Eric Mayo Jobs for Felons: How felons can get jobs
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Showing posts with label ex offender jobs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ex offender jobs. Show all posts

Monday, December 5, 2022

I have no problem hiring ex-offenders. But they’re being let down

Originally published at

I don’t care if a candidate for my company’s open position has a criminal record. But I do care about something more important.

My company is hoping to hire a part-time person to implement and support some of the software applications we sell. Like most small business owners, finding someone isn’t easy in this tight labor market, despite all the recent tech industry layoffs. I can’t afford to pay what some of these people earn – or were earning – in Silicon Valley and therefore my choices are limited. So, what to do?

How about hiring someone with a criminal record?

A portrait of a man with a graying beard wearing a black skull cap.
Sentenced to life for stealing $14: ‘I needed help, but was given jail’

Large corporations including JP Morgan Chase, American Airlines, AT&T and CVS have been doing it for years. State and federal prison systems offer all sorts of opportunities for employers to hire people who were formerly incarcerated. It’s not a bad bet either: studies – like this one – show that people with criminal records are no more likely to quit or be fired than anyone else.

States like Iowa and cities like Philadelphia offer cash incentives to employers who hire ex-convicts. The federal government also offers a very generous tax credit – the Work Opportunity Tax Credit – for hiring people who recently got out of prison. A number of non-profits like Honest Jobs, CareerAddict, 2ndChances4Felons and the Women’s Prison Association connect employers to prospective employees with criminal records or offer programs that help the process. The Department of Labor offers assistance through its CareerOneStop platform.

"You pay your dues and should be allowed to live your life. Most of my clients feel the same. So does the general public."

I wouldn’t have a problem filling my open position with an ex-felon or someone with a criminal record. People mess up. Some more seriously than others. But you pay your dues and should be allowed to try to live your life. Most of my clients feel the same. And so does the general public. In fact, a person’s criminal history has become so trivial that although employers can ask a prospective candidate about it during pre-employment screenings or background checks, many states do not allow that employer to discriminate based on their findings.

So no, I don’t care if a candidate for my company’s open position has a criminal record or is an ex-felon. But I do care about something that, to me, is even more important.

Can they read?

It’s one thing for all of these government programs and non-profit organizations to help ex-felons secure employment. But are they even qualified?

There are 10m open jobs in the US – hence the tight labor market – but employers are primarily looking for skilled workers. Most of my clients, like me, need workers who have knowledge. And if they don’t have the knowledge, they need to be able to learn, study and research. You can’t do this if you don’t read.

Many studies, like this one from 2003 by the Urban Institute, found that about 70% of offenders and ex-offenders are high school dropouts. About half are “functionally illiterate”, meaning they can’t read above a fourth-grade level.

Worse, statistics show that 85% of all juveniles who interface with the juvenile court system are essentially illiterate. Penal institution records show that inmates have a 16% chance of returning to prison if they receive literacy help, as opposed to 70% who receive no help. I can’t hire someone – or even teach them the skills my company requires – if they don’t have a high school level of literacy. Being illiterate is a complete non-starter.

Some of the big companies – and good for them – have the resources to help these ex-convicts learn these skills. But small businesses like mine, which employ more than half of the country’s workers, don’t have the ability to do this. So what can be done?

"Governments and non-profits should be investing in programs to get prisoners educated on the basics of reading and math."

The answer is literacy. Don’t pay me to hire ex-felons. Pay to get them literate. People in prison need to learn how to read, period. Instead of tax credits and other incentives for businesses to hire, governments and non-profits should be investing in programs to get prisoners educated on the basics of reading and math first. That’s the priority. Because once someone is at a proficient level of education, he or she can then learn the rest. But they can’t do that if they can’t read an instruction manual or study for a Microsoft certification.

That’s what I’m looking for before hiring someone out of prison. I need people who can read. Unfortunately, that’s not what the system is producing.

Companies that hire Felons

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Jobs for Felons

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Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Ex-offenders, Felons, Jobs and Drug Tests

Ex-offenders, Felons, Jobs and Drug Tests

Ex-offenders, Felons, Jobs and Drug TestsI have been helping Ex-offenders and Felons get jobs for many years and I have helped thousands get jobs. One of the biggest barriers that some ex-offenders place in front of themselves is not being able to pass drug tests.

Drug testing has become an important safety issue for many employers. Many companies now have some form of drug testing for prospective employees. Drug testing serves to lower the instance and issues associated with drug abuse in the workplace, including lateness, absenteeism, turnover rate, crime, violence, theft and other side effects.  Too many of my students believe  that they can use illegal drugs and still pass drug tests. With my experience in human resources, management and employment training, I will attempt to expose the myths and give the facts on drug tests.

