width=299Dear J.T. & Dale: In 2001, I pled guilty to a federal sex offense. I have not held regular employment since. Some potential employers are sympathetic, but none has been willing to offer me a job. I've got more than 20 years' experience in computers, retail and home-rehabbing. - Ed

Dale: Big problem, Ed. Even if you find employers who are sympathetic, at some point they are going to ask HR, legal or a partner some version of the question, Are we opening ourselves up to lawsuits if this guy says or does something to an employee or customer? Asking the question is to answer it. My guess is this: No one is going to give you a job. Fortunately, though, there are millions of people making good incomes without having jobs.

J.T.: I agree that the traditional application process is going to keep giving you what you've gotten. Perhaps, though, you can sidestep it. For instance, you could do day labor and eventually find someone who likes your output and enthusiasm and offers you a job. If it's a small company, they might never get around to doing a background check. However, where I think Dale was heading is suggesting self-employment. No one asks the owners of the company about their past.

Dale: Exactly. You need to hire yourself. Start some kind of computer consulting business, handing out fliers in office parks or approaching real estate agents or investors doing flips about doing their repair work. You may not be able to find a job, but you can find work...and a better future.