a friend interrupted my job interview, interviewer asked about the last time I cried, and more

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

1. A friend interrupted my job interview in a coffee shop

I had an awkward experience recently. I met someone for a job interview at a coffee shop recently (standard for this company). The interview was going well, but about 10 minutes in, a friend I haven’t spoken to in a few years came into the coffee shop, saw me, and headed over to say hi. She acknowledged the interviewer briefly (but I’m not sure she realized who he was?) and started asking me questions about things she knew in my life (basic things, how is my family, stuff like that). I responded by telling her I was in an interview and that I’d catch up with her later, but was thrown off for the rest of the interview.

Did I handle that correctly? Was there something better I could have done?

Assuming you cut her off pretty quickly, yes. I can’t quite tell if you did or not — it sounds like she had the chance to ask multiple questions, and ideally you would have cut her off at the very start, by saying something like, “It’s great to see you! I’m actually doing an interview right now so can’t talk, but let’s talk soon.” (If you didn’t want to specify that it was an interview, it’s fine to say “business meeting” or “working lunch.”)

But interviewers are people, and they know that sometimes when you’re in public, someone might recognize you and come talk to you. That’s one of the risks they take when they hold interviews in public areas. As long as you don’t make them wait while you talk about your aunt’s kidney function and how your kid is doing in school, you’re fine.

And here’s some advice on how to handle this if it’s a coworker who does the interrupting.

2. Job applicants who redact information from their resumes

I recruit entry-level and administrative roles for our company nationwide. Over the course of an open job posting, I potentially will go through at least 100-200 resumes.

Recently I have noticed an interesting trend. Have you ever heard of people sending in job applications where they have redacted their previous company names from their resume? I thought it was only one odd duck, but now I have seen three in the last couple of days come in like that. They were all applying for our administrative assistant position. Their reasoning varies from protecting themselves from employment scams to claiming it is due to their confidentiality agreement (for this one it is hard to believe that their past seven jobs all had the same weird clause, especially since they are all in different industries).

Is this a thing? Has anyone else experienced this? How do I respond? We usually send some sort of response to all qualified applicants and I feel like these applicants are wasting my time as I am unable to properly analyze their skills or experience when there are no identifying elements. And just as an FYI, two of the applicants even put a disclaimer in stating they intend to not release the information, even during an interview.

There is some advice out there telling job seekers who are worried about discretion in their job search to use what they call a “confidential resume,” where you redact names of employers and often even your full name and the names of schools you attended.

This is very weird advice for most people. Because it’s so at odds with convention, it comes across as oddly secretive and defensive and out of sync with professional norms. Maybe there’s some field out there where this is normal, who knows. But when I’ve seen it done, it’s never been in a field where it didn’t come across really strangely.

And your applicants are being especially weird about it, with the “I won’t even tell you this info in an interview” statements and the confidentiality agreement claims. (As you note, it’s very unlikely that their last seven job all prohibited them from ever stating they had worked there.) And how are you going to check references or even verify their employment history if they won’t tell you where they worked?

If someone otherwise appears to be a very strong candidate, you could consider writing back and saying, “To consider you, we’d need to receive an unredacted version of your resume that lists your employment history.” But I am very, very skeptical that these are going to turn out to be good candidates (especially for an administrative assistant role, where you want people who are really in sync with professional communication norms), and lots of hiring  managers would discard the applications on the spot.

3. Interviewer asked me about the last time I cried

I did a Skype interview for a sales job at a tech company. The first question I was asked was, “When is the last time you cried?” I can’t imagine why they asked me that. I was honest and said that many years ago, when I was a student teacher, a lesson I had planned went horribly wrong and out of sheer frustration I cried. How would you rate my answer? I am a male, 32 years of age.

Your answer was fine if you wanted to give them a real answer. But I really wish people would start pushing back on these utterly inappropriate interview questions with, “What a surprising question. Why do you ask?”

