The current job market is highly competitive. With companies requiring high-level qualifications and years of experience from prospective employees, finding a job can be quite difficult. As an ex-offender, simply re-entering society can be a daunting task. In turn, finding work may seem insurmountable. However, there are many things that ex-offenders can do to make themselves more appealing to employers. In fact, employment opportunities for ex-offenders are at an all-time high. The important thing is to know where to begin and to have a clear plan of action in place.

This guide aims to help you establish a plan for getting back into work and overcome common barriers faced when looking for employment.

Employment Opportunities For Ex-Offenders: What Appears on a DBS Check?

One of the first problems faced by ex-offenders is the question of whether or not they have to disclose their background to potential employers. What does this mean? The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check is an official background check. Essentially, employers carry out this check to find out if an individual has any criminal convictions that would disqualify them from working with children or vulnerable adults.

If you’re listed on a barred list, the following information will be highlighted:

  • spent convictions (not necessary to disclose background)

  • unspent cautions and warnings (necessary to disclose background)

As well as this, it will also show any essential data related to a criminal record which may affect hiring decisions. This can include an ethics violation or the falsification of documents during the application process.

In summary, a criminal record doesn’t prevent you from getting a job. Having said that, some organisations are exempt from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act (1974) in the UK. In those cases, you’ll need to disclose all convictions whether they are spent or not.

Increasing Employment Opportunities For Ex-Offenders

It’s no secret that it’s more difficult to find jobs for ex-offenders. The good news is that if you’re reading this, you’re already on the right track. There are plenty of ways to increase your chances of landing a job. Here’s a closer look.

1. Research Sectors that are Thriving

Certain areas of the job market are saturated while other areas are crying out for willing employees. Since the beginning of the Great Resignation 2021, where employees have voluntarily resigned from their jobs en masse, a wealth of companies are in need of staff.

This, coupled with the fact that corporate profit is at an all-time high, means that there are many opportunities out there for employment. You just need to do your research and know which companies are thriving and looking for more staff.

Other good reasons to look for work in a thriving company include:

  • Greater job security and stability

  • Companies that are doing well are more likely to invest in their employees with training and development opportunities.

  • Enhancing your skillset surrounded by positive people

Update Your CV

No matter the background, when looking for a job it’s important that your CV is as strong as possible. Remember to tailor your CV to the specific role you’re applying for. You must highlight the skills and experience you have that are relevant to the job. A CV should be clean and tidy with simple formatting that’s easy to read. Ask a friend to proofread your CV or use a free online grammar checking tool like Grammarly before you submit it.

Need support updating your CV? We’ve put together a list of some CV writing tips to help make your CV shine.

Training Programs and Courses for Ex-Offenders

Research predicts that 90% of the UK workforce will have to retrain to some extent by 2030. So if you’re looking for ex-offender employment, your chances of finding a new job and gaining the skills required are higher than ever before.

To steer you in the right direction, we’ve put together a list of some training opportunities for ex-offenders.

  • When it comes to acquiring new skills, Nacro offers a range of education centres and training programs across the UK in order to provide individuals with the correct skills needed for reentering the working world.

  • My Options offer workshops across the UK for ex-offenders. They go through everything from understanding the DBS to finding ex-offender employment. These workshops are also a great way to meet contacts.

  • If a role within the construction industry sounds like something you would excel in, Bounce Back is a training provider that specialises in all the different skills associated with construction. This includes painting and decorating, scaffolding and more.

  • For women who are ex-offenders, Working Chance is the leading organisation helping to retrain and guide your steps into the working world. With 58% of women reoffending within a year of release, those who reach out to Working Chance reduce those chances to less than 4%.

  • Ban the Box is a campaign run by Business in the Community (BITC). It is supported by Nacro and other organisations. It asks employers to consider an applicant’s skills and abilities before asking for a criminal record declaration. Their aim is to increase the number of companies who commit to offering fair opportunities to ex-offenders who apply for jobs.

Nacro offers a full list of recruiters for ex-offenders. There are also a variety of Government grants for ex-offenders which can be found at

Job interview preparation

There is a wide range of employment opportunities for ex-offenders in the UK. Once you find the right job for you, the next step is to prepare for the interview process. Job interviews are nerve-wracking for everyone. It’s important to do your research about the company beforehand, learning information like:

  • when the company was founded

  • the company’s missions and values

  • the company background

  • some challenges faced by the company

  • some successes the company has had

It’s simple. The more interest you show in the company, the more interest the interviewer will show in you. Additionally, prepare to speak about your employment history and your criminal record. Practice this in advance and be as transparent as possible. Honesty and authenticity always shine through, so ensure that you make eye contact and keep your body language open.

Next, make sure you dress appropriately for the job and be professional. Remember, the person they meet in the interview is the person they’ll potentially be hiring. Nobody wants to hire someone who seems uninterested or negative so stay positive and upbeat!

For more advice on how to prepare, check out our page on job application tips.

Find Employment Opportunities For Ex-Offenders UK

Applying for jobs after prison can be nerve-wracking. But, with some preparation and sound advice, you can get back into the workforce. To help you get prepared, we have created a comprehensive guide of job application tips for the formerly incarcerated.

We have also listed a range of support and resources for ex-offenders on our website. From career advice to mental health treatment to financial support, we have outlined where and how to access what you need. So you can get back to work.

Keep an eye on our specialist career change job board for up-to-date job listings in your area.