How to dress for an interview and for success at work

How to dressWhat you decide to wear for an interview can help make or break your chances of getting the job.

It’s important to make a positive impression by dressing appropriately. Studies have shown that hiring managers make a decision on a particular candidate within the first few minutes of the interview. Their opinion is based on how they dress, their body language, their handshake and the way they speak.

Before the interview you need to do a bit of homework. Be sure to look at the company’s website to see pictures of employees and what they wear. Many job search experts suggest dressing a bit better than what you would wear every day for the job being applied for, but don’t overdo it. Dressing appropriately shows you understand the company culture and will be likely to fit in.

Where to find free interview clothing

Once you understand the dress style, you can go shopping and purchase an interview outfit, if you can afford one. Otherwise you can go to one of the nonprofits that give away free interview clothing and work with them to create something to wear. You may be able to find one of these nonprofits in our online directory of organizations nationwide.

Job search experts recommend that women should not overdue the makeup. In fact, many say to wear as little as possible. Pay attention to shoes, which should match the style of your outfit and be comfortable and polished. Needless to say, tattoos should be covered, if at all possible. And don’t forget to wear a smile.

The most important thing is that you feel comfortable and confident, so you will do well in the interview.

Once you get the job, then what?

After spending the first few days at your new employer, you’ll have an even better understanding of what’s considered acceptable attire.

Payscale survey finds most companies have dress codes

In a survey conducted by Payscale of 34,000 employees between November 2016 and January 2017, 49% said their company had an explicit dress code. Another 19% said that although there is not a dress code, pressure exists to dress a certain way.

The research found that companies in western states were most likely to have a casual dress code, while those in the southeast were least likely to have one.

And it also found a correlation between dress style and salary. The median salary for employees at companies with a:

  • Formal business dress code is $57,800.
  • Business casual dress code is $53,700.
  • Business Casual dress code is $50,300.
  • Requirement to wear work uniforms is $38,300.
How to dress for success at your new job

Be sure to understand and follow your company’s dress code, if there is one. Otherwise just look around and determine what people doing a job similar to yours are wearing and what the bosses are wearing to get a good understanding of the company’s dress culture.

Here are a few tips that women may want to follow:

  • Don’t wear clothes that are too flashy or look like you’d rather be in a nightclub than at work.
  • Make sure your dress or blouse is not too revealing. In other words, don’t show cleavage.
  • Skirts and dresses should not be shorter than knee-length.
  • Avoid heavy makeup.
  • Super high heeled shoes are not only inappropriate, but they can be difficult to walk in.
  • Don’t make a statement with your jewelry. Keep it simple and conservative.
  • Avoid wearing fake fingernails, and if you use nail polish make sure it’s not an unusual or eccentric color and that all of your fingernails are painted the same color.
  • Cover up tattoos, if possible.
  • Avoid wearing strong perfume.

Here are a few tips that men may want to follow:

  • In most office jobs, khaki pants and long-sleeved button-down shirts will work just fine.
  • Those who must wear a suit should stick with white or pastel colored shirts and black, gray or dark blue slacks with a matching coat or a sports coat.
  • Make sure your tie is properly tied if you have to wear one.
  • Avoid boldly designed ties. Rather, stick to single colors or simple designs.
  • Choose brown or black leather shoes, and be sure to keep them polished.
  • If T-shirts are allowed, be careful not to wear any with inappropriate designs or messages.
  • Cover up tattoos, if possible.
  • Avoid wearing strong cologne.

Above all, it’s important to remember that the whole point of proper attire is to draw attention to the talent you bring to the job and your abilities to perform the work rather than what you look like and the clothes you wear.

New documentary D’Inked takes viewers into brave new world of laser tattoo removal

laser tattoo removalMany in reentry are determined to get their unwanted tattoos removed, so they can find employment and start a new life. But what’s the process really like?

In their recently released documentary D’Inked, filmmakers Jacob Tillman and Ben Pierce take viewers on a journey through the world of tattoo removal. They examine the development of laser tattoo removal technology and how it has changed the culture of tattoos.

