Real Jobs For Felons
It’s difficult to find a job these days. Part of the problem is, on average, every advertised position has at least 250 applicants.
75% of those get rejected by Applicant Tracking Systems. Of the remaining 25%, only 4 to 6 applicants will actually get called in for an interview – and only 1 person will actually get the job.
Add to that the issue of many positions already being filled – sometimes before it’s even advertised. Companies go through the motions of an interview process purely so they can get approval to push through the hiring decision they’ve already made.
Sometimes – though not always – it’s to get around company policy that internal promotions can only be considered if there are several external candidates interviewed as well.
This is already bad news for the average worker. But if you have a felony on your record, the issue is compounded drastically. Finding a job becomes infinitely harder, as companies are increasingly wary of hiring felons.
But don’t throw in the towel just yet. We’ve found several viable options to help you get back on your feet, whether you’ve just finished serving a sentence or been out for years.
Jobs for Felons Board
Are you a felon looking for a job? Search below on our job board for felons..
Companies That Hire Felons
Here’s a huge list of companies that might hire felons:
Jobs for Felons FAQ
Should I Disclose My Felony/Felonies on an Application?
Short answer: yes. It’s illegal to withhold this information, but the silver lining is you only have to disclose convictions (arrests without conviction do not need to be disclosed).
As a bonus tip, make sure you’re the one to disclose your past felony/felonies. It comes across a lot better to companies this way, rather than having a job coach or agency make the revelation on your behalf.
You also don’t have to explain your past conviction in a lot of detail: simply bring it up and assure the company you’re looking forward to a brighter future.
Be sure not to let this disclosure take over the interview: simply reiterate you’ve made mistakes in the past but you’re now better equipped to avoid repeating, and bring the interview back into its proper process.
What Types of Jobs Should I Avoid Applying to?
While different felonies are legally considered to have different levels of severity, it’s an unfortunate truth that most employers place all felons in the same category.
For this reason, it’s best to avoid applying for these types of jobs regardless of the nature of your past felony/felonies:
- Education-based jobs (though there are some exceptions, these are few and far between)
- Government positions, including post office jobs and police department applications
- Most jobs requiring a license, such as accountancy, architecture, boxing, etc. (this differs from state to state, so be sure to check with the local legislature: some states do take the severity of past felonies into consideration)
- Health care positions (though some low-level positions may be more lenient)
Will it be Difficult to Get a Job?
In short: yes. But it’s not impossible.
In 2017, there were an estimated 70 million Americans with a criminal record, a figure which gave 70MillionJobs its name.
“The right thing to do is to give people second chances; I think most people can agree on that,” says the founder, Richard Bronson: “But our value proposition is less that, and more that there are 6 million jobs in this country that are unfilled at any time. Companies lose money when they can’t fill positions. We have applicants who are ready, willing, and eager to take on those positions.”
So while it will be more difficult for you than for the average citizen, it certainly won’t be impossible. And as you’ll see later in this article, it’s entirely possible for you to make a job rather than simply rely on getting one.
Should I Apply to Large or Small Companies?
Small, local businesses tend to be far more willing to hire felons than larger companies are.
While there are bigger corporations that constitute an exception to this rule, for the most part, the primary benefit is during the first year after your conviction or release due to the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC).
Can I Get a Job With a Sexual or Violent Felony Offense?
It will be more difficult to do so, but yes, you can still get a job with a sexual or violent felony offense.
Can a Felon Drive for Uber?
The answer to this question is not a clear-cut “yes” or “no”. About 10% to 15% of applicants with a felony record are accepted as Uber drivers, but the process used to determine whether or not your application is considered is shrouded in mystery
Can a Felon Work for the Government?
As mentioned earlier, it’s generally best to avoid applying for government positions as a felon. However, this is not a clear-cut rule, as each case is considered individually.
It does depend on a number of factors, including:
- The position you’re applying for
- What felony you committed
- How long ago you were convicted
- How well you’ve been able to reintegrate into society since your release, including evidence of reformed behavior
The only exceptions (where you definitely won’t be able to work for the government at all) is if you were convicted for treason, campaigning to overthrow the government, willful destruction of public records, or inciting direct rebellion.
How Do I Know What Will Show Up on my Background Check?
Background checks typically divulge the following information:
- Driving records
- Credit records (including debt and bankruptcy)
- Criminal records
- Court records
- Character references
- Medical records
- Military records
- State-issued licenses (including whether they’ve been revoked)
- Drug test records
- Employment history
- Personal references
- Prison sentence records
- Sex offender lists
- Social media profiles
Will a Felony Show Up on my Background Check After 7 Years?
