How an ex-offender can return to the workforce

Ex-offenders returning to the workforce face a much more complex situation than do other types of jobseekers. Often they are let out into the world with little or nothing in the way of required needs to support themselves. You, as an ex-offender, need to locate or replace many important documents before you seek real employment:

  • Photo ID
  • Social Security Card
  • Birth Records
  • College or High School diploma

At the same time you are looking for housing and immediate cash without going back to jail. How do you do this?

Once you find suitable housing for yourself, the first thing you should consider is finding immediate day labor so you have a daily or weekly cash income. Manpower, Labor Ready or any busy street corner outside a local employment agency will be able to provide you with quick day labor.

As soon as you get cash coming in, start looking for ways to restore your photo ID and other important documents. Once you begin this process, you can also move a step up in the employment ladder to the temp agencies and contract jobs.

You will find many obstacles to employment including obvious entry level jobs with larger companies that do not want to take a chance on an ex-offender. The best places to start looking for full time employment is with smaller companies and non-cash, non-retail businesses. Another field to avoid for the moment is any place which would have you dealing directly with the community or children. Your criminal history may have nothing to do with harming either, but many people still hold a blanket approach when it comes to finding out about an employee with a criminal past.

Ex-offenders returning to the workforce should also remember to keep quiet and keep to themselves in the beginning. The only person who should have any idea as to your criminal history is the employer who hired you.

Choose a career you will enjoy and remain with for a while. Most unemployed people, including ex-offenders, look for work haphazardly and take any interview they get. This is an approach which shows lack of focus to an employer as well as it will lead to frustration and depression if you approach job seeking without a plan or goal.

Do not get discouraged. For every one interview there will likely be 30 or more rejections without a reason. Do not take the rejections personally; most of the time the employer will discard you simply because of the ex-offender status and there will be no point in attempting to prove you are different. The goal is to keep moving because there will be someone who will hire you, and they may well be near the last interview you have.