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Job Tips for Felons

May 15, 2016

Getting a job can be difficult for anyone, and it’s especially hard for felons. If you have a felony on your record, that does not mean that you can’t get a job and should give up. It does means that you have to work harder at it – which you can do. There are, in fact, good job opportunities out there. Here are some tips to help you get hired.

Polish Your Resume

Before you begin searching for jobs and going through the interview process, it’s important to have a polished resume prepared. There are a few different ways to organize a resume, but your best bet is the functional resume, which emphasizes your skills, education, volunteer work, and other contributions over your previous employment. It doesn’t leave your employment history out though, and you may still be asked to explain gaps in your employment history, but the functional resume plays to your strengths and helps focus the discussion on what you can do, rather than what you have done.

You should be ready to provide a few great references – people who can vouch for your integrity or skills. Put their names, contact information, and a one-line explanation of how they know you on a separate document that you can provide if you’re asked for references. Ask their permission before you include them, and make sure they’ll provide a good, honest appraisal.

Look Your Best

When you’re interviewing for a job, it’s essential to be polished and professional. People do judge others on their appearance, often without knowing they’re doing it. The way you look is bound to influence their opinion, so be clean, well-groomed, and dress a little better than you expect to on the job.

The same applies to your speech and manners. No one expects you to speak like a poet or a professor, but they do expect you to express yourself calmly and respectfully.

Be Honest

Many employers do background checks. You don’t have to spill the beans unless you’re asked, but if you are asked about felonies or about an unexplained gap in your employment history, you must tell the truth. Doing so shows integrity and that works in your favor. 

Check out Staffing Agencies

It’s a common misconception that all staffing agencies do criminal background checks. Here at Forge, we pursue an active policy to help those with felony records get jobs and get back on their feet. While background checks are required for some jobs, there are employers who will consider people with certain types of criminal convictions. A felony doesn’t have to be a deal-killer.

Like every other job seeker, you can’t expect to be hired right into your dream job. Your goal is to get started in a good job, and if you perform well there, you might be able to step up later to a better position at the same company or move on to another one based on your good record. Once you’re in your first post-conviction job, you may come into contact with coworkers or supervisors who can provide support and help you progress.

Don’t Get Discouraged

It’s easy to get discouraged and want to give up, but quitting isn’t an option. You have every reason to feel hopeful. There are plenty of people with felonies who have turned their lives around. You might not qualify for every type of job imaginable, but does anyone? Keep a positive perspective, believe in yourself, and know that you have great things to offer.

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