With All the Applicant Tracking Systems and Artificial Intelligence Why Would I Invest in a Non-Traditional Applicant?


Through my experience working as a nonprofit leader in professional development, most of the applicants have had some interaction with the criminal justice system. For many employers, having a record is an automatic disqualifier regardless of the job, state requirements, and the applicant’s offense. This crazy notion that a prior conviction could stop you from working a job that’s completely unrelated to the offense committed, and that people are allowed to openly discriminate against the reentry population is unthinkable. We need good people as employers not perfect humans. According to Glassdoor, 2018 recruitment statistics, 86 percent of the most qualified applicants are in a position and not currently looking for new employment. This means, we are currently in a candidate's market. In employer talk, that means wages are going to be inflated to get the best.

Hiring a non-traditional employee can save the organization money and a headache. From my experience as an employer, perfect paper applicants tend to be harder to coach, train, and work with. Perfecting an application and not having a record doesn’t mean they’re a great fit. There are many reasons why a person could end up with a record, but it doesn't mean they're not a great catch that has most of your needs and wants. This group holds countless years of experience, college education, amazing soft skills, motivation, innovation, creativity, and passion.

This group can offer some unique strengths that no one else seems to notice if you develop a fine-tuned hiring system. As employers, we can create an environment where a good applicant can become a great employee. This can be done with biased free recruiting, realistic job requirements, and training. These non-traditional applicants within our organization tended to be more creative, grateful, team oriented, and persistent.

Long story short, non-traditional applicants can save the company money, improve morale, lower turnover, and create opportunity. With proper workforce planning you can hire an imperfect applicant and come out with the perfect fit for an employee.

As managers, business owners, executives, recruiters, and HR we have a job to create and sustain the world through growth. We select the human capital which is the most important part of any organization. It's our job to know that we have the power to change our communities for the better by understanding our own limitations in hiring and selection. Everyone deserves the right to work and deserves a chance at success. Let's do the work to get everyone back to work.


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: