The Consultant's Desk

The Consultant's Desk
Poring over the details on your behalf

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Prudent Safety Screening

As screening and background checks are done, there is probably a thought going through the hiring manager's mind about the candidate if they are of color. Some may wonder about elements of responsible hires cf. negligent hires.

Background checks should be conducted but those who could be classified as a threat to the workplace may or may not have a criminal background. Immigration status is one screening concern. We have statutes and agencies that address work eligibility for non-citizens.

Recent events have called into question how one's citizenship status colors classification as a "terrorist suspect" compared with some other designation. Is it proper to decline to hire a person because someone feels they may prove to be a jihad terrorist? What about concern regarding instigation of workplace violence? In fact, how are these terms defined?

PolitiFact addresses some of these issues in an updated article that questions how a person's citizenship status affects classifying them as a "terrorist suspect." In the seven scenarios they examine that are U.S.-based incidents, we discover only three involved individuals who did not enjoy U.S. citizenship in some form. The article then segues into considering the different types of conditions that call attention to the need for care.

Terms that come into scrutiny in the PolitiFact article are:
  • racially motivated violence
  • domestic terrorism
  • naturalized citizen
  • U.S.-born citizen
  • immigrant
  • legal immigrant
  • workplace violence
  • terrorism
Do you need a policy regarding these considerations or should you be making hiring decisions based on the candidates qualifications, skills, and work status (when it comes to immigrants)? Have a conversation with your managers about diversity and inclusion while allowing these buzz words to be addressed as they surface. Another prudent step is to have your in-house or retained employment law lawyer in attendance in order to address the legal ramifications of some moves compared to others while also discussing best practices. During that session, definitions of the terms that people are using can be discussed. An agreement can be reached about how those terms are used in your culture once the definitions are nailed down. Better to have every person talking about the same thing and with knowledge and awareness of what they're talking about.

Be certain these terms are included in a glossary of your work policies or employee handbook (or both). We are now focused on matters related to terrorism and active shooter incidents. Now that the incidents are becoming overwhelmingly frequent, thoughts about preparation are finally percolating into management consciousness. However, there is the more (literally) home grown danger that demands attention and protocols developed for the sake of safety protocols. Domestic violence and workplace abuse are also related to these types of situations. It is highly likely that the disgruntled spouse, the recently terminated employee, the over stressed worker or customer will reach their breaking point in the workplace and resort to violence in order to make their previous demands for respect and requests for cessation of abuse heard.

There are many facets to the safety picture, especially for the workplace. Violence and terrorism are merely two aspects of it. Domestic violence is the one that is routinely overlooked or considered not important. Prudent screening and background checks before hiring is important. Putting safety protocols and practices for non-routine situations should be included in them.


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Monday, June 29, 2015

Maslow and Retention Strategies

Abraham Maslow introduced his hierarchy of needs circa 1940s. The validity of his theory took hold and has grown in the scope of dynamics it covers. The chart can be found in quite a number of places on the Web.

Tim Vandevall's printable version comes in both color and black and white. Some of you may be interested in something that's a little more straightforward in presentation. In that case, consider one of these versions.

The theory is explained in more detail on other sites. However, one thing becomes very apparent as each level is examined: the principles can be applied to essentially any type of organization or social unit.

What characteristics does a person who is self actualized exhibit? You know, the more I read and re-read McLeod's discussion of those 15 traits, the more I realize there are many people who have them. Unfortunately, they tend to be free spirits in relation to where they go and the people with whom they associate and interact. Many are labelled as crazy or odd while others are simply called fun. The label that's applied has many aspects for its interpretation. And many times the insecurity of the one doing the labeling plays into that. If the one doing the labeling carries some amount of authority, others will do little to make their own, independent evaluation and will simply rely on the faulty characterization.

Wikipedia traces even more of the theory, its challenges, and its expansion to seven tiers. In the 1960s and '70s, an eighth tier was added wherein a person who has reached a certain level of their own actualization turns to others in order to help them in their growth and fulfillment. It's a bit like paying it forward by becoming the teacher or mentor.

