Hire a Felon: How To Hire A Felon & Best Practices When Doing So

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Finding the right person for a job can sometimes be a daunting task. If a potential employee happens to have a criminal record, you may have questions about hiring such a person.

We’ll take a look at several reasons why you should hire a felon and the recommended steps to add them to your company.

No matter what industry you are in, people with criminal records can increase productivity and make sales for the company.

At the same time, they also learn new skills and improve their quality of life. When you hire an ex-convict, the potential for success is a win-win for them and your company.

This blog post will address the issue of how to hire a felon.

  • Reasons for Hiring a Felon
  • Steps in Hiring a Felon
  • Planning
  • Recruitment
  • Selection
  • Background Check
  • Tax Credit
  • Making a Case for Hiring a Felon

Alert: Before you read this article, please understand that we allow employers to post jobs for felons directly on our website and it’s 100% FREE. Once posted, we’ll email it to over 10,000 potential candidates.

Visit the Jobsforfelonshub.com job board now

Reasons to Hire a Felon

There are many compelling reasons for companies to hire felons.

Employers may have hundreds of job applications to sort through, and the hiring process can be stressful.

  • Is the potential employee a hard worker?
  • Is the potential employee competent?
  • Is the potential employee qualified? 

If the job applicant has a felony conviction, you may doubt their trustworthiness and loyalty. 

But there are several benefits to you and your company when you hire ex-offenders, whether they committed a misdemeanor or a felony. Nobody is perfect, and a past offense shouldn’t hold people back from a brighter future.

Here are three reasons why hiring a felon is both beneficial to your company and an ex-convict:  

1. Ex-Felons May Do a Great Job When Properly Vetted

Several companies offer jobs for felons, so you are not the first nor the last company to take this step in hiring an ex-convict.

Other felon-friendly employers include retail companies such as Lowe’s, Home Depot, Walgreens, Kohls, Ikea, Trader Joe’s, and Kroegers, to name a few. 

Felons can also work high-paying jobs when given a fair chance and some training.

If your company needs welders, carpenters, or electricians, consider hiring an ex-convict that you can train and guide and potentially gain a loyal team member. 

Referrals and background checks are now common steps in an employee’s hiring process.

These inquiries typically reveal any criminal background, and you have an opportunity to get to know the candidate more through referrals.

You can also check with previous employers about the job applicant to get firsthand testimony on their trustworthiness and reliability, so you know you are getting someone who will do their job well. 

Be aware when vetting potential employees that many cities and states have “ban-the-box” laws and “fair chance” legislation to prevent discrimination against anyone with a misdemeanor or felony.

Your human resource department should be up-to-date on ban-the-box rules and local regulations before creating a job application or interviewing potential employees.

If you get qualified referrals and run a third-party background check on ex-felons looking to get a job, you can find yourself a competent and trustworthy worker for your company. 

2. Your Company Receives Tax Credits

Another reason to hire ex-convicts is the tax credits your company may qualify for when employing ex-felons.

The Work Opportunity Tax Credit (or WOTC) is a federal tax credit, but there may also be state and local tax credits available to your company if you are a small business.  

The WOTC program gives a federal tax credit to companies that hire someone from a target group (such as veterans, ex-felons, SNAP, food stamp recipients, etc.) for part-time or full-time employment.

The WOTC tax credit is calculated based on the number of hours worked and wages earned during the time of employment, and there may be a maximum amount of credit allowed. 

3. Give Someone a Second Chance

While it benefits you and your company when you hire an ex-offender, you are also aiding the former felon as well. Giving someone a second chance can help them in many unexpected ways.

When you hire a felon, you’re not only providing an income, but you are also giving them somewhere to be and something to do as an alternative to criminal activity.

Every year ex-convicts re-enter society looking for a fair chance and a new beginning.

Whatever mistakes they made are behind them, and they can look forward to a new job and a second chance at doing things right.

You have an opportunity to help someone with a criminal record be more than an ex-felon but a contributing member of society. 

Companies such as JobsForFelonsHub.com and Dave’s Killer Bread company Second Chance Playbook help felons get a job and employers find quality workers.

Felon-friendly employers are becoming more and more prominent. One of the nation’s top hotel chains, Hilton Hotels, hires those with a criminal history. 

If you properly vet an ex-felon and have a good feeling about them as an employee, hiring a felon could be the best thing for you and them.

Sometimes a second chance is all someone needs to turn the page to a new chapter of their life. 

Why You Should Hire Convicted Felons

Hiring someone with a felony record is not only good for the felon, but it also has the potential to help your company and society at large.

With training and rehabilitation, an ex-felon can become a contributing member of the community and a valued employee.

In 2018 this CNBC article reported that many companies like McDonald’s and Delta Airlines turned to ex-cons to fill jobs.

The article also quotes Prison Policy Initiative’s Policy Analyst Lucius Couloute saying,

This isn’t a problem of aspirations, it’s a structural problem involving discrimination and a lack of opportunities to people who have been to prison.

If more human resource departments have inclusion policies and eliminate discrimination in their hiring process, more people can join the workforce, pay taxes, and be a part of the community. 

When you see a history of criminal activity on a background check, we recommend allowing the applicant an opportunity to explain the situation.

They may have been young or in the wrong place at the wrong time. We think everyone deserves a chance to explain their history. 

How to Hire Felons

The hiring process for felony-friendly employers is the same for any potential employee, felon or not.

