New Life Job Fair offers a reset button to convicted felons

Rebecca Jacobs, a career specialist, works with Thomas Ellis and Ricky Halfacre as they put together their resume during a job fair event at the American Job Center in Chattanooga, Tenn., Thursday, Sept. 14, 2017. Thursday was a day of preparation for job candidates, while Friday employers will be on site to speak with the individuals about job openings.

The American Job Center on Brainerd Road was a flurry of activity Thursday morning as career development professionals worked with several dozen convicted felons determined to hit the reset button.

Attendees signed up for the New Life Job Fair to better their interview skills and, among other things, try to land jobs at local companies during the two-day event. When they arrived on Thursday, they were broken into groups to begin training for a job fair scheduled for today.

The groups were then shepherded into classrooms, where instructors walked them through how to write resumes and comport themselves during job interviews. For men like Darrius Higgins Sr., the event offers a radical opportunity.

"I've been a convicted felon since I was 17 years old," he said. "Nobody really gives convicted felons a chance to try to get into the work force the right way."