Jobs That Felons Can’t Get

When leaving prison, most felons find returning to society a major challenge that can seem impossible. This is because of the long time that most felons were incarcerated and the prospect of facing the obstacles that are sure to come after release. Even thinking about finding a job is likely to seem overwhelming.

However, this doesn’t have to be the case. There are employers that are willing to hire felons, but it will require taking a serious but honest look at the prospects and what opportunities might be available.

In this article, we’ll cover the following:

  • Your Felony Charge Matters
  • Jobs That Felons Can’t Get
  • Jobs to Consider
  • How to be Successful with a Felony
  • Gaining Confidence as an Applicant

Your Felony Charge Matters

Felons may believe that it won’t make a difference as to their felony charge. You may think that simply being a felon with a record, no matter what the conviction was for, may be a large enough obstacle to overcome. This is not the case, however. Just being a convicted felon is not the end of it all.

No, it does make a difference as to the nature of the felony. Certain types of jobs may be off limits to those with a particular felony offense on their record.  

Those with a drug, violent, or sexual charge tend to be limited by society. Due to the seriousness of these crimes many jobs will be off limits. 

Also, having a felony DUI would make it extremely unlikely to be hired for any type of driving position.

Let’s take a moment to consider the situation. When applying for work, try to think of it from a potential employer’s viewpoint. In representing a company an employer wants to be very certain regarding who they hire.

If you were an employer, would you want to hire someone whom you did not believe that you could trust? Having a theft offense or a financial crime, for example, can severely limit the trust an employer may be willing to place in you.  

Jobs That Felons Can’t Get

There are many types of jobs available. A number of them are unlikely to hire a felon. Think about it.

Many types of positions require some type specific training along with a license or certification from the state or other regulatory commission. It can be quite difficult for someone with a felony record to successfully apply for the training or education required to secure a license or certificate.  

These types of positions involve public trust and may be in the health field, such as nursing, or a technician position. Felons are in a position of having to meet all the standards of a state accreditation board, which in itself is an extremely difficult task to manage.  

For these reasons, it can be quite difficult to qualify for state licensing.

Even after completing the education or training for licensure or certification, this still does not guarantee success. Then felons must face potential employers each with their own particular view of felons and their recovery.

Jobs in the financial field, such as working in a bank or as a financial adviser, are also extremely unlikely for felons to get. Regulations from the FDIC for banks and financial institutions place restrictions on felons through the restrictive background check that they run.

Government jobs can also be difficult for felons to get, especially positions that require a higher degree of security. Think about the FBI. Felons cannot get a job with this agency because of the sensitive nature of the job requirements.

Jobs to Consider

While it is easy to become discouraged and frustrated when applying for a job after a felony conviction, it is important to remain positive and persevere no matter how difficult it might seem. 

Of course, finding a job will not be as easy as it might have been in the past prior to that felony conviction. In looking for work now, you must be willing to be open minded and consider jobs that may not have been at the top of your list previously.  

Many of these jobs that may be more open to felons are often ones that involve less contact with the public. Employers may be more willing to hire someone who has involvement with the criminal justice system based on future potential. 

Let’s take a look at some of the possibilities for felons.

  • Construction work can be an option for those who have manual skills or who have learned a trade while in prison. Construction jobs are almost always available for those who are willing to work hard. Smaller companies especially may be more willing to give felons an opportunity to use their skills and acquire experience. 
  • Trucking is another area as many trucking companies may give opportunities to someone after their release from prison. Truck driving jobs are frequently available from trucking companies willing to hire felons. It will require obtaining a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), but this may be a possibility.  
  • Working in a warehouse is a very common position that felons can often get. Many larger companies such as Amazon or FedEx often hires felons to work in their warehouse or in loading and unloading trucks by hand or with heavy machinery.

There are also opportunities in the food industry, especially fast food restaurants that may be willing to hire felons and are always looking for help. 

