Allow me to share some inspiration for us all. Allow me to tell you about 12 hours I spent in a level-2 max security prison.
Do you think people deserve a second chance? No matter what? Cat Hoke of Defy Ventures does. She welcomes inmates with horrible past actions/mistakes to embrace the regret and remorse as catalysts of change, but to shed shame. Shame has no place in a productive today and tomorrow. Shed shame, forgive and accept yourself, and then do the hard, hard work of improvement and preparation. Good lessons for us all I think.
I spent a day with people who were in prison for some abhorrent past actions, including murder. I spent a day with people who were vibrant, positive, engaged, optimistic, warm, kind, hopeful, scared, and hesitant. Many of them do not believe themselves worthy of a second chance. But Cat Hoke helps them see that they do.
Imagine being one of these inmates. Imagine being locked in a level-2 security prison with a few thousand other inmates – many of whom, needless to say, are not all remorseful regretful and looking for positive change. Imagine the intimidation of wondering how to figure out your worklife after lockup. Imagine how hard it must be to figure out how to apply to jobs, to present yourself and interview, or to give an entrepreneurial pitch to a panel of Venture Capitalist sharks, or to simply converse freely with people who have been active in business and life for the 15 years you spent locked in a cell. Now, imagine not just overcoming the fear and intimidation but also actually doing the hard work to succeed in all these challenges. Staggering challenges. And yet, the men with whom I had the pleasure to spend a day with at Valley State Prison did just that. Wow! Respect.
I judged a business pitch competition along with some Vc’s and other volunteers from Silicon Valley. We didn’t just judge. We bared souls too. And there was even some dancing. But mostly we humanized each other.
And they did great. They stood in front of a table of professionals waiting to judge them and they stated their business value prop, their competitive edge, sales/marketing plans, financial numbers, and asked (always remember the ask!) for what they needed – mentoring, investment, etc. They took questions well. They took feedback even better. In short, they impressed. Despite all the anchors to their past, all the challenges of the present and all the intimidation of the future, they impressed. I am so excited for those that get released and how they will succeed (graduates of Cat’s program have just 3% recidivism rate!).
SO HERES THE THING. The future of work is hard for everyone – everyone. But those who take control of their own worklife, keep up with new training, education and skills, and self advocates for better work – Those people WILL succeed. To be in this successful group, you need to let go of emotional anchors from the past, find the energy to do the work in the present and push through any fear and intimidation of the future. If felons with horrible past mistakes can find the path to self-forgiveness, can’t we all? If convicts with no freedom and resources can figure out new skills, can’t we all? If people who don’t interact in free society at all can push through intimidation and fear of the future – and of rejection, cant we all?
Yes, we can!
Yes, I am inspired to do more in my own life on all three aspects – forgive self, find time today, less fear of tmw. So, yes, I do believe in second chances, Cat. And I am inspired by a group of men who all wish they could go back in time and change things. But they cannot. So they don’t waste any more time looking back or dragging shame forward. They focus on being better today. They do the hard work. They don’t get discouraged. That’s a pretty good formula for us all.
I went to prison to help others. I came out of prison being the person who was most helped.
POSTSCRIPT FOR EMPLOYERS: Our society rightly demands punishment for crimes. But, parole is meant to be parole – not another phase of a life sentence. These aren’t just felons and convicts – they are people. And people change. If you do not consider people with past convictions in your hiring process, please consider changing. Not because it helps the 22 million Americans who have past convictions – but because these men and women are an overlooked valuable resource for your talent acquisition strategy. Think of the stamina, strength and passion to overcome these challenges. Now think of harnessing that for your business…
"Having a record reduces the likelihood of a job callback or offer by as much as 50 percent, according to the NAACP. In the land of the free, this is unacceptable. Those who paid their debt to society should not be subject to a vocational sentence of life-without-equal-opportunity."
I am so proud to share this article written by Jobcase CEO, @Fred Goff. In the article, Fred notes that one in three adults have a criminal record. This makes it extremely difficult, and at times, even impossible to find work. However, this can change if employers and job seekers work to overcome the stigma and recognize the benefits of giving individuals an opportunity for a #secondchance.
Check out this amazing read and let me know your thoughts below!
Interviewing with a felony is frustrating for many reasons. You want to be upfront and honest about your past, but you don’t want to eliminate your chances of getting the position. At Honest Jobs, our purpose is to minimize this stress throughout the hiring process and match you with second-chance employers who are open to accepting your situation.
It is important for you to understand how to explain your background in terms of the values you have gained and the lessons you have learned through your experiences with the criminal justice system. As long as you’re honest about your record and can prove to employers that you’ve turned your life around, many will give you a chance.
Here are tips on how to interview with a felony record:
Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to interviewing with a criminal background, since a lot depends on the type of crime and the employer interviewing you. However, we suggest being upfront and honest as soon as you have the opportunity to talk about your background. This approach takes more time, effort, and resilience, but getting hired after being honest with your interviewer lays the foundation for a solid reputation and career with the company. Additionally, most people will appreciate your honesty and the fact that you are working hard to overcome past mistakes.
Following the C.O.D.C. storyline can help you explain your background resulting in a positive outcome.
C = Circumstances: What was your life like before the crime?
Explain what may have led to you committing a crime. There are many factors, such as depression, hard times, or hanging out with the wrong crowd that even people without a criminal record can often relate to. Understanding the circumstances can help your interviewer to see past the crime and focus more on your potential.
O = Ownership: Take responsibility for the crime and punishment.
After you have communicated where you were in life at the time of your offense, make sure you demonstrate taking responsibility for your actions. You want your interviewer to know that you recognize the importance of your punishment and any positive effects it had on your character.
D = Development: What have you learned from your mistakes?
Once you have explained how your punishment affected you, point out 3-4 things you have done/are doing to turn your life around. Your family, work, school, church, community, and personal passions are excellent topics to talk about. Do your best to relate these things to the job for which you are interviewing. For example, you could share how hard you've worked to rebuild your relationship with your family, and you are excited by the opportunity to be able to financially support them if hired.
C = Change: What actions you have taken to better yourself?
Summarize who you are now and what you have to offer. Highlight your personal mission and values to show that your actions are built on a solid foundation. The hiring decision often comes down to the candidate’s core values and personality. Also, remember to talk in terms of the job position you are applying for when explaining what skills and abilities you have.
After you have disclosed your background, some employers won’t ask for additional details about your criminal record, or they might only want to focus on job-related topics like the skills you gained during incarceration. If this is the case, be honest, but only share the details you feel are important for them to understand your situation. There's no need to overshare what happened in the past. The interview should focus on your skills and how you can contribute to the employer, rather than thoroughly explaining your offense. #secondchances #secondchance #criminalrecord # # #
Why I Can Be Given A Second Chance Haven't Been In Trouble In 10 Years And Still Paying For My Mistakes, I'm Human Not Perfect????
Second chances job search success and resources
We have a great community that is understanding and supportive of 2nd chances job search. @Justine Walker was willing to share her job search ups and downs and the amazing news that she got hired last week. Your story really encouraged many job seekers and members like me. We also have a great 2nd chances resource center for anyone who’s in need or if you want to help someone out. It’s not easy but you don’t have to do it alone. Don’t lose hope!
We are very fortunate to have lots of members willing to share advice and experiences regarding the 2nd chances job search. I love that @Valarie Dotson and @Keyde Hawkins both shared great local resources for reentry programs in Alexandria LA and Dallas TX. @Clifford Darity also shared his success story that we can all cheer on!
Its sad that i actually have a bachelor's degree but since im a convicted felon i cant get nothing but warehouse or general labor jobs. So much for a second chance