With the U.S. economy continuing to chug along, and unemployment remaining under 4 percent, employers are having difficulty keeping full-time positions filled.
This is good news for adults with a criminal record who want to work. A recent poll by the Charles Koch Institute and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) found that while Americans with criminal records face additional scrutiny during the hiring process, many employees, managers and human resources professionals are open to working with and hiring people with criminal histories.
According to the report, 82 percent of managers and 67 percent of HR professionals feel the “quality of hire” for workers with criminal records is as high as or higher than that for workers without records.
In a separate study by researchers at Kellogg and Northwestern University’s Pritzker School of Law, analysis of data on nearly 250,000 applicants for sales and customer service jobs in the U.S. showed that ex-offenders who were hired were no more likely to be fired than non-offenders. In addition, ex-offenders were less likely to quit, which saves their employers significant amounts of money in employee turnover costs.
Despite the expressed willingness of a high percentage of companies to employ adults with a criminal record, half or more continue to ask whether an applicant has a criminal record on their application form. This may inadvertently create a barrier to getting hired for qualified candidates who have a criminal record. A fair employment practices initiative has long fought to have this question removed from all applications.
Criminal background checks also are a standard component of many companies’ hiring process. Unfortunately, these checks can produce erroneous information or include information on a conviction that has been expunged or sealed.
A criminal record will likely make a job search more difficult no matter how strong the economy is. However, there are steps job seekers with a record can take to improve their chances of success. For starters, look for work in industries that are noted for hiring people with criminal records. This includes manufacturing, driving, painting, landscaping, food services, sales and marketing.
When facing criminal charges, it is wise to work with knowledgeable criminal defense attorney who can fight to have the charges dismissed, gain an acquittal or have the charges lowered to a lesser offense.