The typical methods that employers use for detecting illegal drugs are:

Urine Testing:

Urine testing is the most common of the screenings used for illegal substances. Drug users would sometimes use outlandish methods like using fake urine that is sold in some places or using a sample taken from someone else in place of their own. To avoid the applicant using urine not his own, I would always have a sample given in the presence of a staff member. Others believe that drinking large amounts of water will dilute the sample and the drugs will not be detected. Water passes through the body much too quickly to be effective. I have even heard of using ridiculous home remedies to beat urine tests. These remedies include aspirin, eye drops, ammonia, vinegar, bleach and even commercial drain cleaners! There are commercial products that claim to mask the traces of drugs making them undetectable.  many of these products use nitrates which will mask the drug to an extent, but laboratories have gotten more savvy and also test for the nitrate compounds that these products contain. In many cases the presence of nitrates will result in a failed test.

A single use of marijuana can be detected up to seven days in the urine, while extended use can be detected up to 100 days

Amphetimines, cocaine, heroin, opiates and PCP can be detected accurately up to seven days after use.

Ex-offenders, Felons, Jobs and Drug Tests

Saliva Testing

Saliva tests are the least popular because it can only detect toxins used three or four days prior. Saliva tests can detect fresh elements of alcohol and drugs in the mouth.

Hair follicle Testing

My experience is that hair follicle testing is the most effective method of narcotics screening.  A hair test is an examination that uses a small sample of hair to identify specific drugs used by the person being tested. Typically, the sample is taken from the head, but can be collected from several other body locations such as arms, legs and back and may be combined to obtain the required amount of hair.  Drugs can be detected with high accuracy for a six month period after use. Chemical compounds of drugs are circulated in the blood stream and become part of the cells of the body including the hair root where they are easily detected.

There are hundreds of detoxifying products on the market that claim that with their use, drugs will not be able to be detected. There products that claim that they can wash toxins out of the hair. Most of these are absolute scams. The rest have a very low success rate. An experienced screener would pull the hair out intact, exposing the root where the compounds collect.

A one time use of marijuana will likely not show up in the hair while extended use can be detected for three to five months after use depending on the test used.

Amphetamines, cocaine, heroin, opiates and PCP can be detected accurately up to five months after use.

Certain non-prescription medications can interfere with accurate results. These common medications include ibuprofen and ephedrine-based products. Most drug testing companies will ask the applicant in advance if they have taken any prescription or non-prescription medication prior to the screen.

In most cases if any drugs are detected, the applicant will have the opportunity to provide a doctor's prescription or choose to be retested.

Jobs for felons and "ex-offenders" are hard enough to get, so why blow an opportunity to get hired by using drugs?

The facts about employee drug testing for ex-offenders and felons looking for jobs

Jobs for Felons: Hair Test, Saliva Test, Urine Test, Substance 

Jobs for Felons: How Drug Test Cheats get Caught


Companies that Hire Felons


Ex-offenders, Felons, Jobs and Drug Tests

Companies Hire Felons | Companies That Hire Felons | Companies That Hire Ex-offenders | Employers That Hire Ex-offenders | Employers That Hire Felons | Jobs For Felons | Jobs For Ex-offenders | Jobs That Hire Felons | Places That Hire Felons | Felon Friendly Jobs | Felon Friendly Employers | Jobs for Felons | Jobs For People That Have Felonies | Jobs For People With A Criminal Record | Drug Tests

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Monday, December 14, 2020

Jobs for Felons: Why Ex-Prisoners Struggle to Successfully Reintegrate into Society

Felon Housing

By Dr. Michael Pittaro, Faculty Member, Criminal Justice at American Military University

Every week, more than 10,000 prisoners are released from America’s state and federal prisons, equating to more than 650,000 ex-prisoners annually reintegrating into society, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. However, recidivism rates are extremely high with approximately two-thirds of ex-prisoners being rearrested within three years of release, according to the Recidivism Center. It’s estimated that nine million offenders return to prison annually.

It’s clear that there’s not enough support to help ex-prisoners stay out of the correctional system. This is just one element sustaining the disproportionate incarceration of African American males. The likelihood of an African American male being sentenced to prison in his lifetime is one in three, whereas for a Caucasian male it is one in 17, according to The Huffington Post. Similarly, African American females are being sentenced to prison at a far greater rate than Caucasian females.

The criminal justice system needs more resources to improve reintegration efforts and help ex-offenders find adequate jobs and housing so they’re less likely to re-offend. Helping ex-prisoners successfully reintegrate into society will not only reduce costly recidivism rates, but, in many cases, will help break the intergenerational cycle of criminality.

Improving Housing Options for Ex-Prisoners

Most ex-prisoners will return to the same communities they lived and socialized in before their arrest. In many cases, these are neighborhoods that have high rates of poverty and crime, leaving many residents feeling disenfranchised from society with little access to social support programs.

