The moment you’re found (or plead) guilty of a felony, you’ll have that on your personal record for the rest of your life. Staring down the months and years ahead that you’ll have to serve as a part of your sentence can certainly be overwhelming at the time, but when you get released, things aren’t going to get much easier. Now you’ll have to figure out how to get a job with a felony.
For starters, getting a job as a felon is tough. While you might not be in the habit of telling people about your background, more and more employers are checking on their prospective hires. After all, they don’t want to become the next unwitting fool who hired someone and didn’t know just what they were all about (Tennessee Department of Corrections).
It doesn’t matter what crime you committed that led to the felony conviction; many employers (and others) have strong prejudice when it comes to ex-cons. They don’t want to hire them because they feel that person probably didn’t change during their time behind bars.
Yet people do change. You’re living proof. Now you just want a chance to prove that to someone other than yourself.
The Initial Job Search
So you fill out applications and cringe every time you reach the point on the page where it asks whether you’ve been convicted of a felony. You might have checked ‘no’ on a few, but they found out. Suddenly you’re not just a felon but also someone who can’t be truthful.
Then you begin admitting to your crime. And the phone doesn’t ring.
If you’re on parole you’ll have to check in with your P.O. (Parole Officer) on a regular basis. “Have you been looking for work?” he might ask.
“Yeah, but ain’t no one bothering to look at me,” could be your response.
Given enough time without being able to earn money on which to survive and it’s enough to make some ex-cons begin thinking about their old way of life. The longer a person served in prison, the more comfortable that environment becomes compared to the cruel world that awaits on the outside.
Here’s how you can get a job as a felon.
Acknowledge and eliminate the potential employers who will immediately disqualify you from consideration because of your criminal record. There’s absolutely no point to taking time filling out applications if the company isn’t even going to consider you because of your background.
Do some research and you should be able to get a sense of whether or not some companies ever hire ex-cons. You could also call and speak to the hiring manager at a particular company you may be interested in applying for. Ask him or her, “I have a criminal record and would like to know if you ever consider hiring ex-cons.”
You can certainly word it differently, but you’ll be accomplishing two things: you’re being honest with them and finding out whether it’s worth the effort to apply.
Next, find out what your background check will show. If you were convicted of one felony, then it should be simple to know what your background check is telling potential employers. If you have multiple felonies from your distance past, this can all show up on a background check, making it appear as though you’re a very serious risk and they shouldn’t even bother interviewing you.
As long as you know what your background is, you can address those issues up front. Honestly.
When you set out to apply for work and maybe you’re even called in for an interview, it can help when you reach out to organizations that specifically assist felons like you find reputable work.
You could go to that interview with an advocate who not only understands the challenges you’re facing finding employment, but also how best to present yourself to your potential employer.
There are certain things, from behavior to language, that employers look for when interviewing candidates. It’s important to make eye contact when he or she is speaking. It’s also important to avoid fidgeting too much.
Acting nervous could give off a bad impression, making it seem as though you have something to hide. Take advice from these experienced individuals and rely on them during the job search.
What kind of jobs can felons get?
There are many. However, you’re not likely going to find work in a bank or other financial institution. You’ll also struggle within a corporate atmosphere, at least at first. That doesn’t mean you’ll never have an opportunity. Work hard, go back to school, get an education, and begin making yourself more marketable and you could eventually get into a career that you truly care about.
Your odds likely increase if you’re looking to become a truck driver, construction worker, or some other blue collar employee.
The most important thing you need to know about how to get a job with a felony on your record is to not give up. It will be tough at times, but you can do this.