my manager accused me of fraud, helping an employee with anxiety, and more

by Ask a Manager on July 22, 2013

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It’s seven short answers to seven short questions. Here we go…

1. How can I help an employee who suffers from anxiety?

How can I help an employee who is suffering from anxiety? The employee in question is a very hardworking, very conscientious employee but she suffers from excessive worry and anxiety. This isn’t my diagnosis — she told me she’s taking advantage of our employee assistance program and getting help with it. However, part of her illness is that she worries — a lot — and doesn’t always have a good sense of perspective on what’s worth worrying about and what’s not. I understand this, as I’ve been there as well.

The way this manifests is that she frequently asks me if she’s messed something up, or made mistakes, and she seeks constant reassurance. I am very good about giving feedback, positive and negative, so she knows that I’ll tell her if there’s a problem. But I think the illness is clouding her ability to really accept that. So how do I work this? I don’t mind giving reassurance, but I don’t think it’s really helping. Is there something else I should be doing?

Well, you can certainly be reassuring and positive when she asks you if she’s made mistakes or messed something up. And if you’re willing to look for additional ways to help, you could ask her directly what, if anything, she would find helpful. But you’re probably right that the anxiety is clouding her ability to really accept it when you tell her that she’s doing fine, and that’s a problem that you’re not going to be able to fix for her — she’s got to do that on her own (and with the help of a therapist, as she’s doing).

I’d just keep boundaries in mind here — being calm, reassuring, and positive about her strengths is good, but going beyond that to find ways to help her believe you isn’t your role. (And in fact could be counterproductive, since she’ll be held back professionally if she starts to lean on you for that type of support.)

2. Will taking an politically ideological job harm my friend when he leans in the other direction?

My friend and I recently graduated college. He is currently searching for jobs/internships in the political research field (in the D.C. area). He is in the late stages of the interview process for a job with an international think tank that ideologically leans far in one direction. While my friend is willing to work for a political organization whose beliefs he doesn’t totally agree with (he also has had interviews with politicians from “the other side” and has no problem with this because he wants the job experience), he is concerned that this will affect his future job prospects. He eventually wants to work for an organization that leans in the other direction of this divisive issue.

This job would pay very well and he could probably pay off his student loans in two years. The job itself is great and plays to his strengths; it’s just the opposite ideology of what he wants. If he gets this job offer, do you think it would be worth it to take it? The alternative is probably taking an unpaid internship or even a minimum wage job. Will it affect his future job prospects negatively if he does?

If he ultimately wants a job with an organization on the other side of this issue, yes, it could be an obstacle. He can explain that he took the job solely for the work experience, but he risks that not going over over well with the organization he ultimately wants to work for — because to many people (not all, but many), that will look like  wishy-washiness or  a mercenariness that’s at odds with the commitment to their objectives that they’re probably looking for. In D.C. and in politics/advocacy work in general, you generally pick a side. You certainly can switch, but then the switch becomes part of your story — “I went where they’d hire me” doesn’t usually sell well.

(To further illustrate this: When I was working on drug policy issues, I would have considered a candidate who used to work to imprison people for marijuana use if that person had come to realize they’d been on the wrong side of that fight, and if they could talk thoughtfully about the change in their stance. I would probably not have considered that person if they just said, “Well, that’s just where I could get a job, even though I didn’t agree with it.” Some types of work require backbone.)

3. My manager accused me of fraud for correcting my timesheet

I am in charge of timesheets and leave forms. I hand them to my manager and she normally hands them back to me in a day or two. Recently, she had taken a long time with them, so one morning she hadn’t come in so I decided to go and look for them. I found them and saw that she had already signed them so I removed them. When I did, I saw that my timesheet had a few errors that she had pointed out. I then immediately corrected it and on the timesheet wrote a note thanking her for pointing out the mistakes and told her that I had corrected it on the timesheet as well as on Oracle.

She was furious and accused me of fraud and asked me who gave me permission to take things off her desk. If I was trying to defraud the system, I would have removed even the paper that she had made the corrections on and then she wouldnt have any evidence, but that really wasn’t my intention. I really did not intend to do anything that she is accusing me of. I would just like to know what my rights are in this case.

Legally? None. Your manager is allowed to be angry at you and even allowed to wrongly accuse you; this stuff isn’t governed by the same rules that cover the justice system.

I’d focus instead on how to resolve the situation. While her response sounds like an overreaction (although she’s entitled to be disturbed that you went through her papers and took things off her desk without permission) and the fraud accusation is silly given the context, just explain to her that that absolutely wasn’t your intention and that you tried to be extremely transparent by leaving her a note about what you had changed, but that you understand now that she doesn’t want you handling things that way and you won’t do it in the future.

4. Responding to a next-day interview invitation when I’m not a local candidate

I’m in the middle of a job search, and while I currently live in Colorado, I’m looking for jobs all over the country. Some of the jobs for which I’m applying are in Boston, and with family in the area, I was debating using their address when applying to these Boston jobs.

In an old post, you mentioned “Consider going a step further and using a local address. Many out-of-town candidates use the local address of family or friends who live in the area. But be prepared to explain when you’re called and invited to come in for an interview ‘tomorrow.’” Do you have any advice on what to say if you’re called in to interview “tomorrow” when you’re actually in Colorado, not outside of Boston?

Just be straightforward and say whatever you can to minimize any inconvenience for them. For instance: “I’m currently in Colorado, but I could be there by early next week to interview.”

5. I just started a new job — and just found out I’m pregnant

I just relocated to a new city, new job. They even paid the relocation. I love it, everything is great. I have recently figured out I am (surprise!) pregnant again… and now I have been here in the new job a whole 3 weeks and am faced with telling my new boss I am about 3 months pregnant. When do I tell her? Is now better than a few weeks from now? What’s the chances she is going to be mad, or feel like I hid this from her? I am pretty much hiding it from everyone since I am shocked this happened!

I’d tell her now. The earlier you tell her, the earlier she can start planning for how your leave will be handled. And while you’re under no obligation to do this, I think this will go better for you if you tell her that had no idea when you accepted the job and just found out yourself. Otherwise, yes, it will look like you knew earlier and didn’t mention it, even after you had an offer. (They couldn’t legally have let that information affect their hiring decision anyway, but it will look like you weren’t up-front with them and it’s human nature to be bothered by that, whether or not they should be.) Tell her soon, and present a proposed plan for your leave when you do. Hopefully she’ll be happy for you — and if not, you’ll have just learned something valuable about your new boss.

And congratulations.

6. Applying directly to the hiring manager rather than through an electronic system

With the hundreds of job applications for a given posting, would it be okay to figure out who the hiring manager is in the instance that their name isn’t posted (using Google, LinkedIn, etc.), and email the person your resume and cover letter directly? Would that show resourcefulness or would that just come across as stalker-ish? It’s exhausting to fill out those online applications knowing that your information will likely be ignored or overlooked by (potentially) a junior HR person who was given the task to sort through applications.

