Q: I spent seven years in prison and three on the street. How can I ever find a job?
A: I asked you for information about your conviction and activities on the street but didn’t hear from you. The questions weren’t nosy and your answers wouldn’t have made you look like every other person who’s been convicted or homeless. While it’s true that this column is public, without some details, there’s little I can do to help.
It’s important to retain privacy as much as you can, but any employer who does a background check on you will find bad news. If you don’t let the employer know up-front about your history, you’ll be perceived as untrustworthy.
You must have done something on the street or in prison that you could use as a bridge to employment of some kind, including self-employment. You might have developed skill in speaking to all kinds of people. You might have noticed a need that you could supply through your own business.
Get a list of skills together and take it to Goodwill and the Salvation Army, which have contacts to employers who hire people with records.
Q: I’m overwhelmed at the prospect of job hunting, because I’ve never done it and I don’t like marketing. I also don’t have a lot of contacts. Can you tell me how to get started? I know I have to.
A: Many people would say that you can start without knowing what you want to do. That usually means they haven’t done enough research to figure it out. Breaking this project into segments will help you gain confidence as you build up to job hunting.
Think of job hunting as the time you spend in actual contact with employers by telephone or in person. Everything you do prior to that isn’t job hunting.
Decide first what kind of job you want. This part is identifying your objective. When you’ve found the approximate title of a position that fits you, think about the environment where you’ll have it.
Come up with five characteristics of organizations where the kind of work you want to do is done. For example, consider product or service, industry, sales volume, geographical reach, longevity, customer base and number of employees.
The more you know about where you’re headed, the easier the job of heading you in that direction!
(Dr. Mildred Culp welcomes your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org. © 2013 Passage Media. The opinions are solely those of the writer.)