If you have a felony conviction and are struggling to find employment, try landing an assistant job.
Every business or company needs an assistant to perform a wide range of tasks, and this job is actually often felon friendly.
In particular, small companies and offices often require the help of one assistant to run their daily operations, and may be more open to hiring someone with a felony if they have the right skills and are willing to work hard.
Many assistant jobs are part time, which can be a good opportunity to earn money, while looking for more stable employment or getting an advanced degree.
In this article we will focus on Virtual assistant, personal assistant, administrative and medical assistant job opportunities.
Personal assistant jobs
There are many types of personal assistant employment opportunities out there. The scope of work and the tasks you will be asked to do also range greatly, depending on the needs of your boss.
Some business owners hire a personal assistant to take care of various tasks and errands that may be a mixture of personal life and business. For example book a family vacation, or find the best health insurance.
However, many other people look for personal assistants to run their private errands, such as go grocery shopping, find a cleaning lady, pick up kids from school, go to a medical appointment etc. Many busy moms as well as elderly people hire part or full time personal assistants to help them with all their daily chores. Moreover, people with disabilities often require the help of a personal assistant.
How much a personal assistant gets paid can vary greatly depending on how often you are needed and the type of work you do. Some personal assistants get paid per hour, others on a daily or weekly basis. Starting pay is usually about $10-12 per hour, but can be as high as $20-25 per hour.
Will I get hired as a personal assistant with a felony?
Many small companies or private citizens that look for a personal assistant will not bother spending the time or the money to run a background check. This means that unlike in most other jobs, you may not need to disclose your felony.
However, you must be prepared for the fact that there will be a real background check performed as part of the interview process. It may not be as extensive as one that a big corporation can do, but your criminal history will still come out.
Many parents who are looking for extra help with their kids will run a criminal background check to make sure that they are not dealing with a registered sex offender.
In both situations, it may be a good idea to be honest about your past from the start. Also, you have to realize that someone who is looking to hire a personal assistant needs that person to be extremely trustworthy. You may be asked to handle cash, bank accounts, personal and medical information, etc.
Your chances of landing this job will increase if you can build trust with the person looking to hire you, and show them that you are capable of quickly executing the tasks that they need help with.
Where to look for personal assistant jobs
The best place to look for a job as a personal assistant is Craigslist.com. New listings for personal assistants come out daily, so check back often. You can also post your own ad that lists your qualifications and experience for free, and prospective employers will contact you.
Other good websites that have a lot of personal assistant job listings are Ziprecruiter.com, Indeed.com, and Care.com
When you go for the interview, be sure that you look very presentable – business casual attire is best.
Virtual assistant jobs (VA)
The position of a VA or virtual assistant is relatively new and unique compared to traditional jobs that people usually know about. This is why many felons don’t even think to consider applying to virtual assistant positions….and there are actually many great opportunities in this field.
What is a virtual assistant?
A VA provides business and technical support services to an individual or a company from a remote location. Its essentially a modern day administrative assistant or secretary. Many companies that are looking to save space and/or money prefer hiring a virtual assistant vs a real one who would sit in the office.
Depending on the nature of the business a virtual assistant may need to perform various types of tasks. However, all of them involve being comfortable using the internet, as well as different online tools, programs, and apps.
Your duties may include:
– Scheduling meetings, appointments, phone calls using online calendars
– Answering the phone, taking messages and routing calls
– Managing social media accounts: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc
– Edit documents
– Handle customer questions, disputes, etc
– Translate or proofread documents
Some experienced virtual assistants may specialize in a particular field, such as PR, accounting, marketing, real estate, etc. and may only be hired to perform very specific tasks.
Virtual assistants that work for big companies that contract out VAs to their clients earn about $10-13 per hour. However, VAs with an established reputation that run their own business may get as much as $25-30 per hour.
Perks of being a VA
There are a number of great benefits to working as a virtual assistant.
– Work out of the comfort of your home
– If its your own business, you get to set the hours and determine what projects to take on
– This is a growing industry with many job opportunities available
– Employers tend to be more open to hiring people with felonies, compared to other types of jobs.
– You deal with people remotely as opposed to directly
There are basically two directions you can take if you want to land a job as a virtual assistant:
1. Start out working for a large VA company: these hire hundreds if not thousands of virtual assistants and then contract them out for specific tasks to their clients. Each project you get can range from a day to a few months, or longer.