Legally, non-convictions (felony arrests) will be included for up to 7 years, while convictions show up indefinitely. While employers are allowed to select the period they want their background checks to cover, some states do restrict this freedom to 7 years maximum.
Will a Felony Show Up on my Background Check After 10 Years?
Unless you live in California, Colorado, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, Texas, or Washington, background checks are not restricted to a 7-year maximum for revealing past felony convictions.
While some employers will only conduct a background check covering the past 5 years, many others go up to 10.
You can, however, have your record expunged or sealed after 7 years so your past felony will no longer show on a background check.
Do Internships Run Background Checks?
This varies between different industries, companies, and even internship positions. In many cases, internship positions are also subject to background checks. It’s always best to err on the side of caution by assuming any internship you’re applying for will include one.
Do Employers Run Background Checks Before Interviews?
This differs from company to company, but it’s always best to assume a background check will be conducted prior to your receiving an invitation to interview.
It’s worth noting in certain states (list below), ban-the-box laws may or may not limit a company’s ability to conduct background checks to after the first interview or, in rare circumstances, until after a conditional offer of employment has been extended following the interview process.
States that have adopted ban-the-box laws are:
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- Rhode Island
Self-Employment for Felons
1. Become a Freelancer
There are a wealth of opportunities to make a living as a freelancer using Upwork.
Even some of the other opportunities listed in the rest of this article – such as becoming a freelance bookkeeper or transcriptionist can be pursued on Upwork. All you need to do is create a freelancer profile and respond to job postings on the board.
It’s not guaranteed you’ll get work quickly or even consistently. But if you persist, you can develop a portfolio and have clients start approaching you.
Guru.com is a great alternative to Upwork.
The platform works on almost exactly the same model, whereby freelancers respond to projects posted on the jobs board.
However, the two platforms are alike in other ways too. For example, just like Upwork, Guru.com has a free membership option – the upside being there are a limited number of free bidding points included.
But to get the most out of the platform, you also have to “pay to play” – Guru’s paid membership options offer more bidding points. And if you run out at any point and need more, you can always purchase some.
Find out more about the pricing tiers here.
2. Create a Course
Just because you might struggle to get a traditional job in the education sector, doesn’t mean you can’t teach at all.
To be sure, creating a course on Udemy requires a lot of initial effort. You need to pick a topic, plan and record video lessons to upload, gather resources, and start marketing your course online before uploading and launching.
But the plus side is, other than responding to the occasional student query and possibly adding new lessons with updated information from time to time, once your course is up and running it becomes a relatively passive source of income.
Upload as many courses as you can, as this is the best way to earn a living. Here’s a great guide on how to make $5,000/month.
An alternative to Udemy, which only charges commission and transaction fees, is Teachable. There’s a monthly fee though, plus transaction fees for the Basic Package, which gets dropped once you upgrade.
However, where Teachable really does shine and make that monthly fee worth it is in how easy the platform makes it to create, launch, market, and sell your online course. If this is going to be your first time doing so, it’s well worth the cost.
As with Udemy, the best way to go about earning a livable wage with Teachable is to upload multiple courses and keep them updated.
Everyone has a story to tell – and a blog is one of the best ways to do so.
All you need is a profitable topic, a website, and SEO knowledge to get started. There are dozens of ways to monetize a blog, including affiliate marketing (see below), ad revenue, and even adding an e-commerce section (see below) to sell products.
Another great way to monetize your blog is to leverage your following to land guest blogging opportunities, where other blogs pay you to write a post for them. The best opportunities will also allow you to link back to your own blog – driving more traffic and earning potential your way.
4. Affiliate Marketing
It’s easily the most passive way of generating an income, as you can continue to make money through the affiliate links you posted for as long as the content is online.
A popular, evergreen blog post with affiliate links, for example, will generate some income all year and well into the next. And any time you update that content, or it gets shared on social media, your affiliate links find more clients.
5. YouTube Channel Creator
Creating and running a YouTube channel takes a lot of work. You need to generate ideas, record videos, and consistently deliver quality content to keep an audience engaged and coming back for more.
But what’s really great is there are so many ways to monetize your channel. Ad revenue, affiliate marketing (above), linking to your blog or e-commerce site (see next topic), video sponsorship, YouTube’s Fan Funding, crowdfunding platforms… The possibilities are nearly endless.