We meet people who’ve had their tattoos taken off, both professionally and through their own efforts. And some were disasters. Like the guy who attempted to remove his face tattoo with a soldering iron and a woman whose laser mistreatment produced giant sized blisters.

The focus, however, is on Tillman himself – Director Pierce has no tattoos – as he documents his five-year effort to have a full color half sleeve tattoo removed and covered up.

The tattoos that make up the half sleeve are just three of Jacob’s eight tattoos. He had the one on his ring finger taken off without numbing cream so he’d remember the fact that “he’s an idiot and shouldn’t have gotten it done.”

But the main work was the half sleeve, which he said was a mistake from the beginning. “I got the tattoo in 2009-2010. I knew instantly when I got the very last one that I wanted it removed, so in 2011 I started doing research and discovered there weren’t that many places out there (doing removals) at the time.

“After a lot of research, we ended up at Rethink the Ink in Denver with the Quanta laser.” For the next 3-1/2 years Tillman flew to Denver for the 16 treatments required and after that looked for a tattoo artist to do a cover-up. He found that person in San Diego.

In addition to the footage of some of his many treatments, the film includes Interviews with dozens of tattoo artists and laser technology industry leaders. The interviews highlight the fact that tattoo removal is becoming a totally acceptable practice – although for the clients, it’s a long and painful process.

Reasons Tillman and Pierce decided to make D’Inked

So why did they decide to make a documentary?

“There are a lot of reasons,” Tillman says. “I felt if I was going through this I wanted something positive to come out of it. I thought people would see the film and say it’s an incredible transformation.”

He also wants to warn people of the problems that can arise. The people doing tattoo removals can make a mistake and turn the laser up high enough to scar you. And a lot of doctors are using lasers that are for hair removal but turn them up as well, he says.

So you have to be very selective in who you choose to do a removal. “It’s the same process as finding a tattoo artist. You have to look around and find one who will do a good job for you,” Tillman says. “You have to make sure they’re using the proper equipment and have had a lot of clients in the past.”

The two men became so interested in the process of tattoo removal that they both got certified to do the procedures themselves. They took the course at Denver’s A Laser Academy, co-founded by Victor Beyer, who did Tillman’s tattoo removal.

Lessons learned

There were many things that Tillman and Pierce learned from making this movie:

Tillman:  If people are at a crossroads for wanting something removed, the technology has caught up and there is a way to do it. The industry has changed so much, and people are more receptive to it. There are tattoo shops that are also tattoo removal shops so they work hand in hand.

Pierce: We’re both very surprised at how accepting tattoo artists are of tattoo removal. It’s a reversal of what they do. Most of the artists we met – over 30 – have had some sort of removal themselves. They ran out of space on their bodies and wanted to do something different, so they had to remove what was already there. The acceptance of tattoo removal has to start with the artists if it’s going to be acceptable in society.

And the tattoo artists are very approachable. They’re some of the nicest people I’ve ever met, and the culture of tattoos is a culture of love. Every person we met enjoys giving tattoos and getting tattoos. It’s a warm and welcoming culture.

Where to see D’Inked

The film was released on Amazon Prime late last year. It is also on YouTube and will be released on iTunes in June. The filmmakers appeared at the Covellite International Film Festival in Butte, Montana, in September and are applying to participate in more film festivals. They also hope to show D’Inked in many of the cities where they filmed. These include San Diego, Salt Lake City, Los Angeles and Denver.

If you’re in reentry and would like to have your own tattoos removed, check out the Jails to Jobs national directory of free and low-cost tattoo removal programs to find out if there is one in your areas.

Recent research on how ex-felons find success in the military could have implications for private employers

ex-felons find success in the militaryThose employers who have doubts about hiring employees with criminal records may want to check out a new study that followed 1.3 million ex-offenders and non-offenders who enlisted in the U.S. military between 2002 and 2009.

Conducted by researchers at UMass Amherst, Harvard and George Washington University, the study found that ex-felons are promoted more rapidly and to higher ranks than other enlistees.

In fact, enlistees with felony waivers are 32 percent more likely to be promoted to the rank of sergeant. Felony waivers are given to those with felony convictions after an extensive “whole person review” to determine whether the potential recruit is suitable for employment.

