Have You Ever… The Re-Entry Landscape
Getting back on your employment-feet after a criminal conviction isn’t easy. And trying to help someone who is can be just as difficult if you’ve never walked in those shoes.
The question of how the public workforce system can help came up in a meeting a few weeks ago, so to get some insight I reached out to a colleague who’s been helping folks in these situations for years. As expected, he had some good perspective.
- Successful reconnection to the public world generally hinges on four factors: 1) stable housing; 2) sobriety; 3) social support (family, friends, etc.); and 4) a job. And like a four-legged chair, remove any one leg and it tips right over.
- For the first three, there’s not much the public workforce system can do beyond guiding individuals to groups that do provide those services. But for a job, there is MUCH we can do. We can address education needs, get you into occupational training programs that develop in-demand skills for growing career fields, help complete applications and build a resume, provide good job leads via WorkInTexas.com, and even provide assistance with bonding, tax credits, and licensing and certification questions that might help you overcome some employment hurdles.
- And maybe most important, we can help answer, on applications and in interviews, the tough questions when asked to disclose or explain any difficult past situations. There is no silver-bullet answer but there are certainly things you should know and do to improve your chances for an interview, and a job.
- Having a criminal background doesn’t make it impossible to get a job; it just requires more effort on your part to find one. It’s easy and understandable to get discouraged, but looking for work is a function of numbers. Keep at it and it your effort will pay off.
- All employers look for certain core attributes in those they hire. Show you have those and that can go a long way to help an employer see past other maybe not-so-good things. These include motivation, ability to take direction and learn work processes, get along well with co-workers and customers, and a willingness to learn and do.
- Remember, many available jobs are never posted anywhere. These “hidden jobs” are filled by family, friends, or acquaintances of employees at the job site. Talking to everyone about who and what they know is one of the best ways to find a good job.
- Looking for an “offender friendly” list of employers? Don’t. Most employers today take a situational approach to hiring individuals with criminal backgrounds. Categorizing that into a list of who will and who won’t just can’t be done.