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HonestJobs architect Harley Blakeman at the time of his arrest in 2010, and after.
In 2010, at the age of 18, Harley Blakeman was arrested for trafficking drugs. He was in Savannah, Georgia, aback admiral from a narcotics assemblage amidst his agent and pulled him from the car at gunpoint.
It wasn’t his aboriginal time alteration pills from Florida to Georgia, area bodies paid academy premiums for a fix, acceptation bigger profits; a bigger basal line. In his control that day: almost 700 pills – a aggregate of Xanax, Valium and Roxicodone, a anatomy of oxycontin – and about a bisected batter of weed. Enough to acreage him 14 months at Treutlen Acquittal Detention Center, a bastille about an hour south of Atlanta.
It hadn’t consistently been this way. He hadn’t consistently lived action on the streets. You could say, maybe, that Blakeman fell through the cracks; that he got absent in the shuffle. The bottomward slope, which started anon afterwards his parents divorced, alone accelerated when, aloof a few months later, his ancestor anesthetized away, dead in a motorcycle blow aback the boyhood was alone 15.
His mom was in and out of his life, aggressive an addiction to alcohol, he said. He and an earlier brother rotated nights blockage with friends. He alone out of school. It was additionally the acme of the civic bolus catching – and Florida stood as an epicenter. He started using. It wasn’t continued afore he was affairs them, too.
Normally, a assignment in bastille segways into a lifetime of crime; biologic offenders, for example, are added acceptable to be re-arrested than, say, appear agitated offenders. But Blakeman angry that break into article else. He becoming his GED, again a academy degree, alike appear a book to advice others acquisition careers afterwards their release.
Today, he’s branch the nation’s bigger second-chance application platform, a startup he founded in Columbus, Ohio, in 2018 alleged HonestJobs.co – a LinkedIn of sorts, but so abundant more. He’s hopeful the aggregation he’s created can advice accouterment backsliding in a big way.
“Our accomplished mission is to accomplish abiding there are added success stories, because there are so few,” Blakeman said. “It’s astonishing. There’s a problem, and we anticipate that the technology we’re creating is action to advice break that.”
Blakeman, now 28, talks aboveboard about this past, and his adventure has resonated with many. Its garnered absorption from the White House – he was arrive to appear the Aboriginal Step Act anniversary aftermost March to admire new sentencing and bastille reforms – to the lath of Kim Kardashian. While his backstory is an important piece, the accurate catalyst for HonestJobs.co started aloof afterwards academy graduation.
Blakeman had agitation landing a job. Abounding aforetime confined do; unemployment in this articulation is over 27 percent, according to the Civic Reentry Resource Center, alike admitting it’s a articulation that makes up about 30 percent of the workforce.
Blakeman had becoming his GED while abaft bars. He advised business at Columbus State Community Academy afore appointment to The Ohio State University, area he accelerating with honors, a six sigma certification, and as a appear columnist to cossack (GRIT: How to Get a Job and Build a Career with a Bent Almanac offers best methods for advantageous a bent record, such as his).
He spent hours prepping for interviews. Advised resume writing. Started networking. He met with three dozen Fortune 500 companies, got additional interviews with most. Not one fabricated an offer. He was alike honest about his bent past.
“Not a distinct aggregation was accommodating to discount it. It was heartbreaking,” Blakeman said. “[At this point] it was six years ago. Anytime since, I’d done annihilation but assignment to affected it and prove that that’s not who I am. I thought, ‘I’m a white macho with a acceptable apprenticeship and acceptable abutment system, and alike I couldn’t do it. How the hell are the added 600,000 bodies every year advancing out of bastille action to acquisition a acceptable living?’”
He eventually begin a job at Owens Corning and was bound answer to assembly supervisor. But he couldn’t agitate the admiration to do more. “Fueled by anger, passion, and grit,” it says on his LinkedIn page, HonestJobs.co.co was born.
Formally, HonestJobs.co, via its online platform, connects aforetime confined job candidates with administration accommodating to appoint them. Job seekers can browse for positions, abundant like on LinkedIn. And administration can actualize an annual and column as abounding openings as they appetite to for free.
But it’s added than aloof a job board, Blakeman said. HonestJobs.co advice administration admission the post-prison citizenry with bargain cost. And its technology helps them abate the risk.
HonestJobs.co uses an algorithm to appearance candidates job openings that action the best adventitious for hire.
HonestJobs doesn’t conduct accomplishments checks, but its proprietary PassCheck affairs allows companies to accept which bent aesthetics may battle with accessible job duties. The algorithm shows candidates which positions action the best adventitious for hire, application a sliding color-coded calibration that goes from red (the best absurd match) to orange to blooming (the best).
“Every job on our belvedere is a second-chance job, but alike second-chance jobs, best of the time, there’s some activating to it,” Blakeman said. “If you’re hiring cashiers, annexation and artifice ability disqualify a candidate. But maybe drugs won’t. Maybe a DUI won’t. Maybe alike annihilation won’t. For the aboriginal time, companies accept a way to construe that [internal screening process] at scale, after liability. It additionally saves the job appellant time – aloof like me, I spent bags of hours advancing and interviewing and actuality rejected, and it break you bottomward the point area you’d rather advertise drugs, which is why so abounding bodies go aback to prison.”
So far HonestJobs.co has admiring almost 6,000 job seekers. The startup monetizes its artefact with a paid adaptation for employers, which about 12-15 percent opt to do. About 270 businesses use the company’s job board, from Carvana to Kosh Industries and added big name brands, to mom-and-pop operations all over the country.
Under its PassCheck program, HonestJobs.com helps administration acquisition the appropriate job candidates.
He sees added befalling for HonestJobs.co to aggrandize with a afresh appear acquittal and acquittal administrator tool, alleged Connect, Clue & Verify. Acquittal and acquittal admiral about administer anywhere from 50-150 people, and the Connect, Clue & Verify web app can advice accomplish that action easier. Admiral can use it to affix audience with second-chance employment, clue their job-hunting action – a dashboard, for example, shows how abounding jobs they’ve activated for – and verify application already hired. So far, almost 100 admiral are active up.
“It’s been great. Acquittal and acquittal admiral can absolutely see who’s aggravating to get a job, and who’s not,” he said. “When addition does get hired, the job applicant can verify their application through the app, against axis in a paystub that a acquittal or acquittal administrator has to browse and file. Our arrangement does that for them securely. And acquittal and acquittal admiral accept the advantage to allure administration as well. We’re acquisitive that this will advice us calibration both abandon of the platform.”
Blakeman is planning a Series A this year to added advance his efforts; he’s been bootstrapping on an antecedent angel advance of $150,000, but added money will advice the aggregation apple-pie its belvedere – adaptation two, at least, is accepted this summer – and add several new features.
In the meantime, he continues to allotment his story, alike admitting it gets boxy sometimes. He’s beholden that today, his mother and brother, too, are clean. He hopes HonestJobs.co will move the aggravate for bigger employment. About 80 percent of felons who do acquisition assignment in their aboriginal year post-prison acquire $15,000 or less.
“Every day assorted bodies bulletin me adage they apprehend my story, and I aggressive them,” he said. “They say they’re action to accumulate pushing. They’re action to accumulate looking.”
“Yes, I went to prison. But honestly, it was the best affair to anytime appear to me,” Blakeman added. “I got sober. I begin a new direction. There’s such a big befalling actuality to advice people. There aloof hasn’t been the appropriate being to do it. I accept a different acquaintance so I ran with it. It’s been account it. One hundred percent.”
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