It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…
1. My boss accused me of faking a panic attack to get out of a meeting
I’m diagnosed with panic disorder. My boss knows about it — we have an informal arrangement where I can leave early for appointments with my psychiatrist/therapist and make up the time working from home in the evenings. Luckily, it hasn’t affected my work to an extent where I’ve needed to disclose the condition to anyone else. My panic attacks usually happen when I’m at my desk, so I can quietly step out of the office for a moment and cool down without anyone knowing.
A few weeks ago, I had a panic attack in an important meeting. My boss, his boss (our team lead), and I were discussing an urgent cross-departmental project. Our team lead lost his temper and started screaming at us, and that triggered a panic attack. I managed to say “I’m having a panic attack. Can you please give me a minute to collect myself?” They let me have the time, and we finished the meeting later. They were understanding; my boss said that he understood, and if I need to take any time off, he’d explain to his boss.
But the next day, my boss told me I was being written up for disrupting the meeting. I tried to dispute it, by explaining that I had a panic attack which I couldn’t control. My boss’ reply was that he thinks I faked the panic attack to get out of the meeting and doing the work, and that it doesn’t matter either way, because I disrupted a meeting, wasting his and our team lead’s time.
I feel like my boss totally crossed the line here. I think he’s in the wrong for writing me up for a health condition I can’t control, especially after telling me that it was okay, and even more wrong for accusing me of faking it (since if he thinks he faked it, that definitely influenced his decision to write me up). What can I do to protect myself?
They think you faked a panic attack to get out of a meeting? I’ve been in some pretty awful meetings, but that’s ridiculous and insulting.
I don’t know whether your panic disorder meets the conditions to be protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (it would depend on the details of how it impacts you), but either way, it’s pretty likely that your company isn’t going to be thrilled to learn that one of its managers is accusing someone of faking a medical condition and disciplining someone for said medical condition. I think HR is your next step here because if they’re at all competent, they’re going to step in and squash this. If they don’t and you want to explore other options, the next step would be to talk with a lawyer, who would be able to give you more tailored advice. That said, if your relationship with your boss is otherwise good and this feels like an aberration, you might judge that it’s worth more to you to preserve that (unless this starts to be a pattern, in which case that calculation should shift).
2. My coworker is taking over my outside-of-work social life!
I have a great coworker who I began inviting to casual get-togethers with friends a while ago. For what it’s worth, he’s very smart and nice and my friends and I do like seeing him. However, he quickly got my friends’ contact information and is becoming a pretty constant presence in my social life, whereas I prefer to have more separation between work and home. Also, now he has started to see my friends without me, to the point that he is sometimes evasive when he tells me his plans so as to intentionally exclude me from social events. I feel like I have lost control over my personal space and also my enjoyment of what was previously a good working relationship. Short of going back in time, how do I put these boundaries back in place?
I don’t think that you can. I totally understand why you want to, but you can’t really control this kind of thing, at least not without coming out of it looking pretty bad. You introduced him to people who it sounds like he clicked with, and now they’re forming their own relationships with him. The very most you could do is discreetly mention to one or two of your closest friends that you sometimes want to hang out without having someone from work there, or arrange plans yourself and say something like “let’s keep it just you and me.” But beyond that, all you can really do is chalk it up to a lesson learned.
3. I’m afraid a mutual contact will tell my new job that I quit my last job without notice
About four years ago, I did something stupid that I am very ashamed of that is coming back to bite me. I had been working in a small nonprofit that for various reasons was not the right fit for me. Instead of resigning the respectful, professional way, I quit via email with no notice. I know, it was a horrible thing to do and I will never do something like that again! This organization is based out of a big city about an hour away from my town, so I didn’t think I’d run into anyone from there again and I thought it could remain a skeleton in my closet.
However, about a year ago, I started working for a large nonprofit in my town, and it turns out that the person who my old job had to hire to replace me (who now works in a different organization) sits on a committee with several of my colleagues from my new job and my boss! This committee is very actively involved in my department, planning community events and such. At a meeting several months ago, I unknowingly sat next to her and upon introducing ourselves, she (nicely) brought up that she knew who I was! Needless to say, I was mortified but tried to act as friendly and polite as possible. Since then, I have tried to avoid situations where I might see her but it isn’t always possible. The last time we were at the same place, I tried to stay occupied and engaged in conversation with other people to avoid interacting with her.
