Q: Dear Dr. Culp, I spent seven years in prison and three on the street. How can I ever find a job?
A: Dear Looking, I asked you for information about your conviction and activities on the street but didnt hear from you. The questions werent nosy and your answers wouldnt have made you look like every other person whos been convicted or homeless. While its true that this column is public, without some details, theres little I can do to help.
Its important to retain privacy as much as you can, but any employer who does a background check on you will find bad news. If you dont let the employer know up-front about your history, youll be perceived as untrustworthy.
You must have done something on the street or in prison that you could use as a bridge to employment of some kind, including self-employment. You might have developed skill in speaking to all kinds of people. You might have noticed a need that you could supply through your own business.
Get a list of skills together and take it to Goodwill and the Salvation Army, which have contacts to employers who hire people with records. mlc
Q: Dear Dr. Culp, Im overwhelmed at the prospect of job hunting, because Ive never done it and I dont like marketing. I also dont have a lot of contacts. Can you tell me how to get started? I know I have to.
A: Dear Tenderhooks, Many people would say that you can start without knowing what you want to do. That usually means they havent done enough research to figure it out. Breaking this project into segments will help you gain confidence as you build up to job hunting.
Think of job hunting as the time you spend in actual contact with employers by telephone or in person. Everything you do prior to that isnt job hunting.
Decide first what kind of job you want. This part is identifying your objective. When youve found the approximate title of a position that fits you, think about the environment where youll have it.
Come up with five characteristics of organizations where the kind of work you want to do is done. For example, consider product or service, industry, sales volume, geographical reach, longevity, customer base and number of employees.
The more you know about where youre headed, the easier the job of heading you in that direction! :)