Still, the level at which we approach self actualization is what workers strive to achieve when they become employed for an organization. They want to be respected; they want to feel as though they are genuinely growing in their knowledge and abilities. They want to feel their talents are growing and they are serving the needs of customers and colleagues. It's like engagement but it's also more than mere engagement. It begins to pay in value because of loyalty - customer and employee - and referrals. It becomes expansive because the reach grows as the organization's reputation does so. It's a healthy place to be.

So I ask you who are managers, governing executives, HR professionals: What are you doing to create an environment that feeds the eight levels of needs? What are you doing to retain your valued workforce? As you map your designs for growth, you want to find yourself providing more than the basics and survival needs. It would be good to supersede the belonging level and start banging your head at versions past esteem. Perhaps qualifying for that growth entails having your people outline not only their plans for self actualization but also how to achieve it economically and so that the costs can be recouped in some way.

And now I turn to those who are employees or job seekers. As you do your research about a company, are you keeping Maslow's hierarchy in mind when it comes to finding an employer who can fulfill at least most of your needs and desires?

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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

ACA Reaches Five Years

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has reached its fifth anniversary. Publisher Wolters Kluwer published a strategic perspective for its subscribers last week.

To provide benefit widers to others who use their publications, they have also developed a white paper on the subject. They say:

Committed to ongoing ACA analysis

To mark the anniversary, we sent three Strategic Perspectives to our Health Reform WK-Edge subscribers last week, highlighting the top five ACA impacts on Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance, and looking forward to changes in 2015 and beyond.

With regard to the white paper, Wolters Kluwer also says:

To give you insight into the kinds of analysis available on WK-Edge News Service, also available within the Health Reform KnowlEDGE™ Center, we have combined all three Strategic Perspectives into one, “The Affordable Care Act at Age Five: A Look Back and a Look Ahead,” for you to download now.

The download is a three-part strategic analysis "The Affordable Care Act at Age Five: A Look Back and a Look Ahead". Please also note that downloaders will qualify to participate in a free trial of WK-Edge or the Health Reform Knowledge Center! Trial information will be sent in a separate email to the registrant.

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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Elements of Employee Engagement

A new concept in HR lingo is "employee engagement." At Entrances (360 employment networking group on LinkedIn), we're considering what goes into considering how much and what constitutes being "engaged."

The first thing that comes to mind about this term is what it means. That's an essential first step so that everyone is talking about the same thing and so more meaning can be added to the conversation and the discoveries that arise from it.

No, I don't think the employee is getting married to anyone in the company or even to the company. (Although an argument could be made that once you've applied for the job and started the interview process, you're essentially "engaged to" the company. But I digress.) So back to defining the concept. William Kahn is the one we can blame for this and the date is 1990.

It isn't about making employees happy, according to Kevin Kruse. It's more about the buy-in that employees have to the vision and mission of the company. It's about their investment in making the company a place that provides value and encourages not only return business but also business growth.

Proof of that concept proved to be a very happy surprise was the day I had a conversation with a Starbucks Customer Service representative. The call started because of a small matter - their generic reusable cups and what to do in order to have one recognized as a legitimate purchase, not a previously used cup during the normal stream of commerce and simply found in a trash bin. In addition to becoming incensed when he grasped the breadth of the disservice, he started talking about why it's important to provide the customer with a great Starbucks experience. He went to great lengths to describe why the customer should feel they are welcome to be there and want to return because of the memory of their experiences with the personnel, the store, the quality of the goods.

The Starbucks representative didn't go into discussing the elements of engagement. However it's important to note that this employment dynamic has components that can be measured. It's also important to know which are the more important components so that the correct measurements, benchmarks, can be gained to measure how well the organization is doing.

How far into doing your job does the examination of employee engagement go? For that matter, does the standard of engagement change depending on the type of employee you are? A temporary employee slaves away the entire time they're at the job (except for the 10-minute break and 30-minute lunch period) whereas the regular employee can count "thinking time" as work. Is organizing your desk or work area or making your "to-do" list for the day (or week) considered being engaged? To what extent do those activities make your customer feel they're getting your full attention and the best you have to offer? Perhaps you should question whether even you become engaged?

So that's what we've come up with so far. Why not join us and keep this, and the other conversations, going.

