How Ex-Offenders Can Find a Job

There are several assistance programs available to help ex-offenders in their job search. The assistance officers at these programs interview the applicants and refer them to employers that are willing to hire them. The process also entails some screening of the applicant's criminal record to prevent possible temptations or situations that may lead to the repetition of the crime. The assistance officer will for instance not refer a person with a record for fraud to a position where he will be tempted to do the same crime again. These programs help ex-offenders to find suitable employment and become part of the community.

People with criminal records may find the job search in their preferred career field difficult since the majority of companies in the USA follow strict policies of thorough background investigations. People who come out of drug or alcohol rehabilitation find that companies are more lenient towards them. The human resources officers are willing to give a chance to the person with a minor violation of the law on his record.

Why do companies employ ex-offenders?

The main reason for employing people with criminal records is the creation of support. A second reason for this is to get valuable work skills back into the corporate and job environment. Rather than having ex-offenders turn back to crime, companies provide opportunities for these people to become part of the productive workforce.

One of the assistance programs is geared towards incentives for the employers. It is an insurance cover for employers that protect them against damages that may result from the employment of ex-offenders. You can find more information on the federal bond assistance at the US Labor Department.

Another incentive for employers is tax credits for up to a maximum amount of just over 300 for every person with a criminal record, hired. The employer receives tax reductions when they hire ex-offenders in applicable categories. The US Labor Department has full details for employers.

Disclosure rules and regulations

The law in the USA states that no employer may discriminate against ex-offenders. The law however is aimed at persons with minor offense records. Serious offences such as rape, murder and violent acts do not fall in the scope of protection.

Several types of criminal offences are pardoned after a certain period depending on the nature of the offence. Imprisonment of six months or less is seen as pardoned after seven years, while minor offences are excused after only five years. If you were imprisoned for more than 30 months, the record is never wiped or excused. If an offence took place before the age of 18 years, the period is halved.

You are under no obligation to disclose an offence that has been pardoned and the employer may not discriminate against you on the grounds of pardoned offences. Certain jobs such as senior positions in financial institutions, working with disabled people, children or senior citizens, law or protections services, military positions, pharmaceutical jobs and specific prison positions are exempt from this and you will have to disclose pardoned offenses.

When is it applicable to disclose offenses?

Whenever there is a question on the application form or when the employer asks you in an interview, you should disclose offences. The best way to disclose your offenses is to attach a separate page to the application form with a full explanation for the reasons and the type of offences, as well as the date and relevant rehabilitation steps taken.

The Criminal Records Bureau acts as a policing agent to protect innocent people against persons who get employment, where they work with children or older people while they have a record of offences, such as child molestation, rape, murder, or violent acts. Employers may make use of their services when they screen applicants for certain job types.

Correctness of your record

It is your responsibility to make sure that the information on your criminal record is correct. You can obtain a copy of your criminal record from the relevant authority in your state or country. The Police Records Office is a good starting place.

Other tips for the job search

Be honest about your past on your application form. If an employer finds out that you have lied, you will be disqualified as a candidate and if you are already employed you may be fired right away.

Make use of the functional resume, which focuses on all your skills. You can indicate what types of relevant experience or skills you gained while you were in prison.

Develop interview skills. Prepare for possible questions about your past. You need to show repentance and should be able to demonstrate that you have changed.

Emphasize your achievements and determination to enhance your job skills.

You can for instance mention your attendance of night classes to get certification in a certain career field.

Networking is essential in the job search process. Talk to your friends, former colleagues and family about your career interests, skills and expectations. They may able to refer you to a relevant employer and may serve as character witnesses.

When you list your job experience, also consider the jobs you did while in prison as well as any part time positions held, while you did the job search.

Resources for ex-offenders job search in the USA:

  • UNICOR - Federal Prison Industries inc.
  • NIC - National Institute of Corrections