Reasons ex-felons find success in the military

There are several reasons why those with felony waivers might find success in the military (and some of these could apply to the private sector as well):

  • The “whole person review” conducted by the military selects those that are most likely to succeed.
  • With a belief that, in general, their job prospects may be poor, recruits with felony waivers may be willing to work harder and be more invested in making the military their career.
  • Members of the military are subjected to intense discipline and are under surveillance night and day.
  • Felony-waiver enlistees in the study were twice as likely to have earned a GED and twice as likely to have some college education as non-ex-felon enlistees.

In contrast to the success of enlistees with felony waivers, however, the research found that slightly more ex-felons (6.6%) were discharged for committing a legal offense (breaking military law) than non-ex-felons (5%).

Significance of study

This study is important for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that “The military is the only large-scale employer that has accommodated the hiring of ex-felons in significant numbers,” says Jennifer Lundquist, professor of sociology and associate dean of research and faculty development for the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences at UMass Amherst and lead author on the report.

“Moreover, it carefully measures and documents their performance over time. While generalizability to the civilian labor force remains an open question, these data allow us to assess the important question of ex-offender work performance across a wide range of occupations and with multiple dimensions of performance. We hope that future research and data collection will extend this analysis to the few civilian contexts that regularly hire ex-felons to test whether our results are replicated in nonmilitary contexts.”

Although the military is not a typical employer, other recent research, such as that done by the ACLU, found that retention rates are higher, turnover is lower, and employees with criminal records are more loyal to the private-sector employers that hire them than are those without a record.

The complete study of ex-felons in the military, “Does a Criminal Past Predict Worker Performance? Evidence from One of America’s Largest Employers,” appears in the March issue of the journal Social Forces.

Need free interview clothing? New Jails to Jobs online directory can help you find it

free interview clothingAre you ready to look for a job but afraid you can’t come up with the money to buy the clothes you need to wear? Don’t let that stop you.

Although for those in reentry, a new suit, dress or other clothing, along with shoes and accessories, can be prohibitively expensive, it’s possible to get all of these for free.

Yes, for free – thanks to hundreds of organizations across North America that are dedicated to providing clothing to those who are searching for work and need professional attire. And you can find them in our unique new online directory.

In fact, our research team has spent hundreds of hours scouring the internet and publications and making phone calls and found nearly 1,300 of these organizations.

Some, like Dress for Success, Salvation Army and Goodwill, are major organizations with a worldwide presence. Others are tiny operations that may be open only a day or two a month.

Many are run by churches and religious organizations. Or they may be a project of the Junior League or Urban League. Some are part of food banks or organizations that help the homeless. Others are a service provided by reentry organizations or government agencies.

There are organizations that only offer women’s clothing. And those that only cater to men. But many offer clothing for both. It’s all spelled out in our directory.

For job seekers who are looking for more than just clothing, some of the organizations offer job search counseling, help with resumes, mock interviews and other assistance, usually provided by a corps of dedicated volunteers.

So check out our directory and let us know what you think. If you’re aware of a program in your area that’s not included, please send us a link to its website and we’ll add it to our database.

Former inmate Alicia Brown develops empowerment program to help those in reentry succeed

Alicia Brown

Alicia Brown

Alicia Brown, a former Indiana inmate, is using our book Jails to Jobs: Seven Steps to Becoming Employed as part of an empowerment workshop she’s created to help those in prison succeed when released.

She developed her seminar series F.A.N.S — Fresh Attitudes for New Success – during time spent at Madison (Ind.) Correctional Facility in 2016, where she was incarcerated for prescription drug fraud. The idea came after her business technology instructor, Mary Shipman, gave her our book.

“I was going through a hard time in my incarceration, and she saw I needed a pick me up. She said, “I think you need this,” and gave the book to me on Friday. By Monday I had finished it.”

“I talked to some of the women in my dorm about it and saw such a need for this information. With mass incarceration, there are not enough people to help those who are incarcerated when it’s time for them to leave. They give out these very generic release plans, and you’re free to go. But you’re not really prepared for what’s going to happen. Prisons don’t have a really good setup for success.”

