I had a gratifying experience this week. Sixteen people e-mailed me to my personal/business e-mail address that they had been the beneficiary of their employers hiring them in spite of their DWI’s, bankruptcies, misdemeanors and, yes, three felonies. They felt compelled to write about how their employers understood about their indiscretions and hired them anyway. They are phenomenally grateful and realize that their being hired was very rare.
Every one of them told me that they had been rejected a phenomenal number of times because of their mistakes. Everyone expressed the idea that they totally understood why they were not being hired. They might have been frustrated by this, but they weren’t mad. Every one of these people took full responsibility for their mistakes. They ended up going to work for people who had empathy, understanding and the willingness to give them a shot. Most of them went to work at jobs that were well below the level they had before. They realize that, in essence, they were starting all over. Both they and the employers that hired them acknowledged that everyone was getting a good “business deal.”
I personally believe that most employers close their minds to the opportunity of hiring folks with things like this in their background. I’ve tried to argue the wisdom of it to people who simply wouldn’t hear it. They claimed it was their company policy or that they would lose their job if other people in the company found out they hired a felon. When we, as a company, represent a candidate with these kinds of challenges in their background, we first evaluate the quality of the candidate and their experience. We will often represent them and simply ask hiring authorities, before they grant the interview about their ability to hire someone with the respective mistake in their background. If we get the statement “I can’t and won’t do that”, we simply stop.
I did hear from three managers of companies. One of them wrote that he appreciated the post and he personally wouldn’t have a problem with hiring somebody with these kinds of blemishes on their background, but his company would never let him do it. He felt stuck, but he had too many other things to worry about. The two other employers said that they were open to hiring people with these kinds of problems. I have no idea what percentage of our post was read by candidates seeking a job or by hiring authorities, or maybe both. But it was gratifying to get these three folks to respond.
Even our firm will draw the line at representing pedophiles or sex offenders. We will pray for them, but we can’t bring ourselves to place them. But there are lots of folks who can be very good employees, despite their past mistakes.
I didn’t expect to get any responses to that post. To get the 16 supportive emails was gratifying. Especially around Christmas time.