3 Ways Companies are Modifying Hiring Standards in a Big Way

3 Ways Companies are Modifying Hiring Standards in a Big Way

The unemployment figures are at their lowest in decades. To overcome this lack of available labor, many companies are modifying their hiring standards. Business Insider reports that more and more employers are relaxing their drug policies and are considering hiring workers with criminal records.

With the job market tight, ex-felons and other workers who often struggled to find jobs are getting a second look, according to a recent report by the Society for Human Resource Management, which surveyed more than 2,000 corporate managers and HR executives nationwide on their attitudes about ex-offenders. Below is a look at how company policies are shifting.

Accepting Recreational Marijuana Use

While navigating a national job glut of more than 7 million, it appears that many businesses are seeking to break out of their usual comfort zones when dealing with company hiring restrictions. Business Insider says that cultural shifts, such as the increasing number of states legalizing marijuana, have pushed businesses to mirror the societal acceptance of recreational users.

According to USA Today, many employers are quietly taking what once would have been a radical step – an applicant who tests positive for marijuana would still be eligible for the position. Marijuana testing, a fixture at large American employers for at least 30 years, excludes too many potential workers, experts say, at a time when filling jobs is more challenging than it’s been in nearly two decades.

Opening Doors to Recovering Addicts

Meanwhile, a report by Axios cites plummeting labor rates in geographical areas where opioid prescription rates are high, suggesting a need for businesses to open their doors to workers who have struggled with addiction.

A recent article by NPR documented the challenges faced by workers in addiction recovery. Gaps in their resumes due to stints in rehab or prison, and legal obligations for ex-users on probation can often eat into the workday. A job portal called Retrofit Careers is targeting workers in recovery, attempting to pair them with potential employers. Some states are even compiling what they refer to as “recovery-friendly workplace lists.

Hiring Ex-Felons

Unemployment among ex-felons isn’t explicitly tracked by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, but according to PrisonPolicy.org, former inmates had a 27% unemployment rate earlier this year, compared to a 3.7% unemployment rate for the population in general. This leaves a large number of potential workers available, many of whom have been languishing in this often-marginalized status.

To stoke more action, the federal government is offering a tax incentive called the Work Opportunity Tax Credit for employers who hire and retain ex-felons, veterans, and individuals from other target groups with significant barriers to employment. Under this program, if an employee works at least a minimum hours a year, a company can claim a tax credit of their first year’s wages.


Regardless of what your policies are concerning marijuana use, criminal records, and rehabilitation, it is still important to screen your applicants to get the full picture so you can make a smart hiring decision. If you’re looking into whether to relax your hiring policies, consider the job role you are hiring for and what types of crimes may impact the employee’s ability to perform.

Also, keep in mind never to use a blanket policy for criminal records, each criminal record and situation should be considered independently based on when the crime occurred, efforts of rehabilitation, and relevance of the nature of the crime. By keeping an open mind when hiring, you may be able to open yourself up to new opportunities to find great employees in a tight job market.

What are your thoughts on hiring ex-felons? Tell us below!

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