am I wrong not to share job contacts with friends, a sexually explicit Facebook snafu, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. Was I wrong not to share job contacts with my friends?

I had this experience a while back, but I have always wondered if I handled it correctly. When the economy turned, some of my friends and I were unemployed. I found an excellent staffing firm and was placed at some great organizations for short term work. The problem was that my unemployed friends would hound me for contacts at the company I was working for. “What are all the directors’ names? What are their cell phone numbers? Can you get me an internal directory?”

I considered the company my client so I would only give them the HR contact and encourage them to sign up with my staffing firm so they could start making connections of their own. They felt it was commonplace to “network” and share contacts. But I didn’t want anyone calling my boss saying some form of “Hey, Jenny Penny who has been working for you for three days said you are great and you could get me a job!”

Did I behave correctly? Or was I being stuffy and it really is okay to share organizational information?

No, it’s reasonable not to let yourself be used as a connection when you’re brand new to a job and still proving yourself, especially (a) as a temp, (b) when your friends are aggressive as these friends sound, and (c) if you really think they’d say something like what you give as an example here.

Plus, networking isn’t about sharing lists of names; it’s about vouching for people and helping them find job leads that might fit both their needs and the employer’s.

Of course you want to help your friends, but you were totally justified in choosing not to do it in this particular way (which likely wouldn’t have been especially helpful to them anyway).

2. Dealing with a sexually explicit Facebook snafu while job searching

I’m applying for an exciting job overseas. Thanks to your advice, I have reached the reference check stage. I belatedly checked how my Facebook profile looks to the public and I was mortified to find a group on my profile that has a very offensive name and implies that members of the group have sex addiction. It was prominently displayed and I haven’t got a clue how it got there (maybe a group I’d joined changed its name?). Now I’m worried this might hurt my chances as it would seem to indicate poor judgment on my part – should I raise it with the HR contact to explain in case they saw it or would it be better to keep quiet?

I wouldn’t raise it, because chances are pretty high that they didn’t see it — and mentioning it will just interject weirdness where there doesn’t need to be any.

I was going to say to take this as a prompt to change your Facebook settings so that your people who aren’t connected to you can’t see the groups you belong to, but I just tested that out on my own profile and it seems to be impossible. (WTF, Facebook.)

3. Asking a company owner to stop piping music into everyone’s office

My fiancée works at a new small online retail company. The office is pretty open, with a few private offices for the owner/manager and a few others, with the rest at desks around the office. The owner recently decided to pipe in music from the radio around the office at all times. I think he just picks an AM or FM station, and basically subjects the employees to this all day. My fiancée sometimes likes to work with music, but like a lot of other people, oftentimes also needs quiet to concentrate. I don’t think she should have to spend her money on expensive noise-canceling headphones to be able to have quiet at work. I think some of the other employees are also annoyed by this. How should she go about handling this?

You mention it’s a new job, so it’s pretty risky to complain about something that owner probably sees as part of the culture. (Although if I’m reading correctly that it’s a new company too, then she does have going for her the fact that any culture there is going to be less established.) However, her best bet is probably to see if some of her coworkers would be willing to speak up with her as a group, so that they can say to the owner, “Hey, we’re finding it hard to focus with the radio playing all day. Could we stop piping it in and let people play it in individual offices or not, as they choose?”

4. I don’t have experience with a program my interviewers want, but I’ve been studying it

There’s a company I really would love to work for. However, they have a particular computer program that they use and always ask me about during interviews. I do not have coursework or professional experience with that program. Because I know this program is so important to them, I’ve been on the official website reviewing as much as I can. I’ve also been viewing tutorials. I’ve even have a past manager who uses the program in her new workplace, and I asked her how I could best learn more about the program.

Knowing all of this, as a hiring manger, would this impress you? How do you think I could best answer the question “Do you have experience with program x?”

I’d say, “I’ve never used it at work, but I’ve been teaching it to myself on the side because I’d like to work with it. I’ve spent about X hours playing around with tutorials and ____.” (That X should ideally be more than three — maybe a lot more, but that depends on how complicated the program is. And to fill in that second blank, it would be great if you had a way to use the program on an actual project, since using it for something real will usually teach you more than the tutorials will.) I’d also mention that you have a track record of picking up new programs quickly, if true (and ideally illustrate that with some quick examples).

As your interviewer, I’d be pleased that you put in the energy to try to learn the program. Whether it would count as the amount of experience they’re looking for is something I can’t judge from the outside, but it’s certainly a good step toward making up that gap.

5. Including volunteer PTA work on a resume

Is it ever appropriate to list volunteer work at your child’s school on a resume? What if you are Chair, Secretary or Treasurer of the parent committee? Or a role such as Fundraising Coordinator? Are there guidelines about when to include school volunteer work and when not to?

If it was a substantive role with real work and achievements, any type of volunteer work is reasonable to include. I think you’re getting sidetracked by the fact that it’s for your kid’s school, when it’s beaten into (mostly) everyone not to include stuff about your kids on your resume — but this isn’t really about your kids; it’s about your own volunteer work.

{ 179 comments… read them below }

  1. Lillie Lane

    #4: I hope this company will be open-minded and will see your enthusiasm for learning the software. I hate, hate, hate when companies require experience in obscure software packages, especially if you haven’t had a position at a company that used the program. In my industry, there is a statistical/reporting program that some companies LOVE to use and say that they require job applicants to have experience with it. However, IMO, it is utter crap from the Dark Ages. Guess I’ll never be applying at those businesses.

    1. Mister Pickle

      OP didn’t say what kind of program it is that they are learning, but if it is any kind of image / audio / video / media software (Adobe Photoshop, or Maya, etc) they might want to consider putting 2 or 3 of their best pieces out on some kind of portfolio site. Or even printing a nice copy to have it ready to show if there’s a F2F meeting.

      Caveat: if you do this, it has to be pretty good. Not necessarily “artist” good, but it should at least show off that you can use the tool. To use Photoshop as an example, maybe a before / after of how you repaired a broken photo.

      1. OP #4

        I guess I can say it’s PeopleSoft. So it’s hard to give evidence of using it. And my workplace I’m at now doesn’t use it at all. But I -am- researching it, and I’ll figure it out.

        1. Anonasaurus Rex

          As someone who used PeopleSoft for several years, my condolences. I liked it at first, but since they were bought by Oracle I despise the company and it’s products.

          1. Lia

            Agreed. We have it and it is universally loathed. But if you do tutorials, and you can point to experience with similar products, it will help.

            1. LAI

              Oh great. My university just signed a multimillion dollar contract with Peoplesoft and will be transitioning all of our systems over in the next couple of years. I’m not sure how it can be worse than the antiquated home-grown system we have now though… (it’s a web interface based on a phone registration system).

            2. Beebs

              I think all the competing systems are equally universally loathed . . . we’re on Banner and people pretty much complain about it, too.

        2. TotesMaGoats

          Oh blech. I hate PS. I went from using Datatel/Ellucian to PS in an academic setting. If you can use one, you can figure out the other except PS is unnecessarily complicated.

