Even with the pressures of inflation and an uncertain forecast for the economy, employers remain on the hiring spree that began as pandemic-related restrictions started to wane. It’s still a job seeker's market, too. “Help wanted” signs remain plentiful and employers have struggled to maintain enough staff to continue delivering quality results to their customers. According to a recent deep dive into the language used in job listings on the website Indeed, this pressure to increase staff numbers has led to some interesting effects.
Across the country, advocates for the formerly incarcerated have pushed for laws and regulations to open up more job opportunities for ex-convicts. Some states, such as California, have passed laws specifically called The Fair Chance Act, which ban the box on applications asking if the individual has ever been convicted of a crime. Employers can ultimately ask about and learn of this information, but the goal is simple: remove some of those initial barriers to getting an interview and making your case for employment.
Even without regulatory pressure, though, employers in areas with and particularly without ban-the-box laws have begun to change their approach in recent months. According to the Axios report, more employers have started to advertise their jobs with specific fair chance language, hoping to attract more applications from those who might not typically apply. In 2018, the number of listings that advertised with such language stood at just over barely 1% of all listings. In 2022, that number has varied between 2.5% and 3.1%. That’s a significant increase that indicates more employers have begun rethinking their approach to employee selection.
Although some jobs advertise that they have “no background check,” others use language such as “felon friendly.” Maintaining vetting as a part of the hiring process is important for protecting your business, but adopting the fair chance approach of wait and see could mean discovering hidden talent that you might otherwise have overlooked.
Are these applicants truly trustworthy? That’s a decision each employer has to make based on the information available to them. Many convictions a company encounters may not be violent in nature or severe enough to warrant concerns about future behavior. In other cases, past convictions are just that —far in the past, with significant rehabilitative work completed in the interim. There is a wide range of nuance to individual situations, and “fair chance” laws and policies give businesses the chance to accurately evaluate someone’s suitability.
Additional tools, such as ongoing criminal monitoring, can provide a safety net for the business — triggering procedures for discipline or action as soon as an employee re-offends or enters the criminal justice system. With an increased need for staff and complex economic pressures at play,
equipping your business with the right tools — and a policy that makes sense for your industry — is more important than ever. Are there applicants you’ve overlooked in the past? Now might be the time to consider that question in depth.
About Michael Klazema The author
Michael Klazema is Chief Marketing Technologist at EY-VODW.com and has over two decades of experience in digital consulting, online product management, and technology innovation. He is the lead author and editor for Dallas-based backgroundchecks.com with a focus on human resource and employment screening developments.