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It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…
1. Are ads that target “recent college grads” age discrimination?
I am job-searching and keep seeing some really great jobs that I qualify for, posted by this same staffing company on job boards. ALL of the positions require a 4-year degree and most specify the applicant must be a recent college grad. I have actually seen this company go as far as to specify “must have had great grades in high school” or they sometimes ask for a specific college GPA. The ads will emphasize 2-3 times within the description that you must be a recent college grad. I actually applied for a position anyway, leaving off college dates on my resume and was contacted by a recruiter. She wrapped up the phone screen quickly when she learned that I had completed college 20 years ago. The fact I had strong experience in the industry for which she was recruiting seemed a moot point.
It’s is obvious to me they want 22-24-year-old applicants only. Isn’t this age discrimination? And if this is not age discrimination, can it really be considered a good hiring practice?
There’s nothing illegal about requiring a particular GPA since that doesn’t screen out people over a certain age, but a preference (or requirement) for recent college grads does violate federal laws against age discrimination.
In fact, the EEOC says clearly: “It is illegal for an employer to publish a job advertisement that shows a preference for or discourages someone from applying for a job because of his or her race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information. For example, a help-wanted ad that seeks ‘females’ or ‘recent college graduates’ may discourage men and people over 40 from applying and may violate the law.” More here.
2. Job application wants me to list contact info for friends who can verify my activities
Currently I am searching for jobs in the air travel industry as a flight attendant. While in the process of filling out an application for one company, in the Employment Gap Explanation section while listing my job history, it asked that I explain any employment gaps of one month or more. That’s all fine and good. But the fine print went on that I must list the name, address and phone number of the person(s) that can verify my activities during those times of unemployment. The kicker is they can’t be relatives!
I can understand their reasoning for asking that, as they have to be concerned about terrorism, but I can’t be the only one who thinks it’s just plain ridiculous! How can I explain a 6 month period of unemployment after I graduated college and I lived at home with my family during that time, while friends were still in school or out of town? I also don’t feel comfortable offering such personal information about my friends and acquaintances to the company, either. Am I overreacting?
That’s weird as hell. If it’s a security requirement and you want the job, I suppose you have to comply, just as you’d be giving similar information about family and friends for a security clearance. But yes, it’s bizarre.
3. Can I ask my old company about the results of a project I did?
I just left the company where I was working without a job in my field because the work environment was not healthy. I currently have a part-time job that pays well, so I’m not worried about the bills for a couple months at least. Before leaving, a person from another department told me about a challenge that they were having in their day-to-day work. Before I left, I finished implementing the solution to that challenge. I was the owner of that project and my manager knows that I worked really hard on it. However, I was not able to witness firsthand the results that the solution generated.
I now want to send an email asking if the results were positive or negative to the person who initially had the challenge. Even though it would be better for me to have numbers to evaluate the possible success rate, I understand that this person as a current member of the organization might need to keep the numbers confidential and might only be able to give me a general sense of the success rate. Do you think that I should send this email? I am also not sure how my former manager might take this if the person forwards the email to my manager? Should I cc my former manager on the email?
I don’t see anything wrong with reaching out and saying that you’ve been thinking about the project you did and wondering how it turned out for them. It’s unlikely that they’re going to respond to a casual inquiry like that with hard numbers though, so if that’s what you really want (for resume purposes), I think you’ll need to ask directly if it’s something they’d be willing to share and explain why you’re asking. I’d do that in a second email, though, once you hear back about how it went generally. No need to put them on the spot with that question if the first answer is “it hasn’t made a difference yet,” “it’s too early to tell,” or “it caused our network server to catch fire.”
I don’t think there’s any need to cc your former manager on the email, unless she’s in a particular position to answer the question too.
4. Will a job offer come from HR or from the hiring manager?
Will the hiring manager set up a meeting to offer me the job or will HR make the offer? I’m asking because the hiring manager sent an email to set up a meeting later in the week to talk about the job interview… but I thought HR would call or email me?
