mini answer Monday: 7 short answers to 7 short questions

It’s mini answer Monday — seven short answers to seven short questions. Here we go…

1. Interviewers scared me with negative talk about the job

I just interviewed with a government agency in a major northeastern city. There were 3 people interviewing me, and they were pretty open about the problems about the job and the organization: lack of a boss providing clear direction, issues with different departments within the agency because there is no clear hierarchy or referee, friction with their main funder/partner, the organization’s lack of a clear direction and priorities, etc.

I am generally very open to hearing about an organization’s positives and negatives because it helps me get a clear picture about what I am getting into. But I wonder whether interviewers realize that they may be scaring off potential employees by their portrayal of a possible toxic environment and their lack of a proactive approach to solving their problems. Plus, these problems scare me a little because the agency that I interviewed with is responsible for impacting a lot of people who are working in healthcare and their patients.

They certainly may be scaring people off — and that’s a good thing, both for the candidates and the employer itself. From the candidate’s perspective, you absolutely want to know the worst things about an employer before taking a job there, so that you can make an informed decision about whether those are things you’re willing to put up with or not. And from the employer’s perspective, it’s in their best interests not to blindside employees with surprises once they’re on the job; they should want candidates who will be unhappy there self-select out before getting hired.

That doesn’t mean that this was your interviewers’ intentional strategy … but it’s a lot better than if they’d hidden these things from you.

2. Position on hold while company decides whether to outsource it

I want to work for a large company that hires through a recruiter. I did five interviews for them in a day and the recruiter called me afterward to tell me that the interviewers loved me and an offer would be coming. However, a day later, she told me my position may actually be outsourced because of some changes to the company. She said she would call to let me know if the position is still available sometime the following week. When I didn’t hear anything a week later, I sent her a follow-up email. Two days and still no response.

First, what should I do? Should I contact the main interviewer (my potential boss) directly? This is a big company and the recruiter and my boss is not even in the same state. Secondly, is this a warning sign that I shouldn’t work at this company? Or is this normal in a big corporation? What are your thoughts on this situation?

You don’t have many options other than to wait. If they’re working out changes to the position, that’s what’s going on and you can’t make them move faster. (And these things often take longer than people think they will.) If they want to hire you, they’ll reach back out when they’re ready.

The fact that they’re considering outsourcing the work isn’t a warning sign about the company itself, but it’s a warning sign about this particular position. If they do come back to you with a job offer, make sure that you find out why they decided not to outsource the job after all — and you want to get enough information that you can feel confident they won’t change their minds again in a few months.

3. Employer wants me to work after I’ve clocked out

My husband and I are employed at a local Wal-Mart, and after a few weeks, we both noticed the management system is not the best. Lately, my husband has been staying after his scheduled time, but only because his option has been “stay or be written up.” I understand that with employment comes responsibility, but when a manager tells you to clock out, then suddenly says “You have to stay or I’m going to write you up,” without going by the policy which states that employees are not to work over their scheduled time with asking and authorization, it concerns me. Is this considered legal?

They can tell you that you need to stay after you’ve already clocked out (that’s the “authorization” because it’s coming from your manager) — but you would need to clock back in so that any time you’re required to be there is on the clock (so that you get paid for it). If you’re being instructed to work off the clock, that is very, very, very illegal. And Wal-Mart should know that, because they’ve already lost quite a few lawsuits on this very issue.

4. What does this hiring status mean?

I recently applied to a job and had a phone interview last week and my submission in their system now reads “Resume currently being reviewed.” What does that status mean?

It means that they’re still considering your candidacy.

5. Jobs that require driver’s licenses

I’ve been looking at jobs recently. Nothing special — stocking, cashiering, food handling, cleaning, etc. I’ve been dismissing a lot of the job ads I see because under requirements they list “valid driver’s license” even though the jobs don’t require driving. I don’t have a license right now, just a permit, but am working on getting one. Should I apply to these jobs, and if I’m asked to interview just provide my state ID and say I’m working on getting a license? Or do I need to wait until I have an actual license to apply? I’d assume it’s just for ID purposes, but then why didn’t they just ask for a valid photo ID?

