Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Resumes for Ex-Felons

Question
Occasionally we have students who have felony convictions. How do they handle that on a resume? Thanks. – A college career counselor

Answer
I don’t have any experience working directly with ex-felons; however, I’ve spoken to several job placement counselors who work with them. There seem to be two schools of thought:

1. Explain the gap in employment in such a way as to conceal that the person was in prison, understanding that the conviction should be declared on the job application form. For example:

2003-present, Woodworker, State of California, Vacaville, CA
or
2003-2006, Student, Solano State College
(the latter representing a correspondence course)

2. Declare the actual situation in a straightforward way. For example:

2003-present, Resident, California State Prison, Vacaville, CA

or with the sense of “honorable discharge”:
2003-present (early parole), Inmate and Woodworker, California State Prison, Vacaville, CA

or with the demonstration of rehabilitation:
2003-present, Student, Solano State College while serving time at California State Prison

I don’t think there’s a universally accepted RIGHT way to do this.

Of course, if the job seeker is applying for work through an agency that openly matches ex-felons with employers, then the second option would be advised.

As an advocate for a client who’s looking for work without the help of an ex-felon agency, you may lean toward the first approach if you have a sense your client will not re-offend and you believe he or she deserves a new start.

However, as an employer, I would want to know the truth about his or her prison time BEFORE calling the person in for an interview, rather than having it sprung on me when I read the job application while the applicant is sitting outside my office waiting for the interview, or when I’m sitting face-to-face with him or her in the interview. Maybe what I’d REALLY want to know beforehand is whether the applicant had committed a violent or nonviolent crime.

Here are some sites on the topic, which I found interesting:
Ex-felons find it hard to rebuild their lives
Employed ex-felons free to succeed
Ex-felons are people too (I especially liked the comment, Not wanting to be an apologist, posted 4/23/06)

So readers, what do YOU think?

29 comments:

taz said...

I don't believe the term "ex-felon" is appropriate because a felony record follows that person forever.

"Society" does not believe in criminals' "payment to society" because they will always and forever be considered felons regardless of time served or rehabilitation.

I speak from experience. I have a felony on my record from 1993. It was my third dwi but have since kept a clean record, became college educated and have turned my life around by becomeing alcohol free.

However, that doesn't matter to society. I still have a difficult time finding employment. I have filled out countless applications for work and have never been called back on any of them.

I feel like society would rather me re-offend than allow me to contribute to society in a positive manner.

Sometimes I wonder if maybe that's the most sensible thing to do- reoffend. Afterall, prisoners get 3 meals a day (that's more than I get on a good day), they have a roof over their heads (I'm weeks from being foreclosed out of a home) and inmates have a constitutional right to healthcare while I worry about how to pay for the next doctors' office visit and any scripts he may give me.

Pardons in my state are rarely granted based on documented rehabilitation. Out of 1300 applications for a pardon only 4% were recommended. To date, those still sit on the Governor's desk awaiting signature.

I have thought about volunteering but why bother if I am made to feel like MY life doesn't matter to anyone either.

I admit I wronged in the past but I have bettered my life and still am made to feel like a second class citizen.

I will never understand why society would rather see someone like me on welfare (taking their hard earned taxes)instead of allowing me the opportunity to contribute my fair share now that I am willing and able to do so.

I hope and pray that those who shun me because of my felony record never have to walk in my shoes or know anyone close to them having to deal with this atrocity.

May the God of you Choice Bless You.

Tex.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with you taz, my 19 year old son is trying so hard to be a good person and find a good job to support his family and he just gets turned down everywhere he goes. He made a terrible mistake and he is paying for it. Part of his probation is to get a job. Where??? His probation officer is riding him hard about it but offers absolutely no help. She doesn't even have a list for him of people that hire felons. The justice system wants them to stay clean but he is getting so discouraged. I keep telling him he will find something but he is starting to say jail was easier. My heart is breaking for him. He is a good kid and made a stupid mistake that he will pay for the rest of his life. Rehabilitation? Can't society just give these people a break. Not all felons are bad people, some just made stupid mistakes being young and not realizing the consequences! I pray for him everyday. Thanks for your comment.

discouraged said...

yes i agree i am a felon i have several strikes against me and if i do get an interview i still dont get hired even though i am qualified for the position . I also think why dont i re-offend i will at least be taken care of 3 hots and a cot right except im on my last strike as a felon so i hope someone gives me a chance i dont care the job i just want and need to work. ino one can say i am not trying i have my resume on the internet and ive filled over 500 resumes it is really discouraging

Anonymous said...

