Harley Blakeman received an interview for every job for which he applied after graduation, but not a single job offer. With an impressive resume, a position at the top of his class and letters of recommendation, there was only one thing holding him back: his criminal record.
Because of this, Blakeman, a 2017 Ohio State alumnus, created a web-based marketplace for companies to connect with people who have a criminal history and are now seeking work.
Blakeman said he started HonestJobs in October 2018 because he realized if it was that hard for him to find a job years after being released, it would be even harder for people coming straight out of jail or prison.
“I had been to prison, and people are just scared of the idea of hiring that,” Blakeman said.
Blakeman grew up in North Central Florida and dropped out of high school when he was 16 due to a drug addiction. He started selling drugs to make a living, and eventually became homeless.
He was arrested in Georgia in 2010 and sentenced to 14 months in prison for trafficking and distributing prescription drugs, shoplifting and theft. After being released, he moved to Ohio for a fresh start.
“All I wanted to do really was just be different,” Blakeman said. “I wanted to get my life back on track and get an education and get a job and change my life.”
Blakeman was accepted to Columbus State Community College before transferring to Ohio State in 2013. He graduated in 2017 with honors from the Fisher College of Business with a degree in operations management.
Blakeman said he started HonestJobs because of the many Americans who have been convicted of a felony and are looking for a job, and he saw a huge lack of technology addressing the social issue.
According to the National Criminal Justice Reference Service, there are more than 600,000 Americans released from prisons and jails each year.
“Ultimately, our goal is to create a better job-hunting experience for people affected by the justice system,” Blakeman said.
HonestJobs is a job board equipped with custom-built software and algorithms to help companies reduce the risk of hiring ex-convicts whose convictions might conflict with job duties. Blakeman said their PassCheck technology allows employers to connect with job seekers who fit each company’s unique policies.
The service is free, but employers have the option to pay for special features, such as creating multiple job postings. The service is free for those looking for a job.
Blakeman said HonestJobs finds employers to post jobs on the site through cold calls and recommendations. They currently have 220 clients and companies such as Speedway and White Castle are among employers who came to HonestJobs through word-of-mouth recommendations.
Raven MacDaniels, senior recruiter for HonestJobs client Pioneer Human Services, said the site is easy to use and a great way to move individuals forward after being released from prison.
“It is an excellent platform for those who have been justice-involved to find second-chance employers out there,” MacDaniels said.
John Dyer, owner of Wash Bucket cleaning services, another company who uses the program, said he started his company with bad credit and no support, so he values HonestJobs’ mission.
“Every one of us has a past — whether good or bad,” Dyer said. “With the way the economy is going, we need everybody’s contribution in this society that wants to work and learn a new profession.”
According to a 2018 Society of Human Resources Management survey, 82 percent of managers of companies who have hired employees with criminal records rate the employee’s performance the same or higher as those without records.
“We’re providing a really valuable service at a time when the labor market is extremely tight,” Blakeman said. “People are struggling to find entry-level employees. We provide a real solution to that.”
Blakeman said he hopes to work more closely with local government in the future.
“We can save the government so much money and help so many people across Ohio,” Blakeman said.
What To Do When You’re Rejected For A Mobile Phone Contract
By Harriet Meyer
Many mobile phone contracts don’t require you to pay a penny upfront – even for the latest smartphone. Instead, you commit to regular payments over, say, 18 or 24 months.
But, just like other credit applications, such as for a mortgage or loan, you could be rejected for a mobile phone contract if you have a bad credit rating.
Here, we consider why you might find yourself in this frustrating position and – most importantly – what you can do about it.
Why was my contract application rejected?
It’s usually the first question on everyone’s lips when they have been turned down for credit. And the answer is that, essentially, the provider has checked your credit report and determined that you’re a high-risk customer who may fail to pay off your debt.
