It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…
1. I don’t want my manager to email my team when I’m out
I work in the accounting department, and I called out sick because my kids were sick. I came into work the next day and saw an email that was sent out by my boss to the whole accounting team with the subject line “Jane Smith will not be in today.” I was just wondering if that is really anyone’s business but my own and obviously the person to whom I called out (in this case being my direct boss). Every manager in my department sends out emails like this, but when a manager is out, I have noticed that no email is sent out.
I would think that putting an “out of office” reply to my email would be enough to notify people that I am out. Also, if it’s someone in the same office that is looking for me, if they notice that my computer is not on and it looks like I’m out, they should just be able to go to my boss directly if they needed something. I have heard people make comments about others who have been out, and I know other coworkers like to “track” that stuff, but in the end, I feel like it’s really no one’s business. The only person who should know if I’m out is my direct manager. And I also think that if an email has to be sent out, then it should be for everyone, not just a certain department, or a certain “level” of employee.
What your manager is doing is very, very normal. There’s no real expectation of privacy that your coworkers won’t be alerted when you’re out; to the contrary, many offices like to proactively inform people so that they’re not left guessing. (Having to judge from whether your computer is off or on isn’t a particularly efficient or effective method.) As for why not emails go out when managers are out, who knows — but you’re fighting a losing battle on this one; it’s just not going to be seen as a privacy violation. If someone is tracking your time off who shouldn’t be, address that directly — but it’s reasonable to send “Jane is out today” emails to your team.
2. Describing level of seniority in job postings
My question is related to job descriptions. Beyond listing out expected ranges of experience (i.e., 2+ years in teapot making required), what other indications can be put into a job description that makes it more clear that a position is more senior or junior? For example, for a posting I currently have up, I saw in our system we had a few applicants who were WAY too senior (they had more work experience than I do!), but maybe it’s written in a way that makes it seem like you need lots of experience. I am really looking for someone who is still pretty new to the working world and isn’t interested in quickly rising through the ranks quite yet (my team is pretty small, there aren’t opportunities for growth at the moment).
Well, you can try clearly stating “this is a junior position perfect for someone with a few years of experience in X” or “this is a senior position for candidates with substantial experience in X” or so forth … but you’re always going to get candidates applying who are far too junior or far too senior. That’s just what happens when you post jobs, and you can’t eliminate it entirely. Some are applying because they didn’t bother to fully read or process your posting, and others are applying because they’re hoping that you’ll overlook their lack of experience (or over-qualification). Your measure of success here isn’t “is the ad attracting only well-matched applicants?” but rather “is the ad clearly describing what we’re looking for and attracting a good number of well-match applicants?”
3. I found out my coworker was once charged with drug possession
I work part-time in a high-end restaurant. One of my coworkers is in his 40s and is extremely capable and efficient, so much so that I asked him one day what else he does (I assumed he was in grad school or was an artist/writer of some sort and doing this job for supplementary income). He replied that he used to manage a law firm but got burnt out and needed a change. That seemed odd to me since we are hourly employees and aren’t particularly well paid, so I did a Google search. It turns out that he was indeed operations manager of a large law firm, but I also found out that three years ago he was charged with possession of a large quantity of cocaine with intent to traffic.
So, what do I do now? I’m assuming my employer doesn’t know. I was hired from a resume (no disclosure statement) and they only called the first reference on my list. I like this coworker, and he is good at his job, but he is taking on more and more responsibility and is sometimes the first one in or the last one out. We are kitchen staff so don’t handle money, but there are a lot of expensive supplies around and most people leave their personal property (handbags, etc.) on open shelving at the back of kitchen. I believe everyone deserves a second chance, but I also know that drugs can make people behave erratically. While I have no concerns for my safety from this man, I do feel a little uneasy now about my personal property while I’m at work, and wonder if it’s wrong of me to keep this info to myself. I also think my employer should know who they are entrusting with their property, but at the same time it really was their responsibility to do a proper background check. If it makes any difference, we are part of a large chain with a centralized HR department, and the company spends money lavishly but cheaps out on staff salaries and thus has trouble finding good people.
This really isn’t your business. You have no idea if your employer knows or not, or whether they would care if they did. Charged doesn’t equal convicted, and possessing drugs doesn’t equal thief. On top of that, many states make it illegal to discriminate in hiring on the basis of criminal convictions that don’t relate to the work someone is doing (and again, we don’t even know if there was a conviction here). Plus, it’s pretty likely that he’s not your only coworker who has possessed drugs.
(And on that “intent to traffic” element, with drug laws, simply possessing over a certain quantity typically triggers that addition. Which is weird, because no one accuses people with big wine collections of intending to traffic bottles of wine.)
Eyes on your own paper on this one.
4. Reaching out about a position that doesn’t appear to be available
I had a wonderful interview last week. i got called back today as promised. This is shocking in and of itself. I had a great talk with the person I interviewed with. She was very sorry that she couldn’t offer me the position. She said it was an extremely hard decision. I thank her for calling and wished her luck with her new hire. She then gave me a name of a director for a local nonprofit and said they might have a position I would be interested in, but she couldn’t find the information on their web site. I thanked her for the lead.
After the call, I looked up the organization and there is a person named as being in that position. LinkedIn confirmed this person has been there for just over a year. So it looks like the position is filled.
I was contemplating reaching out to the director anyway. I was going to say something along the lines of “Jane said this position was open, but it looks like it has somebody currently in it. If this isn’t the case, Jane suggested I contact you, as she would recommend me for the job.” This seems awkward to me. Is it? Is there better phrasing I could use? Or should I just assume the position is filled and leave it alone?
Yeah, that’s kind of awkward. I’d avoid making any assumptions about the job — maybe they’re creating a new position, maybe that person is about to leave, who knows. I’d just say this: “Jane Smith at Teapots Inc. suggested I reach out to you and thought you might be looking for someone with my background in ___. I’m attaching my resume and would love to talk with you if you think it would make sense.”
5. Finding out why a position is open
I’m interviewing for a position next week. The position is for a new program, but someone already has the job and has for 7 months. It is a small nonprofit so it’s very likely that she will be leaving. How do I find out why she is leaving if it isn’t addressed by the interviewer?
“Can you tell me why this position is open?”
… And if that doesn’t get you a clear answer, you can say, “I noticed that on your website, it looks like the position is currently filled. Is that person moving on?”