Why You Should Give Candidates with a Criminal Background a Second Chance

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There are numerous reasons to give candidates with a criminal background a second chance.

That’s what B. Max Dubroff, SHRM-SCP, tells HR professionals in the many presentations he gives at industry conferences and events. Dubroff is a member of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and an HR consultant who authored the guide Post-Incarceration Employment: A Societal, Talent and Legal Imperative for Success.

In his past job as HR Director for Buy For Less, a privately-owned grocery chain in the Oklahoma City metro area, Dubroff hired employees with criminal backgrounds who were skilled, worked hard for the company, and added value. They overcame their past and were an asset to the company. In addition, they were extremely loyal, because the company had given them a chance when many others wouldn’t.

“Employers need to see post-incarceration employment as a cause that is important to society, taps into available talent for the organization, reduces the organization’s legal exposure and contributes to success,” says Dubroff. “Let’s address these four imperatives to go beyond the stereotypes of the population to find the right individual for your organization and change one person’s future at a time.”

There are people who are skilled, experienced, trustworthy, and loyal and have great character who also have a criminal history.  

“Employers shouldn’t close their doors to them because they got caught in the worst moment of their life,” says Dubroff. “Without a job, people with a criminal history are far more likely to commit crime, which has a negative impact on society.”

A person who has been given a second chance – when many others would not – will be more dedicated and loyal to their employer, adds Dubroff. They work harder and tend to break fewer rules, because they know they have already used their second chance. At Dubroff’s previous company, people with a criminal history had a lower rate of turnover.

The Electronic Recyclers International (ERI) implemented a program to hire employees with criminal backgrounds. Through this program, ERI reduced its turnover rate from 25% to 11% by hiring ex-offenders.

“The characteristic of job loyalty and company dedication by ex-offender workers is repeatedly noted to us by employers and contributes to substantial cost reductions,” says Luis Brown-Peña, a State Program Administrative Supervisor for Minnesota’s Department of Employment and Economic Development.

Brown-Pena works closely with job seekers with criminal backgrounds as they re-enter the workforce, and with employers on understanding the benefits of hiring those with criminal backgrounds.

“Ex-offenders are motivated to do the right thing,” says Brown-Pena.

In Minnesota, ex-offender’s participate in the DEED/DOC pre-release and New Leaf post-release workshops, which also facilitate the ex-offender’s job search, interviewing and job retention skills.

Each state has programs for employers seeking opportunities to partner with and hire those with a criminal background.

Through the Federal Bonding Program, liability insurance is available to a participating employer free of charge. This helps reduce risks and concerns an employer may have until the employee has proven their competencies and trustworthiness, says Brown-Pena. In addition, federal tax and work credits can provide substantial cost savings upon hiring for a participating employer hiring those with a criminal background.

Employers should be sure to tap community partners and non-profit organizations who assist with hiring those with criminal backgrounds during the selection and vetting process.

“They would love to support you in selecting wonderful people from this untapped pool of talent,” says Dubroff.

It’s time to give that job seeker with a criminal past a second chance.

These tips prove why.

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