In order to find the best people for your company, you’re probably frequently on the lookout for new hires. As you’re searching, you’re likely to have come across potential candidates with criminal backgrounds. This has probably given you pause, wondering if you should pass them by for the sake of your company. Reality is, not all job candidates with criminal records are bad people, or bad for your company. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) recently launched their own Getting Talent Back to Work campaign to educate employers on this tough topic.  Here are the pros and cons of hiring employees with criminal backgrounds: 


  • Most are very loyal: Employees with criminal backgrounds are less likely to quit and generally work harder than most other employees. 
  • You maintain compliance: Passing over potential job candidates simply because of a criminal background may get you in trouble for discrimination. 
  • Hiring people with criminal records gives your company new talent: Employees with criminal records will bring a different perspective to your company that could be beneficial. It’s always good to diversify your workplace with new talent. 


  • There is a risk of recidivism: People with criminal records have a real risk of having a relapse. 
  • They can bring danger into your workplace: Ex-offenders might exhibit behaviors that are a danger to your company or other employees. 

If you are thinking of hiring ex-offenders, here are some tips to make the process safe for your company:

  • Look for signs of improvement: If the job candidate you’re looking at has gone through a rehabilitation program or has volunteered, then you can see that they’re trying to turn their life around. 
  • Consider the crime: Take time to look at what kind of crime the person committed and how long ago they committed it. For example, if the crime was a while ago and wasn’t violent, the person is probably safe to hire. 
  • Watch behavior: During the interview(s) you should be watching the job candidate’s behavior to see if they’re kind to others, if they’re open, and if they talk about wanting to change. Those are all good signs. 
  • Give support: Once you’ve hired someone with a criminal past, give them the support they need to turn around. This will create a loyal and happy employee. 

Many employees with criminal backgrounds deserve a second chance. Consider the pros and cons and use these tips when you consider hiring an employee with a criminal background.