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Training TOOL-KIT

A TRAINING TOOL FOR THE JOB DEVELOPER TO SHARE WITH CLIENTS TO ASSIST THEM IN SECURING EMPLOYMENT

Getting Work for Ex-Offenders: Part II


Editor’s note: In response to continued requests experience filled with disappointments. But it
for articles about this topic, this is the second in a can also be an exciting time to learn about
two-part series designed to assist job developers yourself and land a job you really love. While
and others who work with people with criminal you will encounter disappointments, frustra-
backgrounds. Part I was an overview of the topic tions, and rejections along the way, accept
written by a counselor in the corrections system.
The conclusion will focus on practical advice for these negatives as part of the process in find-
the job developer (or other employment specialist) ing a job. Constantly check your attitude to
and the job seeker. make sure you’re positive and pointed in the
right direction.
n today’s economy, finding a job is quite a

I challenge for the nearly 700,000 ex-offenders


who leave state and federal prisons each
year. And yet, without a job and support
 The ex-offender job seeker must be
honest with himself/herself – and others.
Take a good look in the mirror. Who and what
do you see? If you have a history of deception
network to meet their basic needs, many
ex-offenders fall back into old habits that lead and excuses, it’s time to come clean and face
them back to jail. who you really are. Once you discover who
It’s true that some employers may not want you really are, there’s no need to deceive
to hire someone with a criminal record. In yourself and others.
fact, some laws specify that certain occupa-
tions (such as banking, insurance, and child-  The ex-offender job seeker must dis-
care) are either off limits or carry restrictions close a criminal record at the appropriate
for individuals with various types of criminal time and place. When and to whom should
convictions. However, many others are willing you disclose your record? In today’s high-
to give ex-offenders a second chance. But tech society, in which employers can easily
what should ex-offenders do to land a good conduct background checks, there’s no place
job that will keep them out of jail? The fol- for ex-offenders to hide. The best time and
lowing are some ideas: place to disclose your record is usually dur-
ing a job interview and before accepting a job
 The ex-offender job seeker is respon- offer. Many employers will ask about red
sible for his/her own employment fate. flags in your background during a job inter-
While many people (such as a job developer) view, or they will conduct a background
will assist with your job search, YOU are check just before or immediately after offer-
responsible for taking the actions necessary ing you a job. You should never disclose your
to get a job. Don’t rationalize your current criminal background in a letter or on a
situation, lack of progress, or frustrations, by résumé. This is an important issue that needs
blaming other people or believing that you to be handled in a face-to-face meeting with a
are a victim. After all, you are where you are prospective employer.
because of CHOICES you made. Don’t
expect others to find, or give, you a job. You  The ex-offender job seeker must seek
have to earn a job by communicating your the help of other people who can assist at
qualifications to prospective employers and various stages of the job search. Your sup-
gaining their trust. port network will be an important asset. This
includes family, friends, acquaintances, and
 The ex-offender job seeker must devel- organizations designed to help ex-offenders.
op and maintain a positive attitude and Make sure you develop a support network that
remain motivated throughout the job can give you good advice, referrals, and
search. Finding a job can be a frustrating encouragement to help you through the ups

March 2011 JTPR Training Tool-Kit 1


and downs of making a successful transition addictions. I’m really excited about working
back into society. at your company.”

Myths vs. Realities Negative – “I didn’t like my last employer.”


The following ideas will separate several Positive – “It was time for me to move on
myths from realities, and conclude with an to a more progressive company.”
exercise to test some job-searching attitudes.
Negative – “Do you have a job?”
Myth: I’ll have to lie about my background Positive – “I’m conducting a job search. Do
to get a good job. you know anyone who might have an interest
Reality: As stated previously, it isn’t diffi- in someone with my qualifications?”
cult for employers to find out about your
background. In fact, regardless of whether Negative – “I can’t come in for an inter-
someone’s been in jail, many firms increas- view tomorrow since I’m interviewing for
ingly conduct background and reference another job. What about Wednesday? That
checks to determine not only truthfulness but looks good.”
to make sure there’s a good fit between the Positive – “I have a conflict tomorrow.
individual and the job. In addition, even if by Wednesday would be good. Could we do
luck you DO fool the potential employer something in the morning?”
about your background, what if your parole
officer checks up on you and calls your Negative – “What does this job pay?”
employer? What if an old prison buddy shows Positive – “How does the pay scale here
up unexpectedly? Word gets around. Your compare with other companies in the area?”
criminal record will surface at some point,
and when it does, your lie will be exposed, Negative – “Will I have to work weekends?”
and there’s a good chance you’ll be fired. Positive – “What are the normal hours for
Everything you worked for will be lost due to someone in this position?”
your failure to disclose. Rather than live a lie,
tell the truth in a positive way. Negative – “I have to see my parole officer
once a month. Can I have that day off?”
Myth: I can’t use the Internet in my job Positive – “I need to keep an appointment
search because I don’t own a computer. the first Friday of each month. Would it be
Reality: If you don’t know how to use a OK if I took off three hours that day? I could
computer or the Internet, you can learn the make up the time, if necessary.”
basics in an hour or two. You don’t have to
own a computer either. Libraries and One- Summary
Stop Career Centers, for instance, have Ex-offenders didn’t get themselves into the
Internet connections you can use for free. The situations they’re in overnight, and they aren’t
job developer can help. likely to get out of them overnight either.
They need to be patient, honest, organized,
Test Job-Searching Attitudes energetic, and they need to believe in them-
In a successful job search, ex-offender job selves. But it IS possible to meet employers
seekers must convey a positive attitude that who will want to hire them because of their
demonstrates how they’re going to put their talents and new attitudes. Ex-offenders ARE
past behind them, and why hiring the job employable! „
seeker would benefit the company. Consider
some “not so good” and better things for an
ex-offender job seeker to say to an employer Editor’s note: This article is designed as an
in a job interview: overview ONLY to this topic. For additional
examples, consult The Ex-Offender’s Job Hunting
Guide, by Ron and Caryl Krannich, www.exoffender
Negative – “I just got out of prison, and I reentry.com, www.impactpublications.com and The
need a job.” Ex-Offender’s Quick Job Hunting Guide, Putting
Positive – “While incarcerated, I turned the 10 Steps into Action, also by Ron and Caryl
my life around by getting my GED, learning Krannich. Other resources on this topic are also
new skills, and controlling my anger and available at the websites listed previously.

2 JTPR Training Tool-Kit March 2011