Tips for Setting Up Your Career Change After Federal Prison

As readers know, I started my career change while serving time at Taft Federal Prison Camp. I had been inside a few months before deciding that I wanted to build a new career as a corporate ethics speaker and federal prison consultant.

Why was I successful in changing careers after federal prison?

Well, to start I began from the inside of federal prison. Rather than wait for my inevitable release to begin, I knew I would increase my chances for success if I began in federal prison. If you are going to federal prison, I suggest you follow my lead.

Whether you embark on a career change after federal prison or during your prison term, as I did, you will need a plan. Whether you’re embarking on a new career or switching industries due to necessity or by choice, you’ll want to have a plan.

But how should you get started??????

1: Write Your Ideal Job Description

A new job search, career transition or federal prison sentence is the perfect time to go after the position you really want. Instead of starting your search researching what’s available, get creative and don’t worry about your experience, background, or skills for this portion of the exercise. The point is to stretch your imagination (as I did at Taft Federal Prison Camp) and let go of ideas about the work you “should” be doing and to identify areas where you may have held yourself back in the past.

Career Change After Federal Prison

Career Change After Federal Prison

Perform an Objective Audit of Your Experience and Current Skills

Depending on your situation, the job market may look drastically different than it did the last time you were looking for a job. If there are skills and experience that are no longer relevant (think outdated programs/technology or industry practices and jargon), you’ll want to edit your resume for starters, and spend some time figuring out what skills you’ll need in your desired role – and how to get them. If you are going to federal prison use your time in federal prison to develop the requisite skills you need–as I did.

Research Your Industry

Read industry blogs and follow companies and influencers that you admire and respect on social media for some intel. If you are wondering how you can this in federal prison, let me explain: nurture your network and ask those that love and support you to conduct research and send to you in federal prison, as I did.

If you are in federal prison you can research your industry without having access to the internet. If I can find a way, so can you!!!!

Reach Out to Your Existing Network – and work on Building a New One

Your current network and contacts are a great source of information and referrals, but you should also look to make new contacts. Meetups and industry networking events are a great place to start in a relaxed and low-pressure setting. You can also be proactive and reach out to companies you would like to work for directly. In many cases, the job you want may not be advertised on a job board.

I had to create the job I wanted. To make it happen, I spent my days in federal prison preparing. Whether your job is advertised or not, you need to nurture your network, as I did.

Create a List of Actionable Steps and Be Authentic 

Making a list of small steps that you can take every day can make the process much less daunting and manageable, whether you’re still in your current job or actively looking for a new one.

Remember that the traditional, linear career trajectory is quickly becoming a thing of the past. It is never too late or too early to invest in your skills and pursue the career or your choice – or to switch gears when your circumstances change.

I hope you found this blog.

Justin Paperny