Talent acquisition includes identifying, acquiring and evaluating the best person for each job. Research shows that the success of an organization is closely tied to the quality of its employees. Talent acquisition ensures that your organization has the right people, with the right skills, in the right job. 

HR professionals and hiring managers frequently ask, “Should we interview and assess applicants with criminal records differently from candidates without a record?”

The answer is no.

Interviews should be equal and fair assessments, and the basic hiring structure should not vary between candidates. Formerly incarcerated applicants are people – looking to be employed, functioning members of our society, with strengths and weaknesses just like any other candidate.

In addition, employers that use criminal records in their hiring decisions need to be aware of applicable federal and state laws.

Free, High-Quality Resources

Understand the latest research, evidence-based best practices and industry guidance needed to reduce legal liability and increase inclusive hiring by downloading the Getting Talent Back to Work Toolkit.

Nondiscriminatory Practices

An employer who adopts a blanket policy of excluding all applicants with an arrest record could face disparate impact liability under federal nondiscrimination law. Learn more in this specific section of the Getting Talent Back to Work Toolkit, or via the links below.

Background Check & Providers

Making an informed decision regarding a job applicant with a criminal record starts with having an accurate report. Therefore, employers must evaluate prospective providers, known as consumer reporting agencies (CRAs), to ensure that they have a quality supplier. Learn more in this specific section of the Getting Talent Back to Work Toolkitor via the links below.

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission: Issued as part of the Commission’s efforts to eliminate unlawful discrimination in employment screening, for hiring or retention, by entities covered by Title VII, including private employers as well as federal, state, and local governments.
U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission: Guidance on prohibited practices.
U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission: A Q&A resource to understand the application of Title VII to use of arrest and conviction records in employment decisions.
U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission: Fact sheet when making hiring or other employment decisions.
SHRM: PowerPoint presentation to understand three key areas within discrimination, harassment and retaliation laws.
SHRM: Toolkit discussing pertinent federal laws, protected classes of employees, types of employment discrimination, risk management, enforcement of equal employment opportunity laws and policies, and possible legal remedies.
The National Employment Law Project (NELP) can help interpret and navigate the legal landscape of second chance hiring, both locally and nationally.
SHRM: Test your knowledge on this five-question quiz.
U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission: Joint publication with Federal Trade Commission provides information on how background checks are used in employment and when such use may implicate laws enforced by the EEOC or FTC. 
SHRM: Understanding criminal background check laws and how to implement investigations.
Dave’s Killer Bread Foundation: Understanding guidance from employers engaged in hiring.

Interviewing & Assessment

Employers must ensure that interviews and assessments are yielding information and results to identify the best candidate for each role. Learn more in this specific section of the Getting Talent Back to Work Toolkit, or via the links below. 

Sourcing Strategies

Sourcing candidates from this untapped talent source may look different from sourcing other candidates.

Dave’s Killer Bread Foundation: First-hand experience and knowledge interviewing candidates with a criminal background.
Dave’s Killer Bread Foundation: Sourcing talent from job centers and staffing agencies.

12 Recruiting Tips from Talent Acquisition Leaders

Branding your organization as a great, and inclusive, place to work.

Encouraging and maximizing employee referrals.

Offering competitive pay and being transparent about what you offer.

Thinking outside the box, which may include hiring part-time contributors and embracing flexibility.

Building strong talent networks.

Understanding predictive analytics and how it could be used by your organization.

Respecting every candidate and treating each person as a potential team member.

Simplifying job applications and including only what is required for the role.

Building an accessible job and career website, including making it mobile-friendly.

Expanding the use of remote or flexible-hours employment, and having a proactive plan to manage these employees.

Forging relationships with organizations that work directly with candidates and engaging with their activities and communities.

Hiring additional recruiters or HR staff as the organization grows.