In a prior publication, “Prisoner Reintegration Challenges of Assimilation and Crime Desistance,” I concluded that most ex-prisoners returning to these communities will face uncertainty over their future and animosity from a predominantly unforgiving society, as well as a multitude of personal, social, and legal barriers that prevent them from leading law-abiding lives.

Finding safe and affordable housing is difficult for ex-prisoners who often face limitations on where they can live. Many times, low-income public housing is their only choice. These housing developments are often overrun with drugs, gang violence, and other criminogenic factors. Private housing is often not an option because ex-prisoners are exclusively barred from the private housing market due to the stigma of being an ex-felon.

In some cases, even the public housing market has banned ex-prisoners from renting or leasing an apartment, which can happen if the criminal conviction was drug-related, a sexual offense, or a crime of violence as outlined in the exclusionary policies of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. If ex-prisoners are forced to return to the same destructive environment that contributed to their initial incarceration, they will often submit to the same temptations and reoffend.

Barriers to Employment for Ex-Prisoners

Along with obtaining suitable housing, finding and maintaining employment can greatly improve an ex-prisoner’s odds of leading a crime-free, productive life. However, ex-prisoners face the society-wide stigma of being an ex-convict, which severely limits the number of sustainable job opportunities available to them.

Many employers conduct criminal history checks on prospective employees and reject anyone with a criminal history. In a somewhat dated, yet significant Urban Institute study from 2003, more than 90 percent of employers surveyed were willing to consider filling job vacancies with welfare recipients, while only about 40 percent were willing to consider hiring an ex-prisoner.

Companies in the retail and service sector that require contact with customers are among the most unlikely to consider hiring a convict. Employer reluctance is greatest when the offense in question was a violent one and least when it was a nonviolent drug offense.

Many ex-prisoners are limited to working inconsistent, low-wage jobs – such as in construction or manufacturing – that make it incredibly difficult to support themselves and their families. In addition, ex-prisoners are often mandated to pay further penalties including parole supervision fees, court costs, restitution, child support, drug-testing fees, counseling fees, and more.

To complicate matters further, finding employment opportunities can be especially challenging because many offenders have limited work histories. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, more than one third of all prisoners were unemployed at the time of arrest.

Educational Obstacles to Finding Employment

The National Reentry Resource Center concluded that only about half of incarcerated adults have a high school degree or its equivalent, compared with 85 percent of the adult population. In Prisoner Reintegration Challenges of Assimilation and Crime Desistance, I noted that most ex-prisoners do not have viable, marketable job skills, or sufficient literacy to obtain gainful employment.

To compound matters, many prisoners have a learning disability. According to Joan Petersilia, 11 percent of prisoners have a documented learning disability compared with only 3 percent of the general adult population.

While there are some educational opportunities available to inmates while they are imprisoned, only one third of all prisoners choose to participate. Educational programming, including specific classes that focus on GED preparation, adult basic education, and learning English as a second language, would collectively improve odds of employment.

There’s no doubt that more must be done to help break down the barriers that hinder ex-prisoners from leading law-abiding and productive lives. Helping them find adequate housing and providing educational opportunities that leads to gainful employment are all critical to successful reintegration and reductions in recidivism. However, ultimate change must come from the offender. The ex-prisoner can break the cycle of criminality only by changing his or her unlawful ways. Ex-prisoners must abstain from crime, substance abuse, and other problematic areas which put themselves at risk. They must also seek out opportunities to improve their situation and put in the work and effort to lead productive and lawful lives.

About the Author: Dr. Michael Pittaro is an Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice with American Military University and an Adjunct Professor at East Stroudsburg University. Dr. Pittaro is a criminal justice veteran, highly experienced in working with criminal offenders in a variety of institutional and non-institutional settings. Before pursuing a career in higher education, Dr. Pittaro worked in corrections administration; has served as the Executive Director of an outpatient drug and alcohol facility and as Executive Director of a drug and alcohol prevention agency. Dr. Pittaro has been teaching at the university level (online and on-campus) for the past 15 years while also serving internationally as an author, editor, presenter, and subject matter expert. Dr. Pittaro holds a BS in Criminal Justice; an MPA in Public Administration; and a PhD in criminal justice. To contact the author, please email For more articles featuring insight from industry experts, subscribe to In Public Safety’s bi-monthly newsletter.

Companies that hire felons

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

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Jobs for Felons: Why Ex-Prisoners Struggle to Successfully Reintegrate into Society

Eric Mayo

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Thursday, July 25, 2019

Jobs for Felons: Ten Tricks Interviewers Use

Jobs for Felons: Ten Tricks Interviewers Use

Jobs for Felons: Ten Tricks Interviewers Use -  Ex-offenders and felons have a very tough time finding jobs and even getting interviews.  That's no secret, so when an interview finally comes, they should put themselves in the best possible position to get hired.  While we all know that the applicant wants the job, the interviewer has a responsibility to hire the best person available.

