4 Essential Steps for Finding Employment as an Ex-Felon
More than 150 cities and 34 states in America imposed a “ban-the-box” law that aims to limit the questions an employer can ask an applicant during the earlier stages of the hiring process. However, this law does not apply to finance, healthcare, and early childhood education due to security reasons. But over 60% of the employers nationwide do not prohibit applicants with a criminal history from applying to their companies.
However, if an applicant proceeds to the last hiring stages, an employer can tap into your personal history, relying heavily on criminal records found through background checks. So, if you’re job hunting, you should be prepared for a background check by one of your prospective employers. If you have a record, you need to be strategic and professional in ensuring your qualifications to potentially overcome any past mistakes.
Step 1: Sell Your Potential
Finding a job as a felon isn’t different from finding jobs for people without criminal records. The best way to land your job is to sell yourself. However, there could be instances where an employer tries to find dirt but compromises the bad with the good.
Strong references from former workplaces, workmates, or bosses can be your key to sealing the deal. Employers usually ask for references early on for review later. So make sure to pick the best references concerning the job you are applying for. Aside from writing someone as your reference to call for verification, you can also ask people for recommendations, which also make good records for employers to review.
Keeping a good portfolio while applying for a job is your ticket to success. Compile all your past work samples to show employers in case they ask for them. A portfolio is not always a solid reason for getting hired, but it always pays to show what you can do based on your prior work experience.
Step 2: Stay Informed
The first rule in applying for jobs as an ex-felon is to know your rights. You should know what laws state in terms of the questions asked during the hiring process. It helps to understand what information you can provide or what you can choose not to answer.
Also, remember that criminal records do not only mean serious crimes like robbery or assault. Something as simple as jaywalking can be considered a criminal record. However, these records should not hinder your chances of getting a job. Keep your answers honest to show that you can prove the strength of your character and potential.
Step 3: Expect a Background Check
According to the Society for Human Management (SHRM), the best time to commence a background check is only after a conditional offer has been made by the employer after thorough consideration of the applicant’s skills and potential.
A background check can range from acquiring criminal history, driving history, drug testing, credit reports, and social media screening. It can be stressful for candidates to undergo background checks with or without a record. Often unreliable, commercial background checks do not tell the whole story. The results can take days because it includes name-matching and verifying false information. If the results come to you, immediately file a dispute for any inaccuracies in the report.
Step 4: Prepare for the Worst
You will likely experience discrimination and judgment from people around you. However, do not let these things take your focus away from your goal. Mistakes in the past shouldn’t stop you from starting over again.
During the final interview of the job you’re applying for, anticipate all the questions that may arise concerning your bad record. Try to understand the essence of these questions and know that the employer only needs to understand you better as an applicant. Answer these questions with understanding, but if you don’t get the job, take the experience as a lesson to get better in your following applications.
Being an ex-felon shouldn’t be a reason for people to lose their chance of landing a job. However, as an applicant, remember that your past can be the focus of your application. What’s important is to focus on your goal and trust your skills, and you’ll be alright.
Founded in 2015, Fallen Valor aims to help offenders get back on their feet. We maintain good relationships with employers in Oklahoma to assist ex-felons in their reentry into society. Our goal is to connect employers to applicants for a shot at a second chance. Do you know an ex-felon who is actively looking for a job? Tell them to read through our list of guides for ex-felons before they apply for an appointment!