Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

More Firms Check Criminal Backgrounds of Applicants

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

More Firms Check Criminal Backgrounds of Applicants

Article excerpt

OKLAHOMA CITY (JR) -- Even with a shrinking pool of job seekers, many employers are screening applicants more thoroughly.

An increase in criminal background checks by hiring companies is a major force driving expanded screening, according to a survey released Sunday by Express Personnel Services of Oklahoma City.

The survey of personnel recruiters found that only 26 percent of employers will hire a former convict. "More and more clients want a criminal background check on all applicants," said Nancy Curtis, an Express Personnel franchise owner in Shreveport, La. Many employers are even asking for felony checks for factory jobs, "a big increase over just a few years ago," said Joseph Zdybel, who owns Express franchises in the Chicago area. Zdybel and Curtis were among 39 human resources franchise owners in 20 states who participated in the Express Personnel survey. The survey showed that only 6 percent of job seekers answered yes when asked if they had been convicted of a crime or been released from jail as a result of a conviction during the past seven years. One Express Personnel franchise owner told of several applicants who walked out when the question was asked. "Employers have the right to know the history of every individual who applies for a job," said Linda C. Haneborg, corporate spokesperson for Express. "Even that minority of employers who will give some former convicts a second chance -- say for a job in construction or maintenance work -- frequently will refuse to hire one convicted of burglary, armed robbery, or crimes of passion," she said. Many hiring companies also avoid applicants with personalities that have the potential to disrupt workplace tranquility, she said. Express trains franchises owners to do thorough background checks, said Bob Funk, a former minister who founded Express Personnel in 1983. "Some employers will hire a convicted felon, if you're up front about it," Funk said. "We've placed many of them and they can turn out to be dedicated employees. …

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