You can do that, but be aware that it won’t really look all that resourceful. People are rarely blown away by an ability to use LinkedIn or Google. They’re usually either neutral or mildly annoyed that you didn’t follow their application instructions (and will generally simply forward your application to HR or tell you to apply directly).

If it has any advantage, it’s that if you’re a really great candidate, the hiring manager might add a note to HR telling them that you look worth interviewing.

7. Can I list just some of my work experience on my resume?

I work in the arts, and have led sort of a “double life” where I worked in both an administrative capacity, in addition to contract and freelance work as a teaching artist, performer, and writer. I am trying to transition into an administrative role (preferably in the arts, but I’m open to other industries), and I’m uncertain of what’s the best way to approach my resume. Is it okay if I do a “select work experience” section that only lists relative administrative work? Or will what look like gaps (where I may have had a teaching contract, etc.) be a red flag? I know that I can explain my desire to shift gears adequately in my cover letter, I just don’t want my resume to cause any concerns.

Sure, that’s fine to do. Many people do that and call it Relevant Work Experience.

{ 109 comments… read them below or add one }

Jessa July 22, 2013 at 12:14 am

#3 unless you were up against a deadline and the manager was just not there, I would apologise for going into the manager’s desk. I would calmly then go back to her about the “fraud” thing and explain that all you did is enter the changes she had already noted on the forms, and that you’ll not do that again. However, if you’re in charge of the timesheets, why on earth would you making changes be an issue, unless it’s that you changed time relating to yourself only? And you’re supposed to have someone else do that to prevent the appearance of problems?

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Marissa July 22, 2013 at 1:39 am

Re: #6 – I’m a hiring manager and it irritates me A LOT when candidates directly email me their application. It shows that they feel entitled and aren’t likely to follow direction. If someone’s a really strong candidate, it’ll show in their resume (and in my field, their portfolio). Sending me a stalky email certainly can’t compensate for poor qualifications.

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Mimi July 22, 2013 at 7:57 am

+1

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Anonymous July 22, 2013 at 8:22 am

Yep, me too. I usually have replied with the instructions for applying without looking at the materials.

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Anonymous July 22, 2013 at 9:41 am

‘Stalky email’? Seriously? Sending your resume to the Hiring Manager looking to fill a position is evidence of stalking? You definitely need to dial it down and get a clue.

Most jobs—dare I say, most GOOD jobs—are filled through networking. What online system do connections go through? Only crappy jobs are funnelled and filled through online systems.

Stalking?

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Ask a Manager July 22, 2013 at 10:35 am

But networking isn’t emailing a stranger and asking them to hire you; it’s using relationships to connect with the hiring manager, not just emailing them your resume.

And many perfectly good jobs do indeed use online systems.

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DEJ July 22, 2013 at 1:41 pm

Even people who get their jobs through networking often still have to officially apply through the online system.

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MrsKDD July 22, 2013 at 10:07 am

Exactly what I do as well. I don’t have the time to manually update our application database with whatever info the applicant has decided to provide me with; our online system does that for me with all the info I require.

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Felicia July 22, 2013 at 10:17 am

I hate a lot of online application systems (taleo particularly), but I would never directly email an application. I figure following the instructions exactly will give me the best chances, and if I don’t get a call back from an online application, I wouldn’t have gotten a call back from applying directly.

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Carlotta July 22, 2013 at 3:09 am

#6 – ‘junior HR person’ – I know HR doesn’t get it right all of the time but this comes across as extremely entitled. If I detected this in your cover letter you’d be out of the running so be extremely careful how you word it.

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LauraUK July 22, 2013 at 3:48 am

Yes, I spotted that one and had a similar reaction! To apply for a job and immediately make it clear you distrust the process and think that the staff paid to handle it are incompetent would also put you out of the running for me as well.

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HR Admin July 22, 2013 at 7:47 am

No 6- what makes you think you’re special? Why should you be circumventing the procedure when other applicants aren’t? I’m a “junior HR person” and I work very hard when screening out resumes. In my experience, people like you are usually the worst candidates to interview.

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Anne July 22, 2013 at 8:49 am

+1

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MrsKDD July 22, 2013 at 11:26 am

Glad I’m not the only one who got their back up when they read that sentence.

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BCW July 22, 2013 at 10:37 am

I wouldn’t call it entitled as much as just the reality of a situation. On this very board there have been many discussions about HR people screening resumes and good candidates being passed over. Lets be real, in most cases, it isn’t exactly a VP level employee who is going through the resumes.

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Mimi July 22, 2013 at 11:50 am

Right…..but surely there’s a middle ground between “junior HR person” and VP.

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BCW July 22, 2013 at 12:07 pm

Thats true, but I’m just saying if the title is “junior level HR rep” or something similar, I don’t find it condescending to say that.

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HR Admin July 22, 2013 at 9:55 pm

My issue with the OP’s post isn’t so much about the junior level HR person comment as the “i deserve extra special treatment” vibe I’m getting.
Everyone is in the same boat when applying. Unless you have connections, don’t try to circumvent the process. You still have to fill out the same application online so that we can track it.

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Marina July 22, 2013 at 11:50 am

Unless you’re a VP level candidate, it’d be pretty arrogant to expect it.

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Barbara in Swampeast July 22, 2013 at 12:06 pm

BCW – why do you think VP level employee would do better? And what constitutes better? I assume that any HR employee who gets a reputation for choosing bad applicants would be looking for a job themselves.

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BCW July 22, 2013 at 12:09 pm

Why do I think they would do better? Well mostly because to have gotten to the VP level of HR, you probably have more experience than a junior level person, probably know the company better, so I think its a fair expectation that they would do better. I mean there are always exceptions. But its like anything. If I had the option for a VP of accounting or a junior accounting associate to be responsible for my finances, I don’t think assuming the VP will be better is that bad.

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periwinkle July 22, 2013 at 1:17 pm

The VP of HR has a lot more important uses for her productive time than screening resumes. It’s not impossible for an assistant-level person to screen resumes intelligently. Heck, I’ve done it. You have to understand the needs of the position, and have an open line of communication with the hiring managers to ensure that you’re looking for what they’re looking for.

I certainly understand the OP’s frustration, though. I was referred by a colleague for an awesome position, and have talked informally with the hiring manager who is very interested in interviewing me. When the position officially opened I submitted through the regular online system. However, their HR has a new policy where they not only screen the resumes, but pick the specific candidates that the hiring manager is allowed to interview. The panel that selects the interviewees only meets once a week so it’s taking months between closing date and first contact with the successful candidates (by which time many of them are no longer available or interested, so the process has to start over). Funny, I was taught in HR classes that our job was to facilitate the hiring process, not disable it…

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Anonymous July 22, 2013 at 12:26 pm

The use of exhausting really nailed it. It’s an online application, not a marathon. This screams “special snowflake” in my opinion.