    2. Graciosa

      What struck me about this letter was the fact that the OP wanted to work at this company, and was taking the time to learn a software he had been asked about previously in interviews. I would definitely put that spin on the response to future questions about the software – this really demonstrates interest in the company and shows initiative in exactly the right way.

      Whenever someone explains that showing up unannounced and demanding to speak to the hiring manager, sending chocolates, etc. is “demonstrating interest and initiative” this is the example to use in the response showing the right way to do it.

      OP #4, I hope you get the job you want at this company. You deserve it, and I hope that they deserve you.

      1. OP #4

        Okay. Thank you! It’s been a process. =/ I’m waiting to hear back for a second interview now. I’ll take your positive vibes with me throughout the day.

        1. LAI

          I agree with Graciosa! I think the fact that you are taking the initiative to learn the system is fantastic, and is probably enough when it comes to this specific job criterion. Every university I’ve worked at has had a different student information system and I’ve always had to learn on the job – it’s never been a problem that I didn’t have direct experience with the specific system they use. If you’re not afraid of technology and you’re willing to learn, then you’re already ahead of a lot of current university administrators.

    3. Joey

      I really don’t understand your comment about hating companies that want specific experience instead of being “open minded”. Isn’t it pretty obvious that makes business sense? Enthusiasm is great, but why wouldn’t they try to find someone with the experience and enthusiasm?

      1. LBK

        It’s kind of a catch-22, though, if it’s not a commonly used software or it’s not something you can really get access to and train on as a consumer. If you don’t already work there, you probably have no way to learn it, but you can’t learn it unless you work there.

      2. Teapot Adviser

        Because in many cases, the different software packages can be very similar to use, if not identical. Requiring experience in ChocTeapot Design Pro and dismissing any experience in CaramelPot Design Studio, when both programmes are near identical in function is silly. If someone has 10 years experience using CaramelPot Design Studio software, it’s not unreasonable to assume they will be able to pick up ChocTeapot Design Pro pretty quickly. But by excluding that candidate because she doesn’t have the minimum 3 years experience in ChocTeapot Design Pro, you may be missing out on much more important skills that candidate has such as their ability to design teapots with non-leaky spouts. It can be a shortsighted approach.

        Of course, a candidate with ChocTeapot Design Pro skills PLUS other value-adding skills is great. But a lot of the time it can be worth it to at least consider candidates with experience in near-identical software packages.

          1. Teapot Adviser

            No, but I was responding to your reply to Lillie Lane’s comment that she hates it when companies specify required experience in obscure software packages.

            Of course, if a job requires experience in computer-aided teapot design, a candidate should have that experience. But if that experience is gained through a slightly different software package to the one listed (even though very similar), candidates can still find their applications discarded. This may be a problem with HR though rather than hiring managers – a hiring manager says “we need someone with ChocTeapot Design Pro skills” and so HR will only advertise/screen for that package and may not even realise CaramelPot Design Studio exists or is in any way comparable to the ChocTeapot Design Pro software specified.

            In the OP’s case, all she can do is read online tutorials/manuals/use free trials or demos of the software to demonstrate her capabilities and willingness to respond to feedback from the organisation she wants to join, which is exactly what she is doing.

    4. NoPantsFridays

      The same thing happens in my industry where companies require experience in obscure software packages (also statistical reporting programs), sometimes ones that have been written specifically for that company! In my current job, we mostly use software that is widely used and for which there are countless training manuals (books and online) published. It’s very realistic for one to have trained oneself in the software prior to joining this company — so what OP is saying makes sense to me. It would be acceptable to say you had trained yourself, especially if you could describe a project you used it for / problem you solved using the software.

      You know what, it would be cool if someone ran classes on the more obscure programs, much like they have Excel classes at the local library or college etc.

      1. Judy

        Many of the obscure programs have courses from the software vendor, either at their location, rotating through hotels in large cities, or a trainer can come to your location. The downside is they usually cost quite a bit. Most large companies that bring in enterprise level software that is new, will train a group of people and then have them train the masses. At least this is true in the engineering world. I get mailings about training for X software with classes listed at hotels in Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Minneapolis and Dallas different weeks over the course of the year for $X,XXX or $Y,YYY to stay at the hotel.

    5. majigail

      I always feel like software falls into three camps when I’m hiring…
      1. You should know this, I expect you to come in knowing this and I’m not really interested in providing training for it (Word, Excel, Powerpoint)
      2. If you’re applying for a position like this, you should have experience with a program like this if not this program, we can help you connect the dots (database software, audio video editing, web design)
      3. Yeah, this is a totally weird thing that we know no one else uses and you’re going to go straight to the front of the line if you’ve heard about it, but if not, no big deal, we’ll train you (proprietary software)
      I’m guessing PeopleSoft falls in category 2. If you knew something comparable and were already working on connecting the dots yourself, I’d be impressed by that. If you were just learning it now, that would probably be a no for me unless there were some other real standout things about you that convinced me to overlook that.

      1. fposte

        Oh, those are really good categories. That makes a lot of sense. I also think that you make a good point about it not being held against you if you don’t know a #3, but that if you do know about it it will give you a considerable advantage.

        1. OP #4

          And that’s part of what I did in the interview as well. I don’t have experience with x, but y is VERY much alike and I have professional experience with y.

  2. Sherm

    #2: If I saw an otherwise normal person with a group like that, I wouldn’t think “OMG, that person is a nasty sex addict!” I would think “Looks like somebody forgot to log out on a shared computer.”

    1. Jessa

      There is a way in Facebook to add people to groups without their permission. I hate it and I unfriend anyone who does it to me. Someone may have spammed the OP with this, particularly if they happen to have a lot of friends because they play a game like Candy Crush that needs them. I think there are settings to prevent this and you can also group your friends in different security settings, so if you do have gaming friends that are not personal friends shove them in a group under really tight “they can’t see/do anything” security settings.

      1. OP#2

        Thanks Alison, I thought that it may seem strange to bring it up so I hadn’t done so. Fingers crossed it doesn’t affect my chances (Sherm your comment makes me feel a bit better about it, maybe that’s how they’ll see it as well).

        Jessa – oh my god, that must be it! It appears that the group was started by my friend’s creepy ex-housemate. I was very shocked to see it there, especially as I try to keep such a squeaky clean online presence.

          1. Kat A.

            You can also block the person who added you to that group. They can’t re-add you if they can’t find you on Facebook. To be certain, block all of the group’s Admins.

            1. Kyrielle

              You don’t have to be an admin. Members of some groups can also add others. :(

              And I wish FB offered a way to “recommend” a group which is really what I want to do – where I “recommend” it and it sends a notification to the person to check it out. Without adding them.

              But apparently it doesn’t. If you “invite” to some groups it basically creates a pending application (if the group is closed) or adds them (if it’s not) as far as I can tell. :(

              1. Sandrine (France)

                The good thing is that when you leave the group, there is an option that prevents people from adding you to that group.

                I hate that thing too. I mean, I made a small group recently that I added people to… But I told them beforehand!

