Recent research on how ex-felons find success in the military could have implications for private employers

ex-felons find success in the militaryThose employers who have doubts about hiring employees with criminal records may want to check out a new study that followed 1.3 million ex-offenders and non-offenders who enlisted in the U.S. military between 2002 and 2009.

Conducted by researchers at UMass Amherst, Harvard and George Washington University, the study found that ex-felons are promoted more rapidly and to higher ranks than other enlistees.

In fact, enlistees with felony waivers are 32 percent more likely to be promoted to the rank of sergeant. Felony waivers are given to those with felony convictions after an extensive “whole person review” to determine whether the potential recruit is suitable for employment.

Reasons ex-felons find success in the military

There are several reasons why those with felony waivers might find success in the military (and some of these could apply to the private sector as well):

  • The “whole person review” conducted by the military selects those that are most likely to succeed.
  • With a belief that, in general, their job prospects may be poor, recruits with felony waivers may be willing to work harder and be more invested in making the military their career.
  • Members of the military are subjected to intense discipline and are under surveillance night and day.
  • Felony-waiver enlistees in the study were twice as likely to have earned a GED and twice as likely to have some college education as non-ex-felon enlistees.

In contrast to the success of enlistees with felony waivers, however, the research found that slightly more ex-felons (6.6%) were discharged for committing a legal offense (breaking military law) than non-ex-felons (5%).

Significance of study

This study is important for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that “The military is the only large-scale employer that has accommodated the hiring of ex-felons in significant numbers,” says Jennifer Lundquist, professor of sociology and associate dean of research and faculty development for the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences at UMass Amherst and lead author on the report.

“Moreover, it carefully measures and documents their performance over time. While generalizability to the civilian labor force remains an open question, these data allow us to assess the important question of ex-offender work performance across a wide range of occupations and with multiple dimensions of performance. We hope that future research and data collection will extend this analysis to the few civilian contexts that regularly hire ex-felons to test whether our results are replicated in nonmilitary contexts.”

Although the military is not a typical employer, other recent research, such as that done by the ACLU, found that retention rates are higher, turnover is lower, and employees with criminal records are more loyal to the private-sector employers that hire them than are those without a record.

The complete study of ex-felons in the military, “Does a Criminal Past Predict Worker Performance? Evidence from One of America’s Largest Employers,” appears in the March issue of the journal Social Forces.

Good Jobs Project highlights jobs without a B.A.

Good Jobs ProjectThe Georgetown University Center for Education and the Workforce has created the Good Jobs Project to help people discover well-paying jobs that don’t require a B.A. degree. If you’re looking for a place to relocate or interested in state specific details, the project’s website offers insight into the states with the most opportunities.

A partnership between the university and JPMorgan Chase & Co., the Good Jobs Project includes an initial report, a state-by-state analysis released November 13 and an interactive tool to help those interested explore the 30 million good jobs across the U.S. that don’t require a B.A.

Good jobs without a B.A. are plentiful is a variety of fields

The original report, Good Jobs That Pay Without a B.A. highlights the facts that:

  • There are 30 million good jobs nationwide that do not require a B.A.
  • These jobs pay a minimum of $35,000 and an average of $55,000 per year.
  • In fact, 20% pay between $35,000 and $45,000, 27% between $45,000 and $55,000, and 53% more than $55,000.
  • Although blue-collar work still makes up 55% of the total number, good jobs that pay are growing rapidly in skilled service industries such as information technology, finance, healthcare, and leisure and hospitality.
  • In more and more cases, a high school diploma is no longer enough. Many blue-collar and skilled services good jobs require an A.A. degree.
  • The states that offer the most good jobs without a B.A. are California, Texas, Florida, New York and Illinois.
  • Well-paying blue-collar jobs are still strong in manufacturing, utilities and transportation.
State-by-State analysis report offers in-depth data for comparison

In the Good Jobs Project’s State-by-State Analysis report, you will learn that:

  • 23 states have seen an increase in blue-collar jobs, thanks to construction and non-manufacturing industries.
  • Some states still offer strong employment opportunities for those with just a high school education – West Virginia and Delaware rank at the top of this list.
  • Just about half of all states added good jobs for workers without B.A.s between 1991 and 2015.
  • Nine of these states have seen the greatest increase – 50% or more – in good jobs without a B.A. between 1991 and 2015. These states are Nevada, Utah, Arizona, Texas, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, and North and South Dakota.
  • While workers without B.A.s hold 45% of all good jobs nationally, in some states that percentage is much higher: 62% in Wyoming, 61% in Mississippi, 57% in Nevada, and 56% in Wyoming and Oregon, for example.

