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Job Searching for Ex-Offenders

Job Searching for Ex-Offenders
Thursday, January 9, 2020
Posted in category Job Seekers by

As an ex-offender, job searching might seem like an even more daunting task than it does for others. However, the job-hunting process for ex-offenders is the same process everyone goes through. There are some unique challenges, but these can be overcome with a positive attitude and the right resources. Keep reading to learn some job searching tips for ex-offenders!

Barriers to Employment for Ex-Offenders

The biggest employment barrier ex-offenders often face is their own mindsets. It can be a tough transition from incarceration back to civilian life and you’ll face many challenges. It may often seem that things just won’t go your way. It’s important to remember your goals and continue working toward them, especially when you feel like giving up. Take advantage of whatever supports you have available to you along the way, but keep in mind that the only person responsible for your success is you. Maintaining a positive attitude as best you can along the way will only help.

Informing Employers of Your Past

Employers will run a background check on you that will show your history. It’s better to be upfront and honest with potential employers about your past, rather than letting them find out about your record after you’ve made it through the rest of the job searching process. If asked on a job application about your criminal record, you want to be honest but brief. The best place to discuss your record is in the job interview where you’ll be able to provide a short explanation.

Being honest with employers about your criminal history shows that you can be trusted. However, you don’t want to provide a lengthy explanation with too many details. Simply take responsibility for the offense and share that you’ve learned from your mistakes. Be sure to focus on any skills and experience you gained while incarcerated that would be relevant to the position. Remember to have confidence that you will be an asset to the employer. Having confidence in your own ability to succeed in the position will help your employer feel that same confidence.

Know Your Strengths

Knowing your strengths will not only help bolster your confidence in your ability to succeed in the workforce, but it can help you convey to employers why you’re the right choice for an open position. Think through past jobs you’ve held, any volunteer experience you may have had, skills you’ve learned throughout your education, and your time incarcerated and write all these skills down. Be sure to include both hard skills, like knowing how to build furniture, and soft skills, like working well with others in your list. Next, add your positive personality traits to this list. Traits that may be helpful in the workplace include honesty, friendliness, flexibility, accountability, and determination, among many others. These resources from CareerOneStop may be helpful:

Once you’ve made your list, review it before every job interview to help you enter it with a positive attitude and to remember how to communicate to employers all that you have to contribute as an employee.

How Knowledge to Work Can Help can help you prepare for job searching through many different tools and resources:

  • Career Pathways Explorer – Use the Career Pathways Explorer to find the career that will be right for you.
  • Build Your Skills – Use learning resources tied to that career pathway to learn the skills you’ll need to be successful in your chosen career.
  • Job Searching – Use our job searching tool to locate open positions in your area.
  • Prepare for the Job Search – Use this curated collection of learning resources to learn how to write a resume, write a cover letter, fill out a job application, interview for jobs, and other job search tips.


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Job searching as an ex-offender may seem like a daunting task. There are some challenges, but these can be easily overcome with a positive attitude and the right resources.

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