Job Search for Ex Offenders

I have a Class X felony on my record that is 13 years old, yet it can not be expunged. Briefly, it was my first and only arrest. I count myself lucky because the company I worked for then kept me on the payroll and I had a position waiting for me when I got to work release. When that company closed its doors in 2000, reality set in. I went on 6 interviews to one company and then they sent me a letter explaining that my background was simply not what they had hoped for. So many doors are closed to people like me. I act and live as normally as everyone else, yet when I interview now the fear of discovery, along with the age factor is unbelievable. I am supposed to be going to school through WIA since I became unemployed once again. Do you have access to companies that either don't check that far back, companies that don't check, or those that understand our justice system is not always foolproof? Any help you could give would be greatly appreciated.


Yes, it sounds like you are in a difficult position. I have worked with others who have expressed the same frustration. Unfortunately, we have not been able to maintain a list of agencies that no longer do a background check. There are several programs that focus specifically on working with ex-offenders. One is the Safer Foundation which is in downtown Chicago. I also found some websites that might provide helpful information.

• The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) and the Chicago Jobs Council as a project of the Governor’s Working Group on Community Safety and Re-entry to bring together the growing body of workforce resources available to those who assist ex-offenders. Related Resources for Ex-Offenders.

• City of Chicago Employment Services for Ex-Offenders. Mayor Daley's WorkNet Chicago is committed to helping ex-offenders re-enter the workforce. The selected WorkNet partners listed have experience working with ex-offenders in programs and other supportive services that help develop the skills needed to achieve self-sufficiency. For more details contact the Mayor's Office of Workforce Development at 312.746.7777

I have also seen that some of the local Illinois workNet Centers and community colleges offer programming and information that may be helpful.

There is another way to approach it you might consider as well – and that is honesty – offering the information up front – explaining what you learned, demonstrate the positive work history that you have accomplished and see if that makes a difference.

Good Luck! Career Experts @

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