It totally depends on the employer. There’s no one playbook that every employer uses for this stuff. That said, in most cases, job offers are made over the phone, not in face-to-face meetings. That doesn’t mean that absolutely no one sets up a face-to-face meeting for it, but that’s a fairly unusual approach.
As for who makes job offers, smart managers make their own, because they want the chance to sell the candidate on the job and to have a personal connection. But plenty of managers let HR do it for them.
5. What does it mean when an employer takes down a job posting and hasn’t called my references?
What does it mean when a prospective employer takes down a job posting?
A hiring manager asked for my references but my references never got a phone call. Is this bad news?
Taking down a job posting can mean all sorts of things: They filled the job, they’re no longer accepting new applications but are still interviewing, they’re about to make an offer, they’re confident that they’ll hire someone from the current pool of candidates, the job ad expired from the site and no one noticed, they wanted to make a change to the job posting so took down the old one and haven’t put the new one up yet, or loads of other possibilities. You can’t know from the outside, and it’s pointless to try to read into it.
On the references issue, it’s possible that the manager hasn’t called your references yet but still plans to, or that she’s one of those managers who asks for references because she knows she’s supposed to but doesn’t always call them, or that they plan to make an offer to someone else (but might call your references if that falls through). Again, no way to know, and your best bet is to just move on and focus on other jobs until/unless you hear something from this employer.
job application wants me to list contact info for my friends, ads that target “recent college grads,” and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.
A reader writes:
I am a first-time manager, but have been with my current organization for four years. I am the only person at my level with a direct report (who started in January) and I have significant concerns about my direct report’s ability to fulfill the requirements of the job. I have raised these concerns with my direct report and with my director (who has worked in our organization for less than two years and comes from a very different background). My director agrees that the direct report isn’t performing up to par. However, he is concerned that because I am very good at my job, I may be emasculating my direct report (I am a female manager, with a male director and male direct report).
We’ve all read about how women are more likely than men to be told they are “abrasive” and also told to talk less, step back, and let others shine. I am a vocal person and not afraid to make suggestions or give feedback. But so are my male peers, who don’t receive the same feedback to be more quiet.
How do I respond to gendered feedback? Do I push back and point out the feedback is gendered/sexist? I’ve done that once to my director via a former female manager who then called him out on it. Now, when he gives me advice to talk less or step back, he says that me and my male peer both need to address this issue (likely to appear not sexist). But he’s never given that feedback directly to my male peer.
He’s called me emasculating twice now in the last month. We think it may be a projection of the fact that he is currently being minimized in his role by our senior leadership and therefore feeling emasculated himself. But if it happens again, do I say something?
Also, how do I know whether I truly am disempowering others and not just receiving gendered feedback? So far, I’ve asked for honest feedback from peers and external mentors who have told me they disagree with my director. Is that sufficient? What should I look out for?
I mean, unless you’re telling your employee things like “you’re not a real man,” calling workplace feedback “emasculating” is pretty weird.
I’d ask your boss this: “When you say ‘emasculating,’ what specifically do you mean?” And depending on how clear his answer is, I’d have this statement ready to go, too: “‘Emasculating’ seems like fairly gendered feedback to me. Is there a way for us to talk about this without linking it to gender? If he were a woman, is there a different way you’d frame it?”
I’d also be ready to say something like this: “I’m concerned that gender is playing a role here when it shouldn’t be. You know, there’s been a lot of cultural attention paid lately to how women are given different types of feedback than men — like being described as ‘abrasive’ when the same behavior in men is described as ‘strong’ or ‘assertive.’ I have the sense that gender might be playing out in this situation too.”
Depending on your relationship with him and on his relationships with others in the organization, you might also suggest bringing in other perspectives on it, pointing out that it can be hard to spot this kind of thing in ourselves. (Obviously, in order to say this, you need to have a decent relationship with him and he needs to be reasonably open to hearing feedback. If that’s not the case, skip this part.)
