The staff of the Marin Employment Connection, the one stop in Marin County, partners with the California Re-Entry Program at San Quentin to offer monthly job search workshops to inmates. Topics include assessment, interviewing, applications, resumes, and effective workplace communication.
One of the most common questions we get during our workshops at San Quentin is "Where is the list of employers who are willing to hire ex-felons?" Unfortunately, it's not that easy.
Some industries are known for being ex-offender friendly, such as the building trades and apprenticeship programs. Some non-profits such as Goodwill Industries are also known for giving people a second chance. The Home Builders Institute and the Colorado Department of Corrections published a guide for the workforce community, "Building Jobs, Rebuilding Lives: Placing Ex-Offenders with Employers in the Residential and Light Commercial Construction Industry." I hear from colleagues in the building trades that they will hire ex-offenders who can show up to work on time, have adequate "soft" skills such as the ability to take direction, and test clean for drugs.
We tell workshop participants that you never know whether an employer is open to working with ex-felons, so they should not automatically rule anyone out. Although most people experience job search as a sea of rejection before getting to a "yes," many predict that the upcoming labor shortage caused by the retirement of the Baby Boomer generation will force employers to look to more untraditional pools of labor.
Do you have particular industries that you find to be open to hiring ex-offenders?