All those resumes submitted with no call backs definitely a trigger for being down about it because i've felt myself there many a times. So far I'm either working on the hualapai indian reservation in the middle of no where or working a dead end job that advertise advancement but no go. yeah, i get down about it. i try to find solutions like looking at this as a way to help others too. that keeps me motivated cuz if i just think about myself, i don't do it or something, idk.

CaliGirl said...

I find your comments/replies very interesting...In California there is an incentive to hiring ex-felons. 1) Tax credit to the employer for the duration of parole/employment 2) If placed through a job developer, developer will meet the employer 1/2 with wages for the first 90 days and provide ALL necessary equipment needed to perform job. This includes clothing, tools etc. This is a federally funded program. I encourage you to look your state for a program as such. Did you think about going back to school? I work for a non-profit agency that does the above and houses ex-felons. Many of my residents are enrolled in the local jr. college and are receiving funding and also pell grants. Don't give up - You will only fail. Keep looking. Best of luck to you!!

Anonymous said...

Hi Caligirl,

My brother was recently released from prison and is having a hard time finding a job. He lives in Sothern California ... where do you suggest he starts regarding these state programs or a non-profit such as the one you work at?

Thanks ahead of time.

Anonymous said...

As a Career Counselor, I suggest not listing your time in jail as such on a resume. Instead list what you did in jail, whether or not you were paid. It is fine to list unpaid work on a resume.

Remember that a resume is your own document with no rules to it. Although, on the job application you will need to list your felony record. Best wishes!

Gamebred said...

I am 24 years old. When I was 17, I was convicted of felony drugs and gun possession. I was charged as an adult and served 3 years in prison. When I got release I learned really fast that honesty is not the best way to go in this situation. It was hit and miss for least 2 years for me before I landed a solid job that STARTED me off at $18 p/hr. I did lie about my felonies in my application, I cover up my tattoos with makeup, and I am in the process of getting them removed. There is hope out there for us, you just have to lie to get it. The ends justify the means. That is the motto I live by. If your company finds out, what difference does it make.You would've never had got the job anyway. I have given myself the opportunity to build a solid resume, gain experience, and generated the income that will feed my family and prodive them with shelter. Not all companies will run a check on you. It costs them money to do so. My advise to you is to enter an interview looking sharp. Nicely groomed. Be very friendly and open. When you get hired, remember that you have to work extremely harder than anyone else. You have to become a valuable asset. If they ever do find out about your background, at least they will know that you are the hardest worker they've got and that it will cost them more money to replace you. I will not guarantee that you will keep that job but at least your giving yourself a chance in life.

tampa007 said...

Well, I am here to tell you that most companies will say they hire excons (if their crimes are small), but truly will not give you the time of the day. I was in prison for 13 1/2yrs in Florida. I went in at 16 and came out at 29, though I have a very serious crime I still strive to survive. I completed my CDL A lic and nail tech course as well as attend a college here with a 3.75gpa and STILL cannot get the time of the day. If it were not for God and family the the desire for freedom I would have been just like the rest. I have been out 5 years now and its catching up with me. I wish I could find a decent paying job here. Any help. Tampa, reddragontampa2@yahoo.com

Anonymous said...

I feel all of your pain. You think it's hard living life as a felon? Try living it as a Sex Offender. Now not only can you not find any work, but you also can't live certain places either. Along with that you're constantly humiliated and reminded of your past ever so often by fulfilling your mandatory registration requirement.

For those of "us", lying is NOT an option, besides the fact, I'm better than that anyway.

I've resigned myself to live on welfare, as I've failed to find stable employment that pays enough to live on. Nobody wants to hire a scumbag like me and no body wants me to live near them anyway. I can't prove that I've "grown up" and have become a better person, because nobody really cares.

I know that I'm not going back to prison....ever. But I'm also not going to go on being "broken" by society. So if I can benefit the system with my taxes and contributions, I say screw society, and I'll live off of "their" dime.

I'm obviously angry at the situation, but I did it to myself, and now I have to live with myself. I really don't need everybody else to torture me more than I already do, everyday.

--annoyed.

desperado said...

This one will really get you. I am from California and recently applied, took the test, went through all the background check stuff that's done and was granted a General B Contractors License by the California State Licensing Board. I too am an ex-convict with some serious crimes in my background. The most recent was 12 years ago, and the other ones were 22 years ago. The construction industry here in So. Cal has come to a grinding hault, so I have been seeking employment elsewhere. It is so frustrating on applications because that question is always there....those of you who are ex offenders know what it is. Yes I have run across some that read in the past 7 years, or the past 5 years, but those are far and few. I have looked for advocates on the net, I have one at workforce partnership, but the plain truth is no matter what the circumstances, most employers will not hire an ex con. I am looking for help in any place I can, if there are any persons that know of any resources, please help.

