I have a class 5 felony conviction on my record for cashing a fraudulent check. Yes, I know it was stupid, but it was 10 years ago. I was fresh out of college, broke, and did not have many resources. I had a small child to take care of and could not find a job. I was desperate and made a bad decision that I am still paying for 10 years later. Despite the fact that I have a college degree I cannot find a decent job because of the felony conviction. For years I have been working labor intensive jobs for very little pay. I need a better paying job so that I can provide for my family. I am very frustrated that no one wants to give me a second chance or look beyond the mistake I made years ago to see my skills and potential. I am tired of struggling and just about at the end of my rope. Can you give me some advice on how to get a better job despite my felony charge?
Need a Second Chance
Dear Second Chance:
You are not alone in your struggle and frustration to find gainful employment after a conviction. Just about every job application asks if you have been convicted of a felony and/or misdemeanor. First, I encourage you to keep applying for jobs that fit your interests and qualifications. Having a criminal record may complicate your job search, but it is not an impossible situation. Second, always be completely honest about your circumstances. Don’t lie about your conviction and/or pray that the employer will not follow up on your background check. By being honest you are accepting responsibility and taking control of the situation. Many employers, depending on the industry, may have certain restraints when hiring felons due to bonding issues, etc., but others may have flexibility and take into consideration the details of your situation.
You may particularly have trouble with a class 5 felony because although it is a less severe felony, it is associated with theft and dishonesty. Many employers will not take the risk or give you a chance when your crime is associated with a theft. But again, that is not the end of the world. There are many programs that assist felons with job placement; you should try to find one of those in your area. You can also lean on your family, friends and network. Many people own their own businesses and are in charge of who they hire. They may be more open to hiring someone in your situation and giving you a chance to prove your skills.
Have you ever thought about becoming and entrepreneur and starting your own business? There are also grant programs that assist people who have been incarcerated and/or have convictions to start their own businesses. If you have a hobby, passion, or special skill, you might be able to turn that into a business opportunity. As an entrepreneur you will be your own boss and then maybe you can help others in your situation and give them their second chance.
Tamara Hartley is Your Advice Guru giving REAL advice from REAL experience. She uses her personal life experiences and lessons learned to give others a different perspective and help them make critical decisions in their life, relationships and careers. Email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow Tamara on twitter @drtamarahartley and check out her column archives at www.youradviceguru.com.