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
Keep Track of Your Jobs
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). This leads me directly to my second biggest tip:
Maintain Good Relationships with Management
Be sure to take note of every single one of your supervisor’s and your manager’s names – and try to leave a good impression with them – even if the job ends on less than kind terms (two weeks notice preferably and no revenge pranks – getting blacklisted will not reflect well after your next interview). With a bad background already in tow, you need to focus on making great impressions with every interaction you have. Especially with the people in higher positions (in work or life in general) – they can be great keys to improved networking and better opportunities. Managers and small business owners are often incredibly connected to the local business scene – so when you prove yourself as a serious asset they will be far more likely to recommend you in the future.
Doubly important, be honest with the management and the human resources department. There are tax incentive programs available for many companies that hire felons, and the federal bonding program is an excellent point to bring up as well. In addition, you’ll be proving the misconceptions wrong and strengthening a positive perspective for all felons that are striving to find their path.
Customize Your Resume (It’s Worth the Effort)
For one, most of our applications aren’t even seen by a human eye at first. We’re now being evaluated by computer programs. It’s the digital age and when it comes to getting a decent and reliable income we have to adapt and overcome.
Look up each job you apply for on a great, free site called O*Net and discover the skills that they have listed for that type of work (ex: waiter/waitress, sales agent, etc). Then take those skills and put them on the resume you’re sending in for that job type – so long as you have them or the ability to learn them quickly and effectively that is. You have to be ready to prove you have those skills after all, and that can be a big order if you take it too far.
Along with that, you can edit down your resume to the jobs that are directly associated with the position you’re applying for – unless directed specifically otherwise. Also, when you aren’t working, find something helpful to do in your community or find a free educational course online to take to help pad the gaps in your resume. It shows dedication to improvement and helps you network at the same time!
When you do get lucky enough to get to a real human resources person in the hiring chain, you want to keep your resume short and to the point. That desk guy is about blind with reading resumes/comparing skills/getting his shortlist and you need to keep his attention by saving him time and leaving a strong positive impression.
Amplify Your Accomplishments
Also, focus on your actual experiences and accomplishments. Describe any sort of improvement you made while using your skills and share the basic details of those experiences.
For instance, when I improved sales at the local oil change shop and wanted to find a better paying job thanks to the experiences I had – I made a bullet point under that job that said: “Improved sales for my store by 10% in the first three months of work.” It’s all about telling your future employer exactly what you can do for them.
Positive Networking Works Wonders!
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 serious it’s ridiculous (I kind of hate networking honestly – I’m working on it).
Seriously though. Network, network, network. Make sure you’re leaving good impressions with people. Be the change you want to see in your life – it’s the only way to create those positive pathways we all want to see in our lives. Even if you have to fake it a bit until you make it.
Keep up the great work guys! Great things are waiting for us to find them!
Oh, don’t forget to like and share to let me know you dig what I’m doing here. Thank you in advance!
Peace and love