I mean, really. Treat this as if they were asking you about the last time you had sex or the last time you hugged your mom. It’s weirdly personal and inappropriate, and it’s okay to express surprise and ask why they’re asking. You have some agency in this conversation; you’re allowed to push back.

4. Shouldn’t my staff member at least knock?

I came back to work to discover a member of staff has had four lockers put into my office that I share with other supervisors. The lockers are for her to use to store personal belongings and clothes in because she has asthma and finds strong perfumes and scents from the locker room/changing room could set her asthma off. As I was working in there the other day, her coat was hanging on a door and shoes were on the floor and a bag was on a chair. She also just wanders into the office without knocking or saying anything. Am I being petty to think she should at least knock before walking in?

Nope, but you need to tell her that. You also need to tell her if you need her to store everything in the lockers rather than leaving items out and about in your office. You’re expecting her to know she shouldn’t be doing this stuff — and sure, maybe she should — but since she doesn’t appear to, you need to clearly tell her what you want from her.

So: “Jane, because several of us share this space, can you please keep all your belongings in the lockers that have been installed here? Otherwise it becomes too cluttered. Also, please knock before you come in — we’re sometimes in a meeting or having a sensitive conversation.”

5. What will employers think when my resume shows I’m no longer at my most recent job?

What do hiring managers generally think when they see a resume with the most recent position having an end date rather than saying “to present”? I was laid off earlier this month because of a company asset sale, and my resume now says “to April 2017.” Does it look bad to have an end date rather than saying present? Do they generally think lay-off, or do they think it’s a firing, and would that give them pause? I have never been laid off before and I have always had a job when searching for the next one.

Most people won’t assume anything. They’ll likely ask you about it when they talk to you (“why did you leave your last job?”) but layoffs are very common, and it’s a perfectly understandable explanation for why you left.

I didn’t get a job because I was a bully in high school

A reader writes:

I’ve been trying to break into a niche industry (30-40 jobs in a city with a population of 3 million) for a while now. I’m in my late 20s, and though it took me some time to decide what I wanted to do with my life, I have finished my degree and completed two internships. I’m working part-time in a related field and freelancing while searching for a full-time job in the niche industry. I’m willing to move for the right job, but I’d rather stay close to home — so I was stoked last summer when I got an interview for one of the very few entry-level jobs available in my city! I ultimately didn’t get it, but the interview went well enough they encouraged me to apply the next time they had an opening.

Then an acquaintance who works at the company called me up and asked if I wanted to get coffee. I figured she’d offer me tips on how to do better next time. Instead, she told me to give up on ever being hired there — turns out, a girl I had gone to high school with is a real rock star at this company, and she threatened to resign when it looked like I was about to be offered a job. (I hadn’t realized it was her because her married name is different.) I’ll be honest — I wasn’t a very nice person back then, and I probably was pretty awful to this girl. I looked my former classmate up, and her resume really is incredible. She graduated from college early and has awards people who’ve worked in our industry twice as long haven’t won. Her public-facing work is top-notch. I’m guessing she’s the kind of employee a manager wants to keep around.

My acquaintance’s prediction appears to be true: I didn’t get an interview for a new position at the company that would’ve been an even better fit than the one I’d interviewed for. When I asked why, I was told a staffer had raised some concerns and the company would not be moving forward with my candidacy. I’m heartbroken. I worked so hard for so long to get the training required for this type of work, and I don’t think I deserve to be blacklisted for something I said when I was 17. I have my former classmate’s work email. Should I beg for forgiveness?

This is tricky.

On one hand, I don’t think there’s anything to lose by apologizing. And if you were pretty awful to her, it sounds like it would be the right thing to do.

On the other hand, it’s going to look motivated by your desire to get a job there, and risks coming across as more self-interested than genuine.

Because of that, I think you should do it only if you can frame it as a genuine apology, unconnected to your job prospects there. If you can explain that the situation made you reflect on your behavior to her in high school and realize that you owe her an apology — and if you can honestly say that you don’t expect this to change anything about your job prospects there but just genuinely wanted to apologize — then maybe.