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Sunday, February 15, 2015

How Far We've Come

The calamities of our times and existence. It's good that the old falls away in deference to the new, in order to make space for Progress and state of the art practices. If that were not so, we would be buried in our own innovations, past as well as present in addition to evolving. Let's look at how this progress has impacted the world of work, recruiting, and job search.

How far we've come since the days of registering with a temp agency and waiting by the silent phone for the agency call us with a job we can do. But the phone only rang on sporadic occasions - or after we left the house because we'd grown weary of putting Life on hold while waiting for The Call. Full time, permanent work was the tried and true path with the security of a livable minimum wage, knowing you'd qualified to hold the job you landed, and happy because that also meant you'd gotten your foot in the door. It was possible to rise from the entry-level position by proving yourself worthy with good work and other advancement strategies such as applying for open positions.

After a time, progress gave us a tool to overcome being bound to the house during the business day. We did not have to balance going out on interviews and missing temp agency calls or the call offering The job. The introduction of the answering machine gave us freedom. We could access messages after we got home - after 6 PM!

How far we've come since the days of newspaper classified ads: "Situations for Men" and "Situations for Women." Only men were eligible for the engineering opportunities. There were no typist or secretarial ads in the "Men" section. And since the opportunities were not identical, there was no comparing salaries and speculating about why the wages offered for men doing the work was higher than the wages offered to women doing the same tasks and same positions.

The Oakland Fire brought mobility of phones - by necessity. But the cell phone was a coming thing and with it came tele-everything, chips, semiconductors, trans-sumthinnorothers. We could receive notice of those temp situations as they arose. And then the days of banning devices came but quickly went out the back door.

Just look at what the world of online job boards did to the recruiting industry. It led to the advent of online resumes that were searchable! Now LinkedIn profiles can be converted to .PDF files from templates available on the site. It's finally possible to create a profile that reads in a much more cogent manner. Well, depending on how good you are at creating your own resume or profile and how disciplined you can be in whittling in just the right way to craft a notable document you can create a much more cogent document.

Even before we were mature enough to get past discriminatory screening for whatever opportunity was sought, we entered the brave new world of online and televised (Skype) resumes and interviewing. Even photos attached to applications became acceptable for some situations outside of entertainment.

Moving into the world of LinkedIn and Facebook networking was a slap yourself in the face experience because it was such an obvious progression from listservs. Overcome the limiting boundaries of space by developing business relationships via online conversations and exchanges. We should have seen that coming back in the early days of the Internet.

Webinars are not only marketing and educational enrichment tools. They are opportunities for employers to strut their strong points and gain exposure to the types of people they want to attract. Have employers (or even recruiters) become aware of the recruiting and hiring potential of these instruments in their toolboxes?

So what's the next step in sourcing, recruiting, and job search? Is it about to explode because it can given the liberal avenues now available because of technology? Or will opportunities shrink for minority populations because of the xenophobia associated with the newer influxes of immigrants and the stereotypical myths that still constrain our Black and Brown populations to marginalization, low pay, and criminal records for minor offenses?

How liberal are we willing to become as we press deeper into the 21st Century in order to find the skilled and qualified talent?

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Sunday, November 09, 2014

Rise of New Recruitment Luminaries in 2003

Acknowledging those who are exceptional is usually reserved for those who have been in the forefront and gathered their own share of publicity. Martin de'Campo took a different path in recognizing recruiting industry personalities by starting an annual series to give recognition to the luminaries, visionaries, and unsung leaders. His first article appeared in the ER Daily in December 2002. The series has disappeared and some who are new to the industry aren't aware of some who were profiled in Martin's series. So it would be helpful for us to look at the observations he shared with us and consider the traits he sees that make champions and thought leaders.

If you'd like to see the other articles in his series so you can refresh your recollection of these notables, post a comment to this article (republished with permission) or contact me with your thoughts.

The Rise of New Recruitment Luminaries in 2003

by H. Martin de'Campo

I highly recommend the new movie "Frida" as a must-see this holiday season. The movie gives wonderful insight into the mind and heart of the famed artist and wife of Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo.

For the longest time, Frida Kahlo lived in the shadow of her louder, more opinionated husband. This was the case with many of the most avant-garde artists in the last century. Too often, great artists were quiet, sublime, and often overlooked until much later in their careers. Many were simply unsung visionaries who were simply focused on their creative work, too busy actually practicing their art to worry about telling others what they were creating. As such, many went unnoticed and unappreciated.

