Got a record, get a job – new job site for ex-cons

05 Sep 2017

“My name is Richard Bronson and I’m the founder of 70MillionJobs.com, the internet’s first job site for the one in three American adults with criminal records. I’m something of a domain expert in this area: In the early 1990s I worked on Wall Street and some of what I did was illegal. I ended up with a 2-year Federal prison sentence. I was guilty.”

That’s how Bronson introduces his new business on the YCombinator “Hacker News” website.

The firm Bronson is referring to is Stratton Oakmont, the infamous “Wolf of Wall Street” brokerage made famous by the 2013 Martin Scorsese film of the same name.

Like every good entrepreneur, Bronson identified a need based on his own experience. He knows “first-hand how difficult it is to get on with life after going through the ‘system,’” he writes.

Bronson’s new job site creates a “safe space” where formerly incarcerated men and women can discuss their backgrounds with employers they know in advance will accept their past.

American Airlines, Coca-Cola, Best Buy, Starbucks, and Google are all featured as “fair chance employers” on the 70MillionJobs website.

“Everywhere I turned, I found doors slamming in my face,” Bronson recalled in a news release on the launch of the site. Ex-convicts tend to make great employees, Bronson stresses, because they work extra hard and don’t take their jobs for granted.

70MillionJobs.com – named after the number of Americans with a criminal record – will operate like a normal job site: free to users, employers pay to post ($99 for a single job posting for 30 days, up to $800 for featured placement). Jobs can be posted anonymously for companies concerned about association with the prison system.

Bronson hopes that additional revenue may come from municipalities “who spend tens of billions of dollars annually when someone is rearrested.” Nearly 80 percent of former inmates end up back in jail within five years of being released, according to statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Justice.

Other unique features of the site: a focus on text alerts “since many of our applicants don’t have a laptop or easy access to the internet,” and video resumes, to highlight an applicant’s “bright and personable” demeanor – something that might not come through in a written resume created by someone with “limited work experience and limited formal education”, Bronson pointed out.

Bronson may be on to something – his company was recently accepted into Y Combinator and Bronson pitched investors in August during the firm’s demo day. The site’s pitch line definitely stands out: “Make history by giving someone a second chance.”

There are some 4,000 jobs on the platform already, and a deal with Uber is in the works, reports our colleague Joel Cheesman.

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Brian Blum

Brian Blum covers the U.S., Canada and Israel for Classified Intelligence Report, and contributes to our special reports and research projects. Originally from San Francisco and now based in Jerusalem, he has been with the AIM Group since 2004. He is the president of Blum Interactive Media, specializing in writing and multimedia content development for online, print, video and audio. His clients include newspapers, universities and non-profits. He is currently working on a book about the billion-dollar bankruptcy of a once high-flying Israeli startup.

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