Brown gave her workshop to other inmates and made a great impression on her teacher. “She’s really found her passion. She goes and gives these presentations and empowers women. I’ve never seen anything like it,” says Shipman.

According to Brown, it was such a great experience that she decided she would eventually give her workshop after getting out of prison. But first she had to find a job.

She found a job in a week

Inspired by our book, she knew she had to do whatever it took to get a job.

“It only took one week. I used the skills from the book, and I went to the first job I could find that would hire me. I worked at the local Humane Society and scooped up poop for six months. I stayed that long to have the continuity that the book talks about,” she says.

And it was worth the effort. Brown now has a job working the front desk at Varsity Clubs of America, an all-suite hotel in South Bend, Ind. She says she got the job by the cold calling technique we recommend.

“I came well dressed, with a JIST Card and prepared to address my felony with my turnaround talk. I did a cold call, just walked in. I did know that they were hiring, though. I didn’t have an appointment. The hiring manager saw me filling out the application, talked to me and hired me right then and there on the spot,” Brown says.

Her F.A.N.S. program took a bit more time to find a home, but she’s now teaching the five-session seminar at the DuComb Center, the St. Joseph County (IN) community corrections program, where she was on a work release program last year. Her first class consists of 10 men and women.

How Brown developed F.A.N.S.

“I developed the program by dissecting what the needs are from what I was hearing from other offenders,” she says. “Low self-esteem is a huge problem in (preventing people from) getting into the job market. F.A.N.S.’ mission is to extend reentry not just for job skills but for life skills in general. It’s a source for empowerment and encouragement for the person who wants change but isn’t certain how to go about it.”

Each of the five two-hour workshop sessions is devoted to a different subject. The tools she uses include:

  • Jails to Jobs: Seven Steps to Becoming Employed
  • PowerPoint presentations created by Alicia Brown
  • TED talks
  • Social Media
  • Additional resources from local staffing agencies
  • Responsible Mothers Workbook
Our book changed her life

In a recent TV interview on ABC 57 News in South Bend, Brown told the reporter that our book changed her life.

“Why?” we asked.

“This book was able to provide tools for me that I needed and up-to-date information so I could get out and do what I wanted to do. This book changed my perception and told me I could be successful, but I was very nervous that I ever would be,” she said.

“The book gave me initiative and drive and confidence – and a whole new purpose for me to take this message to the next person who needs it.”

She’s convinced it works. “I taught it to 350 women while I was incarcerated in Madison, and I’ve heard from people on Facebook that it changed their lives too.”

Career OneStop video library offers insight into jobs and industries to help you decide a career path

Careeronestop video libraryRecently released from jail or prison and not sure what kind of work to look for?

You’re not alone.

Many people who have been out of the work force for a while – or who have never really been in it – may have a difficult time trying to figure out the job that might be suitable for them.

There’s an excellent resource to help you in your efforts. CareerOneStop, a free career counseling service sponsored by the U.S. Dept. of Labor, offers the CareerOneStop video library, a collection of hundreds of videos where you can learn about careers and industries and the skills and abilities they require.

Videos divided into clusters based on type of work

The videos are divided into 16 clusters that include similar types of work — from agricultural and natural resources to architecture and construction, hospitality and tourism to transportation and logistics. Each cluster has an overview video and then videos for particular types of jobs.

Each video is just a minute or two and gives an overview of a type of career, what’s required in terms of ability, how to train for it and what workers do on a day-to-day basis. All of the videos also have transcripts.

A few examples from the CareerOneStop video libary
  • Take for an example a wind turbine technician or wind tech. The video explains that people with this job install, repair and monitor wind turbines. They also do maintenance. Most people in this field earn a certificate at a technical institute or community college.
  • How about the possibility of a flooring installer? This is someone who lays and finishes carpeting and tile, linoleum and wood flooring, although a person would normally specialize in only one of these. Most people learn on the job but there are some formal apprenticeships available. This is an excellent choice for someone who wants to have their own business.
  • Or you might be interested in getting into the hospitality industry. A good start is to work as a hotel or resort front desk clerk. This job requires excellent people skills, since clerks are the first person that guests usually deal with. It’s a good learning experience and could lead to a hotel management position.
  • Another possibility, among many others, is a home health care aide or someone who provides in-home health care services to the elderly, or those who are sick or disabled. They may administer medications or help clients get dressed or bathed. They may also prepare meals or do light housekeeping. This job usually requires a high school diploma and some sort of formal training and certificate.
Information on pay and job opportunities also included

Some of the pages where the videos are displayed also include average pay, a job outlook rating – or how many job opportunities should be available in the future – and a link to a searchable database of training programs across the U.S. And there’s an entirely separate section of videos in Spanish.

