Job hunting can be tough. Even in a labor market that is getting stronger, there is still plenty of competition. This challenge becomes more complex when you are a felon.
While there are companies that hire felons, there still much stigma attached. It is estimated that as much as half of released convicts fail to get jobs.
That is a steep figure. More so as there are about 7 million in jail, prison or on parole at any given time.
Many employers are inclined to choose someone without a criminal record over a felon. They are desirous of employees they feel can be honest and will interact well with customers. Being convicted of a crime gives the opposite impression.
Not to mention, some crimes are more of a worry to employers. Those convicted of theft and acts of violence are likely to be viewed more warily.
Even finding decent housing is a problem for felons. Much like many employers, landlords are less inclined to rent to felons.
These trials often lead ex-cons back to the old friends and behaviors that got them in trouble before. Recidivism rates are quite high. As many as half of released convicts are arrested within a year of release.
Finding gainful employment is key to keeping them out of trouble. With a decent income, they can better take care of themselves and their families. It gives a sense of hope about their future and busy doing something meaningful.
Luckily, there is a growing trend amongst corporates and their human resource departments of hiring felons. Some of the companies have extensive headquarters or campuses with much need for service workers. These become ideal job opportunities for felons.
Before we discuss the particular companies that hire felons, let’s look at how to join such companies.
To get hired by companies, felons need to put in more effort than non-felons. Here are some helpful tips that should improve your chances of success at job hunting.
1. Apply Widely
To increase your chances of getting a job, you need to up the odds. Do this by applying for as many vacancies as you think you qualify for.
The more applications you send in; the more interviews you are likely to score. Ultimately you improve the chances of getting a job offer.
With many companies having career webpages or using recruitment companies, it should be easy to find opportunities.
2. Be Reasonable
We would all love to land a job with a three-figure salary but it is not always possible. Aim for jobs you have a reasonable chance of securing.
Review the responsibilities and requirements for the position. If you feel you would make a good match, then make the application.
Try to focus on jobs and companies that are felon friendly. We will discuss more on that later.
3. Prepare Accordingly
When you are called for an interview, be sure to ready yourself. Get a family member or friend who is working to help you prepare. Practice your interview skills and body language.
Invest in some decent formal wear. Being formally dressed, even when interviewing for a blue-collar job is important. It shows you have respect and an understanding of office etiquette.
4. Be Truthful
There is a good chance you may be asked about criminal history. If it comes up, be honest. Many companies still run background checks and lying may disqualify your candidacy for the job.
Keep your explanation simple and accept responsibility for your actions. Focus on how you are ready to make a change and what else you have done to better yourself.
Many big businesses have got on board with the idea of hiring felons. In fact, many have gone on to institute fair hiring practices that do not discriminate against felons.
They also support ban-the-box initiatives that call for the removal of questions about criminal history in job applications.
By identifying these felon friendly companies, we give ex-cons a better chance of securing employment. They can focus their efforts on places that are known to already hire felons. They will know they stand just as good a chance as someone without a record.
Keep in mind that this list keeps evolving. More and more companies are joining the bandwagon, meaning more opportunities.
Also remember that just because these are companies that hire felons, they are not a sure thing. Each vacancy will have multiple applications so try to apply the tips mentioned above to improve your chances.
Here is a comprehensive listing of some of the biggest companies that are open to hiring felons.
Top 100 Companies that Hire Felons
5. Hilton Hotels
8. General Electric
11. British Airways
14. Exxon Mobile
15. Panera Bread
23. Sonic Drive-In
27. Blue Bell Ice Cream
28. Tyson Chicken
30. Dollar Tree
31. Dr. Pepper
32. Dunkin Donuts
35. Jiffy Lube
40. Waste Management
41. Sam’s Club
42. Southwest Airlines
43. AAMCO Transmission and Auto Care
44. Alamo Rent a Car
45. American Airlines
46. Allstate Insurance
47. Andersen Windows
|51. Avis Rent a Car
52. Baskin Robbins
53. Bed Bath and Beyond
54. Best Western
57. Buffalo Wild Wings
58. Campbell Soup Company
59. Olive Garden
60. Carl’s Jr
62. Caterpillar Inc
64. Chipotle Mexican Grill
69. Crown Plaza
70. Dairy Queen
72. Delta Airlines
74. Dole Foods
75. Dollar General
|76. Dollar Rent-a-Car
78. AMC Theaters
79. Country Suites
80. Choice Hotels
81. Trader Joe’s
82. United Airlines
84. Steak and Shake
85. DoubleTree Hotels
86. Dow Brands
87. Eddie Baur
88. Embassy Suites
89. Firestone Tire and Rubber
91. Residence Inn
92. General Mills
93. Golden Corral
94. Goodyear Tires
96. Holiday Inn
97. Home Depot
The next step should be to examine the jobs available. As mentioned, you need to pick out positions that match your skills and experience.
