The Career Center recently presented a pair of job search seminars at a local correctional facility, focusing on the resume and the job interview for ex-offenders. Here are some of the greatest takeaways from those seminars.
Should I include my criminal record on my resume?
- You do not have to mention your incarceration at all on your resume. But be prepared to discuss it in the interview. The difference is, the interview will give you a chance to explain your record and ease the hiring manager’s worries. The resume will not.
- If you don’t mention your incarceration on your resume, there will be a gap in your work history. You may need a functional resume to cover that gap.
- If you gained valuable skills, education, or work experience in prison, you probably should put it on your resume. You may even be able to disguise it, so that it’s not obvious that you were incarcerated.
- Whether or not you include your incarceration, make sure that your resume highlights the skills you have which are most relevant to the jobs you’re applying for.
how can I disguise my incarceration on my resume?
- Use the name of the state or parish, not the name of the prison, when listing work experience.
Example: Landscaper, State of Louisiana, 2007 – present
- Use the name of the contract company you worked for while incarcerated.
Example: Cook, ACI Food Services, 2012 – present
- Make it look like you work directly for the prison.
Example: Program Clerk, Angola Prison, 2013 – 2017
- For educational programs, use the name of the organization that provided your training.
Example: GED, Adult Literacy Advocates, 2016
should I include my criminal record on the application?
- Only mention your incarceration if they specifically ask about it. Since the passing of “Ban the Box” laws, a lot of applications no longer ask if you have a criminal record. If they don’t ask, don’t tell. The best time for you to discuss your criminal record is in the interview.
- If they do ask about your criminal record, you must answer honestly. But don’t just say, “Yes.” Take the opportunity to explain your record. Don’t appear hostile, negative, or unrepentant. Don’t blame other people. Instead, take responsibility for your mistakes, and emphasize your path to rehabilitation.
- 70millionjobs.com, a job search website devoted entirely to companies willing to hire people with criminal records.
- Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Louisiana, which has an ex-offender re-entry program offering free training and employment services
- The Capital Area Re-Entry Coalition
- Any book by author Ronald Krannich, including The Ex-Offender’s Re-Entry Assistance Directory, The Ex-Offender’s Quick Job Hunting Guide, Best Resumes and Letters for Ex-Offenders, and The Ex-Offender’s Job Interview Guide. All of these books may be checked out from the East Baton Rouge Parish Library.
- The Career Center (inside the Main Library at Goodwood, 7711 Goodwood Boulevard) can offer personalized assistance with job search strategies, online applications, resumes, and interviews.
Written by Lynnette Lee