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How a Felony Can Make it Impossible to Get Hired

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J.T. & Dale Talk Jobs is the largest nationally syndicated career advice column in the U.S. and can be found at JTandDale.com.

Dear J.T. & Dale: My friend lost his job and can’t find another. Ten years ago, while he was on disability for a back injury, he did a plumbing job for a neighbor. His ex-wife turned him in. Therefore, he has a felony on his record. Is this why he isn’t getting hired? — Georgia

J.T.: If he’s checking “yes” to “Have you ever been convicted of a felony?” then he probably isn’t going to get hired. If he’s checking “no,” and a subsequent background check finds out he’s lying, then he’s definitely not getting hired. The only way out of that box is to get very proactive. If he’s sincere in articulating that what he did was wrong, eventually he can persuade an employer to give him a chance — here again, it may be on a “trial” basis. If he has to, I’d even suggest offering to work for one week for free, just to prove he can do the job. He’s got to step up and make an offer that’s too good to refuse.

Dale: He also should try to sidestep the usual barriers to getting hired. For instance, rather than starting as a traditional employee, he could offer himself as an informal temp, helping out when a contractor or plumber gets overworked. Said another way, if the application process is keeping him from working, he simply needs to find work that doesn’t demand a formal job-application process.


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Jeanine “J.T.” Tanner O’Donnell is a professional development specialist and founder of CAREEREALISM.com. Dale Dauten’s latest book is “(Great) Employees Only: How Gifted Bosses Hire and De-Hire Their Way to Success” (John Wiley & Sons).

Please visit them at jtanddale.com, where you can send questions via e-mail, or write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10019.

© 2009 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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