Everybody deserves a second chance. But when you are released out into the world as an ex-con searching for a job, you might wonder how many people believe that.
If you have been turned away again and again when applying for a position, you may wonder if your record as a felon will prevent you from ever working again.
But there are employers out there who know that the present is not the past. They regularly hire people with criminal records, and may be willing to give you an opportunity.
In fact, hundreds of companies hire felons. In this guide, we are going to give you a point in the right direction.
Scroll down now to see a list of companies in different industries that hire felons, or read on for more information and tips on getting a job as a felon.
Do All Companies Check Criminal Records?
You might be wondering if there is work out there you can get without a criminal records check.
Technically, yes, there is—but if you are looking for employment specifically (as opposed to freelance work), it is illegal for a company to hire you without conducting a criminal background check.
How far back will the check go?
It depends on your state. In some states, it is 3-5 yeas. In others, it is 7. In still others, companies may check your full criminal record for your entire lifetime.
Additionally, there are even states where being found not guilty of a crime will appear on a records check. Some employers might even take umbrage at your having been involved in a criminal case, even if you were not convicted.
Key Point: You can expect any prospective employer to conduct a criminal records check.
Alternate Pathways Back Into the Workforce
It is worth remembering that there are multiple ways to get back into the workforce. Applying for regular employment is just one option.
Here are some other options:
Seasonal or temporary employment. You may find that seasonal employment is easier to come by than year-round work. Resorts, retail stores, and other businesses may need to hire many people quickly to work for a few weeks or months at a time, and thus are more open to hiring felons and others they might otherwise overlook.
Part-time work. If you cannot get a job as a full-time employee, you may have more luck getting a part-time job, especially if you are willing to work odd hours or days.
Go through a temp agency. There are many temp agencies that help felons find jobs. They can save you a lot of time and headaches along the way since they know the employer market better than you do. They also can train you for what to say in job interviews about your criminal history.
Use resources provided by a local clinic or non-profit. Sometimes certain organizations can help you find work. For example, many mental health clinics also offer employment programs for people with a variety of situations who may struggle to find a job. They might be willing to work with you. There are also foundations that offer “re-entry programs” specifically to ex-convicts.
Try self-employment or freelancing. If you are self-employed, the only “employer” you have to answer to is yourself. When you freelance, clients typically are not going to grill you about a criminal past, or even run a background check of any nature on you. They usually just want evidence you can perform the work you say you can (i.e. samples or referrals).
Tips for Getting a Job as a Felon
You should probably list your record when you fill out your application. If you don’t, you are not being fully honest. And since employers will run your record, they will probably find out. If you look like you are hiding something, they will be more concerned about you, not less.
Consider getting support for your mental health. Looking for a job as a felon is frustrating at best. A counselor can help you maintain perspective and find the courage to persevere until you find a legal job.
Avoid applying for jobs where your particular crime may be problematic. For example, if your crime involved road violations, you might not get hired as a trucker. If it involved theft, you might not find work as a porter at a hotel, etc.
Companies that Hire Felons
Now you know more about how to find work as a felon. Let’s take a look at a huge list of companies that hire felons in different industries!
A lot of auto mechanics and parts stores are more concerned with your knowledge of vehicles than your criminal record. Here are some companies that have hired felons:
Even if you don’t have a clean criminal record, you can clean buildings, and many maintenance companies will be glad to do business with you if you are efficient and thorough. Here are some maintenance companies to consider:
This is a field that demands a lot of stamina and focus. Companies in a wide range of industries are willing to hire felons to help them with various aspects of product manufacturing.
Having a hard time finding a job in this field? Try industrial manufacturing specifically. It can be harder for employers to fill these positions since work with hazardous materials may be involved.
In the construction industry, pure physical strength and stamina are more important than a criminal record in many cases. Indeed, if you bulked out while incarcerated, you could be an ideal hire for a construction company.
If you are looking for employment ASAP, you could consider getting into trucking. There is a massive demand for trucking and a high turnover rate, so many trucking companies are willing to hire ex-convicts.
In fact, you can usually start as a trucker after just a few weeks of training. It is an intense job, and a lot of people wash out due to its demands. But chances are good you are up for the challenge, and the pay can be very competitive.
Consider applying for a job at a local grocery store. Quite a few grocery chains will consider felons for a range of different positions.
Full-time retail jobs for felons usually are in the warehouse or inventory room, rather than out on the sales floor. But seasonal jobs in sales may open up during the holidays or other peak timeframes. Establishing a relationship with a company in the warehouse or as a seasonal associate could be a step toward a full-time job on the sales floor later down the road.
Non-profit organizations like Goodwill exist in part to help people. As such, they may be more open-minded than regular companies with respect to hiring ex-cons.
This is not an easy field to get hired in as a felon, but it isn’t impossible either. The following healthcare companies have hired felons in the past and may be open to it now if your qualifications are solid.
You might be able to find work as a porter or doing maintenance, housekeeping, or cooking at a hotel. Both full-time and seasonal jobs may exist for felons.
Do you have a way with computers or other hardware? What about with software programming? Tech companies, like automotive companies, are looking for technical expertise. If you have it and you are a reliable worker, they may be willing to overlook your criminal past.
Oil and Gas
If you want to make a solid salary, get into the oil and gas industry. For example, you could take a job on an oil rig. Will it be safe? No, but it can pay ridiculously well, and your criminal history may not be important to your employer.
Companies that offer utilities like cable or cell service may hire felons. Below you can find a list of potential employers.
If you are good at cooking and/or cleaning, a job at a restaurant might be perfect for you. Don’t limit your search to fast food restaurants. You can find work at quite a wide range of restaurant chains.
It isn’t easy for employers to find people to work in food production because it is such a labor-intensive field. But that means that as a felon, you might find a job in food production, processing or packaging.
A number of airlines have been known to hire ex-cons. See the list below.
Like trucking and other transportation jobs, delivery services such as UPS and FedEx sometimes hire felons.
Ride Sharing Services
Both Uber and Lyft have reportedly been willing to work with felons.
Jobs in sanitation can be hard to fill, so employers may consider felons for these positions.
As we mentioned earlier, temp agencies might be able to help you find a job. Following is a list of staffing agencies that may work with you as a felon.
Looking for jobs that hire felons is a real challenge—there is no getting around that. But when you feel hopeless, it is important to remind yourself that there are opportunities out there.
Try applying for jobs with some of the felon-friendly companies in our list. At the same time, get in touch with local re-entry programs and temp agencies. You don’t need to go it alone.
Hopefully before long, you will find an employer who can appreciate all you can bring to their organization. Good luck, and do not give up.