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Amber July 22, 2013 at 3:13 am

#3) I do agree that she over-reacted a little bit but she does have a right to be furious. I think you’re not aware of how bad your actions were by looking through her desk and removing documents. This is a huge violation of trust. Unless you are given permission, you do not, DO NOT go looking through anyone’s desk and take documents from your manager. If she’s taking too long, you wait until she is in and ask her about it. The best way to salvage this is to not get defensive, you have to own up to your mistakes and apologize (even if you don’t agree that you did something wrong). If instead you go defensive then she probably won’t trust you in the future and it can damage your reputation.

Something like, “I’m so sorry about taking the documents from your desk and changing them. You’re absolutely right, I should not have done that and I realize that now. I made a mistake and it was never my intention to fraud the company. I thought I was doing the right thing by updating the time sheet but clearly I misunderstood the procedure. In the future I’ll come to you and ask how it should be handled. It won’t happen again.”

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Kimberlee, Esq. July 22, 2013 at 2:51 pm

This wording seems 100% perfect. Particularly the “In the future…” part, because it’s nice to know, when someone you supervise did something wrong, what they will do in the same situation in the future.

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Anne July 22, 2013 at 5:39 am

#1 – Oh god. Sudden jolt of panic that this might have been my manager writing in. I just had a discussion with her about my own anxiety issues last week. Ahhhh. But no, we don’t have EAP and I haven’t reacted to issues in that way. Phew. Okay.

It sounds like the person having anxiety issues here is further along than me. But, what I asked my manager to do was just to never let me get away with anything, even knowing that I am having issues and am under a lot of stress. One of my biggest worries is that I will have forgotten something and someone will just let it slide to be nice, but be thinking to themselves that I can’t handle it. So having reassurance from my manager that if I do miss anything she WILL bring it up (gently) is of some help to me.

It’s also been helpful to me to hear her say that I think my mistakes are a way bigger deal than she does. And to hear from people generally that my expectations of myself are too high and my worries are unfounded. It can get old (yes thank you I KNOW it’s irrational) but generally, it’s good to get confirmation from outside my own mind.

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Jean July 22, 2013 at 9:40 am

Another recovering perfectionist (aka obsessor over my actual or possible oversights) here. I think you’ve done a good thing in telling your manager that you appreciate knowing that she won’t “let something slide just to be nice” because this demonstrates your awareness of the difference between realistic and unrealistic attention to detail. The next step is for you to internalize that awareness and incorporate it into your own performance, as much as possible, without having to rely on outer supports.

Easy to write, hard to do? Oh, yes. In my experience, I finally had to force myself to believe in my abilities and just. keep. going. without. agonizing. This often meant telling myself “I am honestly good at what I do here, so if I have signed off on XYZ task it means that I did not overlook details A, B, or C…and if by chance I have, well, the world won’t come to an end.” (Not to be cavalier, but my professional concerns don’t involve cutting out the wrong organ or not removing all surgical tools before sewing up the patient.) In other words, as in other cases of overcoming workplace self-doubt, at some point you have to fake it.

Honestly, when you subdue your workplace worries (well, obsessions) you’ll feel so much better, and have much more energy available for tackling new challenges! You will also have enhanced your professional reputation and your own self-confidence. If it takes you years instead of months, just accept the fact, be kind to yourself, try super-hard not to share all of your agony with your coworkers, and keep on keeping on.

Techniques I found helpful:
- Having task checklists
- Being discreet during your inevitable lapses (see above re not sharing the agony)
- Being proactive to prevent future backsliding. Find out your triggers and anticipate solutions. Does this happen when you’re hungry (keep something to eat in your work space) stressed by a deadline (plan ahead, use checklists), or difficult life events at home (bigger challenges but usually manageable, somehow, eventually), etc., etc.?

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Chinook July 22, 2013 at 10:47 am

“(Not to be cavalier, but my professional concerns don’t involve cutting out the wrong organ or not removing all surgical tools before sewing up the patient.)”

I think that this is an important thing to remember if you have any anxiety or perfectionist tendancies. If your job does not involve life or death decisions or directly impact someone’s pay cheque, then it is helpful to remember that any mistakes you may make are not serious in the grander scheme of things. Does it mean that you shouldn’t double check things and not strive to do your best? Of course not. But, if there is a typo in a document or a dealine is missed, will it really make any difference 6 months from now? If the answer is no, take a deep breath, fix the problem and move on.

Please note that I am saying this to people who are worried about making mistakes because,by default, they are probably not making tons of mistakes to begin with which means everything is going great which means there is no feedback which means they wonder if they are doing okay which creates an anxiety loop. When in doubt, remember what my grandmother always told us – no news is good news. (which is also why she never bugs us about a lack of phone calls. Now, if she suddenly gets calls every day from someone she never hears from, then she worries.)

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Anne July 22, 2013 at 12:41 pm

Thank you guys, it’s really helpful to read this.

Yeah. I have been trying to step back and realize that my work is not life-threatening or world changing. If I mess up, the absolute worst that happens is that my company loses a little money. That has happened. My managers care way less about it than I do.

It’s so hard to stay in that laid-back mindset, though. Everything is… must do it all, correctly, and then take on more. And then I burn out.

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OP#1/Frequent Commenter July 22, 2013 at 1:30 pm

Anne, there would be worse things in the world than your manager wanting to make sure they don’t make it worse, right? :)

I’m glad you were able to talk to your manager about it. I’m glad my employee talked to me. My job is to help my employees be their best, so understanding what they’re dealing with helps me do that better.

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Anne July 22, 2013 at 3:33 pm

Absolutely true. And it’s really good to read that you’re being so conscientious about this issue. It makes me hopeful. :)

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Sara M July 22, 2013 at 2:11 pm

Hey, for #1: I also suffer from anxiety and perfectionism issues. They can get really bad. One of the things that helps me most is that when I _do_ make a mistake, or someone is mad at me, they start with, “Remember I promised to tell you when something was actually wrong? Well, [x], and we can fix it with [y]… so it’ll be fine. Like I said, I promised I would tell you when there was an issue!”

Knowing that they actually _will_ tell me if there’s a problem (and not tiptoe around me because they’re afraid of worrying me) helps me trust them that, in the 95% of times when they’re saying “it’s fine and nothing is wrong,” they actually mean it and they’re not just trying to placate me.

The other thing to remember is a concept called “dirty pain”. There’s the “clean pain” which is actually the suffering from the anxiety, and then there’s the “dirty pain” which is suffering from guilt/shame over the disorder. So if someone says to me, “Relax, you worry too much!” what I hear is “You are so hard to deal with and you can’t think normally.” I can’t speak for your employee, but being told to relax just trivializes me, even if it’s true. A better method is to ask me, “What are you worried about?” and then listen and help defuse it. Sometimes speaking my fears aloud, I realize myself how silly they are, and when someone offers practical solutions to my concerns, they melt away. “Oh, if we ship broken product by mistake, we’ll apologize and replace it for free.” Okay, great.

