Applying for jobs requires a heavy dose of self-confidence, so looking for work when you’re anxious about your criminal record can pose a considerable challenge. Try these tricks and tips to give you momentum, resilience, and to bring you closer to your goal.
mobilise your network.
Meet with former employers for a chat and ask them if they might feel comfortable writing you a letter of recommendation
Reach far and wide in terms of family and friends who might be aware of vacancies that they can connect you with; they’ll be able to vouch for you personally and professionally, and in some cases might be able to call in favours with contacts
undertake voluntary work.
Where you have the time, get involved in volunteering for a charity or two. It can be related to a cause of your choice (although it makes sense to choose something about which you can talk passionately) and for the most part you’ll be able to set the hours and activities that suit you, leaving enough time to apply for paid work.
You’re likely to learn new skills, and you’ll be able to talk to prospective employers about working in teams, bearing responsibility, supporting others and executing tasks efficiently.
It will also show a willingness on your part to stay busy, and to give back to the community, which is reassuring and encouraging for an employer who will be attempting to get a sense of your reliability.
seek support from dedicated organisations.
There are a number of brilliant organisations that support people once they’ve left prison –including finding employment. Do some research and find out who might be able to help you with the following:
- Practical support
- Careers advise
- CV and interview tips
- Recruitment opportunities
Some of the best charities and support organisations include Unlock, the Princes Trust, Nacro, and Working Chance, but there are plenty more out there.
consider your transferable skills.
Your experience in prison will have undoubtedly taught you valuable skills. They might be capabilities you picked up from training and education courses, or self-management and motivation techniques you’ve developed, or new abilities to engage with and talk to other people
Make a list of what you’ve learned, and start thinking about how and where you could put those skills to use. That will direct you towards jobs and give you a persuasive starting point with your potential employer
think about taking your training further.
Reflect on your areas of learning in prison, and the professional experience that you enjoyed before your conviction, and consider developing those skillsets
Look at the careers advice resources provided by some of the organisations mentioned above, and research funded training or free qualification courses
If you come across a position that seems ideal for you and feels within your reach, but that you need a qualification for, don’t give up. Go about finding the best way for you to get that credential