So if you’re unsure what direction to take work wise, spend a few hours exploring the website and its clusters of videos, and watch as many as you can. Afterwards you’ll have a better idea of the kind of work you may be qualified for and interested in doing. Then you’ll be able to use the site to find a training program near you, if one is required. With a bit of initiative and perseverance you may soon be training for or finding a job that will help you with your new life.

Study shows how business apprenticeship programs can benefit companies and increase job opportunities

Business apprenticeshipsWhile the benefits of apprenticeships to those who participate in them are well known, there is little information on how these programs can improve the way businesses operate.

A recently released study, The Benefits and Costs of Apprenticeships: A Business Perspective, conducted by Case Western Reserve University and the U.S. Department of Commerce, however, highlights the benefits and analyzes the costs of business apprenticeship programs. And the case studies provided might inspire other companies to start their own programs. More apprenticeship programs will benefit those in reentry, who often have the ability but lack the training and skills to find well-paying employment.

Apprenticeships are no longer just about skilled trades and the construction industry. Health care, information technology, banking and other fields are successfully creating apprenticeship training programs to fill the rapidly growing need for skilled workers in those fields. The lack of skilled employees and its effect upon the economy is one of the reasons the Department of Commerce decided to do this study – and that companies are creating apprenticeship programs.

Study covered 13 companies

The study examined 13 businesses from a variety of occupations, industries and areas of the country that had ongoing apprenticeship programs. The shortest one studied lasted just one year, the longest more than four years.

In general, an apprenticeship involves paid on-the-job training, often with classroom instruction; and a mentor for each participant. It also offers certification to those who complete the program, indicating that they have the knowledge and training to do the job.

Reasons to create an apprenticeship program

There are several reasons why companies may want to create an apprenticeship program. These include to:

  • create a pipeline of skilled employees, who may be more loyal because of the training and opportunity they received.
  • be able to recruit better, more motivated employees.
  • train workers to the company’s specifications and develop future leaders.
  • improve worker productivity and the bottom line.
  • receive tax credits (in some states).

The cost to companies for administering the programs studied ranged from less than $25,000 to more than $250,000 per apprentice. But the economic return made it worth it, as indicated by two of the companies studied in depth.

The Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, NH, used apprenticeships to help expand and reorganize its services. The program trained medical assistants, the addition of whom helped reduce overtime and increase revenue from appointment bookings. The internal rate of return was at least 40 percent.

Siemens USA saw a 50 percent rate of return for its machinist apprenticeship program, which was created to fill the manufacturing capacity at its Charlotte, NC, plant. The plant makes and repairs generators for electric utilities.

How business apprenticeship program benefits are measured

According to the report, apprenticeship model benefits can be measured in three areas:

  • Production: They lead to increase in output and decrease in errors.
  • Workforce: They promote reduction in turnover and improvement in recruitment.
  • Soft skills: They help develop improved employee engagement, and a better ability by participants to solve problems, perform a variety of tasks and work independently.

Companies may use a variety of models, and which one they choose can drastically affect the cost of setting up a program. Among the possibilities are to work together with other companies, with community colleges and other educational institutions, with unions or with nonprofit organizations.

In order to be successful, companies must balance their own needs with the needs and aspirations of their potential apprentices. They need to also be aware of current employees, who must see the apprentices as team members who can help the company grow and prosper, rather than threatening competition.

Through apprenticeship program examples cited in the study, readers can get an idea of

  • the benefits of partnerships.
  • the strategy behind developing classroom training.
  • the best way to carry out on-the-job training, and
  • how to estimate the number of apprentices to hire.

