Criminal Record? Ex-Offenders Assistance Programs

By | April 10, 2015

If you have a criminal record, it may be difficult, but you can still find work if you are determined and creative! It is true that employers may be less likely to hire you when you have a criminal record; however, there are others willing to take a chance on you!

Did you know there are politicians who are felonies and go right back into politics when they get out? There was a United States, D.C. Mayor, who had a felony record and drug conviction, yet after his release, he was elected as a DC council member, and later became Mayor again! So don’t give up, there is a good job or position out there with your name on it.   Don’t let your past determine your future, and don’t take no for an answer!

Looking for a Job with a Criminal Record

When looking for a job, you will have a greater possibility of success if you apply for work in a field that is friendly to people with criminal backgrounds. It is also important when looking for employment, to inform your potential employer that you have and record.  This will avoid the heartbreak of getting hired, only to have your employer discover that you have been hiding your past and lose your job.  There are many employees who are open to hiring people with felonies if they see you have the background, the potential and the attitude necessary to be successful on the job.

Re-entry Programs for Ex-Offenders

alt="jobs for exoffenders"A re-entry program is designed to help promote successful reintegration of ex-offenders into their communities after their release.  A reentry program is committed to helping people find employment and housing to become productive members of citizens. Some of the programs offer ex-offenders, vocational training, and help with drug rehabilitation.

More than likely, convicts are enrolled in a reentry program before their release from prison. These types of support systems are put in place in advance, to ensure that these men and women have a pathway to normalcy and eventually success.


A reentry program may be the only support for those with criminal backgrounds, and both secular and faith-based programs are available. The Prisoner Reentry Initiative is supported by the United States Department of Justice. This program targets both youthful offenders as well as adults. (See links at the end of article for reentry programs)

Possible Areas for Work

If you have a criminal record, consider some of these fields:

  • Trucking industry
  • Construction
  • Manufacturing
  • Self-employment
  • Barber/Cosmetology
  • Food industry
  • Hospitality
  • Family business
  • Customer Service

Truck Driving Jobs

Many people with criminal records have found successful careers in the trucking industry. The industry is always hiring, and you have a chance to get a job, depending on the type of crime.  There is, also a requirement that the criminal offense is 5 to be 10 years old.  Talk to the recruiter about your background to find out the rules of that company.    

Trucking is also great if you hate to be cooped up and love to stay on the road!  There are many trucking companies looking for drivers with and without experience.  You will need to check the hiring policy of the company, as many companies will hire people with a criminal record.

Many offers help with financing for training and getting your CDL license. Within a few months, you can be on the road and earn a living.

Become your Own Boss

Having a criminal record doesn’t stop you from starting your own small business. Being self-employed is a great way to regain your place in society, and earn a living for yourself and your family. Furthermore, you will not have to worry about others digging into your background or judging you for past mistakes.

What skills do you have? What can you do well that you are proud of?  Can you take down a tree?  Do you have a green thumb? Are you artistic? Are you good with computers? Can you paint a room? What can you do well that you can turn into a business? Don’t look at who won’t hire you, but look at the strengths and abilities you have. These skills can be turned into small businesses or contract work.  Are you starting to see the possibilities?

Self-employment works best when you have someone to support you until you can get the business going. However, it is also something you can do on the side while working another job as you develop a steady clientele. In addition, there are programs that give Small Business Grants to those with a criminal past. (check out links below) Once you decide what you want to do, go online to Vista. There you can order inexpensive business cards. Begin to tell friends and family to look out for those needing your services.

Restaurant Work

Don’t turn your nose up at working in the food industry. It is a good place to get started and money is money. If you are smart, personable and have leadership abilities, you can eventually work your way into managerial positions.
Most food industry jobs have training programs for those who are considering management. Keep in mind that the food industry is very stressful and if this is not your cup of tea, that is OK. There are other jobs to be considered.

Ex-Offenders Job Hunting Guide

When a person with a criminal record begins a job search, they need to prepare for the interview just like everyone else.   That means, to be properly attired, have a current resume and know what the employer is looking for.


When going on an interview, if you are a man,  wear a dress shirt and tie and if you are a woman, always wear a skirt or dress with stockings or dress slacks. You want to look as professional as possible and give the impression that you are serious and mean business. This is true, even if going for a labor position.

Your appearance is your calling card, and you will be judged instantly by your appearance.   You know the saying, “you only have one chance to make a good first impression!” If you do not have the attire necessary to give a good impression, call around to see what agencies, churches or thrift store for appropriate clothes.

Tell the Truth about your Past

As an ex-offender, you need to be prepared to discuss with you interviewer the reason for your incarceration. It is always good to share what you have learned from your time in prison and how you have been rehabilitated.  Do not dwell on your past, simply explain and move on to your strengths, and skill you bring to the job!

Talk about your Skills

Discuss any training or any on-the-job training or apprenticeship programs you have been in or any skills you have developed while you were incarcerated. It is helpful to let the employer know one of the benefits of hiring someone with a criminal history is a tax credit provided by the government. There is also a federal bonding program that provides an employer with up to $5,000 against anything they feel may be damaged or stolen.

Other Resources



2 thoughts on “Criminal Record? Ex-Offenders Assistance Programs

  1. P. J. Lipscomb Post author

    I do not know of any program that gives cars, but if there is a Goodwill Industries in your area, ask if they have a Wheels to Work program. You have to be working full time 8 months to a year.

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