Enough places stick this in their ads when it’s not a real requirement that you should just go ahead and apply and ask about it at the interview stage. Sometimes this is just sloppiness on the part of whoever is placing the ads.

6. Is it problematic to have no online presence?

I am a very private person, and I keep my Facebook profile locked down tight. I don’t associate my professional persona with things I do for fun, so although I have a few online nicknames, they’re not connected with my real name. Also, even though my online presence isn’t “me,” I would never write something that I would be unable to defend. As such, when I Google myself (which I do on a regular basis — you can never be too careful), I am happy to say that I do not find much of myself online. I know that certain employers google their prospective employees. When applying for jobs, is this detrimental or is it beneficial? If you type in my name plus my current or previous universities, you can find me easily, but if you just type my name, none of the results are me.

It’s not a big deal not to have much of an online presence, unless you’re applying for jobs that would expect it (like social media positions). However, if employers Googling you are likely to pull up others with the same name and mistake those people for you, it might benefit you to have an actual presence so they can tell the difference.

7. Do I have to present proof of my reason for quitting my job?

I have worked for my current company for a hair over 2 years. My husband is in the military and we received orders several months ago. Based off the previous actions of my manager and my gut instincts, I have chosen to wait to tell my supervisors and will be giving them a 2-week notice. I already have a very clear plan on what questions I will answer and what I won’t answer or will be vague about (our department is very small and very “chummy” — I’m expecting that this notice will turn into a pathetic game of 20 questions.)

If they ask me to provide a copy of my husband’s orders “for HR purposes,” do I have to provide them with a copy of this document? I do not want to give them a copy because the orders clearly state a date at the top when we received the orders. Are there any legal reasons that you know of that would force my hand in providing this documentation? If not, how can I gracefully deflect this question?

No, you do not need to provide a copy of your husband’s orders. You’re allowed to quit your job at any time for any reason (assuming you don’t have a contract that states otherwise), and they can’t require “proof” of your reason. However, I wonder about the whole 20-questions thing — aside from not wanting to talk about when you learned you’d be leaving, it seems odd not to answer other questions, assuming they’re not inappropriately personal. You’re not required to — but clamming up entirely will probably leave the relationship (and future references) chillier than it needs to be.

{ 111 comments… read them below }

  1. Mike C.*

    Holy smokes, requiring non-exempt workers to work off of the clock is so dang illegal.

    OP, make sure you are keeping a log of dates, times and hours worked under these situations. You will need this later – trust me.

    1. Long Time Admin*

      OP #3, I worked at Walmart Home Office. This practice is NOT allowed in the company. They need to know that this store manager is doing it. Call or email, and they’ll get this taken care of.

      When I was still working at Home Office, I clocked out one day, and my boss was having trouble with the copy machine and would not let me do anything to help her, because I was off the clock. They take this very seriously at Home Office, and this manager must not be allowed to continue doing this.

  2. Gene*

    #4 isn’t a hoax? Please let it be that you’re messing with us…

    As far as #1 goes, I’ve worked in Government since I graduated high school during the Nixon administration and those sorts of things unfortunately aren’t that unusual. Government work is Different. Are you comfortable with everyone knowing the details of your compensation package? Do you handle changes in direction with every election well? Can you accept that much of what you do will not only go unappreciated by the people you are helping, but they will look at you as the enemy?

    1. OP 1*


      I thought that I had a clue about how things worked because I’m currently focused on health policy and government relations which involves meeting government staff occasionally. Guess I was wrong, huh? :) I was aware that the issues you raised will always be there when you work for a government agency, but it was the general negativity that really struck me. I’ve worked in the nonprofit sector for most of my (young) career so I’m probably used to a certain level of enthusiasm or dedication to the organization’s mission.