The State-by-State analysis report includes a profile of each state that covers the earning statistics for non-B.A. good job holders, the change in the number of non-B.A. good jobs between 1992 and 2015, and the top five industries and occupations for non-B.A. good jobs.

For more information about jobs that don’t require a B.A., click here.

 

 

ACLU report lauds benefits of hiring ex-offenders

hiring ex-offendersYet another study confirms the advantages to companies of hiring previously incarcerated individuals.

The recently released report, Back to Business: How Hiring Formerly Incarcerated Job Seekers Benefits Your Company, was prepared by the Trone Private Sector and Education Advisory Council for the American Civil Liberties Union.

According to the report, the problem of joblessness among those who have spent time in prison or jail is immense and needs to be solved. More than 640,000 people are released from prison each year, and nearly 75 percent of previously incarcerated individuals remain unemployed a year after they’re released. And “joblessness is the single most important predictor of recidivism.”

This lack of employment by those who have been incarcerated has a dramatic effect on our national economy, reducing the U.S. gross national product by between $78 and $87 billion in a single year.

The report states that:

“Research by economists confirms that hiring people with records is simply smart business. Retention rates are higher, turnover is lower, and employees with criminal records are more loyal. Given the costs associated with turnover and recruitment, researchers have found that “employees with a criminal background are in fact a better pool for employers.”

The report includes case studies of several companies and what they have done to achieve fair chance hiring.

Company case studies highlighted in the report

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Walmart – A case study of Walmart points out that the company has removed “the box” from its application forms and only runs a background check after a potential hire is given a conditional offer. The hiring manager and HR members are only aware of whether the applicant has been cleared for hiring and are not informed of the nature of their conviction(s).

Total Wine & More — Total Wine & More, with 127 superstores in 20 states, found that employees with criminal records had a 12 percent lower annual first-year turnover rate than those without. For cashiers it was 14 percent, merchandising employees 11 percent and wine assistants 11 percent.

eWaste Tech Systems — Richmond Va.-based eWaste Tech Systems created a comprehensive training program for the nearly 50 percent of its employees who have a criminal record. It also works with local workforce development center ResCare to provide services that these employees may need in their reentry efforts.

After showing what various companies have achieved, the report provides steps that others can take t0 create and maintain fair chance hiring:

  • Ban the box on job application forms and postpone asking applicants about their criminal history until further into the hiring process.
  • Consider each employee on a case-by-case basis, evaluating the nature of their crime and whether it’s related to the type of work they will be doing, as well as considering whatever rehabilitation efforts they have accomplished.
  • Conduct a proper background check by asking for only those convictions relevant to the job applied for. Choose a reputable agency, one certified by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS), if possible. (The report includes a list of questions to ask an agency to ensure proper information is gathered.)
  • Make sure to comply with all state and federal laws and regulations, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Fair Credit Reporting Act and various state and local Ban the Box statutes that may apply to your area.
  • Be proactive in reaching out to qualified job seekers who might have criminal records.
  • Create a process for dealing with applicants who have criminal records, and train hiring managers in this process.

Follow these steps and join a growing list of employers – more than 300 signed the Obama White House Fair Chance Hiring Pledge in 2016 – who are improving staff retention rates, and ultimately their bottom line, by hiring formerly incarcerated individuals.

CareerBuilder survey highlights job interview mistakes and what to watch out for

interview mistakesFew experiences can be more nerve wracking than being interviewed for a job. But with a bit of awareness of what can go wrong, you will be able to avoid mistakes and make a good impression.

