A current survey shows applicants with a criminal record are getting some breaks in employment. This survey concurs with the most recent EEOC guidelines and also supports Proforma’s approach to the appropriate use of criminal records in the employment screening process.
Every year 560,000 people are released from prison into the parole system. The good news for this large population of job seekers is that even with high rates of unemployment they are still likely to be hired if qualified and eager to work.
A recent study by CareerBuilder shows that 51 percent of human resource managers have hired an applicant with a criminal past. This news may indicate that hiring managers do indeed recognize that a blanket zero tolerance policy when it comes to criminal records is not good for their companies or prospective applicants. While a criminal record can block certain career paths, it does not have to mean an end to a person’s ability to find work and become a productive member of society.
A related Huffington Post survey of 1,500 hiring managers revealed that many hiring managers believe it is easier to place a currently-employed candidate, even if that person has a criminal record, than it is to place an applicant who has a long stint of unemployment. While this news doesn’t help those coming straight out of prison, it does help make the case that former offenders can achieve long-term career success.
Tips for Job Seekers with Criminal Backgrounds:
In the minds of recruiters and hiring managers, an appealing job candidate with a criminal record is one who is willing to “…own your past and focus on what you learned from it to grow professionally and personally” claims CareerBuilder H.R. vice-president Rosemary Haefner.
The CareerBuilder survey listed several tips for job seekers with a criminal background and they are a good reminder for employers considering candidates with a conviction on the books. Gleaned from hiring managers, the survey recommends that applicants:
- Be upfront and honest about the conviction and stress what you learned from it
- Be willing to work your way up
- Stay positive
- Prepare while you’re in prison (take classes, get a degree or vocational training)
- Don’t apply to jobs where your record would automatically disqualify you
- Take freelance or temporary assignments
- Consider joining the military
- Start your own business
- Monitor what is said on social media
Finding Your Best Candidates through Best Practices
Currently there are more than 92 million people with some sort of criminal background in the United States. In any applicant pool there are bound to be those who would be a good fit for the position but have a mark on their record. The question is how to fairly assess the candidate given his or her past.
The best practice approach is to carefully consider the nature and gravity of the offense, the length of time since the offense, and the type of the job being sought. An individualized assessment, as advised by the EEOC in its latest guidance on the use of criminal records, gives applicants equal footing and your company a larger applicant pool to choose from. While providing equal opportunities for applicants, this approach also guards your company from possible legal ramifications and protects your employees and assets.
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Background checks are an essential part of the hiring process, but they must be done correctly. Our experts can help you design and implement an employment screening program that protects the needs of employers and applicants alike.
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