fast answer Friday: 7 short answers to 7 short questions

First, thanks to everyone who gave feedback on my question about how many posts a day is too many. I’ll probably up the number just slightly over the next week and see how that goes. (Thank you also for the ridiculously nice things you said about the site — who knew that there would be such an appetite for workplace advice out there?)

Now, onward to fast answer Friday…

1. My coworker has a bad reputation around town

I have a coworker who has built a negative reputation in town. People find her difficult and inaccurate, and if they meet her first and form an opinion of the company, it is usually negative. It makes my job harder when I work with those people and have to overcome that negativity. They also make comments about her, which I don’t respond to. It can take some time, but I have a good reputation (as do other staff) and eventually people come to trust me and in turn call me first.

How do you handle an outside person bashing a coworker? My managers handle her errors and behavior internally. I am not sure how else to handle the situation, except to continue to do my job well and hope the opinions counterbalance.

Yep, I think what you’re doing is about all you can do. The only thing I’d add is that you could talk to your manager about the impact that it has on your initial relationships with people (as well as its apparent impact on how people view the company), but from there it’s up to your company to deal with her — and it sounds like they might not be willing to hold her to an appropriate standard.

2. Can I negotiate in this situation?

I recently went on an interview and was asked for my salary range, which I happily gave. However, a day later I was asked to come back to interview for a different position, one that they think is a better fit for me, experience and salary wise. It has more responsibilities and is a level up from what I initially went in for. So here’s where the problem comes in: The salary range I gave was for the first position, not the second. I did my research and gave them a range I thought was reasonable for that particular position. I believe it’s on the lower end for the second position. If they were to offer me a salary at my higher end, I would be ok with it. But if it’s something at the lower end, I would like to negotiate. So, how do I go about negotiating this? I mean, I did give them a range so it was my fault on that part. I don’t want to come across as entitled or pushy. Would you find it annoying if someone negotiated in a situation like this?

No, it’s totally reasonable to negotiate when the job is different from the one you first named a “price” for. However, realistically, it’s also a little harder — too often, employers think of someone’s salary expectations as “what this person is willing to work for,” rather than “what this person is willing to do this particular job for.” But you absolutely should still negotiate and can point out that the responsibilities and market rate for the work are significantly different.

3. Putting a blog on your resume

At what point is it acceptable to put a blog on a resume? Three other guys and I have been running a sports blog for about three years now. It gets a decent amount of views every month and it has a small core of loyal readers who comment on it everyday. In the past I never would have considered using it, but I recently found out that I will be getting press credentials for a professional hockey team. Suddenly this part-time hobby of mine is starting to feel like a real thing. Is it okay to use this as part of my work experience?

Yes. It’s an accomplishment and it belongs on there!

4. When can I start looking for another job?

I started my new job at the beginning of January, after being at my former job for 5.5 years. My new job is a huge step up in responsibility, I supervise four people and a department, and I technically shouldn’t have gotten this job since I won’t be receiving my masters for one more semester (the job required a masters, but they made an exception as long as I finished my masters within a year, which I was already on track to do when I applied for the job).

Unfortunately, my supervisor is a micromanager to the extreme, not just to me but to everyone in the building. I am already counting down the days until I actually have my masters and can look elsewhere, but I worry about looking around too soon and how that will look to prospective employers. Friends and family have given me the advice that I only need to be here for year, and I am wondering if that’s true. How soon is too soon to start job hunting again?

You can get away with one short-term stay. Just don’t make it a pattern.

5. I no longer want to be a reference for a former employee

A former part-time employee of mine did, what I thought was a good job, and helped us out in a pinch, and we had to let her go because it was a temporary position. In part because I felt bad that she needed another part-time position, I told her I would be happy to recommend her to others and forward her resume to friends, etc. Months later, it came to light that this employee was not fully engaged in the position and made some pretty rookie mistakes (i.e., sleeping on the job on multiple occasions). I have not confronted her with these new discoveries because she no longer works for me so I don’t see a real point in bringing up things from the past. But now, she is looking for a new position and, knowing what I know now, I would not hire her again, so I feel uncomfortable serving as a reference. She has asked me if I might be able to post something on her behalf on some job boards. Can I just ignore her request, or do you think I’m obligated to tell her that I am unwilling to serve as a reference?