Well, I believe that recruitment is also an art form, except that our "canvas" is the organizations we serve. Like many of the unsung artists of yore, there are many notable and even avant-garde recruiters and human capitalists who, although they don't say or write very much, are truly worthy of our attention. It is these individuals whom I want to focus on in this article.

Some of these people you may recognize, others you may not. But in either case, these individuals represent the "under sung" luminaries who are achieving incredible feats in our industry. Every one of these people are recruiters and true practitioners of the art of human capitalism, day in and day out, and often lack the time to teach or write about what they're doing. Each, I believe, will be making a continued and notable impact in 2003, and as such merit your attention.

I thank each of them for their time, it was a great honor to speak to them during my research. I know you'll agree they're people we all need to watch in 2003!


Being the global vice president of human resources at the largest, most highly regarded game developer in the world is not easy. One would think that frustration and stress would be common to anyone wearing the badge of VP at Electronic Arts. To better understand the magnitude of his job, consider the fact that last year Electronic Arts received over 40,000 applications from interested candidates!

Yet when I spoke to Rusty, I sensed no stress at all. On the contrary, I encountered a man refreshingly involved, excited, and even passionate about his role at Electronic Arts. He embodied the emotions of an "artist," excited with his past and present works.

To get to know Rusty is to also learn about his convictions of being responsive to all that gravitates in and around HR, both internal and external clients. He told me, "It's important to practice what you preach. People can tell if you're the 'real deal' or not. I was interviewed recently in an article that came out in Fast Company, and I received thousands of emails. I made a commitment to myself that I would respond to each and every one of those reader's inquiries, and that's just what I did!" As you might expect, only a man whose "walk" matches his passionate "talk" can succeed in such a position.

But despite Rusty's high profile successes, he's still not heard from much, obviously keeping himself busy. In fact, under Rusty's management, EA's recruitment strategies have been effectively aligned to reflect many of the same innovative qualities that encompass their game products. "We figure that since our games are dynamic and creative, our recruitment initiatives should also possess similar qualities," he says.

EA has in fact managed to tap into the hundreds of millions of young passionate consumers as possible future passionate EA employees! Rusty explains, "In every game we sell, you'll find an invitation to that consumer to join EA's Academy of future talent." And "join" is exactly what many do! His recruitment success at EA has provided them with an internal talent database (known as EA Recruiter) of over 200,000 candidates.

I was quite impressed to see that EA is a virtual laboratory of staffing innovations, and that Rusty has even more "artistic" recruitment plans for 2003. He expects to publish a book along with Hank Stringer next year called "The Talent Manifesto for the New Age." All this makes EA a definite "must watch" next year!


Anyone who speaks with Howard Adamsky will immediately notice his natural and creative ability of analysis and communication. Howard is the author of Hiring & Retaining Top IT Professionals, published through McGraw Hill-Osborne and he will be publishing another work that is due out in 2003.

He and his wife and business partner Corinne Adamsky lead HR Innovators. Howard is constantly seeking new and innovative ways to attract and retain talent for both his clients and his own firm. Although Howard has just begun writing for the ERE, he possesses the experience and skill of an entire recruitment department! After having spoken with him, I walked away with a refreshing sense of our industry's future.

For 2003, Howard indicates that four very important issues will reveal themselves in the staffing world:
  1. The "candidate experience" in the area of technology development and recruitment process will begin to dominate the attention of technology developers and recruitment industry
  2. Corporate retention initiatives will be tied into the recruitment imperative.
  3. Tracking and improving the "cultural experience" of employees through internal employee surveys will become more critical than ever.
  4. Staffing agencies will need to change their business models so that they directly add value to their clients. Selling candidates for a sales commission will be widely seen as a "zero value" business model.
If Howard's next book is anything like his current book, I'm sure our entire industry will take notice AGAIN next year!


Mark is the founder of BrassRing, and he currently serves as chief scientist there now. Most people don't know that Mark is one of the original technology innovators in the area of talent management systems (TMS). Despite the fact that recruitment technologies have experienced a revolution of sorts in the last couple of years, Mark's ideas have continued to set the pace, challenging other "competitors" to raise the bar in job and resume database capabilities.

