U.S. Dept. of Labor’s Women’s Bureau offers web portal for women seeking higher paying work

Women's BureauThe Women’s Bureau of the U.S. Dept. of Labor has created a very useful website portal, Women Build, Protect & Move America, geared toward women who wish to find higher paying careers in construction, transportation and protective services.

The site includes occupation info from the Occupational Outlook Handbook for those specific industry sectors. Each entry covers:

  • The sorts of things people do to perform that specific job.
  • What it takes to become a worker in that field.
  • Pay scales.
  • Employment numbers and wages per state.
  • Job outlook (growth in number of jobs in the future).

A section on training, scholarships and recruitment incorporates a variety of programs by various agencies and organizations around the country.

Programs to help women enter nontraditional fields 

Building Pathways The Action for Boston Community Development’s six-week program that prepares candidates for a career in construction.

Transportation Alliance for New Solutions (TrANS) A training model sponsored by the Wisconsin Dept. of Transportation I-94 North South Corridor Project to address the shortage of women and minorities in highway construction.

Rosie’s Girls A one-week summer day camp operated by Vermont Works for Women for middle-school girls to teach them carpentry and engineering skills.

Lady Truck Drivers A website dedicated to women who drive trucks or would like to and includes a directory of trucking companies that are interested in hiring women truckers and women in trucking related jobs.

Women in Transportation A program of Los Angeles Trade-Tech Community College that prepares women for employment in the automotive, heavy equipment and collision industries. Participants must be a member of one of three categories to participate, including being a previous offender (on probation or parole) – the other two are being unemployed or failure to graduate from high school or attain a GED.

Apprenticeship info is among other resources the website offers

Other resources at Women Build, Protect & Move America include a guide to nationwide and local apprenticeship programs offered by agencies, unions and nonprofit organizations. Among these are Chicago Women in Trades, Independent Electrical Contractors Fort Worth, Puget Sound Electrical Apprenticeship, University of Iron, and Mass Building Trades.

The site also has a section for employers who are looking to fill jobs by recruiting women from outside their industries.

Anyone interested in employment in nontraditional work or companies that would like to hire them should tap into the resources on the Women Build, Protect & Move America website. And always remember to check your local American Job Center to find out if there might be other programs in your area.

For more information on opportunities for women, check out:

Together We Bake

East Bay Community Birth Support Project

Nontraditional Employment for Women

 

How a job search support team can help you find work

job search support teamLooking for a job can be lonely, and you may get easily discouraged. But it’s not something you have to do entirely on your own.

You can get some help from others and improve your chances of finding employment by creating a job search support team.

What is a job search support team?

It’s pretty much exactly like it sounds. Put together a team of carefully chosen people who can support you in your efforts. Doing this can help you dramatically expand your reach and find more opportunities. In fact, the late Richard Bolles author of What Color is Your Parachute? states it is one of the four best ways to hunt for a job.

This team will be your troop, your eyes and ears on the ground as you scour the landscape for potential job opportunities. Members can support you in many ways, from hearing about job openings and connecting you to their contacts to reading your resume and critiquing your elevator pitch.

The group should have no more than 10 members – but even one or two could make a viable team – and you should choose them carefully. Make sure that they are people who would likely be willing to take the time to help you achieve your goal of finding a job. Ideally, one or more of your team members should be working at the type of job you want to do, because they will be more likely to hear about openings that are appropriate for your talents and skills.

Create an action plan

Put together an action plan, or outline of steps, focusing on how you will approach each potential member. The best way is face-to-face. Call them up and invite them for coffee, if you can afford it. If they happen to be a hiring manager, make it clear when you call that you just want guidance. You won’t ask them for a job.

When you get together be very specific about the type of work you’re looking for and why you are good at it. Ask them, “Do you know someone who might know someone who might be looking to hire a person with my experience and abilities.Having your JIST card to share with them could be very useful.

If they say “no,” ask them to let you know if they hear of any opportunities they think you would be interested in. And also ask them if it would be OK to check in with them in a month or so. Since these are people you’ve chosen because you sense they are the supportive type, they will no doubt agree.

Once you’ve assembled your team, make sure you keep a record of when you talk to each of them and what they told you. You can use a file box with index cards or a pad of paper. First write each person’s name and contact info at the top of the index card or piece of paper. Then make a list of the dates of your discussions and what you talked about. If you have a computer you can do the same thing using a Word doc or Excel spreadsheet.

You’ll also want to have a calendar, so after you talk to each person you can schedule a time to call them again a month later.

