Those with a criminal record often think that it’s impossible to get any kind of employment. However, that’s actually not true. Business owners and hiring managers must maintain a safe work environment, and will often eliminate a candidate with a record for something that’s considered to be risky for their business, such as theft, fraud, or physical violence. Depending on the nature of the offense, however, many companies are willing to give second chances.
Here are some tips for getting careers back on track for those who have a checkered past.
Read the job application carefully. Be honest and on point. For example, if the application asks if you have ever been convicted of a felony, you don’t need to mention a misdemeanor. Find out if your state has a “ban the box” policy that removes the question about convictions on the job application. Massachusetts happens to have that policy.
Honesty is the best policy. During the interview, carefully explain what, when, and how the event happened. Your record will come up on a background check anyway, and not revealing it will most likely be an automatic “no thank you.”
Use your judgment during an interview when to disclose your background. You shouldn’t omit the fact that you have a criminal record, but it’s also not necessary to jump in and announce it the first thing. Develop a rapport with the interviewer to see if the job is a good fit, and let them get a good feeling about you.
Seek out industries that need candidates, and are actively looking for qualified applicants such as construction labor, farm labor, and the trucking industry.
Ask friends and relatives if they know of anyone who might give you a chance. Perhaps they’ll write a recommendation letter for you or contact their colleagues and put in a good word.
Check out temp agencies that can start you out on a smaller scale, and give you the opportunity to prove yourself and work your way up. There are also nonprofit agencies that help people with criminal records look for jobs.
Volunteer to gain experience as well as to prove yourself. Another smart option is to start out behind the scenes such as stocking shelves, loading and unloading items at a warehouse, or washing dishes, to get your foot in the door and get a good reference.
Seek out job training programs and classes that will help you get up to speed and feel more confident about getting out there. Become a MassHire member today to learn about all of our programs.
Are you an employer in a position to hire an ex-offender? There are two federal programs that encourage employers to hire ex-felons. One program, the WOTC, offers tax credits for employers who hire individuals from a specified list. Another program is the Federal Bonding Program (FBP) that offers insurance to an employer who hires an ex-offender considered to be high risk. Click here for more information on each one of these programs.