Last night, Lin-Manuel Miranda's Hamilton won just about everything it could at the 2016 Tony Awards-11 awards, only one short of the record of 12. It seems that everyone is enamoured with the story of a "bastard, orphan, son of a whore and a Scotsman, dropped in the middle of a forgotten spot in the Caribbean by providence impoverished."It's clear that Hamilton was a genius (as is Miranda), but if he appeared on the scene today, it's unlikely he would have been as successful.

Today's environment wouldn't have been so accepting, even though we claim to care a lot more about diversity than anyone did in 1776. Here's why you wouldn't hire Alexander Hamilton if he submitted his resume today.

Criminal Past

So, punching the Bursar at Princeton didn't happen, but it certainly rhymed well. But, he wasn't exactly known for a cool demeanor. As a revolutionary, he did things like stealing British Cannons. We say yeah, it was a war, but the reality is the act was illegal. Today, there's a good chance that Hamilton would have a criminal conviction record.

Even with "ban the box" rules in many places (which prevent employers from asking about convictions before the offer stage), he's likely to not be hired. The laws allow companies to not hire people who were convicted of relevant crimes. Theft is often a reason to pull the offer and no one would give him the option of explaining why he did what he did.

No Green Card

Hamilton just arrived in the US. Of course, that was acceptable in 1773, but not today. Now, let's assume that he would have come legally on a student visa. (He came from what is now the US Virgin Islands, but was born in the West Indies on Nevis, to French and Scottish parents, so it's unlikely he would have US citizenship today.) Legal arrival on a student visa doesn't mean that you get a green card of citizenship upon graduating.

You can get one, of course, but the process isn't easy and in order to get a job, a company needs to prove that they can't find an equally qualified American to do the job. The reality is that college grads are a dime a dozen today, and why go through the hassle and considerable expense to help someone get their Green Card?

Social Media Nightmare

Hamilton liked to write. He wrote a lot. He had lots and lots of opinions. If he was around today, he'd certainly be on social media and he wouldn't be backing down, even if some of his opinions were unpopular. Would you be willing to hire someone so outspoken?

Why This is Bad

We don't like to give people second chances today. Job hunters know that it's easier to find a job when you have one. Lots of companies don't even want to hire someone who doesn't have a job, regardless of the reason, let alone hire someone with a checkered past who needs Green Card or general visa sponsorship.

Part of the reason people are not interested in hiring someone that doesn't at least appear perfect in the interview stage is that firing is very difficult. Not technically, of course, as all states, but Montana, have at-will employment. But, in reality, firing someone is always fraught with legal considerations. Plus, bosses feel terrible firing someone who even outright deserves it, so often don't.

Immigration is also a mess. Two high school valedictorians just announced their "undocumented" status. Both are going to college on scholarship, but even when they graduate, getting a job will be impossible without serious changes in immigration practices. Companies are legally barred from hiring people without the proper documentation, regardless of qualifications.

Doing it the legal way is not easy, either. William Han's 2015 essay in Vox documented how, even though he was educated in the US, he's been unable to gain permanent status-even with a degree from Yale.

Are we missing out on today's Alexander Hamilton's because we're unwilling to give people second chances, and our immigration policy is messed up? Something to think about.

Published on: Jun 13, 2016
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