short answer Sunday: 7 short answers to 7 short questions

It’s short answer Sunday. Today I get territorial about hair color and also call someone a dick. Here we go…

Friend asked me to write my own letter of recommendation

I have been looking steadily for work for a long time with discouraging results. Recently I applied for a job where a friend works (but in a different department) and had a positive initial phone interview. I mentioned this to my good friend, who I’ve known for more than a year and met while volunteering together, and asked if she might write an email to HR recommending me. She refused, and then offered for me to write my own recommendation that she would submit. I am very eager for employment, but writing my own review seems like a bad, bad idea. Am I right? I’m a little miffed at my friend for putting me in this spot!

It’s actually not that uncommon for people to ask a reference-seeker to draft an initial letter of recommendation, to make it easier/faster on them. It’s not something to be offended over. However, her initial refusal to serve as a reference at all is worrisome. You should probably find out what’s behind that — does she not feel confident recommending you? Does she generally not feel comfortable recommending friends? Find this out.

Will dying my hair red hurt my job prospects?

I’m very keen to dye my hair a henna red colour. However, I’m job searching at the moment and plan to go out and hand my resume all over town (whilst hopefully snagging some interviews!). Will this change of color hinder my chance at first impressions and ultimately, decide whether I get the job or not? I’m looking for anything in retail (excluding fashion) at an entry-level. My hair color at the moment is my natural (boring) brown, I’m in my early 20’s, live in Australia, I have several years of experience in retail and believe that hair color shouldn’t decide these things!

If it’s going to look like a color not found in nature, then yes, it may hurt your job prospects among some employers. If it’s going to look natural, then it’s fine. (Although I happen to believe that no one can or should pull off red except real redheads, and for that reason must advise you to keep your hands off my hair color.)

I don’t want to work with my friend

I recently was hired to work as a pharmacy tech, and My friend applied for the same job as mine and she had an interview and they want her to come back for a second interview, the thing is i really dont want her to work with me at all and she is not reliable and her transportation would be a problem. I never told her to apply but as soon as she found out I was hired she went and applied there, what should i do i really dont want to work with her at all and if she gets hired I will probably quit. I start training this week and i know its bad to quit but its that serious that I really cant work with her. What should I do? Should I tell my manager that I dont want her working with me and they dont know that we know each other.

In general, if your employer is considering hiring someone who you’ve worked with before and who you objectively feel will not do a good job, it’s not unreasonable to share your viewpoint with the hiring manager. But “I will quit if you hire her” and “I don’t want to work with her” aren’t going to reflect well on you; if you speak up, it needs to be from the employer’s perspective. And it needs to be objective, not based on anything personal. But I think your bigger problem is the lack of punctuation and weird capitalization issues here.

Is this company stringing me along?

I have been on 7 interviews with one particular company over the last month. The interviews have consisted of 1-on-1, video conference and telephone calls. I have met with the recruiter, hiring manager, colleagues, and the senior vice president of the department. A job offer has not been made yet. Would a company drag this process out this long without any intent of making an offer? I would assume after 3-4 interviews, they would know if I am “the one.”

No, companies don’t waste their time like this if they know you’re not the one and that they’ll never be making you an offer. It’s more likely that they don’t know that you’re “not the one” yet and they’re still trying to figure it out. Seven interviews is excessive though, and it’s reasonable to ask at this point what their timeline for making a decision is and what steps remain in the process.

Employer told me I lacked character for turning down a job offer

I was offered a job in another department and asked for the day to consider the offer. I was still unsure about it as the person I was to be working for told me he could not work with my “timeline” of one month’s notice to my current supervisor. (FYI that this is university policy.) He wanted me to give FOUR days. When he called and offered me the job, I told him that I simply could not walk out on my current department and he said well ok, he would be flexible about it. I asked for a few hours to think about it – something did not sit right with me about him. After some heavy thought, I was set to accept the position and went in to speak to my current supervisor. They countered back with an offer to match this new position’s salary. I certainly wasn’t expecting that, but because of this, I decided NOT to take the job offer. When I called to tell the other department, I was told that I had bad decision-making skills, lacked character and integrity and then he thanked me for not letting him make a mistake by hiring me. I was shocked. This is a senior administrator and I felt this was a highly inappropriate way to respond to a job applicant. Do you agree or was I out of line?

Hell no. He was clearly a dick. The one dodging a bullet was you.

Can my employer decrease my paycheck when I make a mistake?

Is it illegal for an owner of a buisness to take hours off your paycheck because you missed something while cleaning the night before?

Yep, it’s illegal. They can discipline or fire you, but they can’t dock your pay.

How can we rescind a staffing announcement?

We’ve recently offered a position to an individual who tempted here for a few months and who would have officially started as an employee today. However, her background check results are very problematic, therefore we have no choice but to rescind the job offer. How do we tell the staff who received a staffing announcement last week about welcoming this individual?

I’d protect her privacy as much as possible, saying something like, “Unfortunately, Karen won’t be able to join us as the new (TITLE) after all. We regret that it didn’t work out and we wish her the best.”

