fast answer Friday: 7 short answers to 7 short questions

It’s fast answer Friday! We’ve got cosmetic surgery worries, a rude interviewer, a resume-writing side business, and more.

P.S. Have I ever been so prolific in such a short period of time? Answer: no.

Okay, here we go…

1. Keeping cosmetic surgery private at work

I am planning on having a cosmetic surgery that I don’t want anybody at work knowing about and I will need 2 full weeks for recovery. I told my manager that I’ll need to have two weeks off in a few months for a different surgery and she said I’d have to take the issue up with our R.A.A and I’ll have to give them a doctors note. Like I said before, I really would not like anybody else knowing about my surgery and I don’t understand why I’d have to give a doctor’s note when I am not using my paid days or anything. It’s also doctor-patient confidentiality, right?

They’re allowed to require a doctor’s note to approve the time off (which they might be doing because two weeks is a long time), but the doctor’s note shouldn’t contain private medical information. Rather, the note should simply say that you’ll be unable to perform your job during (dates) for medical reasons.

2. Should I cancel this interview?

I was scheduled by HR to interview for a position and, as you advise, I arrived about 10 minutes early. I checked in and sat down. I waited and waited and after an hour went by, the lady came out and said that she couldn’t see me because I was late. I advised her that I’d been there for an hour and when she asked the receptionist, she just nodded her head. She asked me to return three hours later because she could no longer see me. I feel they lack professional people there. The receptionist sat there and texted the entire time I was there, and every time I asked her why it was taking so long she said she didn’t know. Should I call HR and tell them how I feel and cancel the interview? How do you advise I handle the situation?

How badly do you want/need this job? If you have options, then sure, cancel the interview. You can certainly tell HR that you already gave up a chunk of a day for the meeting and, while you understand things do come up, you don’t feel confident that the interviewer won’t cancel again, since her attitude toward it this time was so cavalier.

3. Teenager without work experience

I am 17 years old and as a senior take all of my classes at a community college. I am fantastic at school, athletic, and very involved in the community. My one problem is not having true work experience. In 2006-2007, I worked at my friend’s mom’s cookie company, where every Sunday we got together to bake, bag, and label her cookies. It was not a demanding job and was only once a week and I really do not see it as “experience.” Should I still list it on my resume? Also, like a lot of teenagers my age, much of my “job experience” is in babysitting. I have done my fair share of babysitting, including for a family with triplets and a baby. I know babysitting shows responsibility but seems almost juvenile. Do managers see this as experience?

Lots of people your age have no experience other than the type of work you described. This is normal at this stage in life. You should definitely include the babysitting and cookie work though; those jobs show responsibility, reliability, and work ethic. You might also consider volunteering to get more experience that you can include, but I wouldn’t stress too much about this.

4. Can my employer stop me from transferring?

I am a manager looking to transfer to a better position and location. I got the approval from the boss but now my assistant manager is no longer working. Can they make me stay because there is no coverage?

Yes. But you can try to persuade them not to.

5. Why do some companies post the same job every few weeks?

I have a question about something that I’ve seen happen over and over again in my job hunt. Why do companies post the same job online every couple of weeks without filling it? Are they really not intending to hire for the position, are they not getting enough qualified candidates to start the interview process, or is it something else? Any insight would be appreciated!

There are a few possibilities: In some cases, they’re not actively hiring but are collecting resumes for whenever they do have an opening to fill. In other cases, they intend to hire but are disorganized and incompetent. In other cases, they’re not thrilled with their candidate pool and so are keeping up the search. And in still other cases, they’re actively interviewing but are (smartly) keeping the ads live until they’ve made a hire.

6. Resumes when changing careers

I’ve been working for more than 20 years, with about 20 years with one organization. I am thinking of making a career change, and recently went back to school for a second master’s degree. That’s been great in terms not only of what I’ve learned, but also getting “re-energized” mentally and beginning to develop a new network in another field. My question is about my resume. For a long time I’ve had the education section after employment, since school seems less important than extensive work accomplishments and experience. But now that I have a new degree I’m thinking of putting it first, even though two of the three degree are quite old. I want the new one up front not just to show it off but also to show I’m changing and keeping current. Does that make sense?

