5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Overlook Job Applicants With Criminal Records

Nobody should be judged by the lowest point in their lives, yet for so many people that is exactly what happens with a criminal record.

Nobody should be judged by the lowest point in their lives, yet for so many people that is exactly what happens with a criminal record.

No matter how qualified they are, they can be limited to opportunity because of a poor decision in the past. Though some lesser offences may not bring as much impact, in contrast, a drug, theft or violence charge can haunt you for the rest of your life.


“A 2010 survey by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) revealed that a whopping 92% of responding employers conducted criminal records checks on at least some job candidates, and 73% said that they conducted criminal records checks on all candidates. Although some employers disqualify applicants and employees only for certain offenses, many more simply refuse to consider any applicant who has a criminal record, period.”


Considering an applicant with a criminal record

I personally believe many people with criminal records just need time to mature a bit, because most will be the first to admit what they did was stupid and that they weren’t thinking.

Some would argue that people shouldn’t commit crimes in the first place; then they wouldn’t be in this position. But think about it. The majority of people with criminal records are not hardened criminals with a commitment to a life of crime. That’s especially true for youth.

The whole point of youth is that you think only in the moment, not seeing future consequences. And if someone has gotten in a bit deeper, with several offences and maybe jail time, I personally believe just about anyone can be rehabilitated — except child and animal abusers. (Harming something defenseless is a serious issue and I have no tolerance or use for those people).

Rehabilitation comes in many forms, from formal programs or counselling to being given a chance, getting education or having someone believe in you. For the most part, people who have been convicted of crimes in the past are just wanting to work hard and looking for an opportunity to change.

The sad fact is nobody gives it to them.

Corporations are quick to paint everyone with the same broad brush with inflexible hiring policies that stop seeing those with criminal records as people … with hopes, dreams and something to offer. There’s no time, or care, to hear about the events leading up to whatever conviction was registered or what the person has done since.

I have a different approach and would encourage employers to consider these 5 reasons for hiring someone with a criminal record.


1. Loyalty

Nothing is better than a dedicated employee. Because you gave someone a chance when others turned their backs they will more than likely put in more effort and respect you as an employer. They don’t have many options but you didn’t make them feel small or less than.

They need you just as much as you need them. When employees actually respect their boss and know you went out of the way to give them a chance, they will go out of their way for you. You get a committed employee and they will view things as you helping them become successful. It’s a win/win.


2. They are just as qualified

A criminal record does not mean a person isn’t qualified or doesn’t have something to offer. But the presence of a criminal record seems to perpetuate that notion.

Often, assumptions are made that a person with no criminal record is naturally more qualified or a better fit. This couldn’t be further from the truth. If the qualifications are the same with the only difference being a criminal record, depending on the offence, it shouldn’t matter.


3. They will stay with you

One problem companies struggle with is employee turnover. Someone with a criminal record is more likely to stay where they have been treated fairly with respect rather than put themselves back out there to the embarrassing and demeaning job search process often experienced by those with criminal records.


4. There could be tax incentives

Some provinces and states offer tax incentives or work training and support programs for employers willing to hire people with a criminal record, especially those being released from jail. These can help a small business and help individuals to get on with their lives rather than stay part of a system that actually sets many up to fail.


5. Their past could benefit your business future

Their past crimes and experience in the justice system could benefit your future. For example they may be able to identify security flaws/vulnerability, identify potential scams, be aggressive negotiators, become leaders to other employees who are struggling, or they may just do tough jobs that others who have lived in a bubble can’t handle.

By providing the proper support and encouragement, you may find they are more useful than your typical college grad leaving school with little understanding of the real world. They may be able to teach you a thing or two.


This article has been edited and condensed.

Liam Massaubi is a serial entrepreneur, investor and Aboriginal business consultant. He is also a public speaker and design engineer. He is a proud Mohawk and a very busy father. Connect with @OldmanLM on Twitter.


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