      1. bradamante*

        #1 – If not for Gene’s comment and the location I would swear you were interviewing at my organization! Policy/gov’t/social service organizations seem to sprout all of these directionless, overlapping, dysfunctional units for a number of reasons–
        (1) A group gets established with grant money and perpetuates itself after the grant runs out
        (2) Same thing with an auditing/investigative commitee
        (3) Duplicate entities to get around conflict of interest laws
        (4) Your basic garden-variety patronage and nepotism

        And probably many others I’m just not thinking of right now . . .

        1. Gene*

          You left out turf and (partially) budget. Especially right now with funding problems.

          Many government groups very much adhere to, “It’s not my job.” And the reasons aren’t just laziness, though that can come into play, just like every workplace. Government agencies tend to be over-bureaucracized, mostly because of the oversight over how we are “Spending the taxpayers’ money.”

          I’m lucky enough to work in a group that takes the attitude that we are here to assist our customers and if we can’t answer the question, we’ll find either the answer or the right person to talk with. The next city over has the opposite view, they are out to find you in violation and then fine you. Our industrial base is growing while theirs is shrinking, partially due to the enforcement strategies. We don’t allow violations, but we work with the users to get into, and stay in, compliance. I like working here and anticipate retiring from this job.

          1. bradamante*

            Yeah, curiously enough I like my job too, but oh man–it takes years of probing before you find that little spot in the brick wall where you can break through and start getting something done . . .

  3. Monique C.*

    #5. It may be that the employer want you to have reliable transportation to work, especially if public transportation runs infrequently near the job site. Before I had my license, I would check my local public transportation website for the bus and train routes. I’d apply only if the buses/train ran frequently in the area.

    1. KLH*

      And that’s what a sensible person would do. But! Maybe Alison could weigh in on why someone writing the ad would not just say, “must have dependable transportation” or” must have own vehicle?” Can they require that? Because as someone who is licensed and has a clean driving record but no vehicle, I always laugh at that requirement because what they apparently want is not what they are asking for.

      Oh, Walmart. You never change, do you?

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        They’re allowed to require that you have your own vehicle, and it would make more sense for them to say that since having a driver’s license is no guarantee that you have a car. But of course ads aren’t always written by the most on-the-ball people.

        The other possibility is that it just doesn’t belong in the ad at all, and it’s just boilerplate left over from a different posting where it did make sense. This happens fairly commonly too.

        1. Anonymous*

          I am more concerned that they might be pursuing semi-discrimination of the disabled. As a blind professional, I could not expect to have a drivers license. It might be that they want a valid state ID card to ensure I-9 status, but by indicating a drivers license requirement when the position has no requirement for driving sounds like discrimination to me.

          1. Anonymous*

            I can assure you that we require a driver’s license/ID to be submitted with every application, and we DEFINITELY aren’t discriminating against the disabled. (In fact, I work for a non-profit that provides services to individuals with disabilities…)

            My company requires people submit a Driver’s License with their applications, and for non-driving positions a State ID is completely acceptable too— but since I live in a suburban area, it is the norm to have a driver’s license so that is what managers always state we need, even though an ID is acceptable too. They seem to become synonymous to most people, so if a license is required, a lot of the time sending in a state ID is likely fine too. We do this to 1)establish identity 2)have for background checks/driver’s clearance requests if the hiring process progresses for the applicant.

            However, some positions DO require a driver’s license, and that is because they do require at least some driving. You may simply be applying to a position that infrequently requires driving, however does require driving at some times, and that is why they are requiring a driver’s license. I have a desk job and have to drive for meetings only 2 times per year— but due to those infrequent necessities my role requires a license, and they needed to obtain driver’s clearance for me for insurance reasons.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              It’s fine to require a driver’s license if driving is an essential function of the job, but if your ads say it’s required when driving is NOT an essential function of that particular job, you are indeed setting yourself up for a lawsuit under the ADA.

