Dear Members and Advocates,
These days, when I go out to eat or shop in a retail store, I’m commonly greeted with a “Help Wanted” sign. Often, service staff apologize in advance for the slow service I can expect because they are understaffed. Some fast food restaurants are advertising starting hourly wages at absurdly high hourly rates just to attract more applicants. And business owners everywhere are complaining how difficult it is to find reliable employees. The job market is making little sense. A couple of months ago, the Washington Post reported that America has 8.4 million unemployed, but there are 10 million job openings.
With such a booming job market you would expect that our population would have an easier time finding something. That has not been the case. In different times, the obvious answer is that businesses don’t want to hire someone on the registry because ‘if customers or co-workers find out…’ or they are afraid of the liability should someone complain, but with the pandemic, many companies have re-tooled their technology to accommodate remote work. For many positions, workplace assaults are no longer possible so should no longer be a concern.
Another reason times have improved for us, is because in the past employers had more options. Given two equally qualified candidates, they would naturally prefer to hire the one not on the registry. But with such a drastic shortage of workers, employers must be more flexible in their hiring requirements. If there is nobody to sit in the chair, operate the machine or wash the dishes, things don’t get done, money is lost and they stand to lose a lot more business due to crappy service or lack of production than they would on the random chance that someone found out the guy making the fries is on the registry. Remember, you are no longer the person competing for a position, you are the person showing up for it.
Right now is a good time to circle back with prospective employers who have denied you in the past. You might think that because you were rejected for a job a few years back, it’s not worthwhile trying again, but that might not be the case. If you kept a record of the hundreds of jobs you applied to in the past, it might make sense to create a cover letter to the effect of, “…three years ago I applied for a position with your company and was not hired. Since that time, I have supplemented my skills by… I notice that you are once again hiring and I wanted to express my continued interest in working for… “. Even if the specific reason you were denied in the past was because you are on the registry, it might still make sense to send a letter. You can address it by saying, “At the time, you expressed your concern about the fact that I am required to register. I wanted to take this opportunity to point out that three years have passed since and I have remained a law abiding citizen. Had you given me the opportunity, you would have found me to be a dedicated and hard-working employee. I hope that now you are in a position to reconsider my candidacy.”
Right now is also a good time to find seasonal employment. Many people are looking for extra help during the holidays and (primarily in South Florida) tourist season. Even if you find something temporary or that pays horribly, consider it an opportunity to prove your value and potentially turn it into a permanent or higher paying position or to collect a letter of recommendation. Not only will it add a few dollars to your pocket, it will be a supplement to your resume and will show prospective employers that others have given you the chance and were happy they did.
Still, even in what should be the best of times, our population is having a very difficult time finding employment. We need to find ways to sell ourselves better and highlight the benefits of employing someone on the registry. Most counties have a workforce development coalition that assists people with criminal records find jobs. There are also several online resources which can be helpful. Jails to Jobs, for example, has a good resource that you can download here: https://floridaactioncommittee.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/New_Entry_Job_Hunting_Plan.pdf. Unfortunately, these resources often don’t cater to the specific needs of people forced to register, so we need to create these resources ourselves.
To assist those of us who are out there hunting, this Thursday’s topic will be “employer attractions, transferable skills, interview preparation and self-confidence” and our guest will be Beatrice Boursiquot from Career Source Brevard. If you’ve been struggling to find employment, looking for something more suitable, or are currently working in fear of “the day when people find out and I get fired”, you should attend this member call!
In preparation for the call, lets focus on five bullet points on why employing a registrant can be a benefit to an organization:
- Employing someone on the registry is an opportunity to get an over-qualified candidate. There are many on the registry with post-graduate degrees or who previously held very specialized, highly trained positions, but because of the registry they have lost a professional license or are otherwise unable to practice in their field. The fact that they were able to achieve advanced degrees or training that qualified them for specialized roles is a good indication that they have the dedication, knowledge and ability to learn and adapt to this job.
- A registrant will value the position more than a non-registrant. Any employer can imagine how difficult it is to find employment given the stigma. Someone on the registry will cherish their employment, appreciate the company that has given them the opportunity to prove themselves and will be more eager to do a good job to prove their worth. With limited other options, a registrant will be more dedicated to the job and remain with the company for longer.
