Hot Chicken Takeover improves lives of those in reentry

Hot Chicken Takeover

Some of Hot Chicken Takeover’s team members.

You might not realize it when you dig into a plate of spicy chicken wings at Columbus, Ohio’s Hot Chicken Takeover (HCT), but this restaurant serves a side of social justice along with its popular cuisine. It’s just one more proof that a business can be successful while at the same time helping those leaving prison get their lives back together.

After tasting Nashville’s famous hot chicken and realizing that there was nothing like it in Columbus, founder Joe DeLoss and his wife Lisa began serving their own version out of their car in a parking lot on weekends. It became a hit, and soon the two found space indoors on the second floor of the city’s North Market, where they were able to serve customers on a more regular basis.

DeLoss took his experience as the founder of a sandwich catering business – a subsidiary of Lutheran Social Services of Central Ohio that hired employees from homeless shelters – and applied it to his new restaurant.

Majority of staff members have been incarcerated

“Seventy percent of the staff is previously incarcerated,” says Cam Williams, the company’s director of operations. “Through media and referrals we attract people who may not have luck finding work elsewhere.”

Hot Chicken Takeover also receives referrals from organizations, including Kind Way, led by a former warden at three Ohio correctional institutions. She put together a group of business leaders who go into prisons and work with people while they’re still inside and provide a support system when they get out.

The staff of HCT operates the restaurant as well as a food truck that serves chicken at events and Columbus Crew professional soccer team games.

In addition to the food it serves and the community it creates through communal dining – the restaurant’s tables are all long and to be shared – HCT carries out a social mission to help formerly incarcerated individuals launch new lives upon release. As they say, “It’s about more than just chicken.”

“We provide financial, personal and professional growth opportunities,” says Williams. “We have a benefits coordinator who connects people with local resources, including Kemba Financial Credit Union, which helps them open a bank account for savings and has even been working with our staff who have been incarcerated for crimes including check fraud.”

Other employee benefits include a savings match program for people who are saving for things like transportation and education, with a 2-to-1 match of up to $700 per year. Employees are also offered an opportunity to meet twice a month with a financial coach to help them plan their financial future. Community partners help secure housing if they need it, because as a university town, it can be difficult to find affordable housing with good landlords in Columbus. And if necessary, there’s a licensed counselor to help with personal crises as they arise.

Although Hot Chicken Takeover provides its employees with an unusual level of services, Williams makes it clear that they’re running a business not a charity.

“We don’t see it as charitable,” he says. “The only thing we do that is charitable is give people a chance.”

Hot Chicken Takeover has high employee retention rate

And the effort pays off in dedicated employees. “We’re sitting at 60% retention. The industry standard is 100% to 150% turnover,” he says.

Although the company plans to operate another restaurant by the end of the year and is currently looking for a location, HCT has its sights set on something greater than selling chicken – hopefully starting a consulting business to help other companies do what it is doing.

“We’re not in this to be restauranteurs,” says Williams. “We’re passionate about expanding the human resources model that we have. We see it as a replicable system that other restaurants or warehouses could include in their business. We’re justifying what we do as being an economic solution not just doing something good. It’s a business that directly benefits from our social mission through retaining employees and not having to retrain them.”

 

Jails to Jobs is searching for ideas for this blog. If you know of a company that is hiring ex-offenders, or if you have unique job search tips that could assist ex-offenders in finding employment or are aware of organizations or agencies doing exceptional things that benefit ex-offenders in their job search efforts, we'd love to hear from you.

New federal pilot project restores Pell Grants for prisoners

Pell GrantsAlthough a college education is not for everyone, it can be a very beneficial use of the time that many people spend behind bars. To help inmates cover the cost of that education, the Obama Administration created the Second Chance Pell pilot program, with 67 participating colleges and universities announced late last month.

Pell Grants are given by the U.S. federal government to students with financial need and they do not need to be repaid. Before 1995 prisoners had access to these grants, but the passage of the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act brought an end to the practice. Over the years there have been efforts to restore them, and more than two decades later, Pell Grants for prisoners are back again.

