Receive daily articles & headlines each day in your inbox with your free ERE Daily Subscription.

Not logged in. [log in or register]

Survey: Half of All Employers Have Hired Workers With a Record

by
John Zappe
Sep 27, 2012, 12:31 am ET

A CareerBuilder survey released today says 51 percent of human resources managers report their company has hired workers with a criminal record.

It’s an almost impossible-to-believe finding, given the constant drumbeat by criminal rights organizations over the challenges those with records face in landing jobs. However, in light of the National Employment Law Project estimate that 65 million Americans have some kind of criminal record, it’s not so surprising that many are on payrolls across the country.

The online survey was conducted for CareerBuilder by Harris Interactive, which polled 2,298 U.S. hiring managers and human resource professionals about the issue. The records here are those that would typically show up on a background check: convictions for both misdemeanors and felonies, but probably not arrests.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission frowns on the use of arrest records, and many state laws outright prohibit employers from considering or asking about arrests. Even misdemeanor convictions are often specifically excluded from employment applications. Felony convictions can be an employment bar, but the EEOC “recommends that employers not ask about convictions on job applications and that, if and when they make such inquiries, the inquiries be limited to convictions for which exclusion would be job related for the position in question and consistent with business necessity.”

Employers should analyze three factors, says the EEOC:

  • The nature and gravity of the offense or offenses;
  • The time that has passed since the conviction and/or completion of the sentence; and
  • The nature of the job held or sought.

This guidance is recent, issued just a few months ago though the Commission has been wrestling with the issue of arrest and conviction records for years. It has been issuing guidance and opinions on the matter dating back to the 1980s.

Yet, in a 2001 study, 62 percent of surveyed employers in four major cities said they probably or definitely would not hire an applicant with a criminal record. More recently, the National Employment Law Project analyzed employment ads on Craigslist finding more than 300 of the ads posted in just five major cities — many from large national companies — included language barring candidates with criminal records from applying. In addition to direct employer ads, “The Craigslist survey uncovered a generous sampling of particularly egregious no-hire ads by staffing firms.”

Considering the state laws, the EEOC position on the use of criminal convictions, it may be that the biggest surprise in the CareerBuilder survey is that more companies haven’t hired workers with records.

To help ex-offenders in the job hunt, CareerBuilder asked the HR professionals to offer their best advice from a list of several suggestions. No. 1, selected by 68 percent of the respondents, was “Be up front and honest about the conviction and stress what you learned from it.”

This article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to offer specific legal advice. You should consult your legal counsel regarding any threatened or pending litigation.

  1. Josh Tolan

    Really interesting information! The best thing for employers to do is to find out why the candidate has a criminal record as early as possible in the process. In the interview, whether it’s being conducted in person or through online video, make sure to ask about the candidate’s conviction. If candidates can tell you clearly and concisely what happened and what lessons they took away from the experience, then you’ve addressed the elephant in the room. Just because a candidates has a criminal record doesn’t mean they won’t be a great employee or bring real value to your company.

  2. Have a Cup O’Joe Whilst You (Very) Deep Background Your Candidate - ERE.net

    [...] checks have been in the news this week. CareerBuilder says 51 percent of employers have hired people with criminal [...]

  3. Have a Cup O’Joe Whilst You (Very) Deep Background Your Candidate | Industrial Tests Now

    [...] checks have been in the news this week. CareerBuilder says 51 percent of employers have hired people with criminal [...]

  4. Have a Cup O’Joe Whilst You (Very) Deep Background Your Candidate | SkillCommand Skills Testing

    [...] checks have been in the news this week. CareerBuilder says 51 percent of employers have hired people with criminal [...]

  5. Vinda Rao

    Interesting findings, and not entirely surprising. Todd Raphael wrote about our Bullhorn recruiter survey a few weeks ago which found that it’s easier to place someone with a criminal record than someone who has been out of work for two years. http://www.ere.net/2012/09/18/want-a-job-you-can-commit-a-crime-just-dont-stay-unemployed-too-long/?utm_source=ERE+Media&utm_campaign=25c4f57292-ERE-Daily-Unloved-Job-hoppers-Girls-and-Bugs&utm_medium=email

Post a comment

Please log in to post a comment.

Note: You need to sign up for an account on our new commenting system if you haven't already done so — even if you have an existing ERE account. Find out why »

Login Information