Does Walmart Hire Felons?

Does Walmart Hire Felons?


This article sheds light on whether Walmart hires felons, exploring their policies, initiatives, and the real experiences of individuals seeking a second chance in the workforce. Finding gainful employment is a critical step toward rehabilitation and reintegration for individuals with felony convictions. However, the stigma associated with a criminal record can significantly hinder this process. Among the companies known for their inclusive hiring practices, Walmart, the largest retailer and private employer in the United States, is often scrutinized. 


Background on Employment Challenges for Felons

Individuals with felony convictions face substantial barriers to employment, a foundational element for successful reintegration into society. According to the National Institute of Justice, over 60% of ex-offenders are unemployed one year after release. This high unemployment rate is not just a reflection of the individual's willingness to work but also the hesitancy of employers to hire them. The stigma of a criminal record and legal restrictions for certain positions limit the opportunities available to these individuals. As a result, many ex-offenders find themselves in a vicious cycle where the lack of employment increases the likelihood of recidivism. Former inmates who secure employment have a significantly lower rate of returning to criminal activity than those who remain unemployed after release. Specifically, the recidivism rate for employed former inmates is 33%, whereas it is 71% for those who are jobless after their release from incarceration. This context highlights the importance of companies like Walmart and their policies toward hiring individuals with criminal backgrounds.


Walmart's Hiring Policies

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Walmart's approach to hiring individuals with criminal backgrounds has been the subject of discussion and legal action. While the company has been accused of having a centralized policy of denying jobs to individuals with criminal convictions, regardless of rehabilitation efforts and mitigating circumstances, Walmart has stated that it uses an "individual circumstance" review process to determine whether an applicant's criminal history would have any bearing on the job they see. 


In 2014, Walmart took a significant step by announcing the removal of the criminal history question from its application forms. However, it's important to note that while Walmart is open to hiring felons, it makes decisions on a case-by-case basis. Factors such as the nature of the offense, the time elapsed since the conviction, and the relevance of the conviction to the job applied for are considered. This approach allows Walmart to maintain safety and trust while providing opportunities for rehabilitation and reentry into the workforce.


Programs and Initiatives for Felon Employment at Walmart

Walmart is a signatory of the Fair Chance Business Pledge, which is a commitment to providing individuals with criminal records, including formerly incarcerated individuals, a fair chance to participate in the American economy. By signing the pledge, Walmart has demonstrated an ongoing commitment to take action to reduce barriers to a fair shot at a second chance, including practices such as "banning the box" by delaying criminal history questions until later in the hiring process and ensuring that information regarding an applicant's criminal record is considered in proper context. This initiative aligns with Walmart's commitment to creating economic opportunity and inclusive hiring practices.


How to Apply for a Job at Walmart as a Felon

When seeking employment at Walmart with a felony on your record, it's crucial to approach the application process strategically to enhance your chances of being hired. Here's a revised guide, incorporating advice from HelpForFelons.org, on how to apply for a job at Walmart as a felon:


Job or Position Selection

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  • Choose the Right Position: Your employment likelihood improves if you opt for jobs that are less likely to examine criminal histories heavily. It's advisable to avoid seeking management, safety-critical, or driving positions at the start. Positions like Cart Attendant/Janitorial Associate, Cashier/Front End Associate, and Stocker/Backroom/Receiving Associate are more readily available, providing an opportunity to demonstrate your capabilities and work towards higher positions in the future.

  • Avoid Certain Departments Specifically, steer clear of positions in sporting goods if they involve selling firearms or ammunition, as a felony will lead to immediate disqualification upon a background check.


Filling Out the Walmart Application

  • Application Process: Walmart's application process is online and designed to be straightforward. 

  • Attention to Detail: Ensure your application is free from errors and completely honest, especially regarding past addresses and work history. Walmart conducts thorough background checks; any discrepancies can jeopardize your chances.

  • Availability: Demonstrating open availability can make you a more attractive candidate, showcasing flexibility valued by Walmart.

  • Assessment Test: After the application, you'll be prompted to take an assessment test. Performing well on this test can significantly improve your hiring chances.


Interview Preparation

The interview is your opportunity to make a strong impression. Consider researching effective interview techniques, focusing on how to address your felony conviction constructively.


Addressing Your Felony:

  • Timing: Wait until the end of the interview, often when asked if you have any questions, to bring up your criminal record. This lets the interviewer form a positive opinion based on your qualifications and character first.
  • Explanation: Briefly explain the circumstances of your felony, focusing more on how you've changed and what you've done to improve yourself since then. Emphasize education, skills gained, and your commitment to a positive future at Walmart.
  • Documentation: Prepare a brief letter about your felony and how you've changed, supported by relevant awards, certifications, diplomas, or letters of reference. Present this to the interviewer along with your verbal explanation.


Post Interview

Patience is Key: While follow-ups are standard advice, it's best to wait and see the outcome in this scenario. Walmart has a history of hiring individuals with felonies, so maintain a positive outlook without setting unrealistic expectations.


Adhering to these guidelines and approaching the application process with honesty and preparedness can increase your chances of securing employment at Walmart, even with a felony conviction. This approach demonstrates your commitment to turning over a new leaf. It aligns with Walmart's inclusive hiring practices, aimed at giving every applicant a fair chance at proving their worth and potential.


Tips for Success:

  • Highlight any rehabilitation efforts, such as education or volunteer work.
  • Seek references who can vouch for your character and work ethic.
  • Be patient and positive. The process may take time, but opportunities are available for those who demonstrate their commitment to change.


Conclusion

Walmart's inclusive hiring practices serve as a beacon of hope for individuals with felony convictions seeking employment. By providing a fair chance to all applicants, Walmart not only aids in the rehabilitation and reintegration of ex-offenders but also enriches its workforce with diverse experiences and perspectives. This article underscores the importance of giving everyone a fair opportunity to contribute positively to society, regardless of their past. Employers across all sectors are encouraged to adopt similar inclusive hiring practices, recognizing the potential within each individual to grow, change, and make meaningful contributions to their communities and the economy.


This comprehensive exploration of Walmart's hiring policies, coupled with practical advice for applicants, aims to inspire both individuals and employers to embrace inclusivity, thereby fostering a more equitable and productive society.


Ngonidzashe Nzenze
Consultant
This article was written by Ngonidzashe a Consultant at Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt) Ltd

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