Seventy million men and women in the United States have been arrested or convicted of a crime that will show up in a background check.
Of those who were incarcerated, 50% of them will return to jail.
So what will the other half do? In many cases, look for jobs.
Ban The Box laws that eliminate questions about criminal convictions on employment applications have helped numerous ex-cons get their foot in the door when seeking jobs. The theory is that instead of being passed over right away because they checked ‘yes’ to a question about being convicted of a crime, their qualifications, education and references will be viewed equally with that of people who check ‘no.’ This article says Ban The Box is helping ex-cons enter the workforce. In the most basic sense, no one is judged on his or her past.
Getting your application viewed is one thing, landing the gig is another, if you have a criminal record. We checked out several articles and websites and compiled these tips to help you start earning that paycheck again.
*Know Where To Look – We like jailtojob.com: http://www.jailtojob.com/Companies%20that%20Hire%20Ex-offenders%20and%20Felons.html. This site offers a comprehensive, and it says, up to date list of US companies who hire people with criminal records. Some of the names on its list include Zenith Electronics, Apple Inc., Coldwell-Banker, and Chipotle Mexican Grill. There is also an ebook you can buy for $5 that offers instructional, real world advice for ex-cons navigating the job application system.
*Set Realistic Expectations – Understand that some employers may still not hire you, especially if they feel that your previous violations are related to the type of work you’re applying for. For example, if you were convicted of drunken driving, you’ll probably not be working as a school bus driver anytime soon. Also, taking a lower-paying job to build your resume and work skills is not a bad idea. It will show future employers that you’re willing to work your way up the ladder.
*Practice Interview Answers – You WILL be asked about your arrests and/or convictions. Be prepared. You may want to practice your answer to this question ahead of time. This article from U.S. News and World Report advises applicants to talk about positive steps they took to better themselves during jail time. Perhaps you managed the library or finished your Associate’s Degree or mentored other inmates or trained therapy dogs. If there is something you did to improve yourself, share it.
*Share Your Story – Don’t be afraid to talk about your arrest or conviction or prison time. Sharing your story with clergy, business leaders, volunteer groups or community organizations may lead to important networking opportunities. These people may advocate on your behalf and turn into viable references. Regardless of criminal history, plenty of jobs are earned (or at least heard about) everyday through word of mouth and networking.
*Wipe Your Record – This option can be a little dicey but it’s out there so we’ll tell you about it. If you committed an offense a long time ago or were a juvenile at the time, you might be able to have your record expunged or sealed. This can help people in states where Ban The Box laws haven’t passed because you can check ‘no’ on the arrest or conviction question.
*Join The Military – You CAN join the U.S. military even if you’ve been arrested or convicted of a crime. This wikiHow article says you need to get a waiver that will allow you to enlist but you need to have good references and have become a productive member of society.
What tips do you have? We’d love to hear them and add them to our list. When we update it, we’ll let you know!