The colleges and universities chosen to participate will partner with more than 100 federal and state penal institutions to enroll roughly 12,000 incarcerated students in educational and training programs. These institutions may provide federal Pell Grants to qualified students who are incarcerated and are likely to be released within five years of enrolling in coursework.

“Access to high quality education is vital to ensuring that justice-involved individuals have an opportunity to reclaim their lives and restore their futures,” said Attorney General Loretta Lynch.

“Through this partnership with the Department of Education and institutions of higher learning around the country, this program will help give deserving incarcerated individuals the skills to live lives of purpose and contribute to society upon their release.”

Most programs classroom-based

Most of the schools are public two-year and four-year institutions that will offer classroom-based instructions on-site at various corrections facilities. Others plan to offer online education or a combination of both classroom and online instruction. About 37 percent of the schools will offer prison-based education for the first time. Although it depends on the institution, schools could begin offering education and training programs as early as July 1.

The colleges and universities selected for the pilot project include Auburn University in Alabama, Bennington College in Vermont, California State University Los Angeles, Fond du Lac Tribal & Community College in Minnesota, Marymount Manhattan College in New York, Rutgers in New Jersey and Tulsa Community College in Oklahoma, among many others.

Research has proved that educating prisoners pays off. A 2013 study from the RAND Corp., funded by the Department of Justice, found that incarcerated individuals who participated in correctional education were 43 percent less likely to return to prison within three years than prisoners who did not participate in any correctional education programs. RAND also estimated that for every dollar invested in correctional education programs, four to five dollars are saved on three-year re-incarceration costs.

Recognizing the economic and social benefits of education for prisoners, the Pell Grant pilot project will build on the Obama Administration’s commitment to create a fairer and more effective criminal justice system, reduce recidivism, and combat the impact of mass incarceration on families and communities through educational opportunity.

 

Jails to Jobs is searching for ideas for this blog. If you know of a company that is hiring ex-offenders, or if you have unique job search tips that could assist ex-offenders in finding employment or are aware of organizations or agencies doing exceptional things that benefit ex-offenders in their job search efforts, we'd love to hear from you.

New book outlines how to create a tattoo removal program

create a tattoo removal programJails to Jobs has published another book, and this one is a how-to guide on setting up a free or low-cost tattoo removal program.

Whether you’re a nonprofit, medical professional, tattoo artist, prison official, sheriff’s department employee or other interested party, Tattoo Removal: Establishing a Free or Low-Cost Community-Based Program: A How-to Guide can help you help those leaving prison or jail or a gang get their lives back together.

One of the greatest challenges previously incarcerated and former gang members face is having anti-social or gang-related tattoos. And the thousands of hits we get on our website’s national directory of free and low cost tattoo removal programs tells us that many of them want those tattoos taken off.

That is why we wrote the guide. The inspiration came partly from the number of hits on our directory. But it also came from the fact that in putting together the directory, we realized just how few of these tattoo removal programs exist and the desperate need for this type of service. It can help those reentering society, leaving gangs and gaining freedom from human trafficking heal, transform and become employed.

Tattoo Removal: Establishing a Free or Low Cost Community-Based Program: A How-to Guide offers an extensive amount of information on topics such as why people get tattoos to begin with and what hiring managers think about those who have them. It also covers the types of laser devices and tips on how to find a location for a program, recruit volunteers, estimate costs and secure funding, and determine necessary equipment and supplies.

There are success stories of those who have had their tattoos removed and case studies of free or low-cost tattoo removal programs to inspire others who may want to start one themselves.

The guide includes a variety of tattoo removal program models, from hospital and prison (and jail) pre-release programs to those operated by nonprofits, individual doctors and churches. For organizations that would like to establish a program but can’t afford their own equipment, we recommend a “pop-up program” in partnership with a medical professional, tattoo removal technician, a laser rental company that can provide or source the medical professional, or someone else who can do the procedures.

Included are directories of laser device companies and their products, laser rental companies, schools that teach tattoo removal procedures and professional associations. There’s also a list of potential partners, advice from those who have operated successful tattoo removal programs and a section covering legal liability.

