I recently received this question from a reader::
Q: My son has been out of prison for almost a year and a half. In that time he has applied for jobs everywhere, fast food, construction, retail — you name it — but no one will hire him. Every time they do a background check his conviction comes up and he never hears from the people again. And if he is honest on his application or in an interview, forget it! No matter how much he tries to explain that he has changed it doesn’t seem to work. And all this because of this for one stupid mistake he made at 21 — a mistake that HE HAS PAID FOR! I don’t know what he is going to do if he can’t find something soon. A friend of ours says he should get his social security number changed so his record will not come up in the background checks. My son really wants to do it — he is so desperate. I feel we are running out of choices. Does this even work without changing his name and if so, how can we do it?
A: I’m really sorry you son is having such a difficult time. It’s a tough job market out there for everyone, and having a record only makes things harder. I can sympathize with your son’s frustration and understand why the idea of starting fresh would be appealing.
In the meantime, it might be worthwhile for him to visit a reentry organization near where you live, (you can look for one here) or a One-stop Career Center. These places typically have counselors used to dealing with ex-offenders who might be able to help your son with his resume or interview skills. If you belong to a church, he might also consider volunteering there on community-related or other projects. This would enable him to do something constructive and develop contacts who might be able to serve as references or help him find paid work.
I know this isn’t necessarily the answer you were looking for, but I hope this helps. Good luck to you both and be sure and check back to let me know how you’re doing.