  • Many restaurants, especially smaller restaurants or even some of the larger restaurants or fast food chains may be willing to hire you to work in the kitchen as a cook or perhaps even for a more frontline job.
  • Grocery stores can be another option. Many grocery store chains are often willing to give felons a chance stocking shelves, working in a warehouse, or even as a grocery bagger.
  • Many hotels and motels may hire felons to work in the kitchen or in cleanup work. Working in the housekeeping department maybe a possibility for felons to be able to apply some of the skills they used while in prison. Cleaning commercial buildings can be a possibility.  
  • Some felons may have previous work as a mechanic and may be able to find positions in the automotive industry. A number of automotive companies are willing to hire felons.
  • Other possible areas for employment may be in sales or technology. Each of these has specific training requirements that felons will have to meet.
  • Many temp agencies may be possibilities for felons. They typically have connections with a variety of employers that may be willing to give felons an opportunity.
  • There are also many self-employment opportunities for those who want to start their own business. Of course, it will require making sure to have the skills necessary for a particular field, but this is certainly an option.

How to be Successful with a Felony

It is possible to get a job, though it might not seem that way. In looking for work, felons can set themselves up for success by following a few simple guidelines.

It starts with being prepared for getting a job. Well, how do you accomplish that?

First, do a few practice interviews to become more comfortable with the process. When applying for a position, whether you are hired or not, felons can use the chance to get ready for future interviews.

Let’s be honest. You are not likely to get the first job you interview for. Even without a conviction, it usually takes more than one application to land a job.

Go into those early interviews with that understanding and the realization that it might not work out with this employer.

But, you can use that as experience in getting the hang of the process.

Of course, you want to have a well-prepared resume that summarizes your skills and work experience. Contact a company to help you put together a current resume that will speak well of you and your experience.

Applications almost always request references. Be ready by knowing who you can list that will be willing to vouch for you and your desire and willingness to persevere. If you don’t have these strong references, be willing to do volunteer work to become acquainted with people in a position to give you a good reference.

Let them see what you want to reflect to potential employers that you have the desire to succeed and turn your life around. This is your chance to show your honesty and sincerity.

Here are some suggestions to increase your chances to be hired when it comes time for an interview:

  • Arrive early for an interview
  • Dress appropriately 
  • Make a positive first impression on the interviewer
  • Speak clearly 
  • Make a case for a new job opportunity
  • Emphasize relevant experience and skills 

Don’t hide the fact that you have a felony conviction if it comes up. Instead, explain the facts about that conviction without emotion.

You need to remember that you are not defined by your crime. We are not defined by our mistakes but in how we recover from them. You must be willing to see yourself in a different light, ready to establish an honest life.

Gaining Confidence as an Applicant

It does not have to be overwhelming when applying for a job. Not all employers have the mindset that felons are not be trusted or considered for a position with their company. 

There are actually many employers who see the positive aspects of hiring someone with a felony conviction and do not just think of them all as dangerous.

There are many other reasons for giving a felon an opportunity to work. You made mistakes, learned from them, and just want to move on and set yourself up for an honest future.

Let’s take a look at just a few of the reasons that employers might have for giving felons an opportunity.

First, felons work very hard. Because you have fewer job opportunities than those without a criminal conviction, after getting a job, you want to keep it. If you don’t keep your job it may be even more difficult to come across another employer willing to give you a chance. 

After all, if one employer does not work out this will appear as a black mark on your work history. Being honest and having to list one employer that didn’t work out will make a future employer even more reluctant to give you a chance.

Many employers realize that providing an opportunity to someone who has made mistakes in their lives but are working to overcome them are providing a chance for someone to be able to turn their life around, support their family, and make a positive impact in society. 

Felons typically are loyal to someone who gives them a chance. You don’t want to let them down, and make your family suffer even more as a consequence of your poor decision-making in the past.

Because felons are just trying to gain a foothold in society, they are often willing to work for less just to get started.

Also, there is a Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) that provides businesses with a tax credit anywhere from $1200 to $9600. This can be a significant incentive to employers to give felons a chance.

So what do you think about this blog post about jobs that felons can’t get? Have you or someone you know been in a position to not be able to get a job with a felony? What was that like and how did they deal with it?  Please tell us in the comments below.



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