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Career Plan Timetable

Job search immediately after release might be hard, but it's good to think about what you need to do to advance.

Getting and keeping your first job after release is an important step in your career. Every good choice you make at work — showing up on time, signing up for training, taking on more responsibilities — will open new possibilities.

It might take you two years, or five or 10 years after release to get where you want to be in your career. Even if you work hard and make good choices every day, it might take many years to achieve your goals.

But think about this: Where will you be in 10 years if you don't work hard or make bad choices today?

Life can only get better if you learn to deal with obstacles, and you create goals and stick to your plan.

4 Stages of Career Advancement

The four lists below show steps you can take to find your first job and move ahead in every phase of your new career.

Prepare for Job Search Before Release

  1. Attend job search and pre-release information sessions.
  2. Explore your career options.
  3. Think about how the skills you gained in prison can be used on the job.
  4. Decide what career pathway fits your goals.
  5. Understand the hiring process.
  6. Know why and how to disclose your criminal conviction.
  7. Create or update your resume.
  8. Research employers you are interested in.
  9. Write your cover letters.
  10. Practice interview questions.
  11. Decide whether and how to disclose if you have a disability.
  12. If you have access, look for job postings on MinnesotaWorks.net.

Get the First Job (1-6 months after release)

  1. Contact your local CareerForce location or nonprofit employment agency for job search help.
  2. Know about common jobs for the newly released.
  3. If you have a disability, contact Vocational Rehabilitation Services.
  4. Update your resume and cover letter.
  5. Attend job clubs or networking groups to build your network.
  6. Ask people you trust if you can use them as employment references.
  7. Fill out job applications.
  8. Contact employers (in person, phone, online).
  9. Find job openings.
  10. Schedule job interviews.
  11. Attend job fairs.
  12. Follow up after interviews.

Succeed on the Job (1-2 years after release)

  1. Go to work and be on time every day you are scheduled. Try for perfect attendance.
  2. Follow all company policies about safety, dress code, break times, and other guidelines.
  3. Ask questions, be productive, and be willing to help other get work done.
  4. Understand what it takes to be successful at work.
  5. Be polite and show respect for your supervisors, coworkers, and customers.
  6. Make a budget to manage your money.
  7. Create a career plan for the next 5-10 years.
  8. Find ways to increase your skills. Get additional training through your employer, or on your own.
  9. Keep track of major work projects and your accomplishments so you can add them to your resume.
  10. Meet positive people to add to your network of contacts.
  11. Attend professional organization meetings related to your career.

Step Ahead (2 years after release and beyond)

  1. Find out what the next steps are in your current career pathway or take steps to change careers.
  2. If you have a disability, continue to look for new and better resources for accommodations.
  3. Look at your cost of living and decide when and how you will ask for a raise or promotion.
  4. Update your elevator speech to reflect your career goals.
  5. Use online social media to build your network.
  6. Decide if you want your first or another degree, and know what it means to "go to college."
  7. Understand the new world of work and changing expectations.
  8. Talk to other people about how they advanced in their career pathways.
  9. Know when it's time to move to Plan B.
  10. Keep asking yourself, "Where do I want to be in 5 years?"
  11. Make SMART goals for yourself.

To help you keep track of what you need to do each week or month, use a job search calendar like the one in the workbook to manage your time and keep your career moving ahead. Write down the goals you are working toward at each step in your career. Make goals for future steps — a promotion, a raise, earning a degree, or skill certificate. Write down what you need to do, every week or every month, to reach your goals.

Stick to your career plan and look at it often. You will see that you really are making progress.

Next Steps