One section of the study helps companies determine the costs and measurable benefits of an apprenticeship program. It also elaborates on improvements that have been made as a result.

A series of case studies give readers in-depth knowledge of how several companies carried out their apprenticeship programs. They include programs for training everyone from medical assistants, drug store managers, computer programmers and IT interface analysts to injection mold setters, tool and die makers, parts assemblers and quality technicians.

New ROI tool measures the benefits of apprenticeships

For those seriously interested in starting an apprenticeship program, the Economics and Statistics Division of the U. S. Department of Commerce has released the beta version of its new return-on-investment calculator to help business executives understand how a program could benefit their company. The calculator can help translate ideas into dollars and cents.

And as an initial step in the process of exploring the option of creating an apprenticeship program, using the calculator will help companies decide whether it makes sense to pursue the idea further.

Employers who are thinking about launching an apprenticeship program may also want to check out the Employer’s Playbook for Creating an Apprenticeship Program published by Dow, Alcoa and Siemens with support from the Manufacturing Institute.

The importance of a handshake in a job interview

handshakeA handshake can sometimes make or break an interview. That’s right. It’s that important.

In fact, research has proved the significance of a proper handshake and how it can make a good – or bad – impression and influence hiring decisions.

According to a study done by the University of Iowa Tipple College of Business, a good handshake is more important than your appearance or the way you dress in sending a message to a hiring manager. Neuroscience research has also confirmed the power of a handshake and the fact that strangers form a better impression of those who effectively offer their hand in greeting.

The Iowa research focused on 98 business students who participated in mock interviews with area businesses. They also met with trained handshake raters, who shook their hands at various times during the study period.

What the researchers found was that those job seekers who were scored highly by the handshake raters were also considered more likely to be hired by those conducting the mock interviews.

It’s partly based on first impressions. Interviewers are said to make up their minds about a person in the first two or three minutes of an interview, and that’s exactly when the handshake takes place.

But it’s also the fact that, “Job seekers are trained how to act in a job interview, how to talk, how to dress, how to answer questions, so we all look and act alike to varying degrees because we’ve all been told the same things,” said Greg Stewart, Tipple School of Business professor and one of the researchers. “But the handshake is something that’s perhaps more individual and subtle, so it may communicate something that dress or physical appearance doesn’t.”

Handshake dos and don’ts

So what makes an appealing handshake? Here are some tips:

  • Even if you’re left-handed be prepared to shake with your right hand, and make sure it’s free when you’re meeting the hiring manager before the interview.
  • If your hand is sweaty, wipe it off. If it’s cold, warm it up before you arrive at the interview room.
  • Make eye contact and smile at the person you are meeting, before you shake their hand.
  • Let the hiring manager initiate the handshake.
  • Squeeze their hand firmly and shake from your elbow, not just your wrist. (About the worst impression you could make is with a limp, or dead fish, handshake, so avoid this at all costs.)
  • A handshake should only last for a few seconds, so after two or three pumps, loosen your hand.
  • Just like you rehearse the answers to potential interview questions, practice your handshake with friends and family members, so it will seem natural.

Keep in mind that a handshake is a universal greeting that can express connection and unity and that you care, which may help to make a lasting impression.

And make sure that your handshake is as polished and perfected as the rest of your interview skills. It may make the difference of whether you get the job or not.

 

Good Jobs Project highlights jobs without a B.A.

Good Jobs ProjectThe Georgetown University Center for Education and the Workforce has created the Good Jobs Project to help people discover well-paying jobs that don’t require a B.A. degree. If you’re looking for a place to relocate or interested in state specific details, the project’s website offers insight into the states with the most opportunities.

A partnership between the university and JPMorgan Chase & Co., the Good Jobs Project includes an initial report, a state-by-state analysis released November 13 and an interactive tool to help those interested explore the 30 million good jobs across the U.S. that don’t require a B.A.

