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3 Tips on How to Write a Resume with a Felony

Honest Jobs is here to help you connect with second-chance employers. We have seen more and more fair-chance employers change their policies to be more open to hiring ex-felons, however, it is important to make a good impression and set yourself apart from the competition regardless of your criminal background. Building a professional resume is an essential part of getting hired at your desired job. Here are some tips on how to write a resume that will be appealing to employers with felony-friendly job offers.

1. Use a functional resume format instead of a chronological resume

Using the traditional chronological resume format can draw attention to employment gaps that are the result of incarceration. This can cause hiring managers to focus on the gaps in your history rather than the value you will add to their team.

If you have gaps in your employment or don't have extensive work experience, create your resume using the functional resume format. It focuses more on the skills you acquired before and during incarceration and can highlight how you have been rehabilitated since your felony conviction. Instead of listing your work experience chronologically, group your experiences under skills or categories of skills. This way, it is more likely that employers will focus on the technical and soft skills that are necessary to be successful in the role. Here are some websites where you can find guidance on how to build a functional resume, as well as examples of what a functional resume looks like:

2. Must-have items to include in your resume:

  • Current and reliable contact information (phone number, email address, or both).

  • A short paragraph about your career objective or summary statement. Be sure to highlight why you would be a great fit for the job, calling out your skills that are most related to the job you are applying for.

  • Previous employment, including your job title, employer name, employer city and state, dates you were employed, and a very short summary of your job duties. Make sure to highlight your accomplishments, recognitions, and skills you gained. Focus on anything relevant to the new job.

  • Education, including diplomas, degrees, certifications, work programs, or training courses that you completed or are currently enrolled in. Include either your graduation or anticipated graduation date.

  • Volunteer activities, including community service. Showing that you are a responsible citizen will appeal to employers. You can also include valuable work skills gained during volunteering, which is particularly helpful if you don't have a lot of traditional work experience.

3. Keep your resume employee-centered and future-oriented

Rather than focusing on your past, detail the essential skills that you will bring to the table and highlight how you will add value to the company over time. Reviewing the job description of the position that you want is a great way to learn the specific qualities and skills a company is looking for. When you're writing your resume, try to call out your qualities and skills that match what the employer is looking for. Sometimes this can mean customizing your resume for each different job you apply for. It takes a little extra time, but it will help your resume stand out and get noticed!

If you need help identifying your skills, explaining the gaps in your employment, or aren’t sure how to include information on your resume, our Employment Specialist can help! Click here to get free help updating or creating your resume.

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