An appendix includes sample forms that can be tailored for use by other programs.

Copies of Tattoo Removal: Establishing a Free or Low Cost Community-Based Program: A How-to Guide are available through amazon.com.

 

Jails to Jobs is searching for ideas for this blog. If you know of a company that is hiring ex-offenders, or if you have unique job search tips that could assist ex-offenders in finding employment or are aware of organizations or agencies doing exceptional things that benefit ex-offenders in their job search efforts, we'd love to hear from you.

Global Homeboy Network Gathering scheduled for August

Global Homeboy Network

The Global Homeboy Network Gathering in L.A. in August will include optional tours of Homeboy Industries facilities.

The third annual Global Homeboy Network Gathering will take place August 7-9, 2016, at The California Endowment in Los Angeles.

The event attracts about 200 people each year from throughout the U.S. and around the world who have been inspired by Homeboy Industries in their own work and organizations.

The Network, which now includes more than 85 organizations, was created with the first conference in 2014 to help other organizations spread the Homeboy model to locations beyond Los Angeles.

This year’s gathering will begin with a welcome reception at the Homegirl Café late Sunday afternoon. The next two days will include workshops on such topics as social entrepreneurial programs and development, fundraising and development, peer navigation and membership, and identity and re-identification.

Hotel rooms have been blocked at the Sheraton Los Angeles Downtown Hotel and Doubletree by Hilton on South Los Angeles Street and listed under “Homeboy Industries.”

Those interested in participating in the gathering can register on the Homeboy Industries website.

The cost to attend is:

  • $150 for those who register before June 24
  • $200 for those who register between June 25 and July 22
  • $225 late registration between July 23 and August 1

Founded in 1988 by Father Greg Boyle, a Jesuit priest who still runs the organization, Homeboy Industries is considered one of the world’s largest and most successful reentry and gang intervention programs. It operates a variety of social enterprises including a bakery, café, silkscreen and embroidery business, and a diner at Los Angeles City Hall.

 

Jails to Jobs is searching for ideas for this blog. If you know of a company that is hiring ex-offenders, or if you have unique job search tips that could assist ex-offenders in finding employment or are aware of organizations or agencies doing exceptional things that benefit ex-offenders in their job search efforts, we'd love to hear from you.

All Star Labor & Staffing proves value of employment agency

agency

Ramona Mathany, founder and director of All Star Labor & Staffing

Whether they’re looking for a temporary, temp-to-perm or permanent position, those in re-entry need all the help they can get. And for many, turning to a staffing agency may be the most effective way to find employment.

Few people know this better than Ramona Mathany, founder and director of Portland, Ore., headquartered All Star Labor & Staffing.

“I did prison ministry for 10 years. After about three years of watching a revolving door in the prison, I was horrified to see them coming back and the whole reason they came back was because they couldn’t find a job,” she says.

“At the same time a very good friend of ours got out of prison and couldn’t find a job. I watched firsthand what happened to her. She had a felony, but it didn’t have anything to do with the type of work she was looking for. It was so frustrating, so I decided I should start something and fix it.”

And she’s done just that through All Star Labor & Staffing. Mathany estimates that of the 4,007 people the company had out on jobs last year, about 55 percent had criminal records. Her Redding, Calif. office is in the 80 percent range, while Bend, Ore., is 30 or 40 percent. The company also has offices in Albany and Salem, Ore.

It places employees – temps, temp-to-perms and direct hires – in jobs in manufacturing, food production and construction, as well as administrative office work and such hospitality jobs as cooks, servers, baristas and bartenders.

For those in reentry, working with an employment agency may be the only option for true success.

Why use an employment agency?

“Because they actually don’t have to do the interview. The interview is very stressful for someone, especially for those with a record,” says Mathany.

“Sometimes they’re so nervous they can’t show off what they can do. We’ve already done the interview for them by getting the customer. The best workers, in a lot of cases, may not interview the best, especially if they’re nervous about their background.”

This is a very good example, in general, of why it’s so important to prepare for interviews, including roleplaying them with family and friends.

Those who are sent out on assignment by All Star can also feel confident that they have the personality and ability to do the job. The company only hires 29 percent of the people it interviews.

