Ex-Cons: People to Avoid Hiring, or a Great Source of Untapped Labor?

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You know that guy who used to boost cars around your neighborhood? Maybe he’d really excel as the service manager for your car dealership.

Yes, it sounds like we’re joking, but this is a subject that deserves some consideration.

Plenty of ex-cons deserve their less-than-sterling reputation, but let’s not forget about the others, the ones who have legitimately changed their ways and are simply looking for the chance to prove it.

Ex-criminals who are serious about rejoining society have a lot of ground to make up, and they know this. A high degree of motivation and diligence is often the result. If you’re looking to fill a few positions this fall, here are four good reasons why employing an ex-con might be one of the best hiring decisions you’ll make all year.

Ex-cons often have transferable skills

The notion that ex-cons are unskilled is a stereotype. Many inmates spend their time in prison receiving vocational training or earning degrees with the help of state programs. These days, it’s not uncommon for a newly released inmate to be fully trained and certified for a career, and in some cases, the skills that landed an ex-con in prison may be just what your hiring system is looking for.

For instance, many companies choose to hire convicted hackers to run their security networks. The reason is simple: hackers have the skills to locate and close the holes that their peers might exploit.

According to Electronic Recyclers International CEO John Shegerian, “If you take the skills that got [an ex-con] into trouble in the first place and use them for a legitimate business venture, everyone wins. I have seen scores of people with transferable skills put these skills to work in the business world.”

They appreciate any job – big or small

A criminal record limits the opportunities available to ex-cons, so an honest job is an exciting prospect, even if it’s flipping burgers or cleaning the floors at a convenience store.

“These guys come in and are happy to just get a job,” said Winston Gample, the president of Kahala Catering, in an interview with Hawaii Business. “They work hard and appear to be really happy here. Our other employees are happy to have them, the dishes are always done, and they are just motivated.”

A criminal record makes finding a good job difficult, and so it shouldn’t be surprising that so many ex-cons work so diligently to prove themselves. When you’re red-flagged by job placement software, you’ll do just about anything to restore your good name, and that includes doubling down on trustworthiness and drive.

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To a sincerely motivated ex-con, a job isn’t just a job. It’s a second chance at life.

Former cons give you tax breaks

If good faith alone isn’t enough incentive for your company to hire ex-cons, consider that there are also many tax breaks associated with employing former criminals as well. Under the Work Opportunity Tax Credit Program, for instance, employers can write off up to $6,000 of an ex-con’s annual salary every year.

In addition to this federal tax credit, there are also many state-level grants and awards available to companies who employ ex-cons. Employing 15 former criminals can save a company more than $70,000 in payroll taxes.

Opening your company’s hiring system to former convicts does come along with certain risks, but these risks can be mitigated through regular drug testing, strict supervision, mandatory enrollment in rehabilitation programs and other preventative measures. It sounds like a lot of extra work, but the payoff for opening up your employee selection process to rehabilitated lawbreakers is obvious.

When companies give an ex-con a second chance to be a productive member of society, they often receive a top-notch employee who truly values his job and will stop at nothing to see the company succeed.

This article originally appeared on The Resumator Blog.