Q: How does a 25-year-old - with a high school diploma and work experience only in the fast-food area - re-enter the workforce after two years of incarceration for various drug-related charges? What fields are most likely to take an ex-felon? Do you recommend admitting the felony upfront on the application? Or do you wait and discuss it if/when you get an interview?
A: I recommend visiting your local One Stop Career Center to work with a coach who can help you develop a strong resume and effective interview skills. Sacramento Works has 11 career centers throughout Sacramento County that provide no-cost services to individuals who are looking for extra help to get them started on finding a career path.
I would also suggest that you ask about training opportunities. You may be eligible for a grant that could help pay for a training program that could help land a better job.
For more information about services provided by your local One Stop, visit sacramentoworks.org.
Most employers evaluate hiring an ex-felon on a per-case basis. Since your offense is not of a violent nature, you have many more employment options available.
Without some formal training, your best option for immediate employment would be to go back into the food service industry. Other industries to consider would be general labor, such as warehouse work and entry-level construction jobs.
Lying about or concealing your past can do more harm than good. Employers often conduct comprehensive background checks and the truth usually comes out. On job applications, you can avoid immediately being passed over by explaining that you are willing to discuss the details of your conviction at an interview.
At the interview, avoid going into too much detail about the conviction. It happened. It is a blemish on your past, but how you cope and move forward from it can improve your chances of landing a job.
Practice your explanation prior to the interview. This is why working with someone like a Sacramento Works Coach is so important. They can work with you to help formulate an explanation and carefully plan your answers to put the experience in a positive light.