Many companies will not interview a felon, much less hire one. While this is true and it can make life on the outside difficult, finding employment after prison can be done if you take the right steps.
Goodwill has set up a nationwide career center program to help underemployed and unemployed people and felons to find work. You can call your local Goodwill and ask if it has a career center or where the nearest one is located. The center will help you develop a resume, practice interview skills, give you job leads and give you an outfit to wear to the interview. They have information about jobs and training on their Goodwill website for your local area.
There may be other career centers in your area. Call the unemployment office and ask for phone numbers to the centers.
If you are on parole, your parole officer can be a resource for finding work. Most parole officers are aware of which area employers will hire felons. Ask for a list and send applications and a resume to each company on the list. Follow up with a phone call, and if possible, deliver a resume in person (dressed neatly).
Friends and Family
Sometimes the recommendation of a friend or family member, will convince an otherwise skeptical employer to give you a chance or at least an interview. Let everyone in your social world and family circle know you are looking for work, and keep it fresh in their minds.
Lying about your past is not the way to get a job. Background checks can be done with the click of a mouse on the Internet and the last thing you want a potential employer to think is that you are a liar and a felon. When a job application asks about past convictions, mark yes, and then in the box for comments write, “Will explain during interview.” If you get the interview, be honest, short and sweet about it. “I was convicted of drug sales in xxxx, I completed my sentence successfully and have moved forward with my life”. Then start telling the interviewer about skills you have that match the job description, and present a very positive attitude.
Most restaurants will hire felons to work in the kitchen. Any job is better than no job when you are first rebuilding after a prison stint. Take a job in a restaurant, work hard, do your best and continue looking for the job you want. It is a plus to be able to tell a potential employer that you already have a job, and job recommendations are weighed very heavily.
Small Companies are good
Locally-based businesses are not as strict when it comes to the non-felon rules. Apply to them as often as possible to increase your chances of finding employment. If you have to begin with several part-time jobs, or a single part-time job supplemented with odd jobs around the neighborhood, get something going. You will avoid depression, which can be a job-killer.
Final thoughts: Finding employment after prison might take longer than had you not been in prison, but persistence will pay off. There are people born with severe disabilities who also have bigger obstacles to overcome, but they find a way to make it work. Put in resumes and applications all day, every day until you get a job. Remember, every person has something to offer.