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Jobs for felons - How to get a job


Jobs for Felons: How to find a Job


Table of Contents


  1. Starting Your Job Search
  2. Employment Expectations
  3. Get Proper Identification
  4. Know What is on your Record
  5. Get a Resume
  6. Get Good References
  7. Find Companies that Hire Felons
  8. Dress Like a Professional
  9. Practice Interviewing
  10. Federal Bonding Program
  11. Work Opportunity Tax Credit






Each year, more than 600,000 felons are released from incarceration.  Without finding jobs, many of them will return to prison.  Often ex-offenders and felons believe they have no chance of finding jobs.  Without legal income, they will find themselves back in trouble.


Employers are now turning to qualified ex-offenders and felons to fill open jobs.  The opportunities are there for ex-offenders and felons to find the jobs they need.


Felons who know how to get hired can take advantage of new opportunities.  Developing a plan that will help them get hired, can make the difference in the lives of hopeful felons and their families.


Starting Your Job Search


Often those with criminal records feel that having a job and a regular life is just wishful thinking. There are employers who automatically reject  those with criminal records. Depending on you live and the nature of the conviction, community resources and other forms of government assistance are not accessible. Without available resources or stable employment, many ex-offenders and felons return to the same illegal activities that got them into trouble in the first place.


One criminal conviction is difficult enough to work with, but having multiple convictions makes a tough job even tougher. There are employers who will give second chances, so knowing exactly how to approach the job search will be the difference between successful re-entry and more time in prison .


Employment Expectations

Need a job? Simply wanting a job is not enough.  You must be totally committed to doing whatever it takes to get hired.  I have heard many times "I have a record.  Nobody is going to give me a chance.”  Yes you do have a criminal record.  That is not going to change.  What must change is how you feel about having record. There are people in the world that will hold your criminal past against you.  That is a reality.  That may not be fair. but all know that sometimes life isn’t fair. There is reason to be optimistic. One of the biggest untapped sources of labor in this country are as ex-offenders and felons. Increasingly, employers are hiring people with with criminal backgrounds makes sense.  Ex-offenders and felons, who are committed to turning their lives around, make excellent employees.  Most are disciplined, honest and hardworking individuals.


Offer your skills, and talents to the right employer, you will get hired.   There are many employers looking for good workers. The hard part is finding employers that will be open to hiring felons.  Skills, the right attitude and perseverance you will get a job!



Get Proper Identification


Identification for Felons

Due to the Federal Immigration Reform and Control Act, all employees must have proof that they are legally authorized to work in this country.  Three forms of identification are necessary to legally work in the United States.


Social Security Card


You will need your Social Security Card.  If do not have your Social Security card in your possession,  you can get a replacement card at the nearest Social Security office.  You can order duplicate card online at this link.


Request a Replacement Social Security Number (SSN) Card Online



Birth Certificate

To get a replacement birth certificate, contact the office of vital statistics in the city where you were born.


Valid Driver’s License

Get a copy of your driver’s license, contact your state's motor vehicle agency. Find the nearest motor vehicle office online .  Some states offer “For Identification Only” cards for those who do not have a driver’s license.


Photo Identification

Many county and local agencies provide photo identification cards.


Permanent Resident Card (Green Card)  if necessary

To obtain copies of your permanent registration card contact the office of Immigration and Naturalization.  You can information about the process of renewing or replacing your Permanent Resident card here: Green Card Replacement 


Know what is on your Record


Can I get a copy of my criminal record? A copy of your national criminal record from the FBI by submitting a request to the address below.  To get a copy of your FBI record for employment, personal or international work requirements the following is required.


1) A signed written request with a brief explanation for the request and your complete return mailing address.


2) Each request must contain two completed applicant fingerprint cards with all of the applicant’s personal information (name, date of birth, place of birth, etc.) and a current set of 10 rolled fingerprints and eight flat finger impressions. Fingerprints and impressions must be taken by a local law enforcement agency.


3) An $18.00 fee in U.S. currency by certified check or money order payable to the United States


Treasury.  This information is provided in compliance with the U.S. Freedom of Information Act.


Federal Bureau of Investigation 

Attn: FOI/PA Request

Record/Information Dissemination Section

170 Marcel Drive

Winchester, VA 22602-4843


For more information, you may contact the FBI at 304-625-3878


Your parole or probation officer may have access to state and local records if all of your convictions are from one state.


Get A Resume 

Resumes for Felons 

A resume is a one page, itemized summary of your experience, skills, education and training.  A good resume will give employers useful information that could get you an interview.  Every successful job search starts with a good resume.  If you don’t know how to put a resume together, find someone who does and get it done properly.



Get Good References


Many employment applications ask for professional or personal references. A reference is some who will say something positive about your character, or your performance as an employee.  Find reputable and respected members of your community or former employers and ask them if they would be a reference for you.  If they agree, be sure to get their contact information.


You will need at least four exceptional references.  References should only be provided upon request.


Find Companies That Hire Felons



There are employers that hire felons.  Employers are becoming more aware that hiring a person with good qualifications but may have a criminal record could be a good business decision.  Good employees are hard to find.  Offering second chances to otherwise qualified applicants makes sense.  More employers are using the Ban-the-Box approach to the application process.  Ban-the Box removes any questions about criminal backgrounds from applications.  This doesn’t mean that criminal records are not important, it means that they will focus on the applicant’s qualifications before they inquire about criminal backgrounds.


You will find a huge list of companies that offer second chances to ex-offenders and felons:  Companies that Hire Felons  You will also be able to search for open jobs in your immediate area.