In my career that spans more than thirty years, I have have seen and used a number of tricks that interviewers use to get through all of the rehearsing and other things applicants use to put themselves in the best light.  These tricks are used to make applicants reveal who the really are.  Often these tricks go unnoticed. I am going to share with you my all time favorite interviewer tricks.

1.  The Waiting Game - I have seen applicants been made to wait up to an hour to be interviewed.  What I have learned is that the longer people wait, the more they become themselves.  The combination of nerves and aggravation will reveal true personalities.  Whether it is using bad language, complaining, or engaging in inappropriate conversation, this is a true test.  I have even seen applicants flirt with the receptionist, employees and other applicants thus exposing parts of their character.  No matter how long you have to wait, stay professional at all times.

2.  Just One of the Guys - Some interviewers will present themselves as really friendly types that throw formality out of the window.  This often will make the applicant relax (sometimes too much,) which causes them to let their guards down.  When guards come down, things slip out.  I teach my students never to reveal too much information especially about their criminal backgrounds or other errors in judgement.  Never offer information that isn't asked. The interview is not the place to tell your life story or talk about all of mistakes you have made in your life.  Never talk about personal problems, habits, or relationships issues.  Be personable but never tell more than anyone needs to know.  Never talk about to religion, politics, or sex.  Even If the interviewer brings them subjects up, these are not discussions you want to get into.  Never, ever use slang or profanity.

3.  The Big Squeeze -  This neat little trick I use to when I ask applicants into my office. I stand partially in the doorway, forcing the other person turn sideways to squeeze by.  In the few seconds it takes to squeeze by, I get a lot of information.  I can get a hint about the individual's personal hygiene, if they have smoked recently or even taken a drink.  Many employers shy away from hiring smokers.  Smokers require more breaks than non-smokers.  Smokers have more health problems than non-smokers.  If you do smoke, do not smoke before your interview.  If you have alcohol on your breath, forget it!

4.  Hold up! Don't sit down! -  To many people, respect and manners count for a lot and some interviewers will test this a number of ways.  My favorite is sitting down and waiting to see what the applicant does.  My office is like my house.  If he sits down without being invited, it may be because he lacks social graces or he is simply disrespectful.  When you get to the interview area, always wait until the interviewer asks you to be seated.  If he doesn’t offer, politely ask “May I sit?”  Never touch the interviewer’s desk or put anything on it.

5.  Butter Fingers -  Another one of my favorite personality revealers is very subtle but it tells a lot.  I may drop a pen or other small object.  If the applicant picks it up, more than likely, the person is a caring, helpful individual.  If he doesn't, it usually means he cares only about himself.

 Top Five Job Interview Mistakes Ex-offenders and Felons make 

The next five are not really tricks, but they are clever ways  interviewers weed out applicants with questions.

6.   Have you Done Your Homework? -  Often interviewers ask "What do you know about our company?"  Interviewers ask this because they want to know if you are serious about working with them. If you haven't prepared for the interview by doing some research on the company, it will show.

It would appear that you are very interested in the job just by doing some research.  Some things you should find out:

How old is the company.

Number of locations

Number of employees

What the company business

Who is the competition?

If it is a large company, you may find this information on the internet or the library.  If you are interviewing with a small local business, you may get the information from the receptionist if you call.

7.  Money, Money, Money -  "How much money are you looking for?"  This is a tricky question that is used to disqualify applicants.  It's tricky because if you give a dollar amount that is too low, you may be paid less than others doing the same job.  If you give an amount that is too high, you may disqualify yourself.  I teach my students to never talk about money until someone offers them a job.  So, the response may be "Are you offering me this job?"  Whether the answer is yes or no, the response should be something like this, "I want to be paid fairly.  I know you will make me a fair offer."    If that answer is not enough, remember no dollar amounts, you should answer, "I want as much as you can afford to pay me."

8.  I'm Feeling Weak - We all have gotten the question, "What is your greatest strength?" and we pretty much know how to handle that one.  People have a a lot of trouble with the follow question which is sure to follow- "What is your biggest weakness?"  Most people blow that one because they forget that the interview is used to sell yourself.  With that in mind, do you think I would be foolish enough to tell you about a real fault of mine that might cost me the opportunity to get a job?  Interviewers count on it!  Every has weaknesses, but don't not tell the interviewer anything that can be used against you.  There are two ways to handle this.  You can present a strength you have as a weakness or you can offer a technical weakness as long as it has nothing to do with the job.  You might say "I get really upset at myself when I don't finish everything on time." It looks like a weakness, but it come across really well because it tells how important it is for you to finish thing promptly.   The second option is to offer a technical weakness (as long as it has nothing to do with the job."  It may sound like this, "I want to brush up on my writing skills.  I write ok, but I want to get better."

