It’s terse answer Thursday — seven short answers to seven short questions. Here we go…
1. Employee won’t repay a loan from a coworker
I’m a manager in a fairly large corporation and have been having significant issues with a new hire. Without going into much detail, he won’t make it to the end of his probation period. Another employee has come to me for assistance with an issue she’s having with him: apparently he’s been borrowing money from her and is not paying her back. My initial thoughts are that private loans between people outside the office are absolutely none of my business, but she’s an excellent employee and a really lovely (if overly trusting) person to work with overall, and that’s a bad situation for her, so I was hoping you would have suggestions or additional thoughts.
I think your first instinct is the correct one: Private loans between individuals aren’t something that you as an employer should be getting involved with. Although they are a very, very bad idea in the workplace and should probably be discouraged, because you do not want to find yourself in a situation where there’s tension between two GOOD employees over money not being paid back. (And by “should probably be discouraged,” I’m just musing, not suggesting that anyone implement an official rule to police this.)
2. How to thank organizations that helped with our work this summer
I work at a nonprofit that works with people who have disabilities and are interested in entering the workforce. During the summer, one of my main jobs is to find internships for teenagers to get them a little bit of work experience. I basically approach employers in the community and, after about 8 or so, I find one that will take on my students. This summer we worked with 30 different students, and all of the employers have been amazing. I would really like to do something to thank the employers for working with the students and for being as accommodating as they have been.
The past two summers, my supervisor has tried to put together an “Employer Appreciation” wine and cheese event. I originally explained that I didn’t think this was the best way to go. Putting myself in the employers shoes, I would find it more of a hassle to attend an event like that and it hasn’t been popular with the employers the past (as in…not a single employer attending). I think that this year we would be better off with a thank you card, or featuring them in our newsletter or something of that nature. I guess my question is twofold, what would be the best way to discuss this with my supervisor and what do you think the employers would appreciate in the way of a thank you?
If no employers attended past events after being invited, you have the perfect lead-in to raise this with your manager: “Not a single employer has attended when we’ve done these in the past, I suspect because they’re busy and don’t have time or just aren’t interested. This year, I thought we could do X or Y instead.” If your manager still isn’t convinced, you could run a few options by some of the employer contacts you have the best rapport with, so that you have feedback to take to your manager.
For alternatives, featuring the employers in your newsletter (and sending them a copy) is a great idea, because it’s good PR for them. You could also do food gifts (which most people like) with a personalized note about what the experience meant to the students who participated, and/or personalized thank-you notes from the students themselves about what they got out of the experience.
Also, what a cool job.
3. Company wants recommendation letters — on my first day of work
I successfully interviewed with a company and they called me later that day to tell me I got the position and that they would email me the acceptance letter. I received the email, but along with information about my start day, they also requested I bring in 2 reference letters on headed paper.
My first day is in a couple days and I don’t have any saved, scanned letters. I’m also currently in a different country from anyone who could serve as a reference. It seemed strange to me that they would ask for references after officially offering me the position. What would you, as a manager, think if you requested this and your new hire showed up on the first day without these references?
This is a bizarre request. They’ve already hired you — why on earth are the requesting you bring reference letters on your first day? In any case, I’d email your new manager right now and say that you’ll reach out to contacts to get these, but that you don’t have any on hand and people will need time to write them (and you should usually allow 1-2 weeks for that process). It also wouldn’t hurt to add something like, “I wasn’t sure if I correctly understood the request; since I’ve already been hired and have a start date, are these recommendation letters or for some other purpose?”
4. I signed an email to a recruiter with the wrong name
I recently had an interview and I think it went pretty well. I followed up with both the manager and recruiter with thank-you emails. For the one I sent to the manger, it was perfect but in the one I sent to the recruiter, I signed my closing using my middle name, which my family and close friends call me, but this employer knows me and refers to me by my first name. Should I resend the email with the name corrected and if so should I acknowledge the correction or just send it corrected?
The recruiter is currently confused about why your letter is signed with a name she doesn’t recognize, so yes, send an explanation. Don’t resend the email with the name corrected though — that would be weird, like receiving the same message twice. Instead, just send a note saying, “I noticed that I signed this with middle name, which probably confused you — my family calls me Jane, but I use my first name, Petunia, professionally. Sorry for any confusion!” In other words, as is so often the case, just be direct and straightforward.
5. I don’t want my name or photo on my employer’s website
I read your post about work emails having the sender’s photo and agree that there is not a need for this. However, I am concerned about the fact the there are HIPAA Laws (for privacy) and our employer can just post our pictures on the company website. If I use Linkedin or Facebook, that is my choice.
I do happen to have people who I am avoiding who now can Google my name and find out where I work and what I do, which means they could be waiting for me in the parking lot, wathching me, and etc. I do not find this safe nor professional of my company to put me out there like that. Do I really have to go to my employer and explain why I do not want my name or picture on the website? And can they choose to terminate my employment over it?
Well, first of all, HIPAA governs what information medical professionals can release about you; it has nothing to do with the workplace. There are no laws preventing employers from listing employee names on their website, along with photos, if they choose to.
That said, if you object to this for privacy reasons, you can certainly talk to your employer about it. While technically they could fire you over that, it’s incredibly unlikely that that would happen; this isn’t the sort of thing that people usually get fired over. Most employers will be willing to work with you to resolve it, particularly if you have concerns about a stalker or other safety situation. (If it’s just “I don’t want to be listed,” you may be out of luck, particularly if they have an employee directory online or something like that.) But yes, in order to get this changed, you would indeed have to go speak with them, since they have no other way of knowing you object.
6. Asking to be kept in mind for future openings
Right now, I’m in the process of writing what I’m hoping is a gracious response to a rejection email, and following your advice I’m definitely going to ask for feedback. However, I was wondering if it would be too pushy/selfish to also ask the hiring manager to keep me in mind for future openings, as everything I learned about the company during the interviews makes me want to work for them even more. Is it too much to essentially ask them for two favors when they just rejected me and it’s also been very obvious to me throughout this process just how busy and fast-paced their work is (every point in the timeline they gave me ended up being pushed back, usually until I contacted them to ask about it, because of extra work, deadlines, or issues in the field)?
No, that’s fine to do and not too pushy. You’re not asking her to keep your resume on their desk and look at it weekly, after all — or at least she’s not going to take it that way. You’re basically expressing interest in being considered in the future, which isn’t really asking a favor — it’s just a sign of continued interest. (Relatedly, you should continue to check their job openings yourself; don’t assume she will remember to reach out to you proactively. Hiring managers don’t always remember to, even when you’re a good candidate, particularly when they’re dealing with lots of applicants.)
7. Explaining a career transition in my cover letter
My question is related to career changes. I have been in the finance industry for the past 10 years and especially hated the past 3 years and have always wanted to work in the nonprofit/public policy sector and have decided to start applying for jobs in that sector. How can I address this in my cover letter? Right now I am mentioning that I can translate the same skill set from finance to this new sector but is there something more I should mention in my cover letter that this is clearly a career transition?
You should be explicit that you’re actively looking to make this transition (so it doesn’t just look like you’re applying for everything you see) and why. Luckily, finance skills are easily transferrable from one sector to another, though, so you’re not facing the same sorts of obstacles that someone who wanted to change from, say, accounting to communications would face.