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How US-based staffing agency Cornbread Hustle is connecting employers with ‘second chance hires’

In her high school years, Cheri Garcia fell into drug addiction. Now, with her company Cornbread Hustle, she is orchestrating a large-scale effort for what is perhaps one of the largest untapped talent pools available: second chance hires.

Jasper Spanjaart on January 13, 2021 Average reading time: 3 min
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How US-based staffing agency Cornbread Hustle is connecting employers with ‘second chance hires’

As talent leaders see the available talent around them decrease — or candidates being harder to lure away from other jobs, there’s a clear and defined need for an alternative. But, as has been the case for years, companies don’t seem to be quite willing to take on candidates with a criminal past. Though an SHRM report from 2018 says otherwise. The research states that only 14% of HR professionals and 26% of managers say they would be unwilling to hire those with criminal records. That means a whopping 74% of the latter group would be willing to move forward with a ‘second chance hire’.

Likely… but, unwilling?

Another survey from Adecco painted a slightly different picture. Albeit positive in terms of a shift in the numbers, they found that 35% of business described themselves as ‘likely’ or ‘extremely likely’ to hire (temporary) workers with past criminal convictions. It seems like there is a fine line between ‘likely’ and ‘unwilling’, and not to the benefit of those looking for work, but currently unable to do so due to their past.

Research shows that 17% of white Americans with a criminal record get called back after a job interview, compared to 5% of Black Americans with the same history.

Whereas some statistics about Europe aren’t available — looking at the United States, where one-third of the adult working-age population (15-64) has a criminal record, it doesn’t quite match up with everything else. Research shows that 17% of white Americans with a criminal record get called back after a job interview, compared to 5% of Black Americans with the same history.

The active pursuit

Moreover, while some initial numbers above show us that there is indeed a willingness from organisations to hire people with criminal records, SHRM’s report shows only 5% of managers and 3% of HR professionals said their company actively recruits people with criminal records. And that’s where Cheri Garcia comes in. Based in Dallas, Texas, she has firsthand experience with the struggles of finding work, with her own history of substance abuse. Now, as the CEO and founder of Cornbread Hustle, she is slowly building her own legacy, offering opportunities to both job seekers and employers

“It’s a natural reaction to think that it’s risky to hire somebody coming out of prison. I don’t disagree with that”, Garcia told Spectrum News. “You’re looking at somebody who has a criminal record, and I do make a really great entrepreneur. […] Addiction simply does not discriminate and most crimes are a result of addiction. I believe and what I’ve seen through experience of running this staffing agency for four years, ‘second chance’ employees can make really great additions to your team.”

A wide variety of jobs

And the jobs continue to come in — while more Hustlers (as Garcia describes the second chance workers) get to work. Whether it’s a sales or production job, an analyst or a traffic director — Cornbread Hustle currently lists a wide variety of jobs on its page. A firsthand experience, as per the Spectrum News article, illustrates how one hustler was searching for a job on Monster, Indeed and Facebook Marketplace. But as soon as she reached out to Garcia and Cornbread Hustle, she landed a job on her first interview.

While the war for talent is still ongoing across all continents, pursuing and hiring ‘second chancers’ may be the perfect way for organisations to win some battles in both the short and the long term.

With a clear and defined goal, Garcia is making a huge difference in local job markets, though jobs already range from Texas to New York. While the war for talent is still ongoing across all continents, pursuing and hiring ‘second chancers’ may be the perfect way for organisations to win some battles in both the short and the long term. Talent leaders, take note.

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Jasper Spanjaart

Jasper Spanjaart

Writer and editor at ToTalent

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