6. Start Your Own E-Commerce Site
If you’re going to create an e-commerce site, you have 2 options to start with: build your blog with WordPress (see above) and use a plugin to add an e-commerce section, or start with Shopify.
Shopify is absolutely the way to go if you’re serious about selling something online. WordPress plugins can make things complicated, but Shopify can completely automate the process for you.
Your next question is whether you plan on creating and stocking your own products or selling via the dropshipping model. Dropshipping can be a lot easier, but be wary of the current trade war between Trump and the rest of the world (especially China, where almost all dropshipping products are sourced).
At present, it isn’t likely to affect the dropshipping model, but as the trade war escalates, both parties are adding more and more goods to the list.
Felon-Friendly Online Jobs
1. Virtual Call Center
Concentrix hires motivated individuals as virtual call center agents who work from home.
This can be tricky if you just finished your sentence and are still in a half-way home, as you need a quiet working environment, landline connection, and plug-in headphones for this job.
That said, it’s a guaranteed 40-hour work week opportunity that doesn’t discriminate against felons.
2. Online Bookkeeping
If you have prior experience as a bookkeeper – or, more specifically, as an accountant – and your felony charges didn’t have anything to do with embezzlement, then AccountingDepartment.com may be an attractive work opportunity for you.
It’s also a full-time job, but once again you’ll be able to work from home. Unlike becoming a virtual call center agent, however, a quiet work environment isn’t paramount.
As long as you have a consistently stable internet connection and a computer to work on, you can work from just about anywhere in the U.S.
3. Customer Service
Convergys offers an opportunity similar to that of Concentrix, except you’ll be dealing with customer service queries via email and online chat platforms rather than over the phone.
It’s another 40-hour week job that doesn’t pay spectacularly. However, on the plus side, you’ll be able to pursue other opportunities found in this article, either at the same time (so long as you don’t neglect your duties) or on a part-time basis after logging off.
For example, you can juggle your work as a customer service agent full-time while running your own blog and/or e-commerce site part-time (above). If you’re using the dropshipping model for your e-commerce site especially, this is a great way to let multiple income revenues support each other.
4. Transcription Jobs
Transcription jobs can be tricky, especially if you’re still staying in a half-way home. This is because you definitely need a quiet work environment.
You also need to suck it up and accept very low pay for the first few months at the very least. Crowdsurf is the most beginner-friendly platform to start off with while improving your typing speed and gaining experience.
As a bonus tip, if you’re offering your services as a freelancer on Upwork or Guru.com (above), you can also find transcription jobs there. The pay is likely to be fairly low, but you’ll quickly gain experience.
5. Search Engine Evaluator Jobs
Search engine evaluator jobs are relatively easy and can pay up to $15/hour.
As long as you have good research skills, working knowledge of pop culture and current events (and if not, your research skills will take care of that), internet connection, and fluency in English, you’re almost certain to find this type of work.
All you’ll be doing is rating the quality of search engine results pages (SERPs) for Google and/or Bing. The company that hires you will give you a set of guidelines to follow and ask that you commit to at least 10 hours/week.
It’s easy work and easy money, but be aware, as an independent contractor, you might find your position terminated without warning. Commit to the bare minimum number of hours a week and focus your efforts on pursuing other opportunities, just in case.
6. Social Media Manager
ICUC and LiveWorld
Becoming a social media manager is a lot like becoming a customer service agent. However, instead of online chat features and emails, you’ll deal with a business’s social media platforms (hence the job title).
It’s another fairly easy job – all you need to do is answer customer queries to the best of your ability, using the resources provided, and escalate issues as need be.
ICUC is the best place to find this type of work, provided you’re willing to work 8 hours a day and be available on national holidays and weekends. Alternatively, LiveWorld allows for a more flexible work schedule.
7. Virtual Assistant
Whether you have previous experience as an in-office assistant or not, Red Butler is the platform to join if you want to make money as a virtual assistant.
The job is almost identical to that of an in-office assistant: answering phone calls on the client’s behalf, as well as drafting and/or responding to emails, making bookings, sending schedule reminders, and just about everything else. On the plus side, you won’t have to make coffee for anyone other than yourself.
If you have no prior experience, don’t worry: Red Butler specializes in virtual assistants, so there’s free training. Just be aware: there is a membership fee.
Just because you made a mistake in the past, doesn’t mean you should be made to suffer indefinitely. We certainly believe in second chances.
In fact, that’s why we put together this guide on where (and how) to find a job if you have a felony charge on your record. We hope you found this list and the resources it contains helpful and you have success in building a brighter future for yourself.