Having a criminal record can be extremely difficult to deal with, especially when you begin realizing that employment opportunities become limited with that felony conviction. Even misdemeanors have the potential to limit a person’s ability to find quality employment.
When looking for companies and jobs for felons, one of the first things people look at is the likelihood that they’ll find employment through a particular company. While there aren’t any companies that actively seek out ex-convicts for employment, there are a number of them that don’t disqualify a potential candidate just because he or she has a felony conviction on their record.
Whether you’re looking for jobs for parolees for yourself or somebody you know, it’s important to maintain a positive attitude. There are jobs that hire ex-offenders.
Common challenges many ex-convicts face when looking for jobs.
When a person is released from prison after serving their sentence or being paroled, they will be met with numerous challenges. Arguably the most significant is finding quality employment so they don’t begin drifting back into their old habits and their old way of life. Without quality employment, it will become much more difficult to find adequate housing or even maintain housing. It can also be extremely difficult to afford food.
There are many companies, actually the majority of companies, throughout the United States and around the world who won’t even consider hiring somebody with a felony conviction on their record.
Why can’t you just lie?
It may be tempting when filling out a job application to simply lie in the section where you are asked whether or not you were convicted of a felony in the past. This might get a person past the initial screening process and to an interview, but almost every single company, when seriously considering a potential job applicant, will run a background check to determine if he or she actually has a criminal history.
If you lied, “Oops.” Good luck getting an interview then.
If you have been convicted of a felony, odds are that record will remain with you for many years, if not the rest of your life. Even if you have a misdemeanor on your record, that will show up on a background check in many situations.
It’s possible to expunge or seal a felony conviction in some states, but it is extremely difficult to do so. A misdemeanor is much easier to have expunged or sealed from public record.
If you lie on a job application, you may get lucky and the employer doesn’t run a background check. If you are hired, that can seem like it was well worth the simple lie. However, your application is in your file at your place of business for a long, long time. If something comes up and it is determined that you lied on your application, you could be liable for certain damages if the company wishes to pursue various charges against you. That would be a civil action that can result in a significant fine or judgment against you.
Always be honest.
Even though you may be running up a formidable wall and not getting any return calls for job applications that you fill out, it’s essential that you remain honest when filling out your application. You may have to fill out dozens upon dozens of applications, each taking an hour or more of your time just to fill out, for each potential job opening, just to get one or two phone calls to come in for an interview.
Before talking about various companies or jobs that hire ex-offenders, let’s talk about ways to present yourself in the best manner possible, especially on that application. Keep in mind that your application is your introduction. The hiring manager will never get an opportunity to meet you or hear your story about why you were convicted of a felony if your application does not stand out.
How to increase your chances of getting a job with your application.
- Write legibly. Maybe you didn’t work hard in grade school and your handwriting is considered, by some, to be atrocious. That doesn’t mean it can’t improve. When you slow the process down and you concentrate on making each letter as clear and even as possible, you will learn to write more legibly.
If the application is online or they give you the option of filling it out online or manually with a pen, choose the online option. That will allow your application to appear neat rather than having poor handwriting or scribbling or squeezing information into confined spaces.
- Focus on your strengths. Everyone has strengths. You may have only worked at a fast food restaurant before your felony conviction, and while that might not seem to be adequate in finding a better job in the future, what did you learn on the job?
You probably learned discipline. You had to show up on time, stay at your assigned area, and be respectful to customers when you interacted with them. Time management, customer service, attention to detail … these are all terms that can be highlighted on your application and benefit you when somebody is reviewing those applications.
- Be reasonable in your expectations. If the application asks what your salary requirements are, be reasonable. Don’t begin requesting $20 an hour for entry-level work. You may want to earn $20 an hour, but you will likely have to work your way up to it. It may take several years to do so, but if you are unreasonable with your expectations on the application, a potential employer may not want to consider you.
- Have somebody articulate review your application before you submit it. Whether it is a family member, friend, or even a volunteer at a nonprofit organization that specializes in helping ex-offenders apply for jobs and find work, have somebody you trust review your application.