In addition, I’d seriously consider talking to someone above him in your organization about the overall pattern you’re seeing — particularly if there’s a woman who you have good rapport with and who’s positioned to do something about this. It’s absolutely reasonable to point out that you’re getting gendered feedback and that the adjustment he made after the first time it was pointed out didn’t fix it. (Also, when you have this conversation, you should address the need to ensure that raising this doesn’t adversely affect your relationship with him or your standing in the organization — because whoever addresses this with him needs to be clear with him that that can’t happen.)
As for the question of how you can get objective feedback on your own management practices since your boss’s feedback is suspect, your instinct to get input from others (both in and outside of your organization) is a good one. In doing that, be sure that you’re not inadvertently biasing people toward your viewpoint (since often people will be predisposed to agree with you — the person they know and the person seeking advice). That means that you should present as objective a picture as you can, as well as make a good faith effort to explain how you think your employee is experiencing things. (If you’re willing to, you might even role-play some of the interactions with a mentor, so that they can see exactly how you’re approaching the employee.) Also, in doing this, it’s key to make it safe for people to tell you they think you’re in the wrong; if people think you’ll be irritated if you don’t like their input, you’re less likely to get useful information.
Frustratingly, it’s possible that your manager actually has something legitimate and valuable to point out about your approach, but his approaching work life through such a gendered lens is making it pretty damn hard to know. So it’s good that you’re seeking out input from other sources.
my manager said I’m emasculating an employee (or how to respond to gendered feedback) was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.
A reader writes:
I work for a mid-sized commercial design and production company. I believe our manager, “Jane,” is competent/manages well, but I’ve had some issues that have definitely affected my performance and attitude, which I have now owned and I’ve resolved to work on being an excellent employee. Since recovering from a health condition and addressing my personal issues, I have volunteered for more projects, brought forward more ideas, and communicated more positively with Jane, and it’s really improved my work life. I generally deal with frustrations directly with the person involved, or outside of work (exercise, therapy).
Some last-minute executive decisions by Jane and her “‘favorite” have put my workmate “Dave” offside. The decisions had consequences for Dave, and I supported him emotionally during this time. Dave was badly burnt by this and is now very negative about anything from Jane. He is steadily case-building against her, and describes her in very unflattering terms. He feels that he is being deliberately excluded from projects, his skills not being recognised or utilised, etc. This may be accurate, and he has a particular affect that does appear to affect his assignments. However, he has a truly remarkable and deep range of skills that ARE underutilised. Possibly Jane is intimidated by both this and his manner, and she also appears to err on the side of involving people who volunteer themselves cheerily and proactively, and are more enjoyable to deal with, i.e. she has a “type.”
I suspect Dave thinks I have “changed teams,” and it’s making our working relationship difficult. He frequently comments when he sees me talking to Jane, and I’m struggling to get input from him on projects or ideas. Our team has a strong pitch-in culture, and although he has capacity and is often the only person with the necessary expertise, he either doesn’t follow through or uses the opening to complain about how something is done. I see his hurt and frustration, but I think he is shooting himself in the foot by not moving on (having been there myself) and I don’t really know how to address this without damaging the relationship. In a way I AM changing teams, in that I’m not willing to get stuck in old issues and want to do the best job I can, including fostering positive relationships with people I would not necessarily have a personal relationship with outside work.
Is there a way to salvage my relationship with Dave while also moving forward with my own professional goals? Dave and Jane are both intelligent, skilled, good people. Is there any way to help them repair their relationship? Is there any way I can mention the tension to Jane without dropping myself or my workmate in it?
I think you need to separate emotionally from Dave a bit.
Dave’s assessment that you’ve “changed teams” is pretty out of sync with the nature of the workplace — or at least a healthy, high-functioning workplace. While there are certainly people like Dave, who see things as “us vs. them” when it comes to employees/managers, it’s rarely an attitude held by successful people. Successful people generally see themselves as on their managers’ teams, and don’t see that as being in conflict with getting along with coworkers. (And if you’re in a workplace that makes you choose, there’s a problem with either the employer or the coworkers. In this case, it’s Dave who wants you to choose, and Dave is the one in the wrong.)