Let’s look at what particular jobs best suit felons and why.
There are different industries that are well suited to hiring felons. We have already mentioned the growing needs of the service industry sector. Here we will look at the sectors with the strongest appeal to felons.
Many large companies that deal in manufacturing, wholesale, retail, and distribution operate warehouses. To keep up with demands, they often have to have the warehouses running 24/7.
That means multiple shifts and need for multiple workers. Recruits can easily be trained on the job and often do not require any special skills. You will mostly just need to be physically fit to handle the loading/offloading work.
These are ideal jobs for people with felonies. The work can often be steady though the wages may be low.
From cleaners to servers, there is often a strong demand for temporary staff. This is especially so during peak tourist periods.
Every region has periods when there is an uptick in travelers. It could be due to the sunny weather and beaches or simply because of a festival. Whatever the reason, this can be a good time to pick up some work when hotels are shorthanded.
The better you perform when temporary, the better your chances of getting full-time employment should a vacancy arise.
3. Trucking and Delivery
Both these service jobs involve the transport of goods from one point to another. Trucking jobs are however more long-haul, while delivery jobs are confined to shorter distances.
Delivery jobs have become more popular with home shopping and often peak during the holidays. They are physically demanding because of having to carry packages all day. They can, however, be lucrative with decent pay and benefits.
Many trucking companies are eager to hire felons as the lifestyle is often strenuous to most other people. The long lonely trips away from family can be hard. This lifestyle, however, appeals to those who have been incarcerated and like the idea of independence and freedom of movement.
The pay is often quite good, with many companies willing to train up drivers for the required licenses.
This sector tends to see a high turnover of staff. This makes many of the companies more relaxed in their hiring practices. This is especially so during peak shopping periods like Christmas.
With so many customers hitting the stores, there is an urgent need to hire staff to attend to them. The jobs to be filled can include cleaning, stocking, and sales.
These jobs can be available at both large retailers and smaller ones. Keep in mind that the nature of these jobs may disqualify those with convictions in theft and fraud. The stresses of work may also exclude those that have committed violent crimes.
If you are mechanically inclined, then this could be a good fit. The automotive business has many jobs for ex-felons, especially if they have the right skills. There is a continuous stream of cars that need servicing and repairs.
There are many large companies that offer good salaries, benefits, and opportunities for career growth.
6. Felony Friendly Jobs
Generally speaking, felons may be able to access whatever jobs they want. If you are determined enough and make the effort, it is possible.
Some have gone on to earn professional licenses to become nurses and lawyers. However, these are a rarity and out of reach for most felons. Rather than take extraordinary measures, most prefer to reach for what is practical.
Felon friendly jobs are those whose circumstances are conducive to the history of a felon. They should also meet the conditions of his/her parole.
One of the first conditions is the nature of the crime that was committed. As said earlier, retailers are not likely to hire a felon with a history of theft or fraud. Similarly, those convicted of abuse are unlikely to find work handling vulnerable people like the elderly or disabled.
It is important to compare the nature of the job with the nature of the crime. If there is a conflict of interest, another line of work should be considered.
Skill level also matters. Many felons have little no work experience that leaves them unable to be competitive in the job market. Some are smart enough to take courses while in prison, but the majority do not.
Acquiring skills is possible with certain felony friendly jobs. As mentioned, many trucking companies are glad to train drivers to get the required licenses.
Many temp agencies that hire felons also take them through some training to get them ready for office environments.
Many jobs at the entry-level in the service sector do not require any previous training. Recruits are trained on the job, so a felon needs only be attentive and diligent.
Be willing to start from the bottom and climb the career ladder. In time you can work your way to better pay and responsibilities.
Here we will look at several well-known companies that are places that hire felons. There is plenty of anecdotal evidence to be found online from felons who have been hired by these companies.
Besides supporting ban-the-box initiatives, many have also signed the Fair Chance Business Pledge. This 2016 White House initiative sought to recruit major companies that would offer jobs to felons reentering society.
This multinational coffee house chain has over 15,000 stores in the U.S. alone and over 250,000 employees globally. They do hire felons, on a case by case basis. Do not lie about being a felon if asked as they do run background checks.
This should not, however, discourage anyone. There are felons that have confirmed having been employed at stores, warehouses, and corporate offices. It is said that they are most concerned with the skills and potential for learning.
The easiest way to join would be through entry-level positions at the stores and distribution centers. Positions such as cleaners and servers often come up. If you prove capable, you may be trained up to a barista. From here career growth opportunities are plentiful.
This may come as a surprise but may tech companies are on board with the idea of helping felons. Some of the jobs for ex-cons that they offer include tech-related positions like software engineer. If you have suitable skills in these areas, you can compete with non-felons on an even playing field.
Non-tech jobs are also up for grabs. Facebook is expanding its Menlo Park campus. They are adding additional offices, condos, and a strip mall. All these will open up opportunities for various jobs in administration, retail, maintenance, and other services.