          2. JMegan

            It might also be cached in Google searches. If you leave a group today, it can sometimes take a couple of (days? weeks?) for it to stop coming up in searches.

            OP, I think you’ve done the best you can do now. Leave the group, block the creepy ex-friend, and remember there’s a good chance that the recruiters didn’t see it at all. Good luck on your job search!

            1. Ted Mosby

              Ugh. In that case maybe the best thing would be to make your profile not private for a bit just so it’s not the first/only thing to pop up.

      2. Kelly L.

        This is very true, sadly. It’s also true that groups can change their name when there are already people in them. Sometimes groups are formed simply to be sold–they’ll start out as “I Love Cute Wombats” and get a bunch of members, then that group with its gazillion likes will be sold to someone else who will change the name and spam everybody. I try–not nearly as often as I should–to weed through my groups once in a while to make sure none of them have become something gross. But OP, I think the chance that they saw it is low (since I think which of your groups pop up on your profile is random and won’t be the same selection each time), and that if they did, they might assume it’s an in-joke of some kind.

        (This ability to change a group’s name, incidentally, was also behind one of the tenets of that awful Sandy Hook conspiracy theory. Somebody had created a group for something else, and then after the tragedy happened, changed it to a memorial group. But the date of creation stayed the same, and the conspiracy theorists went to town with it because they didn’t understand how Facebook works.)

        1. Ted Mosby

          This always seems weird to me, because it would be so easy to get everyone to join a “smallville high grads” group then change it to “Hitler Lovers” or something.

          I know it’s totally improbable and weird, but for some reason it always pops into my head.

          1. Kassy

            When that happened to me (group name was changed from something like “I love lemurs!” to “All hail [founder’s name], King of the Universe!”), Facebook sent me a notification. Granted, for people who get more notifications than I do, that’s easy to miss.

            OP 2, did you change your password? FB has decent hacking controls, but not perfect.

        2. Traveler

          FB’s bottom line is money – to make it themselves, or make it indirectly by helping others to make it through their network. They will leave any exploitable end open and available for that. Which is kind of sad.

      3. JAL

        #3 – If all else fails, I found a pair of amazing noise cancelling headphones by iHome at Walgreens for $11. They work wonders and they block out the constant cackling from the coworker that sits behind me.

      4. B

        I’ve not used fb in 18 months or so but if the group is a secret group you can only be added by a member – as until you’re a member you can’t see it. But the owner could easily change it after adding people :-/

    2. Mister Pickle

      This kind of thing is one reason I don’t have a Facebook account. I have a couple of blogs, but at least I understand and control what is going on with those.

      For those rare occasions when I might want to use FB, my dog G lets me borrow his account.

      1. Graciosa

        Ditto on the lack of a Facebook account – I’ve never had one and am not planning to change that. I thought it was a risky idea when it was first starting and privacy protection do not seem to be improving over time.

        There are ways to share photos without Facebook.

        1. Colette

          Facebook is about more than sharing photos – it’s about being able to keep up with what’s going on with friends who are active on the site.

          Certainly, there are other ways to do that and there are valid reasons for not joining, but thinking of it as just a place to share photos would be incorrect.

          1. Lily in NYC

            Yes, it’s also a place for old high school friends to try to sell us Amway/Mary Kay/Scentsy…

              1. Kerry (Like The County In Ireland)

                Ignorant, judgemental comments on the news courtesy of distant relatives…

              2. Kelly L.

                And for old high school friends to turn out to be raving racists and leave you wondering how you missed all that batshittery when you were young.

                1. Windchime

                  I haven’t seen the raving racists, but I used to have several that were ravingly religious gun nuts. These were people I didn’t know well in high school, but I didn’t remember these types of beliefs. I think they tend to develop and get more pronounced over time.

          2. NoPantsFridays

            Yes, this. When I tell people I don’t have Facebook, they’re like “But don’t you want to keep in touch with your friends? Don’t you care about your friends?” Well, my friends don’t have FB either, so we keep in touch via email/IM, or, you know, actually seeing one another. However, if we were located on different continents, I can easily see FB becoming useful. As it is, I moved about a year ago and have lost touch with a lot of acquaintences (not close friends) because neither of us has FB.

          3. Graciosa

            I understand that – but for some reason, I have had way too many conversations that go like this:

            FB Fan: You really should join Facebook. Everyone is on Facebook.

            Graciosa: I am not on Facebook, and I don’t want to be on Facebook.

            FB Fan: But you can keep up with all your friends!

            Graciosa: I talk to you on the phone. I don’t need to join Facebook to keep up with you.

            FB Fan: But if you join Facebook, you can see what I’m doing! I post photos! You can’t see photos over the phone.

            [This is actually true when I speak to people over a land line, or my personal cell phone].

            Graciosa: Email them to me.

            The result has been that people email me only important photos (pictures of the ring and fiance, but not pictures of the lasagna FB Fan had for dinner at the Olive Garden on Tuesday) and this works for me.

            And yes, I do know that Facebook allows people to like things, and share those likes, and play games, and join groups – and otherwise provide a huge treasure trove of marketing data that Facebook is selling left and right. The Wall Street Journal had an interesting story a short time ago about companies starting to push back on sharing with Facebook the data collected by some of these company-related marketing activities.

            I don’t normally discuss this with FB Fans, who basically don’t care – which is their right – but the genuine social arguments for joining Facebook always seem to devolve to sharing photos. And I have had pretty much the same conversation with various FB Fans for literally years.

            On the plus side, since I’m not on Facebook, there is no possibility that I will look at anyone’s profile just because they apply for a position. So I am in the minority of people who really don’t care about the profile, and won’t care unless I absolutely have to (meaning someone else brings me evidence that an employee is posting confidential customer information, or material that violates insider trading laws, etc.).

            On the other hand, given that fact that [almost] everyone *is* on Facebook, I do think that the OP was right to worry about this and take steps to address any possible problems beforehand. The odds that the OP will only apply for jobs where both the hiring manager and the HR representative are anachronisms who are not on Facebook are not in the OP’s favor.

            1. Colette

              I am on Facebook daily, usually, and I don’t care about most of the photos. I can find out that a friend is sick or that her car broke down, ask friends for information, and just generally keep up with friends’ lives in a way that I wouldn’t do otherwise. When my dad died, I put the funeral arrangements on Facebook, instead of calling each of my 47 first cousins. (We called a few, but phone chains take times and miss people).

              Like every online tool, there are valid reasons not to use it (including “I don’t want to”) and to be conscious of what you’re sharing. However, if you have an account, there’s good reason to be mindful about what’s there.

            2. Ted Mosby

              I use facebook, but I also realize it’s mostly a time waster. I’ll never understand trying to pressure other people into using it. It’s less relevant now than ever.

            3. cv

              Facebook is good for some social networks and not for others. I’ve moved around a lot and have a lot of friends who I don’t talk to much, but we come in and out of each other’s lives on a scale of years as we move for school, jobs, etc. I also have extended family I see every couple of years but rarely talk to between family events like weddings and reunions. Facebook is great for maintaining these types of relationships in the background of my life so that they can pick up again easily later on. If most of my family and friends were local, or if I weren’t genuinely interested in my friends’ young kids, I’d have much less use for Facebook.

