The prospects of getting a job in the present economic deluge are certainly quite slim. It gets even harder if you have had a felony conviction in the past. Before a person gets hired for a job that involves working with the disabled, children, or the elderly, a prospective employer is required by Federal and State law to run a criminal background check on him or her. Employers have to do this lest they are charged with negligent hiring. Evidence of a criminal record will definitely make it difficult to get a job in such places but this does not mean that all is lost. There are plenty of alternative avenues that ex-felons can pursue and get a respectable job as well as the much needed reintegration into society.
Below are some helpful tips that ex-felons are better off knowing when they venture out to look for employment:
Before looking into tips that ex-felons can use in their pursuit of a job, it is apt that a few resources for their rehabilitation be explored. The internet abounds with plenty of forums where ex-felons can get helpful information with regards to rehabilitation. One of these is at BlogCatalog. This blog contains lots of articles, particularly on how and where people with felony convictions can get jobs. There is a tag cloud on the homepage with plenty of links that are relevant to the subject at hand. The HireNetwork is a website that offers resources and assistance for every state across the US. Some of the helpful contacts one can get here include, those of the state department of parole/probation; local service providers who assist ex-felons get employment, and the particular state’s department of labor. Another website that can prove to be quite resourceful is TheWizardofJobs/Ex-Felons. The site’s front page boasts an impressive A-Z list of helpful links in different categories; it’s worth a look. There is also plenty of literature online that ex-felons can use so as to get better informed about helpful programs they can pursue. One such reading is from NCJRS.gov which explores job placement opportunities for ex-offenders.
Regulations and Rules for Disclosure
The law is clear that ex-felons must not be discriminated against by employers. However, this legislature is only upheld for persons whose offense records are minor in nature. As such, persons with crime records including the likes of murder, rape and acts of violence are not protected against discrimination. There are general rules that are followed in considering the pardoning of criminal offenses. Minor offenses are considered pardoned after a five year period while prison terms that lasted for a maximum of six months are considered excused after seven years. Persons who committed crimes while below 18 years of age are considered pardoned after half the period served. Persons who served terms of more than thirty months can never get their records expunged.
This information is helpful in that ex-felons legally reserve the right not to disclose offenses committed once pardoned. Employers on the other hand are barred against discriminating on the basis of pardoned offenses. There are jobs that will however require one to disclose pardoned offenses including law and protection services, jobs with the disabled, pharmaceutical jobs, jobs with the elderly and children, military positions etc.
When is Offense Disclosure Applicable?
It is in order to disclose offenses when it is a requirement in an interview and also when it is a requirement on an application form. In the case of the latter you can detail the offense on a separate page, also including the rehabilitation measures you have since taken to improve yourself.
The urge to conceal this type of information may be strong but the cost of doing so will definitely be higher. Employers will often call upon the Criminal Records Bureau to do a background screening on prospective employees just to be sure that the details are correct and in order.
Make Sure Your Record is Accurate
Before you start looking for a job as an ex-felon, it is prudent to ensure that your criminal record is accurate. Errors in recording do occur, and leaving these as they are will definitely work against you either way. Each state has a relevant authority from which one can acquire a copy of his or her criminal record. The simplest place to start is your local Police Records office.
Other Helpful Tips
Ex-felons need to acquire ‘special’ interview skills purely because they will more or less be required to give some details about their past. The basic rule here is to show prospective employers that you are on the reform path and that you can back this up with actual performance if given a chance.
Resumes for ex-felons must include details about any helpful or functional skills that were acquired during the prison term. All achievements made and certifications acquired should be highlighted – these go a long way in showing your determination to reform. One great way to show that you are trying to take your life in a different direction is by taking college classes. Even if you have just started, it will show ambition and motivation to your future employer.
It’s much more convenient to obtain a degree online as well. For example, you can sign up for a RN-MSN (or Masters of Science in Nursing) degree very easily by using the internet. A degree in the medical field is practically recession proof, as people will always be getting sick. A post-graduate degree in nursing also opens up the doors for a number of high profile employers. Aside from boosted career opportunities, it will also provide you with a deeper knowledge of health in general and help you lead a more healthy and fulfilling lifestyle.
Lastly, networking is most important for job-seeking ex-felons. Find friends, family, and other helpful people who are willing to help, and share your skills and job aspirations with them. They just might know an employer who may be willing to hire you.