A few days ago, I asked my Facebook friends (the ones who are responsible for hiring people) if they would hire someone who is considered employment challenged (an ex-offender, recovering addict, or someone who is homeless). I didn’t get too many responses, but the ones I did get interested me.

It seemed that most people would be willing to hire, but most said that it would depend on the type of work the person was applying for. One example someone said is, “I wouldn’t hire a recovering addict to work in a bar/club, a homeless person with a past gambling problem to work in a casino, nor an ex-offender (robbery) to work for a bank.” While this makes sense, and is a reasonable way of thinking, it does make me wonder about the possibility of a total and complete fresh start for someone who is employment challenged. While this type of thinking isn’t necessarily wrong, in some way it still implies that a person’s past will affect their ability in certain areas of work, no matter what progress they may or may not have made. Is a clean slate really possible when it comes to working?

Another response that interested me was someone who said that they would hire someone who was employment challenged, for a very specific reason: “I work in the mental health field and my job specifically caters to ex-offenders, recovering folk etc. Our clients would rather speak to someone who has been through it. It all really depends on their work ethic and what the job description is.” I found it interesting that people who are employment challenged, would rather be the client of someone like them. Perhaps the reason behind this is for inspiration, or because they don’t want to be judged. But the reason this really interested me is because it made me think that in a way, they are building and providing jobs for each other with this demand. If the business knows that their clientele prefers people who are like them, they will hire people like them, providing more jobs and opportunities for their community. For this company, I thought it was interesting that they didn’t determine that person’s position based on their background, but more on their ability to do the job, and making the decision to count their past experience as a positive instead of a negative.

Are you an employer? Would you hire someone who is employment challenged for your company?

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