About a month ago I created a survey where 2,912 worldwide professionals on LinkedIn responded. The question was, “Would you hire a suitable candidate who happens to have a criminal record?” A surprising 79% voted yes they would. Now of course it’s not always so black and white. People’s decisions will mostly depend on what type of crime, repentance, self-improvement and the individual person that they are dealing with. However, I simply wanted a yes or a no answer which focused on their openness to hiring an ex offender.
On this survey post, there were also 210 mostly positive comments. It was encouraging to see so many people being open to the idea of hiring a person with a criminal record. As well as their experiences and reasoning behind their votes.
“I have hired many candidates with criminal records. Most of them turned out great. And those that didn’t, wasn’t because of their past but their present.” Richard Chinn - Senior Professional Wetland Scientist
“Depends. How long ago? How long has the person been on the right path? What was the crime? All that being said, in my opinion everyone deserves an opportunity after the right steps have been taken.” Luis Angel - Hospital Administrator
“I would never reject or rule a candidate out without understanding what happened, what was the offense, we’re they convicted of the offense or simply arrested. Every book has a jacket. The story needs to be read and then a decision should be rendered. Red is a color. It is a fact. But we see it differently. And what is colored red must be clearly understood so it can be seen in its right context. And it’s different for everyone.” Adam Cohen - Chief Sales Officer at LG Property Partners
“I have done so in the past and mentored the individual. This assisted with turning their life around and also that of their family. It showed them another side to the world. Everyone deserves a second chance.”Vida Reid - Founding Executive Director Forward Focused Group
“I was blessed enough to have employers who looked past my background. Thanks to them I was able to learn valuable skills and start my own business years later. Today we welcome staff with priors or who may be on probation/ parole. We’re lucky to live in a country where second chances are possible.” David Tomasko - Executive Director, Sarasota Bay Estuary Program
“Depends on what the crime is for, and how many are on the record.” Jon Kramer - Managing Director at JMK Solutions
“Yes I would in the future and have in the past. Everyone needs a second chance.” Peter Alward MAICD - CEO, Health Properties Project Marketing
“One of my best employees had a record. He was open and upfront about it.” Janet O'Neil – Clinical Nurse Director
The reason I have shared the results of this survey with you, is because having this knowledge will give you the confidence to help more ex-offenders into work.
Now I'm going to share a few tips of ways that you can help your job seekers with criminal records gain employment.
There are two options someone with a prison record who is looking for employment can choose from. To disclose or not to disclose.
1. To not disclose it.
Although there are many employers who may not require a police check, a job seeker does not have to volunteer information about their criminal record unless they are asked. However, If they are asked about their criminal record, they must answer honestly. There are some jobs where a police check is mandatory. Such as where the employee will be working with children, with prisoners, or a residential care home.
2. To disclose it. Honesty is probably the best option. And if this is the path that your job seeker chooses to take, then here are a few ways that you can better support them with gaining employment.
1) Help them work harder to stand out from the rest. Coach them to have outstanding interview skills, as well as a good resume and cover letter.
2) Advise them to use the cover letter to explain what lessons this mistake has taught them and how it helped them change.
3) Assist them to seek out employers who specifically hire people who have prison records, or who may not discriminate.
4) Support the jobseeker with building their personal brand through LinkedIn. Check out this podcast to see how Dean Lloyd who is an ex-convict was able to find career success by building his personal brand.
5) Encourage them to attend business and social events so they can network their way into a job. It’s mostly about who you know.
6) Advise them to start small. It’s always best to get their foot in the door, and work their way up.
7) Help them gain work experience. Besides keeping their skills current, doing work experience will help them prove themselves and network with internal influencers and decision-makers.
8) When reverse marketing for your job seeker, share facts and statistics with employers about the benefits of hiring someone with a criminal record. For example, there was a survey that was conducted by the Department of Jobs and Small Business, which revealed 78% of employers who hired an ex-offender said it had been a positive experience, as they were some of their hardest workers.
9) Learn Reverse Marketing and sales skills in order to have better conversations and influence more employers.
Just remember, there are many employers out there who are open to hiring those with a prison record. Don’t get discouraged by the no. Keep reaching out, building relationships, and filling your employer pipeline.
Come join our Business Development for Employment Practitioners Workshop to learn how you can gain access to hard to reach recruiters and hiring managers.
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