I hope some of that helps. Remember the employee probably really _wants_ to stop worrying and just can’t do it very well, and it’s not because of lack of effort. It’s good that you care.

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FiveNine July 22, 2013 at 6:02 am

#2 — Washington, D.C. is funny and sort of like Wall Street in that it rarely behaves the way common sense tells you it would. Experience on one far end of the political spectrum won’t necessarily hamstring a person in his/her future career prospects, nor will it necessarily pigeonhole the person into that end of the spectrum, either. I’ve worked in D.C. since the early 1990s and many, many people I know have started out like gangbusters in basically activist-type politics (as opposed to elected-office type party politics), and there is tremendous value in the type of position it is as opposed to what the politics of that particular organization are. A job at a think tank can take the person easily to a staff position on a powerful congressional committee dealing with the subject matter, or to Treasury, or the White House, etc. Then there are the lobbyist organizations and law firms and really, it’s the expertise and it’s the subject matter often more than the particular position on that subject matter the person advocated for his/her employer in that position.

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FiveNine July 22, 2013 at 6:10 am

(I didn’t even add how so very common it is for top lawyers in basically any field, for example, to spend years successfully arguing the private-sector side of arguments to then go into government for a few years as a top official at an agency arguing the government’s side then return again to the private sector. It’s a slightly different thing than the scenario that the OP is describing, but it does underscore how all of this can be very fluid in D.C. unlike just about anywhere else, and how the focus is often less on the employer one worked for earlier than on one’s track record of success in developing expertise in the subject matter.

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Cat July 22, 2013 at 8:17 am

I think what you’re describing is a different thing though and being alert to the nuances is going to be important for a job seeker in this area. It is a given that lawyers in D.C. switch between private practice and the government, even though they’re clients might technically be adverse to the government in a given matter. But that’s at least in part because regulated companies also know they need to have good relationships with the regulators; it’s not a straight-out adversarial relationship even if it sometimes gets put into the adversarial process.

Sometimes this works for switching sides in private practice or non-governmental jobs too. We do a fairly ideological kind of work and don’t really have a problem hiring people who used to work for the “other side” (except insofar as they’re conflicted out of most of what we work on; that can be an issue); but we also do a niche kind of ideological work that people aren’t likely to be exposed to unless they’re already working in the area. So “I encountered your firm and found out I liked what you stood for” works for us. The dynamics, I think, would be quite different in a situation like Allison described where you already know what you want to be doing and deliberately take a job doing something else; AND where it’s the type of work where you’re expected to be ideologically committed.

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MM July 22, 2013 at 8:41 am

I worked as a Hill staffer for 5 years (recently) and completely disagree – at least when hiring for Capitol Hill positions, there are so many applicants to choose from (hundreds for each entry level job) that anyone with work for the opposing side on their resume wouldn’t even get an opportunity to explain themselves. They just look wishy-washy, and like they “don’t get it”, so they immediately go in the “don’t interview” pile since there are so many other great people to choose from. The ONLY exception to this on the Hill was if you interned for your “home-state” member, even if they didn’t align with your political views.

Lobbying is probably a different story, since that’s more widely seen as being about the money. But for activist or political jobs, you really need to show that you’re so dedicated to the issue/position/candidate, etc. that the money doesn’t matter (even though of course it does!). I would really discourage anyone from taking this course.

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Andrea July 22, 2013 at 10:08 am

Just came here to make that point, re: lobbying. I write freelance for a few different DC lobbying firms, and I’ve been doing this work for about 8 years. Most of the people I work with have indeed switched back and forth a lot; it’s kind of a given with a lot of these types. And I’m not an employee, nor do I live or work in DC, but no one at these firms has ever asked my opinions on any of these issues—which is just fine with me, as I remain firmly on the opposing side, yet still focused on the clients’ needs. I do think this is an exception in lobbying (and maybe not across the board) and not at all the same as in the nonprofit world and the like, though.

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EJ July 22, 2013 at 8:10 am

#3 – seems like there’s more at play here. Perhaps you weren’t meant to see this notes, or there was something personal on her desk?

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Katie the Fed July 22, 2013 at 8:57 am

#3 –

Ask your manager how she wants you to handle it in the future if the timesheets haven’t been returned by the deadline.

That being said, you shouldn’t have gone through her desk. That’s a big no-no.

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LisaLyn July 22, 2013 at 9:06 am

I agree. I think that may have been what the manager was reacting to, more than the actual changes. And yeah, maybe by not addressing that directly, she reacted badly, but taking things from someone’s desk is a pretty big violation, unless it’s more of the culture in the OPs particular office (shared desk space, whatever).

Maybe it’s Paranoid Monday for me, but I almost felt that for the manager to react so badly, there is more to this story that perhaps even the OP doesn’t realize, such as that there was even more confidential information out on the desk or something.

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mouse July 22, 2013 at 9:31 am

my interpretation was that the “fraud” could relate to the OP padding/falsifying their hours, and that the manager was holding on to the sheets in order to address that issue. their anger may have been from the op taking them back and changing them, effectively “destroying the evidence” and acting like there was no wrongdoing (which there may not have been, but the manager might have a different perspective.)

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fposte July 22, 2013 at 10:18 am

And if they had been signed by the manager, it’s a bad plan to change the hours afterwards so it looks like she signed something she didn’t.

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Ellie H. July 22, 2013 at 10:24 am

I think there’s a big difference between, say, going through desk drawers and taking obviously finished paperwork that is supposed to be handed off to you after it’s finished off of the top of the desk. I am definitely guilty of finishing something I’m supposed to hand off or send somewhere and then just leaving it on my desk for a while. I wouldn’t have a conniption fit if someone came looking for it and took it if it was obviously something I had appropriately processed. Caveat that we have a bit of a culture of that around our office, and most places probably don’t, and it would depend on the kind of paperwork – there are definitely times I’ve signed something, realized it had an error and hung onto it. So I understand the negative reaction but not the level of flipping out.

I still find the accusation of fraud bizarre and I actually don’t feel I fully understand it. From my understanding, the only opportunity for “fraud” would have been if the original errors on the timesheet had given extra time and the LW didn’t correct the errors. So this seems like the opposite of fraud to me, especially considering the LW left a note describing what he or she did! Unless the accusation of fraud was in reference to the original errors, not correcting them for the actual time entry. I’m just overall confused.

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Elizabeth July 22, 2013 at 10:39 am

My employer has a policy that no one is to edit their own timesheets and/or sign off on them that they are accurate. Doing so is enough to get you a written warning the first time, suspension the second & third times and terminated the fourth time. Making edits to your own timecard other than clock-in & clock-out is considered an attempt to commit fraud.

I have complete access to the time management system as the IT staffer who supports it. I can edit any time card. I don’t do any edits on those for my department. If our boss isn’t available to make them, I call the payroll coordinator, they make the edits and they note why they did so. The chain is then clean. If it isn’t clean, then it taints the accuracy of the payroll.