However, if you then apply for jobs there again anytime in the next year or two, it’s likely to look like it wasn’t that genuine.

So … I would say to send that type of apology because it’s the right thing to do but also to write this company off for at least a while.

Now, is that fair that you’d be blacklisted for something you did at 17? I think it depends on exactly how bad your treatment of her was — there are some things that would be bad enough that you shouldn’t expect it to be written off even a decade later. And there are other things where holding a professional grudge after someone expressed sincere regret would be an overreaction.

But this might not be about a grudge. She might genuinely feel that she can’t comfortably work with you. It might not have to do with forgiving or not forgiving you, and she might be well aware that you’re a different person now — and yet might still feel that seeing her high school tormenter every day isn’t something she’d want to stick around for. If that’s how she feels, that’s legitimate — and it’s understandable that her employer wouldn’t want to lose a stellar employee for someone who’s an unknown quantity.

Ultimately, it’s not so much about whether it’s fair (it might be, it might not be), but about what is and how you respond to that. I think sending a genuine apology and then moving on from this company is your best move here, as frustrating as I’m sure that is.

how can I get my boss to let me work from home?

A reader writes:

I’d like your advice on talking points when asking my boss about the ability to work from home once a week. I work on a very small team at a very large company. There are usually just three of us from my department in the office on a given day. My boss travels frequently, and is probably in the office only 50% of the time. I have one junior colleague, and often the two of us are the only ones on our team here.

As a whole, my company is very supportive of working from home. However, the official policy states that it’s up to each department on what their team does, and my boss is generally not for it. My job functions do not require me to be in the office, and on the occasions that I do work from home (sick, home maintenance, weather, etc.) I am just as productive, if not more, than I am in the office. I don’t have any really compelling reasons to NEED to work from home, I just enjoy the quiet and comfort of getting to be in my house.

I’ve asked him a few times about my working from home on a regular schedule, as many of our colleagues on other teams do, but each time he brushes my question off rather than answer it. On the rare instance that I do NEED to be home, he gives a begrudging okay, and asks why I don’t just take PTO instead. I think he doubts the ability to put in a full day of work at home because he has a family and many pets and household duties that (admittedly) really distract him, whereas I live alone and can actually focus on work. I also suspect that he worries my junior colleague will then ask for the same privilege on the basis that I was given it. For the record, I’m a high performing, reliable, long term employee. I have gotten great reviews, and other than the stated reasons above, I can think of no reasons that my boss wouldn’t trust me.

What can I say to him to convince him to let me give it a shot?

You can read my answer to this letter at New York Magazine today. Head over there to read it.

my employee’s son is scamming her out of money, and I’m worried

A reader writes:

I’m the director of a public library in a small town. I have a part-time clerk (let’s call her Maggie). Maggie has a son, “Ralph,” who is, quite simply, not a very nice person. He’s a former drug addict who was okay for a while, but now seems to have figured out it’s much more lucrative to just get all of Maggie’s money.

About six months ago, Maggie helped him purchase a car so he could get to work. Before that, she was getting up in the middle of the night to drive him home (Maggie also has a full-time job in addition to her job with us). Soon after she signed for the car, he lost his job. Since then, he hasn’t held a job for longer than a couple of weeks. When he applies to jobs, he always claims he needs $150 for drug tests as part of the application. Maggie paid for SEVEN of these before we found out and looked up our state laws regarding drug tests and told her that the law requires employers to pay for testing. Once Ralph gets a job, he claims he needs gas money until his first paycheck when he promises to pay her back. Of course, before he can pay her back, he quits or says they told him they don’t have enough work for him. We also found out he has been getting this same amount of money from another woman in town.

Because Ralph doesn’t have a job, he also moved in with her. While living with her, he has stolen her keys and cell phone when she has refused to let him borrow them. On one memorable day, he came to see her at the library and asked for $20, and after he left he got ahold of her bank card and cleaned out her account.

