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Businesses and individuals benefit from tools to help bolster second chance hiring

  1. Future of Work

Businesses and individuals benefit from tools to help bolster second chance hiring

A woman interviews for a job

This article was originally published by Stand Together Trust.

The job application process can be fraught with uncertainty for job seekers with a criminal record and for employers looking to include second chance hires in their talent pool. 

Employers rightly want to find the best candidates that will strengthen and grow their companies. Job seekers with a criminal record understandably want to find a workplace that will give them a true second chance without judgement.  

Thankfully, as Stand Together Trust has highlighted before, the vast majority of human resources professionals and business leaders report that "people with criminal records perform the same or better than employees without criminal records." Additionally, expanding employment practices to include second chance hires often strengthens company culture, leading to higher rates of happiness and productivity for all employees.  

As more and more companies seek to expand their talent pools to include second chance hires, intentionality is required to garner the most success in recruitment and retention processes.  

That's why Stand Together has partnered with The Second Chance Business Coalition (SCBC) and Levelset to help businesses thoughtfully apply best practices for second chance hiring.  

Evaluating the hiring process and talent retention strategies  

Levelset takes a collaborative approach with businesses by offering an assessment of the current hiring and retention efforts of each business. The assessment informs suggestions for specific modifications to the process and culture that will fit the unique organizational needs and priorities.  

These modifications may include things like: 

  • Revisions to the application or background check process that takes into account factors like how long it has been since a person has been incarcerated or the type of crime committed 
  • Expanding the talent pool by creating aligned partnerships between businesses and reentry programming 
  • Recommendations for training for employers onboarding second chance hires  

More than just setting companies up with hiring and onboarding recommendations, Levelset provides ongoing support that includes internal and external communications suggestions. They also continue to monitor outcomes to determine if initial recommendations have been successful in strengthening second chance hiring, whether workers hired have solid retention and advancement rates, and the business overall has been strengthened.  

Companies like American Family Insurance, the Manufacturing Institute, and Rue Gilt Groupe have all successfully strengthened their second chance hiring practices thanks to this intensive consultation from Levelset.  

Levelset also supports the Second Chance Business Coalition (which Stand Together founded in partnership with JPMorgan Chase, the Business Roundtable, Society of Human Resources Managers, Dave's Killer Bread Foundation, and Georgetown McDonough School of Business research and technical assistance to assist member companies in strengthening their second chance hiring programs.  

With more than 40 member organizations joining in just one year, the SCBC's goal is "to encourage the nation's largest employers to give more people with criminal backgrounds a second chance at the dignity of a good job and a better life for themselves and their families." 

Their Onramps Guide — published in Spring 2022 — offers strategies for employers looking to build second chance hiring into their talent recruitment and retention strategies. The guide offers 100 actions for companies to consider, recognizing that different employers will be at different starting points -- some just beginning and needing tips for inclusive job descriptions and recruitment strategies. Others may look for ways to bolster staff and company leadership engagement in second chance hiring initiatives in the business and the broader communities.  

More than just a checklist of actions for companies to consider, the Onramps Guide offers detailed guidance to accompany the actions on the checklist and spotlights on companies that adopted certain highlight second chance practices.  

Expanding businesses' talent pools 

Building off the work of organizations like Dave's Killer Bread Foundation, the SCBC, in partnership with Levelset, created this Community Partners Map. The interactive map allows employers to search by region to find community-based organizations that can connect them to people who have criminal records and are looking for a meaningful career opportunity.  

"Community-based organizations are integral to the success for both the individuals and employers involved in second chance hiring," Carolyn Lee, president of the Manufacturing Institute, said. "The Community Partners map is an exciting tool that [the Manufacturing Institute] utilizes when identifying partners locally for this work." 

For employers, the Community Partners map identifies trusted organizations who can thoughtfully expand their employee talent pool.  

Many of the community organizations featured on the Community Partners map provide training and support to help people leaving prison prepare for the workforce, from resume and application development to skills training to job readiness like time-management or motivation tips.  

Currently, there are more than 700 organizations in 45 top job markets in the United States featured on the map, and more are regularly being added. 

As the job market continues to evolve and businesses continue to adapt, second chance hiring will continue to play a crucial role in strengthening business and society. Innovation from groups like Levelset and SCBC will give people and businesses alike the confidence needed to give individuals with criminal records a second chance, and people, businesses, and society will be better for that. 


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