How to make the best of your transferable prison skills

If only some employers would look beyond the DBS Enhanced Checks and base their recruitment on the skills, knowledge and experience of each candidate. We would soon see employers climbing over each other to employ people who’ve been in prison.

Can you imagine a world where you are given a job on merit, based on the skills you have, with no judgement of your past? Being assessed for the person you are today – the same as everyone else in the job market? How different would your CV look if transferable skills were not just included but highlighted as an asset to any employer?

This is your shop window where showing off is essential. First impressions count and this is where you can make the employer want to give you the job.

I am a team player, but equally able to be left alone. I am highly adaptive in the most challenging situations and have developed a high resilience. I have extensive experience in achieving full compliance with policies and instructions. Lateral thinking allows me to use my out-of-the box and blue sky thinking in problem solving. Using my resourcefulness and creativity I can quickly identify solutions.”

Work experience

There are more orderlies in prison than the World’s biggest hospital. There appears to be an orderly for everything, from induction orderly to resettlement orderly and a myriad of orderly roles in between.

You don’t have to be an orderly and there are many opportunities to learn new skills and trades, from the traditional career options of woodworking, engineering, gardening and catering to the niche careers like shepherding and animal husbandry.

So much work experience can be gained, with clear career progression for the motivated man in prison.

Don’t forget to ask for references before you leave.


Financial forecasting, budget management, cash reconciliation, whilst ensuring best price, are just some of the skills acquired in prison. This is evidenced by the regular completion of a canteen sheet.

The man in prison will use his procurement skills in most prison transactions. Run out of deodorant four days before canteen? No problem for the procurement specialist, he will source your deodorant, negotiate a value for money trade with it’s owner and you get your deodorant. The procurement specialist will build his commission into the final trade and you are left with a debt, sometimes with ‘double bubble’ repayment terms. Fear not, he will use his financial expertise to help you budget and manage your money, often consolidating your debts with alternative re-payment terms.

The procurement specialist is outstanding at debt management. His record keeping is second to none, maintaining up to date records of outstanding debts and payment due dates. He will find a number of ways to help you re-pay your debts in a timely manner. Some more effective than others.

The busiest and most profitable day is, without question, canteen day when the wing can be compared to the bull pit of the stock exchange. Our procurement specialist will act as a broker for the many trade deals conducted in a diverse range of currencies and commodities.


The entrepreneur will spot a business opportunity in the most unlikely place. If it’s not nailed down, it can be bought and sold at a profit.

He’s a genius in establishing who needs what and when. He can spot a gap in the market and exploit it to its’ full potential. He will specialise in a number of areas – clothes, trainers, DVDs, X-Box games and canteen items.

Of course, some entrepreneurs will also corner the market in contraband. But remember, buying and selling contraband in the workplace is not a good career move and should not be included in any C.V.

Mental Health Adviser

Being in prison is one of the hardest mental challenges anyone can face. Banged up for 23 hours a day with their thoughts being their only companion. Who better to support and advise others? Lived experience of poor mental health gives them an immediate recognition of the signs that someone is struggling.

Suffering with your mental health? The man in prison is an expert in coping mechanisms; from meditation and deep breathing to creative writing and yoga. Distraction techniques and mindfulness are plentiful. If there was a World Championship for colouring in, they would all have a good chance of winning.

Caring for others

Prison is a surprisingly compassionate place to live. Being a prisoner is a great leveller, with no prisoner being better than any other. There is a real community spirit and prisoners look out for each other.

You will find a plethora of opportunities to demonstrate compassion to others by becoming a mentor. It’s not just about the free t-shirt.

Here are just some of the ways where we can see prisoners displaying their gift of caring for others:

Supporting a new arrival and making sure they have everything they need until canteen day.

The pre-visit makeover where aftershave, clippers and a change of outfit can be assembled in minutes.

When a fellow prisoner needs medication, the caring and compassionate prisoner will find a way to get hold of it.

* Care and compassion may incur costs.

Catering and Hospitality.

Genius is shown in the preparation of in-cell cuisine and the innovative meals produced from a few basic ingredients. The recent trend for restaurants to serve food on novelty household items is old news to the man in prison.

Vacancy for waiters? Watch a man in prison climb three flights of stairs whilst balancing his tea pack, breakfast pack, plates for the main meal and pudding, with only four slices of white bread to prevent the food falling from the plate.

The reception orderly would be an asset to the finest Premier Inn. New arrivals in reception are welcomed with a friendly greeting and a warm smile. They will help you book-in, take care of your luggage and give you information on the facilities available and everything you need to enjoy your stay.


The man in prison could command an SAS mission with ease. Cunning, covert and stealth skills employed to avoid detection by the enemy. With a high percentage of missions reaching a successful conclusion.

He will quickly bring together a discreet network for the distribution of goods. His knowledge of distribution and transportation of goods is equal to that of the fleet manager of Eddie Stobart.

I’ve covered the transferable skills that I know of, please let me know in the comments if you know of any more.

You may have noticed that, amongst the humour, there is always a strong message. The key message in this blog is that people who have been in prison should not be dismissed as unemployable. In many cases they will have more to offer than many of the people on this side of the wall.

If you want to impress your friends and get ahead of the pack, become a follower and claim your bragging rights as one of the first to read my blog!

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog and I hope you had a bit of a giggle.

If you enjoyed reading my blog, it’s customary to buy me a coffee!

Look out for my next blog when I will be looking at different ways to support a loved one in prison.


2 thoughts on “How to make the best of your transferable prison skills

  1. This is both true and very very funny! To quote the great philosopher Frank Sinatra “If you can make it there you can make it anywhere>”


    1. One of the greatest philosophers of our time. Frank is so talented, you’d think he’d been in prison!!


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