Learning to Find Work Flexibility with a Felony

Welcome back reader, let’s dig into part two of after felony work flexibility.

Find Work After a Conviction

I know it’s hard to find work with or without a felony background. This is why I realized I would need to define some sort of advantage in the workforce. That advantage is my honesty and my work ethic. Now, I attempt to be very upfront with companies even if they don’t run background checks. (I know I mentioned this before, but I gotta repeat it – it boosts your honesty reputation even if the boss isn’t a huge fan –  all because it takes guts to share these things honestly and sometimes that will win the offer right there…. so seriously – be HONEST….) Employers will appreciate it more than you think.

Dealing with Interview Questions

At every single interview, I will bring up the fact that I am a felon, what my conviction was, and what I’ve done since my conviction. Now, half the time when I do this, it bites me directly in the arse. I won’t lie about that either. A good portion of people that were ready to hire me on the spot immediately withdrew their hand or waved me off impatiently as if I had wasted their time. (And without any consideration of the expenses I’d made toward fuel for traveling to the interview, my own time, and the often suffocating feeling of defeat they dealt me, mind you.) And yeah, those time suck and they happen way more often than I would like to admit.

However, it’s also won over a number of hiring managers, and they’ve been willing to put their arse on the line for me and have given me a second chance. This technique in interviews, a disposition toward being open and honest, has by far given me the most job opportunities. And thanks to the steadily shifting job market (and various frustrations at various workplaces), I have had repeated opportunities to test and re-test this method.

Honesty is always a better policy.

Learning New Skills

As for the jobs that I have held over the years, they include the first post-conviction mystery job (ha, thought I was going to tell didn’t you?), waitressing, bar-tending, and then an intensive dive into the automotive industry. These were great for building a variety of work experiences (customer service skills are huge) and helped me build positive networks too.

My most stable positions have been in the automotive industry by far, as I personally have the knack for it (all three, [yes, three] parents were aviators and both fathers were mechanics with histories of being mechanics in their heritage). Getting your hands dirty runs in my family – and I learned how to keep my own cars running long past expectation (my last vehicle reached 400,000 miles before I gave up on replacing the various parts that were giving out).

I’ve also found that many call centers and transcribing jobs are generally willing to work with felons (thanks to very, very strict rules within the call centers for credit information – no phones, no papers, no writing utensils at all in the office, under a special security protocol to prevent fraud and such). They’re hell on the psyche – but they will get the bills paid. And some even offer commission on sales that you make – which can prove very profitable with a little charisma.

More recently, I just ended my two-year employment with a local blind vendor (these guys have programs in every state by the way!). It was a great job, but my car crapped out so I’m back to freelancing and writing full-time (see my Extra Work from Home post for more on that!) I’ve also delivered magazines on the side – pay levels can vary, but I know every extra penny comes in handy.

Temporary Labor Builds Your Resume

I also highly recommend attempting to get your work history built up through temporary labor agencies when you have one available to you. They are not the greatest jobs by far, but they will provide an income, and more importantly an avenue to better jobs to come.

The more experience that you can get in any sort of employment, the more you can give to the next job that you really want. Some of the day labor places will require a very intense dedication, as some places get clogged with substance abusers who will start a line at the door at 4 am (when the door doesn’t open until 6 am, just to get the jump on the day’s list of needed workers. And even if you do get in line early, you may not be asked to take a job for over a week, and still, you’ll have to come into the agency each morning until you get to know the dispatchers behind the desk.

Other labor agencies will add you to a larger compiled list of possible employees, and once they get to a job that you might be matched with, they will call you. This is a safer investment of time (since you aren’t waiting in line every morning), but it may take much longer to find work that works with you through those guys.

Temporary work can include volunteering at local missions, shelters, churches, or any other social and communal areas to build basic experience and improve your local network. In a lot of cases, it helps to have people on your side as character references or references. I have a giant pile of reference letters that I’ve accumulated over the years to offer proof of change in any situation I find myself in. This pile of papers has helped with court proceedings for my good conduct and attempts at expungement (judge was willing – but the law wasn’t quite aligned with my conviction) and has been helpful with employment as well as educational interviews. On top of that, it also feels nice to go over these letters every so often and know that I earned every recommendation regardless of the permanent scar on my background from my felony.

Additional Tips

Try to build a plan of attack for your job applications – fill in a lot of applications that require waiting, while you’re waiting – go to day labor services. If you get temp work – great – try to hold it down until you hear from (or call up) a better employer that makes an offer to hire you. If you don’t get temp work – get online and build your skills with free courses – they’re everywhere – check out Udemy for a variety of skills you can learn easily.

That’s all I can think of, for now. But keep checking back for more!

Love and Peace,
Aza

 

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