My industry is already under significant scrutiny for possibility of Wage & Hour violations. A potentially inaccurate payroll makes all regulatory agencies start looking for all possible ways it is inaccurate. I never want to create an invitation to regulators to come digging through my organization.

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Katie the Fed July 22, 2013 at 11:02 am

Exactly. If you change the hours after it’s been signed then you’re basically putting the manager into a fraudulent position – even if it was unintentional, her name is now on a document saying “I attest that these hours are true” when that is no longer the case.

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tcookson July 22, 2013 at 12:24 pm

Some people are just very private about other people messing around on their desks, regardless of whether they have anything that would be of any particular interest to anyone else. As a rule, I would assume that I should NOT dig around on anyone else’s desk, much less take anything from it, without the explicit consent of that person. My one boss doesn’t care if I dig around on his desk as much as I want to, but my other boss would be very bothered if I did that to her desk. Different people have different boundaries about that sort of thing.

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Hooptie July 22, 2013 at 5:40 pm

To me, digging in someone else’s desk is akin to going through their purse. Not cool at all.

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Soni July 22, 2013 at 9:13 am

#2) I think one could also make the case for the value of “working for the enemy” in terms of the insight and experience you gain. If it were me and I really felt I had no choice but to either take a job on the wrong side or work outside the field altogether, I’d do everything I could to use that time to learn “the enemy” inside and out, to explore the field/issue as thoroughly as I could on their dime and to gain empathy, understanding and basic intel on the audience (why they feel that way, where the weak points of their loyalty are, what arguments might be most effectively used to “turn” them, etc). That way, once I had the chance to move on to my own side, I could sell myself as a valuable team member who has spent time in the trenches with the other team and who knows how they operate inside and out. Also, you can come away with valuable cross-platform contacts that you can later call on to work with when the poop hits the fan and cooperation becomes more important to the cause than another round of standoffs.

Debate teams are there for a reason: Nothing helps critical thinking so much as the ability to argue well for the other side, so you can see the weak points in your own arguments, as well as understand that those on the other side have valid reasons for their feelings and aren’t dehumanized, one-dimensional “evil jerks” who just want to see the world burn. If approached in this context, I think working for the enemy can have a lot of value, especially if the alternative is working outside of the field altogether and losing touch with current events/thinking/contacts.

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amilie July 22, 2013 at 10:07 am

Yes, but the problem is that once someone sees that you’ve worked for the opposing side on your resume, you’re eliminated as a candidate with no chance to explain yourself. Whatever reasons you may have had for doing so are worthless.

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mouse July 22, 2013 at 11:50 pm

yes, this. you probably wont get a chance to explain your reasoning and will be rejected outright.

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Adam V July 22, 2013 at 10:10 am

I thought the same thing. I would think getting experience in the environment, regardless of which side you’re on, would be incredibly valuable.

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Anonicorn July 22, 2013 at 10:13 am

Nothing helps critical thinking so much as the ability to argue well for the other side, so you can see the weak points in your own arguments

I was thinking something similar. But I haven’t worked in DC or in politics, so take that as you will.

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Ask a Manager July 22, 2013 at 10:14 am

In my experience, having worked in the D.C. advocacy world nearly my whole career, it doesn’t work that way in activist/political/nonprofit/think tank jobs. You’re expected to have an ideological commitment to the mission of the organization, or at least not to have worked on the other side, except in very rare cases where you can explain your switch. Doing it for the experience won’t generally go over well.

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Joey July 22, 2013 at 12:07 pm

When my friends in politics describe it it sounds like switching sides is akin to treason. Is that accurate?

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Ask a Manager July 22, 2013 at 12:37 pm

That’s been my experience, yes.

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Sara July 23, 2013 at 1:43 am

Just out of curiosity though…what if you DONT lean in any particular way on certain issues?

I don’t consider myself too closely aligned on either side of most issues–I’m able to see both perspectives, whcih can be a good and bad thing depending on the situation.

Just wondering about that……

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Bwmn August 6, 2013 at 8:20 am

While this might apply with academia (being able to see/argue both sides) – in general this is not how cause-based organizations hire.

For example – let’s say the position you’re applying for is to be an accountant for a cause organization. Your views on the cause aren’t truly relevant to your day to day tasks but in the notion of “I work for a team and do my job well so that the organization can do well” – the organization will want to make sure that you’re at least compabitable and comfortable.

That being said, there are also causes/activisim areas that call for pluralism, embracing gray areas, centrism, etc. An issue like gun control has a lot of “middle” areas and groups navigating the middle. So rather than saying there’s value in seeing both perspectives – professionally you’d be better suited for an organization/think tank/etc. open about functioning in “the middle” of whatever the issue may be. If your position is a centrist one, there are professional options (think tanks, nonprofits, etc) for that – and that’s where you’d be appreciated.

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Forrest July 22, 2013 at 10:19 am

I find this approach…kind of distasteful.

1) I would hope my people are making informed decisions about what they support what they do do before they make that choice. For example, I would expect someone to know both sides of the gun control argument before saying what side they fall on. As a hiring manager, I wouldn’t think a person needs to spend time working for the other side in order to figure out how they kind.

2) Presenting it as “undercover work” makes it seem even more mercenary to me than the actual truth – the economy sucks and they’re the only one who will hire me.

3) It doesn’t speak highly of the person’s integrity I dislike people who work against my beliefs, but I also wouldn’t think highly of someone operating within them. There’s a certain level of trust between an employer and employee and that would be such a violation to me. Besides, how would I know you’re not going to do the same to me.

4) Regardless of what their intention is, the fact of the matter is that you still worked against me for a period of time. You helped them at the expense of my mission.

That said, I don’t think is this is an impossible obstacle. Especially if the OP isn’t working for a prochocie org when she really wants to work for a prolife one. I think working for an issue when you really want to work for a nonoppossing issue that happens to “belong” to the other side is different from working for something that directly opposes the mission you do want to work for.

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Cat July 22, 2013 at 10:23 am

Yeah, I think the issue is that people feel like the work they’re doing matters; someone who is working for the other side is actively working against it, and they believe that matters too. There are ways to learn about the other side without actively helping their work.

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Lillian July 22, 2013 at 12:14 pm

I know Alison would not advocate dishonesty, but just for the sake of putting it out there:

You could take the job and later (maybe much later) spin it as a “conversion” story. As in “I used to believe X. Then Y happened and I had a Life-changing Epiphany (TM), and then I realised that Z was the Ultimate Truth”.

From my personal experience, I’ve noticed that converts to a cause tend to be especially passionate about their new cause, so this could work. I’ve seen converts who are much, much more vocal and proactive than people who’ve believed a stance all their lives.

Yes, this approach is dishonest and distasteful and you’ll need to be a really good story-teller to pull it of. But if you’re really, truly desperate and you can live with the idea of not just ‘working for the enemy’ but actually lying about it….

