In general, finding employment is not an easy task.  Especially in today’s job market.  While we have seen the unemployment rate drop significantly over the last year we still aren’t where we want to be as a country.  Not many people enjoy pounding the pavement to find a job; it’s not easy and can be very depressing.  No one wants to hear “No” and no one surely wants to think that they are not qualified for a particular position.

Take the current conditions of the job market; throw being a felon on top of that and you have conditions that can be very depressing.  Yes there are programs out there to aid convicted felons in getting a job, but there are very few employers who want to take advantage of these programs!  Most employers are looking for individuals who have clean records, and if they know you have one, it doesn’t matter how qualified you are for a position.

Programs Offered to assist convicted felons in getting a job:

The UNICOR Federal Bonding Program offers a $5,000 bond to employers who hire ex-federal offenders.  The problem with this program is you must have worked within UNICOR while you were incarcerated.  There are only a small percentage of inmates that work within UNICOR during their incarceration (at least at Federal Prison Camps).  A large majority of the inmates work as either groundskeepers, in the mess hall, in education, within dorms.  Unfortunately we are not eligible for the bond.

There is also a Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) that gives employers a tax deduction for employing individuals from what are called “Target Groups”.  The credit is ultimately dependent on the type of individual who is hired.  It ranges from a $1200 credit to $9600.  While this is a good program it is very difficult to sell employers on this.  First, you have to be hired within one year of your release.  Not to mention there is a good amount of paperwork that needs to be completed by the employer.

There is also a Federal Bonding Program sponsored by the Department of Labor.  The bond covers the first six (6) months of employment.  It is essentially meant to cover the employer in the case of lose (theft, forgery, larceny, or embezzlement).

Some states offer other programs, but they are the typical programs that companies refer to when they are looking at hiring a convicted felon.

From my own experiences it doesn’t matter exactly what benefits are available, it is extremely difficult.  I was released from prison in November 2012.  Since then I have applied for well over 200 positions.  As of today I’ve only been called back for 4 interviews.  Those applications include applying for jobs with Temp Agencies.  Unless you work in Construction, are mechanically inclined, or want to drive a forklift; the job prospects are bleak.  I’m not downplaying the importance of any of those positions; it is just that personally I don’t have any experience or the proper skill set to work in that environment.  I’d do it in a heartbeat if I knew I could actually do the work.  Unfortunately all my experience is based in the White Collar world.  And the expectations that you would be trained in these areas are also very slim.  There is a pretty big investment in the training for these jobs and many companies don’t want to invest anything into a convicted felon.

I’ll be honest and tell you that I can’t necessarily attribute the lack of call backs directly to my conviction as many of the applications do not ask about earlier arrests or convictions.  It may just be the job market, who knows.  I just know that it is frustrating.  Yes, I am a convicted of a felony.  That mistake is on me and I take full responsibility for it.  However, I also need to find some way to work to support my family.

I keep trucking along and trying to find some sort of employment.  Don’t rely on the Bureau of Prisons, Department of Justice, or the Probation Department to help you.  They will all tell you that they are not in the business of helping individuals find work (at least convicted felons).  Life goes on.  The important part is make every effort to take care of your family.

  1. Pyerse says:

    Great blog bro. I was lucky to come out and get a job pretty easily. But I hear all the horror stories about looking for employment. I write about my experiences as well on my blog. I’d love it if you came thru sometime.

  2. ottomummy says:

    I enjoyed reading your blog – i’m in the UK, but we have similar issues with ex-offenders finding work. I wish you well and hope you find work in the end.

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