Businesses have open positions and unemployment in Texas remains high. Ex-detainee hiring demand reveals connection issues between job seekers and businesses

TYLER, Texas – The Unemployment Rate remains high in east texas and across the state. At the same time, companies have many open positions and many business owners claim that they cannot find anyone to fill them.

To understand today’s job market, one may first want to look at a metaphorical world: in prison.

This is where you would have, until last year, found Carlos Rosales. “I was released from federal prison probably around October,” he said. “And that’s kind of when the coronavirus was pretty strong. So, we are in confinement and looking for jobs. “

Finding a job with a criminal record is a difficult task. Many companies will not employ criminals, and others will offer them a limited number of positions depending on the crime they have been charged with. (A person convicted of multiple DWI charges, for example, is not likely to get a job in which driving is a major consideration.)

Cheri Garcia understands the challenge a former inmate faces when trying to re-enter the workforce. She founded a recruiting company called Corn bread which works specifically with Second Chance employees, as she calls them.

“Before the pandemic, it looked like a real uphill battle,” she explained. “As far as I know, I was the first for-profit recruiting agency to come up with the idea of ​​building on the success of people released from prison. And a lot of people first said to me, wow, you were really crazy, to really put your neck on a line like this. And I was like, ‘You know what, I’m crazy. But it’s OK.’ I am an entrepreneur and I believe in social entrepreneurship. So even though I really believed in what I was doing, I had a lot of hopeless moments and moments. It was a real struggle to get this business off the ground. “

Rosales was working for a telemarketing company at the end of his sentence, but Cornbread Hustle was able to find him a higher paying position in a Henri Company facility in Dallas, where he mixes paints and chemicals.

“When the pandemic happened, we were scared,” Garcia said. “We thought we were going to lose all of our jobs. But the opposite has happened.

As hundreds of thousands of Texans lost their jobs, Rosales and other former inmates were in high demand.

Garcia said the increase in unemployment insurance benefits meant many laid-off Texans had no incentive to return to work. “We discovered that people came to us looking for people who had just been released from prison, because these people are not eligible for unemployment, because they have no work history,” she explained. . “So it was actually a blessing in disguise that the cornbread campaign had the opportunity to show employers that second-chance hiring really works. “

She said companies value reliability as some companies offer an hourly bonus to employees who regularly show up on time.

Rosales said his managers are more concerned with what he can do than what he has done. “You know, they look at the value of your work,” he said. “So if you show up on time and break your ass, you are worth more to them than someone who has walked off the street.”

Garcia said another unintended consequence of pandemic unemployment contributes to the challenge companies face when hiring. the Texas Workforce Board has a job search requirement for anyone receiving Unemployment Insurance benefits, and one of the ways a person can meet this requirement is to apply for a job. Garcia said many of those applicants would rather stay unemployed than take the jobs they were applying for. She said that when recruiters call applicants for a job, only five percent are actually interested in it.

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“We have a large number of recruiters who are on the phone all day constantly, and a lot of our money and a lot of our payroll is just used to pick up the phone and call people who have applied and who are not. maybe not even really interested in working. , she said. “So this is a major problem for the industry as a whole. It hurts employees who really want to work. It hurts employers who spend time and resources, post jobs and make phone calls. And that obviously hurts production and the economy, because this is just a bunch of people chasing their tail. “

Rosales said he had already recruited three other former inmates to work with him. He and Garcia agree: If someone is looking for a job and can’t seem to find one, showing how much they want it can be the key to a new career.

“You might not have gone through the fluff,” Garcia explained. She said that a cover letter that explains why the candidate wants this specific job carries a lot of clout with recruiters. “So maybe having a more creative approach to getting the hiring manager’s attention can really help you with your search. “

Rosales mentioned that working the guide hard because he knows it will keep him on track. He believes persistence will pay off for anyone looking in this job market. “Don’t be that guy,” he advised, “who says, ‘You know, I can’t find one. So I’m not going to work. You know, you can have anything you want. I just have to want it hard enough.

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