And a good impression is crucial, because it doesn’t take hiring managers very long to make a decision. At least that seems to be the case, based on the results of a nationwide survey, conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of CareerBuilder from November 16 to December 6, 2016. Among more than 2,600 hiring and human resource managers surveyed, 51 percent said they know within the first five minutes of an interview if a candidate is a good fit for a position.

Along with doing your research about the company you’re interviewing with and practicing the answers to potential interview questions, there are some very important things to remember that will help you make a good impression.

According to those surveyed by CareerBuilder, your body language could be more important in making a positive impression than what you say. So pay attention to nonverbal communication, and be sure to avoid some common mistakes.

Learn not to make these body language mistakes

Here are the top 10 body language mistakes mentioned in the survey and the percentage of hiring managers who felt they were a problem:

  1. Failing to make eye contact: 67 percent
  2. Failing to smile: 39 percent
  3. Playing with something on the table: 34 percent
  4. Fidgeting too much in their seats: 32 percent
  5. Crossing their arms over their chests: 32 percent
  6. Having bad posture: 31 percent
  7. Playing with their hair or touching their faces: 28 percent
  8. Having a weak handshake: 22 percent
  9. Using too many hand gestures: 13 percent
  10. Having a handshake that was too strong: 9 percent

These body language mistakes are something you can memorize and try to avoid.

Worst things job applicants can do in an interview

The survey also found a few things that were even more problematic than bad body language. In fact they are the worse things that hiring managers say an applicant can do during an interview. And they could potentially ensure that you won’t get the job.

  • Candidate is caught lying about something: 66 percent
  • Candidate answers a cellphone or text during the interview: 64 percent
  • Candidate appears arrogant or entitled: 59 percent
  • Candidate dresses inappropriately: 49 percent
  • Candidate appears to have a lack of accountability: 48 percent

Keep all these tips of what to avoid in mind, and your chances of getting that job you’re after will continue to improve.

 

Northwestern University study finds ex-offender job retention rates longer than those without records

ex-offender job retentionA recent study by Northwestern University researchers should encourage employers who have considered hiring those with criminal records to do so.

A typical employee who has a criminal record is likely to have a psychological profile that is different from other employees, “with fewer characteristics associated with good job performance outcomes.”

Even so those employees are fired at about the same rate as other employees, and they tend to keep their jobs much longer.

The data covers the period from 2008 to 2014 and came from the client companies of a hiring consulting firm. These companies conducted pre-employment hiring exams that included psychological questions. The job seekers were applying to such entry-level white-collar positions as call center sales and customer service reps. About 27 percent of those with records had a higher than high school education.

The study stresses the fact that those with criminal records have such a difficult time finding employment is of serious policy concern. Some 650,000 people are released from prison every year (2013 statistics). And more than half of them are back in within three years. One of the primary reasons is that they can’t find legitimate jobs.

Initiatives such as Ban the Box legislation, EEOC regulations and Obama’s “Take the Fair Chance Pledge” have all helped provide a better chance for previously incarcerated job seekers, as have the Work Opportunity Tax Credit and Federal Bonding Program. Still many employers are reluctant to hire people from this population.

Employees with records have lower turnover rate

In the study, however, employees with records had a 13 percent lower turnover rate, saving the company $1,000 per year for each of them hired.

The researches concluded that “having a criminal background makes an employee less likely to leave voluntarily, likely to have a longer tenure and no more likely to be terminated. Since involuntary turnover is by definition associated with weaker performance ….. and turnover costly, this evidence taken together suggests that employees with a criminal background are, in fact, a better pool for employers.”

There was some increased incidents of employment related misconduct leading to termination, but these tended to be in sales positions. Whether the behavior is related to higher stress caused by the demands of sales positions or inherent personality traits among some of those with criminal records that might make them incompatible with this type of job is unknown.

In spite of some positive statistics that might encourage more employers to hire job seekers with criminal records, the researchers admit that more study needs to be done. The employers were aware, for example, that the people they hired had criminal records, which may have affected the way they chose them.

Also, a decrease in discrimination against those with criminal records might give a broader population of ex-offenders a chance, thus changing the applicant pool which could affect the length of tenure.

Although more needs to be learned, two things are for sure. The more formerly incarcerated people get steady jobs, the less likely they are to return to prison. And they can be a good bet and worth hiring.

