Employment Ideas for Convicted Felons

By Karen A. Whelan
Employment Ideas, Convicted Felons
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Obtaining employment after being convicted of a felony can be daunting. A typical job application contains a section requiring the applicant to disclose any felony convictions which occurred in the preceding 10 years. It is not impossible to overcome this obstacle, however, and a good plan is the best way to avoid applying for jobs that may simply be unrealistic while focusing on those jobs which are most open to employees with a felony record.

Jobs Requiring a Certification

Many jobs require that the employee become certified through the state in which they will be working. Massage therapists, cosmetologists and pest exterminators may be good choices for persons re-establishing themselves after a felony conviction. To pursue such jobs, contact the state agency responsible for certification to determine if there are any limitations on obtaining the certification for having a felony record. Jobs that require a certification naturally lessen the number of persons eligible for a given position. Pursuing certifications that do not restrict ex-felons places the candidate up against fewer qualified people, giving her a better chance to sell her skills. The felony status of the applicant is still a impediment to overcome, but the certification creates a smaller group of qualified applicants, increasing the odds to obtain a position.

Non-Money Handling Jobs

For ex-felons whose crimes involved the taking of money or property, it may be difficult to convince an employer to take a risk on them where the job requires handling cash. Focusing on jobs that have no cash handling requirements is a good strategy as a result. These jobs would include such things as janitors, dishwashers, projectionists, gardeners, construction laborers, heavy equipment operators, lineman and event set-up, to name just a few. Truck driving and factory work are also jobs that often pay well. Factory jobs include food packaging, lumber mills and waste removal. Manufacturing jobs, such as at car assembly plants, oil refineries and textile mills are good jobs that often pay better than service industry jobs.

Surprising Possibilities

There are companies that will take a chance on potential employees with troubled pasts. A well-prepared prospect with a neatly prepared resume and good interview skills will be better able to explain her past to the prospective employer. Companies such as UPS, one of the most recognizable companies in the world, has been known to hire ex-felons. So has the U.S. Army. Home Depot is another large company that has been known to hire felons, providing a great opportunity to change their life's direction. It will still be a hurdle to land one of these positions, but being open and honest about circumstances is the best way to a good outcome.

Never underestimate a prospect's potential to give a good applicant a chance. An applicant should focus on selling her strong points without trying to hide from the felony conviction when interviewing with a potential employer. A good attitude and a contrite spirit will go a long way in an interview.

About the Author

Karen grew up in Seattle, Washington, graduated from Washington State University and William S. Boyd School of Law.