While Dave may have legitimate grievances against your boss, his own problematic work habits trump that. Not giving you input on projects, not following through on assignments, and apparently nursing a grudge are all things that harm his credibility and make it impossible to have any real standing to complain about Jane not giving him the recognition he wants.
You speculate that Jane is “intimidated” by Dave — but it doesn’t sound like intimidation to me. Favoring people who are responsive and easy to work with is a pretty sound management call — and to the extent that it’s favoritism, it’s a perfectly reasonable favoritism shared by most managers (and most non-managers too).
In any case, Dave is not your problem to fix. You can certainly explain to him that you’ve found that you’ve gotten much better results at work since changing behaviors A and B and mindset C, and that those changes have made work more satisfying and productive for you. But beyond that, I’d pull back. (And definitely don’t mention the tension to Jane. Again, not your problem to solve.)
You’re entwining yourself with someone who sounds pretty clearly like a Problem, and to the extent that Jane and others see you as aligned with Dave, his reputation problems are likely to splatter on to you too. And that’s especially the case since it sounds like you had your own performance and attitude issues in the past that you actively want to counter now.
I’m not saying “abandon a friend for the good of your career.” But I’d think pretty deeply about how close you really want to be with Dave, whether you respect his stances and behavior, and what kind of boundaries you want to have in place at work.
how to get along with a disgruntled coworker who dislikes our boss was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.
It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…
1. I feel guilty about making my boss’s life harder if I leave for a new job
I’ve been passively looking for a new job for about a year now, but really only half-heartedly. I don’t have any huge complaints with the day-to-day of my current job, but the company is a mess and I was always certain that I would be jumping ship immediately if my boss quit.
Cut to last week, when my boss informs me that he’s fairly certain he’ll be gone by the end of the year, or by next summer at the latest. A few days later, I was headhunted by a company, and it seems really likely that I’ll be offered a position, based on how the interviews have gone.
Now that I’m considering leaving BEFORE my much-admired boss leaves, I’m finding that I’m having real trouble with the idea. I made a list today of the things I do each day, and the thought of putting all these tasks back on him (we’re the only two people in our department) is causing me real distress.
This new job pays around 10%-15% more annually, is non-exempt (I currently work 50+ hour weeks, so this is a benefit to me), and is much closer to my house. Plus, it’s a specialist position, so I’d be focusing on around a quarter of the area that I currently deal with as an HR Generalist. I would be crazy to turn this down, right? I just don’t know how to accept the fact that I’ll be sticking my boss with 80+ hour workweeks for however long it takes for him to find a new job.
Your boss will deal with it. People leave jobs; this is a normal part of doing business. If the department will fall apart without you, then your boss has mismanaged things pretty badly. But it’s more likely that he’ll have a crunch time and then things will be fine.
You need to leave on a schedule that makes sense for you. (And there’s rarely an easy time to leave a job. In fact, it might be better for you to leave now, rather than waiting until your boss leaves and sticking your company with no one seasoned left in the department.) It’s good that you care — it shows you’re conscientious and care about things running smoothly, but really, this is a normal thing that businesses are set up to be able to handle. Your boss will not be working 80 hours a week; he’ll bring in new help, or push projects back, or bring in temps, or do any of the myriad things people do in this situation. It will be fine.
2. My interview included a random person who didn’t identify herself, even when I asked
Is it appropriate for an interview to include an interviewer who is not affiliated with the business you are interviewing with?
I just applied for a management position with a local humane society. I sent my solicited resume to the president of the board, who had contacted me, and scheduled an interview. Present during the interview were a manager, the president, a volunteer, and “an interested party.” When I asked if she was a board member or worked for the shelter, she said no and that she was just “an interested party.” It was strange. It made me very uncomfortable that she was given access to my resume and was included in my interview without my consent. Weird. Am I overreacting?