Tell her that you no longer able to serve as an effective reference for her, because otherwise she may list you as a reference, assuming that you’ll say positive things about her. You’re probably going to need to explain that it’s because you’ve learned things about her work since she left that give you pause. (Well, you don’t need to, but you should.)

6. How do you find a hiring manager’s email?

How does one find the email of the hiring manager? Most companies will not give the name out. So if I can’t even find the name, how in the heck can I get the email? arrrgghhh!!!

LinkedIn and Google. If that doesn’t work, skip emailing her directly. All that advice out there to send stuff directly to the hiring has made people think it’s more crucial than it is. I mean, it can be helpful, but if you can’t find it, don’t agonize.

7. Fired for leaving my laptop on the train

I was terminated today from my consulting firm for accidentally endangering a company’s data by way of leaving my laptop on a train. I was only with my company for two months and am fresh out of college, and frankly, a bit terrified. Although my company sympathized that they did not want to let me go; our partner company refused to let me work on any more projects which made my continued employment impossible. I have been assured by many I worked with (including management) that they would give anyone who inquired a shining recommendation and some have reached out with referrals to other opportunities, but I’m wondering, should I bring up this experience on my resume, in interviews, or at all?

Do not be terrified. You will be fine. And having this happen at the start of your career is way easier than mid-career, so there’s that at least.

Now, normally I’d say to leave a two-month stay off your resume because it’ll raise red flags and you won’t have achieved enough there to have accomplishments to cite anyway. However, if you do choose to talk about it to interviewers, it’s a prime opportunity to show that you’ve learned from and take responsibility for mistakes. It’s not like you embezzled, after all; you’re new to the work world and you made an understandable mistake. People will sympathize.

{ 71 comments… read them below }

  1. Anonymous

    Leaving a laptop on a train can endanger company data? Either people are super-paranoid (as in “protection of physics package activation code paranoid”) or Mickey Mouse is running the IT department.

    1. Anony Mouse

      My thoughts exactly, unless he left his laptop on a train with the password written on a post-it note stuck to the side.

        1. JT

          If the drive was encrypted properly, it’d be hard or impossible to get into.

          But if the security is a password into, say, Windows, there are ways around that if you have physical access to the machine.

    2. Josh S

      Even if IT is not run by Mickey Mouse, many consulting firms have strict information security protocols as part of their contracts. Such a violation can void contracts or result in hefty fines.

      Some consulting groups have a “computers and devices with protected IP cannot leave your physical presence while traveling” policy. So you can’t put it in a suitcase that goes in the trunk of your taxi; it needs to stay in your briefcase in the passenger compartment. It cannot be put into your checked luggage; it needs to stay in your carry-on and under the seat in front of you. You can’t leave it in your (locked) hotel room while you run to the bar for a drink or go for a meal at a restaurant; it needs to go with you.

      It’s paranoid. But laptops get left in taxi trunks, get ‘lost’ under the plane, and get ‘stolen’ from hotel rooms often enough that the fear is not entirely unfounded.

      So yeah, it sucks, but it’s also not an unusual result for people who lose data. (Now, if the OP recovered it without issue and nothing nefarious happened, I’d say this is overkill.)

      1. KT

        Agreed. Some industries need to protect data fiercely, and termination for compromising data is a common though unfortunate result. I used to work for an engineering firm that did military contracts. If I lost my laptop not only would I have been fired, there would’ve been an investigation to ensure I really did lose it and didn’t sell it to a competing firm. If you work in this kind of industry I would leave it off your resume ( and I’m assuming you may since a partner company refused to work with you).

        1. Laurie

          Yes, exactly.

