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July 11, 2014
Should a Criminal Past Prevent a Hire?

It's just one little box on an application. It asks if you have ever been convicted of a felony. What an applicant puts as the answer can have a big impact on a business.


If your company has never had this experience, do you know what you would do?


Second Chances

Many business owners are never faced with such a situation and don't give it a second thought.


But suppose this did happen. Do you have a policy in place, either in writing or in your own mind, of what you would do? Would you immediately reject the applicant as too high of a risk? Or do you believe in giving someone a second chance?


While your own personal opinions may color your answer, you must make a rational decision based on what is best for your business.


There are several consequences you must be aware of in this situation….

  • Concern for the security of your establishment — an employee convicted of theft may be tempted to steal from your company if given ample opportunity.
  • Perception of other employees — if the applicant is hired and lets the information out that they spent time in jail or on parole, will other employees feel unsafe or will they have a biased opinion against the applicant?
  • Perception of customers — in a smaller town, even your customers may be aware of the criminal past of an employee and may decide to take their business elsewhere.

Being Responsible for Your Business' Security

If you don't have serious concerns about any of these issues, you still have to decide how to handle the situation if you should hire the applicant.


You may feel the need to increase security by adding a security camera in the office, such as ones that can be purchased from major retailers, like Walmart.


You may want to increase security even if you haven't hired a former felon.


If your business handles money or expensive items, the temptation to steal can be strong for employees that are suffering from hard times.


When considering the impact for your business in hiring a felon, you must also think about the positive side.


Often an applicant with a criminal past realizes that the chances he or she is given are few and far between. This person doesn't want to squander any opportunities he is given, so he works extra hard. He may be the person staying extra late to ensure all of the work is finished. She may go the extra mile to ensure that her work is exemplary with no cause for concern.


There are many benefits and concerns about hiring someone that has made serious enough mistakes to warrant a criminal record.


You must make the decision about hiring such a person based on your business.


It always pays to have good security regardless of who you hire, and a solid hiring process to ensure you get the best qualified and most honorable candidate you can.

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Joyce Morse is an author who writes on a variety of topics, including SEO and online business degrees.
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