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KellyK July 22, 2013 at 1:56 pm

Setting aside the giant ethical red-flag, this is probably not a wise approach if you’ve been in any way active in your cause before taking the anti-cause job. Especially if there’s a record online of your actual leanings (e.g., your Twitter and Facebook, blog posts, etc.). Those could shoot giant holes in your “road to Damascus” story.

Not that it’d be ethically okay either way, but it might not even be practical.

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Anonymous July 22, 2013 at 9:17 am

I agree with Alison’s and the commenters’ responses to #6, but at the same time, I can’t really blame the OP for wishing they could circumvent the system. I applied for a job last night, myself. I had to fill out a 10-page mandatory webform which asked for my education, work experience, volunteer experience, skills, languages spoken, etc. – also known as “basically all the information on my résumé” – and then on the last page I was required to upload my résumé… and do the whole thing multiple times because the application was so buggy it kept crashing.

Yes, you should follow the application instructions provided by the organization you’re applying to, but a *lot* of online application forms are far from ideal. I don’t think someone who’d like to find a way to avoid jumping through pointless hoops is automatically entitled.

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Ash July 22, 2013 at 9:50 am

After the second time of having the system crash on me, that’s when I would’ve searched for the hiring manager and let them know in a really apologetic way that I was sending them my application info via e-mail because I can’t get their company’s website to work. Of course you should mention you’ll keep trying to get the website to work, but at least they have your materials and maybe a heads up about how terrible their software is that they didn’t have.

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Anonymous July 22, 2013 at 10:51 am

There was absolutely no contact information provided in the job description. It was a job with the public library, and all jobs with the city are advertised on the city’s website (not on the websites of the individual organizations) and you can only apply by going through the centralized application webform. All it says on the Careers section of the public library’s website is “For current job opportunities, please check jobs.mycity.ca.”

So if the webform doesn’t work for you, you’re pretty much SOL.

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Elizabeth West July 22, 2013 at 1:16 pm

In my city, there is an HR office at City Hall that you can actually, physically go to and apply there. If someone runs into this for a city job, it might be worth checking to see if that is a viable alternative.

Disclaimer: my city isn’t a really large one either.

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SCW July 22, 2013 at 6:47 pm

I’m also in libraries, and this is typical. But usually the city/county/municipality over the library has an HR division you can contact. They may not be involved in interviewing, but they can be the gatekeepers to getting the application through. In my system, the county screens all of the applications to make sure they meet minimum qualifications, and sometimes they miss folks who are not clear in their resumes. A coworker and I who held the same position both applied for an opening, and she didn’t get an interview and I did, partially because I found the HR contact information through the county’s website and followed up when I didn’t hear back right away. My coworker was contacted, but the e-mail went to her spam folder and she missed it.
But as Elizabeth says below, you can visit the central HR if their system isn’t working and apply. I find this true in small and large municipalities, because they hire for librarians and for temp road crews, so they have a broad group of applicants, some who aren’t likely to apply online.

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Jean July 22, 2013 at 9:57 am

Based on previous responses from HR folks, I think that “us applicants” are stuck using the online systems instead of going around them (unless, as Anonymous at 9:35 a.m. wrote, we can skillfully use LinkedIn to leverage an introduction to the hiring manager from a credible mutual connection). However, there is some hope: In several recent online applications I’ve only had to provide my basic contact information before being allowed to upload the resume (and sometimes also the cover letter) of my choice. Eventually, this more user-friendly software will replace all of those hopelessly finicky, once-cutting-edge-but-now-outmoded HR systems. It may take years, given the tight economy, but someday…

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Ruffingit July 22, 2013 at 11:38 am

I hope that day is soon. Online application forms are almost guaranteed to be horrendous in one way or another. It’s so hard to deal with them when they’re buggy, they crash, they ask for information and then don’t give you enough characters/box space to input it. UGH. So, so frustrating.

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EG July 22, 2013 at 9:31 am

#6 – So many companies now need to track all applicants for a job posting for EEO and other reasons. By trying to go around the system that is in place, you not only show failure to follow instructions but you may put yourself out of the running (if the company isn’t nice enough to reply with a request to apply through their regular method).

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Anonymous July 22, 2013 at 9:35 am

Regarding #6, you have just told me that you can’t follow directions and have no respect for my time. If I wanted candidates to email me directly, I would have said so. Irritating the hiring manager is not a good first step.

If you want to make use of LinkedIn to make your candidacy stand out, why not use LinkedIn as it was designed to be used? Find a useful common connection, and have that person let me know what a great candidate you would be. Coming from a professional contact I respect, this has credibility that the candidate does not.

But just to be clear, none of this will do you any good unless you have already applied in our electronic system. First, no one gets hired without an application. Second, if you clearly fail to apply, we’re back to your showing me you can’t follow directions.

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Chinook July 22, 2013 at 11:00 am

I was thinking that even if you have an amazing connection at the company that you would still have to apply through the system just to ensure that your name is in the system. After all, if the connection mentions to the hiring manager that they think Shavon would be a great for the job and here is her resume and the manager goes to HR and asks for the Shivon to be added to the interview list, HR’s response would be “but they haven’t applied” because HR doesn’t have the application on file. This could then reflect poorly on the connection because they have recommended someone who hasn’t even bothered to apply.

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Twentymilehike July 22, 2013 at 12:27 pm

I was thinking that even if you have an amazing connection at the company that you would still have to apply through the system just to ensure that your name is in the system.

Yes this! It actually just happened to me. I had been referred for a position and the hiring manager reached out to me outside of their normal recruiting process. I still had to go through the online application process so that they could hire me.

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Lexie July 22, 2013 at 9:50 pm

+1 I was actually recruited for and offered a position. Then I had to go fill out all of the online application. There is no point in trying to avoid it.

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Anon July 23, 2013 at 1:52 pm

I realize this may not get answered (slightly off-topic, in yesterday’s comments), but just in case…

Your comment about LinkedIn brought up a question for me. What if someone asks you for an introduction – you have worked with the person, but you don’t really like them and/or you can’t vouch for their work, but you want to help make a connection because (1) they need a job and (2) they might be able to help you in the future. What in the heck do you say in the email you send to the person they want to “meet”? Just describe that “we used to work together at Company, and he was interested in talking with you?” Or would you not make the connection? And then what to say to the person who asked you to do it?

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Ask a Manager July 23, 2013 at 1:57 pm

I’d be glad to answer this in a different post if you’d like to email it to me! It’s a good question.

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AmyNYC July 22, 2013 at 9:36 am

#4 Long distance job hunting
I prefer to say “I’m out of town at the moment, but could meet you next week,” and then explain your plans to move in person at the interview. Stress that you have family in the area and whatever other reasons you have for moving across the country.
I’m a little concerned that you say you’re applying for jobs all over the country; to be a viable option as a long distance job hunter you need to have concrete and specific reasons why you want to move to X city – the risk with hiring someone from far away is that they find that they hate the new city and leave quickly.
Understand that 9 times out of 10 a) you won’t get financial help to move and b) you’ll be expected to start in 2-3 weeks, just like a local candidate and will need to move to new city at a moments notice.

