Does Lock Up = Let Down?

If a poll was conducted about life choices people made during their youth, chances are that everyone might have a few bad decisions they wish could be wiped from their record. For some people, those bad decisions resulted in a felony conviction and that can mean difficulty in securing employment in the future.

While employers should definitely consider a potential employee’s questionable history when evaluating a candidate, a conviction alone should not be the sole variable that cuts a prospect out of the running. Currently, 30 states have adopted statewide laws or policies so that employers consider a candidate’s qualifications first, without the stigma of a conviction or arrest record.

It is important to weigh all of the information before making the decision not to hire a person on conviction history. Best practice would be to ask the following questions:

  1. How long has it been since the conviction? If it was 20 years ago and they have a clean record with no repeat offenses, it’s worth considering the conviction as a poor decision they learned from.
  2. How does the conviction relate to the job and what was the seriousness of the offense? There are some instances where a conviction history prevents a person from certain jobs altogether. For example, if you run a daycare, you can and must reject convicted sex offenders. Banks, can and must reject anyone with some type of financial conviction like embezzlement.
  3. Has the employee had a chance to explain the circumstances? Often, we need more information from the employee before we move forward with our decision.

The name of the game here is actually seeking to really look at a job candidate before we make a decision. Sometimes a background check isn’t all that it seems.

Kellye Smith, PHR®

Resource Consultant

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