{ 44 comments… read them below }

  1. Mario*

    I was really wondering whether or not AAM would comment on the bad punctuation on the third post. Seriously, I am not a native English speaker, but that hurts!

    1. JessB*

      I second that! It’s a holiday here in Melbourne today, and I just scared away the birds outside my window by laughing so hard!

      That is how you do it, Ask A Manager style.

  2. KayDay*

    If you don’t want to work with your friend, but also don’t want to give her a negative reference, just explain to your manager that you would prefer not to work with “friends.” Just explain that you are worried she might be distracting (it is–most managers are already nervous about scheduling friends together). You said you are a pharmacy tech, so I am assuming that there are different shifts available (sorry if I am wrong on this point).

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Be careful, though, not to come across as someone who can’t handle the distractions of working with friends in general, or your manager will worry what will happen if you make friends with other coworkers. It’s not unreasonable, though, to ask if you can avoid being scheduled with her if she does get hired.

    2. Kim Stiens*

      I disagree. Making it a personal problem when it sounds like it is actually a professional problem is a mistake. If the person is unreliable and the OP is worried that she’ll have to pick up the slack, that’s something that the manager would love to know. You’re not obligated to stick up for your friends in a professional environment, they’re obligated to do their job. If you just don’t like them on a personal level, it’s different, but since the complaints OP has seem to be entirely professional in nature, just stick with that.

  3. Henna Red, please!*

    Thanks for answering my question, Alison! I’m just so bored of my natural hair, however, I want a job more so my boring brown is staying! I guess, further down the line, I can always ask my future manager if it would be ok to change my hair?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      If you’re picking a color not found in nature, yes, ask if it’s going to be a problem before you do it. If you’re coloring it some normal color, no need to check first.

            1. Jamie*

              Me too, except when I was a teenager and tried to go blonde…always turned out a hot orange mess (not found in nature.)

              Mine is actually more auburn than a true red (more Debra Messing (but natural) than Kathy Griffin) – but when it comes with the fair skin and the red-head reaction to anesthetic and pain meds I claim the right to be territorial about it as well. :)

          1. Kelly O*

            I’m reddish blonde, and I’ve always been terrified to dye it, because if I don’t like the dyed color I worry that it wouldn’t go back to my regular color. Every time I go to a new place, someone asks how I get it this color and I have to start over with explaining this is what God gave me.

            Although I do cringe every time I see someone go for the deep auburn color and come out with aubergine. Not attractive.

    2. Katya*

      I have to say if you’re working in retail (I know this is a huge generalization, but my experience is that most retail jobs tend to be among the professions in which an extremely conservative image is not necessary) I can’t see how having dyed hair would be a problem. To the best of my experience the henna color, while it may be apparent that you were not born that way, is not unnatural, garish, or distracting in appearance.

    3. Long Time Admin*

      Good grief! Every store I go in has employees with piercings all over their faces, tatoos, and “rooster” hair. I don’t care for it, but as long as their customer service skills are good, it’s doesn’t really matter that much to me.

      OP, see what the other employees look like (after you get a job). If they’re like the young people around here, you should have no trouble at all with red hair.

      1. Kim Stiens*

        This is actually a great piece of advice… look at the people who already work where you plan to apply. That will give you a good idea about what is acceptable!

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          It’s still worth asking if you have any doubt though (after you’re employed there). Sometimes current employees may be doing things that they’re not supposed to be, and you’re seeing someone who’s actually about to be talked to about it. For instance, I used to manage someone who regularly violated the organization’s no-facial-piercings policy (nose ring), but only when she thought I wouldn’t spot it. If a candidate had seen her with the nose ring in, she would have thought it was okay — when in fact it was not. (Also, this is irritating behavior; do not engage in it!)

    4. Savannah*

      Having dyed my hair with henna for five years, I can say that it’s definitely a “found in nature” color, and is pretty subtle. I’m also a brunette, and it really just gave it a reddish cast. I don’t think a potential employer would even know you dye your hair, let alone be concerned by it.

      1. Henna Red, please!*

        Thanks so much for giving me your opinions. I do agree that it shouldn’t be a problem, considering it’s only retail. While I spend the next few weeks handing out my resume, I will have a spy on the employees hair-dos.

        Since I’m conflicted (even though I really do want a change), I’ll wait until I do my hand outs and see how I go from there. I feel like I’m making this hair business into a bigger deal then it needs to be… However, Savannah’s words of hair wisdom is quite comforting. Yours too, Katya’s!

    5. Jen M.*

      Natural medium brunette here.

      The only way red worked for me (and this worked REALLY well) was when I mixed it: 3 parts black, 1 part auburn (medium or dark–I don’t remember which.) That looked natural, and I got a lot of compliments on it!

      Have not dyed my hair in years, though.

  4. Anonymous*

    I love these short answer Sundays!

    One thing that’s bothered me about the process: why do employers do a background check AFTER an offer is accepted? Isn’t that somewhat unfair to the candidate?

