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Tips & Training

Resources for career professionals working with ex-offenders

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Finding sustainable employment can be a crucial element of the reintegration of formerly incarcerated persons. However, having a criminal record can present many challenges during job search. The following reports, tip sheets, articles and organizations offer valuable information and programming that could be useful to career practitioners working with ex-offenders.

What Works: Career-Building Strategies for People From Diverse Groups (Government of Alberta)

What Works is a career resource with client-focused, strength-based approaches for those who counsel or work with diverse groups. The resource sheet on ex-offenders covers many topics including strategies for career building, dealing with employers and helping clients with job search.

The Government of Alberta’s Alis website also has a document on “Finding Work With a Criminal Record,” which offers strategies for jobseekers on how to answer questions about their criminal record without hurting their chances of getting a job offer.

The Social Reintegration of Offenders and Crime Prevention (Public Safety Canada)

This document outlines the need for a holistic approach to offender reintegration to prevent reoffending. Some of the information included will not be directly relevant to career professionals, but could provide meaningful context for working with this population. There is also a section on “Employment/Job Market Re-entry Assistance” that explains the challenges ex-offenders can face in obtaining employment upon release as well as the impact of community-based employment interventions.

Overcoming barriers for criminalized clients (CERIC)

This article, from CERIC’s Careering magazine, was written by an author who has worked with criminalized populations as a counsellor and has also been a consumer of services as a stigmatized and criminalized client. He addresses the stigmas criminalized populations can face when seeking employment services and offers advice for working with this demographic.

Employment support for young clients with criminal records (CERIC)

This Careering magazine article offers strategies for career professionals working with youth with a criminal record. It explains the need for wrap-around support, a long-term commitment to clients and labour market knowledge to properly support this population in finding employment.

I’ve got a criminal record. How can I get a job? (The Globe and Mail)

In this article, the Director of Human Resources for Randstad Canada and the President of BlueSky Personnel Solutions offer their advice for a person with a criminal record seeking employment

Can an employer ask me if I have a police record? (Steps to Justice)

This resource offers information on when employers can ask about an employee or candidate’s criminal record, what record checks they can get, a jobseeker’s rights when an employer asks for a record check and how to apply for a record suspension.

Job Hunting With A Criminal Record (Monster)

This article from job search website Monster outlines the difference between background checks and reference checks, what candidates are required to disclose about their criminal background, the process of applying for a criminal pardon and more.

Criminal Records and Employment (National Pardon Centre)

This article lists career choices that require criminal record searches for all potential candidates, such as physiotherapy, insurance, taxi driving and banking. It also explains the process of starting a pardon application and the typical results/impact on employment prospects.

The John Howard Society of Canada

John Howard Society, which has branches across Canada, is committed to “effective, just and humane responses to the causes and consequences of crime.” It provides rehabilitative and reintegrative services to released prisoners, including training in basic job search skills and life skills and helping clients find affordable housing.

Elizabeth Fry Society

The Elizabeth Fry Society is a non-profit organization with locations across Canada that aims to “support criminalized and marginalized women, girls and children in achieving their potential.” While specific offerings vary depending on location, services include employment and educational support for women who are involved in the justice system or are in recovery and transition.

Pardons Canada

Pardons Canada is a national non-profit organization that helps individuals remove a past criminal offence from public record. It provides support and information over the phone, online as well as in-person at its Toronto office.

The Bridge Prison Ministry

The Bridge, a Brampton, ON-based organization, aims to help adult and youth offenders successfully reintegrate into the community. It offers multiple programs including its “BRIDGE-TO-Work Employment Readiness” program.


L.I.N.C. is a British Columbia-based organization that works with people affected by the criminal justice system. Its Central Fraser Valley Employment Programme helps people on conditional release in the Fraser Valley find work, including providing assistance with resume writing, job retention skills, career action plans, skills and abilities assessment, labour market information and work experience placement.

PACT Urban Peace Program

This Toronto-based organization works with, supports and empowers underserved, marginalized and at-risk young people, as well as youth already in conflict with the law. It offers a LifePlan Coaching Program for higher-risk repeat offenders (ages 14-18), Life & Job Skills Community Service Projects for youth, ages 13-21, and the opportunity to get involved with its urban farming initiatives.

Did we miss something? Leave a comment below or send us a note at if you have information that can help make our article even better.

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Lindsay Purchase Administrator
Lindsay Purchase oversees CERIC’s tri-annual magazine, Careering, and the CareerWise website, along with the CareerWise Weekly newsletter. She has a background in journalism, having worked previously as a digital editor and reporter. Lindsay is a graduate of Wilfrid Laurier University’s Global Studies program.
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Lindsay Purchase Administrator
Lindsay Purchase oversees CERIC’s tri-annual magazine, Careering, and the CareerWise website, along with the CareerWise Weekly newsletter. She has a background in journalism, having worked previously as a digital editor and reporter. Lindsay is a graduate of Wilfrid Laurier University’s Global Studies program.
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