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Guidance for Ex-offenders
If you have a criminal conviction, finding a new job can feel like pushing a rock up a mountain. There are, however, a number of career options available for ex-offenders.
Work With Offenders recognises the serious demand for help with employment issues for those with criminal convictions as well as the training initiatives available to them and employment rights that they are entitled to according to the law.
So don't despair; help, guidance and support are available! We are here to guide you in the right direction - below we have included some job application advice and options for ex-offender jobseekers.
Ex-Offenders' Employment Rights and the Rehabilitation of Offender's Act 1974:
In order to begin the process of applying for a job, it is vital that ex-offenders are fully aware of the relevant legislation in place that may help to speed the process along. The Rehabilitation of Offender's Act introduced in 1974, states that those with certain criminal convictions are not obliged to inform employers of their crime when applying for a job after a certain period of rehabilitation. Its primary function is to prevent lifelong joblessness as a result of a single conviction.
Most convictions are ‘spent' after roughly five years, subject to the quantity and severity of the crimes they have committed. However, there are a few exceptions to this rule. For example, if a jobseeker has served more than two and half years in prison, their convictions will never become spent and they will always have to inform an employer of it in a job application or on their CV. The police are entitled to keep a conviction on file for the offender's lifespan if the offence is a serious one, such as manslaughter. For less serious offences, there is a ten year minimum for this.
Other exceptions to this rule occur when applying for jobs that involve working with children, the elderly or those who cannot support themselves because of an injury or illness. To enquire whether a job falls under this category, please feel free to call 02078406464.
The New Deal and other training and education based initiatives:
It is also vital that ex-offender jobseekers are in the know as to the options and help that are available to them. One initiative, the New Deal, is there to greatly increase the chances of post conviction employment success. It was established in 1998 by the government as means of helping those between the ages of 18 to 24 find employment. Individuals suitable for entry should have served at least a six month jail term. Though under different terms, the deal is also applicable for individuals who don't fall within the stated age bracket. During the first four months of release, he or she is placed under the supervision and guidance of a New Deal advisor as part of a period referred to as The Gateway. This is designed to give offenders a period of leeway to find a job.
If this doesn't work, a number of options can be exercised. Firstly, they could be placed into a job for a fixed period of usually six months; secondly, they could receive guidance and assistance with establishing a private business (which includes the possibility of regular guidance from an established businessperson for up to two and a half years), placement into a training or educational scheme (training lasts for up to one year, leading to a certificate that could be added to an individual's CV), or placement in an environmental or voluntary organisation.
If you are 25 or above, the deal can still offer its four month Gateway service. If a job doesn't result, a period of up to six months of intensive one-to-one support may be provided. This may include assistance with filling in job applications, completing a CV, job hunting techniques, or apprenticeship or internship work with a group or voluntary organisation. Regular benefits would be provided for each case until a satisfactory outcome has been reached. If fifty years old or above, ex-offenders could be entitled to benefits for on-the-job training should they have found a particularly low-paying position.
There are a large number of other courses and training schemes available that ex-offenders of a range of ages can use to help find employment. Learning for Adults is a scheme that focuses on those between the ages of 25 and 63 that have been unemployed, including time spent in prison, for six months or more. Weekly benefits and expenses will be provided until he or she has secured a position.
For more information on the benefits and services available for ex-offenders, please contact Deborah Clothier at NACRO'S Resettlement Plus hotline on 020 7840 6464.
Applying for a Job:
Applying for a job is the one thing that ex-offender jobseekers can't afford to get wrong. It is generally advisable to focus on a perfecting a few applications rather than sending out a dozen rushed attempts. Employers are able to reduce down the number of applications by simply weeding out the rushed ones. Adopting a positive attitude to applying for work is a good way to start the process as it will help with coping with rejections and preparing for interviews. Voluntary work or evidence that the applicant has completed a training course is a good way of showing a keenness to work and a reliability and commitment to seeing tasks through. If you are obliged to inform an employer of past convictions, the body of experience that an individual has gathered since is an excellent means of displaying a trustworthy attitude to employment.
It is important to follow the instructions on an application form closely, and to ensure that all questions are answered fully. Like any job application form, it is crucial that the key skills required of a position holder are clearly reflected on it. If you want to view detailed advice on writing job applications, CVs and to complete our CV maker form, please follow the links.
A few basic areas should be addressed during the process of filling in a form including making sure it is written and presented well (or to the best of candidate's ability), and that he or she is applying for a role that is compatible with their qualifications, skills and experience. Understandably, those who are obliged to disclose a criminal conviction have less chance of succeeding with an application than those who aren't, so these fundamental areas are important in establishing a strong first impression. Make sure there are no errors in spelling, punctuation or grammar.
If an individual has been granted an interview, try to ensure that a number of questions have been prepared to appear eager to begin developing an understanding of the company. He or she should have prepared a basic awareness of what the company or organisation does using basic research methods - this will also project a keenness to learn more.
There are a range of other support groups are out there. Please click on the links below to find out more.
Direct Gov: Their detailed ex-offender jobseekers page provides clear career advice, from CV writing guidance, putting a positive spin on a conviction, details of training schemes, and one-to-one and helpline consultation services.
CRB: The government's CRB website provides a detailed description of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.
NACRO: NACRO's ex-offenders page contains informative job-seeking and application guides as well as a Resettlement Plus helpline offering help and advice for jobseekers with a conviction as well as those directly affected by it such as family and friends.
Jobcentre Plus: Provides wider information on the range of help available for ex-offender jobseekers, case studies, useful employment statistics, advice on preparing for employment and answers to frequently asked questions.
ApexTrust: Offers general guidance and advice services tailored to the needs of ex-offenders and employers including a national helpline and information on the ins-and-outs of the Criminal Justice System.
Creative and Supportive Trust (CAST): CAST offer training for women with criminal convictions with the aim of helping them into employment, with additional support including welfare and employment advice and one-to-one counseling and support groups.
SOVA: SOVA is an agency that works with volunteers to reduce local crime and strengthen the community. Their volunteer mentors meet with ex-offenders to help them with resettlement issues, include employment.