Sure, I think that’s reasonable. Put whatever you want to emphasize up front.

7. Would a resume-writing side business be a conflict of interest with my current job?

I’m currently a project manager in an IT company, but I also enjoy writing as a form of escape from the very technical nature of my work. Recently, I’ve discovered that I have a knack for writing/ editing resumes that actually helped get 2 of my friends solid jobs and so, a light bulb turned on over my head – “I can probably make a little on the side with this.”

I’ve always found it fulfilling knowing that I can help people get jobs. I’m not HR, but I’ve seen my good share of poorly-written CVs that became a barrier for a candidate in landing a job, and there might be a market (especially with first-time job hunters – college graduates) for this. I suppose the obvious question is – would this be a conflict of interest with my current work (I might be indirectly helping people get jobs with competitors, etc)?

I don’t see it as a conflict of interest, because it’s not like you’ll be recruiting candidates for other companies. Helping someone with a resume isn’t the same as placing them in a job. But you could certainly ask your boss if it worries you.

{ 43 comments… read them below }

  1. Anonymous*

    For the resume-writing-side-business writer,
    I would definitely like to help you “make a little on the side”!! I am HORRIBLE at writing ANYTHING. I truly hate the job I’m at and I know I can do better. Will you help me? What is your fee?

    1. M*

      For the plastic surgery writer – is she taking time off two different times for two different surgeries? Or just told her manager that she’s having something other than cosmetic surgery?

      I was in a similar situation a few years ago (had a rhinoplasty, took two weeks to recover and didn’t want anyone to know why), I would explain to your doctor that you don’t want anyone at work knowing what procedure you’re having. In my experience, cosmetic surgeons are very sensitive to this and are used to being vauge in their notes for employers. Also, I was a bit worried people would notice but my new nose looks so natural that no one had a clue. Good luck!

      1. fposte*

        Oh, I bet you’re right–the manager has been informed that that’s a different surgery than it is. Eh, that’s probably not the best way to do it, but unless you’ve really mischosen it shouldn’t have much impact.

    2. Anonymous*

      Hi, i’m the resume-writing guy. i can try to help you, i haven’t really started and you could be my first customer :) can you post your email and i’ll contact you.

  2. fposte*

    In #1: I’m a little confused about needing two weeks off for “a different surgery.” Is there more than one surgery in the picture?

    I’m also not seeing any mention of FMLA, and if you’d be eligible under that, your employer had better be handling any leave accordingly. That will also be relevant to the legality of what goes into the doctor’s info.

    1. fposte*

      Sorry, that’s unclear–I mean the law will limit what the company can require from the doctor in order to certify the leave.

    2. Helena*

      Per the U.S. Department of Labor, cosmetic surgery is usually not eligible for FMLA leave:

      I imagine an employer would be pretty upset if they gave someone FMLA leave for a surgery where the doctors and employee said it was necessary and it was actually cosmetic. I don’t know about the legalities, but I’d be interested in hearing from someone who does, as I’ve considered cosmetic surgery myself.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yes, the employee should not be asking for FMLA leave (which doesn’t cover elective surgery). But I don’t see why the employee can’t simply provide a note from the doctor saying she’ll be unable to work on those days (which is true). Am I wrong about this? Would welcome a correction if so.

        1. Helena*

          My understanding of FMLA is that if the employee requests FMLA leave, the boss legally has to grant it, even if it’s difficult, inconvenient and/or expensive for the company. If it’s cosmetic surgery, boss can refuse time off, and if the employee doesn’t show up to work she can be fired. But I’m not an expert.

          I don’t know if I’m reading the letter right, but it sounds like the letter writer told her boss “I need 2 weeks off for a hernia repair” when she’s really getting a tummy tuck. Boss thought “dang, that’ll mean I have to hire temporary workers to cover her shifts” and asked for verification that the surgery is really necessary to avoid potentially unnecessary expense.

          1. fposte*

            Actually, this is where there might be a problem, because I believe the burden is actually on the company to bring up FMLA, and if she’s given as an excuse something that falls under FMLA instead and they pull out the paperwork, she’ll have to come clean.

            But outside of FMLA, which I shouldn’t have raised in the first place, Alison is of course right about a doctor’s note detailing the need to be out being fine.