Anyone who speaks to Mark quickly becomes impressed with his balanced knowledge and capability. On the one hand, he's clearly the technology guru at BrassRing. Yet he speaks very much like a recruitment professional at heart. He clearly "gets" our business.

Mark's grasp of both technology and talent acquisition are what helped him to successfully develop BrassRing's E-Link tool, which replaces the vast majority of paperwork involved in staffing and enables end-users in the recruitment process to interact in every fashion imaginable without paper. The beauty of E-Link is that where once only paper enacted shifts in the process, E-Link now takes over. Another paradigm shift in BrassRing's technology is its ability to tie communications with everyone in the recruiting loop, without everyone needing to be subscribed to BrassRing. As long as the initial recruiter is subscribed into the BrassRing E-Link system, the other "players" in the recruitment process need NOT be subscribed with passwords into the system to read and assist in the recruitment process.

The implications of Mark's system are tremendous! E-Link has helped countless HR and staffing teams nationwide benefit from the best of both worlds: retaining control of the process, yet enabling the secure inclusion of others in the recruitment process.

For 2003, Mark believes that "the future of TMS, sourcing, and similar technologies will be the integration of professional recruitment consulting services." Knowing that Mark has positively impacted an entire industry with both his creations and perspectives, he and BrassRing are a team to watch in 2003.


Charles Handler is the founder and principal of His firm specializes in various screening and assessment tools and resources. He's also the author of various articles and works in the area of psychological candidate screenings. He is currently working on a new resource book where he'll profile online screening vendors, that'll be published in 2003.

Charles clearly qualifies for this list, because he's one of those individuals whose walk is louder than his talk. A rare attribute nowadays! Anyone who speaks with Charles will quickly know that he's an expert screening and assessment practitioner, and not simply a professional "speaker." His opinions and creative knowledge are all based on his daily work with his clients. So when Charles says, "in 2003, screening and assessment strategies will be a rising critical focus," you'd better listen and take note!

According to Charles, the continued glut of talent in a majority of the markets will mean the shift of sourcing as a focus to screening and assessment services as a major concern in the recruiting world. Charles' precepts, services and "loud-professional-walk" in the field of screening and assessments positions him as a man to watch in 2003.


Yvonne is perhaps one of the most unique professionals in the field of recruitment I've ever had the pleasure to speak with. Her perspectives are unique and advanced. Her ability to relate to and validate the people she speaks with should be a REQUIRED skill expected of all HR and recruitment professionals.

It's this skill that places Yvonne on the constant forefront of staffing. Her daily consulting work with her clients take priority over any article or speaking engagement she may be working on, and this is likely what keeps her in the avant-garde of our field. Since she's constantly in the "recruitment trenches," she's a fine "barometer" of what's going on in the staffing world at any given time.

Some things are better said by the actual author, so in her own words, here are some of Yvonne's perspectives for our industry in 2003:
  1. "Leadership, management and entrepreneurial skills will be even more important next year. Corporations will place great value on employees capable of thinking outside the box, who can push the innovative envelope on behalf of the company."

  2. "The glut of talent in many markets has compelled many people to go back to school to improve their skills and knowledge. As such, we're going to have a renaissance in education, professionalism, and accuracy in 2003."

  3. "True diversity strategy will no longer remain only a 'desirable' initiative, but a necessity! Strategies will be implemented to derive the benefits from the many perspectives available from multiple diverse workforce facets of the market's talent pool."
Yvonne's perspectives and accomplishments make her one of the people to watch in 2003.


Dave is an interactive solutions consultant for TMP. He focuses on providing TMP's clients with strategic "big picture" solutions for their recruitment initiatives. As a consultant, Dave travels in the service of clients, not only making him the consummate practitioner of our profession, but also giving him the 10,000-foot view of what's going on in the recruitment world.

You may have already seen some of his articles here on the ERE, but in my opinion, we just don't hear enough from Dave. Speaking to him, one quickly realizes that he loves technology and how it integrates into the recruiter's daily functions. He reminds me that the evolutionary state of technology in our industry is very much in its infancy. "Technologies and what they can actually do for the talent acquisitions and retention function still have a long way to go," he says.