Good jobs without a B.A. are plentiful is a variety of fields

The original report, Good Jobs That Pay Without a B.A. highlights the facts that:

  • There are 30 million good jobs nationwide that do not require a B.A.
  • These jobs pay a minimum of $35,000 and an average of $55,000 per year.
  • In fact, 20% pay between $35,000 and $45,000, 27% between $45,000 and $55,000, and 53% more than $55,000.
  • Although blue-collar work still makes up 55% of the total number, good jobs that pay are growing rapidly in skilled service industries such as information technology, finance, healthcare, and leisure and hospitality.
  • In more and more cases, a high school diploma is no longer enough. Many blue-collar and skilled services good jobs require an A.A. degree.
  • The states that offer the most good jobs without a B.A. are California, Texas, Florida, New York and Illinois.
  • Well-paying blue-collar jobs are still strong in manufacturing, utilities and transportation.
State-by-State analysis report offers in-depth data for comparison

In the Good Jobs Project’s State-by-State Analysis report, you will learn that:

  • 23 states have seen an increase in blue-collar jobs, thanks to construction and non-manufacturing industries.
  • Some states still offer strong employment opportunities for those with just a high school education – West Virginia and Delaware rank at the top of this list.
  • Just about half of all states added good jobs for workers without B.A.s between 1991 and 2015.
  • Nine of these states have seen the greatest increase – 50% or more – in good jobs without a B.A. between 1991 and 2015. These states are Nevada, Utah, Arizona, Texas, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, and North and South Dakota.
  • While workers without B.A.s hold 45% of all good jobs nationally, in some states that percentage is much higher: 62% in Wyoming, 61% in Mississippi, 57% in Nevada, and 56% in Wyoming and Oregon, for example.

The State-by-State analysis report includes a profile of each state that covers the earning statistics for non-B.A. good job holders, the change in the number of non-B.A. good jobs between 1992 and 2015, and the top five industries and occupations for non-B.A. good jobs.

For more information about jobs that don’t require a B.A., click here.

 

 

30-2-2 programs encourage companies to hire ex-offenders

30-2-230-2-2. It’s a simple concept. Just get 30 companies to hire two workers leaving jail or prison and track their progress for two years. The idea is so simple, in fact, that it’s surprising that more communities haven’t adopted it. But maybe more would, if only they were aware of how this program works and the benefits it can offer.

It all started in Western Michigan. Specialty butter producer Butterball Farms, Cascade Engineering and Grand Rapids Community College launched the first 30-2-2 program in 2012.  That initial effort has grown to include 23 employers.

A consultant helped recruit the companies to get the program going, but in more recent years, local businesses have become involved by word of mouth, according to Carrie Link, personal assistant to Butterball Farms CEO and its 30-2-2 coordinator.

First program started with a couple of employers

“We started with one or two companies that hired these people, they told other companies that the people are good workers, and it spread,” she says.

During the first two years – 2014 to 2016 – 1,709 people were placed through the program, which is now in the midst of its second cycle that ends in July. Although there’s no 30-2-2 training course, some agencies that supply the candidates have their own training programs.

What are the main challenges for a program like 30-2-2?

“It’s dealing with the stigma surrounding people coming out of the prison system,” Link says. “Companies will say, ‘we don’t hire those kinds of people. He’s had a violent crime, so he’s going to be violent.’ But that’s not true, and the facts back that up. The challenge is how to educate the community of people who can hire these people.”

New Orleans 30-2+2 Reentry Collaborative launched by U.S. Attorney’s Office

While the original 30-2-2 was a private sector program created by local business leaders, the 30-2+2 Reentry Collaborative in New Orleans was launched by Kenneth Polite, the former district attorney for the U.S. Attorney’s Office Eastern District of Louisiana, to help improve public safety, reduce recidivism and provide talent to local employers.

In the beginning the program drew participants from a unique program at Angola – also known as the Louisiana State Penitentiary – and continues to do so. Low level drug offenders can be sentenced to serve their time at Angola and participate in a reentry program that offers 19 areas of hard skills training in which they can get certificates in things like welding or refrigeration. The program also includes 100 hours of soft skills training,

When the 30-2+2 Reentry Collaborative began, the Orleans Parish Criminal District Court identified the potential reentry candidates. It has expanded dramatically, however. “Now every parish criminal court in the state of Louisiana is authorized to send inmates to the program,” says Poiite.

