From the Executive Director:
On 27th of March, researchers from the University of Illinois came to 7-70 and asked men and women who had successfully reentered society about what services would help returning citizens find and keep jobs. The results are still out but I was encouraged by the turnout. One of the greatest things I’ve learned about returned citizens is that they want to help others, like themselves, be successful.
Finding a job after serving a prison sentence is stressful. Returning citizens worry about their skills, both hard and soft, and whether they can find a job that will pay enough money to support themselves or their families. Perhaps, more so, they worry about the stigma of a prison record that will follow them for the rest of their lives. How much should do they say about their background? How will they convince employers to trust them?
These are questions that 7-70 will helps them to answer. We teach our clients how to conduct a job search, how to fill out applications and answer, truthfully, questions about their crime and then coach them through the process. We believe that a job seeker needs to be upfront about their past. They also need to be sincere about turning their lives around.
I’ve talked to some potential employers and they worry that someone who had been incarcerated would not possess employable skills. Being involved in jail and prison ministry I know that this is an unfounded fear. In this article, Now he slings ice cream, instead of cocaine; ShopRite finds talent in former drug dealers, a drug dealer translated his criminal skills to legitimate business skills.
Some our clients often want to pursue higher education. Having some education does seems like a good idea when it comes to finding a job. This article, Choosing Post-Prison Reentry Programs That Work, discusses how certificates and university degrees actually help.
My experience is that there are employers willing to give second chances to people. A job seeker just needs to find them. When honesty, a sincere desire to change and patience applied to the job search, success will be achieved.