Would you hear out an ex-con’s job plea?

As this morning’s Daily Circuit on MPR pointed out, a public meeting is being held tonight to discuss Target’s practices regarding job applicants with criminal records.

Target wouldn’t appear on the broadcast, but issued a statement about its policies saying the background check eliminates “only those applicants whose convictions could pose a significant risk to our guests, team members or property. Examples of these convictions include serious violence, theft, sex and drug crimes.”

Coincidentally, an advertising campaign has just been released in the U.K., to encourage people to give ex-cons a break. The campaign uses this online video to make the point about how quickly ex-cons can be dismissed.

Click the image to watch the video on the website, Ban the Box.


As the video starts, a typical “skip ad” box appears. After you hit it, the ex-con is more desperate than the time before and eventually realizes he’s going to get nowhere with you.

The campaign is designed to eliminate the mandatory box on job applications in the U.K. requiring people to disclose a criminal past.

Says the AdFreak blog:

Director Dougal Wilson keeps the job seeker in center-frame at all times, slowly zooming closer if “Skip Ad” isn’t pressed and giving the guy a larger, more confident presence in the room. But, if the button is pressed several times, the camera pulls back toward the interviewer’s desk and leaves the ex-con looking small and fearful.

It’s a subtle but effective visual device and underscores the message that denying this guy a chance to be heard is like locking him up all over again and throwing away the key.