New job board for ex-offenders and people who want to hire them

MP900400225There’s a new kid on the job board block. Before you think – “Forget it. Just one more place my resume will sink into a black hole” – take a few minutes to check it out. This is a job board with a difference.

Founded by Jeff Burke, an ex-offender himself, Haphire was created to help other ex-offenders find employment and to benefit companies by supplying candidates that will be hard-working, motivated employees. Its beta version is being launched this week.

Although he served one-year probation instead of a prison term for his crime, Burke encountered many of the same challenges all ex-offenders face when job hunting. Inspired by a desire to help others, he founded Haphire, coming up with the name by combining hire with hap, which means chance or giving people a second chance.

The difference between Haphire and other job boards will be in the increased level of confidentiality. “When an employer goes to look at a profile for a candidate they’ll see a reference number. They’ll see the job seeker’s education and resume but not their name and contact info,” says Burke. Employers will, however, see the applicant’s conviction and hopefully much more. Haphire’s goal is also to have each job seeker put together a packet of references and examples of the good things they’ve done for employers to examine.

The job listings will include the name of the hiring company and what type of criminal record they’re willing to accept, whether misdemeanors only, felonies or nonviolent felonies. Burke said that they’re currently putting together a database of employers through cold calling and Internet searches.

So far interested companies are all over the board as far as types of businesses, but most of them are small or medium in size. There’s not a charge for the job seeker, but companies must pay a fee. Nonprofits get up to 100 listings at one time for free.

“The selling point is motivated workers, tax incentives and the federal bonding program,” he says.  “Further goals we’re looking into are partnering with online or community colleges to provide discounted training for employees, so employers will get qualified employees.”

Although plans call for helping companies apply for the Work Opportunity Tax Credit, Haphire now just points them in the right direction. The WOTC is a federal tax credit of up to $2,400 given to companies for each employee hired from certain target groups that encounter serious barriers to employment. These include ex-offenders.

“I was surprised at the number of people we’ve talked to who didn’t know about the WOTC, as well as the Federal Bonding Program (that protects employers from losses due to dishonesty on the part of employees and is paid for by the federal government),” says Burke. “That opened up a lot more opportunities.”

Although Haphire is not vetting job seekers at this point, that may change in a few months, when it plans to add a program it will call Verified by Haphire. In return for a fee paid by the job seeker, Haphire will have a background check done and provide the report to employers. Burke says he is currently searching for partnerships with background-check services.

It’s only the beginning, but if things progress as planned, ex-offender job seekers will have a place to go where employers are actually looking for applicants just like them, record and all.

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