As 2023 begins, it’s a great time to think about fresh starts. Vita’s Jobs Readiness programs help returning citizens prepare for the difficulties of reentering the job market. Even for those with degrees or useful skills in trades like plumbing and carpentry, it is challenging to face starting over, and some reentrants have no formal work experience at all. Added to that, they have the disadvantage of being prejudged by many prospective employers, and they know it.
As a result of their limited or uneven work history, returning citizens often lack confidence – a situation familiar to many of us. Finding a job after incarceration often means starting over, and all of us can empathize when we think back to the beginnings of our own careers. Interviewing, crafting a resume, and even knowing how to search for jobs are all challenging, learned skills, and returning citizens have to relearn them, or learn them for the first time, while facing an additional handicap.
What they need most is a chance. “I don’t know anyone who hasn’t made a mistake,” notes Vita Board member and Jobs Readiness volunteer Maxine Katz. It is up to the rest of us to give returning citizens a chance to start over and remake their lives.