Hiring Ex-Offenders Can Help Your Talent Pool and Bottom Line

You’re in a pinch, you need to make a hire, but you can’t find any quality candidates. The hire you did make didn’t work out and you need someone now. While no one wants to be in this position, that’s the reality many hiring managers face in today’s labor market.

Traditional methods of searching in the labor pool like posting your job online and using your network sometimes don’t work. When that’s the case, you need to get creative about hiring people. That might mean considering hiring people with a criminal record.

Why should you consider hiring an ex-offenders?

Hiring someone with a criminal history can immediately increase your candidate pool. They can also improve your bottom line thanks to the work opportunity tax credit program.

Many ex-offenders are also very motivated to come back to work once they are released from prison. According to research by the Institute for Justice Research & Development, an overwhelming majority of ex-offenders say that employment is their biggest or only priority after being released from prison.

There is even a growing theme of hiring ex-offenders among businesses hiring for entry-level positions (Check out MOD Pizza!). Managers even think people with criminal records make great hires, not just HR professionals. In fact, 82% of managers think employees with criminal records perform as well or better than workers with a clean sheet.

Hiring ex-offenders means access to a larger labor pool

As unemployment rates continue to hover around 4%, creating a labor shortage, hiring managers need to become more creative on where they find talent, now. This talent gap will only continue to grow. According to a study, the labor shortage will be at its worst in 2030 when 85.2 million jobs worldwide will go unfilled.

Currently, more than 2 million Americans are in a state or federal prison. Over 95% of these people in prison will be released at some point. By considering people with criminal records, you open yourself up to an additional 700,000 people each year.

Even though so many people with a criminal history are ready to work, many go unclaimed. About 75% of these individuals will remain unemployed a year after they are released from prison. This is a huge untapped labor pool, especially considering the one-third of working age Americans that have a criminal record.

Now we aren’t saying to go out and hire everyone with a criminal history. You should still focus on your company’s well-being and make sure you are hiring people who won’t be a threat to your current employees. Just make sure you aren’t adding to the list of barriers to employment and society that many ex-offenders already face.

Increased Labor Pool

Hiring ex-offenders could actually improve your bottom line

You might still have some hesitation on hiring ex-offenders. Maybe you already get enough candidates filling out your job applications. Maybe you are unsure about how someone with a criminal history will fit into your workplace.

Did you know though, that turnover rates for employees with criminal records are lower than those without criminal records? That means less time spent on hiring and less money spent on training programs. You can save about $4,000 a year per employee just from training costs based on the lower turnover rate!

Not only can you save your own time and money by hiring ex-offenders you can actually receive a tax credit for hiring someone with a criminal history.

The government can give you a tax credit for hiring ex-offenders with low incomes through the work opportunity tax credit program (WOTC). You can even double up with state tax credits if your state offers them.

As we said earlier, this doesn’t mean you should just hire everyone with a criminal history. Use your judgement during the interview process and still conduct a background check.

You should know though, that most employers aren’t using background checks to ensure a safe work environment or assess trustworthiness. Most business owners and HR professionals use them to reduce liability.

I’m ready to consider hiring an ex-offender, what’s next?

Start by banning the box on your job application. That means no longer asking your applicants if they have a criminal record when filling out a job application. By banning the box, you can better compare applicants based on their qualifications instead of a criminal record an applicant may have.

Ban the Box

Many businesses ban the box including bigger companies such as Wal-Mart and Target. Even the federal government has removed conviction history questions from their job application.

If you’re having trouble finding quality candidates and want to reach out to ex-offenders to hire them, there are resources for that too! Look into local service providers and reentry programs that specialize in helping people with a criminal history find work. There are hundreds of local service providers and reentry programs across the country! Ask them how you can get your job in their network.

When done right, hiring ex-offenders can bring far more benefits than costs. So be on the lookout, your next best hire could be someone with a criminal record.

