Let me start by saying, I’m one of the lucky ones. I was incarcerated for almost eight years, but I was fortunate to have been employed by Televerde for the last three and a half years of my sentence. In your mind, you’re probably thinking I made license plates or did the laundry, but I’m here to tell you that the Hollywood version of prison isn’t always the reality.
I served my sentence at Rockville Correctional in Indiana. The Indiana Department of Corrections is known for believing in the rehabilitation of offenders and they partner with companies who share in this belief. Televerde, a leading B2B demand generation company that operates in three U.S. correctional facilities, is one of those companies. (Learn more about them here.) Before my incarceration, I didn’t know what B2B demand generation meant, but times have changed.
Televerde taught me hard and soft skills through continual training and I was encouraged to pursue higher education through Coursera and college courses. These steps lead me on a pathway for quick success upon “graduation” from Rockville Correctional Facility. I was hired two months after release by a manufacturing company to spearhead their Inside Sales/Business Development Program.
Let me tell you what I wish all businesses would consider when they come across an application from someone with a criminal conviction:
1. First, ban the box. Many companies have a “felon box” on their application which automatically flags an applicant or boots them from the application process if they have a criminal background. I can’t tell you how much talent you’re disregarding because of this box. I urge you to get rid of it entirely.
2. Read the applicants’ resume thoroughly and consider what they’ve done to invest in themselves.
3. Talk with the candidate over the phone and invest time in a face-to-face interview. Listen to hear their confidence and learn more about the skills and talent they bring to the table. Often, they’ll be an asset for your company.
4. Do not be afraid to ask direct questions about their past. Do not be afraid to ask the steps they’ve taken to overcome whatever situation landed them in prison.
5. Finally, once you have made the decision to hire, sit back and be amazed by their loyalty and dedication, all because you decided to give them a second chance.
My current company took the time to read my resume, and then they talked to me both over the phone and in person, all while knowing about my felony background. After impressing the president and CFO of the company, they offered me a nice starting salary and benefits package.
Six months into my new role I asked the president why he chose me out of all the candidates they had considered. His simple answer was, “You were confident about the skills you possessed and that was exactly what I was looking for.”
Confidence. I owe my confidence largely to Televerde. I am thankful for my time in prison (you read that right) and to the opportunity Televerde gave to me to have a successful career and exciting future. I encourage you to be more like Televerde. To believe in second chances and look past a conviction and take into consideration the person you’re hiring and not their background. You’ll likely be surprised at what you find.