- Registrants have greater accountability. The same actually holds true for anybody on probation but it applies especially for registrants. Not only will the employee be accountable to the employer, but they will also be accountable to their PO. Registrants, even those not on probation, have so many rules they need to follow that regular life is like living in a minefield. One misstep of a petty condition will result in a third-degree felony. If a registrant does not meticulously adhere to guidelines, the consequences are dire. The constant hyper-vigilance and apprehension permeates every move one makes. When it comes to work responsibilities, those traits are an asset.
- There are significant financial incentives to hiring a registrant. Your prospective employer should be told about the Federal Bonding Program as well the Work Opportunity Tax Credit. Through these programs, companies qualify to receive free $5,000 Fidelity Bonds and tax credits in increments of $2,400 or more per employee.
- Hiring a registrant reduces crime. Yes, you read that correctly. Studies have shown that employment dramatically reduces recidivism. Statewide rates of recidivism (for ALL offenses, keep in mind sexual offenses are lower) range from about 31 to 70 percent, while the rates for those placed in jobs shortly after their release ranged from 3.3 to 8 percent! Giving a “second chance employee” a job actually does something to make the community safer!
Between now and tomorrow night, feel free to come up with your own bullet points or strategies to share on our call in order to help others sell the benefits of hiring a person on the registry, how to deal with disclosing your status and the inevitable questions that will come, leads to companies that have hired or considered registrants, and other tips to help those of us who are struggling to find a job.
Let’s get to work!
The Florida Action Committee
40-Day DOUBLE Donation Challenge – Donations made to the ExPost Facto lawsuit cases between Dec 10-19 will be DOUBLED up to $6,000, including tax deductible donations sent to Justice Transitions, Inc. For more information see post below or email [email protected] or call 407-814-4203.
December 2 Thursday at 8:00pm ET – Monthly Membership Call – phone 319-527-3487. Topic: Employment Opportunities. If unable to connect, text “CALL ME” to same number to receive call back and be joined to the meeting.
December 4 Saturday – Free Holiday Luncheon in Apopka (Orange County). Italian Buffet served from Noon to 3pm. Must RSVP to reserve a meal. Email [email protected] or text “RSVP Apopka” with name and number attending to 904-452-8322 Family, friends and adult children are welcome. Come anytime and stay as long as you want. Mingle, play cards or board games, and be entertained. Musicians can bring instruments and take the stage. Singers are a plus! RSVP to receive location and details.
December 9 Thursday at 8:00pm ET – phone 319-527-3487. The New Member Orientation Call is open to all members to ask questions about the organization, share resources, discuss local issues and learn about volunteer opportunities. If unable to connect, text “CALL ME” to 319-527-3487 to receive connection call.
December 10 Friday – Brevard Re-Entry Task Force Meeting. 3:00 pm. Seeking Non-registered Volunteers to serve on the Sub-Committee for Registered Citizens. Contact [email protected] or call 407-814-4203 by December 9th.
December 11 Saturday Family Support sessions – 11:00am-1:00pm. Therapist-led group session via Zoom, for family member or loved ones of registered citizens only. Must be FAC member to participate. Contact [email protected] or call 833-273-7325, Option 1.
December 11 Saturday Hillsborough Breakfast Action Club- 9:00am. For location, contact [email protected] or call 321-754-0446.
December 13 Monday at 7:00pm ET – Fearless Group Peer-led Support group – You are Not Alone. Dial (727) 731-2927 to join the Fearless Group and the peer leaders Daphne and Don. For more information about the support group, contact [email protected] or call 321-754-0446, or see Fearless Group Post
December 18 Saturday Hillsborough Holiday Party from 1:00-4:00pm. For location, contact [email protected] or call 321-754-0446.
December 24 Friday (4:00pm-10:00 pm) and December 25 (4:00pm – 8:00pm) -Virtual Holiday Party. Wanted DJs, Game Hosts, Musicians, Singers, Comedians, and other talents to fill ten hours of entertainment. Have your moment in the spotlight and take the stage. If you want to host a segment of the party, contact [email protected] or call 833-273-7325, Option 1.
Need to Talk? FAC has peer volunteers that are here to talk one-on-one, call 904-452-8322. Volunteers are not available 24/7 but you will receive a call as soon as possible. If you have an emergency, call 911, or helpline at 1-800-273-8255 or a crisis center (Listing of Crisis Centers and Hotlines)
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