It’s seven short answers to seven short questions. Here we go…
1. My boss punched me in the arm
I’m a 36-year-old woman who is in relatively good shape and had recently lost about 60 pounds, all from changing lifestyle and working out. My boss (an older man) was joking around with me. He was poking fun and made a comment that my arms looked strong. He then pretended to box around me and then actually punched me in the arm. It stung, and I said, “Ow.” He told me that it didn’t hurt. I told him it did. I went into my office, and he said that I had been hit harder before because I played ice hockey in high school. I said I had.
I don’t feel good about the situation at all. Today he scolded me for no reason and when I walked away from him I started crying. I don’t usually do this. I don’t like what happened and I don’t want it to happen again. My boss is NOT the kind of guy who I can go to and say this. He would be defensive and blame me that we were kidding around. What would you do?
Assuming you believe that he really was joking around and didn’t realize he’d gone too far (and it doesn’t sound like there’s reason to believe otherwise), I’d say this was an unfortunate interaction that you could simply move on from, and assume it was a mistake and won’t happen again. Obviously, if anything like this did happen again, at that point you’d need to sit down and say directly, “I know you think it’s just joking around, but to me it feels like being hit. Please stop doing that.” But for now I’d assume it was a one-time error in judgment and won’t recur.
(And yes, I know there are people who will tell you this was outrageous and you should report it — hell, there are even people who will tell you that you should have reported it as assault — and responding like that is certainly your prerogative, but it seems to me like an overreaction that won’t get you the outcome you want … which presumably is to have a good relationship with a boss who respects boundaries.)
2. New hire quit after five days — should I alert her references?
I recently hired a young woman for an entry-level job in the small (8-person) office that I manage. Five days into the job, she apologetically informed me that she had heard from another company in a different field, in another state: they had offered her a job that pays better than we can, and she had accepted.
I told her it was unprofessional of her not to have informed them that she had already accepted a job (she should have withdrawn from their search as soon as she accepted our offer, and at the very least should have told them when they called to make this offer), and I asked her to wrap up her work in our office as quickly as possible so I could re-start the hiring process.
I’ll be able to fill the position, but I’m very frustrated by the situation. It’s genuinely disruptive to have turnover since there’s so few of us, we had just spent 3 days training her, and I had already told all the other applicants that the position was filled. Would it be appropriate for me to tell her references about what happened, especially since several of them told me all about her reliability and conscientiousness? Should I just accept it as a fluke and leave it alone?
This stuff happens. Yes, it was unprofessional of her, for the same reasons it wouldn’t have been okay for you to have found an applicant you liked better and fire her on her fifth day so that you could hire them instead. But proactively reaching out to her references to badmouth her? I can understand the impulse, but it’s punitive and unwarranted. Don’t do it.
Instead, let this go and be glad she did it on her fifth day rather than her fifth week or fifth month.
3. Did I alienate my new coworker?
I’ve been in a new job for two months. The first day I was brought on, I was told I was an equal to another woman in the department–that we both have the same role.
I think our personalities are clashing a bit, and I think I handled something incorrectly. Almost immediately after I started, she would come into my office every few days and ask, “What are you working on?” I’ve answered her, but as the questions continued, it started to grind on me because I was told we are equals and it feels like she is micromanaging me. One day recently, I lashed back and said, “It feels like you are checking up on me.” She said no, but I feel otherwise.
I don’t think I handled that well, and that I came off rude. What do you think I should have or should not have done? And what can I do now to rectify the situation–things aren’t terrible, but I feel like our relationship isn’t great!
Ideally, it would have been better to simply ask her why she was asking you those questions — something like, “Why do you ask?” There might have actually been a reason for her questions — maybe she’s supposed to help train you or wanted to give you advice when you got to a particular piece of work. Or maybe not, and she’s inappropriately meddling. But asking her why she was asking would have given you more insight.
As for now, just be pleasant to her, ask for advice when you genuinely think it would be helpful, and maybe ask her to coffee or lunch. What you said doesn’t sound dreadful and should be easily smoothed over if she’s at all reasonable.
4. Should I let recruiters know I accepted a different job?
After a year of searching (and reading your blog), I’ve finally landed the ever elusive paying job. As I make preparations to begin my job, I received emails from three different recruiters for three different companies in the span of two weeks. The irony is hilarious and sad at the same time.