          2. Anonymous*

            Yes I asked for 2 weeks for a cyst surgery that I’ve had to have before. I wouldn’t be able to ask for 2 weeks off without a REAL excuse, since 2 weeks is such a long time. I’m not trying to bring up FMLA or even ask for my vacation pay because I’m trying not to bring any attention to the subject. The boss would not hire in any extra help- my other co-workers take 2-3wk long *paid* vacations (15 yrs+ of seniority compared to my 2yrs) ANYWAY, I was just hoping that if I DID have to send in a doctor’s note like my manager said, that it wouldn’t have to specify the type of surgery/anything about the surgery except to specify the time I need to have off for recovery.

            1. Jenny*

              You are probably going to have to come clean about the reason for leave — at least just to say it’s not for the cyst surgery.

              Once notified of the need for leave that potentially could be FMLA (the cyst would be, cosmetic surgery isn’t) the employer has to start the process of notification and requesting certification. If you fail to provide the certification documents your leave can be denied. Even worse, if your doctor provides documents and they find out it’s not what you say it is, you can be fired.

              You inadvertently made this much worse for yourself by feigning a real medical condition. Because you did, the employer is obligated to follow-up re: FMLA implications. Even if you say you don’t want it to count as FMLA, the employer can still count it as FMLA and require you to provide documentation certifying your “own serious health condition”.

              You admitted the reason you lied is because two weeks is a long time — which indicates you don’t think you could get the leave for elective cosmetic surgery. If I were your employer, I’d be pissed.

              My advice, tell your employer you need personal leave for non-FMLA qualifying reasons. Don’t lie.

              1. Anonymous*

                I talked to the R.A.A and no doctors note- just have to fill out my section and have the surgeon fill out his section of a medical leave application. No FMLA- thanks for your input though. The reason I said I was having the cyst surgery is because it is believable- since I’ve had to have it before, and I didn’t want anybody knowing about it. I’m sure if I really DID ask for the two weeks and told them what it was truly for- they would still give it to me. The only reason I’m having a problem is because I am self conscious and I would not like anybody knowing about the surgery. My employer is not ‘pissed’ because they have no reason to be..

        2. fposte*

          Whoops, yes, you’re right, cosmetic surgery isn’t covered. My bad. (It looks like the “elective” category is apparently a little more complicated, but there’s probably not a whole lot of non-cosmetic elective surgery.)

          1. Anonymous*

            Just for the record, cosmetic surgery includes things like reconstrution after severe burns and things like that, so there is actually an awful lot that is not “elective” and would be covered under FMLA.

  3. Z*

    Is anyone else surprised to see a 17-year-old worrying about not having work experience? Are current guidance counselors convincing students they should be panicking about this?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      My hunch is that she’s just extremely conscientious and doing that thing that we all sometimes do where we assume that everyone else has their s*** together better than we do.

      1. jmkenrick*

        This totally panicked me at 17, so I get it. For some reason I sort of assumed that all my friends had secretly been working really cool high-powered jobs while I’d been wasting away my teenage-hood.

        This seemed totally logical at the time.

        1. Kelli*

          That is exactly how I feel! All of my friends are getting
          jobs like its the easiest thing in the world and I’ve applied to
          Everywhere I can think of with no luck, so I figured it was something I was doing! But all this advice really helped, I’m volunteering more and now don’t stress about it as much!

        2. Katya*

          Oh me too. I worked at a frozen yogurt shop aged 14-17 and then at a bookstore my last year of high school (where I actually still work off and on, seven years later). But one of my friends from school worked at a sports store in town and was so good she actually was an ASSISTANT MANAGER by the time she went to college. I was so envious of her!

  4. Natalie*

    For the 17 year old – since you’re taking college classes, have you looked into jobs on campus? They’re pretty used to hiring people with no substantive work experience and may be easier to schedule around your class schedule.

    1. Kelli*

      I actually never even thought about that! It’s an incredibly tiny community college but I will try if I don’t have a job by January when we get off of winter break!

  5. Will Johnson*

    For Question #5, companies will also repost their jobs because the job sites will only display the most recent postings.

    I think for CareerBuilder it was something along the lines of the past week being shown more frequently.

