Job hunting is a brutal reality that we have all had to endure at some point in our lives. It’s mentally and physically draining and sometimes, not at all rewarding. This process becomes even more challenging for persons with a convicted felony record even after said individuals served their penance. Yes, convicted felons do get a more challenging time than others, but landing your dream job as an ex-felon isn’t impossible. We here at Don Hammond Law care about second chances, so this article will share some options you have as a convicted felon, and how you can level the playing field for a better competitive advantage.

Ban the Box Law

As of January 1st, 2018, California’s ‘Ban the Box’ Law ( Assembly Bill 1008) took effect, following the Fair Housing and Employment Act (FEHA) amendment. The law now makes it illegal for employers to ask about your criminal history until later on in the recruitment process before making a conditional offer. As the name suggests, job applicants were previously required to check a box ‘Yes’ if they had a criminal record. This was a sure way of having your application thrown out at first glance. Then again, there isn’t any law that says you MUST hire an ex-con. As you can imagine, most applicants would resort to lying in their applications and hoping for the best.

It’s important to point out that the AB 1008 only helped level the playing field so convicted felons can have a fighting chance to stand out. However, it still doesn’t bar employers from doing background checks. Potential employers still have the liberty to make an informed decision upon the results of your background check.

Fortunately, more employers are coming up who are more willing to take a chance. With a little more effort, you can get your life back on track, if you know where to look. Here is a list of all the places you can get your next big break in employment.


Any kind of job that requires manual labor is less likely to ask about your criminal history, so it makes sense that construction should be a potential solution for ex-felons. You may start at wages as low as $11 an hour, but you can raise your hourly wage and rise to management in construction with patience and purpose.

Truck Driving

Truck driving is one of the most underrated employment opportunities. On average, drivers take home about $40,000 a year if they play their cards right with overtime. Granted, you’ll be spending a lot more time on the road, but you will receive a steady income stream at the end of the day.

Food and Beverage Industry

The food and beverage industry is also lenient to people who have served prison time. The industry offers a wealth of opportunities ranging from cooking and cleaning in fast food franchises to hosting and catering events. Big companies like McDonald’s have also expressed their open-mindedness by explicitly not ruling out applicants with a criminal history. Bartending is also a widespread option if you don’t mind the late nights.


Unbeknownst to most, many ex-convicts work as counselors in rehabilitation centers or as partners with agencies that offer rehabilitative care. Whether as a substance abuse counselor or felony rehabilitation counselor, this is a great way to pay it forward and make a living. As someone who’s already been on the wrong side of the law and repaid your debt to society, you’re in a better position to share your insights with others who may need help creating a new life.

Oil Field Jobs

As the world becomes more climate-conscious, more companies are turning to wind and solar as a source of clean energy. However, as long as there’s a high energy demand, fossil fuels will remain relevant, and so will the demand for oil field jobs.

Depending on the specific job position, oil fields pay reasonably well. Oil rig operators can expect at least $50,000 a year and $65,000 for engineers. The industry also offers plenty of room for advancements if you’re willing to invest in your education and technical skills.

IT Jobs

The opportunities available in the IT industry are only as limited as your imagination and your skillset. The IT industry has some of the most open-minded individuals who wouldn’t mind overlooking a criminal record as long as you have a robust skillset. 


Perhaps the best way to have a fresh start is by taking advantage of your entrepreneurial and creative niche. As an entrepreneur, you will be setting your terms and requirements for moving forward. If you have a high-risk tolerance, a solid set of business skills, and ambition, you can build a business from the ground up, without the lingering fear of your criminal history will ruin your prospects.

Online Freelancing

Finally, this list would not be complete without online freelancing. This is a career path you should consider if you prefer flexibility in your daily life. The best part about online freelancing is that you can learn most of the skills on your own with a little guidance from online courses and tutorials.

To start, you would need a working computer and a strong internet connection. What you cash in at the end of the day will entirely depend on the services you chose to provide and the effort you put into your tasks.

Final thoughts

Getting a job is already hard without a criminal record. The entire nerve-racking process will discourage even the most fervorous applicants, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that 67.8% of state prisoners revert to crime within three years after being released, according to a U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics study. This phenomenon can be attributed to offenders lacking the required skills and potential employers dismissing applicants with a criminal history.

Ban the Box law is a significant win for equal employment and aims to discourage discriminatory procedures in HR. Nonetheless, if you qualify for an expungement, this is your best bet at a clean slate. A criminal attorney is in a better position to guide you through the process of expungement. Still, you can start by reading about Getting an Expungement in California and a Step by Step guide on how to go about it.

If you have a reason to believe that a recruiter discriminated against you solely because you have a criminal record, please reach out to Don Hammon law at don@donhammondlaw.com or walk into one of our law firm locations for a consultation.


The Criminal Defense Hero Attorney Don Hammond


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