How to Find Job Openings
There are many places and many ways to find jobs. Some are obvious, like looking at postings on the Internet, and some are not so obvious, like starting your own business.
Before you start looking, however, make sure you are in the right state of mind:
Believe that any employer can be felon friendly. Some ex-offenders make the mistake of applying only to so-called felon-friendly employers. The problem with this approach is that it limits the number of jobs you apply for – and therefore reduces your chances of actually getting a job. All employers can be felon-friendly under the right circumstances and with the right information. Don’t make assumptions, and don’t count anyone out.
Believe that you deserve a job. It’s true that you committed a crime. But that is in the past. You’ve served your time and paid your debt to society. You are trying to create a positive future for yourself. You have just as much right to a job as anyone else.
Be willing to build your resume one step at a time. You may not find your ideal job right away – many people don’t, even those without criminal records. Be prepared to accept jobs that are less than your ideal. Understand that volunteer work and part-time jobs can lead to bigger and better things.
Now that you have the right attitude, let’s take a look at some strategies for finding job openings that will work for you.
Look for independently owned businesses. Private business owners can use their own discretion when choosing whom to interview and hire. Because you can make a personal connection with the owner, you have a better chance of having the owner see you as a person rather than simply an ex-felon. If you can get an interview, you can win the person over with your personality, experience, abilities, and drive.
Check out the Internet. Want ads aren’t in the paper anymore; they are online. Here are some websites to check out for job openings:
- www.craigslist.org: A community-based website with classified ads and forums. Contains all sorts of job listings, from unskilled to professional.
- www.indeed.com: A website that aggregates jobs from many different places, including government websites and corporate websites and community jobs boards.
- www.coloradononprofits.org/board.cfm: A clearinghouse for jobs at nonprofits throughout Colorado.
- www.careerbuilder.com: A national website on which employers can post their job openings.
- www.monster.com: A national website that collects a large number of job openings.
Check out individual websites. Many companies and organizations don’t post job openings on boards like Craigslist or Monster. Instead, they simply post them on their own website. Think about places where you’d like to work and then check out their website. Almost all companies and organizations have a jobs page on their website.
Consider government work. Some of the largest employers in our community are government employers – the city, the county, the feds. Governments have their own websites, and they usually have a jobs page. Here are some government websites for the Denver area:
- http://agency.governmentjobs.com/colorado/default.cfm: The webpage where the Colorado state government posts its job openings.
- www.denvergov.org/Default.aspx?alias=www.denvergov.org/jobs: The webpage where the city and county of Denver post job openings.
- www.usajobs.com: The clearinghouse for all federal government jobs in the country. You can limit your search to Colorado if you want. Or you can expand your search to anywhere in the country.
Network, network, network. All this talk of websites and the Internet is useful, but not everything. In fact, the majority of job openings never get posted. By some estimates, 50 to 75 percent of jobs are found on the “hidden job market.” How can you access this market? By talking to someone you know – or talking to someone who knows someone you know. Let everyone in your life – family members, friends, acquaintances – know that you are looking for a job. Ask people if they know anyone who might be able to help. Grab coffee with people to get advice and information.
Contact employers directly. Another way to find out about jobs that aren’t posted is to contact employers yourself.
- By telephone. The fastest way to get a job interview is to call as many employers as possible and ask about job openings. Most will politely tell you that they have no jobs available, but some will actually tell you that they are looking to hire someone. Use the Internet or the Yellow Pages to find employers who might hire someone with your skills. Get their contact information and then make the call. When you connect with someone, quickly introduce yourself and explain that you are asking about job vacancies. If you are lucky enough to find one, ask about the application process. Have a pen and paper ready so you can take notes. Then say thank you.
- In person: Some places simply wait on people to walk in the door and complete job applications. These tend to be larger employers, like McDonald’s or Target. When you go out in person, be sure to bring a sample job application and resume with you so that you have all the information you need in case the employer has you sit down right then and there and complete a job application. (Your Free to Learn instructor can help you complete a sample application and write a resume.) Make sure your appearance is neat and clean and professional.
Sign on with temp agencies. Agencies that connect workers with temporary jobs are a good way to get started for ex-offenders. They have a variety of jobs that they fill, and sometimes a temp job will actually lead to a full-time assignment. Here are some temp agencies in the area to check out:
- Total Temps: (303) 326-6638
- SOS Staffing: (303) 458-8367
- Accord Staffing: (303) 307-9779
- Manpower: (303) 375-9535
Consider working for yourself. One of the top three industries for ex-offenders is freelance/self employment. If working for yourself sounds complicated, it really isn’t. It basically means getting paid for work you do independently at home. You could be a freelance writer, editor, artist, secretary, data entry specialist, seamstress, technology consultant – whatever you want. Think about what you can do – and whether it’s something people might pay you to do independently. The Denver Public Library has a lot of books that explain how to set up your own business or work as a freelancer or a consultant. Ask library staff to help you find these resources in the online catalog.