Creating a job search support team will take time and effort, so don’t be concerned about having one in place before you start your job search.  But the assistance of its members should help to provide you with extra confidence, contacts and encouragement that may make a difference.

A unique approach to handling a job interview over lunch

job interview over lunchA while back Shankar Vedantam, NPR’s social science correspondent, had an interesting segment on scientific research proving how eating the same food can bring people closer together. And it’s something you might want to consider if you’re having a job interview over lunch.

He interviewed Ayelet Fishback of the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. She and a colleague ran a series of food-related experiments, including one in which a group of volunteers playing union members and managers were negotiating hourly wages.

The two members of each pair were either both given candy, both given salty snacks or one received candy and the other salty snacks. It turned out that when each was eating something different it took twice as many rounds of negotiations to make the wage decision than if they were both eating the same thing.

The researchers admit that the process is probably unconscious. They don’t exactly understand how it works but suspect that eating the same food creates trust and fosters cooperation.

This may be something to keep in mind when you get together for a job interview that involves a meal.

Important tips to keep in mind for a lunch interview

But then there are also many other things to do:

  • Prepare as you would for a normal interview, although often an invitation to a meal is the second or third interview, so you may have dealt with all the ordinary interview questions previously.
  • Either way, taking you to lunch is a chance for the employer to observe how you act in a social situation and get to know you informally. Make sure you plan ahead for some interesting things to talk about (along with the usual answers to typical interview questions). Try to stay clear of anything controversial, including political subjects. Also keep the conversation professional and be careful what you say in general.
  • Research the restaurant ahead of time to get an idea of the ambience and location. Study the menu and think about what you might like to order (in case you don’t want to order the same thing as the interviewer, although we suggest you do when possible). Also, if there’s something interesting you learned about the building it’s in or the food it serves, you can use that as a topic of conversation.
  • Arrange a meeting place preferably in front of the restaurant, so you won’t have trouble identifying the person you’re meeting with. And if you’ve never met them look for their photo online so they’ll be easier to recognize.
  • Dress professionally appropriate to the job you’ve applied for.
  • Arrive at least 15 minutes early.
  • Practice a power pose to boost your confidence.
  • Turn off your cell phone and don’t check it – not even once – during the meal.
  • Try to relax and enjoy yourself.
Make sure to mind your manners

Practice proper etiquette:

  • Don’t order the most expensive – or the cheapest – item on the menu.
  • Don’t order alcohol, even if your host does. Alcohol tends to loosen inhibitions, and you might say something you didn’t intend to.
  • Order something easy to eat.
  • Be polite to the waitstaff.
  • Wait until everyone receives their meal before you begin to eat.
  • Eat slowly, and don’t talk with your mouth full.
  • Make eye contact with the person interviewing you and others if more than one person comes.
  • Don’t forget your manners. Say “please” and “thank you.”
  • Try to eat everything, if possible, and never ask for a doggy bag.
  • When finished, put your knife and fork on the plate and carefully fold your napkin and place it beside the plate.
  • Let the host pick up the bill. You were invited.

Follow these rules, and your interview should be a success.

And don’t forget to follow up with a thank you note.

 

How to get an interview by offering to help hiring managers solve their problems

Get an interviewAs many jobseekers have discovered, contacting HR (human resource) departments or applying online – where resumes also tend to end up in HR – are rarely effective job search techniques.

In fact, the primary purpose of HR departments is to screen people out. We recommend avoiding HR and instead contacting the hiring manager of the department you want to work in. If it’s a small company, that person might be the owner or president.

And when you contact them, there’s a unique approach you may want to try.

A very unique process for getting an interview

To carry out this approach you should first create a list of companies where you might want to work. A good way to find these companies is by using CareerOneStop’s business finder database. Include as many companies as you can within whatever specifications you set, whether it’s the distance from where you live, the size of the company, the products it produces or the services it offers, or whatever.

Then the real research begins. Decide which department would use your talent and skills, and find out the name of the hiring manager for that department.

You may be able to find them on the company’s website. Or you might try using the “advanced search” function on LinkedIn and entering the company name and a variety of manager titles, which could bring up the name of the manager you’re looking for and their correct title. You can do the same thing by doing a general internet search – Google a manager title and company, and see what comes up.

If neither of these work, you can call the company’s main telephone number and ask the person who answers the phone to give you the name of the manager in whatever department you’ve decided would be the right one.

Once you have the hiring manager’s name, you’re ready to begin this process, which is different than any other we’ve ever heard about it.

