Looking Past the Trees- Getting Talent Back to Work



I’m a researcher. Process oriented. Peacemaker. Always followed the rules growing up. My mother never allowed me to ride my bike past a group of trees to the side of our driveway, and I never did until the summer before my freshman year of high school. To say I grew up somewhat sheltered, is a bit of an understatement.

Now that I’m a 30-something HR professional (this is a loose description), I now see rules as a grey subject matter to be debated. Times change. Views change. People change.  

I started my first “big girl job” as a recruiter for a local non-profit at the height of the recession in 2009. This was my first taste at the recruiting process: creating a strategy, putting processes in place, onboarding, background checks, and finally conducting new hire orientation. The non-profit industry has some pretty strict requirements for background checks due to the population of individuals they serve. As a new recruiter, I asked a lot of questions, I ran a lot of background checks, and started to become somewhat of a connoisseur of the criminal process.

To this day, I am the girl whose friends call her to do a quick “background check” on their Tinder dates to make sure they aren’t serial killers, but should we judge a person’s character by the mistakes they previously made? Could you not also judge me for being the goody two-shoed kid who never crossed the tree line?

Flash forward to 2019: we are in one the tightest labor markets we’ve seen. Unemployment nationally is four percent or less. The local county my employer is principally based out of, less than two percent! How do we continue to wage this war for talent? Where can we find additional untapped markets?

Better Workplaces, Better World is a term prevalent on the National SHRM website. As a recruiter, I’m consistently selling my company brand as a best in class employer, workplace, and feel by extension, working for my company can often impact your life, hopefully, making your world better.

SHRM is taking it a step farther with their Getting Talent Back to Work initiative. If you can’t tell, I’ve tee’d this up: background checks, untapped market, better world. SHRM is asking businesses and professionals to take the pledge to start, continue, or expand the discussion in regards to employing individuals with a criminal history

Personally, I’ve had many discussions with individuals over their backgrounds and was always taught to look at each person on a case by case basis, so you can understand my surprise to learn not all companies have this approach. SHRM’s call to action is much needed: Relook at what you are doing. Be Human. Think twice before saying no, because their talent could make our workplace and their lives a little bit better.


This post is part of a series for Second Chance Month, which highlights the need to improve re-entry for citizens returning to society and reduce recidivism. One of the primary ways to do this is by providing an opportunity for gainful employment. To sign the pledge and access the toolkit with information on how to create second chances at your company, visit GettingTalentBacktoWork.org.  



The SHRM Blog does not accept solicitation for guest posts.

Add new comment

Please enter the text you see in the image below: