Finding a job as an ex-offender is not impossible.
Most individuals do not look forward to the job hunting process especially if you are an ex-offender. You may face many difficulties on your release from prison. But there are also opportunities, perhaps the greatest being that you have a fresh start to begin a new life. As an ex-offender, looking for work, you will need support. You cannot do it all by yourself. You will need someone in your life to encourage you to keep on going despite the odds.
What are the benefits of finding employment?
- Filling idle hours/day – If you want to stay out of prison, you must fill your life with positive activities. Employment is a positive activity that can help fill your day and leaves less time for pondering the negative.
- Social Status – Have you ever heard a person trying to describe that he/she is unemployed by using the phrase: ‘I’m between Jobs.’ That phrase sounds much better and makes you feel better rather than saying: ‘I’m unemployed’ or ‘I’m on the dole.’ It does not change the fact that you do not have a job. But the terminology you use will help you to realise that you are only between jobs as you are striving to find a new one.
- Personal and Business relationships – As an ex-offender the last thing you want to do is hang around with negative friends. Spending time in positive places can put you in contact with people who can help improve your life rather than destroy it. Having a job is a good place to start building positive contacts.
- Experience/Training – Experience is the best teacher. One of the best ways to learn something is by doing it. Getting a regular job puts you on a wonderful training ground. If you are open to learning then there are many lessons that can be taught just by doing your job. Among them: learning how to follow instruction, learning on the job vocational skills, learning how to be on time, learning how to be patient, becoming responsible, juggling tasks, becoming organised. Having a job can enrich you in many areas, broaden your horizons, and may give you an education that you never had. If you do not have a skill, you can often learn one by taking on a job where there is an apprentice program or on the job training program.
- Independence – if you do not have a job and no income you are dependent on others for your survival. Employment is a symbol of independence.
What can I do when I get out of prison?
- Contact the Probation and Welfare Service they provide a day duty service Monday to Friday during working hours to advise and help you.
- Contact FÁS, the National Training and Employment Authority. Their Employment Service Officers can discuss options that FÁS provides.
- Contact Social Welfare Facilitator in your local Social Welfare Office who can advise you about different benefits such as the: Back to Work Allowance and the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance. The time spent in prison counts towards the qualifying period for these payments. Every Social Welfare Office has a Facilitator, whom you should make an appointment to meet
- Go to your local public library to find information on careers, interview skills and writing up your CV.
Do I have to disclose my prison record when looking for a job?
In certain cases, you may have to disclose your record. Ask your Probation and Welfare Officer to check this out for you. Even if the law doesn’t require you to tell potential employers that you have spent time in prison, it is generally a good idea to do so – it’s better for an employer to get the information from you rather than from somebody else. If you need to give your work history in an application form, you can put ‘unavailable for work at that time’ and explain why in a separate letter. To help you present your prison record in a positive way, talk to the Probation and Welfare Officer or ask them to put you in touch with one of the many community-based projects that are there to help you. Many ex-prisoners have jobs. You’d be surprised – having a prison record doesn’t automatically mean you won’t get a job.
Helpdesk for Ex-offenders
The aim of the helpdesk for ex-offenders is to give confidential one-to-one help on matters relevant to people coming from a prison background, whether that means recently released, or people released a long time who find their past is holding them back. This service provides specialised advice and help to access services, welfare, education and support for job-seeking. Visit JOBCARE http://www.jobcare.ie