Resources for Job Seekers With Criminal Records

Formerly incarcerated individuals may face difficulties when re-entering the workforce. A large percentage of employers will conduct a criminal background check as part of the application process, which can work against you.

Having access to the right resources can help to alleviate some of the burden associated with being a job seeker with a criminal record. One of those resources is understanding your rights as a job seeker with a criminal background.

Regardless of the nature of your incarceration, the opportunity to start over in a new job is possible. The information below can help you determine what you need in order to be successful in your search, so you can begin the application process and take the first step toward developing a new career. Past mistakes do not have to define your future. Take the first step toward a new situation using the information provided below.

How to Find Job Assistance Programs

One of the primary resources you can utilize as a formerly incarcerated individual is a job assistance program. These programs are designed to help you establish a stable career following your incarceration. Regardless of the employment field you wish to enter, using the services provided by a job assistance program can help you obtain necessary skills to secure a new job.

The Second Chance Act provides funding to job assistance programs across the country, so you will be able to find a program closest to you no matter where you live in the U.S. The National H.I.R.E. Network also assists formerly incarcerated job seekers in finding employment opportunities they are qualified for. The H.I.R.E. Network seeks to provide job preparation and skills training to job seekers with a criminal background.

If you are looking for a program that will help you to gain new skills and educational opportunities, the services provided by H.I.R.E. will allow you to receive the assistance you need to take the next step toward establishing a career. Additionally, if you need help with the transitional aspect of returning to your community, the advisors at H.I.R.E. will offer you support in achieving this goal.

Understanding Your Rights as a Formerly Incarcerated Job Seeker

Understanding your rights as an individual is an important step in beginning your career. A potential employer will likely run a criminal background check after you have applied for an open job position. However, he or she might not be able to gain access to your full criminal record.

Federal law mandates a criminal record must be reported indefinitely, but the rules vary in each state as to how far back a criminal check can go. In fact, even the seven-year time limit that many states impose on criminal records is waived if the job in question has a projected salary over $75,000.

Some employers may opt out of checking into your criminal record until you have reached the final stages of the hiring process, and many companies are choosing to eliminate the portion of a job application where you must disclose your previous criminal offenses. A ban on this application question has been put into place in several states where employers are choosing to disregard a criminal background check when hiring new employees.

You should research whether your state has adopted this law prior to submitting job applications, as this will help to protect your privacy during the hiring process with a company. GoodHire is a good place to start that search.

It is also worth researching prospective employers, as some employers are open to hiring formerly incarcerated individuals and announce it publicly.

You do not have to disclose information not contained on your formal criminal record. For example, if you were accused of a crime but were not charged or convicted, you do not need to disclose this information to a potential employer. To ensure you are aware of your rights as a formerly incarcerated job seeker, it is important to keep these things in mind:

  • Carefully read application questions to ensure you are not providing more information than is required. You will need to provide information that has been requested of you, but you do not need to disclose information beyond what answers the question.
  • Determine if a background check will be conducted prior to informing a potential employer of your criminal record. If a company indicates a criminal background check will be conducted, make sure to follow the instructions carefully.
  • Remain honest and communicative about your criminal record as a way of showing your employer you have learned from the decisions you made in the past. By speaking of your commitment to building a career, your employer will have the opportunity to see your passion and potential.

If you want to be as prepared as you can for a background check, you can choose to run a criminal record check on your own to determine what information will show up. By doing this in advance, you can gain an understanding of the information available to a potential employer and prepare to answer his or her questions when asked.

How to Build Your Resume

When looking for a new job, building a strong resume will help improve your chances of being hired for the position you apply for. Finding ways to restructure your resume to emphasize your skills and experience will help you to secure a job position faster.

You can work with a professional resume builder to determine how to highlight your education and experience to appear more appealing to employers. Many of the job assistance programs will also help you to build a solid resume. Securing a job can be a difficult task for anyone, and preparing your resume in advance will help to alleviate some of this difficulty.

The structure of your resume is equally as important as the content. Providing a chronological resume with the dates you were employed by a previous company will help a prospective employer see your commitment to a job once you have been hired. Be sure to present your resume in a professional yet unique way so you can stand apart from other individuals who have applied for the same role.

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