Providers use the information on your credit file to assess your history of managing money. So, if you’re rejected, this could be for one of the following reasons, or a combination of these:
- A history of late or missed bill payments, causing providers to see you as financially stretched, or someone who struggles to manage money
- Holding an account in joint names with someone who has a poor credit history
- You’re not registered on the electoral roll, so a provider may not be able to verify your identity and address
- County Court Judgements (CCJs) against your name, or Individual Voluntary Agreements (IVAs) on your credit record, indicating that you could face financial trouble
- Lack of credit history – you need some history of making regular payments to build up your credit history, and show that you can manage regular debt payments.
How can I check my credit score?
If you genuinely have no idea why you have been rejected, it’s worth checking your credit report. This way, you can find out what the provider was looking at when it decided not to offer you a contract.
You can do this at one of the three main credit reference agencies – Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion (formerly Callcredit). Experian offers a free service that enables you to sign up and check your credit score for a general overview. ClearScore is another free service that uses Equifax data.
The way credit scores are calculated varies between the different agencies, but they give providers an idea of how reliable you may be when you’re signing up for a contract.
What can I do if I’m rejected?
Remember that any financial contract is a commitment – so if you’re rejected, consider if it’s sensible to be signing up at all, particularly if you’re battling with other bills.
But whatever you do, avoid applying for a string of mobile phone contracts in the hope of being accepted. Each one will involve a credit search and leave a mark on your file, which could impact on your ability to get future credit, such as a mortgage.
The good news is there may be other options available which means you can still get a new phone or upgrade.
Find out more about your credit report with our guide.
Pay a deposit. The network provider may get around you having a poor credit history by asking you to pay an upfront deposit for the contract to offset any risk that you fail to make payments.
The amount of deposit will vary depending on your credit status, the package and the provider. You typically receive the deposit back once you’ve made several months’ worth of payments – typically ranging from three to 12 months.
Choose a SIM-only tariff. If you’re willing to buy a handset upfront, or already have an old phone you can use, you could opt for a pay monthly SIM-only deal. These are cheaper than full-blown contracts as you’re not receiving and paying for a phone as part of the deal.
You will still have a credit check, but you’ve got a greater chance of being accepted as payments are typically lower for these contracts, so there’s less risk for the provider.
Also, paying your monthly SIM-only bill on time will help show that you can sensibly manage a contract, which may boost your credit score over time.
Opt for a pay-as-you-go deal. If you want a phone for occasional use, then a pay-as-you-go deal might suit. Once you’ve bought a phone upfront, you pay for credit as and when needed. You won’t be tied into a contract, and will not be subject to a credit check.
Get a ‘bad credit’ contract. There are specialist companies which supply phone contracts to people with bad credit. You can do an online search to get an idea of what’s available, or speak to an adviser in a mobile phone store.
However, you may not be able to get the phone model you want, and your monthly payments may be substantially higher than for a standard contract. This is not an option to be taken lightly.
Check out family deals. You may want to ask a family member with a good credit rating to sign up to the contract. That’s if you’re opting for a family deal, when several lines may be connected to a single contract – but only one person pays the bill and undergoes a credit check.
Get a guarantor. Alternatively, you could ask someone to essentially guarantee your contract by co-signing it. But, of course, they must be comfortable being liable for any missed payments, thereby offsetting the risk for the network provider in case you default. Provided you make payments on time, this option can also gradually improve your credit rating.
Improve your credit score. To improve your chances of being accepted for a mobile phone contract or any other form of credit in the future, you can take time to improve your credit score by, for example:
- Registering on the electoral roll with your local authority
- Ensuring you don’t fall behind with monthly repayments on any bills (set up direct debits to pay them automatically)
- Sticking within your credit limit on any cards that you use and clearing the balances every month
- Check your credit report (see above) and if you find any errors, ask the agency to amend them with a ‘Notice of Correction’
Upstart vs. Sofi: Which Personal Loan Is Right for You?
Our goal here at Credible Operations, Inc., NMLS Number 1681276, referred to as “Credible” below, is to give you the tools and confidence you need to improve your finances. Although we do promote products from our partner lenders, all opinions are our own.