    I recently went through this, too. My record’s clean and my credit is excellent, so I wasn’t worried about it. But I wonder how often these background check companies come across erroneous data on the candidate, the job offer is rescinded, and the candidate is SOL through no fault of his/her own.

    1. Christine*

      I’ve wondered about background checks too. I have what’s probably a common last name and sometimes wonder in the back of mind if mix-ups have ever occurred as a result.

      1. Beth Anne*

        This happened at my last job. We hired someone sweet as could be! And something on her bg from when she was 13 came up and our hire-ups said no she couldn’t stay :(.

        Something similar happened to my uncle and cousin. They have the same name (well my cousin is Jr.) and they have all their credits totally backwards. My uncle’s stuff is on my cousins and my cousins is on my uncle’s. They’ve been trying to get it fixed for over a year! It’s a big mess.

  5. Anonymous*

    “Although I happen to believe that no one can or should pull off red except real redheads, and for that reason must advise you to keep your hands off my hair color”

    That was way harsh, Tai!

  6. Beth Anne*

    I love questions 4 & 5! 7 interviews? That is crazy! Although I wonder who they are meeting with/what kind of job it is. It could be that all the supervisors aren’t available at the same time. But I agree I probably would have asked about starting date/their timeline after the 3rd interview..

    Number 5 I think it’s a good thing you didn’t take the job. That guy sounds like an awful person to work for.

  7. Kim Stiens*

    To me, 7 interviews could well be a good thing. To me, it means it’s probably down to you and one other person, and people just can’t make up their minds about which is better (or, if it’s a vote, it’s coming out 50/50). While they’re not going to string you along if you’re not in the running, they’re also not going to make their obvious superstar candidate go through 7 interviews (unless its some kind of weird HR requirement all the time, which is silly but not unheard of). So you probably still have some competition.

  8. JT*

    Seven interviews is a good sign that the person is in the running. But unless it’s for a very senior position, it can also be a sign that the organization has trouble making decisions.

  9. class factotum*

    an individual who tempted here

    I have to know if the bad background check was in any way related to her tempting. What could a temptress do that would make someone withdraw a job offer?

  10. Kelly O*

    Seven interviews also makes me wonder what it’s going to be like to work there. Do they manage by committee? How many of those seven people will you *really* be reporting to? (Not just how many they say you will be, but how many will think they’re your boss.)

    Or maybe I need another cup of coffee this morning.

  11. Dawn*

    Seven interviews seems really excessive; however, maybe this company has been majorly burned in the past by not picking exactly the right person. Seems like it’s a good sign, though, if the OP lasted this long.

    As for background checks, I really wish employers would do this BEFORE an offer is made. Back when I worked for a big bank we had a teller working with us for six months (SIX MONTHS) before HR finally got around to a background check. Turns out the teller never graduated high school and had lied about it on her application. We had to let her go. Luckily, where I work now, we do it before an offer is made.

    1. Anonymous*

      At my company we usually do them at/around the same time. Once we decide to make a offer we will start the background check and also request approval for the offer. If the approval comes through before the check we still send the offer. However, the offers do say they are contingent on a successful check and we tell candidates do not give notice until after we let you know your clear. We will not set a start date until the check comes back.

  12. Anonymous*

    Re: How can we rescind a staffing announcement?

    That sort of happened in my office and the announcement that was made was pretty vague. We were only told what AAM basically said, “That so-and-so won’t be joining us and that they are continuing to consider other candidates for the position.” Yep there were of course a few whispers about what was going on, but we all pretty much shrugged it off and moved on.

  13. anon*

    #3 – don’t want to work with friend

    I think I’m probably in the minority on this one since no one has commented on this yet. I really hope I don’t have any “friends” that would crap on my application for a new job.

    A good friend would do everything they could to help their friends be better employees, better coworkers, and better people.

    A bad friend would put the needs of their employers first.

    What are you thinking?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I got the impression that this wasn’t exactly a close friendship. It’s also true that there are close friendships where someone is a great friend but an awful coworker.

  14. Joe*

    Re: #2 – I have seen people who were not natural redheads who looked good with their hair dyed that way, but I agree it’s a rarity. I much prefer the all-natural redhead look, m’self. (Not for myself: I have dark brown hair, and like it, but on other people…)

    Re: #5 – Kudos to you for telling it like it is. I was a bit surprised by your sneak peek at the top, but it was warranted.

    Re: #6 – Does this person get a prize for writing in with an “Is it illegal…?” question that actually was illegal? I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before on this site.

  15. Julie*

    I have to say – I’ve been dyeing my hair red for over 20 years, so when my naturally red-headed niece dyed her hair brown, I thought that was the craziest thing ever! Thank goodness – the last time I saw her, she was back to her natural color. Also, I now have enough gray in my hair that I needed to switch to a dark brown instead of auburn, but it still looks pretty good, and it’s

  16. Julie*

    Oops! I hit Return by mistake. I was going to say it’s still reddish, even after two times with the darker color. What a relief! ;)

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