5 things you should read

Five quick things for you:

1. I recently spoke with Debbie Laskey about hiring and all kinds of other stuff. You can read her interview with me here.

2. I also recently spoke with the Arizona Republic about things to know if you’re being fired. You can read that article here.

3. Speaking of being fired, this is a pretty good article in Business Week on how to avoid talking about a firing in a job interview. Do note that it neglects to mention that some interviewers (like me) will follow-up on these suggested answers by asking directly: “Did you resign?” But some won’t, so the advice is worth reading.

4. Employment attorney Donna Ballman recently addressed a question that comes up a lot here: What are your legal rights if a company offers you a job and then retracts the offer?

5. I tend to think that most conferences are colossal wastes of time, but this Blue Avocado article has really good tips about how to get something out them.

{ 22 comments… read them below }

  1. Kasey*

    Okay I read the “How Not to Say You were Fired” article and it was very interesting. But, especially in this economy, I’m thinking it would be difficult to actually use any of the options if you were fired, and didn’t secure employment right away.

    How would you state “we both agreed it wasn’t the right fit,” when the next job listed was a few months later or, even worse, this is the interview after that last job and there is a big window between the two? Wouldn’t that raise a red flag, either that you might not be telling the full truth, or if this really did happen, you foolishly made the decision to jump the gun without a safety net?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Honestly, I think it depends on your interviewer. Some interviewers will accept that and thus spare you an awkward conversation. Some won’t, but I don’t know that it leaves you worse off than if you’d just said “I was fired” from the get-go. You can’t lie about the actual circumstances of your departure (i.e., you can’t say you resigned if you were really fired), but you’re certainly free to characterize the overall experience as “not the right fit” or whatever … and in some cases (not all, but some), that’ll be enough and the interviewer will never ask point blank if you left voluntarily or not.

  2. Anon*

    That article by Liz Ryan is terrible. Telling a prospective employer that “we agreed on my leaving” or “we decided to move apart” instead of admitting you were fired? I’m pretty sure that’s called lying. You didn’t resign – you were FIRED. Big difference.

    1. Vicki*

      We need a new vocabulary.
      I was “let go” from a previous job (in 2004). I wasn’t “fired” in the way that people understand the term; there was no cause. I wasn’t”laid off” in the legal sense bercause the company worked hard to ensure that they didn’t trigger the legal definition of a layoff.
      One Friday, I was asked to come to a meeting. The only other person was our HR rep who told me the company no longer required my services and I was to receive 2 weeks salary in liu of notice, please exit by the back door and don’t come back.
      I learned from a friend that two other people were “let go” that same day”, approximately a dozen a week or two later, and another group a week or two after that.
      The paperwork I was given claimed that I “voluntary quit”. On the advice of a lawyer I a) got that language changed and b) got agreement from the company that they would not contest my application for unemployment benefits.
      In these days of “At Will” employment, my employer “willed” that a large number of us were no longer employed, with no reason ever supplied.
      Were we “fired”? Not in the way that people traditionally understand the word.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        It certainly sounds like a lay-off! Did they rehire for those positions immediately or were they eliminated? If the latter, it was a lay-off, whether they want to call it that or not!

  3. jmkenrick*

    For the record, I love it when you post these things! Saves me from having to troll the internet for articles.

  4. Anonymous*

    I have a job, but I recently interviewed at another company to try to find something better before quitting. We started going through my past employment history and I admitted to being fired from a position 3 years ago. I was asked point blank and decided to be honest. Things were going well up to that point. The interview was soon over and I never heard back.

    My advice, work for the government, they never fire people and encourage coming in late, leaving early, 2 hour lunches, surfing the internet during work, socializing, etc… They also have early retirement, mandatory raises and annual promotions. Its easy to get a job with them too, you usually just need to get someone whom works there to “owe you a favor”. In fact, in that type of work environment, every bit of advice on this website does not apply.

    My question, does working for the government look bad on your resume when coming into the private sector?

