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Hiring people with criminal records: concerns, reasons and benefits

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July 16, 2017 in Resistance

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The challenges of hiring an ex-offender and finding a job when being one

A background check is one of the obligatory things every recruiter, business owner or a customer does before hiring a certain person for a job. But what should they do if they find out that the applicant’s past has a shady page or two? Obviously, for most vacancies, a parking or a speeding ticket won’t matter too much. But what if the prospective employer committed a much more serious offense? What if he has some sort of a criminal record? Should he be automatically excluded from the list of applicants despite his professional skills, working experience, positive references and perfect behavior after the execution of punishment?

Those are rather sensible questions, which may be answered differently depending on a situation. For instance, a criminal record is absolutely unacceptable for someone, who’s applying for a child care position, especially if the crime/offense that person committed is related to child abuse. It’s obvious that no parent would feel comfortable with leaving his child with a babysitter or a teacher that has such a dark spot on his/her past. Babysitting isn’t the only job that excludes people with criminal records. Healthcare, law enforcement, finance, and government positions are the areas that are mostly closed for ex-convicts.

At the same time, finding a job is rather important for the sake of social reintegration of offenders and even crime prevention. People, who got out of prison or went through any other legal form of punishment for a crime they committed, are much less likely to relapse into criminal behavior if they find a lawful way to earn money and obtain a chance to start their lives from scratch.

So, it seems like when hiring professionals with criminal records, employers not just give those people hope for better future, they also serve the social needs and contribute to the crime prevention, which is crucial in a modern society.

However, we can’t pretend that most employers aren’t really keen on an idea of letting an individual with criminal past become a member of their staff. They’re afraid that such person will behave inappropriately, steal, express violence, attempt harassing coworkers, etc. And even if recruiters don’t fall into these assumptions and choose to trust an applicant with a criminal record, they still don’t choose to hire, as they’re concerned that having a criminal-in-past as an employee is enough to damage the company’s image and deter customers.

But should the dreadful mistake haunt an offender for the rest of his life? Should the inability to provide for his living lawfully be his life-long penalty? Wouldn’t it be better for that individual and society in general to get hired and start a civil life of an average, law abiding citizen?
It certainly would. And, despite all the concerns employers may have when considering hiring an ex-convict, there’re a few reasons why such people may become great employees.

Reasons to hire an ex-offender

1. You will get a loyal employee

If you manage to look outside the box and judge an ex-convict not by his former criminal activities, but his professional skills, education and current behavior, and decide to hire that person despite the major deterring factor, he will become your most loyal worker.

Don’t get me wrong, people are different. But, just think about how difficult it is for ex-inmates to find a job, and you’ll understand, that it takes a lot not to give in, but fight for a successful outcome. That’s why the chances that an ex-offender will become a great worker, who’ll look out for your interests and stay with you for a long time, are really high. Probably, he will make a much better employer than anyone, who submits a perfect-looking application, but doesn’t really care whom to work for.

It’s proven that most people, who’ve committed a crime but managed to find a job, become more engaged in activities of a company, which looked out for him and decided to hire despite his criminal past. Ex-offenders often make dedicated employees and work harder than others. They value their jobs and are less likely to quit.

2. He may have received extra professional training in prison that makes him perfect for a job

People, who end up behind bars, have a chance to spend that time in a useful way. For instance, they may participate (and they’re encouraged to do so) in numerous certification programs, professional courses and vocational training. Some of them even manage to leave a prison with a brand-new college degree. That makes them much more prepared for future employment, but also teaches discipline and hard work.

3. An extra tax credit will be a nice benefit

Business owners that hire people with criminal records not only benefit from getting a loyal, hard-working employee, but become eligible for the Work Opportunity Tax Credit ($2,400 max for each employee that’s an ex-offender).

Tips for finding a job if you have a criminal record

1. Prepare yourself for receiving a lot of denials. That’s inevitable, but you’ll definitely get through this. One positive answer is all you need to change your life. So, send out a lot of application letters to encounter an open-minded employer, who’s ready to look past your past and give you a chance.
2. Try freelancing. Advertise your services on contractor referral services like Thumbtack or HireRush to get connected with clients and ensure a positive outcome by being as honest as possible.
3. Network your way to a new job. Personal connections will help you a lot, as people who know you will most likely have more trust in you than complete strangers.
4. When invited for a job interview, talk about your previous work experience, education and references first to create a positive first impression. Then, mention your record, briefly explain the situation, describe how much stronger, wiser and eager to start fresh it made you. Being professional, honest and humble is a key to success.
5. Contact agencies and organizations that specialize in rehabilitation and ex-offenders’ employment to obtain information about employers, who may consider hiring people with a criminal past.

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