9.  Bossy, Bossy - This question is used to spot a troublemaker and it works every time, "Tell me about the worst boss you've ever had?" Under no circumstances should you ever say anything negative about any past job or supervisor.  To an interviewer, only a troublemaker would speak ill of former job or company. In the mind of the interviewer, you were a problem.  That's why you are no longer there.   It's ok to quit a job or even get fired and there are positive ways to explain even a not so great situation.  You might say something like.  "I have had bosses, some better than others.  I have learned something from all of them even if it is what not to do."

10. I have a Question - The final one is a question that is not tricky at all, but an interviewer can find out a lot about what on an applicant's mind with it.    "Do you have any questions for me?"  I am amazed how often applicants answer "no" to this question.  By answering "no" job searchers pass up a golden opportunity to finish off on an extremely high note.  Some really great questions are:

Why is this position open?

What are the day to day duties of this position?

 hat are some of the more difficult problems one would have to face in this job?

What are the opportunities for advancement?

Did you know I can be bonded?  (Federal Bonding Program)

By asking questions like these the interviewer will get the impression that you are interested in more than just a paycheck, which looks really good.

Ex-offenders and felons have a tough time getting interviews so when they come, they have to make them count.  These are some clever tricks that a seasoned interviewer would use to find out more about the person sitting in front of them than what they are saying.  Now you will recognize them when you encounter them and make them work to your advantage!

Best of luck on your interview!

Jobs for Felons: Dirty Little Tricks Interviewers Use

  Jobs for Felons: Preparing to ace the Interview

Jobs for ex-offenders and felons looking for jobs : What to wear to the interview

Please Rate This Post at the Top!

Are you an ex-offender or felon who has a question about finding a job with a criminal record?  I have been helping ex-offenders and felons get jobs for over ten years and I feel I have an understanding of what works. I will be updating this blog often. I will answer specific questions relating to getting a job with a criminal record on this blog so feel free to send me your questions.   The right information could help felons get jobs.  You could have your question answered right here. Email your question to:

If you are a felon and really serious about getting a job or you want to help someone you care about get a job, check out this link: From Jail to a Job 

Find your next job here!

Jobs for felons

Jobs for Felons: Ten Tricks Interviewers Use

Companies Hire Felons | Companies That Hire Felons | Companies That Hire Ex-offenders | Employers That Hire Ex-offenders | Employers That Hire Felons | Jobs For Felons | Jobs For Ex-offenders | Jobs That Hire Felons | Resumes for Felons | Felon Friendly Jobs | Felon Friendly Employers | Jobs for Felons | Jobs For People That Have Felonies | Jobs For People With A Criminal Record | Second Chance Jobs | Fair Chance Jobs 

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Thursday, May 16, 2019

Felon can't get by Past Criminal Record

 Felon can't get by Past Criminal Record

Felon can't get by Past Criminal Record
Hello Eric,

My name is Steve.  I am 24 years old.  In 2009 I committed a crime consisting of Vandalism, Burglary, and Arson. I had never been in trouble my entire life and grew up in a strict household.  I was with five other guys and I was the oldest.  I was the only one to turn myself in and give a full statement on the matter. It landed me on a four year probation term and after that, it will be expunged from my record. (THAT WAS THE PLEA AGREEMENT). It happened in Tennessee and now I am currently living in Fort Wayne, IN.

There are a lot more jobs up here than down there but the problem I am facing is that when I go to a temp agency that IS SUPPOSED TO HELP FELONS FIND WORK they tell me that my current felonies together seen on paper would make it really hard for a potential client to take interest in my employment. I DONT KNOW WHAT TO DO. I have not been in trouble since my sentencing. I am a proud step father now of three and I have already completed two full years on my probation.

Felon can't get by Past Criminal Record

Hello Steve,

I'm sorry you are having so much trouble.  I meet people everyday that have done some really stupid things when they were younger and are still paying the price as they get older.  My advice to them is to apply, apply apply for as many jobs as they feel they are qualified for.  I tell felons looking for jobs that finding a job is a numbers game.  The more jobs you apply for, the more interviews you will get.  The more interviews you get, the greater the chance you will find an employer who will give you a shot a job.  Felons get hired everyday.  It's all about finding job leads and applying.

You can find open jobs in your area: Click Here!

When you get an interview and the question about your record comes up, acknowledge that you made some mistakes when you were younger.  Don't spend a lot of time talking about the mistakes, but focus on the things you have done to improve yourself and your attitude since.  You may say something like this:

I was into some things when I was younger that landed me in jail.  Jail is a tough place to be but I made the best of a bad situation.  I had a job which taught me respect for authority and patience through hard work.  I can honestly say, today I am a different person than I was going in.  If you give me this opportunity I’ll make the most of it.

