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Finding Work With Felonies
One of my mug-shots from busted.com
Take it From a Felon...
Take it from a felon, our past decisions are typically ones we wish we could have back to make over again when it comes to finding employment. With that said, I will also say that if you cannot manage to find employment at all you are either looking in the wrong places; have not applied yourself to a solution to your past ailments; need to be more open to what's available in order to build a better history to go off of; or, simply put, you are flat out lazy or unwilling to make the positive changes you need to make in life so that you can begin your new future as a working man/woman.
Sounds harsh. Well, at least to those who find themselves in the final category of the last paragraph, but as a felon whose record has him off the charts when it comes to the sentencing guidelines, I can say with true conviction that finding a job or work is not impossible. Finding a career is not out of your reach. And for those who claim that no one will hire a felon these days...Well, that excuse has been dropped since people started having troubles with the law ages ago. However, since that same time, people with the proper guidance, the right attitude and at least a little bit of motivavion have been able to find a means of generating a legal and honorable way of making an income. We can debate it up and down all day long, but the simple fact is that felons find work every single day of the year in multiple places, through multiple avenues; one just needs to understand that more often than not, it will take multiple attempts.
The Odds Seemed Stacked Against You
Let me change the course of this article for just a second here. I would be foolish to say that it doesn't feel like the odds are stacked against felons like probably many of you who find themselves here reading this and myself. By no means am I oblivious to the statistics, reports and all the studies that have been done on this very topic. One simply needs to do a quick Google search in order to find a plethora of evidence that I am sure many people will read and allow the very content to send them back in to a "downward spiral." Content that by all means goes against the very message that I am attempting to send you in this very hub. What do I say to that..? "Good. I accept the challenge." I accept the challenge for this very reason. By the same means that they used to bring you the information that provides nothing more than a negative abundance of hopelessness and despair, I plan to bring you just the opposite. My goal is to inspire those who are ready to change their path in life. My hope is to let you know that opportunity is out there waiting for "You." If you are interested in the solution and not the same old excuses you hear far too many others using, I encourage you to continue reading.
Let's Get Started
Okay... So I have said it... I have made the claim that "Yes," you can as a felon, or for that matter as a felon X-many times over, can find employment regardless of what all the critics and self-proclaimed experts say. I'm sure at this point some of you are reading on because you would like to see exactly what my strategy/advice is. Some of you may be reading on just because you want to see how you can find a flaw in my strategy. Then there are those who no matter what I say, will find a way to either misconstrue, exaggerate or debunk it to coincide with your lack of change in your ways, or whatever other reason you can find to maintain the negative aura or bubble you have surrounded yourself in so as not to have to do anything more than you are right now. Acting as if because you served time society owes you something. I hope you don't find yourself in this category of folks. If for some reason you do though...Please, read on and at least give an effort utilizing the advice I give you because it can only help everyone including yourself.
First things first. Lets take a look at our attitude towards the whole process. Where do you find yourself mentally and emotionally about this whole ordeal. It may sound redundant, but lets keep it simple. A poor attitude or pessimistic outlook on things will only project itself from you right in to the mind of any prospective employers. The way we feel about things will dictate our tone of voice, body language, facial expressions and all the other key components we as humans use to non-verbally communicate each and everyday . Our attitude itself will speak louder than any other component. So my very first bit of advice is to clean your mind of any negative feelings or ideas about being able to find employment. I understand this may seem like an impossible request to some, but trust me on this I know what I am talking about. Before I had a felony record I was a hiring manager at a restaurant for 5-years. I am aware of what the prospective hiring manager of a company looks for in an individual.
Okay... So whether it took you no time at all or if you struggled immensely to convince yourself that you are going to give this positive attitude a thing a try, we have cleaned our minds of any negativity to this whole searching for a job thing. I would love to say that we are moving out of the mental part of it right now, but before we do we must do one more thing inside our head before we can move along. The time has come for us to understand a few things:
1) We will encounter rejection even if we are far overqualified for some of the positions we apply for.
2) You will get the "run-around" many times.
3) Nobody owes you a thing. Not even an opportunity. It is our responsibility to earn a job, not someone else's to give us one.
