I’ve been working on a new Gig lately, and while I can’t get into a lot of detail – I can say I’ve been learning a lot about the hiring process from the hiring manager’s perspective. It’s also reminded me of some of the resume struggles I had to overcome to up my game with interviews as a felon and that nasty, aggravating little note on my background.
So, in true fashion as the Friendly Felon, I want to share some of those tips that I’ve been learning (and some I’ve practiced myself) to help my fellow felons build their resumes and their careers just a little bit more easily (even if it takes more work).
- Keep track of your jobs
- Note supervisors and managers names
- Customize your resume for different employers
- Focus on your experiences and accomplishments
- Get great references through positive networking
First up, you absolutely have to keep a track record of all your work. Include side gigs that might be under the table (they count as experience if you’ve done them well – and keep track of the contact information for those people after asking if you can keep them as a reference).
Be sure to take note of your supervisor’s and your manager’s names – and try to leave a good impression with them even if the job ended on bad terms. With a bad background already in tow, you need to focus on making great impressions with every interaction with people. Especially the people in higher positions (in work or life in general) – they can be great keys to improved networking and better opportunities.
While it’s a hell of a lot easier to create one resume (a pain in the ass as it is, right – so many details!!!) and then print thirty or so copies…. it’s actually way better to customize resumes to each company – or at least each industry or type of work. For instance, when I apply to payroll jobs like waitressing, bartending, or automotive work – I showcase the experiences I have in only those industries. I also change my personal statement (or personal mission – something stating or explaining my goals with the career I’m applying for at that time). For example, when I applied to test for a psychology aid at a local facility, I stated that I was interested in furthering my knowledge and professional experience in the psychology field (this was when I though clinical psych might be my thing, but I decided to refocus on coaching and helping felons). But when I applied to the automotive stores for basic technician positions, I focused on the fact that I’m also interested in furthering my automotive knowledge and safely servicing vehicles for valued customers. So, while it might be necessary to adapt because of our bad records (as seen above – there really is a method to my madness, I promise) – it’s actually going to reward you in the long run.
Also, focus on your actual experiences and accomplishments. Don’t list out your skills on your resume as a super boring, general list of things you are capable of. Describe any sort of improvement you made using your skills and experiences. For instance, at my first auto technician job – I managed to increase sales (when the ‘only-men-can-work-on-cars-crowd’ might have been pissy with me – I really do know my maintenance). So basically, when I apply to auto-based jobs – I make sure to note how I improved sales at my other auto-based jobs (and every other auto-based accomplishment I’ve made at each job). It makes me a proven good candidate for that job and they’re more likely to overlook my felony.
Finally, just to reinforce the idea because it really is important – personal referrals and networking are the best bet to get great jobs – and I’m so sickeningly serious (mostly because I hate networking with a passion, I am a hermit damnit and I like it that way) it’s ridiculous. Network, network, network. Make sure you’re leaving good impressions with people. Not only does this benefit every felon out there by leaving a better taste in society’s mouth when we interact with it (for the love of everything good, don’t live up to the negative expectations – no matter how much they test you [I’ve literally seen felon humiliating employment posts on some job websites – it took every fiber of my sometimes still shaky moral structure to not lash out at them with an angry response, simply because it would be exactly what they would expect of me]), it benefits you directly by creating pathways into the life you really want. Be the change you want to see in your life – it’s the only way to create those positive pathways. Even if you have to fake it a bit until you make it.
Keep up the great work guys!
Peace and love