          The consulting world is built on employees working with very sensitive information that belongs to 3rd party companies, usually confidential and usually very valuable to competitors. This is not about how much the laptop costs or how good the IT security is (there is always someone capable of hacking through even the best security).

          The paranoia is perfectly justified – and it doesn’t just apply to laptops that may be worth hundreds of dollars. It also applies to those password generator fobs (the ones that give you a new password every 30 secs), access cards and keys that have off-hours access – all of which are tiny, not that expensive, very easy to lose and a very BAD IDEA to lose. Guard it with your life.

        2. Anonymous

          If I lost my laptop not only would I have been fired, there would’ve been an investigation to ensure I really did lose it and didn’t sell it to a competing firm

          At that level of concern:
          a) How do they protect against rubber hose cryptanalysis in the event of 3rd party theft?
          b) How do they protect against plugging in a USB hard drive and selling that to a competitor?

          1. KT

            A) No idea what that is so I’m not sure
            B) All computers had software to block USB keys and software to monitor printing.

              1. Anonymous

                a) A perfect description :-)
                b) OK, so how do they prevent booting from an external drive, doing a bit-for-bit copy of the encrypted hard drive, and then booting normally and hunting the encryption key down. The BIOS would have to be locked down to stop that.

                Or…. pop the machine open, and install a SATA splitter between the hard drive and motherboard. Record everything going on along the SATA bus while the relevant files are accessed.

                1. KT

                  Thanks for the link Josh. Very interesting.

                  I don’t know about these other things . They had a lot of serious preventive measures. My point isn’t that someone couldn’t steal data as I’m sure there are people out there who could break any system, but rather that doing so would have very serious charges attached to it. When I first started a woman was caught leaking information. They invited her to the office (she was a remote employee) and we all thought it was to fire her. She was fired, but also arrested on the spot.

          2. Anonymous

            You misunderstand. It’s not about the data.

            It’s about the company doing proper CYA to avoid litigation, fines, congressional investigations, or simply for appearances. Just like airport security. It’s to keep someone happy – clients, Congress, the public, the stockholders, the CEO.

            If there was a genuine third party theft and the employee dutifully reported it immediately, with a police report in hand, then the company is off the hook. Can’t expect your employees to lay down their lives for their laptops, and clearly the criminal is at fault.

            If the employee copied the data onto a USB and sold it, the company is in the clear. The employee is at fault, the employee is liable for lawsuits and the employee is the one who does the jail time if there’s a case that qualifies as treason. Company is protected unless someone shows gross misconduct in hiring or lax security that made the theft too easy.

            If the data were actually that important, it wouldn’t be exposed so easily. For example, weapons labs don’t allow you to bring in cell phones, USB drives, and so on with the intention of keeping data from walking off. They used to weld hard drives into the machine cases to keep those from walking away too, though I don’t know if they still do. Similarly, companies with serious trade secrets manage to avoid them getting stolen by not putting them on easily-copied, easily-stolen computer media.

      2. Anonymous

        You can’t leave it in your (locked) hotel room while you run to the bar for a drink or go for a meal at a restaurant; it needs to go with you.

        Presumably, you have to sleep with the laptop under your pillow too? If not, the paranoia is being a touch selective.

    3. Anonymous

      Actually, depending on what the guy does, this can be a huge issue for some fields even if the data is encrypted. Odds are this doesn’t apply to this particular random guy, but the extreme penalty makes me think it’s a possibility.

      I work for defense contractors, and I have lots of friends who do as well. There are a couple of things that come up that can be handed to very new people like this OP that are also a horrible problem to lose track of. Export-controlled software comes to mind. It doesn’t matter if the laptop’s encrypted – the government will still impose a horrible penalty if you lose track of it, and jail time is a nontrivial possibility. It doesn’t even matter if that same export-controlled software is publicly available on the internet, you cannot hand it out without a harsh penalty, because there are acts of Congress involved in its regulation. You can’t even write classified papers about some of the export-controlled stuff, even though it’s not actually very secret, simply because Congress drew some very stupid lines in the ground about it.