4) There is a high likelihood that we will need to be open to jobs in other fields than we are used to, at least in the early stages of our "rejoining" the work-force.
5) Be honest.
Seems like a tall order maybe to some, but we are trying to better our lives right now, are we not? Okay then, lets take responsibility for our pasts and, just as important, actions for our future.
Now Our Strategy
So we have finally gotten ourselves "Right" in our heads. Our mindset is positive and we understand that we have a task in front of us that may not be an easy one. This is certainly not true in all cases, as some will land a dream job out of nowhere; some people have "in's" that others don't; there will be cases of "right place - right time" for some; and all the other scenarios we could conjure up. Statistically though, most of us will find ourselves on a small journey to success at this point.
If your still with me I have to imagine that you are sincerely looking for information that will assist you in finding work. So, enough of the small-talk and creative ways of wording this article and lets talk turkey. Time to begin putting our strategy together. Remember a strong foundation makes for a solid structure. That means lets make sure we do everything we can so even when we are not out actively looking we have provided a way for those who are actively "seeking" employee's that we have created a way for ourselves to be found. How do we do this..? There are many ways actually, but lets cover a few here.
For starter's, and for some this seems more difficult than others, but there are many online sites which will assist a person in creating a Resume. The one I will recommend is Google Drive. Google Drive is an online/cloud storage site which actually provides a person with Resume Templates and free online storage for it once its finished with the ability to download it right to our computer, lap-top, tablet or smart-phone . It gives you the ability to e-mail your resume out of the program or post to a job-site right from your device of choice. If one is not familiar with how to use this program they have help options and tutorials available right on their site. It is free of charge and quite easy to learn. One obstacle a person may have at this point is that they do not have the internet at their home. If this is the case please visit your local work-force center or library. Both places have internet access and the Work-Force Center employee's will also even assist you in creating your Resume. Another option is to ask a friend or relative if they will allow you to use their internet in order to get this resume completed. Once completed, not only should you save this resume, but you should also visit some of the many online job-hosting sites and post/upload this resume to them. Employers actively search these job-hosting sites daily in order to find people who meet the criteria for what they are looking for in an employee. I have used them in the past and they are very efficient resources for one looking to gain a job opportunity. Some of these sites are, but certainly not limited to:
There are many more, but those are a few amongst others.
Knowledge Is Power
Get The Word Out
So we are now not only in the right frame of mind, but we have completed putting a resume online and have it saved and on the ready for any prospective employers we need to get a copy to. Now, before we go beating pavement and walking in to business' lets take a moment to get the word out. No point in getting ahead of ourselves, right..? Okay then, as I said before, lets keep it simple. The next thing we should do is contact those close to us and let them know we are looking to obtain some form of employment. At this stage in the game though it is important that we demonstrate an aura of confidence and not "cockiness" or anything remotely close. It will turn people away from your efforts. You want to do this respectfully and with class. Keep in mind these will be people who know you and so you don't have to have any anxiety towards what they my find out or what they may think. You should have a pretty good idea about that already. One great tool for doing this is Social Media. Post a note to your Facebook page that you are actively seeking employment. It doesn't need to be intrusive or long-winded. Just a simple, "Hey, if anyone has any leads on employment I am actively looking work and would appreciate any help you can offer." Simple and to the point. Other sites include Twitter, Myspace and whatever other social media sites you utilize or have an account on. If you don't have any...Make some! They're easy and can provide quick and efficient results for people.
So social media is a great avenue. I understand some people just don't use these sites; don't like using these sites; or, flat out don't understand how they work. Easy enough...Grab your phone and phone-book and do it like we did in the good old days! Make calls to your friends and relatives and let them know what you are trying to accomplish. Don't be rude or insistent. Just let people know you are looking for work and if they hear of anything or have any ideas to let you know as soon as they can. Thank them before hanging up as well. This shows your being courteous and that will go a long way with people. This is also a good time to call any previous employers for which you've worked in the past and see if there is any available positions there. Obviously, this is assuming there are no situations which occurred where you would not be welcome back there. Leave no stone unturned here...Contact friends, family, previous employers, church groups and any other contacts you may have available.
Before moving along here, I want to add a quick idea for people that may seem a bit more outside he box, but actually it is becoming more and more popular everyday. Post an add to Craigslist.