  6. Job Relistings the New Rejection Notices*

    Regarding #5 – I applied to a job, had one regular interview and several mini phone interviews, plus the prospective employer contacted my references and all seemed well…until I didn’t hear anything and saw the job reposted online. I’m guessing I’m out of the running. Is this common practice? To look for new candidates and say nothing to the one’s who have already interviewed? I suppose I could follow up with the HR lady but my pride is hurt. Ha ha.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      It could mean that, because it’s increasingly common for employers not to follow up with candidates (which is hugely rude). But it could also just mean things aren’t finalized yet and they’re smartly keeping the posting alive meanwhile.

    2. Paralegal*

      A few months ago I applied for a job and was interviewed. The next day I saw the job posted again. Then a week later they began contacting my references and later offered me a job! I always wondered if maybe it was an automated reposting.

      1. Krys*

        Yep, this happened to me recently as well. I went in for an interview and the just was re-posted right afterwards. I freaked out, assuming they hated me and I wouldn’t get hired, but they called later that day to schedule a final interview and I ended up getting the job. I’m guessing it was either an automated posting or they were just playing it safe.

  7. Anonymous*

    For #2, run! In my personal experience, when a company is rude or nasty during the interview process they generally are NOT any better when you are working there, as in, they are much worse.

    1. Erik*

      +1 for this advice. I’ve had several companies pull this on me, and I run for the hills and never come back.

  8. Chuck*

    Re: #5. Another reason the company may keep posting the same job is that the job is awful. People accept the offer, start and leave or get fired a few weeks later.

    For example, high pressure, commission-only, telemarketing jobs are (allegedly) examples of this.

    1. jmkenrick*

      Yeah, I’m surprised Alison didn’t mention this. Additionally, there are some jobs that are allegedly scams (Vector Marketing/Cutco comes to mind) where they make money by hiring employees, so there’s incentive to never stop hiring.

  9. YALM*

    # 2. As a hiring manager, or the boss of the hiring manager, I’d want to know about this. Your time is valuable, and the people representing my company shouldn’t be wasting it, or mine, this way. But I’d also have checked to see where my candidate was. I don’t get the greatest vibe of this place from what you described. If you’re still at all interested in the position, I’d say contact HR and let them know. If you get blown off by them, too, then you have your answer–you don’t want to work there.

  10. Julia*

    I don’t know if this happens in the US, but I’ve seen several cases where our jobs were reposted because cowboy recruitment agencies picked it up and reposted it without any authorization and well after we had already filled the position (and usually with an embarassing sprinkling of spelling and grammatical errors). They didn’t identify the employer but it was a smallish city and it was always very clear that it was our job. Presumably when you call up they make a pitch to put you on their books for next time.

  11. Ask an Advisor*

    Re: 3. Teenager without work experience

    OP, if you are truly “very involved in the community,” you may be overlooking your relevant community service. Community service is totally fair game for your resume!

    Generally speaking, hiring managers care about any relevant experience, not just “true work experience.”

  12. Emily*

    #3 Teenage without work experience

    I completely agree with AAM. I had one volunteer gig under my belt at 18 when I got my first real job (stocking shelves). My interviewer noted that I had pretty much no experience, then she noticed I was in karate (I put that on my resume under “interests”). We talked about karate for 2o minutes and then I was hired. Good times. I feel like you are in a similar situation. You have done some cool stuff and you do have skills, you just haven’t had formal employment yet. But you will soon. :)

    1. Kelli*

      Thanks! That helps; over the years I have been more focused with school, sports, and clubs that work just wasn’t an option so now that it is I just felt like employers weren’t impressed with those types of things but I did just recently have an interview and we had a fun relaxed conversation so I’m keeping my fingers crossed! :)

  13. Elizabeth*

    on the question #1. they are likely alluding to need for doctor’s note since the absence could be FMLA leave eligible. Even though it’s elective/cosmetic, the amount of time restricted off work and continuing f/u care/meds still may qualify it as a serious medical condition under FMLA. Regardless of whether the employee wants to use PTO while off, the employer is obligated to initiate FMLA certification process or risk violating the employer obligation to offer leave if they have enough information to know the reason may qualify. Under FMLA the employer can require use of PTO concurrent with FMLA leave, unless the employee has a supplemental insurance coverage to pay themselves while off.

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