The idea comes from Liz Ryan, founder and CEO of Human Workplace in Boulder, Colo., and author of Reinvention Roadmap: Break the Rules to Get the Job You Want & Career You Deserve.

Determining business pain is the key

This technique is all about business pain. In other words, you have to figure out what challenges and problems the hiring manager may be facing and let them know how you can help solve them or “lessen their pain.”

Once you’ve zeroed in on the companies you want to work for, do some research on them and others like them to see what kinds of problems they or their industry are facing. If ideas for these problems aren’t obvious from what you already know, search the internet, check out LinkedIn and read local business publications.

If you live in a city with a Business Journal or Business Times (search by using “name of city” and business journal or business times), you have an excellent resource. These newspapers provide invaluable insight and most can be searched online. While some of these are independent publications, many belong to a group known as American City Business Journals, which has publications in 40 cities across the U.S.

If you’re looking for blue-collar work, think about the challenges and problems you’ve encountered in the type of work you do and how you’ve created ways to deal with – or solve –  them.

Now comes the creative part. You’re going to write what Ryan calls a “pain letter.” Instead of promoting your talents and skills like you would in a normal cover letter, you address the issues your potential next boss may be facing.

How to write a “pain letter”

Your brief pain letter should begin by complimenting the hiring manager on something the company has recently accomplished, whether winning a new award, releasing a new product, discovering a new way to operate or whatever.

The next paragraph, according to Ryan, should be a “pain hypothesis,” something you think might be troubling the hiring manager and that you know about from your previous experience.

­

For example, you might write, “I can imagine that you sometimes have trouble because there aren’t enough people scheduled to work on your manufacturing production line, and it could slow down.”

Then tell what Ryan refers to as ­­­­­­a dragon slaying story, how you had this problem and solved it in a previous position.

For example, you might write, “When I was the production supervisor at Excellent Technologies, I instituted a new training program for the 30 assemblers on the manufacturing line that trained at least two people for every position. That way if a person was absent, there was always someone else to take their place. And slowdowns became a thing of the past.”

The letter should be as brief as possible, and all that remains is the closing.

For that you might write something like, “If production line slowdowns or stoppages are something that your company is challenged with, I would love to talk to you when you have some time. Sincerely, Jack Rogers”

Once you finish your pain letter, Ryan suggests printing it out along with your resume or JIST card and mailing it to the hiring managers you’ve targeted. Yes, you read it right. Snail mail. That way they’ll surely see it when it lands on their desk. If you don’t hear back in a week or two, she recommends changing the date on the letter and sending it again.

Still no response? Pick up the phone and call, but do that before or after hours. That’s when you’ll be more likely to reach the hiring manager. Don’t leave a voice mail message, Ryan warns. It’s better to keep calling until you get them on the line. Then you can have a conversation and tell them verbally what you wrote in your pain letter. And if they think you can help alleviate “their pain,” the end result will be an interview.

This is a rather revolutionary technique, and it might not always work, but it sure beats submitting your resume on a job board and having it disappear into the black hole.

 

 

Son of What Color is Your Parachute author Richard Bolles expands his father’s work with eParachute

eParachuteAlthough Richard Bolles, author of What Color is Your Parachute, passed away more than a year ago, his book continues to be published and his work continues to be honored by his son Gary.

Bolles operates the website eparachute.com, which, like the book which inspired it, can help you learn more about yourself and what you’d like to do with your work life. You will be able to discover your strengths, explore hundreds of career paths and see how well certain careers match what you most love to do.

The site, which costs $4.95 per year to access, will take you through a series of exercises that only take a few minutes to complete. You will choose:

  • The type of people you’d like to be around if you were at a party
  • Fields you love – from building and construction and sales and marketing to geography and public safety and security and many, many others in between
  • Skills you like to use

After completing the exercises, eparachute will give you a list of featured ideas for possible types of work. You can explore each of your chosen fields, skills and people types for more work ideas.

For those leaving prison

Bolles has some advice on how to make the most of your days in prison, as far as a future job or career is concerned:

The time in prison can be well spent by doing homework on yourself – understanding your favorite skills, knowledge, and other unique things about yourself,” says Bolles. “It’s also a great time to study new topics that can be useful to you in the work you want to do when you’re back in society.”

“Of course, society isn’t always as welcoming as we’d like to those who were formerly incarcerated, so you’ll need to be really creative in your search. Doing small projects and part-time work through various online markets, like TaskRabbit and UpWork, can provide a way to do work without having to immediately find a full-time job.”