There are cases where it would be reasonable to include an outside in an interview process — if she were a consultant, for instance, or coaching the board president on hiring, or who knows what else. But her role should be explained to you — and it would have been perfectly appropriate for you to say, “Can you tell me more about your role with the organization and in the hiring process?”
I don’t think I’d bristle at her having access to your resume. The universe of people who might see your resume when you apply for a job is pretty large (volunteers, admins helping with hiring, board members if it’s a very small organization, someone the hiring manager checks with to see if you’re the same Jane Smith who used to work for her, and lots of other possibilities). But it’s certainly reasonable to want to understand who you’re meeting with and why.
3. My former boss’s boss is carrying out a weirdly slow trickle of LinkedIn endorsements
I left a job nearly six years ago and completely changed fields. Now my boss’s boss from that job, who I don’t keep in touch with, is endorsing me on LinkedIn for skills that she has no way of knowing about. She doesn’t do this all at one time; she endorses about one skill a week. It’s making me feel a little odd – an equivalent on Facebook would be a person I once got to know at summer camp “liking” every single one of the pictures I’ve ever posted. Should I do anything about this? At the very least I feel like it waters down the endorsement’s I’ve received, but I don’t know how much they really matter.
That’s bizarre behavior, but I would just ignore it. No one else will notice or care.
That said, totally aside from this, I’d turn off LinkedIn’s skills endorsements altogether. They don’t carry any weight at all and have zero credibility since anyone can endorse you for anything, whether they know you and have worked with you or not. They’re an inexplicably ridiculous feature of the site.
4. Should I leave my new job for another one?
I started a new job in December with a great company, in the top 10 of the Fortune 500. I really like my job and see great potential for my future. This week I got a call from an outside recruiter with a firm asking if I would be interested in another opportunity. I checked her out and she’s legit. I’ve spoken to her a few times and the position is similar to my current position. She thinks I’m a good candidate and wants to present me for it. I’m really torn. While I’m very happy with my new job, I hate to pass on something that could be even better. She said my current salary and bonus was in line with what this company would offer. What are your thoughts on this?
Why would you leave a job that you just started less than a year ago and that you’re happy at, without a really compelling reason?
You can get away with one short-term stay, but it’ll pretty much lock you into having to stay at the next one for a good long while so you don’t look like a job hopper. Why do that without a lot more incentive than it sounds like you have here?
5. Salary negotiation when moving from non-exempt to exempt
I am in a salaried non-exempt position at a large non-profit, and recently applied for a role in another department which better suits my skillset (with the support and blessing of my current manager and the new role’s supervisor). I know that this new role would be offered at the same salary that I am currently on, but it would be an exempt position.
If I were to get this job, could I negotiate the starting salary up based on the fact that I would be “losing” overtime? I don’t work overtime every pay period, but during particularly busy times for the organization I do clock up a fair amount, about an extra $2,500 over the course of a year. This new role would be just as much work, so I feel like I’d be taking a pay cut of that extra $2-3K…but maybe that’s just the trade-off for the added responsibility and authority of the new role. The company is responsive to salary negotiation (I did it when I started my current job), so I’m not afraid of asking, I just have no idea if this is a normal basis for negotiation or if I’ll be laughed out of the office.
Well, ideally, you’d negotiate the salary totally independent of what you’ve been making; you should negotiate based on the market rate for the new role. But if you get the sense that that their salary offer is going to be based on your current salary, then yes, it’s totally reasonable to say, “While my salary in this role has been $X, I typically earned an additional $Y each year in overtime, bringing the total pay to $Z. I want to be sure I’m not taking a pay cut at the same time that I’m taking on additional responsibility.”
Also, about this: “maybe that’s just the trade-off for the added responsibility and authority of the new role.” Added responsibility and authority is supposed to bring additional compensation, not less. If you’re taking on more responsibility, make sure you’re being paid appropriately for it. That means an increase, not a lateral move, and definitely not a cut.
my former boss is engaging in weird LinkedIn behavior, I feel guilty about leaving my job, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.