Recent Posts

Steve Fowler

Manager of Partner Growth

Christina Waite

Platform Engineering Manager

Taylor Coleman

Tier 2 Manager

Al Foote

Consultant Manager

Sydney Kidd

Tier 1 Manager

Nicolle Gatlin

Manager of Partner Success

Aiden Kinney

Consultant Manager

Joe Lepis

Engineering Manager

Polly Schandorf

Engineering Manager


Hiring is hard, but partnering with us makes it easier. From posting jobs to scheduling interviews, CareerPlug allows you to automate certain parts of the process to improve your results and save you time.



Once you think you have found the right person, use our reference and background check resources to verify them. Then, send an electronic offer letter from CareerPlug to close the deal!



Use our prescreen questions and assessments to identify the best applicants. Then use our interview questions and scorecards to evaluate for the right things consistently.



Use our notifications and automations to be the first to respond to qualified applicants. Send texts and emails from directly from CareerPlug to convert applicants to scheduled interviews.



Use our templates to create an attractive careers page and job posting. Then promote it through our job board partners, as well as directly with your employees, customers, and social network.


Brandy Lee

Business Intelligence Manager

Eric Morales

Manager of Account Executives

Kirsten Penaloza

Director of Client Experience

Zach Garcia

Senior Manager of Operations

Tulay Solak

HR Manager

Tyler Berndsen

Manager of Partnership Account Executives

Ashley Johnson

Senior Manager of Partner Services

Originally from small town in central Texas, Ashley Johnson graduated from Texas State University in 2013 with a degree in Business Administration. She was hired by CareerPlug as a Talent Specialist in 2014, and moved up to ultimately lead the Recruitment Services team. From there, she pivoted to Implementation, and is now the Implementation Manager.

As the Implementation Manager, Ashley and 3 direct reports function as a transition between Sales and Partner Success in helping our clients get set up and established in our software. She spends her free time raising her 2 dogs, playing cornhole, and perfecting the art of charcuterie.

Kate Sensmeier

VP Marketing

Ashley Garia

Director of Product Marketing

Canaan Davis

Director of Engineering

Teresa Hall

Director of UX & Product Design

Brad Pilot

Senior Director of Sales

Leslie Chamberlain

Senior Director of Client Experience

Natalie Morgan

Senior Director of People

Andrew Robinson III

Vice President of Product and Engineering

Chris Igou

VP of Business Development

Chris accidentally started a 20-year career in franchising when he was 18 years old and took a job painting houses for College Pro Painters. That job turned into the ownership of his first franchise (a house painting franchise). While at Monmouth College in IL, he operated his business, played on the varsity football team, and studied to become a teacher.

The taste of entrepreneurship and desire to coach others led Chris deeper into franchising, working with a few franchise brands helping them grow their businesses. He lived in the Chicagoland area his entire life until recently moving his family to Austin, TX.

In his free time Chris coaches youth sports, especially youth football, and spends as much time as he can with his wife and 2 children.

Jenny Leman


Native to Texas, Jenny graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 2004 and joined CareerPlug in 2017. She retired her first career path as a Registered Dietitian after 10 years, and has found her true belonging in business operations.

As CareerPlug’s President, Jenny leads all teams to an aligned effort toward achieving our vision. She works to build healthy and scalable internal systems to equip and empower the CareerPlug teams to bring their best for our clients. She loves contributing new ideas and rethinking the status quo. Jenny really connects with the company’s core values, but especially with our intent to “Keep Growing.”

In her non-work life, Jenny enjoys time with her family, playing drums and performing with the Austin Samba School, and finding excuses to be on the lake.

Clint Smith

Founder & CEO

Clint founded CareerPlug in 2007 with the simple idea that there was a better way to help employers connect with quality applicants. Today Clint works every day to fulfill CareerPlug’s mission: Make Hiring Easier. Leading by example, Clint loves spending his time developing new ideas and teaching others.

After graduating from the University of Florida, Clint worked in investment banking and strategic marketing; both experiences influenced the development of CareerPlug. He also spent a year away from the business world teaching 5th grade in Boulder.

Clint is passionate about helping others succeed and is involved in numerous mentoring programs. He and his wife, Sarah, are also foster parents. Clint enjoys family time, beach volleyball, and outdoor adventures.