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Job Clubs for Ex-offenders

Post by
ROYHAZZARD
Joined on 08/01/2005
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on Sep 05,2012 04:17PM
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Post by
SusanEastman
Joined on 04/19/2005
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on Mar 07,2013 03:34PM
We facilitate a job club for individuals with backgrounds here at our WorkSource Center in SE Portland. We also have a separate resume class for individuals with backgrounds as well as Individualized job placement services. We have a re-entry center that "hosts" 4 re-entry programs for youth and adults. We have a very low recidisim rate as people are going to work. We have a high rate of employment.

In our job club I spend a lot of time talking about putting their past where it belongs - forgiving their past to enable their future. I tell them though no one can go back and make a brand new start, but anyone can start from now and make a brand new end. We don't use the words "felony friendly" when referring to employers - I tell them that every employer has an opportunity to be a second chance employer and that they have an opportunity to assist an employer become a second chance employer by hiring them. That they have skills, talents and abilities just like every other job seeker and not to use their "background" as an excuse but to learn to talk about what they have to offer to an employer. I teach them to talk about their background in 5-15 seconds and no more. We teach them how to answer the dreaded question on the application and we don't teach them to just put down "ask me about it in the interview" as they did not answer the employers question to please explain - instead we teach them to answer the question by putting down the following:
The Class of the felony or felonies/misdeameanors - The County where they were convicted and the year or years. It is asks for dispostion they can show how it was disposed - served five years or currently on probation. We find this helps them get to the interview where they will have an opportunity to talk with the employer and take full responsibility for their actions and what they have changed in their lives since the conviction(s). We also cover the basics - networking, 30 second commercial (no one really talks in elevators anymore), cover letters, thank you letters, researching employers, websites to use, etc. We give out job leads at every class and then every Friday I email more job leads and info on job fairs, free classes, resources etc to every job clubber. I don't let them refer to themselves as ex-felon, ex offender, etc. they are job seekers who have the skills talents and abilities to do a good job for an employer - they must believe us because they go to work!

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Post by
ValerieSchmidt
Joined on 09/29/2012
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on Mar 19,2013 03:54PM
Susan, I really appreciate your post. It very eloquently demonstrates how important it is for job seekers to look forward (through the front window) instead of the rear view mirror. I work with many job seekers at our job club in Southern California and many are stuck in the past. Beliefs such as I’m too old, or young, or disabled, or want to do something new but can’t - are common examples of job seekers’ rear view mirror thinking. What often works to get these folks looking and moving forward again is to challenge their story. I ask them, “what if…, what if your story is just a story?” What if what really matters is what you do and who you are from this point on?
This question works wonders at all steps of their portfolio building process and it opens the door to a discussion about how to answer the questions they are afraid of. We ask each of our participants for the question(s) they fear most and then practice with them until they can answer them with confidence and the knowledge that they have demonstrated their commitment to living and working in the present. It’s a “no nonsense nurturing” approach. We accept them as they are and then encourage, challenge and guide them to take the next forward step. Like your job club, we get them as many job leads as we can and we have people who can coach and prepare them when they land a phone or in-person interview. If they stay with the program, they generally get a job and often come back to work with others still in the program. Their generosity with each other is truly inspiring.

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Post by
MichaelPrus
Joined on 04/23/2007
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on Feb 04,2015 10:42AM
For Job Clubs for Ex-offenders (Returning Citizens):

Please mention in your club meetings about an employment tool that your members can use. It is the Federal Bonding Program. In Michigan, it is called the Fidelity Bonding Program (FBP) of Michigan. This has assisted many Returning Citizens to become employed. It is an incentive for employers to hire job seekers who are qualified, but who are considered high-risk because of a factor in their personal background. The bonding program allows employers to obtain workers without taking a risk and allows high-risk job seekers to find work. Please contact me at PrusM@michigan.gov
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