Invisible corner: That area in your home that has had accumulated random shit in it for so long that it’s become part of the landscape. Often found in corners, at the end of counters, or, really, anywhere. It’s been there long enough that your eye doesn’t even register it when you look around.
So what do you do when your invisible corner isn’t just a corner anymore? (more…)
This week’s Ask UfYH!
A reader writes:
Our Human Resources department just sent out a bizarre email saying that someone in my department has a Hepatitis A infection, that the risk of contracting it is low, and that they’re forwarding information about Hepatitis A so that we can make our own decisions about any actions we might want to take to monitor our own health.
I was formerly in health care and was vaccinated against Hep A & B a few years ago, but even with the protection from the vaccines, now I’m really nervous about potluck foods (I’m pretty sure that nobody in our department is doing each other or sharing needles, so contaminated food is probably the biggest concern for transmission right now).
I don’t want to get all Howard Hughes about germs, and I realize that we are all grown-ups, but I have noticed while I’m in the bathroom that some people don’t wash their hands at all or they just rinse quickly and then leave. It seems passive-aggressive to put up a note. I also don’t want to know who’s got it, or make them feel singled out by admonishing people to wash their hands with soap.
This whole situation makes me really uncomfortable. How do you think the HR department handled this? Is this standard? I understand that they are trying to do damage control, and I guess theoretically they haven’t disclosed the person’s identity, but it just seems weird to tell our entire department that we’ve got a Typhoid Mary in our midst.
I assume they alerted people because they felt like it was the responsible thing to do, and their approach of “here’s some information, and you can decide whether you want to do anything differently in regard to your own health” is pretty reasonable.
After all, you’re now reconsidering whether you want to eat potluck foods at work. If that’s a concern for you, it’s good that you’re fully informed and can make that decision for yourself. Wouldn’t you be pretty pissed if you weren’t informed, ate a bunch of potluck foods, contracted Hepatitis A, and then found out that your employer had known it could be a (even small) risk and hadn’t bothered to say anything?
So I think they handled this pretty reasonably.
But no, I don’t think you should be putting putting up signs in the bathroom. Assume that some portion of your coworkers don’t wash their hands (since that’s true of a not-insignificant portion of the general population) and take your own precautions accordingly — Hep A or no Hep A.
HR emailed our department to say that someone has Hepatitis A was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.
So you’re ready to launch a carefully scheduled project plan. You’ve planned backwards and mapped out each stage of the work and who will be responsible for what, and your project plan is a thing of beauty. What could go wrong?
Plenty, it turns out. At Intuit QuickBase’s Fast Track blog today, I talk about five of the things most likely to disrupt your project plan if you don’t factor them in from the beginning. You can read it here.
A reader writes:
I work in a small sales office in NYC. We are strictly commission based, yet my boss imposes punishment for being even a few minutes late from the start time. Regardless of how early I leave home (within reason), a few times a week I come in a few minutes (less than 10) after our set start time, as I am commuting on two subway lines that follow no discernible timetable. I am met with my boss angrily staring at me and staring at the clock.
I am usually the top performer in the office and this is starting to affect my work, as I’ve begun having so much anxiety about being late that I am having trouble sleeping. What are your thoughts on the mentality of of “9:04 is not 9:00″? Is this something I should talk to my boss about or should I just try to set my alarm earlier and earlier?
If your job doesn’t require you being physically at your desk at a certain time (such as to greet visitors or answer phones), then your boss is being ridiculous in caring that much about someone arriving a few minutes late.
He’s also being ridiculous by just staring angrily at you rather than discussing it with you.
That said, some bosses are extremely rigid sticklers about time of arrival. It’s a bad practice when it can’t be tied to a real job requirement, but you might not be in a position to do anything about that.
I’d approach your boss and discuss this with him. Say something like this: “I want to talk to you about my time of arrival. Because I’m relying on two subways lines that are frequently a few minutes off-schedule, I’m sometimes here a few minutes past 9 a.m. It’s never later than 9:10. My thinking is that the nature of my role allows a few minutes of flexibility and my sales numbers are strong. However, I want to make sure that this is okay with you.”