As far as applying to temporary agencies, you may have more success applying to small privately owned agencies rather than large national companies.  Smaller businesses in general are more flexible when it comes to hiring felonsUse the state sponsored employment service.  Each state has a network of offices that assists individuals in finding jobs.  They also provide a long list of services that help you get a job or find a career.  Some services are, resume preparation, and interviewing skills.  There lists of open jobs in your area. Each offices has trained counselors that can provide individualized assistance.  Many of the counselors have experience helping ex-offenders and felons get jobs.  You can find the nearest office in any community at:
Felon can't get by Past Criminal Record

WorkOne Northeast Indiana- Allen County
201 East Rudisill Boulevard
Fort Wayne, IN 46806-1756


Jobs for felons: Ten Simple Steps to Getting a Job with a Criminal Record  

Jobs for Felons: Know your rights in regard to Criminal Background Checks

Jobs for Felons:  How Employers Look at Criminal Records

Felon can't get by Past Criminal Record

Companies Hire Felons | Companies That Hire Felons | Companies That Hire Ex-offenders | Employers That Hire Ex-offenders | Employers That Hire Felons | Jobs For Felons | Jobs For Ex-offenders | Jobs That Hire Felons | Resumes for Felons | Felon Friendly Jobs | Felon Friendly Employers | Jobs for Felons | Jobs For People That Have Felonies | Jobs For People With A Criminal Record

Felon can't get by Past Criminal Record

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Thursday, February 28, 2019

I’m an entrepreneur, and I believe in giving ex-felons a second chance

If you’d told me 15 years ago today I’d be leading and running a fast-growing company, I would’ve called you crazy.

I experienced, shall we say, a pretty rebellious youth. To put it more accurately, I was not a good kid. I was arrested 17 times before my 18th birthday and several more arrests throughout my twenties and early thirties. After many run-ins with the law, I had to make a choice: go to jail or serve in the military.

I took the latter option. Five years as a Navy deep sea diver gave me a newfound purpose. But I found myself on the wrong side of the law again when I went down the path of selling illegal anabolic steroids. When I finally decided to abandon that life to build Nutrition Solutions–I found myself standing before a judge waiting to receive sentencing for crimes that I’d committed three years earlier.


The police prosecutor had recommended 24 months in state prison, and I walked into the courtroom that day not knowing if I would walk out on my own free will. What happened next was nothing short of a miracle, as the judge made a decision that allowed me to be where I am today. Although I had pleaded guilty for multiple felony charges, she decided not to send me to prison. Instead, she let me off with a one-year probation. She considered the strides I took to better my life and grow my business and recognized the efforts I had made to change for the better. That judge chose to see the best in me, despite my past circumstances.

I realized that not everyone in that position would have been as lucky. Many people who experience the criminal justice system won’t have the opportunity to prove themselves the way that I was able to. That day, I vowed to do everything in my power to help those with a troubled past, have hit rock bottom or who come from nothing to help them make positive transformations in their lives. Here’s what I learned.


e have a massive problem with incarceration and re-entry in America. One in three Americans have a criminal record, and 60% of those are unemployed one year after being released. Getting a job with a criminal record is almost impossible. As Rick Wartzman previously wrote for Fast Company, many businesses see this as a sign of “the kind of workers that they’ll prove to be,” no matter how committed the individuals are to bettering themselves.

Having hired former felons myself, I can say for sure that a mark on your criminal record doesn’t mean you can’t succeed and make something of yourself. It’s true that you can’t escape your past, but those who have struggled with life-altering circumstances or a troubled past still can create a productive life for themselves and the people around them. Pain makes you stronger–and adversity teaches you valuable lessons that you will not forget. I’ve found with the proper training, structure, and support those with criminal records can become productive employees and thriving members of society.


To be clear, I don’t give second chances to just anyone. I evaluate those with criminal records and/or a history of substance abuse on a case-by-case basis. Some acts and crimes don’t warrant a second chancexd5. The simple recipe for determining whether or not someone deserves another shot comes down to one element–whether or not that person has accepted full responsibility for their past actions.

Criminal record or not, you can judge a person’s character by the way they view their mistakes. Do they acknowledge it, or do they blame external circumstances? When they accept responsibility for the fact that they were the one who got themselves in that position, they also understand that they possess the ability to get themselves out.

Convicted felons and those who have served time in jail or prison also have been conditioned to living in very stressful environments and constantly being uncomfortable. This gives them a considerable advantage in the workplace when it comes to taking on new challenges, operating under pressure, and stepping out of their comfort zone. A lot of the times, the “uncomfortable situations” they may face at work are like Disney World compared to what they’ve lived through.