If they make certain suggestions about things you might want to change, listen to them. You may be a proud individual who knows what’s going on, but they’re advice (that you requested) could be the difference between a call in for an interview and having your application dismissed.
Understand the job market.
When you’re looking for companies that will hire felons, you should understand the job market at any given time. Job markets fluctuate over many years. In one year, home health care may be the biggest job creator in the country and four years later it could be real estate or trucking, or something else.
If the economy is in a downswing or recession, the job market is going to be that much more difficult to break into. If there is high competition for any particular type of job or company, that means the likelihood of your application being picked out of the pile for you to be called in for an interview will decrease.
That means you should focus on jobs that will give you the best opportunity for being considered. If you focus only on companies or jobs in which the competition is extremely high and the job opportunities are low, you will likely be met with missed opportunity after missed opportunity.
Be willing to start small.
When you begin searching for jobs after you have been released from prison, you can certainly have big dreams, but start small. Apply for between 5 and 10 entry level jobs, 3 to 5 mid level type jobs, and between 1 and 3 dream jobs for every 15 jobs you apply for.
Those entry-level jobs will maximize your chances of getting an interview and actually getting the job, even though they may only pay minimum wage or only slightly better than that. Those mid level jobs may pay more than minimum wage, but they should be more in line with something that you truly want to do for your career. Your dream job should be something that you aspire to.
Those entry level jobs can be just about anything, including fast food, janitorial, maintenance, construction, or anything else that gets your foot in the door of a particular company. That doesn’t mean you’re going to stay with that company for very long, but it will give you something to place on your future applications about current employment.
The best jobs for felons.
There are certain professions in which an ex-offender is going to have an extremely difficult time breaking into. Financial jobs, for one, are almost completely closed off to anyone who has a felony conviction. That means working as a bank teller, investor, or anywhere in a financial firm will be unlikely.
The same holds true when getting into health care jobs. Health care jobs require state or federal certification in order to work in a hospital, nursing home, clinic, or anywhere else. That may be impossible with a felony conviction. It would also require an advanced degree if you wanted to become a doctor or LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse).
Some of the best job opportunities for anyone with felony conviction on the record would include construction, trucking, fast food, customer service, and manufacturing.
If none of these potential jobs appeal to you, you need to find out exactly what you would like to do for your career. In the meantime, take a look at some of the best companies that will hire found felons.
This is a national hardware store that can provide a great opportunity for somebody recently released from prison to gain valuable experience in home improvement. While companies like Home Depot and Loews have run out many small hardware stores from towns all across the country, Ace Hardware continues to be a strong company to work for.
By getting a job at an Ace Hardware, you can learn a great deal about the various products that may be beneficial for homeowners and even home improvement contractors. You can learn about the basic plumbing supplies, construction materials, what type of nails to use in certain situations, and much more.
Having this type of job on a resume could increase the chances of getting a job at a construction company or working for home improvement contractor in the future.
The tire company is known for hiring people from all walks of life, whether they have disabilities or have been convicted of a felony in the past. There are many different independent Bridgestone tire centers where you could get a job changing tires, doing oil changes, and that can help you learn basic mechanical skills.
If you get an opportunity to work for Bridgestone, there is great growth opportunities and potential to become an assistant manager and even more.
If you like the idea of being surrounded by a festive atmosphere, working in a chain restaurant could be right up your alley. Buffalo Wild Wings has become incredibly popular all across the United States in the past two decades.
While they serve many different menu items, they also have a wide range of people who work for them. The wait staff is the most prominent, but you could also get a job as a line cook, dishwasher, and potentially even a bartender if your state provides licenses for bartenders who have felony convictions on the record. There is a potential to earn a considerable amount of money if you decide and are hired to work as a wait staff professional.
Dollar stores provide people from lower income communities an opportunity to afford a wide range of merchandise, including food, cleaning supplies, party supplies, school supplies, and much more. Dollar Tree is also a great company in that it hires ex-offenders.