      I could also see this being a huge issue if there was HIPAA stuff on the computer as well, regardless of encryption, because there are strict laws. There are probably more fields with similar issues.

      At the same time, someone at the company should’ve made the penalty for losing the laptop very, very clear before the OP was even allowed to boot it up. If they didn’t tell him that it was a firing offense, then the OP got a bit of a raw deal. Even we don’t normally fire people for granting unauthorized access to export-controlled stuff (even though we probably should).

      1. Nodumbunny

        HIPAA’s what I thought of too. There was a recent case here of a consulting firm that got run out of town on a rail by the Attorney General for a lot of bad behavior, but one of the things they did was have several employees lose laptops that had non-encrypted HIPAA data on them. I do feel bad for the OP though!

    4. Anonymous

      Wasn’t it just within the last few years a few computers were stolen with pertinent information on them?

      Like others have stated before me, depending on his industry, he could be handling a laptop with very secured information on it; if he loses that, his job is the least worrisome of what is lost (no offense OP).

    5. Laura

      I work for a consulting firm and we were told at a company meeting that if we ever left our laptop anyplace or even left it our car unattended (cars can get broken into), we would be fired.

      You have no idea the type of information we have on there. Experienced hackers can get into it even with an encrypted harddrive.

      I am also a new grad at my first consulting gig. I am so sorry this happened to you. It will be okay.

      1. Anonymous

        Experienced hackers can get into it even with an encrypted harddrive.

        Can to enlighten us as to how? I’ve not heard of any significant weaknesses in AES, so that leaves weak passwords. Or the more creative means of extracting them, none of which are cheap.

        1. VintageLydia

          If the information is important enough to somebody, level of difficulty, creativity, and expense will hardly be barriers to entry. If all else fails, the consultant/contractor can be bribed (or ransomed. Or torured. My husband used to be an IT contractor for the DoD and my father still is and they were both told that these are considered possible dangers of the job.)

          1. Anonymous

            Well absolutely – which is kind of the point (you have described what I meant by ‘more creative means’ – with the exception of trying to cool the RAM down enough so it could be unplugged and installed in a ‘reader’ machine). If the data really are that valuable, they are not going to be on a laptop carried on a public train by a wet-behind-the-ears grad who has only been at the company two weeks.

  2. KT

    #5
    I’d approach her with it. You were obviously happy with her work while she was employed with you. Maybe she has a reasonable explanation (like a bad headache, closed her eyes for a few minutes and now people go around saying she sleeps on the job) or she’s just a victim of gossip. Obviously I don’t know how you got this information, but I find it strange you thought she was a great employee but are changing your mind months after her departure based on behaviour you did not observe.

    1. Josh S

      Agreed. The way to address this is directly. If the employee wants you to be a reference, say, “I’m sorry, but I’ve received reports that your performance on the job was not as great as I was given to believe. Perhaps you can address those concerns…” and go from there.

      It’s fine to say ‘no,’ but it seems reasonable to offer an explanation since you’re changing your position.

    2. Anonymous

      I’m a terrible person. My first thought was this:

      If you thought her performance was amazing and she was sleeping on the job, then either you are a terrible manager or the job was way too easy for her. Maybe the job needs more duties, or maybe you need to be a bit more aware of what your employees are doing.

      In either case, you’re partially at fault, and I would just keep giving her good recommendations for this job application cycle. She did a good job as far as you were concerned. You can ask not to be a reference the next time she asks.

      1. Dan

        Yup.

        My first thought was that there was a management problem, not an employee problem. If it literally takes months to figure out that her *work* wasn’t good, exactly what was the point of having her on staff? I mean, it shouldn’t take that long to figure out if someone’s doing their job or not.

        And if she was doing her job, do you *really* care that she was sleeping on the job? For that matter, do you *really* care if that info came to light *months* after she left?

