Looking for a job with a felony

He lived in a basement apartment in an old house in Port Murray, N. When I visited in January, the winter wind whistled through the broken windows and unfinished walls upstairs. Animal droppings speckled the floors. A stainless steel range and refrigerator sat in their original shrink-wrap. He had not paid his mortgage in three years and he was battling to prevent, or at least delay, foreclosure. He also fell behind on child support payments, and under New Jersey law a warrant was automatically issued for his arrest. He says he knew nothing about it until police came to his home in June According to the police report, Mr.

Mirksy struggled, and the officers knocked him down, handcuffed him and charged him with resisting arrest. It was the first time that Mr.

How to fill out applications with a criminal record

Mirsky had ever been arrested. A few months later, he pleaded guilty to a single felony. The enduring problem is that he has a criminal record. He also submitted about 30 applications to other employers last year, and received a couple of interviews, but no offers. He is convinced nothing has panned out because of his legal troubles — the warrant, the arrest and the conviction.

For the last several years, job applicants have vastly outnumbered job openings. And the issues that land people in legal trouble may also make them less attractive as applicants. But Ms.

Ex-offenders Employment: Finding a job with a felony

Pager, the Harvard sociologist, has found in her research that having a criminal record by itself is often a significant impediment. In , Ms. Pager sent pairs of black men and white men to apply for low-wage jobs at businesses in the Milwaukee area. In both cases, she found men who reported criminal convictions were about 50 percent less likely to receive a callback or a job offer. The difference was significantly larger in the black pairs than in the white pairs.

White employers seemed to show more sympathy for the white applicants, Ms. Pager said, and most of the employers were white. Lucia Bone worries that background checks are getting a bad rap. Bone is the founder of a nonprofit called Sue Weaver Cause that urges employers — particularly those that send workers into homes — to check the backgrounds of new hires and to conduct regular checks on existing employees. She says that many companies are not being careful enough.

The nonprofit is named for her sister, Sue Weaver, who was raped and murdered in after she hired a local department store in Orlando, Fla. The two men sent to perform the work both had criminal records, but the store had not ensured that its subcontractor conducted a background check. A few months later, one of those workers returned, killed Ms. Weaver, then set her house on fire. Bone said.

The ready availability of criminal records databases has fueled the perception that it is irresponsible for employers to ignore available information. Local governments increasingly put criminal records online, and private companies like HireRight, Sterling BackCheck and LexisNexis Risk Solutions aggregate those records, offering almost instant results. In the early s, less than half of companies routinely checked criminal histories. Now relatively few refrain. These policies affect a growing number of people.

About 10 percent of nonincarcerated men had felony records in , up from 4 percent in , according to research led by the sociologists Sarah Shannon of the University of Georgia and Christopher Uggen of the University of Minnesota.

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The numbers are much higher among African-American men: About 25 percent of nonincarcerated black men had been convicted of a felony, up from 9 percent in The problem with criminal background checks, in Mr. Some employers ask about convictions for felonies; some ask only about narrow categories of felony like violent crimes or sex crimes. Others ask about any arrest whatsoever. Uggen was himself arrested few times as a Minnesota teenager for fighting and other minor sins but, when he submitted his college application to the University of Wisconsin, he was not asked and he did not tell.

Now a professor, he said that some of his own students were not able to escape the past so easily.


Boxed In: How a Criminal Record Keeps You Unemployed For Life | The Nation

Colleges routinely ask applicants about criminal history. So do landlords. Uggen, who is The quality of the information used in background checks is another cause for concern. One of the most common problems is that databases may include arrest records without any indication of whether a person was convicted. In , for example, the government began to check the backgrounds of 1.

But 30, of those workers filed appeals arguing their records were inaccurate, and in 25, of those cases, a more careful examination found no evidence of a conviction, according to a subsequent review by the Government Accountability Office. And the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission warned in that the systematic exclusion of people with criminal records was effectively a form of discrimination against black men, who were disproportionately affected.

Jeffrey Menteer, who is 26 and lives in northwestern Pennsylvania, has applied for 15 jobs since June, when he completed a six-month prison term for a gun possession charge. A company that makes screen doors told him it might hire him after he gets off parole in October. Other than that he has found nothing.

He said his criminal record was making it hard to find work.

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  6. He worked steadily as a logger for about five years before he was arrested. If ex-offenders and felons looking for jobs want to be treated like professionals, they ought to look like professionals. A fact of life is that most of us will be judged at least partially, by the way we look. Meeting someone for the first time, you should look as professional as possible.

    A nice suit, a light colored shirt, a tie and nicely shined pair of shoes wold do the trick. At the very least, you should have a light colored shirt, dark slacks, a tie and once again shined shoes. You may not own clothes like these, but you should do your best to get them. You should look like someone who is serious about getting hired.

    You will never get a second chance to make a first impression. Get a personal contact card Nothing will set you apart from the competition like having your own contact card! A professionally done contact card will leave everyone you meet with a powerful, professional, lasting impression. Your card should include your name, address, telephone number and email address. If you have a particular profession or skill, it should also be on the card. Your local printer can help you put one together.


    You will be amazed just how affordable this powerful little tool can be. If you have a computer. You can get card paper from Staples or Office Depot and you can make your own professional looking card. Always be honest I encourage ex-offenders and felons to always be honest when searching for jobs especially on applications and interviews.

    There is often a temptation to lie about criminal pasts. I have know many people who have not been honest on applications and gotten jobs, only to get fired later when background checks are done. It is always better to be honest. In this high-tech computer age, it is relatively easy to do a background check on virtually anyone, so don't count on your record not being found. If you are asked about criminal records on interviews, you should briefly speak about it but focus on what you have learned and why having a job and working hard is important.

    Use resumes and cover letters to get jobs Ex-offenders and felons will have more success getting hired if they can get their resumes into the hands of people who can hire them. Sending a resume with a cover letter will give them a huge advantage. A well written cover letter will introduce you and help you ask for an interview in a professional way.

    First Things First: The Mindset

    Often when ex-offenders and felons inquire about jobs this way, the question of criminal records never comes up. If you don't know much about writing a cover letter, find someone who does and get it done properly. Build a good network Most people get jobs through people they know. Who you know is often just as important as what you know. Finding job leads from people you know is called networking and it is without question the single most powerful way to get a job. Many jobs are never advertised because they are often filled by personal referrals.

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

    In fact, employers would rather hire somebody referred to them instead of looking through piles of resumes and applications. Contact as many people as you can think of and ask if they know of anyone who is hiring. Ask for the person who is in charge of hiring and try to get an application or try to arrange for an interview. The more applications you can get to people in charge, the greater your chances to get a job. Build a list of good references A lot of applications ask for personal or professional references. A reference is someone who would say something positive about you or your work performance.

    Past teachers, previous employers, ministers, and other prominent members of your community would all be great references. Please ask people if they would be a reference for you before you list them. If they agree, get their addresses, phone numbers, email addresses or other contact information.

    Always be on time! Arriving early will allow you to relax and make any final preparations. You must know exactly how long it would take to get to the interview location. If you don't know, make a dry run to the location a day or so before to gauge your travel time. There is absolutely no excuse for ever being late.