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September 24, 2012

WorkWise Q&A: Employer scammed me out of paycheck. What can I do?

Q: Dear Dr. Culp, I accepted a part-time job with a promise of full-time when business picked up. It lasted four days. When I called about my paycheck, the owner refused to pay me and blamed errors in paperwork.

BEHIND THE SCENES

Q: Dear Dr. Culp, I accepted a part-time job with a promise of full-time when business picked up. It lasted four days. When I called about my paycheck, the owner refused to pay me and blamed errors in paperwork.

I’d processed only three repair tickets! He used profanity.

On the Internet I learned that he did time for tax evasion, drug dealing, gun-running and attempted homicide. I requested a police escort to pick up my computer. They told me he’s one of the biggest drug dealers in the area.

I also learned other employees and a contractor weren’t paid. I have no more unemployment benefits. How can I get paid?

Strapped

A: Dear Strapped, Your horrible experience is a reminder that job seekers need to do background checks on employers. The next time, check Google, as you did. If you’re lucky enough to be able to pay a service, get one by referral. Always interview existing employees before you sign on.

Turn your back on this horrible experience to keep it from draining you further. The fact that you weren’t paid is unfair, but you can’t control that. You can control your next step. Make it productive. Good luck!

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GAP

Q: Dear Dr. Culp, The five-year gap in my résumé results from staying home to care for our three young children. My career was very successful; my wife’s, more stable.

I got my real estate license and more recently started a website in the industry. About a year ago I started hunting.

I think hiring managers assume I must have been fired and have had trouble finding work. How can I handle this assumption initially, rather than letting them assume the worst?

I’ve had some inquiries and 50 percent of call backs, but at two or three levels below my zenith. My network has grown exponentially because of the site and social media.

Dad

A: Dear Dad, You shouldn’t have a five-year gap. Your longer e-mail reports a business, guest writing and real estate, all legitimate. Fix your résumé. Work your network.

What about making a joke about it, such as, “I’ve contributed to the trend of stay-at-home dads while my wife worked on her career. Enough, already!”

You wouldn’t be getting all of those call backs if people didn’t think you have something to offer. Grab one of the lesser jobs; keep your Web site going; self-promote.

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