        I used to work in a customer facing role on the midnight shift. As long as the customers were taken care of, my boss didn’t care what we did, “napping” or not. Given the nature of our work, it was actually hard for an assuming client to catch us sleeping, so it’s not like there was an image issue to deal with.

        1. Anonymous

          The person could work in a job that requires them to stay awake on their overnight shift for safety reasons – group homes, hospitals, residential schools. In this case, sleeping on the job is endangering another person’s safety, you’re there to take care of them, not sleep.

        2. Kimberlee

          I think that unless you have specific permission from your manager, there’s not a job where it’s acceptable to sleep on the job.

        3. JT

          ” a management problem, not an employee problem”

          It’s both. How can an employee think it’s OK to sleep on the job (jobs where you live on-site excepted).

          This reminds me of on Seinfeld when George Costanza “pleads ignorance” to getting fired due to having sex in the office. Any normal person should know they can’t sleep on the job, even if no one tells you or checks up on you.

          1. JT

            Adding: sleeping on the job secretly. I know someone who slept on the job (naps at lunchtime) after lunch who was upfront about it helping his performance and that was fine.

            (And I lived in a place where many many people took naps after lunch – China – but were all in the office longer for it)

            But these are totally different than secretly sleeping/slacking.

            1. Elizabeth West

              Yeah, but lunchtime is generally considered off-the-clock time. At my last job, we had someone who would do the same thing: go out to his vehicle, set an alarm and take a nap for an hour. He wasn’t on the clock or even in the building, so it was no big deal.

      2. A Bug!

        I’m still a little on the fence but I think I’m leaning toward agreeing with you.

        I think I might continue to give good references on the work she produced.

        I would also speak directly with her. Apparently she doesn’t understand that when you run out of work to do, you don’t just take a nap. You ask for more work, make more work, ask if you can bail early, or at least look like you’re doing something productive on your employer’s dime.

        If she doesn’t figure that out soon it could harm her career no matter how bright she is, and if she did do good work when she was with the OP then it’s worth giving her a heads-up to give her a chance to smarten up.

      3. Ask a Manager Post author

        The manager does need to do some soul-searching to figure out why she missed these problems while she had the chance to do something about them. She’s not blameless. But that doesn’t mean that she needs to recommend someone whose work she no longer has faith in.

        1. Anonymous

          It might also be interesting to know what exactly the “coming to light” process involved before making judgements.

      4. Kimberlee

        I think there are plenty of times where well-hidden mistakes or intentional dalliances could remain hidden for months or even years. Yes, managers absolutely have a responsibility to prevent it from happening, but unless you’re checking every bit of work your employee does, you have to live with the fact that when you trust others to do work, you often have to *trust that they’re doing their work.*

        There should be procedures in place to prevent unnoticed under performance. But you don’t want to go to the opposite extreme either, where you’re employees are writing in here because their jerk boss checks every bit of work they do because they don’t trust them to do their job, because when you’re managing people it’s surprising how close those two “extremes” can be!

        1. Anonymous

          We’re talking about sleeping at work. It’s a completely different matter if she, for example, falsified expenses and that didn’t come to light for a while.

          You tell me how one sleeps at work stealthily. You get away with sleeping at work if the manager is completely absent and the employee has zero interaction with anyone for extremely protracted periods of time, and you have very little work to do.

          I should say that I feel some empathy for her, so I suppose I’m biased. I’m sharing an office with three other people at my level of employment. Two of those people have nothing to do. They have repeatedly asked for things to do. When the manager wasn’t responsive, they went to other co-workers for ideas. Both of them came to me to ask me how to cope with this and how to pry some work out of someone. I gave them both advice, but I have no work to give them either. They tried my advice, and that didn’t produce results from their managers. I was nearly to the point of telling my manager about it, but I’ve held off because he is also in charge of the managers who won’t give their employees some tasks, and I’m very worried I’ll get my office mates in trouble for essentially going over their manager’s head.

