Second Chance Recruiting: A New Lease on Life

MPW recruiters strongly believe in providing second chances to potential employees who may have experienced challenges in their lives. “There are so many great stories that we have and so many good reasons to do it,” said Human Resources Director Jim Tyznik. “I think there’s a sense of pride in people who do get a second chance. I think everybody’s been compromised in their life at some point; it’s just a matter of severity. I can’t tell you how many people we hired who are second chance and grateful.”

Maleigh “MJ” Jones agrees. Today Jones is a second shift supervisor for MPW, working at the Volkswagen Group manufacturing plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee. But shortly before joining MPW, she entered a program called Sober Living America to address some former addiction issues. It was there she met with an MPW recruiter.

“Working at MPW has been challenging, but in a great way. It’s really helped me hone my leadership skills and become a leader in a way that I never thought I could be,” Jones said. “I completely started at the bottom, working in the recycling plant with the cardboard and everything, and then they offered me an opportunity to become a team lead after just a few months.”

It wasn’t long before Jones was offered a supervisory position. “I never thought I could become a supervisor or anything like that,” she said. “If I looked back a year ago or two years ago, I would never think that I would be at where I am today. MPW has really opened up these doorways for me to get exactly where I need to be in my recovery, to stand on my own two feet, be the mom that I want to be and be able to provide for my son and for myself as well. It’s been a blessing, really.”

“Getting hired at MPW can be the next step for someone who is working to make positive changes and turn their life around,” said Recruiter Paige Blanton. “I have definitely had mixed results, but there has been success from it, for sure.” She said she’s hired recruits who were in a halfway house or a recovery program when she met them. “As with any candidate pool, there are times hiring second chance doesn’t work out, but I definitely think it’s worth it for the ones who stay and really are trying to better themselves.”

Superintendent Daniel Woofter was ready to steer his life in a new direction when former Chief of Security John Schouster encouraged him to apply to MPW. “I owe him the biggest thanks for having my job and my career. If it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t be here,” Woofter said. He said Schouster encouraged him to apply to MPW and turned in an application for him. After Woofter hadn’t heard back regarding his application, Schouster told him to go for an interview, anyway, and tell them that Schouster sent him.

“When I got there, I was interviewed and hired all on the same day because John pushed me to apply,” Woofter said, adding that he began as a laborer. “John pushed me for the years I was here. He pushed me to work my way up and he’s the one who got me started into the CDL program and getting my CDL license.”

Woofter eventually worked his way to becoming a superintendent, where he’s found that he’s still doing elements of every position he’s had since joining MPW. “Our superintendents still drive and work at the site. You’re a little bit of everything. Just because you moved up, doesn’t mean you drop everything you once did,” he said.

Woofter said his past challenges motivate him to work hard to secure his present and future. “Stay positive. Don’t look at where you’ve been, look at where you can go. If you look back and dwell in the past, you’re going to live in the past. That’s 100%. You have to move on and see the potential in the future,” he said.

“Daniel has done a fantastic job for me,” said Regional Manager Aaron Applegarth. He said there are some people who are turned away, such as repeat offenders. “It all depends on that person’s situation,” he said. “If you have someone who made a mistake many years ago and hasn’t done anything wrong since, they deserve another chance. If they’re here and hired on, then their background has to be decent. So, let’s go!”

“It’s a second chance, but it’s also putting our brand name out there and making people in the community aware of who we are and the type of services that we provide,” said Recruiter Juwanna Phillips. “MPW has given me an amazing opportunity to get out there and reach people who have been in trouble, had a brush with the law or just made a bad decision.”

Phillips said she recently visited an American Job Center where a young man, about 21 years old, was looking for work. “I asked him if he had anything in his background that would stop us from hiring him,” she said. The young man explained that he got into some trouble when he was hanging out with friends and one of them had a gun in the car.

“In a situation like that, you’re guilty by association,” Phillips said. “So, he has that on his record, but the thing is, that’s where I come in to give people opportunities and say, okay, you get a do-over to get this right; you’re only 21 years old. We ended up hiring him and he’s super-excited.”

Phillips said once a second chance hire begins to work, there’s an almost immediate change. “That’s the amazing thing about this,” she said. “You start to see a person who has confidence and self-pride. And it just builds them up to this person that you saw six months ago and thought, wow, you didn’t even think they were going to make it. To see the transition; that’s the key right there.”

“Challenges for me have a lot to do with my sense of confidence, because I constantly battle with seeing who I was before,” Jones said. “This leadership thing is new, but with that being said, I have people who are behind me here at MPW who are rooting me on and helping me through it all.”

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