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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.

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