 

RAND Corp. study calls for greater attention to inmate education

classroom-381900_640In its “How Effective is Correctional Education, and Where do We Go From Here?” research report, the RAND Corp. evaluated the content, funding and future of education programs at correctional facilities across the U.S.

Through funding from the Second Chance Act of 2007, the Bureau of Justice Assistance of the U.S. Department of Justice engaged RAND Corp. to research the status of correctional education. The results, laid out in this thought-provoking report released last year, call for more attention and research to be dedicated to this crucial issue.

With 40% of the 700,000 people who are released from federal and state prisons each year reincarcerated within three years, something has to be done – and that something should start with education and vocational programs that will help give them the skills they need to gain employment and stay out of prison, the study contends.

RAND researchers looked at four types of education: instruction in such basic skills as reading, writing and arithmetic; high school education to prepare for the GED; vocational education; and college level classes that could lead to an A.A. or B.A. degree. One requirement to be considered was that the education program take place – at least in part – within a correctional facility.

In evaluating 58 previous empirical research studies – selected from 1,112 conducted between 1980 and 2011 – the RAND researchers discovered that “on average, inmates who participated in correctional education programs had a 43% lower odds of recidivating than inmates who did not.”

They also found that “the odds of obtaining employment post-release among inmates who participated in correctional education (either academic or vocational/career and technical education programs) were 13% higher than the odds for those who did not.”

The study included the RAND Correctional Education Survey, a web-based survey of correctional education directors in all 50 states conducted in July 2013. Representatives of 46 out of the 50 states responded.

The survey revealed that:

  • Most states provide basic education, vocational educational/CTE programs and GED courses.
  • 32 states provide secondary and post-secondary education.
  • 24 states have a mandatory education participation requirement for those without a high school diploma or GED.

In spite of the critical need for computer skills to get work these days, many states’ correctional facilities are lacking in computer training:

  • 39 states offer desktop computers and 17 states laptops for use for instructional purposes.
  • 24 states offer Microsoft Office certification.
  • 26 states prevent inmate students from access to Internet technology.

After studying data and the educational situations in 46 states, the RAND Corp. came up with a series of recommendations that include:

  • Determine what works and what doesn’t work so that “policymakers and state correctional education directors can make informed trade-offs in budget discussions.”
  • Encourage governments and nonprofits to fund “evaluations of programs that illustrate different educational instructional models, that are trying innovative strategies to implement technology and leverage distance learning in the classroom, and are analyzing what lessons from the larger literature on adult education may be applied to correctional education.“
  • “Conduct new research on instructional quality in correctional education settings and on ways to leverage computer technology to enhance instruction.”
  • “Conduct a summit at the state and federal levels with private industry about what opportunities are available to formerly incarcerated individuals and what skills will be needed in the future.”

For more information about the nonprofit RAND Corp. and the research it does visit its website.

 

Survey shows companies look beyond criminal record in hiring

Background CheckWhile the thought of a background check is enough to make anyone with a record cringe, a recent survey of employers on the subject reveals some rather surprising results.

The survey, The Unvarnished Truth: 2014 Top Trends in Employment Background Checks, was conducted by EmployeeScreenIQ, a Cleveland, Ohio-based international background check company early this year. Nearly 600 executives, managers and others representing a wide variety of companies – ranging in size from less than 100 to 5,000 employees – filled it out.

Compared with the previous year – the company does this annually – results show that more companies are adopting the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s guidelines on background checks. At the same time, however, the majority are still asking for self disclosure – “the box” – which the EEOC recommends not including on employment applications.

