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Sunday, August 2, 2015

Jobs for Ex-offenders: Lady Ex-offender Needs Job Search Help

 Jobs for Ex-offenders:  Lady Ex-offender Needs Job Search Help

Hello. I was looking online and came across your page. I'm a black female age 34. Two years ago I was 8 months pregnant and the father of my child decided to beat me up right in his front doorway. To get away I broke the living room window right next to his doorway and got away as quick as I could. He called the police I assume because he knew if I beat him to it it would fall on him. I wasn't arrested but had to go back and fourth to court and the stress was causing issues with my pregnancy because I was due to have my daughter. My lawyer told me my options. He said if I wanted to get it over with I could plea guilty and just get a misdemeanor which wouldn't affect me going back to work.  Evidently it has because I'm emailing you. I'm getting turned down left and right because I have a misdemeanor in criminal mischief 4th degree. I have been working since I was 13 and not being able to find a job is taking a toll on me. Any advice you could give would be greatly appreciated.



 Jobs for Ex-offenders:  Lady Ex-offender Needs Job Search Help

Hello Roxie,

Not to diminish how you feel, but there are ex-offenders and felons being hired everyday with far worse convictions than yours.  Your lack of success may be more attributed to your approach than your conviction.

Many ex-offenders and felons do not get interviews because they make mistakes on applications.  Your first contact with an employer may be filling out an application.  Employers use applications to decide who to interview and who not to interview. 

Ex-offenders and felons often have a dilemma. "Do I tell the truth and risk not getting an interview?" "Do I lie and hope that no one finds out?" I advise my students to always be honest.  If you are dishonest about having a criminal record, you risk having the truth exposed later.  You may get a job only to lose it after the

employer finds out the truth through a background check or some other means.  You will be fired for being dishonest and falsifying your application not because you have a criminal record.

To give yourself the best chance of getting an interview, you must understand how applications work.  Here are tips to completing an application that will get you an interview.

Follow directions.  Always read the entire application before you begin.  If there is anything you do not understand, ask for an explanation.

Be neat.  Print very clearly using blue or black ink only.  If you don't print well, ask if you may take the application home and bring it back.  Get someone who has neat handwriting to help you.  Always ask for an extra application just in case something goes wrong.  Never, never, never use white out on an application.  Using White out will nullify some applications.  To be on the safe side use an erasable pen.  Never crumple or fold the application.

Answer all questions.  If there are questions that do not apply to you, use the notation “N/A” meaning “not applicable.”  This will let the employer know that you did not overlook the question.  It just did not apply to you.  Completeness counts.  If you have a resume, attach it to the application.  Do not attempt to use the resume in place of a completed application.

Be honest.  Providing false information may be grounds for dismissal later.


Use your legal name.  No nicknames or aliases. 

Social Security Number

If you don't know your social security number, or don’t have the physical card, go to your local Social Security Administration office.  It is listed in the blue pages of your local telephone directory.  You will definitely need this card when you get a job offer.


Use your current address.  Some applications ask for a previous address.  If you do not have a permanent address, ask to use an address of a friend or relative.

Telephone Number

The employer must have a quick and easy way of getting in touch with you.  You must have a telephone number on the application.  If you do not have access to a telephone, I suggest you make arrangements with someone to take messages for you.  Some applications have a space for a message number.  If you find one that does not, simply place the letter “M” before the telephone number.  Ex. M (555) 555-5555.  This will make it clear that the number is for messages.  If you use a cell number, be sure to have a professional sounding message.

How Did You Hear About Our Company?

The employer may want to know how you found out about the company or the opening.  Typical responses are:

Newspaper Ad

Referred by someone (give the person’s name.)


Position Applied For

Be precise about the position you are applying for.  Have a particular job in mind when you apply.  If you are uncertain, contact the company to ask  exactly which positions are available.

Date You Can Start

Never answer “immediately” or “ASAP.”  If you are available today, use today’s date or a date that you will be available.

Salary Desired

I encourage my students to never list a dollar figure.  Never talk about pay or benefits until someone offers you a job.  You may use a figure that is too high and may not be considered because you are asking for more than the position pays.  You may use a figure that is too low and undervalue yourself.  To be safe, use the term “negotiable.”  This means that you will discuss salary when an offer is made.


Starting with your most recent training, list any courses, workshops, seminars, or employment training.

General Information/Special Skills

List any special skills you have that will be of use to an employer. 

Work History

List your past jobs in order beginning with the most recent and work you way backward.  Use the month and year that the job began for you, and the month and year the job ended for you.  If you are unsure of employers and dates, you can contact your local Social Security Administration office.  If your past jobs were on the record, the Social Security Administration should have this information.  You will also need the former employer’s address, telephone number, and supervisor’s name.  Often the application will ask for the name of the position and your pay rate for each job. 

The application will also ask for you to describe your duties, and reason for leaving.  Accepted reasons for leaving are:

Left for better position




Business closed

Seasonal position

Temporary position

Never use the words “fired” or “terminated” if you left a job unfavorably.  “Released,” “involuntary separation,” or “contract ended,”  sound a whole lot better.


Employment applications often will ask for references.  Check out this link to an article about References:

Good References help Ex-offenders and Felons get Jobs

Service Record

If you have military experience, list the branch of service, date, and rank of discharge.

Have You Ever Been Convicted of a Crime?

This question is the worst part of any ex-offender’s job hunt.  I have spoken to people who have taken classes that have instructed them to use the response “Will discuss at interview.”  In my opinion, this is not a good thing to do.  The best advice I can give is BE HONEST!  Employers have a responsibility to know as much as possible about potential employees.

Many applications have a Certification/Release Statement that the applicant must sign before the application is accepted.  You'll recognize it as a long paragraph in small print at the end of the application directly above the space for your signature. Read it carefully before you sign. This statement may also be called an Authorization.  The wording may vary but the employer is asking you to certify with your signature that all of the information you have given is correct.  The answer “Will discuss at interview,” does not answer the question.  Another part of this certification is a release that gives the employer access to information provided by past employers, law enforcement agencies, schools and other organizations that may have information about you.

In reference to criminal records, it is necessary to list all relative information.  Include the name of the conviction, date, location, and the disposition (time served, fine and/or probation.) 


Criminal Mischief 4th degree.    6/19/2011    Seattle, WA     Probation Served (6 mos.)

You may have to practice to fit your response into the space given. 

I hope information is helpful.  Best of luck! 

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Eric Mayo

Jobs for Ex-offenders: Lady Ex-offender Needs Job Search Help

Jobs for Ex-offenders:  Lady Ex-offender Needs Job Search Help


Jobs for Ex-offenders:  Lady Ex-offender Needs Job Search Help

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