Felony an extra hurdle for college graduates

OU News Bureau

Some college graduates have a hard time finding a job. It’s a bigger challenge when you’re felon.

While people who have been convicted of a crime think that they are forever marked, it is possible to get back into school and apply for jobs. An article on helpforfelons.org lists eight ways to get your foot back in the door.

The steps include: know your own background, think small to start, think big later and felony disclosure. It also states that getting an education is a step in the right direction. There are loans and grants for those with a felony record.  

Many schools have services to assist students applying for jobs, but it can be challenging when filling out applications. When it asks to check whether there’s a conviction on record, reluctance sets in.

It’s difficult to state on paper what happened, so it’s easier to check and wait until the interview. But once you’ve lied on paper, a future employer may not offer a second chance.

Oakland University career consultant Carol Anne Ketelsen has worked with the court systems to help students adjust.

“The biggest thing that courts have always said is be honest,” Ketelsen said.

The first step is getting an interview. It is the most crucial.

“During the interview, upfront, where they say, ‘So tell me about yourself?’ you talk about some of your positive strengths and then you want to bring it in early,” Ketelsen said. “You want to be the one to bring it in, so you can control the timing.”

An example Ketelsen gave was telling an interviewer how long ago the conviction was. Give a broad overview, but not too much detail and then the importance of what was learned and what it has taught.

During the interview, talking about the conviction is important. Employers conduct background checks, which occurs after the interview process. If it wasn’t mentioned then, it will be found on the background check.

Brandon Wright, 34, of Waterford was convicted of a felony in 2005.

Wright said the biggest challenge he has faced while filling out internship applications was to tell the truth or not.

“It is always a conundrum whether to lie or tell the truth on job applications,” Wright said. “On one hand, if you lie and you get caught you’ll automatically lose the job, but a lot of places won’t give you a chance to begin with.”

After applying to places and not getting call-backs, Wright took a mistake and turned it into his advantage.

“I attacked it head on. I put it in my cover letter,” Wright said.

In his cover letter he put what he learned from the experience and all that he’s accomplished. This helped land him an internship at Oakland University’s magazine.

At this time, there are few resources devoted to helping students who have a criminal background find a job.

Depending on the field and the conviction, it can limit what jobs can be obtained.

“I think most employers are open enough that it’s going to depend on the candidate and what kind of experience and background they have,” Ketelsen said.

Oakland University has a diverse student body of nearly 20,000.  Few have felony convictions.

“There’s definitely a lack of diversity of experience. I wish there could be more ex-cons that go to university,” Wright said.






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Posted by on Dec 14 2017. Filed under Michigan. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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