Homeless to Hired:
Advice from a Former Felon
The advice from today’s Shoptalk blog post came primarily from Mr. Ellis Reid, a former employee at The Job Post. I say former, because he is now working permanently for one of our client companies that hired him. You may remember Mr. Reid from a Case Study that was written about him earlier this year. Mr. Reid shared so much information during the case study interview that I asked if we could expand on what he told us by writing a blog post.
Mr. Reid openly discusses his experiences and offers advice for others working or desiring to work. His confidence, motivation, goals, and desire to help others is seen throughout, as he candidly describes his journey from struggles with homelessness to being permanently hired. His hope, and ours here at The Job Post, is that his experiences also help you!
The Basics: Getting Started & Sticking With It
Throughout Reid’s’ experiences, he picked up quite a few practical skills that make so much sense. Many seem simple, but as he later explains, it’s easier to talk than to do:
- It’s up to you. If you’re tired of being in the streets, tired of not having money, The Job Post will find you a job. Once they do that, it’s up to you to keep that job.
- See the big picture. Working, you can see things forward. Know that money keeps coming in instead of taking from people or selling drugs that run your life. If you’re lazy and just working to get a paycheck, you’re not looking at the big picture: A home, car, food. You’re looking at a paycheck for drugs, alcohol, smokes. You get a helluva lot more confidence when you work hard and make money for a decent living.
- Communicate. Communicate with people you work for. You’re setting yourself up for a fall if you keep everything to yourself. My current job at SoundTech is a real testament to communicating with your employer.
- Grab a broom. When things are slow, grab a broom, or go to someone else’s area to help them. I like to learn everything around me. Supervisors see that. Wherever you work, there’s always someone watching on the job site. That can be very rewarding when you stay busy.
- Keep performing. I encourage everyone to stick with their job and continue working. You have to perform. If you don’t perform, there’s someone else who will. If you do perform, your paycheck will perform better too.
- Be positive. Even when places you work give you negative vibes, you gotta be positive. Confidence grows when you are positive and work with a decent company. Then things change and get better. Sometimes it takes time to find the right company. You still learn and things get better.
Getting Along with Co-workers
Getting along with your co-workers can make the day less stressful and much more pleasant. Not only that, but it can boost your career when your performance review shows positive marks. While being kind in general, showing respect, and having good manners are all important, Mr. Reid offered some motivating thoughts about getting along with others, direct from the ShopTalk floor:
- Overlook. Some people quit because they don’t like the people they’re working around. I learned I have to overlook them and look forward to what I want.
- You’re paying your own bills. If you let people around you discourage you, you’re letting them dictate and take your money away. They aren’t going to pay your bills.
Attitude on the Job
They say that attitude is everything. But why is it so hard to achieve sometimes? As a result of his experiences, Mr. Reid has a great attitude on the job that has contributed to his increasing salary and responsibilities:
- Working smart. One Saturday I was working. The Plant Manager was watching me drive the hilo. He came up and told me that he liked the way I set things up. He said I think ahead, and prepare everything. He said, “I don’t have to worry about you and your work. You always find things to do if there isn’t anything there to do.” Since then they hired me in permanently and now I run the area, and I’m training for more. There are 2 people under me.
- Finding work to do. I’m determined to learn and work. They don’t have to tell me to do stuff. I see it all the time. Some people stand around and wait for others to tell them what to do. If you look around and learn things, you’ll see what needs to be done. A lot of common sense has to go with a job. I do what I can around me. It makes time go fast. 8 hours fly by.
- Being all about it. Word of mouth has never been a proof of truth. Performance is more than talking about it. It’s being about it. It moved me right up. Doors are just opening up.
Some things in our lives have a big influence on us, from a saying we were taught when young, or major issues that occurred during our lives. When we learn from others’ experiences, it can make life a little easier. Here are some that Mr. Reid experienced:
- Listen to Mom. My mamma said I came out of her womb all by myself. “Ain’t nobody gonna give you nothing,” she said.
- Jail, Prison, and Felonies. While I’d been in and out of jail, I had a felony in the past too. I said I was going to change, and I made that change. Making that change and living a normal life is not the same thing though. It’s almost impossible to get in anywhere with a felony. You can’t get a job or even rent an apartment. It makes a person feel good when you can get through this and get enough money to pay for things yourself.
- National TV appearance. I went through some stuff, coming up in the streets. When I was 41, my oldest daughter accused me of stealing; It was all on national TV, on the Steve Wilkos show. You can still watch it on YouTube. They flew me out there. I took and passed a lie detector test. My daughter said, “Dad did you steal from me?” I said, “people can change”, meaning that I had changed since my former felon days and would not do that. Things are better between us now.
Mr. Reid’s faith in God was by far his greatest influence. Like other roads we all travel, things don’t happen overnight. He discusses “hanging out” and getting tired of his life. And God did open doors for him, eventually.
- Putting God first. My wife had died. I went down to Heartside on Division and went through the struggle. Stayed at Mel Trotter sometimes . . . went to church. Hung out around The Job Post and Guiding Light. It had an influence. Straight forward, I put God first now. I’m good to people and respect them, just as I want to be respected.
- Helping someone. I used to take care of a pastor. He passed away last year. God gave me a chance to help someone, move forward, and do his will. He will provide all our needs, as long as we abide in him. I keep going to work and paying all my bills. This is my goal: In 2 years I’m gonna buy me a house. Need to move my credit score up just a little more.
- If it wasn’t for Him. I got tired of it. In and out of prison, being homeless, and all that. I just waited and waited until the door opened. God opened the door and gave me the opportunity. If it wasn’t for Him, none of us on this earth would have what we got.
Whether you are homeless and down and out, seeking a better job, or would like to increase your paycheck, Mr. Reid’s experiences provide some great lessons. If they relate to you, it could help you learn the easy way how to avoid some pitfalls. We all have the opportunity to become more confident, motivated, goal-oriented, and helpful to others, and renew our relationship with a higher being. Mr. Reid has made that very clear!