In light of my graduation (still blows my mind that I’ve finished it after my conviction), there has been a lot of recent reflection on time and how it affects our convictions and our careers. For example, I know that I will have to invest a lot of research into the companies that I will be applying to. Especially because I chose a human services pathway (for my focal career – if that’s a thing – I have lots of different interests though, so I’m also not limiting myself – a very important factor for getting by in life as a felon – see the posts about flexibility for more) and the industry really wants good examples for employees – which is difficult to prove when you have a felony background. Mostly because those backgrounds only focus on the negative rather than also tracking accomplishments after the fact.
So, there are a few things I know I have to remember straight out of the gate if I want to keep sane while moving forward in my life. It’s not easy to carry a conviction around – no matter what kind of conviction it is. As living and feeling humans – we have to combat the negative effects of our records the best that we can in every way that we can. And we have to be positive and proactive about
Here’s a bit of what I’ve reflected on and found to be helpful after my felony conviction so far:
Life After a Felony Basics
First off, some employers are just always going to reject you. They have this policy or that policy or sometimes it happens to be some sort of personal bias based on a negative experience.
It isn’t fully your fault, and you shouldn’t let yourself base your worth off of their rejection, and you shouldn’t hate them for it either. They simply want to cover their behinds in the case of court situations (based on some sort of statistics that they’ve had created by their insurance agencies) or they’ve been taught to be this way in some shape or form at some point. But, keep in mind that there are plenty of employers that are willing to take a chance on someone that is honest and upfront about their past, you just have to sift through the rest to find them.
You definitely want to avoid work that is directly related to your conviction. Theft convictions aren’t going to have good chances in retail, assault convictions restrict various types of contact with the public, so on and so forth. But there are always options where you can work around the restrictions and still find suitable income. Find some ideas for working from home like I do in this post about extra work.
If you need additional experience for your resume, consider volunteering in various organizations or even a local community garden. And then put it on your resume. It shows that you have interests in the community and that you’re taking steps in socially preferred situations. It also gives you more depth on your resume and if you stick with it for a while, you get serious brownie points with human resources people – trust me it’s helped me a ton.
Stack Your Skills for Second Chances
Stability of some sort really makes employers happy, at least from my experience. You want to keep jobs for at least a few months when possible. For instance, when approaching interviews with personal resumes (not the typical application sheets or websites), I’ve found that focusing on the jobs I have held the longest has been more rewarding in terms of improved (over minimum wage) employment than listing more of the shorter jobs that I have had over the years. It sort of depends on the situation and what skills you can bring to the table.
Additionally – you can tailor that resume to the skills related to the job you want if you have enough experience over the years spread out over various places. A lot of skills are transferable if you get just a little more creative with your thinking. Use O*NET for ideas on the best terms to use in your resume – and check out my guide to resumes.
Obviously, not gaining any new charges or convictions is also helpful, as the longer that you stay out of trouble the more things you can qualify for both in jobs, certifications for jobs, college financial aid, and even housing assistance in some states/counties. For instance, certifications of good conduct can be gained rather quickly in the state of Illinois, check your state laws to see if your area offers this felony relief program and what conditions have to be met to earn it. If I recall my research into it a couple years ago when I earned mine, I found that I could have actually done it within a year or so of my conviction, instead of nearly 8 years later (once I found the thing!)
Personal Note: However, I didn’t even know something like that existed until right before I applied for it in 2015 after stumbling upon it while searching for updated expungement information (super lame in this state, which is why I decided to start owning my background and find a way to make it work FOR me instead of against me). I’m telling you, research is THE really big thing here. You kind of need to research until it FEELS like your eyes are bleeding and your skull is going to explode because some of it is very wordy and can be difficult to understand because laws have their own language and lawyers can muddle it up (sometimes in your favor if you’ve really proven to be recovered from making your bad choices, much to my surprise – it turns out State Attorneys can actually be nice people!). It pays off though, especially if your local court system isn’t even aware of the possibility and you are able to show them that it exists and that you deserve it. (It just makes your week, let me tell you that!)
And on that note, I’ve realized how tired I am so I bid you farewell until next time my dear Reader. If you have questions or suggestions for posts, please comment or contact me. I’d love to share useful information that you really want, instead of using random ideas that I get in the shower that become long rambles. 😛 (And I had the audacity to complain about 800-word essays each week in college…HA – now I write 800 words for fun)
Keep clicking around to find more felon friendly information – I’ve got lots stashed around here including my book – The Guide to Life After a Felony – and a ton of great stuff. Some popular posts are Resumes, Interviews, and 5 Things Felons Need to Know.
Be sure to like and share the stuff you find helpful and hopeful – my personal rebellion against paid marketing keeps this stuff from being seen in search results – so help a sister out with word of mouth. Find me on Twitter, Insta, and on my new Aza Enigma website too!
Peace and love