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Second Chance Employers

What’s the key to reducing recidivism and improving public safety? Finding employment for people with criminal records and offering them pathways to career success.

“The number one way to make it safe for a person returning home from incarceration is to give them the opportunity of employment.”

CCT helps formerly incarcerated men and women get back into the job market through employment readiness workshops and networking opportunities. We also coach clients on how to resolve workplace conflicts and manage the stress associated with difficult conversations.

But former offenders seeking jobs are only successful if companies are willing to look beyond their criminal record and implement proactive and well-informed employment practices. This includes empathizing with their situation and understanding the barriers they face post-incarceration.

Why hire workers with criminal records?

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) is the foremost expert and thought leader on work, workers and the workplace. The organization offers several reasons why hiring managers and HR professionals should offer jobs to workers with criminal records:

  • It’s a chance to hire the most qualified candidates from a diverse pool.
  • There’s intrinsic value in giving people second chances at employment.
  • It’s an opportunity to improve our communities.
  • 2.3 million Americans are incarcerated; 1 in 3 adults (or 75 million Americans) have a criminal record.
  • Participation in correctional education results in a 43% reduction in recidivism.

Best practices and hiring strategies for second chance employees

The SHRM Foundation’s Getting Talent Back to Work initiative provides best-practice principles that benefit businesses and those seeking a second chance. The free Digital Toolkit includes five steps to help employers recruit, welcome and develop individuals with a criminal background: workplace readiness, acquisition, onboarding, development and mobility.

Jeffrey Korzenik is the chief investment strategist and senior vice president for Fifth Third Bank and a strong advocate for second chance hires. He shared these best practices and hiring strategies with the NC Chamber:

  • Businesses generally must take a critical look at their recruiting process. For example, many companies will not automatically exclude people with records, but their secondary review process is dictated by people who have no vested interest in ever saying “yes” to an applicant with a background.
  • One way to mitigate this problem is to include line-of-business managers in the process.
  • Let a background check speak for itself rather than requiring a candidate’s self-disclosure match exactly to the background search.
  • A candidate legitimately may not know exactly what a background check will show, and some good candidates have been discarded as ‘dishonest’ when their disclosure did not match the records.


“We tell our clients, ‘You don't have to tell everybody you have a criminal record. But if somebody can benefit from it and it'll help you get through what you're going through, tell your story.’”

Why hire workers with criminal records?

It’s COVID-safe, convenient and you don’t have to leave your desk. Contact Sherina Richard, LifeWorks! program director, to schedule a call, virtual meeting or to attend a networking hiring event. 

[email protected]

(704) 374-0762,  ext. 3706

Other resources for Second Chance Employers

Second Chance Employment & Justice Reform In the news