Many job seekers believe that finding a decent job after being incarcerated is impossible. While it is true that it makes the job seeking process harder (because it is hard enough to find a good job without such a record), it is not impossible. It will certainly limit the positions that will be available to you, however finding gainful employment is realistic. The most important thing in this process is how you address your criminal history in a job application – it will either encourage your potential employer to look past your record or will become a turnoff.
First and foremost, you don’t necessarily have to include it onto your resume if the incarceration period was long years ago, it was rather brief and for a minor crime. Don’t do so for serious offenses with long incarceration periods because it will automatically create employment gaps, which will raise some question. While in your resume you can play around in terms of what information to include, the job application form requires you provide full information about your past experience. If you try to hide your criminal record potential employers will see the deception, which will eliminate you as a candidate right away. Remember, it is now how you hide your incarceration, but how you address it – those are two completely different approaches. It is better if you use a functional resume type – it is more skills-oriented and lays more emphasis on relevant experience only rather than chronology. If you have completed any trainings or educational programs while in the jail, you can put it onto your resume. You could name “State of …” as your employer.
Again, don’t think that this is hiding your past experience; it just can help you gain an interview meeting. We recommend you send an explanation letter along with your resume, where you would explain the crime for which you were convicted as well as the fact that you accept the responsibility for own actions. An explanation letter will be very beneficial when a potential employer runs a background check – it will answer many questions that interviewing authorities may have before considering your candidacy. Despite the jail experience has never been something good, especially in a job seeking process, try and present positive things. What you have understood and learned during the incarceration can bring a positive insight that will attract the employer’s interest.
Don’t get discouraged when you don’t get immediate results. There are plenty of people who can’t find a job without a criminal record. Sometimes it doesn’t even depend on the experience of a candidate. There are certain factors which are out of reach for job seekers. So don’t get discouraged and keep trying. Remember, being completely honest about your past will always attract potential employers.