Anonymous said...

You know what I say, Whaaaaa. Whiners. pure and simple. Oh, I know. My husband is a felon, my son is a felon, in and out and in and out they go. But you know what people out there? wake up and smell the coffee. Times are hard. period. not just for felons. it's 'bout time EVERYONE felon or not thinks about what they can do rather than what can you give me, a job, a break, a program, health care, you bet. You REALLY want a job, it's there. No, it won't be handed to you. we all have to work for it now don't we. some people think they "paid their debt" now they are owed. nope. this is your life. this is not a test. live it.

Felon's Wife said...

My husband is a felon. Never went to prison. Never was even arrested. He lost his temper and slapped our daughter. Yes it's terrible, but even CPS cleared our home as safe, never removed our children or our foster daughter and declared the incident a solitary occurrence. He was still convicted of Felony Child Abuse by the state. His record will be expunged when she turns 18.

This was two years ago.

We had no idea how this would effect us. His employer was great and he continued to earn his $2,000 a week pay. Due to economic times, he was laid off two months ago. He has been to countless interviews and received many job offers. After learning of his history either through his disclosure (he's very honest) or background checks, those offers are pulled.

He had one job where he worked for two weeks. They were okay with hiring felons. Once they received the background check and realized what his felony was for, they fired him. It's a Right to Work State. They can do that.

After being a stay-at-home mom, I went back to work, but I make peanuts compared to him and we can't make our bills. We're now on assistance- something we swore we would never do. We're looking into filing bankruptcy- another thing we swore we would never do.

He made a mistake. He's honest, hardworking and a devoted family man. Our lives changed in an instant. We are looking for anything that will pay our bills. He's advertising for odd jobs on Craigslist and is interviewing for positions that will keep him from the house up to three weeks out of the month.

Yes, times are tough right now. But they're especially tough for felons and the families of felons. With a clean record, I had a $35,000 job within a week. He's been looking for two months. Something has to give.

Maureen Nelson said...

Yes, you can get a job with a felony in your background. Don't put it on your resume; do put it on the app. Say "2 years with no conviction or arrest" or however long it's been. Say "non-violent" if it is. State the penal code so they can look it up if they want to. Apply at non-profits that hire ex-felons, like Goodwill (where I work). Do well in that first job (stay long enough to get promoted) and get a great letter of recommendation. In the interview, disclose if they ask, but focus on how you've turned your life around. That was the old you. The new you is different and has all these skills to offer. Tell them how motivated you are to prove yourself. Give evidence that you've changed by telling them about classes you've taken or volunteer work you've done since your release.

tampa007 said...

Yes, there are some companies that do hire ex cons, which are far few and between, not to mention very hard to find. I looked into the goodwill job; they only wanted to pay minimum wage. You can't pay your bills on that. Having a job that allows some to live life and having a job that forces you to struggle is two different things. Jobs like that are for people living with someone or halfway homes that are helping ex cons. On the topic of honest, lol. I got a job as a branch manager when I got out because I lied on my app. Later the company shut down the store and relocated it north, but I already bought a home and was committed. Now, I have to find a job that can support my bills and life, so working a good will does not cut it. If a job asks you, “have you ever committed a felony?” and you answer, “not in the past 2 year”; you can forget out the interview. Your advice is perfect for someone just coming out living with family and friends or a halfway home. Who know, maybe they have a manager position open for me. Again, thank you for the information.

jeugene182 said...

Hi Everybody; thie is jeugene181 and i have read most of your comments and agree to most. I have a felony conviction from 1979 and several misdeanors. I would say don't disclose but because I did disclose have my dream job. Though my my record is old(no offenses since 2003)it is still there. Most good jobs will require a background check so not to disclose would be a detriment in most cases. It can be discouraging but I would encourage anybody inthis situation to keep your head up, don't swallow in the negative but seek the positive. Also I would suggest networking/reaching out to your local church or community board to find out if there are poeple who were in your situation and hsve succeeded in the job market who might have some leads that could benefit you. I am in the process of helping my nephew who just got home. I won't let him get discouraged so I say keep on pushing and don't get dicouraged.
Peace

Anonymous said...

