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While finding a job may be difficult, maintaining a positive attitude and being persistent is crucial. Keep in mind that there are companies that will hire individuals with records and that there are several resources in your community to assist you along the way.
You can even prepare for your job search before being released. Having a job afterwards is very important and may be something you are thinking about a lot. Give yourself a boost in your job search by preparing in these ways.
Set Your Career Goals
Why set a goal? By setting a goal, you are giving yourself a long term vision and short term motivation, which will help you focus and better organize your time and resources so you can reach your goal. When you set a goal you will also have a way to measure your achievements and be able to track the progress you make by reaching each of your short and long term goals along the way. Illinois workNet has an article on Setting Goals 101 that includes information such as making and reaching your goals, but you should also check out what CareerOneStop has about goals, specifically for returning citizens. These include examples, resources, and organizations you can reach out to for further assistance:
Learn more about long-term goals
Learn About Careers
CareerOneStop has information about careers and career options. This resource will provide information on:
Visit CareerOneStop's Career Options page for Returning Citizens to learn more.
Resumes are needed for every job you apply to. A resume will show the skills you have and your work experience. You can begin by writing down what will go on a resume that you give to employers when looking for jobs. The skills inventory document may help you get started in thinking about what to include in your resume. Here are the sections that your resume should have:
Note: A resume should be 1 to 2 pages in length. Review it for accuracy and correct spelling. Reviewing more than once may help you to reword different sections or even think of something new to include. For examples of resumes from individuals who have previously been incarcerated, click here.
For more information on resume writing, see the Illinois workNet Resume Writing Guide
Search for Job Opportunities
To find a job, you will have to network – meaning you will have to talk to other people about what opportunities are available. You can speak with friends and family to see if they are aware of anything. Don't be afraid to ask for their help. If you can, get copies of your resume that they can share with others. Connections can play an important role in the hiring process.
Additionally, take a look at the list of companies that hire those with a record on Believe Publications' website and follow up with them.
Apply for Jobs
When applying for jobs, be sure to fill out all necessary fields on applications and submit all the required documents such as your resume, cover letter, and a list of references. For more information about applying to jobs, read our article on Things You Need to Know When Applying for Jobs.
In addition to the Illinois workNet Virtual Job Fair tool, you can use online job boards that allow you to see what job opportunities are near you. These sites allow you to create a profile and sign up to receive alerts for specific industries or job search criteria:
Assistance and Resources Near You
Read Local Resources to Help Returning Citizens Succeed to find local organizations that may be able help you get health insurance, housing, SNAP benefits, financial assistance, training for a job, counseling, mental health services, substance abuse assistance, health insurance, prescription medication assistance, and much more. American Job Centers (AJCs) may be able to assist with these services as well.
American Job Centers (AJCs)
American Job Centers (AJCs) offer free assistance to job seekers when it comes to their career and work support needs. From searching for a job to writing a resume and preparing for an interview, AJCs can be found throughout Illinois and have staff that are ready and available to help you. Career counselors can provide guidance on what type of work may be best for you and what potential training opportunities are available. They may also be able to let you know about upcoming workshops and support groups that you may connect with. Using the Illinois workNet Service Finder tool, you can find your closest American Job Center by entering the city you live in into the search.
Illinois JobLink is the "go to" site for Illinois job seekers and those seeking employment to get Unemployment Insurance. It is an online database of job postings in Illinois and nationwide. It offers job seekers the ability to search for jobs by category, so it is easy to find exactly what they are looking for. Once a profile is created, Individuals are able to see positions that match their qualifications. Also, Employers can search for Individuals and match people with jobs. Open up the possibilities by creating an Illinois JobLink profile today and start looking for your dream job! Get started on the Illinois JobLink website. Additionally, if you are a Veteran, there are opportunities available to you. This site website is specific to Veterans and their needs for transitioning and finding jobs. Learn more about these opportunities on Illinois JobLink.
Illinois workNet Virtual Job Fairs (VJFs)
Illinois workNet has the Virtual Job Fair platform that allows you to see which employers in Illinois are hiring. You can learn more about each company that is hiring by accessing their employer booth page to see where they are hiring, how many job openings are available, contact information, upcoming or recorded virtual events, and more. You may also find upcoming Virtual Job Fair events. In attending these events you can learn about the jobs that are open, what the company is looking for, and have the opportunity to ask them questions. Illinois workNet also has a couple articles you should check out before attending these live events including how to prepare for a VJF and what to expect when attending the event.