Getting hired is a lot of work, even in a strong economy. It can be far more challenging if you have a criminal record.
But what if you’ve only just been released from jail or prison? Is it possible to get a job right away?
The answer is yes – you can definitely get hired immediately, even if you only finished your sentence yesterday!
Here are a few things you can do to improve your chances, whether your incarceration ended a few hours ago or many years in the past.
Get Online With Email and LinkedIn
To get a job – any job – in today’s world requires you to have at least basic internet skills.
If you’re reading this, odds are good you already know how to use a web browser on a computer, tablet, or phone. That means it’s also likely you have access to email.
If you don’t, fear not! Creating a new email address is free and easy. The biggest free email provider is Gmail by Google, which is required for most Android phones. If you have an iPhone, you’ll be able to get a free email account through Apple’s iCloud service.
Next, you’ll want to create a free profile on LinkedIn. This is a social network focused on careers and networking. Many employers encourage or even require applying via LinkedIn, so it’s a good idea to have an account there. You can also connect with other people you know and make new connections, building a network that can really boost your job search prospects.
Need more help setting up an email account and LinkedIn profile? There’s free assistance available in person at your local library or state employment office.
Write a Resume
Virtually all job postings ask for a digital (computer) copy of your resume. If you don’t have one, it’s easy to get started. We’ve created a guide for you here.
When you do get the chance to talk with a prospective employer, make sure you are open and honest about your criminal record.
By bringing up your past early, you’ll demonstrate that you are not trying to hide it. Be prepared to answer tough questions: Why did you break the law? What have you learned since then? How have you changed and grown personally?
You may also want to talk frankly about what you learned while incarcerated, and the life skills you developed. If you had a prison job, talk about it! That’s a good sign to employers that you are serious about getting back into the working world.
Talk Taxes, and Get Bonded
Did you know any employer can save up to $2,500 on their taxes by hiring you?
It’s called a Work Opportunity Tax Credit, or WOTC (pronounced “WATT-see”). The IRS will give employers a break on their taxes for hiring returning citizens.
You can print out this fact sheet at any library or state employment office, and bring it with you to interviews, to show employers the benefits of hiring formerly-incarcerated people like you.
Here’s another free perk: many states offer a free fidelity bond to previously-incarcerated people, to help them find jobs after release.
The bond acts as a guarantee to prospective employers, and covers losses like theft and fraud. You can present the bond to an employer as a good-faith gesture, to ease their minds about hiring people with criminal records.
In Texas, you can get a fidelity bond at most Texas Workforce Commission offices. In Arkansas, you can learn more about the fidelity bond program here.
Again, there is no cost to you to obtain a fidelity bond, so why wouldn’t you?
Get Free Expert Help
If all of the above sounds like a ton of work, it is – but free help is available.
Cornbread Hustle is a staffing agency for second chances. We place formerly-incarcerated people in jobs every day. All of our recruiters have served time or are in recovery, and have been where you are now. They are eager and waiting to help you!
We are excited to help you on your career journey!