      2. Rat Racer

        Does anyone with a Facebook account face this kind of risk? I have one that I haven’t even looked at in years, let alone posted to, because (a) Hate Facebook and (b) Work computer (which is the one I use predominantly) blocks it.

        Is it possible that I’ve been linked to a bunch of sex addict, crazy political or serial killer groups while I’ve been neglecting it? GAH! What is this horrible technology??

        1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

          If you have a FB account but have not walled up your privacy, and you don’t look at it, you’re very vulnerable.

          I used to be very active on FB and savvy about walling up every last thing. I gave FB up a few years ago although still have my profile. I revisit periodically to make sure I am still walled up as things change.

          if you don’t want to watch periodically, kill your FB account. And make sure it is dead.

        2. MJH

          I went through and double-checked after reading this. I have my privacy settings turned up pretty high, but FB isn’t great about consistency. I had not been added to any weird groups, and fortunately none of the groups I’m in had morphed.

          What most likely happened is that the OP joined “I love wombats” and a new page owner took over and renamed it “Hot Pics for Horndogs” or something.

          Wakeen’s advice to kill your account is good. It’s not hard (I did it for my husband) and then you don’t have to worry.

    3. tomatonomicon

      I am a huge huge fan of SocialMediaSecurity.com’s Facebook Privacy Guide. I don’t work with/for them, but I hand this sucker out at every opportunity. You *can* hide groups, likes, etc but Facebook makes it difficult. My profile is completely locked down for people who are not my friends, but I had to dig to find some of those settings. They make it hard on purpose.

      http://www.securestate.com/Downloads/ResearchAndInnovation/Facebook_PrivacySecurity_Guide_v5.pdf

  3. ChirpyLib

    #2 If you go to your groups (under your FB profile) and click the edit button beside each group, you can opt to “hide from this section” which I think will block public viewers from seeing your membership in a given group. Once you’ve hidden it, though, I’m not sure how to make it visible again, should you wish to do so. :)

    1. manybellsdown

      Facebook is always changing their settings around, so I go to my profile at least once a month and click the “…” button up by my picture and then “View As”. That shows me what my profile looks like to the public. None of my groups show up publicly, so there must be a setting somewhere to hide them all.

      Funny aside; my ex-husband had a “swingers group sex club” group show up on his public profile. As he’s super-Christian (and very vocal about it, like, street-preacher vocal) I thought that was pretty hilarious.

  4. Lizzy

    1. – Not quite the same thing, but when I did a temping assignment at an investment bank last year, I got ridiculous inquiries about some of the bank’s high profile clients. A few months into my assignment, an article ran in a major newspaper about professional athletes learning how to manage their wealth. The bank’s CEO and some their pro-athlete clients were featured in it. When I would go to parties or social gatherings and mentioned I was temping at this bank, some acquaintances would ask me if I had met so-and-so, or whether I could get them tickets or autographs for their kids. Yeah, because a clerical temp has the power to pull strings like that.

    Regarding your friends looking for work, many staffing agencies have referral programs and from my experience referring friends, recruiters respond quicker to referrals than candidates applying through the general application portal. Though I am not sure how you would have felt referring your friends after their ridiculous inquiries, lol.

    1. Jazzy Red

      Many years ago, my aunt would call me every once in a while and tell me to go down and talk to the HR Manager about a job for her. Even if they did have a job opening, I wouldn’t have recommended this particular aunt. But she nagged me for a few years anyway.

  5. AnonyMouse

    #1: Another reason that your way of handling this was fine is that referrals from an existing employee are usually effective at least in part because the company is familiar with that employee/knows their standards for good work/trusts their judgment. If you work somewhere for three days and then say “oh and by the way my friend is looking for a job”, the employer doesn’t really know/trust you at that level yet, so while it may help someone get a foot in the door it’s not always going to make a huge difference.

    #3: If her boss really does insist on playing music for everyone, would it be possible to have a “music hour” (or whatever length you agree on) where a radio station is piped in and then let people listen individually if they want the rest of the time? That might be a compromise that preserves the fun/communal atmosphere but doesn’t ruin everyone’s productivity all day. I wrote a similar comment on the question a while back about nerf gun wars in the office…so it could be worse, she could be getting shot with nerf pellets!

    1. Jazzy Red

      My very first company decided to play music for the office staff (against our will) because they read a study that showed cows give more milk when the dairy farmers played soothing music in the barns. Really.

      I hate forced music. If it’s not your kind of music, it’s like having your skin peeled off, inch by inch. I hear music in my head all the time anyway, and that’s all I need.

  6. Apollo Warbucks

    #1 I think you did the right thing, in passing on the details of the staffing agency to your friends that’s given them the same chance of employment that you had with out getting overly involved in recommending them.

    1. Not So NewReader

      Really. I am kind of wondering about this. There does not seem to be a lot of concern for OP coming from the friends.
      OP, I think you made the right call on that one. It’s a tough call, I understand. But had you done what your friends asked you would have appeared to be clueless about how job hunting/networking works. And in the long run, discredited yourself in such a manner that you would not be able to recommend a friend at all.
      A rule of thumb that has served me well is to never give out cell numbers or internal directories. There are exceptions, of course. But those exceptions are rare and I usually check with someone else as opposed to proceeding to just hand out that information on my own.

      1. OP #1

        I didn’t put it in the question, but I also resented that I was temping and making connections while my friends were not doing anything to job search. They really expected something to drop in their laps. They weren’t searching job boards or going to events. All they did was collect contacts and make cold calls. But that was the “buzz” at the time- you don’t get a job unless you know someone. And if you call the right person at the right time, you will magically get a job.
        Also, if there was an opening at the company I was working at, well, I wanted first dibs!

    2. Colette

      In a lot of organizations, sharing internal information (including the internal directory) would be enough to get you fired. The OP made the right choice here.

      1. some1

        And since the LW was assigned through a temp agency, it could have jeopardized her chances for future placement through them.

  7. Csarndt

    #2 – this is why I had someone I’m friends with but not ‘friends’ with check my fb profile. They showed me screenshots of what they were able to see and how it might look to a potential employer. I went in and dropped some likes and liked some other stuff to change the balance of what showed up to others…mostly dumb stuff I had liked years ago and just never unliked. Seriously, is anyone even still playing Frontierville? I’m certainly not and the group isn’t active so I dumped it. You *can* change your settings to not allow people to add you to groups just like you can change the settings to not allow others to tag you without your permission. And you should. You can also make groups private if you manage any groups, if you really wanted to be in it but didn’t want employers to see it, you could have it set to private.

  8. Not So NewReader

    I have to say, I got way too much enjoyment out of the WTF, Facebook comment.

    I don’t look at my FB account. I probably should. I do not have time to jump through their hoops and learn how it all works. My FB page looks more like a train wreck. People post enormous amounts of whatever, whatever. I don’t trust FB, which only makes matters worse.