Whether people are selected of course depends on if they can do the job, but that’s not all that matters, according to Mathany.

“It has to do with the attitude with which they’re reentering. We don’t want anybody who’s going to stay in the criminal mindset working for us,” she says. “We want someone who is completely remorseful for what they’ve done, and who says they would never do it again. They want to change their lives.”

Advice to job seekers

Mathany says there are several things that those with a records should do:

  • Go out there and do the very best job you can, and work faster and harder than the other employees on the job.
  • Always tell the truth about your past.
  • Follow every single rule the employer tells you to follow.
  • Work circles around the other people there. It will not matter what your background is if you’re that kind of worker.

Convincing employers

Although many companies refuse to hire those in reentry, Mathany has been quite successful at convincing employers to consider this population.

She says she begins by sending employers people without backgrounds, as that opens the door. “We then ask them if they’d consider working with people from this population,” Mathany says. And often they will.

“We’re trying to change the face of employment and have people realize that this is an incredible population to work with,” she adds.

Note: For anyone outside of All Star’s operating areas of Portland, Bend, Albany, and Salem, Ore.; and Redding Calif., please see our website for a list of temp agencies in other parts of the country that we have heard good things about.

 

Jails to Jobs is searching for ideas for this blog. If you know of a company that is hiring ex-offenders, or if you have unique job search tips that could assist ex-offenders in finding employment or are aware of organizations or agencies doing exceptional things that benefit ex-offenders in their job search efforts, we'd love to hear from you.

Career Online High School offers education at local libraries

libraries

Los Angeles Public Library held a graduation ceremony for its first Career Online High School Class early this year. It was officiated by L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, City Librarian John F. Szabo, Board of Library Commissioners President Bich Ngoc Cao and State Librarian of California Greg Lucas.

 

Although libraries are continually reinventing themselves to meet the needs of the 21st century, serving as a high school has to be one of the most unique ideas yet.

As part of the first program of its type anywhere, a growing number of libraries across the U.S. are offering their patrons a chance to earn a high school diploma.

It’s called Career Online High School and combines a high school education – culminating in a diploma not a GED – along with additional specialization in one of eight in-demand career fields. These career certificates, ranging from certified transportation services to retail customer service skills, give graduates an extra edge when they search for employment upon graduation or a head start if they decide to go on for further education or training.

Developed in 2012 by Cengage Learning and Smart Horizons Career Online Education, the Career Online High School program was adapted for the public library market by Gale, a division of Cengage Learning, in 2014.

Currently more than 70 public libraries offer Career Online High School, with nearly 1,000 students and more than 130 graduates nationwide so far.

Libraries adapt to changing needs

The program is part of the ever-evolving mission of libraries determined to adapt to the changing needs of their patrons.

“In 2008 with the recession, libraries were impacted. A lot of libraries were seeing a ton more traffic than before,” said Phil Faust, vice president and publisher for databases at Gale. “What we saw in the market was a changing of the needs. People were coming and looking for help finding new jobs. They’d been in an industry like the automotive industry and never done anything else but had now been laid off.

“Libraries across the country started switching their programming and focus to educating the community, high school completion, things like that.”

And Career Online High School is one of the best examples of this.

How it works for a library and its students

Gale partners with libraries that are interested and guides them through an eight-week start-up and training process. Each library is provided a different package, depending on the number of seats (space for students) it wants. Some libraries have 25 students, while others will buy upwards of 200 seats at a time.

The students begin with a pre-requisite program, going through a sample class that shows them what it’s like to participate and allows the library to evaluate whether they qualify.

If accepted into the program, a student will have 18 months to complete it. All instruction is online, and students can either do the work at home or entirely at the library, if they have no computer or Internet access otherwise. Each student is given a scholarship, which comes out of the library’s budget, so there is no cost to them. Some libraries, including the San Diego Public Library, encourage members of the community to support the program by paying for a scholarship.

Gale offers support through representatives who work with the individual libraries, but it also offers support to individual students.