At Nutrition Solutions, we spend ample time strengthening each employee’s character, mindset, work ethic, and self-discipline through a mandatory personal development policy for every team member. Each day, we play motivational podcasts and e-books over the loudspeakers of the facility. We have a team briefing that includes 90 seconds of gratitude, and each team member hugs or shakes the hand of every other member. By focusing on the personal development of our team and recruiting those who are hungry for a second chance (sometimes their last), we’ve been able to grow the company more than 500% over the last three years.

A few short years ago, one of my closest friends, Lee Anderson, finished a six-year prison sentence. Throughout his time in prison, I always told him when he got out I would have a job for him and that we would do amazing things together. I picked him up that day and on the ride home, started immersing him in my sales calls to get him accustomed to the company and how we operate. Today, Lee is an incredibly high performer, serving as the director of client relations for Nutrition Solutions. He’s making a significant impact at our company, but more importantly he’s made extraordinary strides as a man, team member, husband, and father.

When your company culture and values spill over and impact your team’s personal lives positively, you know that the principles that you’re teaching at work are making a real difference. Not everyone will deserve a second chance, but I’ve learned it’s worth it to invest in those who have taken responsibility for their past mistakes and are hungry for an opportunity to create a better life for themselves and the people they care about.
Chris Cavallini is the founder of Nutrition Solutions, a lifestyle meal-prep company that provides healthy meals to clients globally.

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Eric Mayo

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Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Out of Prison, Out of Work: A New Normal for Ex-Offenders in North Carolina?

From The North Carolina Dept. of Commerce

The share of former offenders finding work in North Carolina within a year after release from state prison declined from 62% in 1998 to 39% in 2014. This article explores some of the factors that may be responsible for this trend, including changes in the labor market that have made it harder to find a job—particularly for blue-collar workers, and especially for former offenders.

In previous articles, we reported that the employment prospects of ex-offenders improved following the end of the Great Recession as the economy grew and the labor market tightened. However, data from the North Carolina Common Follow-up System (CFS) reveal that the post-release employment rates of former prisoners remain much lower than in the late 1990s—a potentially worrying trend.[1]

Out of Prison, Out of Work: A New Normal for Ex-Offenders in North Carolina?

This article, while not exhaustive, offers some theories for why the fortunes of former offenders recently released from state prison have worsened since the late 1990s. Job-finding rates have declined among jobseekers in general (not just ex-offenders) in North Carolina and nationwide over the past two decades, reflecting underlying changes in the labor market that have made it more difficult to find work. One change in particular—a slump in goods-producing jobs—may be limiting the types of employment opportunities traditionally available to former offenders. In addition, the widespread practice of pre-employment background checks has placed further impediments to post-release job-finding.

The upshot: regardless of the cause, former state prisoners in North Carolina are experiencing worse employment outcomes now than they did during earlier periods of economic growth. Individuals tasked with helping ex-offenders obtain employment may find it more challenging to serve this population than in previous decades, despite the opportunities afforded by North Carolina’s red-hot labor market.

Before proceeding to our theories, we should first note that the composition of the inmate population has changed over time in ways that may have affected the employment outcomes of former prisoners. For example, North Carolina’s 2011 Justice Reinvestment Act (JRA) redirected misdemeanants from state prisons to county jails, thus increasing the prevalence of felons in the prison population. Prisoners’ education levels have also decreased over time, including prior to the JRA, and as a result they may be finding fewer opportunities for gainful employment after release.[2]

Another possible explanation can be found in labor market trends occurring during this period. It has gotten progressively more difficult for unemployed jobseekers to find work since the late 1990s. The share of unemployment insurance (UI) claimants employed within a year after layoff declined from 89% in 2000 (the earliest year available) to 82% in 2014. Similar trends can be seen in survey data; the percent of unemployed workers in the Current Population Survey finding work the following month declined from 34% in 1998 to 20% in 2014.[3]

Out of Prison, Out of Work: A New Normal for Ex-Offenders in North Carolina?

These declines in job-finding, which mirror national trends, have occurred alongside “jobless recoveries” that feature persistently slow job growth, high unemployment rates, and pervasive long-term unemployment after the end of each recession. Economists have proposed a wide range of explanations for jobless recoveries, including the widespread slowdown in new business startups, which has cut off an important source of job growth; businesses taking advantage of recessions to streamline their operations; and structural changes in the labor market that have yielded permanent job losses in certain industries. These various forces have, individually or combined, helped create a less hospitable labor market for all jobseekers—not just former offenders.

The concentration of job losses in certain sectors—particularly “blue collar” industries—provides an additional clue in explaining the worsening employment outcomes of ex-offenders. North Carolina has followed the rest of the nation in seeing declining levels of employment in goods-producing sectors, particularly in Manufacturing and Construction. The Construction sector experienced steep job losses after the Great Recession, while Manufacturing employment fell continuously from the late 1990s through 2010. Our state had nearly 350,000 fewer Manufacturing jobs and 36,000 fewer Construction jobs in 2014 than it did in 1998.

