Just a few years ago, an American job board was created that targeted jobseekers with a criminal past. That job board was 70 Million Jobs. The man behind the idea is Richard Bronson, an ex-partner at the infamous Wolf of Wall Street firm, Stratton Oakmont. When the company went under, Richard Bronson found himself in prison for two years. In his own words, “I knew it would be tough when I got out of prison, but I had no idea it would be that tough”. That’s why he created 70 Million Jobs, to help fellow inmates get back on their feet and find work. We were lucky enough to interview Adrienne Hatter, an employment specialist and the community outreach manager in the team, to find out more about the job board.
- 70 Million Jobs is an American job board, which targets jobseekers with a criminal record. The idea is definitely original! Do you know if there are any other job boards like yours? Who created the job site? Where did the idea come from? What do you aim to change with this job site?
We are the first: a national, for-profit job board specifically for individuals with criminal records. We target the largest employers in the nation who pay us to post their jobs and get access to our large community of job seekers. The job site was created by Richard Bronson, the founder and CEO of 70 Million Jobs. The idea came about after he himself was incarcerated – when he got out, he experienced first-hand the incredible pain of trying to find work with a criminal record. He finally found a home at a well-known reentry non-profit called Defy Ventures, and became a director. While there, he quickly realized that the reentry space was calling out for a for-profit approach; with such a vast number of people affected, he wanted to create something that could change not just 10 lives, but millions. 70 Million Jobs aims to short-circuit the pernicious cycle of recidivism that exists in this country: there is approximately an 80% chance of an individual returning to prison or jail within the first 5 years of release. However, this number drops down to less than 20% when that person has a steady job; employment is truly the silver bullet for reducing recidivism.
- Could you tell us more about the name of your job board? Why is it called 70 Million Jobs?
70 Million Jobs refers to the 70 million Americans with a criminal record – that’s a staggering 1-in-3 adults.
- Wow, those numbers are staggering! How are you changing recruiters’ mindset about ex-cons?
Our approach is a simple one: it makes good business sense. In a time of historically low rates of unemployment, coupled with high turnover rates – somewhere in the ballpark of up to 200% turnover for entry-level jobs – employers simply can’t afford to ignore this massive population of job seekers any longer. Not only that, but the quality of this group of job seekers has been statistically proven – according to SHRM, the national HR organization, they are typically better workers, and they’re retained longer.
- We hope recruiters are reading this article then. The founder, Richard Bronson, worked at the infamous Stratton Oakmont, the “Wolf of Wall Street” investment firm. Did the film have any impact on the success of your job board?
Richard’s journey is a fascinating one, and it has garnered some serious media attention; of course, one of the interview questions is inevitably about the film, which, according to Richard, was pretty close to real life.
- Do you do a background check on the criminals that join your job board?
Number one, we would never call the job seekers who come to us criminals. They may have committed a crime in the past, but we don’t believe the past should define them. We try to help anyone who comes to us looking, and we do not run background checks.
- That is definitely the right approach to have. Do you have to prove you have a criminal record to register? Can non ex-cons create an account?
We help everyone who comes to us, no questions asked.
- At the moment, how many jobseekers do you have using your website? How do you advertise your job board in order to attract more jobseekers?
We have an incredible pool of more than 10 million deserving men and women, to whom we market job opportunities. Rather than merely posting the job and hoping applicants will find it, we use a huge mount of outbound marketing to ensure job seekers are seeing it, including phone calls and texts, emails, and social media.
- Is there a risk of companies hiring candidates with a criminal past for the wrong reasons (like for illegal services)?
Our clients are among the very largest employers in the US. I don’t think they’re in the business of recruiting talent to commit crimes on their behalf.
- According to your website, companies can save on their federal income tax by hiring people with a criminal record. Could you give us more information on that (how it works, do you save more based on the number of ex-cons hired, does it depend on your industry, etc.).
I think you’re referring to the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC), which gave employers tax credits when they hired folks with criminal records; however that program is ending.
- That’s a shame! Finally, we have one last question: what do you predict for the future of 70 Million Jobs?
Our goal is to facilitate the employment of 1 million formerly incarcerated men and women.
We would like to thank Adrienne Hatter for taking the time to answer all our questions! We would also like to thank Richard Bronson for creating a jobsite with such a noble mission.
If you have any suggestions for our blog, just leave us a comment below!
Author: Ali Neill
As the job board tester and blog editor for the Jobboard Finder, Ali works on job boards from all around the world and keeps a close eye on the recruitment trends thanks to a number of sources, including the website’s social media pages.
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