Job-Hosting Sites (i.e)
So You've Worked Smart and Not Hard So Far
So you have now managed to work extremely smart and not hard at all yet. I would imagine that for some, had they already done what I have already mentioned there is a great chance that they would already be enjoying the success of their efforts. If one thinks that I am crazy for saying that, you would be surprised to see how a little bit of effort can go a long ways. Aside from that, remember that our friends and loved ones truly do want to see us succeed and they will help if you are truly serious about changing your life around and getting things back on the right track. However, still there are going to be those who simply find that they are stuck without a lead for employment still at this point. Never fret, there is still plenty of opportunity out there and we will discuss it next.
Great Interview Tips From A State Job Center
- Wisconsin Job Center's Tip's For Felons Seeking Employment.
This is a great link to the Wisconsin Job-Center's tip's for felons seeking employment. Felons in every state can use this as a guide to leveraging themselves along during their job hunting experience.
So You Have A Little More Work To Do...
Alright, so you have a little more work to do. No problem. Remember the rewards of efforts are a direct reflection of the work we put in to achieving them. The harder we work, the greater the feeling of accomplishment we will have when our goal is achieved. One may be beginning to think I am one of those "overly-happy-all-to-positive-go-getters" that let's be real...Drive us absolutely up the wall at times and make us wonder if they themselves are not dabbling in the use of some super top secret "happy-pill" that is available on a local street corner where you can purchase it from a guy named "Ghost" at an inflated price for his risk in the drug game. Those who know me though, will certainly tell you otherwise. I am far from that type of person. What I am, is aware of what it takes to succeed in this adventure that folks like you and I find ourselves on.
Now its time to do some of the redundant and monotonous application forms that at times seem drawn out and to many, like a waste of time. That thinking though, believing that it is a waste of time, will do us no good. You will find that many companies want you to fill out applications online these days. Seems informal and like a tool simply used to weed out folks like us, but in truth there are many positives to this approach of job-hunting. One, is that you can fill out a ton of applications for different places without wasting money on gas; or, time on gathering applications only to fill them out and then go return them to their prospective places for review. For those who find people viewing their appearances as a bit intimidating; or those with visible tattoos that seem to compromise their "professional" look, this gives you the opportunity to have an employer review your application with no bias. It eliminates the step, which I have seen happen in real life, where the manager gets the application and after taking a look at the person turning it in either marks the application as a "No-Hire" or flat out throws it away. We'd like to think that this doesn't happen, but let's face it...Unfortunately, it does. So take advantage of this opportunity and use it as a non-intrusive way of displaying both your experience and job-skills without having to convince someone it is "safe" to consider you for an interview. It's a lot easier to convince someone they were right for considering you during an interview than it is to convince them that they should interview you. The reason being is once you get the interview scheduled they have allocated a specific time for you. This scenario as opposed to you handing them an application during their work day and expecting them to drop everything they are doing while you try to give them some shortened improve speech on the spot. All the while they are trying to accomplish their current task and can't even truly apply themselves to the conversation. In one ear and out the other go your words and many times the application itself is either misplaced or disregarded because of the fashion in which it was received turned the employer off in the first place. This doesn't mean you shouldn't go to the places that don't have online applications either. Visit them. Get their applications. Fill them out and try this... Instead of just showing up when it fits your schedule or when it is convenient for you, call the company you are applying to and ask them when would be a good time for you to bring the completed application in to them where it will not interfere with their job duties or regular everyday business they are conducting. This shows you are considerate and professional. Hmm... That's a nice way to defeat the stigma associated with felons in our society I would think. (Quick note: Dress for the occasion.)
Brush your teeth.
Shave or trim your beard.
Swear; talk with slang; complain.
Sag your pants.
Get a hairut; comb your hair; put it in a pony-tail.
Cock your hat if you wear one, (which you shouldn't).
Be Polite; Talk proper; Be considerate.
Have your hands in your pocket, (It displays insecurity, boredom and laziness).
Make eye-contact when you speak.
Forget your manners.
Stay Positive - It's Essential..!