At our urging, she has talked to the employee assistance program people available at her full-time job. She says they have been helpful, but when she tells Ralph that she can’t help him anymore, he tells her that she doesn’t love him and he threatens to kill himself. She is afraid of the police because of how they have treated her family in the past.

The real turning point has come this week. They have gotten rid of his car because there is no longer any money to make payments. Maggie is once again driving him everywhere. Today she came to see me because he took yet another drug test, but since it came back as “all water,” he needs another one. The employment group helping him find work said they needed to pay $55 for the new test. Since she only had $20, she asked me for money. I was completely taken by surprise, I’d assumed she came to ask for some time off. I didn’t give her the money, and after she left I made it clear to other staff that they were not to give her money.

For the past 2+ years and even while all this was going on, she has been a great employee, always on time, efficient, and helpful. However, I’m worried that Ralph could steal her keys and rob the library. I’m also worried about her safety and her ability to take care of her own needs. At this point, I’m not sure she can afford to buy food. Before all this started, Maggie was happy and healthy. I have warned her that Ralph’s behavior could impact her job here, but I’m afraid if I fire her, there will be no way she can get out of this mess. But after today, I’m not sure she can anyway. I know I need to say something so she knows her request was inappropriate, but I don’t know what else I could or should be doing to handle this.

It doesn’t sound like firing her should be on the table — it sounds like she does great work, and what you’re worried about is (a) her welfare and (b) her ability to ensure Ralph doesn’t cause harm to the library.

Things that would be reasonable for you to do:

1. Tell Maggie that Ralph is no longer allowed to visit her at the library while she’s working, because it’s disruptive. Tell Ralph this yourself if he shows up after that. Be willing to use whatever security procedures you have to enforce that.

2. If you haven’t already, tell Maggie directly that it sounds like Ralph is lying to her in order to scam her out of money. (Sometimes in this situation people choose delicate wording and tiptoe around what’s really happening. If you’ve been doing that, stop and switch to clear, plain language.)

3. Tell Maggie that Ralph’s behavior has been so dishonest that you’re worried about him potentially having access to her keys to the library. Ask how she safeguards them. Consider whether you feel comfortable with her answer and what you know of the situation, or whether your obligations to the library obligate you to take back Maggie’s keys.

4. Investigate local resources that might be available to help Maggie — county social workers, etc. — give her phone number, and urge her to call.

Beyond that … I know it sucks to watch something like this, but there may not be a lot more that you can do. Ultimately this is Maggie’s call, assuming she’s of sound mind. You can name what you see happening and urge her to get help, and you can take action to safeguard your workplace, but beyond that, it’s up to Maggie.

I keep falling asleep at work, employee won’t speak to me, and more

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

1. I keep falling asleep at work

I have worked as the receptionist at my current firm for over two years. In the last couple of months I have been unable to stay awake through my entire shift! I do not have a lot of tasks to occupy my time and so I often end up sitting with my head resting on my hand and nod off. But even worse is that this will happen even if I’m sitting up straight! I obviously know that this will look very unprofessional if I am caught, but short of asking for more tasks (which I have done several times), I am at a loss as to what to do. Do you have any advice?

I wrote back to this letter-writer and asked if anything has changed, inside or outside of work, in the last couple of months. The answer:

I did get a second job. I worry that may be the problem, as its the only real change there has been.

Yeah, I think that’s really likely to be what’s causing it. It makes sense that working a second job would make you more tired, even if you’re getting the same amount of sleep.

Some options: Strategically timed caffeine. Getting up and taking a short walk around your work area or even some unobtrusive stretching if no visitors are around. Talk to a colleague (that will often pull you out of sleepy mode — depending on the colleague, of course). Any of the suggestions here. What other advice do people have?

Updated to add: A reader who works in sleep medicine asked me to say that you should talk to your doctor to be sure there’s not something more serious going on.

2. Employee won’t speak to me

I have an employee who recently lost her mother to cancer. We’re a small team, and we covered for her extensively while she took the time to care for her mom at the end of her life. Understandably, she’s still very upset, and we try to be accommodating as possible.

