An important strategy when working with individuals who were previously incarcerated is ensuring that each job the person applies for, even if it's entry level, is suitable and holds some type of meaning for them. A suitable job is one a person can perform, even with their criminal history. A meaningful job is one that takes a person's skills, abilities, interests, and long term goals into consideration. It's not a job a person is placed in just for "placement sake." Does it take a little longer to place someone using this strategy? Possibly, but you have to consider the long term effect, which may result in higher retention and satisfaction rates, and lower recidivism.
When determining what jobs may be suitable, keep in mind that not all professions will be readily available to someone with a criminal background. For some occupations, there are numerous job and licensing restrictions. The good news is that each licensing agency has their own criteria for determining if someone with a criminal background has been "rehabilitated." While there is no absolute rule stating what jobs a person with a criminal conviction should or shouldn't pursue, there are several fields where a person's background will be closely scrutinized. These occupations include:
* Real estate broker and salesperson licensure
* Jobs in the healthcare field
* Social Worker
* Private security
Licensure in real estate, cosmetology, and social work are generally made on a case by case basis, and other factors may be considered in the licensing boards decision. However, jobs in healthcare and education carry automatic exclusions for some jobs simply based on the type of offense.
For example, in the healthcare field various boards and health care agencies are allowed to exclude applicants who are mandated/registered sex offenders or who have been arrested for drug related offenses. In education jobs, anyone declared mentally insane, or convicted of a sex or drug related offense will generally be denied licensure by the State Board of Education. For security or law enforcement positions, the general rule is the more traditional the law enforcement duties, the more stringent the evaluation for licensing.
Unfortunately, some of the training and education a person might receive in or outside of prison may fall into one of these categories. Honestly, I can't think of a worse situation than sending someone to training, only to find out that their criminal background reduces the chance they'll be hired into the profession they've been trained for.
If this has occurred, close attention should be paid to identifying the individual's transferable skills so they can be applied to a more suitable occupation. Before job advice is given, the best thing a program can do is take the time to research additional state requirements and restrictions related to in-demand professions, and direct job seekers to positions that are in line with their long employment term career goals. To yield the best outcome, this is what we should be doing for all of our clients.