A new non-profit group is putting the spotlight on Iowans who’ve made the most of “second chances” and recognizing the companies that have hired them. Kyle Horn is the founder of the “Iowa Job Honor Awards” program. “The case that we attempt to make is not for the indiscriminate hiring of candidates with ‘red flags’ but rather fair consideration of individuals, so that people whose lives are demonstrably on a new trajectory, so they’re given a fair shot,” Horn says. “Certainly not all individuals with ‘red flags’ in their background change, but some do.”
A criminal history can be a big “red flag” that sidelines job opportunities in the future, but Horn says physical or intellectual disabilities as well as a lack of marketable skills also put a job-seeker at a disadvantage. “Many of those individuals, their lives are completely on a new track, they have great skills, they’re looking for a job and, once hired, they become an incredibly and committed employee,” Horn says.
“…Unfortunately, a lot of employers have pre-screen requirements that automatically exclude such candidates and the case we make is that there are some individuals…who have overcome those barriers. They not only make acceptable employees, they make outstanding employees and a lot of the employers who have taken a chance on them report they tend not to have the sense of entitlement that we see so frequently with other candidates. but rather a sense of appreciation and commitment to the job.”
The first “Iowa Job Honor Awards” were handed out in 2014. This year’s recipients include Haley Equipment in Carroll, a family-owned business that sells and repairs heavy equipment. Workforce Solutions in Burlington was also recognized for helping people find a job after they’ve been released from prison. Horn’s vision is to spread this kind of a spotlight beyond Iowa’s borders. “We’re rolling out the Wisconsin Job Honor Awards later in 2015 and plan to continue to move on, state-by-state, until we’ve covered the nation,” Horn says.
One of the individual Iowans honored this year is Edward Roberson, of Ankeny, a veteran who got job after his release from prison and just got married. The other individual is Angela Avila, of Afton, who suffered from a social anxiety disorder. She was praised for conquering her fears and being willing to work as an intern before she was hired full-time.