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Finding a job after prison

re entry job after prison

Finding a Job After Prison: A Guide to Successful Reintegration

Reentering society after prison can be daunting, especially when it comes to finding a job. Gainful employment is crucial for financial stability and successful reintegration, but the barriers faced by formerly incarcerated individuals are significant. This guide offers practical steps and resources to help you or a loved one navigate the job market and find meaningful employment after prison.

Prepare for the Job Search

Assess Your Skills and Interests – Take time to evaluate your skills, work experience, and interests. Identify strengths developed both before and during incarceration. Many prisons offer vocational training programs—consider how these can translate into job opportunities.

Update Your Resume – Create or update your resume to reflect your skills and experiences. Include any vocational training, educational courses, and work assignments completed in prison. Highlight transferable skills such as time management, teamwork, and problem-solving.


Practice Your Story – Be prepared to discuss your incarceration honestly and positively. Employers appreciate honesty, and framing your past in a way that focuses on your growth and readiness for change can make a strong impression. Practice how you’ll explain your criminal record, emphasizing what you’ve learned and how you’ve prepared for reentry.

preparing for job interview after prison


Utilize Available Resources

Reentry Programs – Many organizations specialize in helping formerly incarcerated individuals find employment. These programs offer job training, resume building, interview preparation, and job placement services. Examples include the Safer Foundation, the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO), and the National HIRE Network.

Workforce Development Centers – Visit local workforce development centers for assistance with job searches, career counseling, and training programs. They often have resources specifically for individuals with criminal records.

Online Job Boards – Use job boards that cater to people with criminal backgrounds. Websites like Indeed, Monster, and Glassdoor list job openings, and some sites, such as Honest Jobs and 70 Million Jobs, focus specifically on helping those with criminal records.

Network Effectively

Connect with Supportive Organizations – Join organizations and support groups that assist formerly incarcerated individuals. Networking within these communities can lead to job leads and recommendations.

Leverage Personal Connections – Reach out to family, friends, and acquaintances. Personal connections can provide job leads, references, and support during your job search.

Attend Job Fairs and Workshops – Participate in job fairs and workshops, especially those tailored to individuals with criminal records. These events provide opportunities to meet potential employers and gain valuable job search skills.

Consider Various Employment Options

Temporary and Part-Time Work – Temporary or part-time jobs can be a good stepping stone, providing recent work experience and the opportunity to build a professional network. Temporary employment agencies can help place you in short-term positions.


Self-Employment and Entrepreneurship – Consider starting your own business or becoming self-employed. Utilize skills and interests to offer services or create products. Organizations like Defy Ventures offer training and support for entrepreneurship among formerly incarcerated individuals.

job fairs in 2023


Apprenticeships and Internships – Explore apprenticeships and internships as pathways to full-time employment. These positions offer hands-on experience and can lead to permanent job offers.

Address Legal Barriers

Expungement and Sealing of Records – Investigate whether you are eligible for expungement or sealing of your criminal record. This legal process can remove or limit access to your criminal history, making it easier to find employment. Seek legal advice or assistance from organizations that specialize in this area.

Understand Your Rights – Familiarize yourself with federal, state, and local laws that protect individuals with criminal records. The Fair Chance Act and “Ban the Box” laws, for example, help reduce discrimination in hiring.

Maintain a Positive Attitude

Stay Resilient – The job search process can be discouraging, but persistence is key. Stay motivated, and don’t be disheartened by setbacks. Each application and interview is a step towards your goal.

Continue Learning and Improving – Take advantage of opportunities to learn new skills and improve existing ones. Continuous self-improvement not only makes you more employable but also boosts your confidence.

Finding a job after prison is challenging, but with preparation, persistence, and the right resources, it is entirely achievable. Utilize available support systems, be honest and positive about your past, and explore various employment opportunities. Remember, your journey towards successful reintegration is a testament to your resilience and determination.

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