Networking: The Only Way To Get Hired After a Felony, by Lindsey Novak

Q: I had an excellent career for more than 14 years in information technology, but I made a serious mistake that damaged my career. In my most recent position, the first four years were productive with excellent performance reviews, increases and a promotion. In my fifth year, I reported to a new manager who held a different management philosophy. I eventually realized he was trying to force me out to bring in his own team and I didn’t know how to handle it.

After leaving the company, I was angry and engaged in activities that resulted in a felony charge for unauthorized access. I received a one-year probation. I wrote the manager an apology for my actions. I also went through voluntary counseling. My resume is well prepared, I have excellent communication skills, a good work history minus the felony, great references and a wealth of IT experience. I have been upfront about my felony, but employers backed off. I changed my tactics and waited to explain my record after receiving a job offer. Each company rescinded its offer. How do I undo the damage? I sincerely regret my angry actions.

A: You were more than angry. You were vindictive, which signals emotional immaturity and is a worrisome personality trait for hiring managers. Getting a job with a felony on your record is difficult but not impossible, especially since you voluntarily went through counseling. Your best approach is to rely on networking to increase meaningful contacts. Networking is not the superficial activity of handing out business cards or connecting online to people whom you have nothing in common with. Sign up for Zoom and in-person conferences on IT systems, hiring processes, human resource trends, the state of employment, and any subject related to areas sponsored by large companies and small setting the trends. Get involved with the Q&A sessions at the end of the conferences and keep a record of the names and positions of those involved. Even one person who believes in you can make all the difference. The key is to meet people for informational interviews who, as they get to know you, might be receptive to overlooking your conviction and giving you a second chance. Authors Billy Dexter and Melissa G. Wilson, in “Making Your Net Work + Networlding = Career and Business Success,” joined together to help job hunters understand real networking. They share the view that meetings are two-way business and social exchanges. The key is to meet people for informational interviews who as they get to know you might be willing to overlook your conviction. You are still a person of value who can offer help to those willing to meet you where you are. Few people like to feel used, so start with information exchanges where you take time to share something that could be of value to a person you know is interested in networking.

Wilson was able to help more than 3,000 six-figure earners in transition learn a networking system she created leveraging LinkedIn as a free, powerful tool to connect networkers quickly and effectively. Here is how to use it:

In the LinkedIn search bar, type LION Open Networker, then choose Groups to connect you to local and international members interested in networking. Target a member to connect with and ask for a 15-minute interview. Make sure to read the member’s profile before your interview time and look for things you share with that member. Then find another open networker your targeted member has yet to meet. The second open networker will be your referral to your first open networker. As you repeat this process, you will be building a vibrant and meaningful network. As you add value through all your information exchanges, emphasize your professional experience to earn interviews. It’s then time to be patient. A company willing to give you a second chance is going to want the felony conviction kept under wraps. Your best bet will likely be at a smaller company that doesn’t have rigid hiring policies.

Wilson offers a free e-guidebook titled “The Great Exchange” at that she created for her book, “Networlding,” which was No. 10 on Amazon for a year.

Email life and career coach [email protected] with all your workplace questions and experiences. For more information, visit and for past columns, see

Photo credit: SnapwireSnaps at Pixabay

Leave a Comment