Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The once-brilliant American workforce is permanently scarring itself out of work. Recent headlines suggest 90 million Americans are either out of a job or have given up looking for work altogether. This dismal figure is approximately 28.7 percent of the current U.S. population of 313,900,000.

The truth of the matter is that more and more highly skilled Americans are unable to be rehired elsewhere simply because of negative scars on their permanent records. Based on my 21 years of experience as a small- and medium-size business consultant, what I am seeing is a drastic spike in both firing and refused employment based on a candidate’s bad or ruined credit, driving-under-the-influence charges or other criminal offenses, the inability to pass a drug test or a combination of these problems.

I don’t condone these behaviors one bit, but modern technology now administers drug tests, background checks and credit-history reporting to human resource departments in nanoseconds. And not all outcomes are fair.

I’ve witnessed cum laude Ivy League graduates turned down for high-level employment because of a recent foreclosure and short sale now on their record. A 10-year lawyer lost her job following a two-glasses-of-white-wine DUI after her office Christmas party. These are not simply off-color Facebook posts; rather, they are serious rough patches with real career consequences.

Bitter divorces also have ruined careers, mainly because of short-term drug use, domestic disputes and/or the general financial disaster of a broken home. The most common reason I’ve gathered among them all has been the inability to pay the legal costs at the time of trouble. Especially telling is when groups of highly qualified people suddenly become unemployed (i.e. the organization closes down, entire departments are laid off, or the company is acquired outright, resulting in terminations).

Washington leaders must comprehensively consider helping this growing segment of highly qualified yet suddenly unemployable Americans either by enabling candidates to exonerate their records more fairly or by urging employers to reconsider their hiring and firing policies, especially in cases of credit-score duress. Countries that don’t politically support filthy Hollywood media, hard drinking and narcotics, and sketchy home-loan organizations are gaining on us, and much faster than America can clean itself up.


Charleston, S.C.

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