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Careers for Returning Citizens

By Sarah Hubert

Students upon completion of the Fall 2019 “Memoir Writing” class at CFRC

If you or a loved one is preparing to re-enter the workforce, it is common for a wide variety of questions and fears to present themselves. We have assembled a list of jobs that have a good chance of hiring ex-offenders. This list is by no means comprehensive; if you are interested in any particular field that is not included here, don’t feel discouraged. You can and should explore any career path that appeals to you. With that in mind, here are ten career paths that could be a good place to start.

1. Restaurants

One of the best parts of the restaurant industry is the flexible hours. If you have a family, romantic partner, or any other relationship that you want to focus on, it’s important to choose a career that will allow you to work around them. Many restaurants, especially fast-food, will hire regardless of ex-offender status. This is a job that will require you to work with people well, and assist in the cooking or preparation of food.

Requirements: willing to work flexible hours, no education required, should be comfortable in a kitchen

Challenges: usually back of house, not always high pay, hours may be limited

2. Warehouse

While heavy lifting or loud machinery may not be desirable to you, the warehouse industry has plenty of room to advance your career. You might start out as a stock laborer, but you could work yourself up to management. Most warehouse companies are small, so they are more likely to promote internally instead of hiring outside the business.

Requirements: Must be able to lift heavy items, must be comfortable working in a small team with the same people every day

Challenges: Physically challenging, working in potentially dirty or dark warehouses

3. Customer Service

There are a few types of customer service jobs we’d like to mention. The first is the group of people that work at call centers or other support centers. If someone is having a problem with a product, they might call the center. The second type of customer service job is face-to-face. An example of this is the type of person you might meet at a car rental facility. Either way, these types of jobs are excellent for people who enjoy talking to others and meeting their needs.

Requirements: must be comfortable and enjoy talking to people, must have problem solving skills and a good attitude

Challenges: people can be upset or difficult to work with, you may not always be able to provide the solution they are working for

4. Construction

If you are willing to spend a lot of time outdoors in the heat and don’t mind manual labor, construction is a steady, consistent job in most cities. This job requires adherence to safety protocols and working on a team.

Requirements: work in extreme conditions, work nights, sometimes need to operate machinery

Challenges: tough, manual labor that can be dangerous at times

5. Production

Florida has over 330,000 manufacturing jobs in around 19,000 companies. Many of these produce electronics and aviation technology. The work may be repetitive, but it is steady and there are often opportunities for advancement within the company.

Requirements: comfortable in the factory setting, ability to do repetitive tasks with ease and efficiency

Challenges: can be physically demanding depending on the type of job

6. Auto Repair

One of the biggest advantages to working in auto repair is that most companies are owned and operated by an individual or small group of people. This means that during the hiring process you will not have to be examined by a large board or administration that is removed from the actual job. Many people own and operate their own shops, and are therefore more invested in the work being done and the people they hire.

Requirements: must be comfortable with manual labor, able to work in a team environment, good at problem solving, customer service skills

Challenges: work must be done in the heat or in strenuous positions at times, need to be able to work in a team setting

Instructor LaShanna Tyson and students

7. Entrepreneurship

In the modern age, many people are choosing to become their own boss. Starting your own business ensures that you won’t have to answer to anyone else’s authority, but it also means that you will have to handle all of the operations, costs, and other work that comes with starting a new business. If you decide to choose this route, you must be sure that you have an idea that you will remain passionate about, and a strategy of how to succeed.

Requirements: hard work ethic, ability to cover start-up costs, willing to work hard, commitment

Challenges: very demanding, no guarantee of success or money, can be a financial burden

8. Retail

Retailers nationwide are announcing their programs for hiring returning citizens. Target has made a pledge to do so, and Goodwill has a program specifically for people who have felony convictions. Publix also has a good history of hiring ex-offenders.

Requirements: good customer service skills, ability to stand for long hours, capable of handling sums of money, being good at sales is an advantage

Challenges: some places will not hire if you have theft conviction, hours are not always consistent and you may not be guaranteed enough hours at first 

9. Nonprofits

There are many nonprofits in the United States that seek to help returning citizens find jobs and provide other services. Sometimes, these nonprofits themselves are hiring. If you are interested in helping other people who may have a similar life experience to you, this could be a great place to start. Even if the organization itself isn’t hiring, these places may have community connections that could help you out.

Requirements: depends on the job, most likely need to work with people

Challenges: are not always hiring, often the companies are underfunded so workload may be very high or unorganized

10. Temp agencies

While a temp agency itself will not pay you, it will hire you out to different companies that need workers on a temporary basis. Sometimes these contracts can range from a few days to multiple years. Most last a few months to a year.

Requirements: flexibility, able to adapt quickly to different work environments, interest in working with many different people

Challenges: work can be unpredictable or sparse, you may be asked to do a wide variety of jobs

Final Thoughts

When searching for a job, the most important thing is to be honest. You do not have to disclose everything right away, but it is better to tell a potential employer about upfront about your past then to have them discover it on a background check. Many companies are invested in giving second chances and committed to peoples’ ability to change, and the best way to work with them is to be upfront.


2 thoughts on “Careers for Returning Citizens

  1. WOW! This is great stuff. I’m passing this on to friends and advocates. I attended the downtown campus program
    that featured the panel listed in this recent mail out, and saw the Ken Burns preview. This is great. I have a friend who is hopefully being transferred to Lake Correctional. I hope he can get in the loop here. He has been working as a tutor already.up in the Panhandle.


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