Frequently Asked Questions
Are there employers who hire ex-offenders?
Assume employers will hire you if you are a good match for their needs. One survey showed that of more than 1200 employers only eight percent said they would not hire an ex-offender. Since 92 percent of employers will consider hiring you, feel free to look for work from any legitimate source. Limiting yourself to employers that you believe hire ex-offenders can also limit your wages and job prospects. You should try to find employers who are a good match for your skills, experience, and career goals. Your job search should include all potential employers. According to Richard Bolles' popular employment book, What Color Is Your Parachute, some of the best ways to find a job are:
1. Asking for job-leads from family members, friends, and people in the community has a 33 percent success rate. (This is Networking.)
2. Knocking on the door of any employer, factory, or office that interests you, whether they are known to have a vacancy or not, has a 47 percent success rate). (This is Cold contacting and Direct application.)
Employment Discrimination Protections
There are a number of laws that govern the employment of people with criminal records. Some of these laws protect ex-offenders from discrimination based on their conviction records and others restrict employers from hiring people with certain types of convictions. While employers are generally not allowed to have blanket bars against hiring people with criminal records, they are permitted to consider the relationship between the conviction record and the job sought. The types of jobs with legal prohibitions against ex-offenders tend to be in the fields of childcare, education, security, nursing and home healthcare, where "vulnerable" populations are involved. You should check with your state's Attorney General's office or another legal advisor for more detailed information about whether your state provides any protection to ex-offenders from employment discrimination or if you have questions regarding the application of these principals in a particular case.
What about federal programs to help ex-offenders?
Federal programs are generally designed to help people who need a job, housing, public assistance, and other services.
Each program has different standards for participation with low income being the most common requirement. There are no federal programs exclusively for ex-offenders.
Most assistance programs are administered locally by community agencies. You can find the addresses for them in the local telephone book's blue pages and on the Internet. One of the first stops you should make is to the One-Stop Career Center to help you with job leads. You can find their local addresses in the blue pages of the telephone book or by calling our toll-free hotline: 1-877-US2-JOBS. You should ask the local One-Stop Center about job search assistance, federal bonding, employer tax incentives, job training, and Workforce Investment Act –sponsored training. The One- Stop Center will probably know about community assistance programs for ex-offenders.
What about state and federal jobs for ex-offenders?
Ex-offenders have no special status when applying for state and federal jobs. The application and selection procedures for state jobs follow state guidelines, and federal jobs follow the rules and guidelines of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) whose Internet address is www.opm.gov.
To find out about state jobs contact the Department of Human Resources in the state where you plan to release. You can also find out about state jobs at the Internet website for the state which is www.kansas.gov. Fill in the blank with the two letter postal code for the state.
Most federal jobs are announced by the OPM website at www.usajobs.gov. You can also call the OPM automated telephone system, an interactive voice response telephone system (478) 757-3000 or TDD (478) 744-2299. Job seekers can access current job vacancies, employment information fact sheets, applications, forms, and apply for some jobs. Many federal agencies have job information telephone numbers located in the blue pages of the telephone book. Federal job postings are also available from the nearest One-Stop Career Center.
What about small business loans and grants?
Many agencies of the federal government competitively award a limited number of grants to non-profit and government organizations that support their program activities. Most Departments do not give grants to individuals directly for any program or activity. The web site www.grants.gov provides a convenient access point for information about the availability of competitive grants and application instructions for businesses or non profit organizations offered by twenty six Federal grant-making agencies.
The website www.firstgov.gov provides a wide array of information for businesses and non-profit organizations. This information is only available on the web. There are no small business loans for grants specifically for ex-offenders. The Small Business Administration (SBA) does not provide direct loans. They provide loan guarantees for certain businesses that borrow from lending institutions. They do not provide specific grants or low interest rate loans to ex-offenders for business start up or expansion. Every state has at least one SBA district office, with multiple resource partners to support the needs of the small business community. For further information, you may want to contact the Small Business Administration, 409 Third Street, S.W., Washington, DC 20416; or visit their website at www.sba.gov to locate your local SBA office.