Virtual job fair offers a fresh start for Boston’s formerly incarcerated

The free virtual events are designed to help justice-involved job-seekers land a gig in a post-COVID market.

In an effort to bolster Boston’s economic recovery, the city will hold a virtual job fair series in October to help set up job seekers for success — particularly people looking for a fresh start after incarceration.

The virtual job fair series kicks off at a critical time, just weeks after the expiration of enhanced federal unemployment benefits. More than 300,000 Massachusetts workers lost pandemic assistance from the federal government in September as those benefits expired. The cutoff came as the state saw a slight uptick in its unemployment rate, which according to the state’s Office of Labor and Workforce Development, rose from 4.9% in July to 5% in August. The national unemployment rate is 5.2%.


Mayor Kim Janey’s office said the job series program is part of the city’s commitment to an equitable economic recovery. 

“As the city’s economy rebounds and more employers are hiring, we need to be sure our workers are ready to fill those positions,” Janey said. “That’s why we’re collaborating with our partners to offer valuable job-related skills and information to residents, including those making a fresh start after incarceration. A second chance begins with a job prospect, an education pathway, the critical resources for daily living — exactly the things this job fair series promotes.”

The virtual events are designed to help formerly incarcerated people and other struggling job-seekers gain access to current job opportunities. People incarcerated at the Suffolk County Jail and Suffolk County House of Correction will be able to participate in the virtual events. 

Each year, more than 3,000 people return to Boston upon their release from incarceration, according to city officials.

Attendees will learn how to search for jobs, write resumes, prepare for interviews and access educational opportunities. Participating employers include Amazon, Action for Boston Community Development, CentiMark, Flour Bakery & Cafe, Greater Boston Food Bank, VPNE, and Whole Foods Market.


The series is organized by MassHire Downtown Boston Career Center, the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department, and Project Opportunity, a City initiative that works to create equitable opportunities for residents with criminal records.

“We know that good, sustainable employment is one of the critical elements for the success of anyone returning to society from incarceration,” said Suffolk County Sheriff Steven W. Tompkins. “This is why we offer many different skills-building and job preparedness training programs for the men and women in our care and custody. Unfortunately, (a criminal record) continues to be an obstacle for many returning citizens seeking employment, so access to resources and opportunities like these is extremely important.” 

How to attend the virtual job series

The job fair events will be held from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Oct. 6, 13, 20, and 27. 

The event series is free and open to all Massachusetts residents but requires participants to register online. 

Resume Basics: Wednesday, Oct. 6, 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Interview Basics: Wednesday, Oct.13, 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Resource Fair: Wednesday, Oct. 20, 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Job Fair: Wednesday, Oct. 27, 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

In addition to promoting career development opportunities, the event series also extends the outreach of Project Opportunity, a collaboration of the Mayor’s Office of Workforce Development, the Mayor’s Office of Public Safety, the Mayor’s Office of Returning Citizens, and SOAR Boston. Project Opportunity connects residents with free legal consultation to review the potential for sealing or expunging their criminal records or CORIs. Boston pays for the cost of accessing a CORI, while partner Lawyers Clearinghouse provides legal consultation and full representation if an individual’s record can be sealed or expunged.

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