“We have dedicated academic coaches (provided by Smart Horizons) assigned to every student who takes the program. Their job is to assist them to make sure they’re successful and get through the program,” said Faust.

Los Angeles Public Library, one of the early adopters of Career Online High School, held a graduation ceremony in January for its first class of 28 students.

“L.A. is a city of second chances, and our libraries are a vital resource to help level the playing field of opportunity,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti at the ceremony. “As today’s graduates complete their secondary education through the Career Online High School, we are inspired by the power of these types of programs to transform the lives of Angelenos.”

And as more libraries sign on to the program, Career Online High School is in the process of transforming the lives of people not just in Los Angeles, but across the U.S.

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Students or libraries interested in more information can contact Gale.

Online campus in Florida prisons

In addition to libraries, this program is being used by the Florida Department of Corrections. Known as FDOC Online Campus it operates at 15 facilities across the state. About 1,100 inmates have received diplomas during the the four years that the program has been in existence.

 

Jails to Jobs is searching for ideas for this blog. If you know of a company that is hiring ex-offenders, or if you have unique job search tips that could assist ex-offenders in finding employment or are aware of organizations or agencies doing exceptional things that benefit ex-offenders in their job search efforts, we'd love to hear from you.

National Reentry Week hosts events around the nation

reentry

Attorney General Loretta Lynch

For those of you who don’t already know it, this week – April 24-30 – is the first ever National Reentry Week.

The designation was established by the U.S. Department of Justice, which says that the week is part of the Obama Administration’s efforts to make the U.S. criminal justice system fairer, more efficient and more effective at reducing recidivism.

“Too often, justice-involved individuals who have paid their debt to society confront daunting obstacles to good jobs, decent housing, adequate health care, quality education, and even the right to vote,” said Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch.

“National Reentry Week highlights the many ways that the Department of Justice – and the entire Obama Administration – is working to tear down the barriers that stand between returning citizens and a meaningful second chance – leading to brighter futures, stronger communities, and a more just and equal nation for all.”

Lynch, along with U.S. Department. of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, will travel to Philadelphia on Monday, April 25, to hold events with public housing advocates, legal services providers and community leaders. Later in the week she will visit a Federal Bureau of Prisons facility in Talladega, Ala., to highlight reentry programs in prison.

Reentry events in all 50 states and elsewhere

Other events are taking place in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The U.S. Attorney’s Offices alone are hosting more than 200 events, and the Federal Bureau of Prisons more than 370 events.

Among the events organized by the White House and the Department of Justice:

  • On Monday, April 25, the White House will hold an event with the Brennan Center on the costs of incarceration.
  • On Monday, April 25, Director Lisa Foster of the Office for Access Justice will hold a joint event in Los Angeles with the Department of Housing and Urban Development to announce new efforts to improve outcomes for justice-involved youth. She will also attend a Conviction and Sentence Alternatives (CASA) Program Graduation Ceremony in Los Angeles.
  • On Tuesday, April 26, Assistant Attorney General Karol V. Mason of the Office of Justice Programs will attend a girls mentoring event at a local detention facility. The event is sponsored by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia.
  • On Tuesday, April 26, Second Chance Fellow Daryl Atkinson of the Office of Justice Programs will deliver remarks at a reentry simulation in Birmingham sponsored by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Alabama.
  • On Wednesday, April 27, the White House will host the Fair Chance Opportunities Champions of Change event in South Court Auditorium. Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch will deliver remarks and Deputy Attorney General Sally Q. Yates will moderate a panel at the event.
  • On Thursday, April 28, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta of the Civil Rights Division will deliver remarks at a reentry event at Mickey Leland Transitional Housing Facility, sponsored by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia.
  • On Friday, April 29, Principal Deputy Director Bea Hanson of the U.S. Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women will visit a federal women’s prison in West Virginia.
  • On Friday, April 29, the United States Department of Labor will host a celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Federal Bonding Program. Deputy  Deputy Attorney General Sally Q. Yates will deliver remarks at the event.