Should I contact these recruiters and let them know that I’ve already accepted a job but had circumstances been different, I would definitely be interested in their company? The thing is that the positions they were hiring for are much more in line with my interests than the position I accepted and I would love to be considered as a candidate sometime in the future.
Yes, absolutely. That’s a good way to maintain the connection and let them know you’d welcome contact in the future.
5. My employer won’t give me a pay stub
My husband I are trying to get a home loan, but my employer handwrites paychecks and does not give pay stubs. I know that there isn’t an Alabama state or federal law the requires this, but she won’t give me the information. The FSLA requires an employer to keep this information on file, but does it require her to give it to me when I ask? We are about to lose out on our dream home because I cannot produce a pay stub.
In most states, including Alabama, employers are required to give employees a pay stub each time they are paid (although it can be electronic in some states). If your manager is refusing, you can contact your state labor agency to report it … although I’d be concerned about why she’s refusing and whether it might indicate that she hasn’t been properly taking out taxes or submitting payroll taxes on your behalf.
6. How should I list this job history?
I worked on and off for the same company for 10 years. Sometimes I worked part-time, sometimes I worked full-time, and sometimes I didn’t work at all. I had the same job title every time I worked. Here’s the history:
9/2003 – 12/2004 (16 months): Full-time (40 hours per week)
1/2005 – 1/2007 (13 months): Part-time (20 hours per week)
2/2007 – 5/2008: Not employed
5/2008 – 8/2009 (16 months): Full-time (40 hours per week)
9/2009 – 3/2011 (19 months): Part-time (10 hours per week)
4/2011 – 1/2012: Not employed
2/2012 – 6/2013 (17 months): Part-time (less than 10 hours per week)
How do I list this on a resume? And how many years of experience can I claim in this field with this work history?
I’d list it this way:
Job Title, Employer
February 2012 – June 2013
May 2008 – March 2011
September 2003 – January 2007
It doesn’t matter that you were part-time during some of it and full-time during other parts; these are the dates that you were employed there doing that work.
As for how many years this all adds up to … roughly seven. I mean, you could calculate it all kinds of different ways because sometimes you were working as little as 10 hours a week, but it’s basically seven years of experience.
7. How should I approach my manager about my internship’s end?
I recently finished a diploma in my field and decided to take a year off of school before going back to finish a degree. This summer, I began an unpaid internship that is related to my field and which has been an amazing learning experience with many benefits. Because I have bills to pay, I applied for other jobs and eventually got a full-time job. They were on board with me finding a part-time job, but full-time ended up being what was available at the time. I have been balancing both all summer. Because I’m often in the office late or on the weekends, I haven’t had as much interaction with my direct manager or other management staff. It’s a start-up, so it’s an informal environment without any “systems” in place and there has been a lot of ambiguity. In the beginning, it was agreed upon that the internship would be for three months, with good prospects for getting hired and that if the prospects were not good, I would know well before then.
Well, three months is just about up and no further conversation has been had. I have wavered all along about wanting to be hired or not and I think at this point I probably would not want to continue regardless. However, there has been no talk of my “last day” or anything else. I’m not sure how to broach the subject at all — I would be flattered to hear some honest feedback and see if I was offered a job at this point, but I doubt I would be or that I would take it. I would like to receive a reference in the future.
The person who I would talk to about these things has either not been around lately or if has, completely engaged with other things and unapproachable on the subject. I’m not sure if I should just send an email saying, “looks like my last day is coming up on ____ date, it was a wonderful experience, thank you and I hope in the future you would be comfortable acting as a reference for me,” but I don’t know if I just want to take myself out of the running without any word on their end first. At the end of the day, I have no idea how to approach my rather unorthodox boss about the situation, as he is either deep in work with others around or playing video games/watching movies. Neither time seems good.
Sometimes you need to be the one to raise this stuff, because you’re the one most focused on it — other people are often busy with things that are (to them) higher priorities. If you sit and wait to be approached, it may never happen.
However, if you know you wouldn’t accept a job there, don’t invite an offer that you’ll just turn down. Send an email saying, “The end of my three months is approaching — could we talk soon about what I should be doing to wrap up?” And then in the conversation that should hopefully result from that, ask about the reference — but don’t lump that all in to the first mention of this.
If you might consider a job offer, then adjust that initial email accordingly: “”The end of my three months is approaching, and I’d love to schedule a time to talk about where we might go from here.”