Unemployment may be the lowest on record but it does not mean employers will open their doors to someone who does not appear work-ready. It is our job to ensure every candidate we recommend to interview has the best chance possible of securing employment. Here is how we achieve that:
Since forming Offploy in 2016 we have supported hundreds of people to secure an interview with our chosen employers who we put weeks of work into before sending candidates their way.
It is through this experience (and lots of lessons learnt) we have been able to generate the criteria for our team to support candidates to meet before we have confidence they are ready for an interview. This means our information, advice and guidance is structured, practical and tailored to each candidate to help them achieve the following milestones.
Before a candidate is accepted onto nine-step candidate journey
Abstinent from substance abuse/misuse, including marijuana
Everyone who is referred to our service will undergo an initial assessment to see if they have any major barriers which are not being addressed or supported by specialist partner agencies. It may be at this stage that we will find a candidate is currently using drugs but is not receiving support. It is at step 3 of our candidate journey that their 'assignment' will be to speak with one of our drug use partners before continuing
Must be supported with any significant physical and/or mental barriers by an approved agency. Candidates with these barriers must be referred to our appropriate partners to receive the right support before being able to secure employment. Candidates currently on ESA cannot accept employment opportunities and therefore would not be eligible for our employment-focused programme. This may be subject to change should the DWP fund our service to support those furthest from the jobs market.
Once a candidate reaches step 4, they are accepted onto the programme
From this stage, it is all about becoming work-ready.
Turning up to an interview, getting a job and sustaining that employment opportunity can be a delicate process which needs a robust individual to take the opportunity and make the most of it.
As Offploy work in both prisons and the community, we have found that in one way or another, everyone with a criminal conviction benefits from support in achieving sustainable employment. For some, this may mean intensive work around their attitude towards employment; for others, it may mean finding the best way to humbly and confidently disclose their conviction to an employer.
Every individual's journey to becoming work-ready is different, but our definition of work-ready remains the same for all of our candidates; it is our ‘North Star’ of giving quality information, advice and guidance.
To be classed as work-ready, and recommended to interviews with our employers, our candidates must have the following items and qualities in place:
(List up to date as of 7th October 2019)
Free from outstanding charges - we can only recommend candidates to employers once we are sure any legal proceedings against them are concluded or that 'no further action' will be taken.
Photo Identification - In partnership with the DWP, we will fund a provisional driver's license for the candidates we support.
Access to a bank account - An employer needs a sort code, account number and the name of the account holder in order to issue a payment to their employees.
Proof of address - This forms part of your 'right to work' documents proving you are who you say you are. Two items may be requested. This could include a bank statement, utility bill or official letter.
CV - A CV opens the door to an interview and is an essential document when looking for employment. We will support all of our candidates with writing a quality CV regardless of experience.
Disclosure Letter - This is a document unique to people with criminal convictions and is a statement that outlines the conviction given, where the candidate was in their life at the time of the offence, the punishment they received, and what they want to do with life going forward. Candidates are also given support to disclose this verbally should an employer ask about convictions during the interview.
Complete Offploy's Employability Course - Offploy's two-day employability course is suitable for all audiences and focusses on the candidate's strengths, goals and overcoming challenges faced with their criminal conviction. This is an essential part of our process to get to know our candidates.
Attends Appointments - Candidates must regularly attend appointments with our Social Employment Advisors and inform us in good time if they are not going to make an appointment. Too many missed appointments without reason could result in a candidate having to restart their nine step journey.
Answer Phones/emails - It is common for our Social Employment Advisors to receive daily job updates and we need candidates to be available on the end of the phone. When opportunity knocks, you answer!
Attitude: reliable, honest, positive, determined, willing, motivated - We will work with candidates to build these qualities and there may be a number of reasons a person does not yet embody these qualities. It is our Social Employment Advisor's role to stretch and challenge our candidates and celebrate with them as they become work-ready and secure employment.
Confidently and humbly discloses their conviction in a mock interview - An interview is a daunting process which most people fear along with public speaking, heights and spiders. Imagine having to do an interview and then disclose why you spent two years in prison... it can be crippling for some and cause them not to apply for jobs, become isolated and potentially reoffend. We support all of our candidates to not only develop their interview skills and presentation but also to disclose their criminal conviction in a confident yet humble way.
Has an ABC strategy - Every candidate must have an ABC strategy in their action plan agreed with their Social Employment Advisor. Any job: They must be willing to accept and get any job. This helps develop a track record on their CV, earn an honest income and step off some or all of their benefits. Better job: Through sticking at it, accepting overtime, showing willing and going above and beyond the candidate will progress to a better job, either with another employer or in their existing opportunity. This may mean better hours, more responsibility and more money. Career: What is it the candidate wants to do for the rest of their life? Money alone will not make for a sustainable employment opportunity. We encourage candidates to set clear goals and train in their spare time to secure their career, which might be anything from a construction site manager to a chartered accountant. Securing employment is not the goal; sustaining it is.
Registered with our chosen recruitment partners and willing to take agency work - Following on from ABC, it is important that every candidate is registered with our chosen recruitment agencies as partners who are all willing to place people with criminal convictions. This is often the first step of ‘ABC’.
Actively applying for jobs for 1 hour, twice per week at an Offploy job club - Searching for employment in isolation can be isolating, disheartening and difficult. Offploy runs a job club twice per week which builds job searching communities. As one candidate secures a job with an employer it is not uncommon for two or three others to also get offered positions. The clubs are equipped with unlimited tea and coffee, biscuits, a bit of music and a good laugh.
Bonus: Has attended a further educational course with Offploy or one of our chosen partners - Whilst this criteria is not mandatory it is on offer to all candidates we work with. We have placed people on 12 week rail track programmes; funded people through their CSCS card; and seen people become qualified to work on the docks. If a candidate has a particular interest in an industry we can help them find suitable training opportunities.
When we began developing the work-ready criteria, we thought it would consist of two or three simple points. However, for our candidates to be head and shoulders ahead of other people competing for their jobs, we know that all 15 of the above points are essential.
If you are an employer, candidate or member of the sector and think we could improve our list in any way, please do get in touch below.
It is our mission to reduce reoffending and make society safer by placing people with criminal convictions into meaningful, mentored and sustainable employment.