How to Build a Successful Fair Chance Hiring Plan

October 28, 2021
Checkr Editor

In today’s tight job market, organizations are beginning to realize the advantages of casting a wider net to include formerly incarcerated individuals. Beyond having more qualified candidates to choose from, research shows system-impacted candidates are more productive, have less turnover, and are promoted faster.

However, implementing fair chance hiring at your business takes more than just talking the talk. You need to create a hiring plan that’s fully integrated into your existing hiring strategy in order to achieve long-term success.

If you’re at a point where you understand the business benefits of fair chance hiring and have begun to gain buy-in at your organization, how do you walk the walk and attract fair chance talent?

Here, we’re outlining five things you can do to create an intentional fair chance hiring plan.


Every company takes a different approach to publicizing their fair chance hiring commitment. While some choose to be more vocal than others, what’s most important is that the talent you’re trying to attract know you’re an inclusive organization. That’s why you should clearly state your intention to hire those with past convictions on your careers page. This can be a part of a larger statement around Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, or it can be a specific call out addressing the importance of giving the formerly incarcerated a fair chance.

Another way to highlight your commitment is to post videos or testimonials from current fair chance employees. By sharing their stories, you’re showing that you’re not only dedicated to hiring these individuals, but you’ve also created an inclusive environment for all employees.

2. Stand out on career sites as a fair chance employer

A recent Jobvite study found that most applicants come from career websites and job boards. So, if you want to stand out as a fair chance employer, you need to make sure you’re flagged as one on these sites.

Both Glassdoor and LinkedIn are examples of job search websites that allow you to promote your fair chance employer status. On LinkedIn, businesses can register as fair chance employers. When job seekers use the “Fair Chance Employer” filter, your posting will then show up in these candidates’ searches. Glassdoor lets you add pledges and certifications, such as the “Fair Chance Pledge,” and once verified, you’ll be automatically included in Glassdoor’s list of employers dedicated to this specific cause.

By calling this out on job networks, it removes one more obstacle for fair chance talent looking for work, while also getting your posting in front of people who may not have otherwise noticed it.

3. Solidify your success metrics

Just as you would with any other hiring initiative, you’ll want to determine success metrics for fair chance hiring and develop a consistent process to track your progress. Establish your quantitative goals for the program, and then set up benchmarks to determine if you’re on track to meet those goals.

For example, let’s say that by the end of 2022, you want five percent of your workforce to reflect fair chance talent. Set up a system to consistently monitor your recruitment outcomes to determine if you’re staying on track to meet your goal. If you’re falling behind, figure out why that is and what can be done to course correct. You will likely need to iterate, refine, and test your initiatives to reach your fair chance hiring goals.

4. Write a fair chance friendly job description

While most modern organizations actively work toward creating non-discriminatory job descriptions, what you may not realize is there could be unconscious bias lurking in the language used to write your job ads.

Data from the National Former Prisoner Survey reveal that more than half of formerly incarcerated people hold only a high school diploma or GED, and a quarter hold no credential at all. Also, returning talent will have gaps in their employment history to account for time served. Therefore, you should consider removing educational requirements or years of experience, when possible, to help level the playing field.

Also, focus your job description on core competencies needed for the role, instead of past experience. If someone hasn’t had the chance to work in a similar position before, but has the right soft and hard skills to complete the job, then on-the-job training should help them get up to speed. Building a skills-based job description helps attract fair chance talent.

5. Build a network to fill your talent pipeline

If you’re in the earlier stages of rolling out your fair chance hiring plan, it can be challenging to get the word out to potential candidates who aren’t aware of your policies. One way to remove that roadblock is to bring fair chance advocates into your network and partner with them to find talent. Organizations such as the Center for Employment Opportunities and Defy of Norcal work directly with fair chance candidates to prepare them for the hiring process, so they are a great resource for connecting you with high-quality candidates who are ready to work.

Here's a tip: Use these keywords to research local source partners in your region: “reentry workforce development”, “reentry job development”, or “felony friendly job development”.

Making fair chance a part of your company’s mission

Much progress has been made over the past few years to remove the stigma of hiring returning neighbors. This growth, combined with the economic need for more workers, have built a path for thousands of formerly incarcerated people to gain employment. By building a solid, intentional fair chance hiring plan for your organization, you’re able to be a part of the movement while also contributing to your organization’s success.

Learn more tips to become a fair chance employer in our free ebook, The Diversity Group You're Overlooking: How to be a Fair Chance Employer here.

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