Jobs for Felons: The Facts about Companies that Hire Ex offenders and Felons




One-stop Career Centers


One-stop Career Centers

In every state there is a network of state operated centers that provide a variety of free resources that are available that can help job seekers.  These are known as One-stop Career Centers.


Resources include:


Trained Career Counselors who can provided individualized employment search assistance and career planning


Assistance with interviewing skills, resume writing,  etc.


Computers with internet access for job search use


Local job listings 


Printers, phones, and copiers for job search use


You can find the nearest location of the One Stop Career Center online:  www.servicelocator.org


Job Fairs


Job fairs are gathering of employers looking for new employees.  Employers use job fairs to quickly find applicants for open jobs.  They are an excellent opportunity to meet, pre-qualify, and interview new applicants.  Job fairs are usually well advertised with the list of participating companies.  Job fairs usually attract a large number of people looking for jobs.  Preparation is the best way to be successful at a job fair. Take a look at the following tips that can give you an edge at your next job fair.


Be professional at all times.  Always put your best foot forward.


If possible, have a list of participating employers ahead of time. Use this head start to get some basic information on each one of them.  Treat job fairs like interviews (see the section on interviewing.)  Dress appropriately.  Have plenty of resumes available to hand to prospective employers.  Speak to as many employers as you can to increase your odds of getting hired and practice your interview skills.


There may be lines to speak to employers. Pay close attention to to those ahead of who are being interviewed. Pay attention to the questions being asked.

After speaking to employers, always ask for a business card. The card has the interviewer's contact information so you can follow up on your interview.



Jobs for Felons: Five Places Felons Can Find Jobs - Get a Job Quickly!




Dress like a professional


Dress for Success For Felons 

Whenever you go anywhere looking for a job, you should look like a professional. You will never get a second chance to make a first impression so make it count.   You want to give employers the impression that you are serious about getting a job.  You almost always will be judged by your appearance.  Whether you’re applying for a job in a formal business environment,  a more casual job or  a hands-on job, the way you dress can make or break the deal.


You should prepare to dress for the type of job you are looking for:


Business Job



Dark colored suit, white or light colored shirt with a contrasting tie. Shoes should be dark and shined with matching socks.



Pant or skirt suit with a coordinated blouse, neat clean shoes with a medium heel.  Wear pantyhose and natural looking makeup



Casual Job  (retail, small business etc.)



Neat, pressed slacks with a collard shirt.   Leather shined shoes with matching socks



Wear slacks or dark colored jeans with a nice blouse or sweater. clean shoes


Manual Labor Job  (factory, hands on labor)



Neat and clean slacks and shirt 



Nice jeans with a neat, clean shirt.  Leave the heels home for this one



Always be honest


Honesty For Felons

At all phases of the job search, ex-offenders and felons should be totally honest when asked about their backgrounds.  It is often believed that being honest about having a criminal record, they won’t have a chance at getting jobs.  In this age of instant information, getting information about one’s criminal history is pretty easy.  Honesty is always the best way to go.  If asked about anything on your record, briefly talk about it but shift the conversation to what you have done to better yourself.



Practice Interviewing


Successful interviews will depend on how well you prepare.  Prepare well and you will have good interviews.  Prepare poorly and your interviews will suffer.  


Like most things, the more you practice, the better you get.  Practice your posture and body language.  Practice answering questions until they sound natural and convincing.  Do not try to memorize your answers.  Use your own words.  Be prepared to answer difficult questions like the ones below:


Tell me about yourself.



What is your biggest weakness?


What are your biggest strengths?


Where do you see yourself five years from now?


I see you have had some legal l issues.  Tell me about that.


Why should I hire you?


Get someone to help you by playing the part of the interviewer.  Practice interviewing to work on your body language and answers to difficult questions.  practice the an entire interview from first meeting, to answering and asking questions to closing the interview.  If possible, video record your practice interviews so you can fix any rough spots before you go on real interview.  Take a turn at being the interviewer so you can see the everything from the interviewer’s point of view.  Practice until you feel comfortable and and your answers sound natural.  The more you practice, the better you will get.




Federal Bonding Program 


Federal Bond For Felons

Many employers are hesitant to hire felons because they fear they may be the victim of theft.  There are jobs that require that employees be bonded, but many bonding companies will not issue bonds to those with criminal records.  What is a bond?  A bond is an insurance policy that insures employers from theft, fraud and other losses by dishonest employees.


The federal government will issue a bond to any felon who has a promise of employment.  The bond is issued free of charge and can be issued the same day.  It could be a big selling point on in interview to say “I can Be Bonded.”  To find out more about the Federal Bonding Program here:  Federal Bonding Program




The Work Opportunity Tax Credit

Work Opportunity Tax Credit For Felons 

The Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) is a federal tax credit available to employers for hiring individuals from groups seen difficult to gain employment.  One of these groups is felons who are within one year of completing his/her sentence.  


This credit is generally equal to either 25 or 40 percent of an employee’s first-year wages. The exact number will depend on the number of hours worked in a given period.  You can learn more about the Work Opportunity Tax Credit here:  Work Opportunity Tax Credit  


Check out the video below that explains both The Federal Bonding Program and The Work Opportunity Tax Credit






 Companies hire felon


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Companies that hire ex-offenders


 Employers that hire ex-offenders 


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Jobs for felons 


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 List of companies that Hire Felons  



Do Any Companies Emphasize Hiring Formerly Incarcerated People?


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