 

Jails to Jobs is searching for ideas for this blog. If you know of a company that is hiring ex-offenders, or if you have unique job search tips that could assist ex-offenders in finding employment or are aware of organizations or agencies doing exceptional things that benefit ex-offenders in their job search efforts, we'd love to hear from you.

Laser device company assists free and low cost tattoo removal efforts

laser deviceLaser device companies can play a leading role in the effort to help formerly incarcerated individuals remove their gang-related and antisocial tattoos.

To find out how they can do that, just ask Nick Bergman, director of QuantaCares at Quanta Aesthetic Lasers, a company that, through its QuantaCares program, gives practitioners who perform free or low-cost tattoo removals a break in the price of their devices.

“We have found that there is a tremendous need for tattoo removal for those transitioning from jails to productive society. There is good data that supports the idea that a reduction in visible tattoos supports a reduction in recidivism. Because of that, we offer incentives to those willing to help,” Bergman says.

“Without getting into exact numbers, we offer sizable discounts for individuals who want to make a difference with this population. This can include, but isn’t limited to, removing antisocial or gang-related tattoos. There are also sex trafficking victims who have been tattooed or branded. Laser tattoo removal has helped these victims, and this is the foundation of QuantaCares.”

Laser device company creates Quanta Cares initiative

After helping numerous individuals in the past, including Dawn Maestas, on an ad hoc basis, Quanta Aesthetic Lasers has formalized its efforts into the QuantaCares initiative.

This initiative supports potential customers who are willing to commit to doing a small amount of pro bono work – typically two cases per month. These partners then send before and after pictures along with a brief background story after the treatment is completed.

laser device

The idea for QuantaCares came from Nick Bergman, who now directs the program.

The idea for QuantaCares came from Bergman, who was involved in the corrections industry in a previous job.

“That job required me to visit numerous correctional facilities in the U.S. and Canada, where I discovered there are alarmingly high rates of incarceration and recidivism by any measure,” says Bergman. “A few years later, I transitioned to Quanta. I had read a few stories about how much tattoo removal had changed the lives of formerly incarcerated individuals. With QuantaCares, we can make a measurable difference in the lives of others.”

Another part of the company’s QuantaCares efforts concerns pre-release tattoo removal programs.

“We are in the process of developing a curriculum to share with correctional institutions,” Bergman says.

Creating pre-release programs

“We’d like to not only provide facilities with the tools needed to remove tattoos, but give inmates the desire to have employment-hindering tattoos removed. Statistics show that inmates who reoffend, if they have visible tattoos, reoffend more quickly. If we can help people understand the value in removing ink from their hands and face, I believe that it can only help the success of this program,” Bergman adds.

Bergman believes that laser device companies should be committed to playing an important social role.

“In my opinion, laser companies have a tremendous responsibility to make efforts that their devices are being used responsibly not only from a liability standpoint, but from a social standpoint as well,” he says.

“That said, we can only do so much. When push comes to shove, it is those who are operating the lasers who are making the true difference and we are doing our best to support them.”

How to become a QuantaCares program member

If you are interested in being among those supported and are truly committed to helping others, you can apply to become a member of the QuantaCares program by emailing Bergman at nbergman@quantausa.com. You will receive an application that asks for basic information, as well as your business plan and motivation for getting involved.

By becoming part of the QuantaCares program, you too will be able to make a difference in the lives of others.

 

 

Jails to Jobs is searching for ideas for this blog. If you know of a company that is hiring ex-offenders, or if you have unique job search tips that could assist ex-offenders in finding employment or are aware of organizations or agencies doing exceptional things that benefit ex-offenders in their job search efforts, we'd love to hear from you.

Don’t forget to write job interview thank you notes

thank you noteIn conducting a job search, you always need to keep in mind ways to set yourself apart from other applicants. And one of those ways is to write a thank you note.

Be sure to do this after every job interview, but also after after an informational interview or job shadowing experience. If you’re proactive, as we recommend, and drop by restaurants, retail shops or businesses unannounced to talk to the hiring manager about potential job opportunities, be sure to follow up by sending a thank you note to that person as well.

While many people don’t bother to send these notes, it’s very important to do so.

