VALDOSTA, GA (WALB) - Kimberly Pickett, 32, has been looking for a job but one thing seems to keep holding her back.
"I was young and everybody goes through a past and nobody is perfect but I'm learning from my past," explains Pickett.
She's talking about a felony charge for false statements she received in 2008. A charge she says employers keep reminding her about.
"It always comes back. You're going to hire me but once you check my background there's the problem. Then I don't get the job," says Pickett.
Pickett's problem is more common than people might think. That's where the Georgia Department of Labor steps in to help.
"I'm assisting ex-offenders to gain employment," says GDOL service specialist Alan Moore, "assisting them with how to get past the background and gain employment."
The GDOL offers many programs to help ex-offender find work.
Through federal programs like TOPPSTEP employers get insurance and tax credits when hiring ex-offenders.
Bill Palmer, Valdosta career center manger for the GDOL, says TOPPSTEP is just one of many ways to help get them back into working society. He says the key is getting the first job.
"It's getting their foot in the door. You've got people who have skills, knowledge, and education. It's about getting their foot in the door." Palmer explains.
Along with other programs the GDOL also utilizes employgeorgia.com to help anyone with a job search.
"We can help them get over a simple little barrier and jump over a simple obstacle. Once they show the employer who they and what they can do I fully believe there's no reason why these jobs and interviews can't lead to life long careers," explains Palmer.
The GDOL also advertises and sponsors career fairs throughout the year that are open to the community.
It was an opportunity Pickett was more than excited to learn about.
"I will go on and look because it might be something that can help me out and not make me feel so bad," Pickett said.
For more information on the programs or for career help you can call or visit the Valdosta career center for the GDOL.