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Hiring Job Applicants with Criminal Backgrounds: What You Need to Know

There has been a great deal of discussion in the local SHRM community on hiring individual with a criminal background. With the global labor market predicting a shortage of 2 million employees by 2020, and expecting that number to more than triple by 2030, employers will be required to rethink their hiring processes to ensure having the workforce to sustain their businesses.

Employers seem to be taking a common-sense approach by asking:

  • How long ago was the conviction?
  • Is the applicant a repeat offender?
  • Does the crime the applicant was convicted of have any relevance to the position the employer is hiring for?


With recent legislation in South Carolina and in other states, policymakers, business community leaders and worker advocates say momentum is building in eliminating obstacles and recruiting and hiring people with criminal backgrounds — also known as “second-chance hiring.”

At QBS, our HR leadership team believes the we will continue to see more regulations, even at the federal level, to prevent unfair hiring practices against individuals with criminal convictions. So, the timing is perfect for employers to take a look at their hiring process.

You should ask:

  • What are the positions within their organization where have a criminal conviction would not impact the ability to do the job?
  • What are the guidelines for considering someone with a criminal conviction?
  • And, how do we handle co-workers concerns should the new hire’s background be public knowledge?


Since individuals who have a criminal background have experienced such difficulty in the past of being hired for good, steady jobs that pay above minimum wage, employers may find these individual to be very dependable, loyal employees if given an opportunity.

Employers located in states without “ban the box” regulations should also consider removing the question about criminal records from applications for career opportunities posted on their websites and employment-related search engines for job listings.  These employers may be subjecting themselves to exposure in states, counties and cities with ban the box regulations depending on the location where job seekers are completing the electronic employment applications.

So the question is, how does a company move forward?

Here’s a great article from SHRM to help you navigate hiring applicants with a criminal background. It’s easier than you think. 

Still have questions? Give us a call or contact us via email. Our Human Resources team is here to help you navigate all your hiring and HR needs.