I just found this web site on a whim, as I am 45, with an extensive felony record from my youth. I have struggled to work, pay taxes, and assimulate back into our society. Invariably, my record will get discovered and I am out of a job. I am a skilled journeyman cnc machinist, yet if I disclose this information from the start, IF I am given a chance, it is only a matter of time before there is an excuse to let me go. There is only one way to make a living it seems, and that is to do illigal work? I don't want to, but when you are not hired to clean stalls full of horseshit, because you can't pass a criminal background check, what else is left but to cheat steel and rob? I am open for suggestions from anyone who has found a way around this predjudice.

Anonymous said...

I am 52 now and have been in the workforce for 27 years now. In my youth I have did time in the local boys ranch, CA Youth Authority, and 2 terms in State Prison for a total of close to 9 years - all felonies, all violent.

Yes - society if very unforgiving and lets be honest - society doesn't give a crap about you and will not offer you anything, so stop feeling sorry for yourself get out there and drive on it, yes it is discouraging but what is the difference in the hustle? You will need to get up everyday as if reporting to work and slot some time for the job search. Come on now, how can an undocumented immigrant get a job and have absolutely no documentation at all?

I must say that if you really want a "JOB" you can get one - depends on you and how bad you want it. Take the time to create a resume and a game plan.

Realistically you won't start out making big bucks but with patience,
consistency, communication, a willing to learn and of course hard work, what is wrong with somewhere like McDonald's? Minimum wage, free food and a line item for your resume?

Talking crap? - No, I started out at $3.25 an hour, been through 4 companies, sitting in my own office now (yes with a starched white shirt) with a salary that is excellent even after a 25% paycut.

Bottom Line:
Perserverence
Confidence
Honesty - but with a spin, trust me - employers will know if you are
Faith in GOD - yes!

I would rather be the poorest man on the streets that the richest in prison.....

Chestertonredux said...

GK Chesterton wrote an essay called
"The Perpetuation of Punishment".
It is the status quo in this country.
If you have been wrong, you seem to be forever wrong and unchangeable,
untrustworthy. There may be those
who say otherwise, but far too many
seem to enjoy the "Felon Stomp".
You see it in the neighborhood if you get stopped by the cop who arrested you. That person seems to have his mind set that a person is still pursuing wrong things.
It seems like a miracle is required
to have different outcomes.
Do people love thumping the "bad" guy endlessly? It seems to be so.
The virtues of the non-offending do not seem to include one that
enables someone to reintegrate into
the world of work.
Start your own business, I guess.
Become a speaker for schools. Find
or found a non-profit that will
help younger children never even
consider breaking the law.

Believe in God. If you are one of
His family, He'll take care of His
own.

Anonymous said...

my name is brandon & i am a convicted felon as well & life has never been the same after 1988.I was 18 yr,s of age and a D.E.P.(delayed entry program) schedueled to go into the navy as a hospital corpmen in jan. of 1990 to eventually be a psychiatrist,my best friend got into some trouble and agreed to try and set up one of our other close friends to get to his uncle.I was talked into being a middleman in a situation to make extra $for coollege courses i was taking while waiting for deployment and the police(state) arrested me to strike a deal because i was close to the uncle,but i would not do the controlled buy or tell on my best friends uncle. SO, instead of being in the navy for 4yrs i took a plea BARGAIN for 8yrs in prison in 1989 , and my life has never been the same again!!!!!!!!!!! I have 25 yrs exp. in ALL phases of constrution as well as project management for 8 of the 25 i`m a welder can run plasma torches, do shipping&rec. and run any forklift known to man big(const.)or small. yet i sit in missouri unemployed! bottom line is "MOST" of us convicts ARE hard working loyal employees because we are GRATEFUL for our jobs and WILLwork twice as hard&long because we see what life could've been has been and now should be!! and we are just grateful and pleased to be apart of someone else's life. Iam jobless now ,but hopeless? !!!!!!!!!!!!!!NEVER!!!!!!!!!!!!! I think It only takes one man or woman to believe in us and help us financially whitehouse do you here me?and one day WE WILL BE OUR OWN UNION FORCE AND WHEN WE" THE CONVICTS" UNITE WE WILL BE A WORKFORCE UNLIKE NONE HAVE EVER SEEN !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! CON

Eric Mayo said...

It is easy for ex-offenders and felons to immediately assume that the reason they are not considered for employment is because the have criminal records. Felons must be able to compete for any job they want By competing I mean have a great resume, interviewing skills and wardrobe. The truth is, because they have criminal records they will actually have to be better than average to get jobs.

I answer questions for ex-offenders and felons looking for jobs at my blog:

http://howfelonscangetjobs.blogspot.com

Mark said...