Out of Prison, Out of Work: A New Normal for Ex-Offenders in North Carolina?

Indeed, most of the decline in ex-offenders’ employment rates can be accounted for by fewer finding work in Manufacturing and Construction. These sectors employ a disproportionate share of former offenders; in 1998, 12% of former offenders were primarily employed in Manufacturing within a year after release, while 11% were employed in Construction.[4] By 2014, the share primarily employed in Manufacturing and Construction had fallen to 6% and 4%, respectively. Employment in these two sectors fell by 13 percentage points, accounting for most of the 23-percentage point decrease in former offenders’ employment rates. 

Out of Prison, Out of Work: A New Normal for Ex-Offenders in North Carolina?

Finally, we note that employer hiring practices may have made it more difficult for former offenders to find work. The vast majority of employers now conduct criminal background checks on job candidates, a trend driven in part by post-September 11th security concerns and the greater availability of inexpensive background checks. The increased prevalence of background checks makes it more difficult for otherwise-qualified former offenders, particularly felons, to obtain employment; academic studies have found that employers are less likely to consider job applicants with criminal records. Among North Carolina employers surveyed by LEAD in 2018 who reported difficulty hiring, 23% reported that applicants’ criminal records were a reason for their hiring challenges. 

General disclaimers:

Data sources cited in this article are derived from surveys and administrative records and are subject to sampling and non-sampling error. Any mistakes in data management, analysis, or presentation are the author’s.

[1] The earliest data available in the Common Follow-up System for state prisoners covers the year 1997, and the latest data covers the year 2014. We calculate wages in the year after release from state prison, and treat any wage-earning during this year as an indication of employment. Around 3% of released prisoners are released from more than one period of incarceration in a given year; for these persons, we include only the last release of each year. Wage data in the CFS are based on state unemployment insurance (UI) tax records from employers, and thus may omit earnings from federal government employment, self-employment, “under-the-table” jobs, and other work not covered by state UI laws.

[2] In 2010, only 28% of exiting prisoners had completed the 12th grade or higher, compared to 43% in 1998. Source: NC Department of Public Safety, Automated System Query

[3] We use longitudinally-linked Current Population Survey microdata from IPUMS-CPS, University of Minnesota,

[4] Here we define “primary employment” as the sector in which a worker earned the most wages in each year. In 1998, 37% of employed former offenders primarily worked in Manufacturing and Construction within a year after release, compared to 23% of all workers in the state.

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Eric Mayo

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Sunday, September 16, 2018

Former felons deserve a second chance

The Times Herald - Published 3:42 p.m. ET Sept. 11, 2018

Former felons deserve a second chance
One of the things that is Pure Michigan is sending people to prison. Although incarceration rates have fallen the past few years, there are three times as many people in Michigan prisons now than there were four decades ago. If Michigan were a country, it would have one of the top 20 incarceration rates in the world and would likely be on a State Department watch list.

More than six of every 100 Michiganders is in prison. About twice as many are former felons, those who have been released from prison, although many are still repaying a debt to society they no long owe.

It turns out that society needs them. Michigan needs them to get up in the morning and come to work. For many, though, that isn’t possible because one of the first things many employers ask, after name and address on a job application, is whether the applicant has been convicted of a felony.

One of those who would have to answer yes is the voice of those Pure Michigan commercials. Ten years before “Home Improvement” and 18 years before the debut of the state tourism campaign, Tim Allen was paroled from federal prison where he was serving three to seven years after being arrested with almost a pound and a half of cocaine.

Allen found work after his felony convictions.

Other former felons should be given the same chance. Many won’t. Some former felons are reluctant to apply for jobs, knowing they will have to check that box. Many employers won’t look past that blemish on a potential asset’s past history. Either way, applicants don’t get interviewed, employers don’t learn about important and relevant training and experience, well qualified people won’t get jobs and businesses will struggle to fill vital positions.

The felony question isn’t a valid predictor of future performance and should be illegal. In a handful of states and a few cities across the country, it is. A bill to ban it in Michigan never got a committee hearing.

But an executive order of Gov. Rick Snyder, Michigan last week just became one of about three dozen states that doesn’t ask the question of prospective state employees.

The city of Port Huron will no longer ask its applicants if they’ve been convicted of a felony. Beyond being a good business practice, it is part of City Manager James Freed’s campaign to give the city a reputation as a place welcoming to anyone who wants to work.

City Council can’t extend the ban to include other employers in the city, as Austin, Texas, and other cities have done.

That’s because, in March, Snyder signed Senate Bill 353, which prohibits local governments from enacting ordinances that restrict use of the felony question by private employers. Irony is not a crime.

Former felons deserve a second chance

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Former felons deserve a second chance

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Eric Mayo

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