So you say employers don’t want to hire anyone with a criminal record? Tell that Jeff Brown, business owner and founder of ShopRite fresh food markets in Philadelphia . He’s already hired plenty of ex-offenders. Some 40 of them, in fact, according to this great column a reader forwarded to me recently.
“I would rather hire someone who hasn’t worked in eight years but loves people than someone who doesn’t but is more qualified,” Brown told The Philadelphia Inquirer. “When hiring, we looked for the people who were smiling. They’re motivated.”
(Interestingly, Brown is not a fan of income tax credits for hiring ex-offenders, which often present more challenges than they’re worth. He’s tried 100 ways, he says, and can’t qualify.)
I like Brown’s story because it illustrates a basic truth about job-hunting. It only takes one employer. Even as an ex-offender, you only have to establish that connection with one person in order to get hired. That means developing a relationship with an individual who knows the truth about your background and is willing to believe that you’ve changed and deserve a second chance. Entrepreneurs like Brown are often the first bosses to get this.
Why? A) They’re used to taking calculated risks, B) They’re the decision makers, so if they like you, they can hire you, and C) Start-ups don’t have the institutionalized bureaucracy that can slow some of the bigger employers down.
And Brown isn’t alone in his willingness to hire former felons.
So how many small employers have you approached in your job search lately? If you haven’t approached small businesses in your area, why not? Anyone have a story to share?