Key Points

  • In today’s tight labor market, employers are more open to hiring applicants with criminal records.
  • Job postings on Indeed noting fair chance employment policies have climbed 31% from May 2019.
  • The share of job searches using phrases like ‘felon friendly’ and ‘no background check’ has risen 45% since May 2021. 

In a tight labor market, employers must widen search criteria to find the workers they need. One often-overlooked pool of job seekers consists of those with arrest or conviction records. Some 70-100 million people in the US have criminal records and these can severely limit employment options. Policies that stop the practice of asking applicants about experiences with the criminal justice system, such as “ban the box,” have gained momentum in recent years. Still, prior arrests or criminal convictions are often substantial barriers to employment. 

Now that employers find it hard to fill positions, some are starting to widen their search to include people with criminal records, sometimes advertising fair chance hiring policies. This is the practice of not discriminating against a job seeker because of past arrests or involvement with the criminal justice system. In May 2022, the percentage of job postings on Indeed advertising fair chance hiring was up 31% from May 2019.

 At the same time, job seekers are recognizing a tight labor market may offer the opportunity to get work despite a criminal past. The share of job searches using phrases like ‘felon friendly’ and ‘no background check’ has jumped 45% since May 2021. 

Fair chance hiring is being advertised more

Line graph titled “Fair chance job postings on the rise.” With a vertical axis ranging from 0% to 3.0%, Indeed tracked the percent of job postings advertising fair chance hiring between January 1, 2018 and June 1, 2022. 

Employers practice fair chance hiring in a variety of ways, such as avoiding questions about criminal convictions until a conditional offer is made or disregarding arrests if a conviction was dismissed. Some have taken the extra step of highlighting their policies in job descriptions, using phrases like “fair chance hiring” and “applicants with conviction records will not be excluded.” Such posting language signals jobseekers with criminal records will be considered. 

In May 2022, 2.5% of US job postings on Indeed advertised fair chance hiring, up from 1.9% in May 2019. Fair chance language appeared in postings across a variety of occupational sectors.  Among the top fair chance job titles by posting volume were barista, shift leader and store manager. 

Job seekers increasingly looking for fair chance opportunities

Line graph titled “Searches for fair chance work increase.”
Line graph titled “Searches for fair chance work increase.” With a vertical axis ranging from 0 to 400, Indeed tracked the share of searches per million that were for fair chance job postings between January 1, 2018 and June 1, 2022. 

Job seekers appear to understand employers are increasingly willing to hire job seekers impacted by the justice system. Searches containing phrases like “fair chance,” “no background check,” or “felon friendly” have risen substantially in the past year. As of May 2022, the share of such searches was up an impressive 117% from May 2019. Today’s tight labor market is pulling jobseekers with criminal records into the workforce, a development many jobseekers are eager to take advantage of.


Employer demand for workers continues to be strong. To find the staff they need, many are turning to often-overlooked groups, including people with criminal records. Advertising fair chance hiring in job postings may continue to accelerate if the labor market remains tight. At the same time, the share of jobseeker searches for fair chance hiring job postings has steadily risen in the past year. 

The rising employment of people with criminal records may have a beneficial and long-lasting social impact. Research shows having a job helps reduce recidivism — so getting an ex-convict into the workforce could be a real plus for society. And at the same time, employers might be able to make hires that they’ve been struggling to find by considering this overlooked population.   


We define fair chance hiring job postings using an extensive list of keyword terms like “fair chance hiring,” “applicants with conviction records will not be excluded,” and “arrest record will not disqualify.” Interest in felon-friendly job postings is defined as any search query containing “no background check,” “felon friendly,”  “felony friendly,” “second chance,” or “fair chance.”

The number of job postings on, whether related to paid or unpaid job solicitations, is not indicative of potential revenue or earnings of Indeed, which comprises a significant percentage of the HR Technology segment of its parent company, Recruit Holdings Co., Ltd. Job posting numbers are provided for information purposes only and should not be viewed as an indicator of performance of Indeed or Recruit. Please refer to the Recruit Holdings investor relations website and regulatory filings in Japan for more detailed information on revenue generation by Recruit’s HR Technology segment.