    OP, maybe you can put a post on FB saying something to the effect that you do not endorse all of the comments or groups mentioned on your page.

    1. Poohbear McGriddles

      I think FB hires people whose sole purpose is to sit around and think of ways to randomly change settings so that things people thought were private no longer are.

      I try to keep in mind that if you’re not paying for it and you’re not getting paid for it, you are the product. With FB, we are the product that they sell to advertisers. Makes me feel a little dirty, but then I take a shower and watch a few cat videos and feel better.

      1. INTP

        I really think this is true. I think they change the settings so frequently, defaulting everything to more public, to make people like me (who would prefer to use FB a few times a year, but not delete it entirely) feel compelled to log on regularly.

    2. MJH

      Definitely don’t post that on your FB. Just keep an eye on the groups you are a part of or get rid of all the ones you don’t have a personal connection to.

      I love FB, but I know lots of other people don’t. It’s really super easy (with a few clicks) to completely delete your FB or suspend it, which I highly recommend if you hate it/don’t care.

      1. Koko

        Yeah, especially if the jobs she’s applying for are at all technical/computer-oriented, I wouldn’t want a big post on the front of my Facebook that basically declares, “I use this website regularly but don’t know how it works.”

    3. INTP

      I’ve considered locking down my facebook for the same reason. I like it for exchanging messages a few times a year with distant family members I’m not close enough to call, so I want to leave it on. However, they are constantly changing everything so you have no hope for privacy unless you’re willing to log on regularly. I’m sure it’s intentional because when they make a change, everything defaults to less private rather than more private.

      Maybe at some point I’ll just scrub it of everything, untag myself in pics, and make it the most boring and generic facebook anyone has seen. But that still doesn’t solve the problem of people tagging you in things and adding you to groups. I had it set so that people couldn’t tag me without permission, but I just discovered that some people had, so they must have changed the settings again.

  9. OP 3

    It is a new job for her (she started in September), but the music started this week in this office. Apparently this happened in their old office too.

    1. Koko

      When you say “piping in”… did the manager actually install a set of speakers into every room of the office, linked up to a radio in his private office? Is he using a built-in PA system?

      (Just a curiosity question. Either one sounds like a particular intentional, high-tech option compared to just like, leaving a radio sitting out in the open.)

    2. INTP

      If she knows some of her coworkers are annoyed by the music too, then maybe she could get a group to politely request quiet hours or the ability to turn off the music in their own offices? This protects her from the whole “new hire not fitting in” issue, as long as she gets the others to be as vocal as she is or more so.

      Another option – maybe she could ask if there is any way to turn the music down or off inside her office on occasion, because she needs a couple of hours of quiet to concentrate. She comes across like she’s just asking for technical help instead of asking them to alter an aspect of workplace culture for everyone. Even if there is no way to do this, it allows her opinion to be voiced inoffensively and lets her feel out what the options might be – if the manager balks at the idea of it, she knows that the music is part of the job. If the manager is more reasonable, maybe they will think of other solutions, like the company paying for noise cancelling headphones.

  10. Mister Pickle

    #3: I hate this kind of thing with a passion. Long ago I worked in an office where we had Muzak piped in. Everybody hated it, but mgmt – who got their own private, quiet offices – didn’t care.

    Then one day, most of the speakers failed …

    1. Joey

      Yeah people either love it or hate it. I usually play a mix of jazz, soul, blues, top 40, salsa and classical in my office and the person who sits on my left is always wanting my to turn it up. And the person on my right either doesn’t like my music or prefers dead silence.

      1. Windchime

        Who would do that! No! People should never stand up on a chair and turn the little screw that controls the volume of the speaker; that would be wrong. So very, very wrong.

      2. Mister Pickle

        Sabotaged? I have no idea.

        Also – I’m not joking when I called it “Muzak”. I’m not sure if they even have the same business model anymore[1] but Muzak was known for re-recording popular songs and melodies as “elevator music” – inoffensive instrumental music that was essentially ‘background music'[2]. They had charts and graphs and statistics that ‘proved’ they enhanced productivity, yadda yadda. I used to think it would drive me insane.

        [1] Times have changed. A couple of years ago I was grocery shopping at the local HEB and noticed they were playing “White Room” by Eric Clapton and Cream. I think that in general, people have become outspoken about wanting to hear “the real thing”. Take television, for example: it used to be that if The Love Boat wanted a certain popular song, the show’s producers would have studio musicians play a variation of the song – it was cheaper and they figured people didn’t care. That all changed with Miami Vice, and nowadays TV is a mechanism for promoting new music.
        [2] If you’re thinking something like Eno’s Music for Airports – no, Muzak was nothing like that at all.

        1. Natalie

          Muzak still makes the elevator music, but I think they make most of their money on their “radio” options – ad free and properly sanitized for an office, but with songs from regular commercial artists.

          1. Mister Pickle

            Thanks! That’s interesting to hear. I wonder how much of an internal battle it was for them to shift focus? I’m by no means a fan, but if they were agile enough to navigate the weirdly shifting straits of the music biz over these past several years, then I gotta hand it to them – somebody over there must know what they’re doing.

    2. louise

      That’ll happen sometimes…speakers are notoriously faulty…

      (Reminds me of when I was little and had this battery-powered plush puppy that could walk and bark. I *loved* it. But, it rarely could walk and bark because the batteries were always dead. It wasn’t until I was in jr high that I realized batteries last more than a couple hours unless one has older siblings who despise one’s barking toy and therefore nick the batteries and give the poor child the “dead batteries” line.)

      1. JMegan

        Yep. My kids have a toy kettle that makes “boiling water” sounds when tipped. And it comes with two catches: one, it’s nearly always tipped, unless it’s sitting perfectly level on a table somewhere. And two, it doesn’t EVER STOP. If you leave it off-level (say, in a toybox) for an hour, it will make noise for an hour. Or overnight, or until the batteries die.

        Somehow, we “lost” the batteries for it, and just can’t seem to find new ones!

        1. Kelly L.

          Oh, my favorite noisy toy story.

          My little brother got the big T-Rex from Jurassic Park for Christmas one year. If you squeezed its sides, it went “Rawr!” When you stomped its feet on the ground, it did a stompy noise, like “Dzzzsh!” And then one day it went berserk. It just lay there going “Rawr! Rawr! Dzzzsh!” constantly without anyone even touching it.

          The batteries mysteriously “got lost,” I’m pretty sure.

        2. Rowan

          How funny! The same thing happened with our version of that toy kettle! It must take a very unusual size of battery.

        3. Nerdling

          We’ve done this sort of thing so much now that when something doesn’t work on the first try — or it’s a toy that doesn’t actually do anything electronic — our son says, “Oh, it needs new batteries!” Yeah, it does, and we’ll get right on that, I promise.

        1. LBK

          The somersaulting dog is one of my favorite toys of all time! I could watch that thing go for hours. Much to the chagrin of my mother, I’m sure.