Many Angola inmates are lifers who have gone through various trainings, and some of those lifers become mentors for the reentry program participants.

“The only way you could graduate from the reentry program was if the mentor determined that you were prepared to return back to society,’ says Polite. “And because we saw that mentor component being so important behind bars, we thought it would be equally important to have mentors while individuals were back on the street and engaging in employment.”

Although current 30-2+2 mentors are recruited from the local business community, many of the original mentors were formerly incarcerated employees of Goodwill Industries. The Angola program served as the pipeline for employee candidates, and the original employers were first solicited at a New Orleans Chamber of Commerce symposium. It took a few months for the first employer, Harrah’s Casino, to come onboard, and a bit of “arm twisting” for others to follow.

“We said the that these (people released from Angola) are fairly safe bets for you and that they would turn out to be successful employees given the effort that they made behind bars,” Polite says.

Polite says that other communities considering starting one of these programs need to know “that a lot of these individuals really want to be successful. They’re often walking out of prison with some training, soft skills and rehabilitation behind them. They are finding doors closed in their faces over and over again. If employers are willing to take the chance, these are very loyal and very hard-working individuals.”

They make good employees, but they also offer special challenges. “Employers have to be patient. They’re going to have challenges in terms of such obligations as court proceedings and probation hearings. An employer has to allow people to get their lives back together,” Polite says.

Latest program created in southern Illinois

The 30-2-2 program in Michigan and 30-2+2 Reentry Collaborative in Louisiana inspired Chris Hoell, assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, to create a similar program. He was actually brought on to his current job at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Fairview Heights Ill., as one of 90 reentry and prevention coordinators hired across the country. These were all a part of the Obama administration’s Attorney General’s Smart on Crime Initiative.

Hoell’s office began placing employees in positions in August, after a year of a consultant running around the area knocking on about 250 employers’ doors. Hoell sat in on meetings with those who were having reservations and with the bigger companies. His territory covers the lower 36 counties of the state of Illinois, a region that ranges from rural farm communities to East St. Louis, one of nation’s most poverty stricken and highest crime areas.

At press time, 33 employers had signed up, and Hoell was in talks with several more, including Amazon.

“Some companies were immediately on board. I was surprised by that. Others had reservations. How would it look to their employees and customers? Would there be an increase in crime or theft? The normal things people are worried about but statistics don’t back them up,” he says.

To find employees, the U.S. Attorney’s Office is partnering with the probation department and asking the probation officers to recommend candidates.

“One of our selling points (to hiring managers) is the people we want to send you have a probation officer. They have a requirement to work. They’re being drug tested. If you have a problem you can call the probation department,” Hoell says.

In addition, the Illinois Bureau of Prisons has well established training programs, and people are coming out with certificates in various trades. “Most people who want to work have availed themselves of everything they could either while in prison or after they got out,” Hoell adds.

What it takes to start a 30-2-2 program

“The biggest thing you need is sweat equity – to get out and knock on doors and educate people,” he says. “There are plenty of people getting out of prison who have no desire to go back. It’s finding those employers who are willing to take a chance and make the connection happen.”

Once the connection is made, employers have been satisfied with the hires. “We’ve had nothing but positive feedback, but they’re always taking a chance. What I stress is that everyone is not just a felon, but a person with a story and a background. These people have so much to lose. And beyond that, most workplace violence is committed by people without any criminal background.”

Hoell hopes that more people will do what he did. “I would encourage anyone who has an interest to do it. It took a lot of work and help from other people, but there’s nothing special about me or my background to make this happen. And there’s a need for it everywhere,” he says.

Those interested in starting their own

Communities interested in starting their own 30-2-2 program may wish to contact one of the already existing programs highlighted in this article.

Finding a few key initial potential employers will take a bit of effort but will form the foundation for a program. It will take a lot of networking and knocking on doors, and it might be easier to hire a consultant to help with this endeavor.

To source employee candidates, contact local area probation and parole offices and reentry organizations. The Lionheart Foundation maintains a state-by-state database of reentry programs that could be helpful.