He believes not all the industries in our economy have embraced technology's contributions in staffing, and that not all candidates, such as hourly candidates, are exposed to effective interactive employment technologies. "The medical and healthcare industries are about five years behind in their adoption of recruitment technologies," he tells me. "Too many of our clients realize too late that spending millions of dollars on newspaper advertising is simply wasteful!"

"It's important that, for 2003, recruitment technologies continue to evolve, increasing their sensitivity to the candidate experience," he says. He makes the point that although many recruitment technologies have resolved recruitment communication and administration problems, they're still not geared towards making the candidate's experience positive or less burdensome. For 2003, Dave sees technologies becoming more candidate supportive, faster, and pervasive in all industries, especially in healthcare and in the recruitment of hourly candidates.

Based on his knowledge and "big picture" view, I hope the TMS and ATS industry is listening. His perspectives and quality of consultation to his clients, easily qualifies Dave as one player we should all watch next year.


Another, person to watch this coming year is Scott Weston, principal of Falcon Strategic Group. His consulting, speaking, and forward-thinking ideas are fueled by his obvious passion about the strategic recruiting industry.

"This is an exciting time in staffing," Weston says. "The talent economy continues to unfold, and I believe internal staffing professionals have a prime opportunity to take their place at the executive table by better demonstrating their strategic value. There can be no more throwing a candidate over the wall to HR and the hiring manager after an offer is accepted. Recruiters need to start tracking and tying themselves to more qualitative measures, including a candidate's success and longevity in the organization."

"As a result," he adds, "recruiting vendors and third-party staffing firms are also going to need to follow suit and partner even closer to be in line with this expanded focus on value and retention."

Scott believes that in order to achieve this, recruiters will need to be aligned and held accountable with employee evaluations, exit interviews and even training. Although he's not written very much lately, you can expect to hear more about Scott, Falcon Strategic Consulting, and his visions for our industry's future.


Remember, anyone can be a member of the unnoticed recruiting avant-garde, and perhaps in one way or another, most recruiters are. So consider this a dedication to all of the unsung, practicing luminaries, you innovative leaders who are busy practicing the art of human capital to bother seeking recognition or rewards. This is a holiday dedication for those in the frontlines, working daily, managing, and driving the growth of our stagnant business community...those of you that go unnoticed, but deserve the greatest rewards nonetheless.

May your work, passions, and victories be revealed to all of us in 2003 and may the new year bring greater rewards for us all in the practice of our "craft"!

Until next year, let me know your thoughts, be safe, and as always, I'm here to serve.

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Sunday, September 28, 2014

Financial Counseling for Domestic Abuse Victims

The month of October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Most of us are familiar with the physical interpretation of the issue. Few are actively aware of the fact that the abuse can run the gamut of all aspects of a victim's life, including their access to funds and credit. During my tenure as a contributing author and Editorial Advisory Board member of SmartPros, the managing editor published information financial professionals can use regarding counseling and serving the needs of women who are survivors of domestic abuse as it relates to finances. That was in 2002. Many things have changed but some have not.

The article can no longer be found on the SmartPros site. It is reproduced here to serve as an introduction to the concepts.


Financial Counseling for Domestic Abuse Victims


Yvonne LaRose

December 2002 -- According to a 1993 pamphlet prepared by the National Woman Abuse Prevention Project, three to four million women per year are the targets of domestic abuse because they are beaten by their husband or partner in the home. Of this number, those who leave the home with their children have a 50 percent likelihood of having their standard of living drop below the poverty line or are likely to resort to welfare or homelessness because of the financial constraints they endured. However, these women -- and men -- do escape and do survive albeit with great initial difficulty.

Those who are able to get into a battered women's shelter for the usual 30- to 45-day stay will not receive financial or budget counseling, nor advice on credit repair. In the United States, there are only two long-term shelters (twelve to twenty-four months, also known as transitional housing facilities), where they will receive this type of counseling and guidance. Those two shelters are prototypes from which additional programs will be started.