          1. Lily in NYC

            I’m not sure why I loved the dog so much but was absolutely terrified of a doll I got for Xmas called Tippy Tumbles. She did somersaults too but sort of looked like Chucky. I refused to have anything to do with it and my mom kept it in a closet and threatened to bring it out whenever I was being naughty. Of course she refuses to admit that ever happened. Google it if you want nightmares!

            1. LBK

              Holy shit, was that thing invented by Satan?! I think it’s a combination of the creepy dead doll eyes and the slow, deliberate way it moves…like a possessed little child gradually turning to look at you before it suddenly leaps on your face and rips your ears off.

            2. Pennalynn Lott

              “Powered by remote control”. Yeah, if you want to call six feet of cords “remote control”.

              And – yeesh – that thing is creepy.

        2. Raptor

          You know what doesn’t need batteries and still works if you lose the parts? Drums. Guess what I buy for other people’s kids. :)

          1. Gene

            This. All my relative’s young children get noisy toys that don’t take batteries. Bells are my personal favorite.

            1. Kelly L.

              I became my nieces and nephews’ favorite aunt and my sister’s least favorite sibling last year when I gave one of the kids a plastic one-man-band type of set. There was a drum and a kazoo and a tambourine and all sorts of other loud stuff. The other kids quickly joined in and we had quite the jam going.

      2. EvilQueenRegina

        I once worked for a manager who had a big yellow chicken toy sat on her desk. When you squeezed its neck it squawked and when you pressed its wing it sang The Birdie Song. One day, someone took the batteries out and hid them. She didn’t actually notice for a few weeks, until one day she tried to show a new person how it worked, the look on her face when Big Bird didn’t sing was priceless.

    3. INTP

      I worked somewhere that they played some sort of Top 40/easy listening station alllll day long (the station that is 96.5 in almost every city for some reason?), and at the time, this meant Adele’s Someone Like You at least 8 times a day. We constantly complained about it but whenever someone took the initiative to change to a station that everyone liked, it would magically be switched back at some point. I think there was one manager who liked the 96.5 but wasn’t willing to publicly make a stand about something that was keeping everyone miserable.

      It ruined my ability to listen to music outside the office. Music gets overstimulating and even emotionally draining to me pretty quickly – I am not someone that can use music as background noise or listen to it for hours. After 8 hours a day of shtty music, I started listening to NPR on my way too and from work because I just couldn’t bear another note of music, even music I actually liked.

  11. nep

    #3 I certainly need / want quiet to work; that community piped-in music would be a huge drag. Alison’s suggestion of how to address this is good. Hope OP will get some relief.

  12. Carin

    #3 Your boss seems to be unaware that it’s likely not legal what she’s doing. When playing music in a public place, even a radio station, you are obligated to pay ASCAP fees (which is why most businesses that do this sort of thing go through Muzak or a similar company that pays those fees for them, making the music playing legal.) Yoy might be able to mention that, to get the music to stop.

    1. Kathryn

      I would not start with the “This is not legal” bar. Save that for recalcitrant management doing serious harm. Start with community support and going and asking directly. (Depending on work culture you could get some traction just going and asking on your own – my workplace is pretty sensitive to different work styles and someone needing more quiet or more sunlight or whatever is taken care of to the best of the team’s ability.)

      A previous workplace had music after 5, usually off someone’s iPod, which had some hilarious points where random was a little too random. If you can’t get the music turned off, seeing if it can be limited to specific times so you can get focused work done reliably might be a good compromise.

    2. Graciosa

      Is this really a public place? Online retail gave me the impression of back office type operations rather than a place customers would enter physically.

      1. Natalie

        IANA copyright attorney, but at least according to ASCAP’s website, the only exceptions are a family and their social acquaintances, worship service, and face to face educational activities.

        1. Graciosa

          Not my area of practice, but I would probably be looking to see if there’s any reason not to argue that other people in the office qualify as social acquaintances.

          Mind you, I don’t think there is any chance at all this would work if it was music being played in a place that sold goods or services to members of the public who were present to (among other things) hear the music. There would be a clear profit motive, and the music would be contributing to the atmosphere of the store.

          But a back office, where one person turns on whatever music he happens to want to listen to that day? It doesn’t seem like the same thing, although the piping could be an interesting factor. The boss might argue that he walked around the office and wanted to hear it wherever he went.

          I do agree with Kathryn, though, that the legal discussion is not the way to approach this at all (even though I obviously find it interesting!). Having the conversation is the right thing to do.

      2. MK

        Not an american lawyer, but if ASCAP is the american version of the company that handles musicians’ intellectual rights in my country, they tend to define ”public place” very, very, very broadly. And they have the clout to pass legislation to suit them.

      3. OP 3

        Its not really a public place. Its basically like any other office, no customers (or really any outside people) are in the office.

    3. Mister Pickle

      To the best of my knowledge, this kind of thing not (yet) a criminal violation in the USA. But it is a civil violation, ie, ASCAP could sue the employer. And I agree that even if it’s a “private” office space, it’s almost certainly considered “public” by ASCAP’s definition.

      1. Natalie

        I’m not sure how often ASCAP sues, but they are super fond of the shakedown. An ex of mine worked in coffee shops for years and would play music, as you do. Over ten or so years, he had multiple ASCAP reps drop by and attempt to bully the coffee shop into buying a public performance license. Of course, they should have listened to the music more carefully because it was all independent, local bands who weren’t ASCAP members.

        1. Mister Pickle

          Heh. Great story! I’ve heard the same about their reps (aka ‘spies’) shaking down small business owners.

          BTW, while I’m commenting – this ASCAP stuff is interesting but I agree that it’s probably not the best way for the OP to approach management.

          Just tossing this out: “network jukeboxes” seem to be popular at start-ups: people submit songs to a queue, some systems allow voting for favorite songs, etc. Given a sufficiently large office, it’s usually easy to find someone who’ll volunteer to set it up / feed it / maintain it. But: not a perfect solution, and mgmt may simply dislike the concept.

    4. Ask a Manager Post author

      Eh, I think that’s likely to produce eye rolls in many managers — and the goal isn’t just to get it to stop at all costs, but also to preserve the relationship with the manager. You’re going to get a better outcome by just being direct about it, ideally with a group of coworkers who feel the same.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        Plus, if that’s the argument you make, you risk the manager (a) just switching to Pandora or some other alternative or (b) telling you he’s not terribly concerned about the risk, and now you’re in the position of having to come back and say, “Well, the reason issue is….” It’s better to just be straightforward about what the issue really is.

    5. HR Manager

      You are correct, and it also depends on the size of the space that music is piped into. A very small office might be given a free pass, but a larger office might mean royalties need to be collected. It’s all a big PITA in my opinion, and of course so many small businesses never bother to check and will play the radio or something else to entertain customers anyway. Hard to enforce unless you have the wrong person visiting your office/shop.

  13. BRR

    Related question, how long do you have to be at a new position (specifically a lower level position) before you recommend someone?

    1. Cherry Scary

      Probably depends on the company.

