Obtaining legal employment after a person has served time for their felony is a necessity. If you are faced with the unfortunate situation of having a felony on your record and are now looking for employment, know you are not alone. It will not be easy but it is necessary to survive.
Keep in mind it may seem easier to lie on your application, but ultimately there is too much at stake. Not only will you lose your job and possible unemployment benefits, you can actually be charged with a misdemeanor or felony at some jobs for lying about your record and having them find out at a later time. Always be honest on job applications!
Where to start
The best place to start when looking for employment is by speaking with your parole or probation officer. Each state has been given a grant from the federal government - the grant was part of a stimulus package to help provide the states with funds to enable them to set up a program to help people being released from prison with job placement. The services are free of charge to you and are now launching.
They go through a screening process and you have to be referred by your probation/parole officer. The program is set up to help with work placement and is an Employment Education Program. By tapping into this valuable resource it can save you countless hours and phone calls trying to find a company that will look past your felony and give you a chance at being a part of there team.
Each states use of the funds will vary slightly, but they all have the same ultimate goal: to help you obtain gainful legal employment after being released from prison. As an example The State of Utah set up an Employment Education Program and hired 6 new employees specifically to work as Employment Counselors to help search out companies that will hire and help with job placement.
Below is a list of companies and contact information that currently take applications and hire employees with past felonies:
Find your dream job
Don't think just because you have a felony you cannot obtain a great job or even your dream career. Cosmetology, massage therapy or a related field is a good avenue which will allow you to obtain a license with a felony. You typically have to obtain board certification. To do so you will meet with the board to discuss your past legal trouble given you will be working directly with the public. They may put your license on probation for a couple of years and require your employer to report monthly.
Many people with felonies have been able to obtain employment as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) or Registered Nurse (RN). Nursing homes are usually more stringent than hospitals and it is recommended that while you are going through schooling for nursing to spend a couple days a week volunteering to get your foot in the door.
Phlebotomy is a great field as well and the training is typically three to four weeks. As a phlebotomist you do not need a license and they are actually starting to pay really well (as baby boomers age these semi-skilled medical workers are becoming more valuable).
There have been instances where Doctors have had a past felony. As long as they did not get into any additional trouble they were able to complete schooling and obtain work in the medical field. Getting your record expunged is the key. Typically it is easier to have your own private practice or you can get approval through the hospital. It is not an easy road but definitely attainable.
Start your own business
Now days many people hire and pay consultants for various services. Evaluate your skills and likes so you can train for a niche market. Becoming your own boss is a great avenue for building an income. There are grants and small business loans for new business owners. Many consulting jobs will not require large startup capital, just skills and knowledge. You can advertise your services online for free at places like craigslist.com.
Stay positive and confident. When interviewing for a job remember to not focus on your felony and past charges. Put the focus on your strengths and why they should hire you as a part of their team. Remember, just because you made unwise choices in the past you are still hirable. You can take your experiences and learn from them. You do deserve to live freely and support yourself and your family. You are valuable and can obtain employment legally!
See also: Employment for Felons