Key findings of the report

Here are some of the key findings that indicate respondents’ current practices. Of respondents:

  • 45% refused to hire job candidates with criminal records only 5% of the time or less, meaning that they look beyond the applicant’s criminal background to consider their qualifications, dedication and references in making hiring decisions.
  • 88% have adopted the EEOC’s guidance on how to use criminal background checks, a significant increase over the 32% of the year before.
  • 66% still include “the box” on applications, in spite of the EEOC’s recommendation not to do so.
  • 8% said they automatically disqualify candidates who indicate that they have a criminal conviction prior to a background check.
  • 64% conduct individual assessments of those with criminal conviction records, going beyond their past to consider their qualifications.
  • 38% search online for candidate information as part of the hiring process, with LinkedIn the most commonly looked at site (visited by 80% of those who do online searches; followed by a general search on Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc. by 63%; and Facebook by 48%).
  • 50% refuse to hire 90% or more people who have lied on their resumes, indicating that falsifying information included on resumes may be worse than having a criminal record.
  • 14% conduct credit checks on everyone they hire. Counter to popular belief that most companies are running credit checks, 57% of respondents to the survey don’t do them at all.

Additional insight

Among other notable findings were the types of conviction records that would disqualify candidates from employment. Among them, 88% of respondents would disqualify an applicant with a felony for a violent crime, and 82% would do so for someone with a felony for theft or a crime related to dishonesty.

On the other end of the spectrum, only 8% would disqualify someone with a charge that didn’t result in a conviction, only 15% for minor infractions or driving offenses and 35% for a misdemeanor drug offense. In some situations, like in the case of driving or drug-related misdemeanors, the candidates may be disqualified because of the nature of the job they’re applying for (those that might involve driving or access to medications, for example).

When given a list of options that might make a company more likely to hire someone with a “troubling criminal conviction,” 46% mentioned a certificate of rehabilitation issued by a court or legal agency. Twenty-three percent said indemnification or other safe harbor relief from negligent hiring claims, such as The Federal Bonding Program.

Six percent said a tax credit, which could be the Work Opportunity Tax Credit, a federal tax credit that employers who hire members of certain hard-to-hire groups can take advantage of. While some employers would consider these options, 41% said that nothing would make them more likely to hire candidates with troubling criminal records.

When asked how far back employers go in their criminal records search, 41% go more than seven years, 38% go six to seven years, 13% go four to five years, and 8% go three years or less.

For more details, download the entire report at the EmployeeScreenIQ website.

 

St. Louis Federal Bank highlights best job search technique

Compass ConceptIn a recent study by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis,  James D. Eubanks, research analyst, and David G. Wiczer, economist, set out to figure out why, in spite of the fact the recession ended five years ago, the level of unemployment remains high. They wanted to see if it had anything to do with the techniques job seekers were using to look for employment.

And, in fact, it did. What they found revealed some interesting, but not particularly surprising, conclusions that were highlighted in an article published early this year.

The two researchers analyzed data gathered between 1976 and 2011 from the Current Population Survey, a survey of households conducted monthly by the U.S. Census Bureau for the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In this survey, unemployed respondents are asked “What have you been doing in the last four weeks to find work?” and given a variety of choices as answers.

According to the survey results and authors’ calculations, the most popular job search method was contacting employers directly which was used by 65.7% of respondents. The second most popular method was answering ads, done by 25.8%, and contacting public employment agencies, done by 22.5%. Because job seekers could use more than one method, the figures total more than 100%.

Not only was contacting employers the most popular method, but it also was more effective than any of the others. More effective than employment agencies. More effective than networking with friends and relatives.

Again based on the Current Population Survey and authors’ calculations, they estimated the probability that a job seeker would gain employment using the various methods. During the first month of unemployment, the probability that those who contact employers directly will find a job is 46%. The probability for those placing or answering ads is 42% and networking with friends or relatives, 40%.

As time progresses, the probability that one method will work better than another gradually converges, and after one year they’re all about 20% effective, with only roughly a 2% difference from each other.

What you can do

This study once again confirms what we, at Jails to Jobs, have found to be the most effective job search technique – contacting hiring managers directly.

We recommend putting together a list of 100 employers who have the types of jobs you might be interested in. You can set boundaries like how far you’re willing to commute and the size of company you want to work for.

But don’t ignore the smaller employers. Depending on the type of work you do, you may want to concentrate on them. Companies with fewer than 250 employees hire nearly 75% of all workers in the U.S., and their hiring managers may be easier to get in touch with, since small companies are often less bureaucratic.