      Where I work, most employees come through referrals (there’s a bonus for doing so if they are hired.) I was told on my first day that referring someone who was tested (not necessarily hired) within my first 60 days or something entered me into a raffle. I didn’t have a friend looking at the time, since I was a new grad and most of my friends I could give a solid recommendation to were either still in school or elsewhere, but it was out there.

      1. Colette

        I think it also depends on the circumstances – if your manager says “we’re hiring for X, do you know anyone?”, it’s fine to answer. If you’re proactively suggesting people, you want to make sure you know enough about the person and the culture to be confident the person you’re recommending is a reasonable fit (even if they don’t get the job).

    2. Graciosa

      I don’t know that this will be a very helpful answer, but I would say you recommend someone when you have earned enough of a reputation as a good worker for your recommendation to carry weight with the hiring manager.

      In my profession, that probably requires a year at the entry level, and maybe 1/3-1/2 that time at higher levels – but that is very much dependent upon the nature of the work. If you’re just starting, you need to learn the job (which takes a fair amount of time) and demonstrate you can do it well in our company.

      I can see these time periods being very different in other roles. For example, with jobs that have high turnover rates and require less time to learn the position, showing up regularly on time and working your shift goes a long way pretty quickly. I’m guessing that a month or so would be enough to earn that credibility with your manager in those types of positions, but I don’t think it’s a clear rule.

      My experience is that you can usually tell when your manager has decided that she knows and approves of your work.

      1. LBK

        This is exactly what I was going to say. And it also depends how long it takes you to be a good worker – if you’re getting bad reviews still after 2 years, you’re still not in a position to recommend people.

    3. straws

      I agree with the above comments & would also add that it depends on the employee & even multiple factors. The employee’s own performance and understanding of appropriateness are certainly considered. Also, previous recommendations. If someone is recommending everyone they know or displaying a lack of understanding of the position before recommending, I’d be taking future recommendations with a grain of salt. I personally wouldn’t care as much about the person’s position level, as long as they’ve been able to demonstrate understanding of the company & general professionalism.

    4. louise

      And sometimes you’re doing so well early on that a boss with say “Can we just clone you? I need a couple more!” and that’s a perfect opening to recommend someone if you truly have no reservations about their work or work ethic.

      1. hermit crab

        I’ve done that, basically. The person I recommended (after only being at my very first professional job for a couple of months) stayed for about four years and was an absolute superstar.

  14. Rebecca

    #3 – I feel your pain. We were subjected to the local oldies station for years. If I ever hear Crimson & Clover again, it will be too soon. Then, they changed to the local variety station, with their wanna be morning crew. That was special.

    Our speakers had volume controls, and many of us turned them off. Failing that, if you have speakers without controls, you can easily take the cover off, disconnect the wire, and enjoy the silence.

    1. Judy

      One place I worked was adamant about having music over the speakers, in an access controlled area. There was a complicated rotation of morning this station, afternoon that station, all week long, based on votes by the people in the area.

    2. Kelly L.

      We had a Muzak system at one of my old jobs, and after we’d all been there a few years, everybody got sick of the Top 40 and Adult Contemporary stations and we started switching it up (the owner was cool with this as long as nothing overtly crude was played). We’d have oldies one day and jazz the next. For a while one of the supervisors was on a kick with olde tyme country. Now, I actually like this music, but so much of it is so sad. After a few hours of making sandwiches to the sounds of people divorcing and dying, I always thought I was going to have a random crying fit at work about problems that weren’t even mine. :D

      1. Natalie

        We used to have Muzak piped into my office. The volume level was so low that for months I thought I was just overhearing someone’s veeeery long Best of the 70s playlist.

        (Eventually they let me change it, but we couldn’t keep it on the World station because that was apparently too weird. So it stayed on Classical, the only one my boss didn’t find offensive and I didn’t find annoying. I did not like working for those managers.)

    3. Elizabeth West

      I am literally unable to listen to “Maggie May” ever again because of a job that had to play the easy listening station all day long. If an office plays music all day, that is an automatic withdrawal for me. I just can’t tolerate it.

    4. LBK

      Try working in a retail store that just has one approved CD on repeat all day. If I had to guess, I probably listened to Rihanna’s “Rude Boy” over 5000 times when I was a cashier. At least with a radio there’s a chance you won’t have to hear the same songs 10 times a day…

      1. Natalie

        I’m having horrible flashbacks of working at Best Buy during a legitimately terrible era in popular music. At least during the holidays I was too busy to pay attention to the awful Christmas music.

      2. EvilQueenRegina

        You would think, however the radio station my predecessor used to have on when he was training me did exactly that, I now can’t hear Passenger without immediately flashing back to that time and my survivor’s guilt after the restructure.

      3. Nerdling

        And at Christmas, it’s even worse! We had a six-hour CD that had two versions of one Christmas song on it. So, in an 8-hour shift, I heard the same song at least three times. And of course it was all Disney kiddie-pop remakes. I swear, I get twitchy anytime someone even whispers the name “Hilary Duff” as a result.

      4. Grand Mouse

        Oh no. I thought we were listening to some “Top Hits” radio station but i just realized we’re probably listening to some mixtape at work. It’s retail, so I have no option of turning it off. About once a month, a new song is added and one is removed. It still isn’t enough. I already hated most of the songs to start with. I can’t handle hearing them outside of work. Unfortunately, a lot of them are the kind of bland pop songs that are popular at other stores too.

        The Christmas music is starting up. For various reasons, I can’t stand Christmas music. This is going to be my next two months. The other songs that I’ve heard for the past six months are still playing too.

      5. Pennalynn Lott

        This isn’t about music, but you guys just reminded me of the Terrible Two Years I spent working at Home Depot’s customer service desk. In October of each year, they put out a big screen TV for sale, directly across from the cust svc desk. One of the managers brought in a “Finding Nemo” DVD to play on it. So I watched “Finding Nemo” — without any sound at all — for 3.5 months straight, two years in a row. To this day I have no idea what any of the characters in the movie actually said, because I can’t see so much as a screen shot without getting all headache-y.

      6. Rene

        I was working for a Christmas store that played the CDs that we were selling. By Dec 22, we were down to one, a particularly inane version of The Nutcracker Suite–played*all day long*. And we were on twelve hour shifts. Ugh! It took me a decade before I could listen to Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies without a shudder.

    5. Mister Pickle

      Back in 1995, a friend of mine had set up an internal P2P network inside of the company that acted a bit like a radio station: you’d ‘tune in’ to a certain IP address, and you could hear music. There was a queuing mechanism so that you could drag-drop songs from your collection and they’d queue up. Effectively, we were sharing / streaming music from all over the world.

      This lasted almost a year before mgmt found out about it and burned it to the ground. Thankfully, my friend was in Research and suffered only a wrist-slap.

  15. Natalie

    Bleh, I would hate to have the radio piped in. I actually work well to music, but I despise radio advertising and 99% of radio DJs with a passion and would be distracted by their general awfulness. When I listen to music at work it’s either amazon prime (they just added stations!) or public radio, which is commercial free and seems to hire slightly smarter DJs.

