The Hunt: Networking and overcoming your past - KMSP-TV

The Hunt: Networking and overcoming your past

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In this episode of The Hunt,  we zoom in on the lives of, Miranda and Lamarr.

Miranda, the recent college grad, is still living with her parents, even though it's not her ideal situation.  Nonetheless, she's taking the right steps towards moving up and out: up in the work force, and out of mom and dad's nest, of course.  These tips may help you, too: 

1) Network... Network... And then, network some more! Join networking groups and meet people in the field that you want to work.  You might run into someone who knows of a perspective position for you.

2) Take an unpaid internship to get some hands-on experience in the field.  It also serve as a resume builder.

3) Still apply for jobs in your field, regardless of the position title or experience requirements. You never know what could happen...

4) Save more, spend less.  Instead if depleting her savings by paying rent, Miranda lives with her parents. It's no use in rushing to move out, if your parents don't mind you crashing until you're on your feet.

Meanwhile, Lamarr's living situation is on the rocks, but he doesn't know how to handle it without a job.  The felony on his record won't go away.  Is there any hope for him?

Many companies are very reluctant to hire someone with a felony on his/her record.  In fact, most job applications specifically request checking 'yes' or 'no' box as it applies to you.  But what happens when you check 'Yes?'... Toss. And if you check 'No' and they find out the truth... Toss again. A catch twenty-two at it's finest.  Hard-working people, like Lamarr,  who are ready to hit RESET on their lives, are haunted by their record and don't know how to escape the nightmare of unemployment.

But all hope is not lost.

A program called Flip the Script Empowerment at Goodwill Industries caters to people with histories including criminal charges, incarceration, no high school diploma or G.E.D., and/or low income. 

The director of the program, Keith Bennett, says that they believe everybody deserves a second chance. Flip the Script works to help build their men and women participants into valuable resource in the community.

The program provides a training to ensure that participants are ready for the work place.  Flip the Script then nurtures a relationship with employers to increase the company's willingness to hire their candidate - a person with a record.  The program is very successful: less than 12% of 2,000 men and women have gone back to jail or committed a serious offense after completing the program.

Here are a few helpful tips that Bennet gave for people ready to enter the work force after a troubled past: 

1) Be very creative. A lot of times you are not going to get hired... but leave the employer with a picture in mind that you can be the person (s)he needs if the person they choose to hire doesn't work.

2) You probably won't get your dream job at first - a criminal record can haunt you for a lifetime.  But the longer you stay with one employer, the easier it is to find the next job. The employer will start focusing more on your work history... and less on your criminal history.

3) Give the employer something to work with: a possible free internship; tell them that you'll work for free for a week; or, that you'll intern for 30 days so that they can moniter your work ethic. 

4) Patience. You have to crawl before you walk.  Don't turn down a job you don't want just because you don't want it.  Whatever job you take will distance you from your record. 

Several participants of the program are now business owners, homeowners, and have been on their jobs for several years.  Someone with a broken past may have been a part of the problem... but that means they are also a part of the solution. 

So whether you're fresh out of college, or dealing with a checkered past... patience, persistence, and creativity can help your hunt end with a feast.

For more information on Flip the Script Empowerment, visit their website, http://www.goodwilldetroit.org/programs/flip-the-script/.
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