Does Being on Welfare Affect Your Job Opportunities?

While being on welfare has pros and cons while you're looking for work, it will never be the highlight of a resume. By no means should this dissuade you from moving forward toward new opportunities for employment. Being on welfare should make you eligible for special programs to assist you in getting a new job. Plus, your future employer may qualify for incentives that help individuals transition from welfare to jobs.

Private Information

Whether or not you've received welfare, social assistance or food stamps isn't a matter of public record, and no employer can get that information without your written consent. Your employer may want to pull a credit report before hiring you, which could indicate financial problems, like missed or late credit payments; however, these reports don't include any public assistance payments, according to My FICO. In fact, credit scoring agencies by law can't consider whether or not you've received public assistance.

Employer Programs

An employer may ask on a job application if you've recently been on welfare or another form of public assistance. This is generally because government incentives sometimes reward employers for hiring from specific groups, including welfare recipients. The Work Opportunity Tax Credit, or WOTC, pays employers a federal tax credit of up to ​$9,600​ for hiring employees who have been on welfare. This is in addition to other federal and state programs the employer may be eligible for when helping a new hire move from welfare to a job.

Programs for Employees

If you're on welfare, ask your caseworker about programs that may assist you in training, looking for work and getting support during the transition when you do find a job. Such programs are widespread but vary in each state and community. Depending on which community you live in, you may be eligible for subsidized or free child-care programs. One-time grants or loans are also available, depending on where you live, for costs associated with getting a new job, like new clothes.

Welfare and Job Interviews

When interviewing candidates for jobs, Recruiters states that employers look for certain characteristics that can't be judged by resumes or work history alone. Demonstrating these characteristics in an interview can help you get a leg up on the competition even if there are gaps in your resume from a time you were out of work and receiving public assistance.

For example, hiring managers look for job applicants who seem smart and eager to learn. Recruiters reports that an estimated 22,000 research studies have shown that intelligence accounts for 42 percent of job performance regardless of the type of job. Other coveted qualities include teamwork, openness to feedback, drive, integrity and work ethic. Stress these qualities and offer examples of your past performance to make a great impression.

Stigma of Welfare

Unfortunately, welfare can carry a stigma in society, which is one of the reasons government programs exist to encourage companies to hire people receiving public assistance. Depending on the hiring process, you may not need to bring up your experiences with welfare. Job applications cannot ask questions that are illegal and discriminatory.

Just like your race or marital status, being on welfare doesn't reflect your skills or your value as an employee. If asked, however, be honest, as with answering any other questions during the hiring process. Instead of focusing on the past, emphasize your education, skills and motivations for going to work and leaving that part of your life behind.