Consider applying with well established companies such as: Byron.com. Time Etc.com, Lifebushido.com, Worldwide 101.com
2. Look for your own clients: once you get the skills and experience working as a VA and you can try starting your own business and finding clients. Best places to do this are Upwork.com and Flexjobs.com
Administrative assistant job options
If you are into a more traditional work environment in an office, then working as an administrative assistant may be ideal for you. All types of businesses from medical offices to law, real estate and accounting firms need at administrative office assistant to take care of a wide range of operations.
Many offices may hire you without any college education (high school diploma is enough) or prior office experience. However, if you do have a college degree and or administrative work experience, your chances of getting this job will be much better.
Here are some common duties of an administrative assistant:
– Answer phones
– Schedule appointments for the boss and/or clients
– Maintain and edit boss’s personal calendar
– Type and edit documents
– Resolve questions and problems that customers have
– Use Excel spreadsheets, QuickBooks and other software
The starting salary of an administrative assistant with minimal or no experience is about $11-13 per hour. Most experienced administrative assistants in mid-size and large firms get paid $15-18+ per hour. If you start working as an executive assistant to a company’s CEO, you can make as much as $25-35 per hour.
Where to look for administrative assistant jobs
Luckily, there are many companies that are always looking for administrative assistance, so there is really no shortage of job openings in this field. Look for openings on websites such as Glassdoor.com, Indeed.com, Ziprecruiter.com, CareerBuilder.com. Check back for new positions at least a few times a week.
If you have a felony, you need to be ready that there will be background check as part of the standard interviewing process. You may also be rejected from this job if it requires handling of finances or sensitive personal information.
You may have much better chances of getting hired in a small office, as opposed to a large company. Also, if you know someone who already works at an office, they may give you a good reference and help you get your foot in the door. Sometimes, its worth it to start out working in office as a filing clerk, and then move up to a better position, such as administrative assistant or secretary.
Medical assistant jobs
The medical field is one of the hardest for a felon to break into, and getting a job as a medical assistant is no exception.
If you have a felony conviction, you will most likely not get hired in any medical job that requires handling patient medical records, or having direct contact with patients.
Crimes related to fraud, theft, violence, abuse (physical/sexual) will automatically disqualify you from getting a job in the medical field. This will be the case even if you have a degree or certificate as a Medical Assistant that you have gotten prior to your felony.
Depending on the nature of your felony and how long ago it was committed, you may have a better chance getting a job as a medical office clerk, or a medical coder. Both of these jobs don’t require direct contact with patients and are often done remotely.
Its important to note that the state you live in can have a great impact on your ability to get a job in health care. Most states have very strict laws that prohibit anyone with a felony from entering medical professions.
However, some states such as Illinois and Pennsylvania have relaxed their laws and now allow individuals with particular felony convictions to apply for certain medical licenses and certifications.
If you are interested in pursuing jobs in a medical field, you should find out specific laws and regulations in your state that pertain to the type of felony you have. There is no reason to waste your time pursuing a medical career, if your criminal offense will prevent you from getting the job you want.
Other job opportunities for felons
If working as an assistant does not sound appealing to you or you are not able to get a job in this field, there are hundreds of other types of jobs for felons out there.
Try not to get discouraged by rejections – with enough time and effort you will land a decent job, and can start building your life again.
Also, its a good idea to try jobs in different fields. First of all, you never know where you may get lucky. Many people get stuck trying to pursue the same line of work, or applying with the same types of companies that continuously reject them.
One example of this is many felons apply for jobs with huge corporations such as Walmart, or Target, or Home Depot and it doesn’t work out for them. This is a sure sign that its time to look outside the box and consider alternative venues of employment.
Secondly, trying out different jobs may help you figure out what you are good at, and the type of work you actually enjoy doing. Don’t be afraid to take on part-time or seasonal jobs. These can provide an immediate cash flow, as well as valuable work experience that can help you get a better paying job down the line.
About The Author
Joe is the founder of HireFelons.org. Having had friends and co-workers who have a felony conviction, Joe Hunter decided to use his expert knowledge in starting a successful business to launch HireFelons.org and teach as many former felons as possible how to earn a decent income, when finding a traditional job is simply not an option.