If you’re looking for a personal loan, you’ll likely come across Upstart and SoFi. Both companies offer flexible loans for a variety of purposes, but there are some differences to keep in mind when deciding between them.
Here’s a comparison of Upstart vs. SoFi to help you choose. Both Upstart and SoFi are Credible partners.
|Fixed rates||8.13% – 35.99% APR4||5.99% – 18.83% APR|
|Loan amount||$1,000 to $50,0005||$5,000 to $100,000|
|Loan terms||3 to 5 years4||2 to 7 years|
|Min. credit score||600
(in most states)
|Does not disclose|
|Time to fund||As soon as 1 – 3 business days6||3 business days|
|Origination fee||0% to 8% of loan amount||None|
|Income||$12,000||Check with lender|
|Residency||Available in all states except IA and WV||Available in all states except MS|
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Upstart personal loans
Founded by ex-Googlers, Upstart’s artificial intelligence platform fully automates 58% of its personal loans. It has originated $6.9 billion in loans and notably offers loans to those with less-than-perfect credit.
Upstart offers personal loans for a variety of uses — including debt consolidation loans, wedding loans, and more. You can borrow as little as $1,000 or as much as $50,000 and can expect fast loan funding.
Learn More: Personal Loan vs. Credit Card
- Lower minimum credit score: Upstart offers personal loans to borrowers with credit scores as low as 600. If you’re looking for bad credit personal loans or fair credit personal loans, Upstart could be a good choice.
- No prepayment penalties: You don’t have to worry about any fees if you pay off your loan early.
- Fast funding: If your application is accepted, you’ll likely get your money within just a few business days. In fact, Upstart says that 99% of applicants get their money after just one business day.
- Low minimum borrowing amount: You can borrow as little as $1,000 with Upstart, which could be helpful if you only need a small loan.
- Lower maximum loan amount: With Upstart, you can only borrow up to $50,000. This could make it harder to fund larger debt consolidations or bigger home improvements.
- High origination fees: With Upstart, you might pay an origination fee of up to 8% of the loan amount.
- No options for visa holders: Upstart doesn’t offer personal loans for visa holders — you must have a Social Security number to borrow with this lender.
Check out our Upstart personal loans review to learn more.
SoFi personal loans
SoFi offers a variety of financial products, including credit card consolidation loans and other types of personal loans. It also provides several perks to its members, such as unemployment protection, career coaching, and networking events.
With SoFi, you can borrow anywhere from $5,000 to $100,000. Plus, SoFi personal loans come with no fees.
Learn More: How Personal Loans Impact Your Credit Score
- Large loan amounts: You can borrow up to $100,000 in unsecured funds with SoFi. This can be useful for home improvement loans, wedding loans, and other large borrowing needs.
- Discounts available: If you sign up for autopay, you can get a discount on your SoFi personal loan. You might also qualify for a discount if you’re using other SoFi products.
- Member benefits and perks: As a SoFi member, you’ll have access to additional resources, including financial planning, career coaching, and networking events. SoFi also provides unemployment protection in case you lose your job.
- Options for visa holders: If you’re a visa holder without a Social Security number, you might still qualify for a SoFi personal loan.
- Higher credit score requirements: You’ll need good to excellent credit to qualify for a personal loan through SoFi. If you have poor or fair credit, you’ll likely need to consider other lenders.
- Higher minimum loan requirement: You’ll need to take out at least a $5,000 personal loan to borrow through SoFi. If you need a smaller loan, SoFi might not be the right choice for you.
- Longer funding time: SoFi personal loans typically take a few business days to fund. If you need a faster loan funding time, you might need to look elsewhere.
See our SoFi personal loans review for more details.
Choosing a lender for a personal loan
A personal loan could help you cover large or unexpected purchases. Before you borrow, it’s a good idea to shop around and consider as many lenders as possible to find a loan that fits your needs. Credible makes this easy — you can compare multiple lenders, like Upstart and SoFi, in two minutes.
Keep Reading: Where to Get a $10,000 Personal Loan
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