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3 Ways to be More Competitive in the Job Market When You Have a Criminal Record



Finding your first job after a conviction can be extremely difficult, time-consuming, and sometimes disappointing. At Honest Jobs, we focus on making that process faster and easier by connecting you with proven fair-chance employers. Even with this advantage, there are still some things that you can do to better your chances and be more competitive in the job market.

First, we would like to talk about education, which might be even more critical if you have a criminal record. That is not to say that you need a college degree, but you can set yourself apart from the crowd with valuable knowledge and skillsets.

1. GED

If you don't currently have a high school or high school equivalency (GED) diploma, use this link to research how to earn one in your area and sign up for the preparation courses. The price of a GED exam is generally around $30 per subject. However, the cost depends on the state in which you live.


Here are a few notable reasons to get your GED:

  • Employment – You will be eligible for more jobs.

  • Self-Esteem – You will feel better about yourself.

  • Role Model – You will set an excellent example for others (including your children).

  • Education – You will be able to pursue higher education.



2. Self-Taught

There is so much content on the internet these days that you can learn practically anything for free. Anyone who is resourceful and motivated can teach themselves. Most successful entrepreneurs attribute their success to their own teachings and technical obsessions rather than traditional education. Continuous improvement is about constantly learning. Reading books, watching tutorials on YouTube, and putting yourself around the right people are the types of activities that result in invaluable skills and knowledge.

3. Skilled Trades

Another type of education many people with criminal records might want to consider is learning a skilled trade. These are career skills that require specific training and often some level of higher education.


Skilled trades include facilities maintenance, electrical, welding, plumbing, carpentry, and numerous other occupations. Many skilled trade certificates are available from your local community college, and most require less than a year and a half to earn. People in skilled trades can make anywhere from $15 to $80 an hour.

If you can afford it, purchase the equipment needed for your trade and practice at home while working towards your certification. If your financial situation doesn't allow you to buy the equipment outright, search for a makerspace in your area. For a monthly or yearly fee, these facilities will often provide access to equipment for their members. Either of these options will allow you to build a "portfolio" of your work that you can share with potential employers, allowing you to find a job more quickly.

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