Breaking the Barriers: Strategies for Finding Employment for Ex-offenders
by Lucille Adams, guest author*
Silhouette image of a businessman with broken chains in sunsetAccording to a report in 2021 released by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BSJ), people who served time in federal prison due to drug offenses were likelier to be employed after their release than those who served time for other offenses. Finding a job is essential to reentering back to society as an ex-convict. Yet, it can take six months or even more to find a job after their release.
This article offers strategies for finding jobs for ex-offenders. This article also discusses ways in which people can help break down barriers for ex-offenders so they may lead everyday lives as working citizens.
Although ex-offenders may have difficulty finding jobs in society, they can use the following tips in this article to improve their chances of getting hired. Finding work can be difficult, and financial insecurity may cause stress.
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Strategies for Finding a Job After Prison
It is a known fact that searching for a job can be hard for anyone, but it can be more challenging for those with a criminal record. If you are an ex-offender, you can try out these strategies or tips to increase your chances of employment.
- Refine your resume and make sure to highlight your strengths. Resumes act as a strong foundation when you’re looking for a job. You can try looking up different formats for your resume but ensure it is structured and easy to read. Remember to highlight your strength, experiences, and relevant skills. After polishing your resume, proofread it to avoid spelling or grammatical errors because that can cost you a job during an assessment or interview. Once you are done proofreading, you can start submitting your resume to future employers.
- Start with a transition job: You can use the transitional employment strategy to prepare for permanent job placement. Transitional jobs are often offered to unemployed people who need help returning to the workforce. A transitional job can help you make money and be a stepping stone for future endeavors.
- Look for companies open to taking in ex-convicts: If you are an ex-convict, many employers may rule you out due to a lack of experience or insufficient qualifications. They may also have found people who are better suited for the role. However, some companies take in ex-offenders. Search for those companies in your area that are open to hiring ex-convicts.
- You can join a training program. Joining a training program or apprenticeship to help you with your skills can be added information to your resume. Experience is vital in a job, and honing what you are good at can benefit you and your future employer.
- Be honest with your future employer. Being honest is crucial when speaking to your future employer because trust can go a long way when building relationships with the people around you. It is always best to be upfront about your situation instead of risking your employer’s finding out in the future. They might dismiss you immediately because of lying.
- Feel free to ask for help or referrals to family and friends. Having a connection can save you the trouble of looking for jobs online. Asking your family or friends for referrals can widen your job search and opportunities.
- Brush up on your conversation skills and practice for your interviews. Interviews are the best way to make an excellent first impression. Feeling anxious before an interview is normal. You can counter that feeling by preparing yourself for possible questions that an interviewer might ask and practicing introducing yourself to your interviewer. Remember to research the company and the position you will be applying for. They may ask you about it, which can determine whether you are competent and interested in the position.
- Get references from previous employers. Quality references from trusted individuals can be helpful when looking for a job. References are essential because they give a potential employer more information about your work history and experience. References can also help reinforce the information you wrote on your resume.
- Do not give up. Rejections are normal, but they can still be discouraging or disheartening. However, you need to persevere and not give up because landing a job will be worth it in the long run. Opportunities appear everywhere, but it is up to you to find them. If you have a loved one who just got out of prison and needs help finding a job, the following section may be helpful.
Help Create Job Opportunities for Ex-convicts
Although finding a job opportunity relies on the person looking, you can still help by supporting them. If you have a loved one that was formerly incarcerated, here are some ways to help them find a new job.
- Write them a letter of recommendation or endorse their skills
- Try looking into your former job for positions they might be interested in
- Ask friends and family for referrals or recommendations
- Help them update their resume
- Encourage and support them emotionally
Ex-convicts will need a strong will and the help of others to reenter society as employed persons. It is important to remember that there will be setbacks along the way. Still, patience and a positive attitude may eventually lead to success.
- Employment of Persons Released from Federal Prison in 2010
*Lucille Adams is a researcher and writer in personal and business financial management. Her core focus covers sound, conservative cash flow and investing strategies that unlock long-term value for small business owners, entrepreneurs, families, and retirees.