Resumes for Ex-Offenders
In this article, you will find resume tips for people recently freed from jail or prison and seeking to rejoin the workforce. Job targets include:
- Health Educator
- Shipping & Receiving Coordinator
- Facilities Maintenance Manager
- Custodian / Maintenance Technician
- Restaurant Manager
- Youth Services Director
Everyone's life includes some bad choices, but some bad choices carry much graver consequences than others. If you're an ex-offender, you fully understand that, and hopefully, at this point, are on your way to recovering from those consequences. Landing and holding a job will be a key component to your success on the outside, and you will want to demonstrate on your resume that you have skills prospective employers need and the desire to contribute positively to their organization. As you anticipate your return to work, there are several key things to remember in preparing your resume and cover letters. Here are just a few tips that you may find helpful:
- Show your work experience and accomplishments while in prison as a job. Your work experience on the inside may be where you gained some of your best qualifications, especially if you have little or no work experience on the outside. It's legitimate to show “The State of New York” or “The State of Illinois” as your employer for the time you were inside; or, if you are more comfortable, list the facility (for example, “Clinton Correctional Facility” or “Los Angeles County Jail”) as your employer. Include any volunteer work, as well. Even if you weren't paid, you gained experience and learned skills while doing it. When you get to the job interview, you'll need to be forthcoming about your incarceration, but on your resume there's no need to state it explicitly.
- Be sure to document any skills training or more formal education you may have completed. This may include workshops on anger management or team building, for example, or training in Microsoft Office or skilled trades. You may have had the opportunity to further your education by completing a GED or pursuing a college degree. Show that on your resume by stating that you attended the sponsoring institution. Again, when you get to the interview you may have to disclose your incarceration, but on the resume it's not necessary or even recommended.
- Look to your work history prior to your incarceration for transferable skills. If you received training for a new career in prison, examine your job duties at previous positions and identify skills that will be relevant in your new job target. Skills such as strong record-keeping or customer service capabilities or an aptitude for math are transferable to many diverse career opportunities.
- If you aren't already, get connected with the information superhighway. Being reachable by e-mail is becoming more and more essential to a successful job search. You may not be able to afford your own computer right away. However, if you participate in a program to help you find a job, there may be resources available to help with providing computer access. If not, public libraries in many cities and towns offer free Internet access to anyone with a library card. Once you have access, you can easily set up a free e-mail account through Yahoo!, Google, Hotmail, or some other service. Computer access also affords you the opportunity to research potential employers and track down job openings.
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