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Finding a Job for Some May Be Impossible
By Cliff Harrison

Jobs and the economy are the number one things on people’s minds today. We are experiencing the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. We are in the worst recession since World War II. No times of economic and job loss has been greater than now—or so it seems.

As I write this unemployment in Las Vegas climbs to 13.8% just a tad bit lower than the jaw-breaking record breaker of 13.9% of only a few months earlier.

Experts claim that when you tally up all those who have given up looking for work, add those who are working part-time but really want a fulltime job, and others who are not counted because they are not signing up or receiving unemployment benefits, the rate skyrockets to a panicking, super-sized whopper of 25% or more real unemployment.

For many, finding a job is like finding a needle in a haystack, a four leaf cover, a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, a rabbit’s foot in the pocket, a horseshoe, a light at the end of the tunnel and a life jacket thrown out to you at sea, all at the same time.

With those stats, 25% or more of real unemployment, the only light at the other end of the tunnel appears to be a fast-moving freight train.

25% whopping unemployment in Las Vegas! Who in their right mind would want to move here? You’d be crazy! You’d be saner if you jumped into murky water infested with sharks. At least, you’d stand a better chance of survival.

That’s a quarter of all working-class, ambled bodied people? With that many out of work and the echoes from the glasshouses on shore say the economy is improving? Recovery is on the horizon?

Yeah, and they must be running out of marijuana, you know, the stuff made from the likes of cannabis seeds. Hemp. When you smoke it you start talking goofy and saying things like the economy is improving and the recession will soon behind us. You hallucinate. You have delusions. You see yourself making a million dollars an hour and you get three one hour coffee breaks for every two-hour work day. Smells like…marijuana to me! Talk stupid, stupid!

The needles in the haystack seemed to multiply and they’re hypodermic needles that have been used by hard-core drug abusers—you know Syringes of Doom.

The four-leaf clover has heads and teeth that look like piranhas—you know, armed and dangerous! The Four leaf clover kind that bite and devour—they are those things that feasts on hopes and dreams.

The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow happens to be an IED—you know, an Improvised Explosive Devise. Don’t go there, don’t touch it or BOOM!

The rabbit’s foot in the pocket happens to be dripping of fresh blood, when you pick it up, and pull it out, your hands turn all red, and the horseshoe drops on your toes and breaks your bones. I already talked about the light at the end of the tunnel; someone needs to clean up all that gore that’s left on the tracks. You know the splattered remains of being wiped out on the fast track to nowhere. And, I forgot to tell you, that life jacket thrown out at sea where you’re trying to swim and stay afloat is surrounded by circling blood-thirsty sharks!

Does Glasshouse Ensign ever look overboard?

The fornicator, Nevada’s Senator John Ensign, the guy who committed adultery with another man’s wife, recently voted against extending unemployment benefits. Glasshouse Ensign might prefer people to go on welfare, since that’s the obvious next stop once unemployment benefits stop coming in. There certainly are no jobs out there, not for American’s anyway. The spoon-fed, sinning Senator has never hungered a day in his life. The son of a bitch disgraces America and I’m ashamed to have him representing me and I voted for the cowardly bastard.

In other words, for some people, it’s sometimes nearly impossible to find a job—in good times—let alone hard times.

That’s because something in their past might not be all that peachy. Their records are blemished with something that prevents the applicant from securing work during economical good times, let alone bad times.

Things like, huge gaps between employment, unexplainable gaps, being fired from previous employment, quitting too many previous jobs, confrontations with previous bosses and/or co-workers, lack of steady employment, too short of a work record, lack of higher education, lack of high school graduation or GED, hostile or bad talk about a previous employer on the application, careless application writing, and the worst culprits of all previous arrest records and worst prison time.

If someone has a shadowed past like the previous paragraph mentions, the changes of getting a job is nil. The dark cloud that hangs over their head fills with lightning bolts and thunder claps and creates a social thunderstorm that won’t go away.

Released from prison? Forget about it! Once a criminal always a criminal, most employers brand former inmates. Ex-conmen in particular, stand about as much chance as landing a job as putting a man on the moon without a spaceship, even worst odds than that. Their record as a former prisoner doing time for swindling someone is about as attractive to prospective employers as a rattlesnake in bed—especially if the employer’s human resources manager (HR), the decision-maker in the hiring process, has recently watched the blockbuster film Catch Me if You Can.

If one can’t get pass the personnel department, or HR in many cases today, one might as well hang up his fishing pole. For a former convict, his lake has dried up and any chances that he might be soon catching something—like a job—go down the drink with it.

The rare exception might be the abusive, slave-driving, illegal employer who ignores all labor laws and pays minimum wage or less and demands more than reasonable work from his employees.

But jobs like those don’t last long with most people. That is why an employer of this type has such high turnover of employees and constantly has ads in the paper for hire. He’ll hire anybody, and if they are thick skinned enough or desperate enough they’ll hold onto the job. If not, they’ll move on.

For former inmates, when they see employers, who are supposed to be respectable leaders in town, getting away with crimes of labor and murder, they often leave such employment. They paid for their crime, but this employer seems to be getting away with it, and even rewarded.

What is society thinking? Where are released prisoners supposed to go for work if nobody will hire them? How long do you imagine it will take before an ex-con returns to a life of crime if he can’t secure a job or a means to earn a living legitimately?

I’d bet real soon.

If no one is willing to help someone with a record, how can they also expect crime rates to go down? How can they expect former con men, who by the way, have paid for their crimes by serving prison terms, return to productive society?

I know, that’s somebody else’s problem, not mine! Right?