He also recommends being entrepreneurial and possibly starting your own business. That way you can build a work track record.

“But if you’ve done your homework on yourself, and you can describe your best-loved skills, including ways you’ve used them before, you’ll be in a far better position to tell a prospective employer why you can be the one to help solve their particular problems,” Bolles adds.

Those in reentry have a very special skill

It may not be easy to find a job if you have a record, but Bolles is convinced that many of those leaving jail or prison have a very useful skill.

“Especially for those who were formerly incarcerated, it’s important to know that the world of work is changing rapidly. The people who will be successful are those who are very proactive, constantly adapting to do new kinds of work. If you’ve been in prison, you know how to hustle. Put that hustle to good use in the work you do, working hard to solve problems for the people you work for and with, and you’ll do well,” Bolles says.

But before you get to that point, you still need to figure out what kind of work you’d like to do and find employment. Eparachute is one way to jump start your job search. It’s an introduction to the process of discovering what you like to do. Those who want to go one step further can take a more extensive course on Udemy.

Note: While Bolles mentioned TaskRabbit as a way to ease into the job market, TaskRabbit does require a background check. We’re not sure what types of crimes would prohibit people from working TaskRabbit gigs, however.

You may also want to check the Gigs section of Craigslist or other part-time work opportunities. Another way to work your way into employment is to register with a temp agency, many of which are ex-offender friendly.

Consider some of these hot jobs that don’t require a college degree

hot jobs that don't require a college degreeIt is possible to find a good job that pays well and doesn’t require a college degree.

CareerBuilder, the online employment website, has released a list of hot jobs that don’t require a college degree and:

  • pay about $20 or more per hour
  • have grown over the past five years
  • are projected to grow over the next five years

“The path to success is different for everyone,” said Matt Ferguson, CEO of CareerBuilder and co-author of The Talent Equation. “You can build a lucrative career through apprenticeships, post-secondary certificates or on-the-job training. There is significant demand for workers in everything from skilled trades to technology and health-related fields, and you can get your foot in the door without a formal degree.”

Here are CareerBuilder’s recommendations for hot jobs that don’t require a college degree that you may want to consider based on the opportunities they present:

Electricians:

  • Growth in jobs between 2013 and 2017: 11%
  • Expected growth in jobs between 2018 and 2022: 5%
  • Average hourly earnings:  $26.33
  • Required education: high school diploma and apprenticeship

Plumbers, Pipefitters and Steamfitters

  • Growth in jobs between 2013 and 2017: 15%
  • Expected growth in jobs between 2018 and 2022: 5%
  • Average hourly earnings: $25.76
  • Required education: high school diploma and apprenticeship

Computer User Support Specialists

  • Growth in jobs between 2013 and 2017: 10%
  • Expected growth in jobs between 2018 and 2022: 7%
  • Average hourly earnings: $25.50
  • Required education: some college

Industrial Machinery Mechanics

  • Growth in jobs between 2013 and 2017: 9%
  • Expected growth in jobs between 2018 and 2022: 8%
  • Average hourly earnings: $24.87
  • Required education: high school diploma and on-the-job training

Surgical Technologists

  • Growth in jobs between 2013 and 2017: 9%
  • Expected growth in jobs between 2018 and 2022: 7%
  • Average hourly earnings: $22.68
  • Required education: post-secondary non-degree certificate

Heating, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers

  • Growth in jobs between 2013 and 2017: 17%
  • Expected growth in jobs between 2018 and 2022: 6%
  • Average hourly earnings:  $22.39
  • Required education: post-secondary non-degree certificate and on-the-job training

Chefs and Head Cooks

  • Growth in jobs between 2013 and 2017: 13%
  • Expected growth in jobs between 2018 and 2022: 6%
  • Average hourly earnings: $21.54
  • Required education: high school diploma and on-the-job training

Fitness Trainers and Aerobics Instructors

  • Growth in jobs between 2013 and 2017: 7%
  • Expected growth in jobs between 2018 and 2022: 7%
  • Average hourly earnings: $19.96
  • Required education: post-secondary certificate

Self-Enrichment Education Teachers

  • Growth in jobs between 2013 and 2017: 11%
  • Expected growth in jobs between 2018 and 2022: 8%
  • Average hourly earnings:  $19.91
  • Required education: high school diploma

If you will soon be released from jail or prison or are already in reentry, you may want to investigate these jobs and others and discover if any of them match your skills, talents and interests. Your local American Job Center can help with your skills and interest assessment, and job search. Good luck!

