Looking for employment as a convicted felon can be a daunting task. With most employers now conducting background checks on applicants, many felons are anxious about how their criminal history will be judged. But, you may be surprised to know that many of the biggest companies on the planet are in fact actively hiring felons in 2017.
Before applying, it can pay to do some general background research first. There are certain companies that are traditionally more felon friendly, and your job search strategy may be more successful if you look for work there.
Here are some of the most successful global companies that hire felons:
1. The Military
The military is one of the most felon friendly employers in the UK and the US, especially during periods where recruitment is low, and it is not uncommon to find soldiers with existing criminal records.
Despite what many people think, the military is not just about soldiering either. There are a wide range of specialist roles available, including chefs, medics, drivers and communications specialists – there are over 200 specialisms in the British Army alone. You can learn skills and trades that you can use when you leave, and although you will undergo a rigorous background check during the recruitment process, your felony will not automatically disbar you from consideration.
With a clear and defined career structure, a decent salary and the security of a guaranteed long-term contract, the military can be an appealing option to felons.
Whilst the fast food industry traditionally has a high turnover of staff, many of the bigger companies are now addressing this by introducing an established management career path for those coming in at entry-level. If you are prepared to work hard and show willing, there is scope for real progression beyond dishing out burgers and fries.
It should be noted however that McDonald’s operates as a franchise, and therefore you need to distinguish between their corporate branches and their franchised branches. Where a McDonald’s restaurant is owned by a franchisee, the policy on hiring felons may be different.
This structure also applies to the other fast food giants that hire felons, including KFC, Domino’s Pizza, Subway and Five Guys.
3. Hilton Hotels
Similar to the fast food industry, the tourism and hospitality industry is also generally a felon friendly environment. Hilton Worldwide, the parent company of one of the largest and most successful hotel organisations in the world, employ over 155,000 people across the globe.
There are many positions within each hotel’s facilities services such as kitchen work, housekeeping and maintenance roles. If you enjoy interacting with guests, and can demonstrate good customer service skills, there are also bar & restaurant, concierge and hotel receptionist roles available. There are opportunities to work your way up to management positions as well as several great perks, such as discounted travel and room rates.
Other large hotel chains that also hire felons include Radisson, Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn.
One of the most valuable companies in the world, the Seattle-based coffee chain currently employs over 250,000 people worldwide. These employees include felons, whose applications and felonies are reviewed on a case-by-case basis; in general though, the company’s official line is that they do “and will continue to” hire convicted felons.
There are several entry positions available as a washer, server or cleaner, and most branches will train you to become a barista – and, with experience, supervisor – on the job. Whilst there are also corporate roles available, most advertised positions are in-store; if you enjoy interacting with the public, then applying for a job at Starbucks could be a good career move.
5. General Electric (GE)
GE – the US-based innovation conglomerate co-founded by none other than Thomas Edison – is another felon friendly employer. The company is split into several divisions: Power & Water, Oil & Gas, Energy Management, Aviation, Healthcare, Transportation and Capital, so chances are you should find something to fit your skillset.
If you are enthusiastic and can demonstrate interest, but don’t possess the necessary qualifications, the company offers a wide range of award-winning apprenticeships and internships in a variety of fields, such as engineering, IT and administration. The salary rewards can be worth it once you are qualified and the company is renowned for its high employee satisfaction.
The Swedish furniture giant operates 315 stores across 27 countries, and does not discriminate against hiring felons. As of 2016, IKEA employ over 160,000 people in a wide range of roles; at entry level there are positions in customer service and sales, as well as numerous opportunities in logistics, IT, HR and of course its famous catering department. If you find you get a kick out of assembling furniture, and enjoy meatballs, maybe this could be the perfect company for you!
7. British Airways
Although there are some airline and airport-based roles that require a high level of security clearance, this does not mean that working for an airline is off limits. One of the largest and most established in the world is British Airways, which offers corporate and call-centre based roles at entry level. For those looking to pursue a career in aviation or aerospace engineering, BA offer various apprenticeships and graduate-level positions; of course, as with all airlines, they also recruit cabin crew (although competition is fierce and many start off with smaller airlines to get experience before re-applying).
In the US, several of the larger airlines follow this lead and also offer careers for felons in similar job roles – namely Delta, American Airlines and United Airlines.
The technology giants came under fire in 2015 for their perceived discrimination against felons during a construction project in California, and was forced to publicly clarify its policy in an official statement. Following accusations that applicants were turned away based on previous felony convictions, Apple claimed that they had since “removed that restriction”, and would endeavor to “evaluate all applicants equally, on a case by case basis, as we would for any role at Apple”.
This is of course good news for felons, who can apply for corporate roles, Apple-specific internships, in-store sales and support roles – and even advisory roles where you can work from home, dealing with customer queries online. You would of course be expected to have a working knowledge of and enthusiasm for Apple’s products, as well as an aptitude for problem solving (and good customer service skills for in-store roles).
This felon friendly attitude is seemingly shared by fellow tech giants Facebook and Google. Despite initial uncertainty over their respective stances, they have both since signed up to the US government’s Fair Chance Business Pledge, a covenant that offer incentives to companies that hire felons.
The oil industry – and in particular, the physical work based on offshore rigs – has long been a felon friendly environment due to the robust nature of the work and the subsequent difficulty companies have in attracting employees. The biggest of these, ExxonMobil, is the largest publicly traded oil and gas company in the world and does not discriminate against felons.
Whilst there are office-based roles in the company’s finance, IT and commercial departments, the bulk of ExxonMobil’s workforce are based in engineering and operations fields. Although many of these roles may require degrees or prior experience, there are annual ExxonMobil-specific internships and apprenticeship opportunities also available.
Texas oil giant Shell also hire felons.
Enterprise are one of the fastest growing companies in the world, and currently operate over 7,200 locations in over 30 countries. They are also a felon friendly employer, although some current and former employees have suggested that due to the nature of the job, certain felonies related to driving may disqualify you during the background check.
The company places a huge emphasis on good customer service, so if you possess strong inter-personal skills this role could be a good fit.
Fellow car rental firms Avis and Budget Rent-A-Car are also felon friendly.
For those that are technically minded and enjoy problem solving, hardware engineering professionals are in increasingly high demand. IBM conduct operations in over 170 countries and are always looking to recruit new talent; they do not discriminate against hiring felons, although certain felonies involving dishonesty (ie fraud, bribery, embezzlement), cyber-crime or violence will result in your application more than likely being rejected during the background check.
Fellow tech giant Dell are also willing to hire felons.
The Japanese electronics conglomerate are one of the world’s leading manufacturers in consumer electronic products, and have offices and factories all over the world (including the UK and the US). Whilst they have opportunities available in a number of areas (such as game design, film production and music production), the bulk of their workforce are focused on developing the company’s electronics and mobile communications technologies.
Motorola and LG also operate felon friendly hiring policies, so if this field is something you are experienced or interested in, it could be worth pursuing.
Ultimately it is a case of being realistic and in many cases being prepared to take a less desirable role in order to get your foot in the door. As discussed, all of the employers on this list offer a defined career progression, so if you are prepared to work hard and can prove you are committed and reliable, you can rise further up the ranks in no time.
It should also be noted that this is not an exhaustive list. Just because a company doesn’t make its stance public, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they don’t hire felons. You should still apply regardless as many employers review felons and felonies on a case by case basis.
If you’re a felon looking for work, or have been in the past, let us know how you got on in the comments below…