More than 92 million individuals have a criminal history on file in state criminal history repositories, according to the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics. Having a criminal past can potentially haunt someone’s future, especially when it comes to seeking employment. Yet a new CareerBuilder survey shows that companies are open to giving people second chances.
According to the study, 51 percent of human-resource managers reported that their organizations have hired someone with a criminal record. The study included 2,298 U.S. hiring managers and human-resource professionals ages 18 and over and was conducted between May 14 and June 4, 2012.
Getting back on the right career path
Even with this encouraging statistic, job seekers with a criminal background may still face hurdles during their job search. But there are steps they can take to show that they’re committed, hard-working and ready to restart their career. The first step? Being transparent about their history.
“The No. 1 recommendation hiring managers have is to own your past and focus on what you learned from it to grow professionally and personally,” says Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder. “You also want to stay active. Taking classes, volunteering and tapping into social networks can be good ways to help overcome obstacles associated with job hunting with a criminal past.”
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
For more information and resources about jobs searching with a record, job seekers can contact their state unemployment office to be connected with a case manager specializing in jobs for ex-offenders. Job seekers should also research local human services organizations in their area for additional programs and support.