A CareerBuilder survey released today revealed that 51% of human resource managers reported that they have hired someone with a criminal record. This finding doesn’t surprise me in the least. We’ve said all along that the mere presence of a criminal record on an employment background check shouldn’t automatically disqualify an individual and these findings validate employers’ responsible use of employee background checks. Generally, an employer will look at things such as the nature and severity of the offense, have recently it occurred, if the person was a repeat offender and job relatedness to determine hiring eligibility.
This data clearly refutes the National Employment Law Project’s contention that the 65 million Americans with criminal records are deemed unemployable. The fact that the polling was conducted between May and June of 2012 also suggests that employers were engaged in responsible screening before the EEOC released their new guidelines on the proper use of criminal background checks at the end April.
It’s easy to point to publicized cases of misuse and characterize background screening companies and the employers we represent as the problem for why those with criminal records cannot find jobs. So as our federal and state governments consider new laws, guidelines and enforcement, let’s hope they are looking at real data rather than anecdotal evidence provided by those with an agenda.
Here’s some advice CareerBuilder offered for those with criminal records who are seeking employment:
Making themselves more marketable
The survey asked hiring managers to share what job seekers with criminal records can do to make themselves more marketable to employers. Here’s what they recommend:
- Be upfront and honest about the conviction and stress what you learned from it — 68 percent
- Be willing to work your way up — 48 percent
- Stay positive — 46 percent
- Prepare while you’re in prison (take classes, get a degree or participate in vocational training) — 39 percent
- Don’t apply to jobs where your record would automatically disqualify you — 31 percent
- Volunteer — 31 percent
- Take freelance or temporary assignments — 26 percent
- Consider joining the military — 18 percent
- Start your own business — 16 percent
- Monitor what is said on social media – 13 percent