Get Some On A Job Time In
Okay, now we have laid a great foundation and if we haven't found employment just yet, we are ready for the next step. Remember you have put a lot of work in at this point and you should be proud of yourself. What you should not be is discouraged. Why..? That's an easy answer actually. You have put forth a lot of energy now. Positive Energy! Don't over-look the fact that just like when we do negative activities we bring negative consequences in to our lives; now that we have performed positive activities thus the rewards of these positive activities will bare the according results. If you don't see this right away it's because you are limiting your thinking. Remember, typically when we find ourselves in this situation we are under a microscope by many people. These people include probation/parole officers, family, friends, acquaintances and so on. When you put these efforts forth, trust me they will not go unnoticed. People will begin to say positive things about you, unbeknownst to you many times, and this very process itself will begin to turn the tides in your favor even though you don't realize it's happening. People will slowly start trusting your honest efforts and the way you are applying yourself to success and at this point the things that start taking the stress off of you will begin to happen. Less stress equals more confidence and easier sailing and you will undoubtedly find yourself navigating "calmer seas" now that we are here. It's amazing the turn of events that will transpire once people start having faith in you again. (Note: Not everyone will show their faith in you at the same time. It may take longer for some than it does others. However you don't need to gain everyone's approval at once. Let the process run its course and do not try to force it along. No one wants to hear you tell them about how hard your working and everything you have done and how you deserve to be treated better. Seems unfair, yes, but it is the fact regardless if we agree with it or not.)
The career hasn't arrived just yet, but we are not going to let that bother us. What we need to do now, is get some time on a job. I would imagine some of you at this very second are like..."Wait, time on a job..? You just said we hadn't been hired yet..?" It's all good. I said "a" job. The time has come to jump on Craigslist; look in the classifieds; or whatever other way you know to earn honest money. I am talking about finding odd jobs and short-term labor gigs. I have personally, and very recently as a matter of fact, found two full time gigs just by answering a labor add on Craigslist. I will not lie to you and tell you they are my dream jobs, but I understand who I am and the situation that my choices have put me in. What I did was reply to Labor Gigs on Craigslist and I have found two landscaping companies that have given me the opportunity to show them what I can do and I have earned my full-time spot at both. I do not have two jobs, but I do have a situation that shows promising results for those who don't believe they have a chance at finding a career. I got the first gig and loved it, however I had to move. When I moved away I was faced the daunting task once again of finding employment. I was successful twice and it took me no time at all. Just a bit of motivation and the desire to do better for myself. The other thing I do is I apply at a staffing agency as well and that way when I don't feel I have gotten enough hours or I need to make more money for bills or recreation; I can just call in and get a shift doing something with one of the Staffing Agencies clients. Keep in mind that these companies do have Temp-to-Hire programs. A lot in fact. So here is another avenue that a person can take advantage of to gain meaningful employment and begin to put some dollars in their pocket. Not only that though, by doing this, those around you will see you are seriously dedicated to your mission of finding work and this will also help to work some of them "Golden Opportunities" right out from their hiding spots. And finally, it will allow you to be able to show a work history, little as it may be, that will go along way with the right person when they see how hard you have been working to turn your reputation around and find an honest living.
The Past Can Seem Like The Present
The past can very easily feel like it is the present. I mean come on it's haunting you right..? Trick question... Sorry... The answer is no it's not. More often than not the past decisions we have made have no bearing on what we can do right now to make life better. Yeah, I will agree that certain circumstances make the past seem like a lingering cloud of rain. One will find though that with the right attitude and a bit of motivation paired with determination, over-coming this obstacle is in fact quite easier than it sounds like. I mean come on...With all the negative articles out there on how felons can't find work; or the posts from people in similar situations on different sites are overwhelming. The truth is though if one understands that they just need to get their foot in the door to start off. That they may possibly even have to settle for something that is less than what they were hoping at first, finding work is completely achievable. Remember that you don't have to keep the first job you find forever, but we need to start somewhere. Build a little work history and then go back out on the search. I assure you though if you keep a good attitude... Expend a little bit of effort... That one day you'll be sitting there in all your new accomplishments and you'll think to yourself, "Wow, I can't believe I did it." So what do you have to lose... Go ahead and get started. I hope if you were struggling with finding work that you found this article helpful and I wish you the best of luck on your journey!