If your boss pushes back, you could say something like, “To be positive that I’d never be a few minutes late, I’d need to take a significantly earlier train, which would have me here before 8:30 most days. I’d prefer to avoid that if I can, since my sales numbers aren’t being impacted. Since my work is strong, would you be willing to give me some wiggle room?”
But if your boss holds firm, then you’re working for someone who’s really rigid about start times. If that’s the case, you probably do need to start taking that earlier train (or accept that your boss will hold this against you, with whatever consequences that entails).
should I be in trouble for occasionally starting work a few minutes late? was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.
Before and after. 4 days of on and off work :) did feel good/feel bad because my emotions aren’t timed as well as 20/10s. Still have more to go but happy :) and now its only a 10 minute sweep after company.
Reset: during & after. Stuff was scattered around, so I gathered and sorted it all first. Bonus: glued the toe of my boot back together!
Discontinuation, when possible, of medications that cause or exacerbate RLS, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin-norepinepherine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), diphenhydramine, and dopamine antagonists.Well, now. Made complete and total sense, and fortunately as soon as I quit taking products containing diphenhydramine, my symptoms receded and good old Requip was back on track once again.
It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…
1. My office is only assigning women to cover the phones
I work in a small office of about 12 people, with a fairly balanced mix of men and women. There’s no dedicated receptionist so any incoming calls are answered and handled by the customer service department, which was made up of two women. Well, this week one of the women quit, so the other has been left to handle all incoming calls on her own. Today, the CS manager, a man, sent an email to every woman in the office. He copied my manager and the CEO, both men, as well as the HR rep, a woman (but the CEO’s daughter). He opened with, “Ladies,” and proceeded to explain that we all needed to help assist with the phones.
I think we were picked because we’re women, not because of our particular jobs. There are men in non-managerial roles who weren’t included, and the women who were span seniority levels, including two managers.
Legally, can my employer do this, make this request of only the women in the office? In theory, I don’t mind helping out, assuming it’s temporary until a new customer service rep is hired, but I do mind being singled out simply for being a woman. Regardless of whether it is legal, is there a way to voice my displeasure? If it’s relevant, there is a strong boy’s club mentality among the senior male staff and I have no love for the company (desperately trying to leave).
It is indeed illegal for an employer to make decisions about job assignments based on sex, although I don’t think going straight to “it’s illegal” is where you want to start here (although it’s good to have in your back pocket if you need it).
Precisely who you raise this to and how you say it will depend on the dynamics and relationships in your office, but you should absolutely push back on this. In some offices, the best response would be a direct reply or even a “reply all” saying, “This shouldn’t be assigned to all the women. Can you please add the men into the rotation here too?” In other offices, you’d need to go talk to the sender in person, or speak to your manager, or enlist a female senior manager to handle it (and in some offices, the “reply all” might be wildly inappropriate). So you need to know your own office, but yes, raise it and raise it ASAP.
2. I have trouble pronouncing a coworker’s name
I’m having difficulty pronouncing a colleague’s name, and another colleague is correcting me during group meetings in a confrontational way.
The name in question is a traditional Irish name: “Lorcan,” which is pronounced very much the way it is written. Unfortunately, I am from near Liverpool in the UK and we have a dialect which is known as “Scouse.” One of the features of this accent is the tendency to use u’s instead of o’s, i.e., to say “buk” instead of “book.”
As you have probably guessed, I am pronouncing my colleague’s name as “Lurcan” instead of “Lorcan,” which is apparently causing a great deal of annoyance to his colleague. We have a monthly review with the gentleman in question, and whenever I mention Lorcan’s name, he corrects me every time with “It’s Lorcan, not Lurcan.” What usually follows is me repeating the name in a way that I hope is closer to the correct pronunciation, but usually with minimal success. It is beginning to get very embarrassing for me, and as the person in question is my superior, I am worried that taking it up with him or going to my direct superior may adversely affect my career.