The list you compile should have the name of the company, its address, telephone number and the name of the hiring manager for the company or the department you would like to work in, if you can find it. Department managers, who usually function as the hiring managers, are sometimes listed on company websites or you might be able to find them by searching LinkedIn.

Pick up the phone

After you have your list together, the next thing to do is pick up the phone and call.

If you don’t have a name, tell the person who answers the phone, “I am trying to find out the name of the person who hires in (department). I want to send them a letter. How do you spell their last name? What is their official title?”  If they’re not sure, ask if they have a company directory handy and can look it up. Also try to get the person’s email address if at all possible, by saying “By the way, what’s that person’s email address?

Wrong extensions can often help direct you to the right person. Dial extensions starting with 1 or 2 and ask who is the hiring manager for whatever department you would  like to work in.

Avoid human resource departments. They support hiring managers during the selection process but don’t typically decide who gets hired. Their primary purpose is to screen you out.

Call – email – call – call

If the hiring manager answers the phone, you can give them a 15-second scripted message selling your strengths and saying you would like to get together to find out about opportunities at their company. Even if there are no job openings, it’s good to meet with a hiring manager, because they may know of a job in a different department or another company or know about you for the next time a job comes up in their department.

These days, however, most busy people can be difficult to get a hold of, so you will probably be leaving a voice-mail message. When you do, tell them you’ll send them an email – if you’ve been able to get their email address.

When you send the email explaining that you would like to set up an appointment to come talk to them, also include a resume, if you have a good one, or a JIST card, which just has your contact information and a short listing of your abilities and strengths. A JIST card is perfect for someone who has gaps in their resume or doesn’t have an extensive history of employment.

If you don’t hear back from them by phone or email in a couple of days, call them again. If you don’t hear the second time, wait for a week and try once more. If that doesn’t work, move on and continue calling others on your list.

Just walk in

Visit any employer, factory or office that interests you. Be friendly to the receptionist or whoever you meet when you walk in and ask to speak to the hiring manager of the department you’re interested in. It would be best if you called ahead to ask who that would be, so you can ask for that person by name.

If they’re willing to meet with you, talk to them about your skills and ask them for advice. If the hiring manager isn’t there, ask to talk to someone else in the department. Just have a brief chat, about five minutes. This may establish a valuable contact. When you call the hiring manager later, you can mention you met their colleague and are interested in learning more about working at their company.

A numbers game

Looking for a job is a numbers game. The more contacts you make, the more people you call, the more resumes or JIST cards you send out and the more interviews you go on, the greater your chance of finding someone who will be happy to hire you. If you look at it this way, you’ll be more likely to keep on calling than to get discouraged. Experts say that it is actually your job search activity that will sustain your spirit and keep you going until you find a job.

We’d love to hear success stories from people who used this technique. Please send them to info@jailstojobs.org.

 

Medical study proves relaxation techniques reduce stress

thinking businessmanPeople deal with job search-related stress in various ways. Some of these ways are healthy, like exercise, getting sufficient sleep and eating a proper diet. Some are not so healthy, like an obsession with the Internet, overeating and turning to alcohol or drugs. An increasingly popular and effective way to deal with stress of any kind is practicing such relaxation techniques as meditation, yoga, deep breathing or prayer, and a recent study by researchers in Boston is just the latest to confirm the value of these techniques by studying what’s known as the relaxation response.

The research, conducted by investigators at Boston’s Benson-Henry Institute for Mind/Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, found that when people are able produce the relaxation response – a physiologic state that alters the physical and emotional response to stress – immediate changes occur at the genetic level in their bodies.

Previous studies have documented how the relaxation response both alleviates symptoms of anxiety and many other disorders and also affects factors such as heart rate, blood pressure, oxygen consumption and brain activity. A 2008 study found that long-term practice of the relaxation response changed the expression of genes involved with the body’s response to stress. (Gene expression is a way that genes convey information that is used in the creation of certain products like proteins.)

The current study examined changes produced during a single session of relaxation response practice, as well as those taking place over longer periods of time.

Although many studies have proved that the relaxation response can reduce stress and enhance wellness, for the first time the key physiological means by which these benefits might be induced have been identified, according to Herbert Benson, MD, director-emeritus of the Benson-Henry Institute. And now researchers have a better understanding of how this might work.