Be aware however that their recruitment process can be tough. For instance, you are restricted to just 3 jobs at a time and can only apply again after a year. The best approach is to wait for opportunities that strongly match your skills and experience to apply.
Like many other fast-food chains, McDonalds does have high staff turnover. The wages are not that high and the work can be physically taxing. This is because of having to be on your feet most of the time.
They do however offer decent benefits including performance bonuses and medical and dental insurance. They are also trying to reduce staff turnovers by developing management career paths.
The high demand for employees has made this and other franchises willing to hire felons. Do however note there is a difference between the corporate office and franchises. The decision to hire may be at the discretion of the franchise owner.
This popular retailer has firm hiring policies against discriminating against felons. While they obviously have many sales positions on offer, they also have other departments. Felons can find opportunities to work in administration, communications, design, distribution, and transport.
The benefits offered are also quite impressive. Besides medical and dental plans, employees also get paid vacation time, retirement plans, and merchandise discounts.
5. American Airlines
The aviation industry has many major players that offer jobs for people with criminal records. American Airlines is among these companies that have a well-documented hiring policy.
They do not ask about criminal history until when a job offer is being made. That ensures that the best candidate is chosen for the position. Some of their benefits include medical and dental, matching 401K, employee discounts, and paid vacation time.
Felons should, however, consider any restrictions that may affect their ability to work here. For instance, with jobs that involve travel, some felons may be disqualified if they cannot regain their passports.
6. CVS Health
For those in the medical field, this company makes for a good fit. Besides the wide network of pharmacies with plentiful work opportunities, they are also signatories to the Fair Chance Pledge.
They have numerous departments with vacancies including administration, sales, billing, customer service, distribution, beauty, and analytics. Some of their benefits include medical, dental, prescription, paid time off, and tuition reimbursement.
Because the business deals in drugs, some positions may not be available to felons with drug convictions. However, the company’s policy is to asses each applicant on a case-by-case basis.
This is the single largest private employer in the country. They have a strong demand for qualified candidates and have hired felons many times over.
They have signed the Fair Chance Pledge. The company also subscribes to a policy of considering applications from felons whose conviction is at least 7 years old. However, as a retailer, they do not typically hire felons convicted of theft, violent acts, or sexual offenses.
The company has many entry-level positions that can be helpful for inexperienced felons. These can include stock room clerk, cart attendant, sales associate, and janitor. If, however, you do have some experience and skills, they do consider felons for managerial positions.
The company does conduct background checks, so it is advisable, to be honest about criminal history. Felons should also be aware that they may be drug tested as a condition before hiring.
Marriott is the biggest international hotel chain with over 5,300 hotels in North America alone. The company considers job applicants on a case by case basis and is known to hire felons.
Initially, during recruitment, the hotel focuses on experience and skills. Later, they do consider the nature of the crime committed, the years since release, and the number of convictions.
The range of jobs they offer is diverse. Departments looking for new hires include administration, housekeeping, procurement, guest services, marketing, food, beverage and culinary.
They offer good benefits including medical, dental, tuition reimbursements, paid volunteer work, and hotel stay discounts. The company also has established career paths and leadership development programs.
When felons are released, there is often the desire to want to keep your head down. You feel you should remain inconspicuous.
Many will seek for small-time employment. They hope the company will not run a background check.
They also often think it will make for a good stepping-stone to better employment in the future.
These are reasonable thoughts but should not stop you from aiming higher. When we recommend that felons should apply widely, it means to both large and small organizations.
Because many of these large companies do have jobs that hire felons, it does not make sense to exclude them. Here is what you have to look forward to if succeed.
Better Salaries and Benefits
Larger companies tend to offer better wages, even at the entry-level, compared to small businesses. With more opportunities for career growth, you will also likely see your income improve better. Benefits such as medical and dental cover for you and your family are also often included.
Training and Education Opportunities
Many large companies prefer to promote internally. They train-up employees to take up supervisory and managerial positions over time. They also support efforts to become better educated through scholarships and tuition reimbursement programs.
Larger companies tend to fail less often than SMEs. They are more stable and positions here are highly coveted. Employees appreciate the opportunity to work in a company they are reasonably sure can keep them employed.
Keep in mind that we cannot promise that you will get the job you apply for. Job hunting is a competitive sport.
Some of those that apply alongside you will be better qualified and others less so. Keep trying and follow the tips mentioned to improve your chances.
For felons worried about how they will cope when released, there is certainly hope. The employment sector is becoming more willing to absorb felons into the workforce. Many large companies are supporting these efforts and have taken reasonable steps to make it happen.
The list is not restricted to the companies we have highlighted here. Whatever industry you are looking to join, make an effort to apply extensively.
Remember to be practical in your approach and focus on positions that will not be in conflict with the crime committed. Do not give up and in time you should find success.