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Felicia July 22, 2013 at 10:47 am

If you did have a current job, even if you were local you’d probably have a hard time meeting the next day, so that’s probably what I would do if I were currently employed. Boston would probably be easy to explain why you would move because of your family, but other places might not be.

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Anne July 22, 2013 at 10:33 am

What about applying via the HR system AND e-mailing the hiring manager directly? “I am writing to express interest in xxx position; I have attached my application materials to this message and entered them into the HR system.”

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Another English Major July 22, 2013 at 11:47 am

Still don’t think that’s a good idea. It’s redundant and still looks like you’re trying to circumvent the process. I’m not a hiring manager, but I imagine they’d be a little annoyed and wondering why you emailed them if you already applied.

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Angst July 22, 2013 at 10:41 am

#1 – as a person who suffers from anxiety that has required therapy and medication, I can relate. You say that she is getting help through the EAP, but one thing you can do if you’re concerned is make sure she’s getting the right help.

Not only have I suffered with anxiety myself, I’m also a therapist so I know this issue from both sides if you will. You need the “right” kind of help when dealing with anxiety. It’s very common and very treatable, but not every therapist knows how to deal with it. Your co-worker should consider cognitive behavioral therapy and/or a psychologist who specializes in the treatment of anxiety.

EAP is fine, but they may not be giving her what she actually needs. Anxiety often needs to be treated on an ongoing basis and may even require medication. So it’s important she have the right resources to explore what options are best for her.

If this continues on an ongoing basis in that you notice her coping skills are in the same place 3 or 6 months from now, it may be that she needs something different so be kind, but have a talk with her about seeking different help if this continues.

And, thank you for being understanding and concerned!! So many people do not understand anxiety and how brutal it can be.

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Cat July 22, 2013 at 10:43 am

I don’t know that it’s appropriate for a supervisor to suggest particular treatment strategies for an employee’s anxiety.

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Angst July 22, 2013 at 11:47 am

It may not be. It really depends on the relationship. However, the OP is asking what she can do other than give reassurance and this is one thing she can do – suggest a therapist or psychologist trained specifically in dealing with anxiety disorders.

I suggested having a talk with her about seeking different help if the anxiety continues. That would not come in the form of the manager saying “You need medication, you need CBT.” It would come in the form of the manager suggesting the employee seek help from someone trained in anxiety disorders if she’s not already getting that and/or a different therapist if the OP is seeing no improvement in the employee.

If you have an employee with these issues and you want to know how to help, that is one way to do it. Ensure the employee knows that she can switch therapists if she needs to and that someone specializing in anxiety may be helpful. Many people don’t realize that you can leave your therapist if it’s not working or they don’t know how to do that. Many people also don’t realize that there are people who specialize in anxiety and can therefore be more helpful than a general therapist. That could be helpful information to the employee in this situation.

Sometimes anxiety clouds our judgment so much that it can help to have the “simple” things pointed out like “Have you considered someone who specializes in anxiety?”

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Cat July 22, 2013 at 12:02 pm

Yeah, to be honest, I guess I still think that’s the role of friends and family; not employers. There may be particular cases where those roles are blurred sufficiently, but I don’t think that’s the general one.

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Anne July 22, 2013 at 12:36 pm

I see where you’re coming from. I think it’s a judgement call.

For me, dealing with similar issues myself… I would frankly take a recommendation like this from my employer way more seriously than from most of my friends or family. I feel like friends and family are OBLIGED to say “Hey, take it easy on yourself, you’re not a superwoman” even if I’m not doing that much, while work relies on me to, well, be a superwoman. My manager is going to be totally no-nonsense compared to my mother, and isn’t going to recommend anything that might interfere with my work unless she thinks it’s really serious.

So if my manager is telling me “I really think you should look into something like this”, I will take it seriously. That is probably bad and probably related to the issues themselves. But there it is. Might be similar for others, not sure.

I kind of wish my manager had said something like that. I might have sought out treatment sooner. As it is, it’s taken catching myself thinking “If I step in front of that garbage truck, I can spend a few weeks in the hospital doing nothing and everyone will have to accept it”. Not healthy.

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Ask a Manager July 22, 2013 at 12:41 pm

I hear what you’re saying, but it’s really dangerous ground for a manager to be recommending particular medical treatments for an employee. The manager can be supportive in other ways, but I wouldn’t cross that boundary.

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Anne July 22, 2013 at 3:01 pm

Yeah, I think you’re probably right. It’s one of those things that… it COULD be so helpful, in exactly the right situation. But it would be incredibly bad otherwise, and i’s nearly impossible to tell that situation from the ‘outside’.

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Lillian July 22, 2013 at 11:51 am

Yes, I would be concerned about the supervisor giving specific advice about treatment options as well. Assuming the supervisor is not a qualified therapist or medical professional, this is highly problematic, imo. Particularly in this case, with the employee having anxiety, even very well-meaning and thoughtful advice could be taken the wrong way and worsen her anxiety.

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fposte July 22, 2013 at 12:47 pm

And while I can see it working between certain people, so I’m not dismissing it out of hand, I also am made uneasy by anything leading the manager to greater involvement in the anxiety problem especially because of its nature. Relying on the manager for excessive guidance and reassurance is one of the big symptoms, and this runs the risk of feeding those symptoms. That’s the bugger about anxiety–it makes you want reassurance, and people often feel useful when giving it, but the obsessive reassurance-seeking is part of the problem, not the solution. So I’m even less comfortable than usual with a manager taking a managerial approach to the employee’s private life in this situation.

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Angst July 22, 2013 at 12:56 pm

As I said, it’s not giving specific treatment advice such as “Hey, get medicated”, it’s recommending that the employee find someone who treats anxiety specifically. To me, that would be the same as telling a colleague with a broken leg who was having ongoing problems with the healing to seek a good orthopedic specialist rather than go their GP.

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KellyK July 22, 2013 at 2:04 pm

Yeah, I agree that it’s not appropriate. The supervisor *does* have a role in helping her get appropriate treatment, but it’s much more indirect: let her know that she can take the time she needs for treatment, even if it’s weekly or bi-weekly therapy appointments, or even if she has to do some traveling to see a specialist who isn’t local. Just knowing that your employer will work with you and that frequent medical appointments aren’t screwing up their perception of your productivity is a *huge* thing.

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OP#1/Frequent Commenter July 22, 2013 at 1:23 pm

Thank you for your perspective. I agree that all treatments aren’t created equally, but I think that’s something that’s best for her to work out with her EAP counselor. I encouraged her to talk to EAP when she was really struggling, and from what I understand they’ll have a few sessions with her and then refer her to a private doctor for further treatment.