 

 

 

ESR offers Ban the Box resources that can help employers meet the challenge of compliance

ban the boxAs Ban the Box efforts increase across the U.S., it can be difficult to keep up-to-date on all the laws that have been passed by cities, states and counties. But it’s important for employers to do so, if they want to be in compliance with those laws.

Novato, Calif.-based ESR (Employment Screening Resources), a global background check organization, has created a Ban the Box Resource Center to help educate employers on how to deal with Ban the Box laws and regulations.

The resources include:

An interactive map of the U.S. Just click on any state to see if there’s a state Ban the Box bill or bills and when they were passed. It also includes all cities and counties that have Ban the Box legislation. According to the map:

  • 11 states – California, Oregon, Washington, Hawaii, Minnesota, Illinois, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Vermont – now have state Ban the Box laws for both public and private employers.
  • 10 states have no Ban the Box laws whatsoever.
  • The rest have either Ban the Box laws for public employees or for cities and/or counties.

A downloadable Ban the Box Resource Guide for States, Counties and Cities. This guide lists the 31 states and more than 150 cities and counties that have established Ban the Box legislation. The list includes links to the various bills and executive orders, so it’s possible to see the exact wording of the laws. It also includes Ban the Box laws created by several cities.

Several whitepapers. These include a general overview of the history and development of Ban the Box legislation and White House and private corporate efforts in this area. Another whitepaper outlines 10 steps that those with criminal records can take to help them get back in the workforce,

A series of infographics. These downloadable infographic reports highlight how California, Los Angeles and San Francisco have handled their Ban the Box efforts.

Together what ESR has created is a great resource for anyone who needs to be aware of Ban the Box laws, wherever they may be located. It might also inspire other city, county and state governments to establish laws of their own.

CalPIA Case Planning Project created to help prepare inmates for employment

CalPIA Case Planning ProjectMany people consider prison industries a form of slave labor, thanks to the incredibly low wages usually paid. But some prisoners look at it as a way to get out of their cells, feel useful and learn how to work with others.

And If more agencies create programs like the California Prison Industry Authority’s new Case Planning Project, incarcerated individuals may also have an easier time finding employment upon reentry.

The California Prison Industry Authority (CALPIA) develops and operates industrial, agricultural and service enterprises that provide work opportunities for offenders under the jurisdiction of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR).

CalPIA selected 140 participants

To carry out its Case Planning Project, now being operated as a pilot project, CalPIA has randomly selected clients from its current workforce who have a time to serve of nine months to five years.

The 140-member cohort includes groups of about 20 members. Each of these groups has a case plan manager or CPM.

“CPMs administer assessments, use motivational interviewing techniques, and meet face-to-face with clients at least monthly,” says Michele Kane, chief external affairs for CalPIA. “CPMs are present throughout the five CALPIA Enterprise locations. They work directly with CDCR Custody, Education, and Rehabilitative Program staff to support the rehabilitative goals of each client. CPMs will facilitate pre-release planning by working directly with CDCR parole staff.”

The Case Planning Project is being carried out at five facilities:

  • Central California Women’s Facility, Chowchilla
  • California Institution for Women, Corona
  • Folsom State Prison (Men’s Facility)
  • Folsom Women’s Facility
  • San Quentin State Prison
Expected outcomes of the CalPIA Case Planning Project

“CALPIA CPM staff will provide individualized offender-focused case management techniques to reinforce the goals of the offender’s Rehabilitative Case Plan. By focusing on the principles of effective intervention CALPIA will enhance public safety through evidence-based practices, which research has shown to reduce recidivism,” says Kane.

“The CDCR uses the California Logic Model, a detailed, sequential description of how to apply evidence-based principles, practices and effective delivery of a core set of rehabilitation programs. Research shows that to achieve positive outcomes, correctional agencies must provide rehabilitative programs to the right offenders, at the right time, and in a manner consistent with evidence-based programming design. The model identifies eight steps in adult offender rehabilitation. CALPIA’s integrated case-planning process includes a stronger emphasis on the offender’s ownership, acceptance, and likely completion of rehabilitation goals.

The program uses a variety of resources to carry out its mission. We were pleased to learn they selected our book, Jails to Jobs: Seven Steps to Becoming Employed, which will be given to participants who will use it as they are preparing to be released and also upon release to help them in their job search reentry.

The CALPIA Case Planning Project will continue until June 30, 2019. If it is successful, it will provide the model for an expanded program throughout CDCR.

