PART FOUR: Employer’s Perceptions when Considering Felons for Employment
Introduction: This is the 4th and final installment from The Regis Spring student team which included Courtney Bargas, Claire Swann and Kate Milburn, reporting on their research from their interviews with area employers.
Through our research we discovered that most hiring managers are personally open to the idea of hiring former felons. Most of the people with whom we spoke would ask for details regarding the offense and would want to know the circumstances but as long as the applicant seemed motivated and qualified hiring managers would be willing to give them a chance.
However, a few corporate businesses are not given the opportunity to hear the story of the former felon due to corporate policies. Regardless of the hiring manager’s beliefs, there is no opportunity for an explanation of their circumstances, or what they have done and are doing to improve those circumstances. The advice we would give to CEO clients that are currently searching for jobs is to do their research before starting the application process. It may be beneficial to apply to a variety of types of businesses (larger companies as well as smaller family owned businesses). We would also advise them to apply to jobs that they are genuinely interested in and qualified for, and to jobs where they would be willing to make a long-term commitment if possible.
Due to the fact that a few of the larger businesses we spoke with had strict policies about not hiring applicants with criminal backgrounds, we would advise applicants to do some research on corporate policies before submitting applications. For many companies a background check is conducted through an automated system that confirms/denies a manager’s ability to interview an applicant. Applicants will save time by knowing company policies before starting the application process. It may also be helpful to focus more on smaller businesses where corporate policies would not play a factor in the eligibility of applicants.
According to hiring managers in all fields of work, the greatest concern and set-back with hiring ex-convicts was the possibility of them being sent back to prison. This is not only an inconvenience to the work schedule, but can cause the company to lose money in some cases. These worries can be addressed by providing hiring managers with proof of progress and showing a desire to gain long term employment.
Applicants should try to only apply to companies in a field of work they are genuinely interested in. Coming across as desperate for a job solemnly to work your way out of a program, halfway house, etc. is an automatic deal-breaker for most employers. Hiring managers look for enthusiasm and genuine passion for the field of work.