Can Job Seekers with Criminal Records Make Great Employees?

Many employers have stringent requirements when it comes to job applicants with prior convictions, including misdemeanors and felonies. While some convictions may eliminate a candidate from being able to hold a role, many others don’t. However, that doesn’t mean hiring managers don’t feel conflicted about whether selecting someone with a criminal record is a smart move.

However, discarding an application because the job seeker has a prior conviction means you could be missing out on great talent, a point made by the recent “ban the box” movement that encourages employers only to ask questions about a person’s criminal history after the person has been otherwise evaluated. If you’ve ever wondered whether a job seeker with a criminal record can be a great employee, here’s what you need to know.

A Conviction Doesn’t Equal a Bad Performance

Just because a person has been convicted of a crime doesn’t automatically mean they won’t perform well on the job. In some cases, these job seekers may be particularly motivated not just to meet expectations, but exceed them, particularly if their options for employment are limited by the criminal history. This may be especially true for people on probation if maintaining a job is a condition of their release.

Many people make mistakes throughout their lives, and a conviction may simply be a more acute example of such an error. However, that doesn’t mean it reflects a pattern, or even a character flaw, especially if the crime was committed in a moment of desperation.

Further, when their employment is tied to their conditions of probation, they may be more reliable than other employees and have lower turnover rates.

They are a Substantial Portion of the Population

Screening out an applicant because of a conviction could make securing an employee who has the right skills harder than necessary, as a significant part of the population has some form of criminal record. One estimate suggested that approximately 8 percent of working adults have been convicted of a felony, and even more may have misdemeanors.

That means, if you are struggling to find the right employee, you may be discarding a substantial portion of applicants automatically, even if they possess the right skills and experience. Alternatively, if you keep these job seekers in contention, you may find an ideal worker who just happens to have a criminal record.

Ultimately, a conviction doesn’t guarantee a person won’t be a good employee, especially if a pattern of criminal activity isn’t present. When screening applicants, try to either delay questions about their record until after you’ve determined if they are a good fit, or keep them in contention if their conviction doesn’t automatically disqualify them from that particular line of work. By doing so, you may find a top talent that you would otherwise have discarded.

If you are hiring for a vacancy and want to work with one of the area’s leading staffing firms, the professionals at CPS Recruitment want to hear from you. Contact us today to see how our services can match you with great candidates quickly and efficiently.

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