LinkedIn group debates effectiveness of using employer hiring lists

A recent lively discussion on LinkedIn’s Ex-Felon’s Employment Resource group brings up the issue of the validity of lists, in this case’s List of Employers Who Hire Felons.

The discussion was launched when a member who works for Goodwill Industries in Texas posted a link to the Ranker site, which includes an extensive list of companies – ranging from Abbott Labs and Ace Hardware to U.S. Cellular and United Airlines, 134 in all – who hire ex-offenders. Or do they?

Reponses from members varied, but about twice as many respondents didn’t think using the list is a good idea as those who did. Here are a few examples of what people wrote:

  • This list is a good idea, and I plan to use it for my clients.
  • These lists are often outdated, and most employers do not want to be included in them anyway.
  • Just because a company said yes – or even no – once, they might have a different response another time. Many companies on the list are large corporations with branches nationwide, and policies and hiring managers change..
  • There were concerns about whether employers gave permission to be on the list in the first place or even know they’re on it.

Larry Robbin, a San Francisco, Bay Area-based nationally known expert in the area of workforce development, advises in his workshops for job developers: “If you have a list burn it.” Any contacts where you’ve made placements will not want to be on such a list and may stop taking your referrals, he has warned. All referrals should be case-by-case and never distributed in a list form.

Create your own list

In the end, using a list that someone else put together can be very limiting or even ineffective. First of all you have no idea when the list was created or how. It can also give you or your clients false hope, and there may be other employers in your local community who might be more suitable for a job seeker’s talents than those on the list.

In fact, according to a survey of 2,298 U.S. hiring managers and human resource professionals conducted for CareerBuilder earlier this year, 51 percent of employers surveyed worked for organizations that had hired ex-offenders.

Instead of using a list prepared by someone else, it would be better to put together your own list, doing research on the local companies and small businesses in your area that you may want to work for. A list of 100 companies should be adequate to launch a thorough job search.

Here’s how to do it

Choose an industry. Decide what type of industry you want to work in

Decide company size. Don’t just go after large companies. In fact, in many cases smaller companies – those with 250 employees or less – might be a better choice. It is these smaller companies that hire 75 percent of all workers in the U.S.

Create boundaries. Create the physical boundaries of the area in which you would like to work. For example, you may only want to consider companies within 30 miles, or whatever you consider a a reasonable commute, of where you live.

Search for companies. You can do this in a variety of ways:

  • LinkedIn – Go to and click on “companies” on the bar across the top of the home page. Then click on the blue “search” button on the left column of the next page. You can choose “industries.” This function brings up companies all over the world in those industries, but if you put in a specific city, it will only call up companies in that area. You can further refine the search by selecting the size of a company in terms of number of employees.
  • One-Stop Career Center’s employer locater – Go to You can search this database by industry, location or occupation. It will pull up all the companies in a certain area that match your criteria and give you the name of each company and its address, telephone number and approximate number of employees.
  • Yellow Pages – If you don’t have a computer, you can search the Yellow Pages for companies.
  • Rating sites – If you’re looking for service-related work with a small business, use rating websites like Yelp (, Home Advisor ( or Diamond Certified ( in the San Francisco Bay Area. They offer reviews of various businesses, so you can get a better idea of the products and services they offer, as well as contact information.

To join in the conversation, join LinkedIn and the Ex-Felons Employment Resource Group, which has more than 1250 members and includes thoughtful discussions and insightful information.

Although we recommend coming up with your own list, if you’d like to take a look at what Ranker put together, check out the List of Companies That Hire Ex-offenders

We’d also like to know if you’ve had any experience working with any lists like that at and what you think about them.


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Posted in Employers.

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