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Find Work as a Convicted Felon

A lot of the posts we write here at the StartWire blog are inspired by conversations we have with real job seekers and StartWire users. I wrote this post after speaking with a job seeker who was having trouble getting back on their feet after getting out of jail.

Turning your life around after being convicted of a felony can be difficult. There are some types of jobs that will simply not accept convicted felons. If you have been working in a field that does not accept felons for employment, it is likely that you will have to undergo a career change. For example, many health care positions have strict policies against accepting convicted felons.

However, it IS possible to find work as a convicted felon. So do not give up hope! Finding work is an important part of your future, so keep at it, keep your head up and eventually you will be on your feet.

1. Look for work at small companies.

Large, nationwide corporations often have a web of hiring rules and restrictions. Even if an individual at the company likes you, they may not be able to hire you because of your background. Small companies have more flexibility to make decisions on a case-by-case basis and you are more likely to get a chance to explain yourself and overcome the conviction.

 2. Keep your conviction off of your resume.

You absolutely should be honest about convictions. Employers will find out about your past soon enough. However, your resume is a place to sell your best qualities, not reveal past mistakes. Most applications will require you to state whether or not you’ve been convicted of a felony. If you aren’t asked, it’s best to be upfront early on before a background check is done.

 3. Start at the bottom and work your way up.

When you are fresh out of jail or off of probation, it is important to rebuild your credibility. This may mean taking any work you can find, and proving yourself to be an honest and hard worker. The work is often minimum wage in manufacturing or fast food. By proving yourself here, you will have opportunities to rebuild work experience and gain the trust of potential employers.

 4. Use all the resources available to you.

There’s no way around it. Getting back into the workforce as a convicted felon is challenging. There are resources in place throughout many communities that are designed to help. Contact your parole officer; seek out human services organizations near you that offer support for convicted felons. These people may be able to point you toward employers willing to hire convicted felons, career training resources or other opportunities.

Most of all, do not give up. Persistence is the key to finding work in a difficult job search. Once you find that first job, no matter what it is, you will be able to start rebuilding your skills and employers trust in you.

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