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Job Applicants with Criminal Backgrounds are being Viewed in a Different Light

Posted Tuesday, May 22, 2018 6:25 am

With employers facing recruiting challenges not seen in almost two decades, new research from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) identifies a potentially significant pool of untapped workers.

In a research collaboration between SHRM and the Charles Koch Institute, two surveys found that a majority of workers in all roles said they were willing to hire and work with those who have a criminal record.  A positive view of the employment of people with criminal backgrounds is emerging, with the research finding that a majority of HR professionals see little difference in quality of hire between those with and those without a criminal background. 

At companies that have hired workers with criminal records, employees rate the quality of their work as comparable to those without a record. Eighty-two percent of managers and 67percent of HR professionals believe that the quality of hire for workers with criminal records is about the same or higher than that of workers without records. HR professionals also say the cost-per-hire is similar for those with and without criminal records.

When asked why job offers were extended to individuals with criminal records, one-half or more of managers and HR professionals said they wanted to hire the most qualified candidate irrespective of criminal record. Other reasons included wanting to give people a second chance and making the community a better place. 

Factors that increased the likelihood of employment for workers with criminal backgrounds included demonstrated consistent work history, references, job training, and a certification of rehabilitation, the research found. Less likely to impact hiring were monetary incentives such as tax deductions.

“The key to reducing recidivism and improving public safety is finding employment for people,” said Vikrant Reddy, senior research fellow at the Charles Koch Institute. “If individuals with a criminal record can be considered for employment based on their talent and skills, the benefits for the business — and society — are far-reaching. HR professionals are well positioned to provide counsel and generate a tailored set of best-practice principles that will benefit both the business and the individuals seeking a second chance.”

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