Dear J.T. & Dale: I was in the trucking industry and drove 18-wheelers until last July, when I got fired because of a misunderstanding over company policy. Without going into the issue, I was wrong and the situation warranted termination. Since then, I’ve found it extremely difficult to find another trucking job. No one will take a chance on me. How do I get around this? — Mike
Dale: Let’s look at a recent case study of getting back to work — the case of ex-con quarterback Michael Vick. Think of the chance someone took in hiring him. How did he return so readily to his old profession? Well, he has special skills, but also, he had friends who pushed coaches and owners to hire him. I hope you have friends who will similarly vouch for you. Plus, it would help if you have exceptional experience or credentials. If not, you can always offer extraordinary cooperation and flexibility — for instance, being a fill-in driver, or taking on the least-desirable assignments. This might sound unappealing, but you need only one person to take a chance on you, and then the black mark on your resume will fade into the past. (Think how much easier it will be for the next team to hire Michael Vick.)
J.T.: Let’s focus on getting someone to take that chance. Find a local trucking company and see if you can get the name of someone in HR. Then try calling him or her directly, but NOT for a job interview. In fact, open the call by saying, “I’m not looking for you to hire me.” Share what happened to you and your regrets about it, then explain that you are now looking for the best way to prove to an employer that you would be a good hire. You’ll learn to discuss what occurred in a way that will leave employers sympathetic to your situation. Remember, it’s easy for hiring managers to dismiss an e-mail or piece of paper (your resume); however, get employers talking about how to open employers’ minds, and it might just occur to one of them to take a chance on you.
Jeanine “J.T.” Tanner O’Donnell is a professional development specialist and the founder of the consulting firm, jtodonnell.com, and of the blog, CAREEREALISM.com. Dale Dauten resolves employment and other business disputes as a mediator with AgreementHouse.com. Please visit them at www.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.
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