If you have been out of work for some time, finding the right first steps can be confusing. Read our guide to help set you on the right path.

Finding Relevant Career Opportunities as an Ex-Offender

Every year the UK job market grows and changes rapidly. This means that if you have been out of it for a while, it can seem daunting. However, if you follow our simple tips you can set yourself on a path even better than you imagined.

For specific tips on applying for jobs and writing a CV, head over to our dedicated guide for just that.

Open to Training?

If you are willing to train for a new occupation, there are a large number of doors open to you. Furthermore, there are a large number of organisations who will support ex-offenders in retraining.

This is a massive lifeline to thousands of ex-offenders, as a large number of UK workers are having to retrain anyway. As such, if you are willing to retrain you will set out on the exact same footing as everyone else, as long as you are applying to inclusive employers.

To find these organisations, head over to our support and resources page which is dedicated to organisations supporting ex-offenders.

Checking for Inclusivity

You can see which employers are inclusive by going to the different inclusive accreditations or directories.

At Refreshing a Career, companies only list on our directory if they are an inclusive employer who is open to hiring at least one of our user groups, such as ex-offenders. You can view their profile to read about whether or not they are open to hiring ex-offenders.

Other accreditations and directories include Business in the Community’s (BITC) Ban the Box campaign. This is another list of employers who are not only open to hiring ex-offenders but are supporting the campaign to remove the criminal record declaration on job applications. As such, if you would like to read this list of employers, download the factsheet on their dedicated page.

There are too many inclusive employers, accreditations and directories to list here. Thankfully, Nacro has compiled one such list which you can find using this link.

Common Careers

Being an ex-offender does not necessarily limit you to any career, depending on your conviction. This is especially so if you are open to accessing training.

However, many employers may be more willing to employ ex-offenders in a role that is not customer-facing. As such, you may want to consider jobs in flourishing industries such as construction or engineering. You can also take a look at carpentry jobs on our jobs board. You can also explore jobs for ex-offenders, or jobs for ex-offenders in London.

Despite that, there are a number of customer-facing organisations that are openly inclusive to the formerly incarcerated, such as Boots and Marks and Spencers.


If you feel like you are being discriminated against in your employment, such that you can’t find a job or you are undervalued in your work, you should consider becoming self-employed. This can be massively liberating and has seen thousands of ex-offenders flourish.

However, it must be noted that if you have any unspent convictions, that may impact your ability to access the relevant business insurance.

Regardless, there are a large number of organisations who could help, including Let’s Talk About Self-Employment. If you would like other support options for setting up your own business, see our support and resources guide to find the right organisation to help you.