          So when those two decide to play video games all day, upload vacation pictures to web sites, or just disappear from the office for a week or two, I really can’t say I blame them. They tried, they asked, they cajoled, they begged for actual tasks. I witnessed it myself. They have nothing to do, and they probably won’t for several weeks. I certainly wouldn’t get upset at them for sleeping, and frankly I’m amazed they still bother showing up at all.

          1. Ask a Manager Post author

            You could easily sleep at work in many jobs, such as when you have your own office, do work that’s relatively independent and doesn’t interact much with others, and/or work different hours from most people.

            The first time I ever had to fire someone, it was for sleeping on the job. He worked partial evening hours, which no one else did, and that’s how he’d been getting away with it. He’d been on a performance improvement plan because his numbers were so low; apparently this was part of the reason why.

              1. Ask a Manager Post author

                Yep. Integrity issue. It wasn’t a job where the work was finished at some point and he could goof off.

                If his numbers were high, though, I would have given him a one-time warning that he’d be fired if it happened again.

                1. JT

                  Well, if there is no integrity issue sleeping on the job can be done. I know someone who took naps at work in a professional manner: he was upfront with his colleagues and boss about it. He was a senior fundraiser in a nonprofit organization and would often nap for 20 or 30 minutes around lunchtime. He insisted he was sharper for it in the afternoons, and it appeared to be true.

                  Of course, I recognize this is different than an employee hiding and napping.

            1. V

              You can also sleep at work if you have a specially made space under your desk like George on Seinfeld :)

          2. Kimberlee

            Also, my reading of the question from OP was that sleeping was not the only issue, that there were other performance issues as well, “…this employee was not fully engaged in the position and made some pretty rookie mistakes (i.e., sleeping on the job on multiple occasions).” Sleeping might have just been the easy example, but it sounds like there were multiple issues.

      5. Anonymous

        Yup, I completely agree. He’s going on hear-say which is kind of irresponsible and unfair. How would you feel if you were in her shoes?

        1. JT

          We use hearsay all the time to make decisions at work and in personal lives. If the person providing the information is known to be trustworthy, that’s enough. The standard for decision-making at work is not necessarily the same standard used in a court of law.

  3. AdAgencyChick

    #4: You can start looking now. But be really, really careful to vet your next company carefully. You were at your last job for 5+ years, so it should be pretty clear to hiring managers that you have longevity potential, and it’s easy enough to say that you misjudged your current company during the interview process. But you can’t do one-year-or-less stints twice in a row; that’s when it starts to give me pause when I’m hiring someone (because I wonder, is there some kind of personal problem that has changed this one-time stable person into a job-hopper? or does he/she have bad judgment in figuring out whether a company is a good fit?).

    I just changed jobs after 9 months at my last position (like you, I’d been at my previous company for more than 5 years), and interviewers seemed appreciative of the fact that I wanted to take my time and meet more people than I was actually required to meet, just because I wanted to make sure things were a good match and not repeat my mistake in moving to my last company.

    1. Vicki

      I have several 1 year jobs on my resume. All are due to the fact that the job and/or the manager changed radically in that year. In one, the manager who brought me in announced he was leaving the company a month after I arrived. He was a senior mgr; no one else agreed with his reasons for hiring me and my job went from interesting to boring and futile very fast after that.

      I would much rather have to explain why the job didn’t last 5 years than face the stress of a bad job for any longer than necessary.

      1. Sandrine

        Same here.

        Last job before this one lasted a year. Took then three years to find this one (after dealing with health issues) . I’m not at one year yet and I just want to leave. It got better over the past few weeks but at this point I just need out :( .

  4. Elizabeth M

    > who knew that there would be such an appetite for workplace advice out there?

    I wouldn’t have guessed it before I started reading it! My boyfriend has asked me several times why I read this blog so dedicatedly, and I’m actually not fully sure. I’m not a manager, I’m not job-hunting or hiring, and I have good relationships with all my coworkers. And yet I’m fascinated by the letters and your responses, and I feel in some way that reading this blog is helping me be more professional overall.