The opportunities you may have if you apply for and are hired by Dollar Tree could include stock work, cashier work, janitorial work such as cleaning the floors, moving shelving units, and more. It may not be an ideal job situation for you at this time, but when you gain valuable experience, it becomes much more appealing to other future potential employers.
The idea of working at a drive-through window at a Dunkin’ Donuts may not appeal to you, but they are known for hiring felons. When it comes to jobs that hire ex-offenders, looking into Dunkin’ Donuts could be a viable option.
It could give you the opportunity you need to establish yourself as a hard working individual who shows up on time, is courteous to customers, pays attention to detail, and takes pride in what he or she does.
If you’ve ever driven across country, you’ve probably come across a Flying J gas station and truck rest stop. There are many different types, but the big three include Flying J, T & A, and Pilot (of which Flying J is a subsidiary).
You could get a job working gas pumps, maintenance, janitorial, cashiering, or any number of other potential opportunities. This could put you in touch with a number of different truckers who may use a particular Flying J whenever they are driving through the region. That could also provide you some insight and networking opportunities if you have an interest in becoming a truck driver at some point in the future.
One company on this list that seems to stand out as a bit of a surprise is IBM. One of the preeminent names in information technology is not averse to hiring somebody with a felony conviction on their public record.
If you have some type of commuter computer technology or information technology experience, and if that’s something you wish to pursue for your career, you may benefit by applying to IBM. They also have marketing departments and another number of other departments that may appeal to you for your career.
If you’re interested in learning to become an auto technician, you could start out at Jiffy Lube. While Jiffy Lube is most known for quick oil changes, they also provide a number of other automotive services, including brakes, exhaust systems, and more.
You may have to start out at the bottom, doing the grunt work at a particular franchise, but you should quickly have an opportunity to move up once you prove yourself to be a valuable asset.
The tobacco manufacturer also owns a number of other major companies, including Kraft Foods. If they have a job opportunity that falls in line with something you have skill in or wish to pursue, your felony conviction is not going to be a deterrent for this company.
Just because you may be a smoker and have a penchant for Marlboro doesn’t mean you should apply to work for Phillip Morris. This is a type of company that can help you excel in a particular career, so you should have some type of skill set that will benefit them and the desire for a career working with this particular company.
This is one of the biggest employers of truck drivers across the come the country. While they do hire people who had been convicted of felonies, those convictions need to be seven years old or older. If you have a felony conviction on your record that is less than seven years, you may not be hired by this particular company, but there are also other transportation and trucking companies that could provide you an opportunity to at least prove yourself by working in a warehouse, loading trucks, or doing other basic labor intensive jobs while you’re waiting for an opportunity to pursue your CDL.
Shell Oil is more than just gas stations across country. They are one of the biggest oil production companies in the United States. They have oil fields, oil rigs, refineries, and much more where people from all walks of life could potentially find valuable employment.
Getting a job at a Shell gas station is not likely going to provide you a great career opportunity. However, it could very well give you some insight and experience into the company whereby you could apply for some other position later on and they can look at your work ethic and record as a whole to determine whether you are qualified for another opportunity.
Tesla motors is focused on energy efficient vehicles and is breaking down barriers all across the world. This company has also been known to hire ex-offenders.
When you get into the steel industry, you step into one of the most lucrative and powerful industries in the entire world. Steel is used for almost everything that is manufactured today. A person with a felony conviction on the record will have a pretty good opportunity at finding entry-level work within the US Steel Corporation.
What about other companies that hire felons?
These are some of the top companies that hire felons, or ex-offenders. They are not the only ones. Keep in mind that this list is focused on national companies. There are many small businesses and business owners who may be more than willing to give somebody with a felony conviction on their record a chance to prove themselves.
One thing that is not listed here are various construction companies. Smaller, more independent construction firms or home improvement contractors often have a tendency to hire people with skill rather than those who have a completely clean background.
It’s important to focus on showing a potential employer that you have completely changed from your previous ways. When you can do that, you should certainly take advantage of the opportunities that some employers offer.
If you want to know about more companies that hire felons, below is a number of others, but without the details provided with the top ones in this list.