However, a couple weeks ago, my brother was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer. The rest of my team has been supportive, but this one employee has stopped speaking to me almost completely. Her office is right next to mine, but there are days that she will not say a word to me. She did tell me that it was because my family’s situation “hits too close to home.” I do understand that it’s painful for her, but we still have to work together (and I have to supervise her). I’m not walking around the office weeping or talking all the time about my brother’s cancer. I feel like I have to walk on eggshells around her. What can I do to improve the situation?

Ooof, that’s tough. But she’s not being reasonable. That’s perfectly understandable — grief does weird things to people — but in order to do her job, she does need to be willing to talk to her manager.

I think there’s something of a middle ground here: You should respect her need for space when you don’t actually need to speak to her — in other words, don’t force optional conversations on her — but she does need to have normal work-related conversations with you.

The key is to be empathetic to what she’s going through, while being clear about what you still need. For example: “I know you’re going through a tough time, and you’re grieving. I want to respect that as much as possible and I’ll try to be aware that you might need extra space right now, but at the same time, I need us to talk about work-related things that come up in the normal course of doing our jobs. Knowing that, is there anything I can do differently to make things easier for you right now?” If she says that she really needs a period of not interacting with you at all (which is unlikely, but it doesn’t hurt to be prepared for it), you could say, “I’m so sorry you’re feeling that way. Unfortunately, that’s not something we can do because of the nature of our jobs, but if there’s something that would make the interactions we need have easier for a while, please let me know and it might be something we can figure out a way to accommodate.”

3. Recruiter asked me to do a long assessment without telling me what job it’s for

This morning I received an email from a recruiter at one of the major banks; I had applied for a teller position two years ago but never heard back after filling out the lengthy online assessment. The entire email reads, “I received your resume from a colleague of mine, I will send you an online assessment shortly. Kindly complete the assessment.”

I was thrilled because this is one of the few employers where I am following new job postings. I checked online to see if a position I qualify for had become available, but there was only an investment advisor position (my resume CLEARLY doesn’t show me as qualified for this based on the basic job requirements).

So I thought that there must be an unposted opening. I emailed her back thanking her for reaching out and confirming my interest in any positions with the company. I asked if she could explain what position this assessment was for. I got a reply back within minutes. Her reply: “The online assessment is the first step in the recruitment process with [company].”

I took a quick look at the online assessment and there are approximately 300 multiple choice questions. I remember this taking me over an hour when I first completed it years ago.

Something feels off to me. I haven’t been told if there is even an open position or if they are just updating their records. I feel if I was being considered for a position that I’d at least be given the role or asked for an updated resume. I’m doubting whether or not I should waste my time tonight completing this assessment. I don’t know if this is ‘normal’ for recruiters or if there is actually a job that I qualify for. Any advice?

What’s off is that she’s being curt to the point of rudeness and incredibly inconsiderate of your time. It’s rude to ask you to spend time answering 300 questions (!) without even telling you what the job is.

It’s possible that she’s saying that this is the first step in being considered for any job there, but even then, she should tell you what position she has in mind, because you might determine that you’re not interested. And it makes sense for you to have the chance to decide that before answering these 300 questions, not afterwards.

4. Can I ask my estranged husband’s company for his employment records?

I have grounds to believe that my estranged husband used my critical illness as a pretext to get compassionate leave from his employer and then used it to go on a holiday (with another woman). We are now in the process of getting divorced.

Am I within rights to contact my ex-spouse’s employer and ask for the exact dates they granted him compassionate leave, explaining my lawyer needs it in order to establish the level of support I received during my illness? I wish not to use it against my ex-husband at his workplace (he is a civil servant, it may cost him his job) but only in our divorce proceedings.

No, you shouldn’t. They’ve very, very unlikely to release an employee’s records to you, a non-employee. If your lawyer really needs it, she could try contacting the employer directly, but even then they’re not likely to provide it voluntarily.