I also now have another concern, which is that Lorcan himself is annoyed by my pronunciation of his name, and that the colleague is voicing Lorcan’s opinion on his behalf. Can you please advise me on what you would recommend I do in order to give the most positive outcome from this unpleasant situation?
Have you explained that you’re doing your best but it’s an accent issue? The next time it happens, I’d say something like, “Yes, I know. I’m trying, but my accent seems to have other ideas.” If the colleague knows that you’re trying and continues to give you a hard time about it, he’s being a jerk and that will be obviously to anyone watching.
3. Can I work my way up by starting as an assistant?
My question is about working your way up in a corporation. Is that even done anymore? I may be in my early 20s, but I’m not a fan of jumping around from place to place just to grow, and am hoping to stay somewhere for 10+ years and grow a career. I have a couple of potential job offers on my plate for executive assistant positions to CEOs and big guys in the field–would you advise taking these kinds of positions if you’re looking to eventually move on to the more technical side of things (e.g. project management, policy analyst)? Or is this a surefire way to get pigeonholed into support positions?
It can be done, but it really depends on the particular organization you’re in (as well as how awesome you are). There are many places (the majority, even) where you’d be pigeonholed into a support position. There are others, though, where you can work your way up from that type of role (although they’re typically smaller organizations). You’d want to really be sure of which type you were entering, and it’s something you should ask about directly during the interview stage.
4. Should I mention to my recruiter that my spouse is applying for a job too?
I met with a (large) company’s top internal recruiter who strongly encouraged me to apply for a position and e-mail them when I sent in the online form. Since then, I have spoken with my spouse about the company, and he is also interested in applying – they have positions in his field, great benefits, and we would have to relocate anyway. I don’t think it would be so unusual at this company for a married couple to come in together and work there. After I apply, should I include a line in my email to the recruiter to say that my spouse also applied for a different position?
Nope. You’re not a package deal, and you don’t want to do anything that implies that you think you’re a unit in a professional context.
5. How much should I remember about jobs 5+ years ago?
How well should we be able to speak about the contents of our resumes? Recently a recruiter was asking me about an internship I had at while I was in law school. I am looking for administrative work now but still at a law firm. I include my law school internships because in the past, interviewers seemed to want to know what I did during my summers even though I am looking at non-lawyer roles. However, the internship was 5 years ago and I found that I couldn’t speak to it very much at all. Should I leave it off my resume? How would you suggest we handle some level of fading as a result of time?
Reasonable interviewers won’t expect you to recall every detail of work experience from five years ago, but it’s not crazy to expect you to be able to talk in general terms about the work you did then — the sorts of projects, what you accomplished, etc. If you’re finding that it’s all a haze, I’d say to spend some time before any interviews thinking through what you did in those roles so that you’re more prepared to talk about them.
That said, if the questions are particularly nit-picky, there’s nothing wrong with saying, “Gosh, it’s been five years, but from what I remember….”
my office only assigns women to cover the phones, I can’t pronounce a coworker’s name, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.
Five articles you might find interesting –
* A Time article on social media blunders that can cost you a job (I’m interviewed, talking about a job applicant who blogged about his masturbation habits)
* CBS News reports on new research finding that of a sample of students who graduated from college in the mid 2000′s, 24% were living with their parents, 74% were getting financial help from their families, only 47% had full-time jobs that paid at least $30,000 a year, and 23% were unemployed or underemployed.
* A new court ruling in California means that if California employees must use their cell phones for work-related calls, they must be reimbursed a reasonable portion of their cell phone bills for that use.
* This is a fascinating New Republic article about how the experience of trans people — who generally stay in the same careers after they change genders — highlights the differences that men and women experience in the workplace. As you might expect, people who start living as men report being treated with more respect, and people who start living as women have found that behaviors that used to to garner them respect are now seen as off-putting.
* This is a totally weird article about “business live action role-play,” or a fake virtual office with “passive aggressive notes about food stolen out of the fridge, mandates about office dress and office supplies, and tips for improving synergy.”
business live action role-play, online blunders that can cost you a job, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.