Career Series 2: Step-by-Step Guide to Finding a Job
One of the most difficult challenges you may face after your release is finding a job. You may be overwhelmed with the process and not sure where to start. Here are some tips for securing a job after your release.
1. Search for jobs online
Use job search engines to find out what opportunities are available in your area. You can use filters and keywords to find something that aligns with your experience or skills. Consider working with a temp agency, as they will help place you in temporary roles that best fit with your experiences.
2. Research the company
After you find a job you think you may be a good fit for, it is time to apply. Before submitting your application and resume, research the company to better understand the position. If you get an interview, demonstrated knowledge of the company will work in your favor. It lets the hiring staff know you are truly interested. Many companies offer second chances to individuals who have been incarcerated. Here is a list of employers who have signed the second chance initiative.
3. Adjust your resume
The next step is to either create or adjust your resume. Be sure to list all your relevant experiences and skills including soft skills such as communication, problem solving, or teamwork. Even if you were incarcerated for a long period of time and don’t have recent work experience, reflect on any volunteer, work duty, or workshops you completed. For a higher chance at being offered an interview, include listed words and phrases from the job requirements section as well if they pertain to you. The key to getting an interview is to cater your resume for each job.
4. Prepare for the interview
If you secure an interview, now is your chance to wow the employer. The interview is the most important part of the job search process. You only get one chance to make an impression, so be prepared. Look up common interview questions and formulate some prepared answers. Ask a friend or family members to complete a mock interview with you for practice. You don’t want to sound too rehearsed when answering these questions but having an idea of what you are going to respond is a good idea. Knowing why you are applying to that specific job and why you think you would be a good fit is a great place to start. Lastly, show up to the interview on time and dress to impress. If you do not own appropriate clothing, thrift stores are a great place to look, or borrow from someone you know. Your appearance is going to be the first impression the interviewer gets of you, so you want to look as professional as possible. Our interview preparation page is good resource for more tips and information.
5. Send a follow-up
After your interview, send a personalized thank you to the person who interviewed you. A follow-up shows both your interest and your appreciation. In your letter or email you can reiterate your excitement for the job as well as a thank you to the interviewer for their time.
6. Keep trying
Searching for a job can be stressful for anyone, and you may find yourself getting discouraged. Don’t give up, every “we’ve decided not to proceed with your application” takes you one step closer to “you’re hired.”
For more job search tips, read this Q +A with Vanessa Q, a reentry program supervisor.