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Resume Tips for Ex-Offenders

An ex-offender may need special assistance with resume details and relaunching a career after a prison stay. Getting a job as an ex-offender may prove to be a challenge, but there are several ways that you can find help.

Following are some resume tips for ex-offenders:

  • Know that negative information is dangerous: Always remember that the purpose of your resume is to get a job interview. Your resume is not the place to confess your sins, accentuate your weaknesses, or lie about yourself. Make sure your resume is future-oriented and employer-centered. Use your resume to clearly communicate to employers what it is that you can do for them. Issues concerning your criminal record are best dealt with during the job interview.

  • Avoid the chronological format: The reverse chronological resume format is not your friend. This format, with its ordering of employers and dates, tends to point up the two major weaknesses of ex-offenders — limited work experience and major employment time gaps. Instead, choose a functional resume format or hybrid resume (combination) format that emphasizes your qualifications as they relate to the job you seek — skills, competencies. and personal qualities.

  • Present your prison experience in nonprison terms: If you acquired education, training, and work experience in prison, be careful how you list that experience on your resume. Instead of saying that you worked at “Kentucky State Prison,” say you worked for the “State of Kentucky.” Both statements are truthful, but the first statement immediately raises a red flag that can prematurely screen you out before you get an interview.

  • Get help with your resume and job search: Unless you have strong analytical and writing skills, reach out for help from a local nonprofit group that functions to assist ex-offenders in writing resumes and finding jobs.

    You also can hire a professional resume writer; find one at any of these three organizations:

    To check out other re-entry resources in all 50 states, jump online to this gateway site: H.I.R.E. Resources and Assistance. Still other resume and job search information related to ex-offenders is offered on ExOffenderReentry.com.

To find the depth of advice you need for your specialized situation, refer to the following books published by Impact Publications:

  • Best Resumes and Letters for Ex-Offenders, by Wendy Enelow and Ron Krannich

  • The Ex-Offenders’ Job Hunting Guide, by Ron and Caryl Krannich

  • The Ex-Offender’s Quick Job Hunting Guide, by Ron and Caryl Krannich

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