I hear alot of you saying
"I can't" find a job, etc. Well that's B.S. I found work within weeks of being released from prison on 2 seperate terms. I even had a city hire me after discharging parole. YOU, have to put in effort and have a positive attitude during a shitty time.
As for listing your record or not, here's the facts (california only). After 7 years your record "purges" itself so it wont be seen except for a DOJ/Livescan report with is lifetime. So if it's a privite sector job don't list it, if it's a government type or contractor who works with them, LIST IT!! I found out the hard way. Lost a 29.00hr job. So I did my research and am giving you the facts.
Also contact the legal aid foundation for help expunging your record or guideing on how to do it. I'm in process of doing this.

Anonymous said...

I used to wonder why women would subject themselves to the life of prostitution, but now that I am having a hard time finding a job after a felony conviction, I can now see that it wasn't exactly a choice, but an evil necessity. Where are all these programs for women with felony records that I always hear about?

Naimah said...

I am a mother of an ex-felon who while in prison accomplished getting his GED with Diploma scores higher then most high school graduates. My thing is this country was built by criminals that were put out of england and sent to the new world, plus your not going to tell me that this Government is 100% legal in their actions against the people who vote for Government Officials. America would rather help others then the products of their enviornment. And I find that unfair, unjust, and damn right bias. No one is perfect and they shall never be. We all have made mistakes in one way or another and if God is forgiving who is society to go against that grain.

Naimah said...

One of the things that society does not take into consideration is that if a person does not have the means to pay for a lawyer they will plead guilty to a lessor offense but this is done because that is what a legal aid lawyer would advise, the defendant not knowing the law and afraid to take it to trial ends up having to plead guilty. A lot of times the circumstance may have left him with no other choice like in self defense, but does our court system care? no they don't prison has become a money making system that thrives on the so-called have nots, unfair is to say the least. The fact that most prisons no longer educate inmates and the programs that they may have are not in place for real rehabilitation, they are bogus. Prison creates animals if the person has a weak mindset. I have seen this first handedly, watching many be treated worse then animals by other humans who wear a uniform and call themselves Correction Officers. Everything is a set up and we as American's should fight for better laws and policies for our own people first and formost.

Eric Mayo said...

It may be unfair and everything you say may be correct but it won't put you any closer to getting a job. The fact is, your criminal record puts you at a disadvantage. The only way you are going to overcome it is to come up with a plan of action. The first part of that plan would be to apply for every job you feel you qualify for. The more jobs you apply for, the greater your chances to get hired. Even a blind man will hit something if he throws enough rocks.

I answer questions for ex-offenders and felons looking for jobs at my blog: http://jailtojob.com/wordpress

B. Crain said...

I feel as though I'm reading my own thoughts. I got my one & only felony 2 years ago, followed all the terms & conditions of my probation & went over & above what was asked of me because I have children at stake & still...although Ive been clean for almost 2 years, I am treated like a drug addict or public enemy #1! It took me two months to find an apartment who didn't discriminate based on your criminal background although it was way over my budget but I had to take it. There literally were no other options. Then came the part of figuring out how to pay the rent. I remember at the beginning of my job search being so excited & positive & kind of half joking when I told my friend, "wow, I hope job hunting is easier then apartment hunting!" here
I am, 8 MONTHS later & I'm still unemployed. I use to be an office mngr & I got denied at Chevron! I strongly agree with your comment about that it seems they would rather we re-offend then be successful. I will be perceived as a felon forever. I ran a red light the other day & the second the cop ran my DL he searched & tore apart my entire car??? I ran a red light! Unfortunately we are a stereotype & even though it feels like we have to work twice as hard as all those non-criminals, what are our other options? Re-offend or keep trying? I would have to disagree with wanting to be locked up, regardless of the struggles we are faced with bcuz in there...there's no hope. All we can really hope for is that laws will change or be made to help offenders REALLY get help reentering society & TRULY being rehabilitated. I've thought about volunteering or speaking for some kind of organization like that, that helps people rather then leave them hopeless & without help or resources. Hang in there, even tho we aren't treated as though we've done our time, we know that we have & you just gotta keep your head up & change peoples minds on what they perceive a felon to be.

Eric Mayo said...

Thank you for all of your questions on my blog "How Felons Can Get Jobs" My blog address has changed to http://www.howfelonscangetjobs.blogspot.com

Thanks again.

Eric Mayo said...

I'm still trying to get this right. My blog address is http://www.howfelonscangetjobs.com

That's the right one,

Thanx!