Don’t be surprised when a client comes to you for financial or tax guidance and you discover your non-stereotypical client is a survivor. Domestic abuse is not an issue that affects the poor, uneducated person of color. Domestic abuse is a malevolent disease. It doesn’t recognize age, attractiveness, ethnicity, education, intelligence, wealth, or position.

The Problem

Physical abuse and battering is one element of domestic abuse. Other aspects of this crime that are just as or more insidious and harmful are emotional, sexual and financial abuse. The financial aspect is the element that keeps the target in her situation; the financial aspect is what will bring the her to you after she's escaped.

The Usual Pattern

Abuse grows from a personal, intimate relationship of presumed trust. The abuser gains access to all of your client’s personal information, physical assets and documents. Then access to them is doled out in stingy bits (if at all).


Sister Anne Kelley, executive director of a long-term battered women’s shelter, described some forms of debt that an abuser will create for their target. Large credit charges from misuse of or stolen credit cards, stolen vehicle pink slips, and enormous telephone bills. Not included in the list are things such as unauthorized (or coerced) savings withdrawals, checking account overdrafts, withdrawals from retirement or pension funds, sells or trades of stocks and bonds or certificate of deposit withdrawals.

Starting Over on Meager Funds

Sister Kelley’s program is one of two in the country (California and Illinois) that offers comprehensive classes on getting started again. The classes teach the survivors how to do a credit check and then start the clean-up process. The clean-up work involves working out credit and repayment plans, getting charges dropped, or shifting the burden of debt back to the responsible party. She notes that a huge influx of recent second-step program funds, some from Violence Against Women Act ("VAWA") and some from the State, have enabled these classes.

Since there are only two programs like this in all of the United States and millions of women (not including men nor elders who are subject to the same type of abuse), it soon becomes clear that financial professionals need to be aware of the problem of domestic financial abuse and the issues the survivor must handle in order to start her new life.

Safety Measures

So in addition to the credit review and repair work, some safety measures need to be implemented. The abuser has the target's full name, birth date and place, Social Security number, driver's license number and all financial account numbers. The abuser also has access to all documents of title. Changing one's Social Security number is so difficult, it could be called an exercise in futility.

The better route is erecting safeguards and passwords that are not based on the usual: mother's maiden name, last four digits of (or full) Social Security number, place of birth or birth date. Instead, the client should choose unique passwords or numbers for access to all of their records and bills and then keep those passwords confidential.

All assets that were previously held in a joint account should be separated so that the client is the only one who has access and theirs is the only name of ownership.

Even though you may have a document in front of you that names the abuser as an authorized person on an account, you need to ascertain from your client how that instrument of authority was created. Many times the abuser will forge documents in the survivor's name; use false pretenses, extortion or coercion to get power of attorney or authorization; or impersonate the client. Question your client carefully to ascertain whether any of these scenarios are the case. Counsel on how to rescind the instruments or notify the institutions of their invalidity.

Repairing and Rebuilding Credit

You’ll want to work with your client on ways to repair her credit or offer her guidance on where to get that counseling. She’ll also want to know how to rebuild a good credit record and will look to you for how to get that information. Have a reference list you can give her.

Rebuilding Finances

The survivor of domestic (financial) abuse needs to rebuild her funds. In many cases, the survivor escaped with less than $50 and the clothing on her back. She’ll want advice on how to budget, start saving, rebuilding a retirement fund, get affordable health insurance, and regain title to any securities she may have owned. She’ll want to know about the various types of safe securities on the market and which are more feasible choices.

Safe Havens

It isn't a pretty picture, no matter what type of abuse occurred. However, the process of rebuilding from domestic abuse requires special financial counseling for a special type of client. As programs and awareness grow, you'll be one of her havens for that guidance.

About the Author:

Yvonne LaRose is a California Accredited Consultant. She combines her years of experience in law, business, recruiting, and executive responsibilities to provide management and recruiting consultation in addition to career development coaching and public speaking. Her column, Career and Executive Recruiting Advice (known as "CERA"), and her Web site, provide news, advice, and tools for one’s professional development and recruiting interests. She is a contributing author to the ebook, The Last Job Search Guide You'll Ever Need. She can be reached via email at ylarose at consultant dot com for additional information concerning domestic and workplace violence or visit the "Domestic Violence" heading of the Articles Index.

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