Well, unless society is willing to figure something out to address this problem, ex-cons will continue recycling through the revolving-door of prison and crime statistics are likely to unchanged—or increase.

When I was a boss, I did my own hiring and then after I hired a new employee I had the personnel department or HR process the new hiree. My approach was a more personal, traditional approach than most employers use today.

I admit, hiring and working with former inmates can sometimes be challenging at times, but my philosophy was, then and now, “I don’t care where you came from; I only care where it is that you are going.”

And I told every damn one of them that!

Often it meant no more than giving an ex-con a break, and treating them human and with respect and dignity. Providing the right atmosphere where the work environment provided the least challenges and obstacles for the former inmate.

The fewer encounters with any kind of friction or negative developments meant better success and more productivity over the long run.

Despite the few challenges or setbacks, which often resulted from personality clashes, the great reward came from seeing a former prisoner rehabilitate himself by providing him an opportunity few others would provide him, and seeing him succeed.

I’ve had men with arrest and prison records as long as your arm that I hired and gave a chance to. Men who I personally trained, and gained their respect and loyalty as well as the providing them the opportunity to advance.

At least one such man went all the way to the very top of another company in the same industry as ours, and became the equivalence of general manager.

Once, while he was antsy and desiring to go to work with a competitor, which could provide him a better future and pay than my outfit could, he told me of his ideas.

I encouraged him to wait—not to be restless or impatient.

Take your experience first; your cash will come later. I said. You need more on-the-job time. You are not ready to make such a move yet.

The phrase I’ve used most of my life, Take your experience first; your cash will come later, is from something I read years ago, and it is a slight variant of what they claim Harold Geneen is quoted as saying, “In the business world, everyone is paid in two coins: cash and experience. Take the experience first; the cash will come later.”

For two more years he stayed with me and learned his trade, honing his skills in the field and becoming so knowledgeable, few could match his experience. He then moved on, with my blessing, since I always encouraged a man (or woman) who could improve himself (or herself).

He spent a couple of years at the new company. At that company, he later tied up with another good boss, someone I knew and grew up with, and climbed higher on the totem pole.

Then he moved to another state, following the above mentioned boss who took the number one position in the newest company while my hand picked and trained former criminal took the number two position.

It was only six months later (from the time of the out-of-state move), that the “good boss” lost interest in the industry and moved on to something else. That’s when I got a phone call from my former employee who had a criminal record, and I heard his voice say, “I’m in the number one position, Cliff. I now run the entire plant—I’m the plant manager.” He said, excitedly, and then he said, “You know, I want to thank you for what you did for me, and what you said years and years ago about, Take your experience first; your cash will come later. For me, it was true!”

I was so happy for him, so proud of myself that I had given him but a chance to become productive again. He went to the top. And I’m sure—he never looked back.

Not all cases are successful as this one, but without giving a man an opportunity we can not expect him to have the self-respect that it takes to pull away from a life of crime and start a new life that is moral, just and productive.

This same gentleman, years before, after he began working for me, had gotten into another scrap with the law. He faced, due to his record, another bout in prison. By this time he had been working with me long enough that I knew what kind of worker he was, and he was 100% on the job. It was off the job that he needed conditioning with. He needed guidance in his misguided life.

I penned a plea to the judge and sent it off on a company letterhead. I grew up with the judge, went to school with him, played football beside him and lived in the community as an adult running into him many times after high school. He knew my character; he knew I was a man of my words.

I had pleaded for mercy for my employee. Later, during his post-trial sentencing, I arrived in court in a three-piece suit and asked again for mercy for my employee. I told the judge I could work with him, give him an opportunity to advance rather than succumb to crime. I would all but take complete responsibility. I made a statement that his worth on the job was of great value to me. All I needed was an opportunity from the judge to prove my conviction.

I was granted that opportunity.

No one involved had greater pleasure than my employee. His being saved from a prison sentence, allowed his returned opportunity to remain productive and to advance. He was so grateful and honored for my standing behind him and taking his defense that he never got snot on his nose again. He never again let down, me, nor the community, nor the judge who gave him a break.

And you know the rest of the story.

How many men have been wasted because no one gave them a chance? And it takes more than just giving them a chance; it takes a little work, a lot of effort and enough will to make a difference.

I’ve hire men who had far too many jobs in their short work careers that they would have been rejected by most employers—they even told me so—but after I hired them, they no longer worked a few weeks or a few months and then left. They stayed with me and they advanced. They reestablished their work record, improving it.

They had, in fact, grown up, became responsible and took interest in their job as something more than just a source for a paycheck.

I’ve hired high school kids who had no previous job experience and tamed them like wild horses that became champions in their field.

And all I did was gave them a chance—and worked with them a little bit—and trained them my way. Opportunity took care of itself.

I’m appalled by the textbook methods many HR offices use to make their hiring decisions today.

Among another man’s garbage one can find a gem, but the HR bosses of today won’t even bother to look.

For many, especially those with blemished employment records, less than desirable pasts, finding employment during economical boom times is most difficult. Finding jobs now in an economy so shattered will prove challenging for even those with a squeaky clean record.

The final word is that there is no guarantee that those with squeaky-clean records will not do something undesirable once hired. On that note, it makes the playing field even, but HR managers are blind to that simple truth and spend way too much time screening and sifting nothing but pure bullshit.

If we want to improve our tomorrows, we sometimes need to revert back to using the policies we used yesterday and scrap the faulty ones we use today.

Success is measured in inches, not miles.

Now I’m going to go have that bowl of oatmeal that’s been patiently waiting for me.

How are you?

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