I really love my new job and organization and am making a good name for myself there. I had been a volunteer there for many years before starting as staff so they know me well and know I am committed to the cause. But I am terrified that this girl will say something to somebody and ruin my reputation. Can you please give me some advice for how to handle this situation both right now, and in the future if my colleagues and boss were potentially to find out? Do believe me when I say that I have changed and would not do this again!
It’s true that it’s possible that she’ll say something. But you’ve been working at your new job for a year now, and they have a lot of data from that year to judge you by. If you seem reliable and professional, that’s going to carry a lot more weight than a story about how you quit your last job. They’re also likely to think that there could be more to the story that they’re not hearing (like that there was a reasonable cause for leaving without notice, which your replacement wouldn’t necessarily have all the details on).
This is the kind of thing that can really bite you if it comes up during the hiring process, but is much less likely to be an issue once they already know you and you’ve established a good track record with them.
4. Could I have salvaged this hiring situation?
I am currently employed but have been searching for a new job for the past year. (There are few options in my area and I’m not willing to relocate.) While working at Nonprofit A, I collaborated with Nonprofit B on several projects and, as a result, have made a handful of contacts there. When a position opened up at Nonprofit B, I was thrilled! The position aligned so closely with my career goals and was a much better match than my current entry-level position. (I should add I have been working in this industry for eight years, moving up from part-time and taking time off for a graduate degree.) When I mentioned to my contacts that I noticed the position was open, they eagerly encouraged me to apply.
Well, I submitted my application, and a couple months went by without a word. Then I received an email on a Sunday night inviting me to interview over the phone that week. I was unfamiliar with the name on the email and did a little research. I realized it was an outside firm helping them hire. I responded the following day around noon (after checking my work calendar and less than 24 hours after receiving the original email) with my availability that week. Several hours later, I received a follow-up email and the person informed me that he no longer had time to talk to me that week. I asked if there would be more interview slots available the following week (and hinted that I had colleagues at Nonprofit B). He told me that he would contact me if he found more time.
I never heard back from him and according to my colleagues, the organization finished the hiring process and hired another candidate. I’m still searching for a new position several months later and I’m wondering, is there something I could have done differently? I keep kicking myself because I imagine this all could have been avoided if I responded to his email more quickly. I’m sure there were many applicants, but I was qualified for the position and felt I would have been a great fit, especially considering my proven track record working with the organization’s staff.
You responded to the email in a perfectly reasonable amount of time. It’s possible this guy is a crappy recruiter who chooses candidates based on who he gets ahold of first, but that’s bad hiring and it would be out of your control. It’s also possible that he just ended up moving forward with candidates who were a better match (keep in mind that being qualified for the job doesn’t mean that you were the most qualified).
Ideally, though, you would have reached out to your contacts at the organization and made sure they knew you were applying, and that although the recruiter had reached out to you originally, he ended up telling you that he no longer had time to talk. If they felt you were a strong match who should be interviewed, they could then intervene, or at least pass that along to the hiring manager, who could intervene. (If you did that, I’d take the lack of interview as a sign that they just didn’t think you were the strongest match of all their applicants.)
5. Do I have to list references on my resume?
Is it necessary to list personal and/or professional reference on my resume? I’ve seen good examples of resumes, one on your site, sans that info. Is it necessary? Would the hiring manager ask for them if/when they wanted them? It seems like something asked more on an application than a resume. Most of the jobs I’m looking for are home-based, so I don’t know if that makes any difference in adding the references or not.
Do not put your references on your resume. They don’t belong there, and employers will specifically ask you for them at the point that they want them.
Don’t even put “references available upon request.” It’s assumed that you’ll provide them upon request. Use that space for more important things.
Also, leave personal references off your reference list altogether, unless some weirdo employer specifically requests them.