5 Confidence Tips for Ex-Offenders Seeking Employment

Written by Richard O'Connor
Last updated June 5, 2024

Are you looking for confidence tips for ex-offenders seeking employment? We look at 5 key tips to boost your confidence during your job search.

Today, we’re addressing a vital topic: the transition from incarceration to re-entering the workforce and the challenges ex-offenders face when seeking employment. However, there’s one essential element that cannot be overlooked. Confidence

In this blog, we’ll share 5 invaluable confidence tips for ex-offenders. These tips will not only boost your confidence but also empower you in your job search.

Top Confidence Tips for Ex-Offenders Looking for Work

We understand that this journey can be challenging, but with the right strategies and mindset, you can achieve success.

Here are some actionable confidence tips for ex-offenders seeking employment:

Tip 1: Reframe your experience positively

Your first objective is to reframe your past experiences in a positive light. Focus on the skills and strengths you developed during your time of incarceration. Highlight qualities like resilience, adaptability, and any vocational training or education you completed.

How to Apply:

  • When updating your CV and cover letter, emphasise what you have learned from your experiences and how these lessons have prepared you for new challenges. For example, instead of saying you were “incarcerated for a certain period,” you can say you “successfully completed a rehabilitation programme and gained valuable skills in XYZ.”
  • In interviews, discuss your growth and readiness to contribute positively to the workforce. Use phrases like “During my time, I took the opportunity to…” to frame your past as a period of learning and development. This approach helps shift the focus from the past to your potential for the future.

Bonus reading: How to Write a CV for Ex-Offenders 👉

Tip 2: Highlight transferable skills

Your time in incarceration has not erased the skills you possess. If anything, it’s helped you develop new skills that many others don’t have. These transferable skills are what will make employers sit up and take notice. The skills can also be applied to various industries and roles.

Just a few of the transferable skills you can bring to the table include:

  • Adaptability
  • Time management
  • Effective communication
  • Problem-solving
  • Working well under pressure
  • Teamwork
  • Resilience

These are attributes that are highly sought after in the job market. Yes, the context may differ, but the essence remains the same.

By effectively communicating and highlighting your transferable skills, you’ll present yourself as a confident and well-rounded candidate capable of making a seamless transition from incarceration into employment.

Tip 3: Prepare and practice your narrative

Being ready to explain your past succinctly and honestly without dwelling on it is crucial. Practising how you’ll discuss your background in interviews helps you stay composed and confident.

How to Apply:

  • Develop a concise, honest narrative about your past that focuses on what you’ve learned and how you’ve changed. Keep it brief and steer the conversation towards your skills and future aspirations.
  • Engage in mock interviews with friends, family, or career counsellors. Practise answering tough questions about your background in a way that highlights your growth and readiness to move forward. This will help you feel more comfortable and confident during real interviews.

Tip 4: Use the STAR model

One of the top confidence tips for ex-offenders seeking employment is learning how to ace a job interview. By learning some useful techniques and frameworks, you can go into any job interview knowing you have the tools to succeed. 

The STAR model is an easy and effective framework for structuring your answers during a job interview. This is especially helpful if you’re feeling nervous or lacking confidence. Following the four-step model will ensure that you showcase your skills and impress your interviewer in a concise way. 

Here’s how it works.

Let’s say you’re interviewing for a job and the interviewer asks you a question related to your competencies and behaviours (these are usually questions like “Describe a time when you successfully managed your time to avoid a disaster at work ” or “Give us an example of a time when you had to use your communication skills to resolve an issue with a team member”.)

You want to make sure your response is clear and answers the question at hand. So, you will break your answer down using the STAR acronym. 

STAR stands for:

Situation – Describe the situation you were in (provide context)

Task – Explain the task you had to perform 

Action – Talk us through the actions you took to successfully complete the task

Result – Describe the results – were you successful? What impact did it have on the team or business?

Here’s an example in action.

Question: “Can you tell me about a time when you faced a significant challenge and how you dealt with it?”


One of the most significant challenges I’ve faced was during my time in prison. It was a period of profound reflection and growth for me.”

“I realised that I needed to make substantial changes in my life, not only to improve myself but also to ensure a better future.”

“To tackle this challenge, I immersed myself in various educational programmes and vocational training. I completed courses in computer literacy and obtained a certification in HVAC repair. These activities not only kept me focused but also equipped me with valuable skills for re-entering the workforce. Furthermore, I volunteered for peer mentoring programmes, helping others to navigate their own challenges.”

“This experience taught me resilience, empathy, and the importance of a strong support network. By actively seeking self-improvement and helping others, I transformed a difficult situation into an opportunity for growth. I believe these experiences have made me more determined and better prepared to contribute positively to your team.

Tip 5: Get training

Upskilling is one of the best confidence tips for ex-offenders seeking employment. The more training you receive, the more confident you will feel going into a job interview. There is a broad range of training opportunities and funding available for ex-offenders in the UK. So, find out what training you’re entitled to.

The best way to discover your training options is to speak to your local job centre, charities like Unlock and Working Chance, and church. All of these organisations will be able to advise you on how to upskill. If you have access to a computer and internet connection, you can also look into free online training courses.

From computer literacy skills to retraining courses, there’s a wealth of resources available to build your skills and confidence level. Alternatively, volunteering or taking on an adult apprenticeship are two great ways to gain valuable skills as an ex-offender. 

Worth a read: Getting back to work as an ex-offender 👉

How We Can Help Jobseekers Who Are Ex-Offenders

If you’re a job seeker currently transitioning from incarceration to re-entering the workforce, our experts at Refreshing a Career can help. Here are just some of the services we offer:

If you’re an employer looking to employ ex-offenders, Refreshing a Career can help. Call 03458724501 or email info@refreshingacareer.com to learn more about our services for employers

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Last Updated: Monday June 3 2024
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