 

 

Step Ahead offers job search help for ex-offenders, encourages them to discover their work options

Step AheadWe’re always delighted to discover a new resource for previously incarcerated job seekers, and we’ve found another one.

It’s called Step Ahead and is hosted by the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities and funded by Goodwill/Easter Seals Minnesota. Although developed for use within Minnesota prisons and jails, it is a valuable tool that anyone can use. Some of the resources are Minnesota focused, but the information and exercises are applicable to anyone anywhere.

Written in clear, concise language, the various sections of the website will help you learn what you need to know to assess yourself and organize your job search. By completing the exercises, you will have a better idea of your skills and abilities and how to apply those to your job search.

Useful exercises help job seekers learn what they have to offer

Some of the exercises that will help you focus on what is important to you and what you have to offer a potential employer include:

A strength worksheet that helps you learn more about yourself and prepares you for the inevitable “What are your strengths?” interview question that a hiring manager is likely to ask.

The matching interests to work options exercise that will allow you to match your interests to a variety of careers, some of which you may have not considered.

A value rating sheet encourages you to examine what’s important to you in a job in the way of achievement, independence, recognition, relationships, support or working conditions.

And then there’s a spreadsheet to put these all together, so you can apply what you’ve learned about yourself to your job search.

In addition, the website offers tips and info on:

  • Setting goals and creating a career plan.
  • Expanding your skills and evaluating the skills you developed from work assignments and training programs in prison.
  • Developing job search strategies.
  • Dealing with your record.
  • Determining the various types of interviews and how to deal with each one.
  • Creating a resume.
  • Learning how to network.

Although the Job Search Help section is geared towards jobseekers living in Minnesota who can seek assistance from the organizations listed, those from other states can get similar information by visiting their local American Job Center.

Here are a few additional resources that may help you:

New Beginners Job Search Handbook

My Next Move

Career One-Stop website for ex-offenders

My Skills My Future

 

State departments of vocational rehabilitation provide job training, education, other services

State departments of rehabilitationThere is one excellent resource that far too few in reentry take advantage of. But many should. And that’s state departments of vocational rehabilitation.

Their purpose: to help people who have disabilities find jobs. These disabilities can be physical, mental or even a learning disability.

The state departments of vocational rehabilitation provide job training, counseling and placement and can sometimes offer funds for qualified clients to get a college education at a public community college or public college or university.

Every state has a department of vocational rehabilitation, and they’re an often-overlooked resource. Tribal nations also have them. The majority of the funding (78.7%) comes from the U.S. Dept. of Education, with the difference made up by state monies.

Since an estimated 75% of people leaving a correctional facility have a disability of some sort, many in reentry may be eligible to apply for some of the services offered by one of the vocational rehabilitation departments. They must have a significant barrier to getting or keeping employment in order to receive the services, however.

What is offered by the departments is not an entitlement. People must really want to work and need to do everything they can to prepare for and find employment.

Few in reentry seek help from departments of vocational rehabilitation

The reasons are unclear, but very few people in reentry turn to departments of vocational rehabilitation, either because they don’t realize they qualify or they have no interest.

“A lot of people don’t understand they have a disability. It’s a stigma. A lot of people have no idea they may have a disability even if they’re taking medication for it,” says Alia Kuraishi, a statewide workforce development specialist with the California Department of Rehabilitation.

“It also goes back to people who are gang affiliated and don’t want to be associated with having a disability or being part of the system. We have invested a lot of time in reentry programs.”

Every state works slightly differently, but in California there are California Department of Rehabilitation offices in various counties statewide.

“We also have a presence in halfway houses and are mandated to be at the American Job Centers throughout the state,” says Kuraishi. “If someone can’t make it to a department office, they can connect with their local One-Stop (American Job Center) and say, ‘I’m interested in services through the department of rehabilitation.’”

Departments provide a variety of services

Those services can be a variety of things. “We’ve done education plans and helped with expungement. People need to be educated about what shows up on their background checks. We find out what’s going on in the local area and have job developers who are in touch with local businesses and know about federal bonding,” she says.http://bonds4jobs.com/

“If someone needs to go back and get a B.A. degree, we can fund training and education. If someone needs a training program to get work, we’ll look at what programs are available and fund them.”

“We will do informational interviews with different companies to see if they’ve hired people with criminal records in the past or we have the applicant do that themselves.”

All of these things can help those in reentry get a step ahead on the road to employment.

You can find a link to your state’s vocational rehabilitation department by checking out the Department of Education’s Job Accommodation Network website.