The first step is identifying the job requirements, then recruitment, selection, background check, and onboarding. 

If you have any questions about the hiring process for felons, check out the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for rules and regulations.

Let’s take a look at each of these in-depth. 

1. Identify Job Requirements

First, you need to know what the job requirements entail.

Depending on your trade or industry, this could be anything from a store clerk and trades works, cook, driver, server, or many different jobs. Most industries have a job for an ex-felon to fill. 

You will also need to determine any qualifications or competencies required for the job.

  • Will the employee need to use a computer or specific software?
  • Is there heavy lifting or physical work involved?

Identifying these requirements will help to know what type of candidate to recruit. 

2. Recruit Potential Employees

You can recruit your next hire on your website, a career fair, or an online job board.

Some jobs are lower level, and you can cast a wider net for recruits, while others require a higher education or skill set.

Job boards are a great way to find recruits in any field. If you are a second chance company, this job board is a great way to get started.

3. Selection

Job applications will start pouring in, and you now have a big decision to make. As you review resumes and applicants, you may begin to see some potential future employees.

Generally, at this point, you will not know if a felon is one of the applicants.

There is no requirement for an ex-felon to disclose their past criminal activity before an interview. Many states have “ban-the-box” rules to deter discrimination based on the application form.

Employers may select a few candidates to interview for the job and start the background check process. During the background check and interviews, companies can ask about criminal background information. 

4. Background Check

The purpose of a background check is to ensure employers hire the best candidate for a job.

There are several important questions for employers to consider:

How long has it been since the conviction?

It is quite different for a felon with a crime for theft last year versus one with a theft offense from 15 years ago.

That is especially true if there has been no further criminal activity during that time.

How does the conviction relate to the job?

For a felon with a financial crime, hiring them for a position involving handling money may not be the best idea.

That is different from hiring someone with a financial crime for a manual labor job.

Did the applicant have the opportunity to explain their circumstances?

For felons who are considered to be disqualified from a position, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) requires employers to provide applicants a chance to “demonstrate that the exclusion should not be applied to his particular circumstances.” 

It is essential to have all of the relevant information.

EEOC guidelines indicate that hiring decisions should consider:

  • The nature and circumstances of the offense
  • The relation of the offense with the responsibilities and requirements of the position
  • The time elapsed since the offense
  • Corrective actions the applicant has taken since the offense

This is the time for employers to get to know about applicants.

5. Onboarding

As you welcome your new employee, don’t focus on the felon title. They have a new job with your company, a new title, and a new beginning.

Train and educate them like you would with any other employee. It’s highly recommended that you give your new hire a fair chance like any other person. 

As your new employee gets settled into the job, check up on them and see how they are fitting in.

Offer your human resource department as an option if they have any questions. Invite them and their family to company picnics and rec leagues. 

You should treat the ex-felon no different than the rest of your employees. 

Things to Avoid When Hiring a Felon

It is important to note that there are some jobs that a felon does not qualify for, including banking, healthcare, insurance, and real estate.

Other industries that require a specific license also prohibit felons, such as education, law, and psychology. 

If you are in an industry that can hire a felon, you should attempt to interview and place them, no matter their criminal record. But there are a few “red flags” and definite “no’s” to consider. 

Red Flags

During the interview process or background check, you may see a “red flag” or two that will make you doubt whether a candidate is a right fit for the job.

Making a staffing decision is never easy, and putting a rotten egg in the mix can spoil the whole cake. A red flag is a warning you get from either a referral with a bad review or inconsistencies in the resume.

You can ask questions in the interview to help resolve these issues, but you may not ever know the entire truth of a felon’s past. 

One or two flags may be okay to continue with the hire; more than two flags, and you may want to pass on that candidate. 

Definite “No”

You can only learn so much about a candidate during the hiring process, and background checks only paint part of the picture.

Some companies include a drug test as part of the screening process to complete a full picture of the potential hire. If someone fails a drug test, this is a definite “no” for further consideration. 

Resources For Hiring Felons

Several companies and non-profit organizations are committed to helping felons find a job.

If your company is interested in becoming a felony friendly employer, we recommend these resources:

Frequently Asked Questions

Is It Difficult to Hire a Felon?

If you are committed to finding the right person for the job, it is not difficult to hire a felon.

In fact, it is the same process as hiring non-felon, but you could qualify for the WOTC federal tax credit when you employ an ex-offender.

What Kinds of Jobs Can Felons Do?

As long as the felon is qualified and meets the job requirements, felons can do most jobs. Some professions require a license that a convicted felon cannot get.

Examples of these professions include lawyer, psychologist, and teacher. 

Can a Felon Be Bonded? 

Some employers want to insure themselves and bond an employee for potential liability.

Several factors determine whether a felon qualifies for a bond; we recommend doing your research and due diligence in this manner. 

Wrapping Up

When you hire a felon, you give them a second chance at a productive and positive life. They can become a contributing member of society on their way to a long career.

Whether you hire them for part-time or full-time employment, you can make a difference in someone’s life for the better. 

What do you think about this blog post?  Are you or someone you know been in the situation of hiring a felon as a new employee?  What was that like, and was it successful?  Please tell us in the comments below.

About the author

After earning his MBA from Benedictine University, Ron was looking for a new challenge and stumbled on the idea of helping the formerly incarcerated.

Using what he learned, Ron developed this website as a free resource and has worked with his team​ to continue answering questions for those in need.

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