    1. Jennifer

      I’ve bitched and bitched before about my coworker who plays the same country station every single day, 9 hours a day, even if she’s not there. Not only do they repeat the same songs constantly, but holy god, their ads are terrible. I constantly think of the line from City Slickers about the ad that is so bad it makes people turn off the radio. Except I’m not allowed to turn off the radio.

      I will never, ever donate to 1-877-CARS 4 KIDS, ever, at gunpoint, nothing, because their ads make me homicidal with their awfulness.

  16. PEBCAK

    #1 — I know I’ve worked places that specifically note internal phone lists and the like as confidential information. That would be an easy way to fend them off. “I’m sorry, contact lists are confidential and I could get in trouble for sharing that information.”

  17. Allison

    #3, I would be so ticked off if someone did that at my office! I do like listening to music, it can really energize me, but I like listening to music within my own personal taste. If someone made me listen to rap, hip-hop, or some Top 40 station all day, I may actually be less productive and in a slightly sour mood all day. There’s nothing objectively wrong with those genres, I just personally don’t like them.

    But it’s tricky, because OP’s fiancee is new, and it’s probably not a good idea for her to complain about it. But someone needs to, because while the manager might think it’s a good idea, it definitely isn’t.

    1. OP #3s Fiancee

      ” I may actually be less productive and in a slightly sour mood all day.”

      Add a bit ragey, and the above is quite accurate. I just ordered ear plugs.

      1. OP #3s Fiancee

        And I really can’t tell if the rest of the office likes the constant music or not. I’ve noticed that waves are really never made here, about anything, and they just go with whatever the boss says or wants. But, it’s a job.

  18. VictoriaHR

    #2 – as a Recruiter who made hiring decisions, I have definitely passed on candidates who had an offensive group on their Facebook. One I can recall was “blunts and bongs.” FB really needs to change that.

    1. OP#2

      Wow, well let’s put it this way, I’d prefer that it said blunts and bongs to what I found there! Hopefully this doesn’t cost me this great job overseas. At what stage would you generally check a candidate’s page, before or after interviewing?

      I’m not sure how common what happened here is, but to anyone job searching I think it is worthwhile to double check how your profile looks to the public. I assumed mine was fine because my current employer has an extremely strict approach to social media, so I’m generally very careful about what is linked to me. However, I wouldn’t have thought to check the likes or groups as I thought that those would be things I added myself.

  19. EE

    #4 I was recently hired for a job that I have very little practical application in. My degree is in journalism, but after interning with a very “digital first” company during graduate school, I realized I didn’t have the skill set to move forward in today’s day and age. I am all self taught in many key areas that got me the job at my current employer. I truly believe that being honest about that in my interview impressed my now manager more so than if I had come in with a few undergraduate classes in photoshop. If you are willing to put in the time and energy outside of work to learn the software, that is far more impressive than simply learning it in the classroom or having to know it for a previous job.

  20. soitgoes

    I don’t refer friends for jobs ever. They flake out, negatively affect my own reputation, and then the friendship is ruined. You get to a point when you realize that a good portion of your friends are just lousy with job stuff. It’s hard not to grow resentful when someone tries to cut corners by taking advantage of the work you’ve done to advance yourself.

  21. Ludo

    You all made me nervous about Groups. I keep FB on lockdown. If we aren’t already connected, all you can see is my name, my (perfectly appropriate) profile picture and my (perfectly appropriate) cover photo. No posts, no info on who I’m friends with, no town, job, age, etc. Nothing. I like it that way.

    Turns out I was added to 3 groups I didn’t even know about. Ack! Another thing to keep on the look out for.

  22. Artemesia

    So I just flipped over to my facebook profile and found dozens of ‘likes’ for things that I don’t like and never endorsed and dozens of movies I supposedly watched, music I supposedly listen to and TV shows I endorse, none of which I have ever noted that way. What gives?

    I am past the point where it matters — but it is annoying nevertheless.

    1. Natalie

      I seem to recall a few years ago, it would show you a list of movies and ask you if you had seen any of them and what you rated them. That somehow translated to a like on that movies page.

      1. LBK

        Yeah, Facebook started doing this annoying thing where the movies, books, TV shows, etc. sections of your profile gets automatically converted into you “liking” the corresponding Facebook fan page. Hence why I cleared out those sections – I enjoy the movie, I don’t need 800 barely related updates about it 15 years after it came out.

    2. Kyrielle

      If you were viewing it as yourself, and not via the “view as someone else” – FB now tries to prompt you to *add* things it thinks you *might* like.

      And they look to me like it’s saying I already like them, until I mouse over one and see the ‘add’ or read the surrounding text more closely.

  23. Decimus

    #4 – that’s a good idea. My boss and I were hiring for a position on a job where were using a particular software program that our client wanted but we didn’t have experience with. So we hired someone who had used that software before. That person left after a few months. Our runner-up the first time around re-applied when we re-listed the job. We found they’d spend the interval trying to learn the program (it was open-source) on their own. By then my boss and I had used the program enough we no longer needed someone with experience, so – guess who we hired?

    1. OP #4

      -crosses fingers- It’s actually somewhat the situation I’m in. I hope I get hired. This waiting game, man…

      But thank you for your words.

  24. LiteralGirl

    LW #5, I was out of the work force for 10 years after having kids. You bet I put my PTA volunteering on my resume (under volunteer activities)! I ran two or three major fundraisers for a few years, ran the auction a couple times, was VP of Legislation and did the newsletter. Anytime you are planning, coordinating volunteers, running a big event or fundraiser, it shows that you were doing active work in your community. Please put it on. Good luck getting back into the workforce (if that’s what you’re doing)!

  25. J-nonymous

    I think you can edit the privacy of who can see what groups you’re a member of. If you go to the Groups section on your profile, there’s a pencil icon (the same as every profile section); clicking that brings up menu for editing – from there you can edit the privacy settings for that section.

  26. HR Manager

    #1 – Private office numbers/extensions are often not publicly available info, so I think the OP did the right thing by not sharing that info. While not legally confidential as other data, I consider giving out a direct line without that employee’s permission a huge violation of trust and privacy. As a recruiter, I was always annoyed by reception for even sending a call my way when it should have been screened (most do a good job of this) out.

    #4 – A company listing a proprietary in-house software can’t make that mandatory if they are doing an external search, as that’s just asinine. But popular ERP software packages that are role and industry specific are fair game. Peoplesoft for instance is a popular HRIS, and many professions have desirable software tools (SAP, Salesforce, Oracle, Siebel, SAS, to name a few) that do naturally give anyone an edge for a job that requires extensive use of that tool. These are not uncommon enough that you are asking the impossible, so I don’t see this as unfair to list this need.

    1. OP #4

      I know it’s not unfair, and I don’t believe it is. I just think that if I can prove that I am taking the time to learn the program, I should stand a chance at the job. I am passionate about this company. I have the qualifications. Maybe I don’t have the experience with the program, but I do have previous evidence of learning a program quickly.

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