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There are rights that protect parolees from being unfairly discriminated against when interviewing for positions. While there are laws against discrimination, it is important to understand these laws before interviewing.  Keep reading for more information.

What do I need to know?

1. Gather all documents that an employer would need to hire you.

  • Driver’s License or State ID
  • Social Security Card
  • Original or Certified Copy of your Birth Certificate
  • High School Diploma, College Diploma or GED
  • Vocational Certificates
  • Inmate educational record/transcript
  • Résumé
  • A list of three references (names and phone numbers of people who can comment about your work ability)

2.  Clean up your criminal record and credit report. Make sure wrong information gets fixed and see if you can have a past conviction or arrest expunged/sealed.

3. Understand your rights.

  • An employer cannot generally use your arrest record to deny you a job.
  • An employer may review your record of convictions and can consider the relationship between the conviction and the job in deciding whether to employ you. The employer has a lot of freedom when making this decision.
  • An employer may conduct a background check on you. If the employer conducts the background check himself, he does not need your permission to do it. However, if the employer asks a third-party to do it (like a security company), they need to let you know and get your written permission. If they use anything in that report to deny you a job, you have to be provided with a copy of the report and a period of time to dispute the entries.
  • If you want a career where a professional license is required or helpful (such as a social worker), make sure you check with the agency that grants the license before you decide to go into that career. See if they will give a license to someone with your type of conviction. Many agencies do not have an outright ban on all ex-offenders.
  • There are no specific laws that protect ex-offenders from job discrimination simply because they are ex-offenders. But, there are laws that protect people from discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, disability and genetics. Sometimes, it gets hard to tell what caused the discrimination.  If you think you were passed over for a job, or discriminated against in other ways that have to do with employment, you can file a Charge of Discrimination.

4. Learn about the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC).

WOTC is a tax credit for the employer. It is meant to encourage employers to hire ex-felons and other people who might have a hard time finding a job. The employer could get as much as a $2,400 tax break per worker. You can let employers who are thinking about hiring you know about this program.

5. Work with an agency that has experience with ex-offenders

6. Consider temporary  employment  agencies.

These agencies place you in jobs at different companies for short periods of time. You are employed by the temporary agency, not the company. You may work at a company for one day, one week, or for many months. Temporary jobs can, but don’t usually, result in permanent employment. You are generally paid weekly.

It is a good idea to sign up with more than one temporary agency because each may have different job openings and pay rates. Make sure you understand exactly how much you will be paid, and what benefits are offered. Many temporary agencies do not offer health care or paid vacations. Always get information about your pay and benefits in writing and keep a copy.

7. Consider day labor temporary  agencies.

These companies pay by the day. Day labor is not a substitute for permanent employment.  Use it only for a short time and only if you cannot find another job. Make sure you understand exactly how much you will be paid, that you get it in writing, and that you keep a copy.

8. Start your own business/entrepreneurial resources.

Starting your own business requires a business plan and money. Talk with one of the agencies listed below before you start up. They can provide free advice and guidance on self-employment.

9. Use libraries as resources.

 Libraries usually have computers and access to the Internet available for free. They also have a good selection of books about careers and jobs.  There are books that are written specifically for ex-offenders. Some of them may also have workshops on résumé writing and interviewing skills.

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