In a survey of 2,878 hiring managers conducted in 2011 by Harris International for CareerBuilder, more than one in five (22%) said they are less likely to hire a candidate who doesn’t send a thank you note after the interview. The reasons stated: It shows a lack of follow through and sends a message that the candidate is not really serious about the opportunity.

Although the survey was conducted nearly five years ago, it still rings true. Hiring managers like to be thanked.

While it used to be said that hand-written notes were the preferred method to thank people, these days email thank you notes are also appropriate. Some people send an email note within 24 hours of the interview and follow up with a hand-written note that emphasizes other details.

Either way, the medium may not be as important as the message.

What to include in a thank you note

Be sure to keep the thank you note to a few paragraphs, and use it strategically to:

  • Bring up a point or two that you didn’t remember to mention in the interview.
  • Briefly elaborate on a question the interviewer asked but you feel you didn’t answer well.
  • Clarify anything that you think might have been misunderstood.
  • Show that you are really interested in the position (or the field, if it’s an informational interview).

If you’re not sure how to write one, there are plenty of examples of interview thank you notes online. Just search using the term “interview thank you notes,” and they will come up. Read a few examples and write an original note of your own.

Creating a habit of writing follow-up thank you notes will be just one more way to help ensure your job search is successful.

 

Jails to Jobs is searching for ideas for this blog. If you know of a company that is hiring ex-offenders, or if you have unique job search tips that could assist ex-offenders in finding employment or are aware of organizations or agencies doing exceptional things that benefit ex-offenders in their job search efforts, we'd love to hear from you.

Use job shadowing technique to explore opportunities firsthand

job shadowingJob shadowing goes a step beyond informational interviewing and can give you even better insight into a particular field or job. It is also a bit trickier to set up, however, and is not for everyone.

To job shadow means that you spend several hours, a day or even longer, “shadowing” a particular employee as they do their work. This technique can be particularly good if you don’t know exactly what you want to do, because it gives you a chance to explore various jobs and how they’re carried out on a day-to-day basis.

Job shadowing also can be beneficial for those who have a pretty good idea of what type of work they would enjoy, based on their knowledge and skills. For example, you know a lot about hand tools and are thinking about becoming a carpenter’s assistant. Find a carpenter, and ask if you could “shadow” them for a day. You would go to their job site and watch what they do, maybe help out a bit in the process.

How to create a job shadowing opportunity

In order to job shadow you need the cooperation of the person you want to shadow, plus sometimes the permission of the company where that person works. Although this tactic takes time and effort to set up, it will provide a firsthand experience of what a certain type of job entails. And it will give you a new contact or two of people who are working in a field you might like to pursue.

To get the most out of the experience, treat it similarly to an informational interview. Make a list of questions to ask, and as you follow the person through the day observe exactly what they do, what type of tools and equipment they use, and how they interact with co-workers and clients (if they have them).

Also try to talk to the person’s coworkers, who may be doing slightly different jobs and can give you even further insight into the field.

If you can afford it, offer to take the person you are shadowing out to lunch. It’s a small price to pay for the time and attention they are giving you.

When you’re actually applying for work at a later date, you could come back to them to see if they have any jobs and mention some of the things you observed during your job shadowing experience. You may also see something you could improve in their operations, a problem that could be solved or a need that you might be able to fulfill.

Don’t forget a thank you note

After the experience is over, don’t forget to send a thank you note. Although an email note is OK, a hand written card will make a better impression.

While job shadowing may offer an unparalleled opportunity to gain inside knowledge and information about a particular career and/or company, perhaps the best thing it can do is increase your network of contacts and offer one more person who hopefully will be happy to help you on your pathway to employment.

And while you’re busy setting up job shadowing opportunities, you might want to use some of your free time to take a look at the jobshadow.com website, which includes interviews with everyone from a fast food restaurant manager and roofer to a firefighter and fly fishing guide.

 

Jails to Jobs is searching for ideas for this blog. If you know of a company that is hiring ex-offenders, or if you have unique job search tips that could assist ex-offenders in finding employment or are aware of organizations or agencies doing exceptional things that benefit ex-offenders in their job search efforts, we'd love to hear from you.