    1. Jen

      Me too! I guess it’s because I like advice columns in general… (and this particular advice might actually be useful one day!)

      1. Jamie

        This is it for me , too. I like the Q&A format – but some others are wrong so often and seeing people give bad advice is frustrating to me. There have been times I’ve seen things differently than Alison and most of the commenters, but there was only one time where I thought she was out and out wrong*. That’s a crazy high ratio of agreement for me.

        For me it’s a really good mix of validation of my own opinions (I knew I was right) and new solutions both from Alison and the commenters that I wouldn’t have thought of myself.

        It’s also nice really affirming in a global way to see so many people interested in solving these workplace issues, big and small. Seeing other people being proactive and wanting to continuously improve is really heartening. Both the posts and the comment section has absolutely made me a better manager and better employee.

        *wrong = encouraging people to eat mango. I tried a piece because of the post on this and…no.

    2. Pamela G

      I’m a stay-at-home mum who reads this blog religiously ever since my husband was job-hunting in Aug 2011 and I was looking for sites to help him with interviews, cover letters etc. (Thanks in part to Alison’s excellent advice, he landed his dream job in Sept 2011 and has been happily there ever since!) I’m not planning on re-entering the workforce for at least 5 years or so, but now that I know so much more about cover letters, interviews etc, I keep scanning job ads just for the pleasure of envisioning how I would tailor a cover letter to their requirements and (hopefully) knock their socks off! Hopelessly, utterly addicted to AAM…

    3. Another Emily

      I’m in the same boat as you. I think it’s the good writing, interesting comments, and interesting subject matter.

      And someday when I actually need this advice… I’ll be ready.

    4. Elizabeth West

      I like it because right now especially (job hunting), it is relative to my interests. I’ve gotten good advice, even if not directly, from the comments too. And it’s entertaining and some of the commenters are hilarious. :)

  5. YALM

    #6: Please don’t hunt down my email address. If I’ve already talked with you and I want you to have it, you’ll have it. If I haven’t talked with you yet, or I haven’t given it to you, I don’t want email from you.

    We channel candidates through HR for a reason. Hunting me down outside of channels does not impress me with your initiative or your investigative skills. It does suggest that you might be pushy, or disrespectful of my time, or indifferent to following direction.

    Most of the hiring managers I know are just plain busy. Sending unsolicited email sets an expectation with you that the manager will respond to it, and that he will do it on some schedule that you think is reasonable. It’s probably not going to happen. You might be the candidate that no one wants to hire, so you won’t hear back. Or you might be the best candidate in the world, but you’re not on the hiring manager’s agenda that week. And when you don’t hear back, AAM gets another letter asking why you never got a response.

    1. Jamie

      I agree that hunting this info down is a really bad idea.

      If it wasn’t publicly available I would find it invasive and creepy. I’ve had some salespeople brag to me how they outsmarted the temp receptionist to get my name. This gets you nothing except a prime spot on my vendor Do Not Use list.

      1. KT

        Seconded!

        And how bad does it look when job seekers (or vendors) get it wrong? If Bob from HR has his email listed on the posting, email Bob. Anything else just looks pushy. I work for a very large organization, and I’ve had people send me resumes after doing some sleuthing to find my email address, only for me to respond and tell them I don’t have any openings. They always respond but
        so-and-so was posted, and I realize that they’re applying for job in
        a different division. So what do I do? Tell them to contact HR as was originally directed.

        1. Anonymous

          Thirded! I work for a very busy non-profit. We take applications/resumes electronically if we have open positions. All applications are reviewed by the department manager who will be hiring for the position. HR has no say in who gets hired or not. If you have a strong cover letter and resume and you submitted them with your application, then there is no need to pester HR for the hiring manager’s email, or send us/them more copies of your information outside of the system we use to manage the applicants’ data. We don’t have time to manage/answer those emails on top of everything else.

          1. Jeremy

            Wow! Number 6 here.