    1. GeekChic*

      Can an American please explain to me the frequent generalized hatred that exists for “government workers” in that country? (I’m assuming Anon @ 1:12 am is American). I see comments like this in a wide variety of places.

      When I lived in the US I was more likely to have a bad experience with corporate types than I was with government types (I’ll spare everyone my rants on ethics and citizenship or the lack thereof). The federal, state and municipal employees I dealt with were generally efficient and helpful (and those that weren’t got fired – really).

      I’m honestly quite confused. Have things changed that much since 2005 (when I left)?

    2. Strawberry Shortcake*

      I work for government and can say that none of those things are true. I find that my coworkers are talented and dedicated people.

      Try using that rhetoric next time you need a service from your government. My guess is that you will be treated with respect, even though it sounds like your generalizing doesn’t allow you to do the same.

  5. Anonymous*

    “the frequent generalized hatred that exists for “government workers” in that country?”

    Anti-government and anti-government-worker messages permeate massive, corporate-funded PR campaigns, such as through the Tea Party movement, and through major news outlets like Fox New, Wall Street Journal, etc. and so more and more people have those feelings. It’s part of a political strategy to undermine trust in government and reduce taxes for business and the wealthy, and it’s working.

    1. GeekChic*

      Thank you for your reply. I remember Fox when I was in the US but I just watched sports on that channel. The Tea Party wasn’t around when I lived in the US.

  6. Anonymous*

    Why is it that two of the articles use getting laid off and being fired interchangeably? They are not the same thing. And if HR people think they are interchangeable, then half the population (myself included) is going to have issues because of the massive layoffs in recent years.

    1. Anonymous*

      The last company I worked for used the term “laid off” to cover all non-voluntary terminations, regardless of the actual reason. It was the unofficial, unwritten policy there. No one was ever fired. Even the guy who showed up to work drunk several times and embezzled funds was “laid off.” It was pretty bizarre.

      I am sure the directors and people in HR were just gagging when they were called for reference checks on that guy. “He’s great when he’s sober, which is only on Sundays. He steals, too, but, yes, we had to let him go because the department was restructured and his position was phased out.” Ooookay! Lol.

    2. arm2008*

      I instantly discounted the value of those articles based on the fact that they used laid off and fired in a seemingly random manner. I’ve never been fired, but working in IT as a contractor I have been laid off many times. Getting laid off often feels like getting fired and unemployed is still unemployed, but those terms are not interchangeable when looking at employment history.

  7. Talyssa*

    I went to a conference in may where their opening session guest speaker was a guy that does speeches on ….I think they used the word networking. Anyway all he did was encourage us to sit with people who weren’t part of our organization and talk to them whenever there were breaks/meals/etc. In the beginning of it and when I saw it on the agenda I thought “oh god, NETWORKING, how lame” but it was actually a great way to open the conference. Everyone had the idea that they needed to talk with other people fresh in their mind and people actually did it – it was a tech conference and about 50-75% sys admins who are not always the most socially adept people (look, stereotypes exist for a reason!) and it was great.

    And I got a lot out of chatting with the other people – my managements favorite stories to hear from me were that other people had also experienced issues with the last upgrade of the product (it had been implied that we were unusual) and that even though the product was sold as being very easy to setup most companies of our size/complexity had significantly larger teams than we do.

    Neither of those things are information I could have gotten out of sessions but my managers loved them.

  8. Savvy Working Gal*

    I keep thinking that” most conferences are colossal wastes of time.” I’d love to hear more about why you think so. At most of the conferences I’ve attended everyone one’s around saying, “If you come away having learned one new thing the conference was worth it.” Thoughts?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Oooh, glad to have the chance to expand on that! I’m not saying people don’t get anything out of conferences — but I’d definitely disagree that learning one new thing makes it worth it. That’s an awful lot of time and expense to learn one new thing, when if someone’s motivated to, they can learn lots of new things without setting aside multiple days to attend a conference. It’s the cost/benefit ratio that bothers me.

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