Part Two: Employer’s Perceptions
Introduction: The Regis Spring student team included Courtney Bargas, Claire Swann and Kate Milburn. After listening to presentations by several local-area non-profits, the three selected Community Educational Outreach for their term project. The objective of their project included coming to CEO to participate in practice interviews at the men’s facility, then assume the role of a CEO client, placing themselves in an interview position, and finally participating in a segment of academic post testing. The following is extracted from the Regis final project report:
(Another large morning food service chain) was one particular business that we suspected might automatically turn away ex-felons. To our surprise, the hiring manager we spoke with said that they are very accepting of all applicants, and encourage individuals with criminal backgrounds to apply. As a part of their very extensive online application process, applicants are required to disclose any criminal history throughout their adult life on the application (not just occurrences within the past 7 years). When asked if she would want a detailed explanation of the felon’s background, she said she would absolutely want as much detail as possible.
She understands that everyone makes mistakes and tries to keep an open mind about people’s past, due to mistakes that she, herself has made in the past. Personally, she would want to know the their insight about what brought them to that point in their life and the circumstances behind their conviction. There wasn’t a felony that she could think of that would be a total deal breaker. Overall, she looks for a good attitude, and stated that as the most important factor she takes into consideration in the hiring process.
Applicants must present themselves as if they are interested in working for and passionate about Starbucks. If applicants come across as having an apathetic attitude and have a mindset of needing any job they can get, they will not be hired. “If they were in a program and seemed really active in it, I would definitely contact the person’s case worker and see what has their progression been like.
But just as long as all the t’s are crossed and i’s are dotted and they seem like they have a positive attitude, I would hire them in a heartbeat”. She added that other Starbucks hiring managers may not feel the same way or have the same attitude and mindset that she has, so her statements do not speak on behalf of Starbucks as a corporation.
The Human Resource Department of (a national motel chain) conducts a thorough background check when a felony is marked on a received application. However, they are both able and willing to hire ex-convicts, and have done so in the past. A background check is performed on employees every 6 months, only focusing on the past 7 years. During the interview process, they require an in-depth explanation of the offense. This includes dates, the outcome, time served, and if they are on probation/ parole.
Their deal-breaking offenses include theft and felonies of a sexual nature, due to the nature of the work they would be doing. Tattoos or piercings are only an issue if working at the front desk. Evidence of participation in rehabilitation programs and progress greatly helps in the hiring process of the potential employee.
An area of work that we found to be the most receptive to applicants with felonies were companies whose work was centered around labor. Out of all the manufacturing and auto companies we interviewed, most looked past felonies as long as they weren’t too aggressive. None of the interviewed hiring managers had a problem with piercings or tattoos, as long as tattoos weren’t gang-affiliated.
Though this field of work has proved to be the most receptive to applications with felonies, all hiring managers did admit to wanting explanations of events, though they tend to focus more on the job skills requirements than the past of the individual. Most employers had positive experiences with their ex-convict employees; however, it was made known that parole violation is a major discouragement and setback when working with these employees. (A local provider of heating systems) was one of the companies that retain employees through a hiring agency; therefore, their hiring managers do not have control over the in-depth nature of the interviews. (NOTE: The practice of retaining a hiring agency does preclude CEO clients from pursuing employment, based on current job-search guidelines).