Erin pointed out that information to help people understand and navigate the criminal justice system is incredibly limited. There are things she wishes she'd known earlier. She also struggled finding employment that matched her skills. Using Honest Jobs, she found a fair-chance employer within a week, allowing her to build her life back. She plans to go back to school to pursue her dreams. Hear her tell her story in the video below:
What experience do you have with the criminal justice system?
Erin: “The charges were identity theft and forgery. Because I didn't have any prior convictions or any kind of background, it ended up just being a conviction for forgery. I did try to do a diversion program because I didn’t have a background. Maybe 10 months into it, we were in a really bad car accident. So I ended up getting kicked out of the diversion program. I had to go to trial. Although we did fight it for some years, I wasn't convicted until 2019, and the actual offense took place in 2014. You can have felonies expunged after four years. Looking back on it, if I would have just known, I would've done things a lot different.”
What was your experience looking for a job before you found Honest Jobs?
Erin: “Because of my background, I was having a really hard time finding work. Before I found Honest Jobs, it would take time to find decent jobs, at least a couple of months. When you go to a staffing agency, I always thought that they were there mostly for those who had trouble finding jobs because of their background. But it seemed like once they found out that I had a conviction, they were just like: “Oh, well, the only jobs available for you are super remedial jobs that don't pay very well.” But I have all this experience, I have all these skills and there's nothing we can do here. After the interview, after the job offer, it's like they can't really tell you that's not gonna work. Once I told them what the conviction was, I got the sense that they knew that it was something that they wouldn’t be willing to work with. It feels so unfair, and it doesn't feel like 'Equal Opportunity Employment' at that point. It feels like: “Okay, you're really just discounting all my skills.”
What was your experience looking for a job after you found Honest Jobs?
Erin: “When I found Honest Jobs, the type of jobs that they have is a good range of positions. You can find something that would fit your skill set, and that you'll actually be comfortable in, rather than feeling like you're settling. I set up my profile and just started applications. It wasn't very long.”
Tell us about your new job!
Erin: “This job is at GAP Distribution Center. I do general warehouse work there. I make $16.25/hour. They have wonderful benefits and a really good discount.”
Would you recommend Honest Jobs to other formerly incarcerated job seekers?
Erin: “Yes, definitely. Because of ease of use and results. Easy search for job opportunities in your area. The turnaround time is very fast as far as when you would start after applying. It's pretty quick.”
Do you have a message to job seekers?
Erin: "Don't lose hope. Definitely set up a profile on Honest Jobs. And don't let [your criminal record] get you down. Don't let it define you. The fact that you're seeking employment and that you wanna be a contributor in society, it speaks of your character right there. So definitely don't lose hope, go to Honest Jobs. You’ll see it'll be so helpful.”
Do you have a message to employers?
Erin: “Maybe just be a little bit more open with accepting people with backgrounds. Like if you're not comfortable with it, go off of what you see. For example, in the interview process when you're speaking to people. Check out their work history. Do what you normally do and give people a chance, especially if you see that they're genuinely looking for a job to support themselves and their families. And you see that maybe this is someone that we can trust here. They have good work history, good work ethics. Just give people a chance. We all make mistakes.”
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Employer and job seekers can head to www.honestjobs.com to get started.