5. Approaching employees of a competitor that’s shutting down

I have a question regarding poaching employees from a competitor that is shutting down. My company is in growth mode, while this other company is in the process of closing its doors. We want to reach out to their current employees to potentially bring them on after their company closes in a few months. We know they are being offered retention bonuses to stay to the end, so we are hoping to have them start shortly after that. In the meanwhile, we want to begin preliminary interviews.

Do you have any advice on how to reach out to them to gauge their interest? I want to be sure that we are being tactful/respectful about them losing their jobs while getting them excited about our company’s growth?

You can be pretty straightforward. Most people in that situation are likely to really appreciate the outreach, and even if they’re not interested in the job you’re offering, they’re likely to appreciate that you’re contacting them to check.

Obviously you don’t want to say something implying that you’re thrilled that their loss might be your company’s gain. But something like this is fine: “I know you might be thinking about your next move since Teapots Inc. is shutting down, and if you might be interested in talking with us about roles here, I’d love to set up a conversation. I should note that I know you may want to stay in your current job until the company closes, and that wouldn’t be an obstacle on our end — although if you’re interested, we’d like to talk in the next few weeks if that works on your end.”

me, talking about hugging at work (Wall St. Journal) and job interviews (Marketplace)

I’m quoted in this Wall St. Journal piece, talking about hugging at work. My advice: “Huggers feel they’re really good at judging when someone wants a hug, but based on what the nonhuggers are saying, they’re wrong about that.”

And this weekend, I was on public radio’s Marketplace, talking about job interviews. My segment starts at 6:11.

Posted in me

will Congress get rid of mandatory overtime pay?

usnewsCurrently, millions of employees in the United States are required to be paid overtime (time and a half) if they work more than 40 hours in a given week. But a new bill in Congress proposes changing that and allowing employees to receive comp time (extra paid time off) instead of overtime payments.

At U.S. News & World Report today, I talk about what the bill would do and why. You can read it here.

can I rescind a job offer immediately?

A reader writes:

I recently called an applicant to offer her a customer service position. She responded flatly as soon as I introduced myself. (“Oh. Hi.”) I was a little taken aback, but proceeded with the job offer anyway.

Her terse reply immediately signaled a complete lack of interest. She said little other than, “Huh. I’ll get back to you later.” I asked if she had any questions or concerns about the job, but she said in an almost annoyed tone, “No. Nothing.”

I’ve had the same experience a handful of times with other applicants. So I wasn’t surprised when she didn’t bother to respond by the agreed time frame. She also didn’t reply to a politely worded email saying I would be moving on with other applications.

Friendly telephone communication is an essential requirement of the job. Whether they accept or decline, it’s a red flag when applicants reply with indifference bordering rudeness. My question is, would it be inappropriate to rescind the job offer on the spot in this scenario? Should I wait and email them to cancel our offer of employment later, out of politeness?

I’m curious whether when you’ve had this experience with other candidates, do any of them ever end up accepting the offer? (And if so, what kind of employees do they make?) Based on this one experience, I wonder if it’s just happening with people who have already decided not to accept the job, and who just aren’t professional enough to explain that.

In any case, I wouldn’t just rescind the offer on the spot if you encounter this again. It’s possible that there’s an understandable reason for the tone — for example, if the person just heard about a death in the family, I could imagine the conversation going this way, and in that case you wouldn’t want to be all “your tone sucks, so NEVER MIND.”

What I do think you should do is to just name what you’re sensing and ask about it! For example: “You sound a little hesitant about your interest level — can I ask where you’re leaning?” Or, “I’m getting the sense I may have caught you at a bad time — would you rather I call you back about this?” Or even, “I don’t want to misinterpret, and I’m having trouble reading your tone here.”

A good candidate will respond to this by giving you more insight on what’s going on (which could be anything from “oh, I’m sorry — I’m in a room full of people” to “I have the stomach flu and am trying not to vomit before we hang up”).

But if the person stays terse — and if it’s rude terseness, not just reserved terseness — there’s no reason you can’t say, “I’ll be honest with you — we’re really looking for someone who’s excited about the job. If that’s not you, that’s okay! But I’d want to move forward and offer it to another candidate if you don’t think it’s for you.”

Also, though, I wonder what’s going on if people are sounding warm and friendly earlier in the process (I’m assuming, if you’ve decided to offer them the job) and then checking out by the offer stage. Are you attracting a lot of candidates who aren’t experienced or professionally polished enough to know that tone matters outside the interview? Are they learning something about the job or the company during the interview process that’s draining all interest out of them? Are you not asking the right questions of references to find out about things like professional demeanor before you decide who to hire?

It’s unusual enough that because you’ve seen it with more than one person, I’d take a look at where it might be coming from.

I want to cook without all the work, and so do you

And now a word from a sponsor…

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Crispy Chickpea and Freekeh Salad with Lemon Labneh and Harissa-Glazed Carrots

They have an option of a 2-person plan (one delivery a week, with three meals for two) or a family plan (one or two deliveries a week, with two or four meals for four). Each meal is less than $10 per person, with free shipping. They make it easy to see ingredients ahead of time so that you don’t get meals you don’t like or won’t eat. Everything can be prepared in 40 minutes or less, and it’ll come in a temperature-controlled box so it will stay fresh even if you’re not home when it arrives.

What I like the most about Blue Apron – aside from the fact that everything I’ve made from them is legitimately really good – is it gets me to cook things that I wouldn’t have made on my own otherwise, like the fontina and beet grilled cheese sandwiches pictured below. Never in a million years would I have thought to put beets in grilled cheese, and they were ridiculously good. (Just looking at the photo of it is making me want to eat it again). My other favorite this month was a crispy chickpea and freekeh salad with lemon labeneh and harissa-glazed carrots. I didn’t even know what freekeh was (it turns out it’s a grain), but it’s delicious.

I know people sometimes wonder about the packaging that comes with subscription meal services. You can recycle everything that comes in your Blue Apron box, including the baggies, liners, ice packs, and the box itself. If you don’t have curbside recycling, you can return your packaging to them for free and they’ll take care of it for you.

If you’re interested in trying it out, Blue Apron is offering two free meals on your first order, so sign up here. And there’s no commitment – you can skip or cancel the service at any time, so give them a try! 

Green Garlic Pesto Pasta with Butter Lettuce Salad and Creamy Lemon Dressing

Fontina and Beet Grilled Cheese Sandwiches with Mixed Citrus Salad

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Blue Apron. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

I overheard higher-ups complaining about my friend, posting on a company’s Facebook page after applying, and more

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

1. I overheard higher-ups complaining about my work friend

I have a coworker who I’m pretty friendly with. We eat lunch together regularly and we’ve also spent some time together outside of work (dinners with our spouses, etc.). I’m at a slightly higher level, but we don’t work in the same department.

The other day, I overheard two of the higher-ups discussing my coworker/friend in a negative way. One of the higher-ups was advocating talking to my coworker about it to see if it can be improved, but the other manager said it might just be a personality/fit issue that ultimately can’t be resolved.

I don’t feel comfortable saying anything to my coworker/friend because it’s just something I overheard, but I also feel guilty not saying anything, especially if it might mean they are let go. I shouldn’t say anything, right? Even though I’d want to know if someone heard that I was coming off this way to higher-ups?

I wouldn’t say anything. You don’t have the full context for what they were talking about, and you could inadvertently end up causing much more drama than is warranted.

“It might just be a personality/fit issue that ultimately can’t be resolved” sounds alarming, but it’s also the kind of thing people sometimes say about stuff that’s not a huge deal and definitely isn’t getting anyone fired. For example: “She’s really uptight about how she formats the llama reports, but I think it’s just her personality and not something we’re going to resolve.” Or, “I wish she were a faster writer, but I don’t think it’s something coaching will help with” (where the subtext is that she doesn’t have to write faster; it would just be nice if she did). Or all sorts of other things.

