It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…
1. I smelled alcohol on a coworker but am afraid I’ll get him fired
I smelled alcohol on a coworker. I was asked if I did and I felt like my answer would be the deciding factor that could get the coworker fired. I felt conflicted. I didn’t want to lie, but I am an honest person. The HR asking me the question said I could lose my job if I withheld this information. Is that true?
Yes, that’s true. Your employers can absolutely require you to participate honestly in workplace investigations. (Although in this case, I don’t know how they’d know that you were lying.) And in general in these situations it’s usually good to say what you know to be true. It’s hard to get serious workplace problems addressed if people won’t speak honestly in reasonable investigations or have their own agendas (and that can really torpedo attempts to address everything from harassment to safety violations).
2. Avoiding cuts to vacation time at my next job
I work as support staff at a small firm. We have vacation days (use it or lose it) and sick time (can carry over from year to year). Our paid time off policy was recently changed so that the maximum number of vacation days we get in a year has been lowered. We used to max out at 20 days (at 15 years), but now it’s 15 days (at five years). Period. Ever.
While this doesn’t affect me at the moment, I know eventually I’m going to want more time off. I know I need to brush up my resume and start looking around in order to build up seniority somewhere else. So what’s the least greedy way of saying, “I really liked my job, but then they decided to cut our vacation time. What kind of paid time off do you offer?”
Do you just want to know about vacation, or do you want to ensure they won’t change it on your after the fact? For the first, it’s a totally normal question to ask (no need to even explain what happened at the other job), but you should wait until you have an offer and then review all their benefits info. For the second, I’d wait until you have an offer and raise it then by saying something like, “One of the reasons I started looking for a new job is that my current company made across-the-board cuts to our vacation time. It’s important to me that that does happen again. Would you be willing to include a guaranteed X days off our agreement?”
3. The manager who asked me to stay in touch is now gone
About six months ago, I applied to a company I was interested in, and the hiring manager had a phone interview with me. She said she didn’t feel my skills were strong enough for that position, but she’d like to keep me in mind for another position that would be coming up in the future. She requested that we connect on LinkedIn to stay in touch.
This morning, I saw a notice on my LinkedIn feed that this manager had left that company. Since my contact person there is now gone, I’m wondering if I should re-submit my resume to the company (or even apply for a specific position if there are appropriate openings). Should I even mention my connection with this former manager? Or, should I maybe take this as a potential red flag about that workplace?
I don’t see anything about it that’s a red flag. People leave jobs all the time; it’s pretty normal. I’d just watch their jobs openings and if you find one that your’e a strong fit for, apply and in your cover letter mention that you’d talked with Jane Plufferton X months ago and she’d encouraged you to apply in the future.
4. My employer is forcing me to bowl
My boss is a mortgage broker. He owns a small private business, and after our commercial shoot, meeting and bowling afterwards is mandatory. I have no problem showing up for everything, but instead of actually bowling, I just want to sit there and watch/mingle. I told them this and the office manager said to just put on the bowling shoes and throw a ball once in a while, but I have a phobia about wearing other peoples’ shoes, have never bowled, etc. They can’t force me or require me to actually bowl, can they?
Legally? Yep, unless you request an accommodation for a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act. But it would be ridiculous for them to do that. I’d show up and just go with a cheerful, “No, thank you, I prefer watching!” if pressured. And if they really push, I’d say your feet don’t take well to bowling shoes but that you’re glad to be there with everyone or some other enthusiastic-sounding comment.
5. “Didn’t meet qualifications” despite being qualified
My husband submitted a resume for a job that he was very confident he was qualified for. However, they responded saying that he didn’t meet the minimum qualifications. We really found this to be odd, because, like I said, he pretty much fit the description. Is it okay to respond with a “thank your for your time and consideration” and request where he lacks in their needs so that he can, perhaps, strengthen those qualifications?
It’s not unreasonable to ask (as long as he doesn’t sound like he’s challenging their decision), although he might not hear anything back; a lot of employers are more willing to give feedback to people who get to the interview stage. However, you might be reading too much into it. Often “didn’t meet the minimum qualifications” is a sloppy way of saying “other candidates were stronger, so you just didn’t make this first cut.” Other times, the qualifications changed or included things that weren’t made clear in the job opening.
And keep in mind, you can be highly qualified for a job and still not get interviewed, because other people are even stronger … although I realize that in this case it’s probably the specific wording of the rejection that’s throwing you. As a general rule, though, I wouldn’t read much into the wording of rejection notices, ever; they’re often form letters, and often weirdly worded.