I suppose if the symptoms continue to get worse I could always ask how she’s doing, but I don’t want to draw excess attention to them either and make her more self conscious. This is a process she has to work on her own – I dealt with bad anxiety a few years ago so I think that’s why I’m particularly empathetic to her situation. But I think it would be overstepping to recommend any particular course of treatment.

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Angst July 22, 2013 at 1:29 pm

Fair enough. At least you have some sympathy having gone through this yourself. I find that people in general and employers in particular often do not understand mental health issues. There is still a huge stigma attached to mental health problems that is not attached to, say, cancer or diabetes. We need more understanding people in this world especially in the workplace so thank you for that!

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Anonymous July 22, 2013 at 10:46 am

#5: Keep in mind that you aren’t covered by FMLA because you’ve been employed at this job for less than 12 months. Depending on your workplace’s policies, you might not get any leave, paid or unpaid. I hope they’re reasonable people and you get a decent amount of time off. Good luck!

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Pregnant July 22, 2013 at 12:42 pm

Wow, I hadn’t considered that! Thanks for the heads-up! Yikes :(

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Ruffingit July 22, 2013 at 12:59 pm

Don’t freak out quite yet. Find out what the policies are for maternity leave at your company. If there are none, then you will need to plan financially for how you will handle your leave. But first things first, look into what is offered and go from there. FMLA will not apply, but the company may have other alternatives.

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Anonymous July 22, 2013 at 2:37 pm

I know a couple moms that this has happened to and they’ve always worked something out with their new employer! Don’t freak out until you talk to your supervisor. He/she might need some time to get back to you on your options and you can make a plan together. Congratulations!

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Pregnant July 22, 2013 at 3:00 pm

I was thinking the same thing. they went out of their way to get me – maybe that will want to keep me ;)

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JoAnna July 22, 2013 at 5:57 pm

I’ve been employed at two companies where FMLA didn’t apply (each had under 50 employees), and I was granted maternity leave when I needed it. (Granted, it was unpaid, but it’s rare to get paid maternity leave these days regardless of where you work.) I hope it works out for you!

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Chinook July 22, 2013 at 10:52 am

#2 – I think you brought up an important point to remember when any of us apply for jobs – where we worked in the past may influence whether or not we get an interview, and just when it comes to politics or even activist activities. We are all judged by the choices we make and where we work is a choice. I know it went through my mind when I accepted my current temp job because it is with an energy sector company and some of them have a bad reputation. I went as far as checking through my own sources (they work in my hometown) and heard good thigns from people who have intereacted with them. But, if I had heard that they were lousy either environmentally or from an employee perspective, I would have asked to be placed elsewhere or bury them on my resume underneath the temp agency’s name (which I did with another organizatin I temped at after I learned abotu some of their stances on certain issues). I knew that, when I move on to go elsewhere, I will be judged by their actions, regardless of what I did within the job to change it.

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Lillian July 22, 2013 at 11:45 am

This is so true! Unfortunately, the reputation of a prospective employer is sometimes difficult to determine especially if you’re new to the area or industry.

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Bwmn August 6, 2013 at 8:42 am

This is so true.

At one point I was working for a children’s hospital in a nutrition related position and applied for a position with a prisoner’s rights organization for a nutrition related position. During the interview they asked me how coming from an environment working with children made me feel about working for an organization that also dealt with the rights of convicted sex offenders. I was totally thrown by the question and know that I gave a really clunky answer and bad impression.

I’m not saying that I was judged badly for working with kids – but it gave them many preconceptions of how I believed and I wasn’t prepared to articulate myself. That is totally one of those interview questions that even though it was years ago, I still remember and could give a much better answer if I was just asked now.

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Dr Lemur July 22, 2013 at 10:59 am

#7 – Is there another term that OP7 should/could use for the rest of her work experience? “Additional Experience” Or “Freelance Work”?

Even if the acting/communications/teaching aren’t want you want on the first page, they could certainly be skills that an employer would value. Plus this would address the concern about a perceived employment gap.

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Ask a Manager July 22, 2013 at 11:03 am

Yes, an Additional Experience section is fine to do, often without as many details as the Relevant Experience section (often just titles, employers, and dates, rather than bulleted lists of what you did).

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Brton3 July 22, 2013 at 11:12 am

To #7, I am in the same situation, having a professional career as an administrator and a career as a performer. For a resume related to arts admin jobs, I put the administrative stuff in one place, but I always include any relevant performing/artistic work because I know the employers like to see that context. It so happens that my last couple admin jobs (including my current one) have been very related to my performing career as well as my administrative experience, and I’m sure that listing all the artistic experience is what got them to take a serious look at me.

Assuming you have a separate resume for non-arts-related jobs, I still think you should keep some of the artistic stuff if you can position it in such a way that emphasizes skills like managing your freelance career, being an excellent writer, being a leader in some way in your artistic life (I think teaching is relevant in that sense), etc. So like, you can still tell a story about yourself and demonstrate your skills, and you don’t have to worry about papering over gaps.

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KellyK July 22, 2013 at 2:12 pm

OP #1 – In addition to the good advice that’s already been given, I think there are two major things you can do. One is to be as understanding as possible about therapy appointments (within the confines of your company’s overall policy) and to make sure your employee knows it’s fine for her to take the time she needs for her health.

The second is to treat the issue as confidential. Your employee might not be as private about her health as some people (based on the fact that she told you), but it’s still pretty personal information that shouldn’t be shared directly or indirectly. Especially something like a mental health issue that has a stigma attached to it (it shouldn’t, but it does). Not that I think you’d share this info, but it’s one of those things that has to be said.

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HAnon July 22, 2013 at 5:03 pm

+1 that’s exactly what I was going to say (KellyK just said it better). If the employee knows that she has the flexibility to schedule those appointments (ex, 1 hour a week every Thursday or something like that) instead of feeling like she’s going to be punished for being out of the office during that time, it would probably go a long way towards relieving some of the stress.

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OP#1/Frequent Commenter July 22, 2013 at 5:41 pm

I’m allowing her flexibility to go to appointments during the work day. I’m generally pretty flexible as long as people don’t abuse it.

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ChristineSW July 22, 2013 at 5:18 pm

#1 – Another “thank you” to OP1 for understanding the struggles of anxiety. All of the advice given above is terrific, so I won’t be a broken record. I’ve had life-long issues with anxiety and perfectionism that I let get the better of me, and I think it’s affected my career :(

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MikeVP July 25, 2013 at 10:25 am

Hi #4,
Going through the same thing and initially listed a local address to places I was applying to from afar. After some time, I realized this practice often led to confusion with prospective employers. And as far as I’m concerned, any confusion at such an early stage is no bueno. To combat this, I started listing directly below my address on my Resume/Cover Letter “Relocating to xxCityxx in August 2013″. The results have been much better and first contact has always been a Skype/phone interview.

Hope that helps!

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