            I heard it was a good idea to find out who the hiring person was because it showed interest and a willingness to dig for information.

            Plus, I think a cover letter is better with an actual name on it then “To whom it may concern”.

            I didn’t realize it made me look like I was being too pushy, creepy or indifferent of your time.

            I should note that I do go through HR but I heard that it was a good idea to follow up with the hiring manager via email. Oh well! If it’s a bad idea, it’s a bad idea. Thanks for the heads up.

            1. YALM

              Jeremy, I’ve been reading this advice for more than 20 years, so I know some people think it’s a grand idea. There are probably some hiring managers out there who like it. Maybe they think it’s a game and they like games. Maybe they’re hiring for investigators or researchers and look at this as a test.

              All I can tell you is that speaking for myself, every manager I work with, and every manager I’ve talked to, this is at best a wash and at worse a turnoff.

              I get hundreds of emails a day. When I’m hiring, candidate-related mails come from one or two people in HR. I see the HR contact name, I see consistent subjects, and I know I need to read those mails now, today, first thing. Unless the building is on fire. Then come work-work mails. Everything else is likely to be missed or intentionally ignored, depending on how busy the day was. Unless we’ve already talked and I know to look for email from you, your email is just another in an already deep pile. Please don’t add to the pile :-)

              1. Jeremy

                YALM, I thought about it.

                I guess sending an email to you directly would be pushy. But I don’t think you understand. I really want you to hire me! The best candidate ever :)

                You really can’t trust HR to see that! Okay okay I kid I kid. But I did get advice that it really impresses managers to get their name and contact them directly about said job.

                *sigh* So you mean all that effort I spent in trying to get a name and an email to get a leg up in the hiring process was just time wasted and worst yet was like shooting myself in the foot?

                Yes, I do try and write my best resume and cover letter to stand out but I heard only five percent only follow up which is what would be the difference between you getting an interview or you not getting a call . I do find that hard to believe though … Every source tells job hunters to follow up, so shouldn’t that number be closer to say fifty percent follow up or more?

  6. Elizabeth West

    #3–I have two blogs, one writing/art related, and the other is about work stuff (not any competition for AAM!). They are in my email signature, though not on my regular resume. I’m not too worried about what people think of the writing one, even though it can be kind of irreverent and I’m not shy about using a mild cuss word or two, or being snarky. I leave them on the signature so potential employers see that 1) I’m not just SAYING I can write, and 2) that I don’t blog about my actual workplace, just general subjects. If they don’t like that I blog even under those guidelines, I probably don’t want to work for them anyway.

    #6–If I can’t find a name, I just send it to whatever email is listed and use “Good morning,” or “Good afternoon,” as the greeting, depending on when I email it. Sometimes they give a first name, and when I find the company’s website it has the last name of the person as well.

    #6–Oh no!
    Don’t feel bad; I’m sure lots of people have made this mistake.

    1. Elizabeth West

      Should have clarified on #6–I don’t go LOOKING for the name, except when the email is like “bobr@companyname.com” and I would like to address the greeting “Dear Mr. R.” Some of the websites post names very prominently; others don’t. The only time I ever call is if I can’t get the email to go. They often can give me an alternative.

  7. Maddy

    OP #2 here. Thanks for the advice AAM.

    I wonder about #4 all the time too! I guess it’s true, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side… It’s so hard to figure out if you fit in and if you’ll have a good boss just from one or two interviews though.. I wish we could “try out” the job before starting.

  8. Andy Lester

    #3: Yes, put your blog on your resume, and quantify it! AAM says “It’s an accomplishment and it belongs on there”, and I agree, but you need numbers to make that clear. Give numbers. How many hits are you getting? (Do you have Google Analytics set up? If not, do so now.) How many readers do you have? Has it increased over time? How much? How often do you publish? What’s your average word count per post?

    If you don’t put some supporting evidence on your resume, the hiring manager’s assumption may be “Yeah, whatever, he posts some crap to an unread Blogspot blog.” And of course, provide the URL of the blog.

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