Effect of relaxation response

The study enrolled a group of 26 healthy adults who had no previous experience in relaxation response practice. They completed an eight-week relaxation response training course, which began by them listening to a 20-minute health education CD about relaxation. Blood tests were given before and after they listened to the CD, as well as after the training was completed.

A set of blood samples was also taken from another group of 25 participants –  people who had between four and 25 years of experience using different techniques to elicit the relaxation response – both before and after they listened to the same relaxation response CD as those going through the eight-week program.

The blood samples revealed significant changes in gene expression, or the way several important groups of genes conveyed information, between the initial samples and those taken after the training was completed. Pathways controlled by the activation of a protein called NF-κB – known to have a prominent role in inflammation, stress, trauma and cancer – were suppressed in the bodies of the participants after they were able to produce the relaxation response they learned in the training program.

While this and other research helps doctors and scientists better understand exactly what impact relaxation techniques have on the body, it’s just a beginning. The same researchers who conducted this study are expanding their efforts to examine how the changes induced by mind/body interventions affect pathways involved in such diseases as hypertension and inflammatory bowel disease.

Resources

For more information, visit the Massachusetts General Hospital’s website at www.massgeneral.org/about/pressrelease.aspx?id=1583

For more information about the benefits of meditation see Action Plan, Meditation Why Bother?: A Taste of Mindfulness Meditation at www.jailstojobs.org/html/meditation.html

Many hospitals, doctors, social workers and others across the U.S., including Kaiser Permanente in Northern California, teach classes in mindfulness based stress reduction that focuses on meditation and relaxation. The courses are based on the work of Jon Kabat-Zinn, professor-emeritus of medicine and founding director of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts. You can find a program in your area by visiting w3.umassmed.edu/MBSR/public/searchmember.aspx

For online meditation instructions and places to learn and practice from a Buddhist perspective check out www.buddhanet.net/insight.htm

 

CareerBuilder surveys employers on their hiring of ex-offenders

Hiring and human resources managers across the nation filled out surveys concerning ex-offender hiring.

Most employers are open to hiring ex-offenders, at least according to a major study from CareerBuilder. In fact, 51 percent of those surveyed reported that their organizations have at one point hired someone with a criminal record.

The online survey of 2,298 U.S. hiring managers and human resource professionals was conducted by Harris International on behalf of CareerBuilder between May 14 and June 4, 2012. CareerBuilder, a company specializing in human capital solutions, is best known for its careerbuilder.com job-search website, which receives more than 24 million unique visitors per month.

Why the attention to ex-offenders? “CareerBuilder looks at a variety of employment issues throughout the year,” says company spokesperson Michael Erwin. “This was our first survey that focused on criminal backgrounds and based on the positive response to it, we will most likely redo it next year.”

The survey respondents made many recommendations on what job seekers with criminal records can do to make themselves more marketable to employers. Those who work with ex-offenders have no doubt heard most of these recommendations before but may not realize where they rank in importance among hiring and HR managers.

“The number one recommendation hiring managers have is to own your past and focus on what you learned from it to grow professionally and personally,” said Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder. “You also want to stay active. Taking classes, volunteering and tapping into social networks can be good ways to help overcome obstacles associated with job hunting with a criminal past.”

What things – in order of importance – that ex-offenders can do to make themselves more marketable, according to the survey results:

  • Be up-front and honest about the conviction and stress what you learned from it (68 percent)
  • Be willing to work your way up (48 percent)
  • Stay positive (46 percent)
  • Prepare while you’re in prison by taking classes or getting a degree or vocational training (39 percent)
  • Don’t apply to jobs where your record would automatically disqualify you (31 percent)
  • Volunteer (31 percent)
  • Take freelance or temporary assignments (26 percent)
  • Consider joining the military (18 percent)
  • Start your own business (16 percent)
  • Monitor what is said on social media (13 percent)

Those looking for a job should follow these recommendations and might also want to check out careerbuilder.com, which includes listings for a wide variety of jobs, from construction and customer service to restaurant and retail and opportunities in countless other fields.

For more information, visit www.careerbuilder.com