Surveys: More employers willing to hire ex-cons

Low unemployment is forcing unusual changes. With employers facing recruiting challenges not seen in almost two decades, new research from the Society for Human Resource Management identifies a potentially significant pool of untapped workers: Applicants who have criminal records.

In a research collaboration between SHRM and the Charles Koch Institute, two surveys found that a majority of workers in all roles said they were willing to hire and work with those who have a criminal record.

A positive view of the employment of people with criminal backgrounds is emerging, with the research finding that 67% of HR professionals see little differences in quality of hire between those with and those without a criminal background.

About two-thirds of HR professionals surveyed said their organization had experience hiring individuals with criminal records.

At companies that have hired workers with criminal records, employees rate the quality of their work as comparable to those without a record. Eighty-two percent of managers and 67% of HR professionals believe that the quality of hire for workers with criminal records is about the same or higher than that of workers without records.

Hiring for Attitude D

HR professionals also say the cost-per-hire is similar for those with and without criminal records.

Yet, there is some ambivalence about hiring from within this group, with 41% of managers neither willing nor unwilling to hire individuals with criminal records. For HR professionals, that figure was 47%.

When asked why job offers were extended to individuals with criminal records, one-half or more of managers and HR professionals said they wanted to hire the most qualified candidate irrespective of criminal record.