On the other hand, maybe you know from what you heard that it was definitely more serious than those examples. Maybe they were talking about it in a way that made it clear that letting her go was a possible response. In that case, I still wouldn’t say anything — this was an overheard conversation that isn’t yours to share. But if you feel like friendship obligates you to say something, I’d just be very, very careful about how you relay what was said. The risk here is still that you throw a grenade into your friend’s professional life over overheard musings that turn out to be nothing.

2. Posting on a company’s Facebook page after applying

I have already applied to a company, and have not interviewed yet. I am wondering if it is a good idea/ethical/weird to send a simple Facebook message on the company’s Facebook page. Something to the effect of “Hi! I have already applied via the proper application, and am following up. I would love to hear from someone in HR. I would be a great asset. Thank you.”

Nope, definitely do not do that. It doesn’t make any sense to follow up on an application via Facebook. The person who manages the Facebook page is almost certainly not the person who manages the hiring, so this would be a very odd attempt at following up. At best they will just ignore it and at worst they will alert the hiring person by saying “look at this bizarre Facebook message we received.” (Moreover, there’s no need to follow up. You already applied, so they know you’re interested. Now the ball is in their court. But even if you want to ignore me on that and follow up anyway, you would do it via email, not via social media.)

3. How do I decline this offer from my manager?

I work as an office manager for a graduate program at a college. My fellow coworker has mentioned attending a class that the program offers, in order to get insight into the the courses. I would possibly be interested in sitting in one time, but not actually enrolling in a class.

Our manager emailed us the courses and said with no pressure or requirement, we could take the course for free using our tuition benefits and he would work around our schedules.

I’m in no way interested in taking the class. My coworker is the office overachiever, so I’m sure she will take him up on the offer. How do I politely decline?

“Thanks for offering this! Realistically, my schedule outside work right now wouldn’t allow me to enroll, but would it be possible to sit in on a single class to get more insight into the program? I understand if that’s not feasible, of course.”

4. Flexing hours and overtime pay

I recently hired a couple of top-notch professionals for two separate positions at a nonprofit organization in North Carolina; one is the interim operations and volunteer coordinator for 30-40 hours a week, and the other is the interim program coordinator.

Both individuals have been instructed to limit their hours up to or at 40 hours a week and track so they won’t trigger the overtime rule. Both receive healthcare insurance benefits. They do not get vacation benefits, which will be part of their benefits if they are re-hired for the positions in August.

So here’s my question: One person asked if she could work 45 hours next week and then 35 hours the following week to attend a family trip. Her goal is to work and get paid for 80 hours over a two-week period. But I said she couldn’t work beyond 40 hours because it will trigger the overtime rule. So this means she’ll have to take five hours off next week without pay. Am I accurate in thinking she cannot adjust her hours each week or could we offer her this flexibility to adjust her schedule?

Nope, you’re correct that it would trigger overtime. You’d have to pay her overtime for the five extra hours she worked the first week, because overtime has to be calculated based on a single work week; the calculation can’t be spread over two weeks.

That’s annoying because the law is designed to prevent employees from exploitation but in cases like this has ended up preventing them from having the flexibility they’d like to have. (Your timing for this question is good, though, because I have a post coming later today about legislation that’s been introduced that would change this.)

5. When’s the right time to update your LinkedIn?

My current job has a six-month probation period. I have been there a little over three months and feel comfortable that I will pass the probation time. On my Linkedin profile, I have added the end date to my previous job, but have not added my current job. While silly, I feels as if I would be jinxing myself if I add my current employer prior to me making it through my probationary period.

Superstitions aside, when is it appropriate to add a new Job title on Linkedin? My husband says it looks like I am currently unemployed and that it will negativity effect my future job searches, I feel that once I update my profile it will make no difference how long I waited to add the position.

You can add it as soon as you start working there, on day one! No need to wait.

But there’s also nothing wrong with waiting if you want to. Lots of people don’t think to update LinkedIn immediately, so it’s no big deal if you take your time. I agree with you that once you update it, it’s going to have the correct dates and the next time you’re job searching, no one will even know or care that it took you a while to list that job there.