A national trend is developing making finding a job much harder and complex. The reason is simply the requirement to pass background checks and credit report scores. Unbelievable tactics for employers to pick the cream of the crop, this process has become a common event for those looking for work. In a report released in March by the National Employment Law Project “released a report entitled 65 Million “Need Not Apply”: The Case for Reforming Criminal Background Checks for Employment. According to the report, almost 65 million Americans (about one in five) have some type of criminal record, whether for an arrest or a conviction. And, for many of those 65 million Americans who are seeking employment, the hiring process can be very difficult as employers are often leery of candidates with a criminal history.”
Watching television on KTLA this weekend I saw a job fair segment that showed thousands of jobs being offered by those vendors that have restaurants and other gift shops inside the LAX compound and are requiring stringent background checks in order to be eligible for employment. The fact that these jobs were contained within a secure perimeter of the LAX airport justified the means for deep background checks due to terrorism concerns and security issues. The corporate world however, has taken background checks to another level as their eagerness to find the ideal candidate for employment is basically saying to many who have arrest reports or misdemeanor misconduct on file “need not apply” for these jobs. This in the age of text and internet wireless technology makes the process even faster and easier since there are no national standards to adhere to when recruiting employees. Potential workers are being denied employment before they even interview for the job as their backgrounds are both flawed and often inaccurately maintained by law enforcement agencies that are required to update when in fact, they hardly ever show exoneration of the arrest or disposition of the arrest in the court proceedings or dropped charges. The sad part of this process is that much is being told about backgrounds that have no relevance to the type of job applied for are seeking in this tight job market that continues to hover around the 9 % nationally and higher in many states. Competing with 15 million people for a job in this market plus the fact that people are being automatically filtered and eliminated through a very flawed process is wrong and should be addressed by national businesses or chamber of commerce’s where these practices are being done.
Criminal background and credit checks can be an important element of the hiring process but must be kept realistic and applicable to the job applied for and not as a general rule across the board. Understanding the liability factor of hiring someone of poor character or with known criminal records has its problems but this process, if abused, creates much higher defects that will hamper our economic growth and job market. Environmental issues such as the geographical location,, the poverty rate, the crime rate, and the economic conditions of the area where these jobs are being solicited should be taken into consideration whenever applied to fill a position that does not require perfection but rather a realistic profile of a person looking for a job with a proven track record of being a hard worker. Demographics are more than numbers or background checks, its about people too.