers that are there to help ex-felons secure a job for themselves. Check out the social services center in your city and see if someone there can help you. On the internet, resources like xamire.
Check out the ex-felon resources page here at jobunlocker.com for guidance
5. Forget working for someone else, set up your own business
There are no limitations if you have the entrepreneurial skills to start your own business, freelance, or be a consultant. Nothing can stop you from starting your own business, you will face the common market threats that all entrepreneurs face on an even playing field. Your felony record will unlikely ever come up. Customers will not spend money to do a background check on a small business.
6. Freelance Online
Online freelancing is one good way to earn money and a criminal background is irrelevant. There are all sorts of jobs online, but make sure to not be sucked into any work from home scams that require upfront payments. NEVER PAY AN UPFRONT FEE FOR A JOB. The best way to get involved correctly is by setting up quality profiles on freelancing websites and bidding on different jobs and tasks. You don’t have to mention your felony record anywhere.
It isn’t just super tech savvy positions, potential jobs through online freelancing could consist of doing in person marketing, being a virtual assistant, or researching online. Online freelancing is a great option for those who are willing to work hard, but don’t have a world class Resume.
A few sites that broker employers, contract jobs, and online talent are www.upwork.com, www.freelancer.com, mechanicalturk.com and www.fiverr.com. All of these companies do not charge freelancers upfront fees for finding them jobs and projects.
7. Get back to your education
Another smart move would be to get back to your education. There is never a wrong time to improve your academic background and skill set. There are many jobs in technology, that care only about your skills and could care less about other limiting factors. If you can do the job you are hired. Start by trying classes at a local and inexpensive community college. Take classes to keep your skills up to date, take a training program, or complete your GED if you still need it. This carries weight, shows you are making progress in a positive direction, creates lifelong skills, and will give you a boost of confidence. Make sure you read up on the pros and cons of for-profit colleges.
8. Clear your record
Depending on the state and type of crime, you may have the right to get your felony removed from your records in a legal manner. Do some research, find a lawyer, and discuss with him or her how you can get the felony deleted from your records. Is it expensive? Most will do a free consultation, ask as many questions as possible! The answers along with internet research may help you file this yourself.
9. Get references
Landing a job offer is much easier if you have solid references that can vouch for you. Select references that will be strong advocates for you and communicate your value to potential employers. They should be able to explain that you worked very well on previous jobs or projects and that you can perform this potential job. By using references you are borrowing the creditably of the other individuals character as well as yours.