San Diego Business Journal

Dear Joyce: I'm one of those people who had to defend a false positive on a drug test. I read where the American Civil Liberties Union calls workplace drug testing a "bad investment" with "high costs, low dividends and junk science." And the ACLU says most companies requiring drug testing have not validated any connection between drugs and accident rates, absenteeism, health care costs or turnover statistics. If this is true, why do companies require drug testing before you can be hired?

, G.S.

Companies understandably fear they'll suffer a loss or be held legally liable for malfeasance caused by drugged-up employees. In the private sector, the biggest issue is conflict between an employee's privacy interests (such as a urine test) and the employer's legitimate interest in preventing employees under the influence to be in their workplace.

Courts generally have upheld applicant and for-cause testing. The problems arise with random testing where plaintiffs insist that when they are not in a safety-sensitive position, it's none of the employer's business what they do about drugs outside the workplace.

For more, click on an Internet search engine and look for "drug testing + workplace." See what your state's law requires.

Dear Joyce: Can you tell me the best Web sites to look for jobs?

, K.L.

"Best" depends on what you're looking for, and with thousands of offerings, there's a lot of room for differences of opinion.

Alison Doyle, job search guide for About. Com, who does a great job, includes Aquent (aquent. com) for professionals, and says she gets good feedback on Headhunter.net (headhunter.net) for various occupations. Doyle also likes Jobtrak (jobtrak) for entry-level candidates and college alums.

Several people tell me they've had good results with JobOptions (joboptions.com) for all occupations, and Brainbuzz (brainbuzz.com) for information technology jobs in the Southeast.

"Old favorite" Monster.com (monster.com) has a new feature of value: You can now store multiple resumes in case you're looking for various types of jobs and send prospective employers only the version designed for their types of opportunities.

Dear Joyce: I will graduate with my bachelor's degree this year and I would like to take six months off looking around the United States before I become a wage slave. My college loan repayments start after six months. My parents worry that I may lose ground with my classmates in salary and job status if I postpone my career grind. If you agree with me, please answer; otherwise, tear up this letter.

, V.E.W.

How about half a letter? Your parents aren't overreacting , you will lose ground in some companies where your behavior will be seen as frivolous and they'll wonder how you handle a serious sit-down career. Others won't care.

If you fly away, try to gain some experience , from coping with the customs of a strange country to gaining new skills you can leverage in a job , so that you can truthfully say you didn't just fritter away your time. Ascribe your sabbatical to curiosity about the world and exploration, not that you were burned out from the rigors of study.

Have you thought about AmeriCorps or the Peace Corps?

Dear Joyce: My executive husband was downsized. We're not hurting financially, but his self-esteem is shot. How can I help?

, N.B.

Sounds like a career coach would be a cheery starting point. Ask friends of friends until you find a well-recommended coach. If the situation's more serious, your husband may have depression and need medical help. I'm glad you're taking a proactive role in understanding what's going on in his head.

Kennedy is a Cardiff-based syndicated writer and author of career guidance books. E-mail career questions for possible use in this column to her at (jlk@sunfeatures.com).

& #352;2000, Los Angeles Times Syndicate