It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…
1. My manager thinks I accepted a job — but I didn’t and I don’t want it
I’ve been contracted with a company for about five months now. A couple of weeks back, my supervisor brought up a possible position and I said that I would be interested in hearing more about it when more information became available. Today, though, I spoke with my supervisor and I didn’t fully comprehend until the meeting was over that she spoke about the job as though I had already accepted it. She said something along the lines of her being happy that I was going to give the position a try. She was already walking away before I really had time to comprehend what had just happened. The whole situation is a misunderstanding; I either was not clear about me wanting to know before I made a decision or she misunderstood me. It is not a position that I am interested in.
How should I go about telling my supervisor that I am not interested in the position? Or would telling her that make me look flaky?
Well, it’s going to look a little weird that you didn’t correct her on the spot, but you definitely need to speak up — you can’t take a position you don’t want just because you were caught off-guard.
I’d say this: “I realized that the other day when we touched base about the X position, you framed it as if I was definitely going to move into it. When we talked a few weeks ago, we’d left it that you’d give me more information about it once that info was available. I had assumed that’s what our conversation was the other day — but I think at the end of if, you may have thought I was accepting the role. I actually don’t think it’s the right position for me because of XYZ, and I wanted to make sure I hadn’t left you with the wrong impression.”
And say it ASAP, like today.
2. My boss wants me to give him dirt on my coworker
So my office has a lot of drama and gossip. I work the night shift, which essentially leaves me without any coworkers or upper management. We in the office are all lateral positioned supervisors. We have one coworker who has been here for just over a year. She has been constantly tattling on all of us for any little mistake we make. She has graduated to making false allegations now and is now picking on a new supervisor, and has even gone as far as changing her end-of-day numbers around. The new supervisor messaged me complaining about this, and I let gossip slip. I told her to watch what she says and does around said troublemaker, and I even told her why: This trouble-making coworker was forced to resign from her previous job for falsely filing a sexual harassment complaint with the HR department. Her husband had found out that she was having an affair with a man she worked with, and that was her way of rectifying the situation, and she was caught. I should not have let that gossip go.
This new coworker immediately told my boss what I had said about the troublemaker. The thing is, evidently my boss has been hearing this story since he transferred here and believes it. The thing is, my boss had vanished for a month and came back last night. Rumors around the office were that he was under investigation by HR. His boss told me that he would be back in two days, but he actually came back last night from his hometown, which is four hours away, and told me to keep quiet about him being here early. He wants the dirt on the troublesome coworker’s history at her previous employer. I happen to know troublemaker’s old boss. He wants me to talk to her. And, he wants to catch the troublemaker off guard tomorrow. His manager does know he’s in town now; it’s more that he doesn’t want this woman to know he’s here.
I am scared now. He assured me that I wasn’t in trouble for gossiping, and that he’s glad I did, but some part of me is uneasy about this whole situation. I am usually not involved in all of this drama. I just hear everything as the union workers come in at night after their routes. They are constantly telling me everything that goes on with her, and my cup spilled over.
What?! This is crazy. Your boss has lost hold of his senses. It’s not clear to me if he traveled to another town to dig up dirt on this coworker or if that was about something else, but it’s all sounding like an overly dramatic movie.
It’s highly unlikely that whatever happened at your coworker’s former job is going to affect her employment at this one. If there are legitimate problems with her work or her ability to get along with coworkers at this job, y’all should be talking about that with her boss. But no one needs to travel out of town or get the dirt from the last job or catch her off-guard for a dramatic confrontation.
If they try to involve you in this, just say that you don’t know any more than what you’ve already shared, and that you don’t feel right discussing it further — but that you’d be glad to be part of a conversation with her boss about the work issues at this job, not the last one.
3. I lied about my degree and now there’s a background check
I recently applied for the “perfect job,” and one of the requirements was a bachelor’s degree. I was confident that I could do the job based on my experience and abilities. Well, I unfortunately made a crucial error in judgement by putting that I had a BFA on my resume, then foolishly felt I had to again on the job application. I had a fantastic interview with them, and they decided to move forward with my application. Since lying on my application, I can’t sleep and am so ashamed as I’ve never done anything like this before.
Yesterday they called with an offer letter contingent on a favorable background check that includes education. My worst nightmare! Why didn’t I think this through before?
I don’t want my lie to be discovered in the background check. Should I be straight with them now and let them decide whether go forward still or should I decline their offer?
Ouch. Yeah, you can’t do this. Not just because it leads to situations like this, but because now you’re not just the person without the required degree — you’re the person who lies. And that’s usually far more of a deal-breaker than having or not having a degree. Employers who might be willing to be flexible on the degree requirement (as they often should be) are usually not flexible on issues of integrity, which is what this is.
So, should you decline the offer or tell them the truth? I could argue for either. Telling the truth has more integrity to it, I suppose — you’d be coming clean, which is good. But they’d be very unlikely to proceed when you explicitly lied on your resume, so simply declining might be the less uncomfortable route.
4. Meeting with people from my old industry right after I start a new job
I just started a new role this week that I am super excited about. I’m leaving behind a role where I was a pretty vital part of the day-to-day operations in a very small, insular community for three years. I formed very close relationships with a lot of these people. As such, when I sent my farewell email out to folks I wanted to stay in touch with, a lot of folks asked me to grab coffee to catch up and hear about my new role.
However, my new role is not so much client-facing; it’s more event programming and logistics. Would it be out of line to take meetings during the work day with people in my former network? It’s still the same space/industry, but not all of these meetings necessarily have synergy with what I’m working on. Not sure what professional conventions are surrounding this.
I’d mainly hold off for now. One coffee with an old colleague your first month on the job isn’t a big deal — but a bunch of them when they don’t relate to your current job would raise my eyebrows if I were your manager. Wait until you’ve been there a bit longer and have established yourself, so that you’re more of a known quantity. At that point, your manager will know you have a work ethic and are getting things done and will be less likely to wonder what’s up.
It’s very normal to tell past colleagues in this situation, “Once I’m more settled in here, I’d love to have coffee.” It doesn’t need to be immediate. (Or, if you want it to be more immediate, meet for a drink after work or something. Just don’t load up your first couple of months at a new job with daytime meetings with people who don’t relate to the new work.)
5. My severance package is smaller than coworkers laid off six months ago
I am working for a large company that did mass layoffs about six months ago. They offered severance packages to those employees who were laid off.
I am now being laid off for the same reason (position elimination), but have been told I will not be getting a severance package because I have a longer time to find a new position within the company. It seems unfair that I am not being offered severance, but six months ago they were giving severance to employees in the same situation as I am in now. Do I have any grounds to get a severance package because of this situation?
It’s not uncommon for people in earlier rounds of layoffs to get larger severance packages than people in later rounds, often because there’s simply less money to put toward severance later in the process. It’s also true that employers will sometimes give severance in lieu of notice (“today will be your last day but we’re giving you four weeks pay to cushion the blow since you’ve had no notice of this”) whereas if you get some notice, that calculation may change.
It’s not necessarily fair, but it’s not really grounds to push back. I mean, you can always try negotiating for more, but you might not have a lot of bargaining power. Bargaining power for severance typically comes in if your employer is concerned about you suing for something (like if you had cause to believe you’d been discriminated against on the basis of race, sex, or another protected characteristic — because to get severance, you a sign a general release of claims so you can’t sue in the future) or if they agree that they’ve somehow done you wrong (like if you moved to their state for the job and were laid off a month later).