There are more and more felony-friendly job opportunities on the job market and Honest Jobs is committed to helping you connect with these second-chance employers. However, looking for a job with a felony conviction comes with its unique challenges, and reentering the job market after incarceration requires a different preparation process to be successful.
Here are a few ideas to help you overcome some of the biggest challenges you'll face if you have a record and are trying to find jobs for felons:
1. "Have you ever been convicted of a crime?"
This is the question that we’ve all come across during the job application process. For someone with a felony record, just seeing that checkbox can discourage them from applying, even if they were qualified for the role otherwise.
“Ban the Box” legislation removes the criminal history-related questions from the job application and delays the background check until after an offer is made. Therefore, employers are less likely to automatically deny employment based on a criminal record. Click here to check which of the 36 states and 150 cities and counties have currently adopted "Ban the Box." Knowing the laws in your area could give you a better idea of what to expect during the application and interview process.
Still, this question may come up. Practice what you'll say to deflect or answer the question. For the latter, you can prepare to speak matter-of-factly about your conviction or incarceration, how you've grown as a person, and what skills and motivation you bring to the company and the job.
2. No work experience or gaps in employment history
Often, people with felony records don't have a lot of formal work experience or have long gaps in their employment history. However, many of the skills gained before and during incarceration can be very relevant to employers.
Working in the kitchen, laundry, or any other assigned job shows that you have attention to detail and can follow directions. Consider highlighting these experiences, as well as your natural talents, strong work ethic, and desire for self-improvement.
If you have gaps due to incarceration, potential employers might ask you to explain them in your interview. Being prepared is the best way to overcome this challenge. Be clear about why you had the gap, but try to focus on the positive change you have made during and since that time. Explain the improvements you’ve made in your life and your excitement for the company and role.
If you need help identifying your skills, explaining the gaps in your employment, or aren't sure how to include this info on your resume, our Employment Specialists can help! Click here to get free help updating or creating your resume.
3. Focusing on the right jobs
Job opportunities for felons can vary depending on the nature of your crime and how long ago it was committed. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) encourages second-chance employers to look at the nature of the crime, the time that has passed since the offense, and then compare that to the nature of the job duties when deciding whether or not to hire someone with a felony. Therefore, to save yourself some time and potential rejection, it is a good idea to use the same “nature-time-nature” guidelines when deciding which felony-friendly jobs to apply for.
When you use Honest Jobs to search for jobs, our system reads through thousands of job descriptions and automatically applies the "nature-time-nature" rules to identify the jobs that are the most compatible with your unique criminal record. Create a free profile and find a second chance job today!