              This is easily fixed though — stop putting this in your ads for positions where driving isn’t an essential function. You can get ID once you hire someone; there’s no need to do that invasion of privacy up front for hundreds of applicants when you’re only going to hire one.

            2. doreen*

              And the requirement might only be to drive infrequently, not to have one’s own car. I am required to have a valid license so that I can drive an agency vehicle when necessary (usually out of town meetings)

          2. AHK!*

            I don’t think that a driver’s license would necessarily indicate I-9 status. A driver’s license alone is not enough for I-9 eligibility, and it certainly isn’t the only acceptable ID for that.

          3. Loud chewer*

            A driver’s license or state ID doesn’t establish I-9 status – there are a number of circumstances where people can get a legal driver’s license/state ID without being authorized to work in the US.

            1. Kristin*

              I just accepted a new job (yay!) that doesn’t require any driving, and they asked for a copy of my license for a background check – maybe it’s for something like that?

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                Legit to ask for it once they’re doing a background check. Not legit to ask all applicants to submit it, since 99% of those people won’t get to the background check stage.

      2. Long Time Admin*

        KLH, you can’t blame Walmart for this one. What that manager is doing is strictly against policy, and he’ll likely be fired.

  4. snuck*

    Just a thought on the DL questions (which seem to be popping up a bit) – is it possibly a way to identify legal vs illegal people in the area? Would illegal immigrants have access to a DL?

    (I’m in Australia, so it’s a bit different here, usually if it’s asked for it’s because you are expected to pick up the post or drop off the banking, or possibly work very late/odd hours.)

      1. ThatHRGirl*

        And disclaimers on the online application or background check release, i.e. “Do you have legal right to work in the US”. I don’t know that the whole DL thing is a big conspiracy… I think it’s more a case of employers asking for it when they don’t really need to use it for anything. I’ve never needed an actual copy of anyone’s driver’s license.

        1. Natalie*

          “I think it’s more a case of employers asking for it when they don’t really need to use it for anything.”

          I agree. It seems like the same self-centeredness (for lack of a better term) that leads employers to ask for SS #s or reference contact info at the application stage – they are only thinking of their own convenience (I’ll have all the information when I do the background check!) and not even thinking about the concerns of their hundreds of applicants.

  5. fposte*

    On #7–a request to provide your husband’s papers would be crazily weird and inappropriate; unless they’ve done that to somebody else, I think it’s pretty unlikely they’d do it with you. I’m guessing the underlying issue is that you’re trying not to alert them to the fact that you’ve known for a while and that you didn’t tell them you’re leaving. I would imagine they’ll suspect that anyway, though, as people generally do when somebody leaves for any reason. Is there an issue of references that you think is dependent on notice, or did you perhaps promise initially to give more notice if you had to relocate? I’m trying to figure out why seeing the actual orders date would be the “Dun dun dun” kind of moment your query suggests.

    1. OP on #7*

      You guessed correctly! The underlying issue is that I have known a while, but based off the previous actions of my manager and my gut instincts, I chose to wait to give 2 weeks notice. If they knew this information, I am highly suspicious that I could expect to receive a poor reference. Even though all reviews thus far indicate excellent performance in my job.

      Long story short, if they knew that I waited to give notice, they will feel personally attacked by the decision, which I worry will lead to a poor recommendation.

      1. Sparky629*

        I’m just confused by this. I’m not sure why you can’t just tell them that your husband has military orders and you are moving to a new duty station. End of story!

        It doesn’t really matter if you knew 3 years or 3 weeks ago that you were leaving. It’s the military, soldiers and their families move all. of. the. time. That’s one of the bonuses of being a military family.

        Most people are going to want to know where you are going and if it’s closer to your family/home. Seriously, you aren’t obligated to tell them more than that. If they persist, just tell them how excited/nervous you are about the new place and then redirect back to work.

        Please stop agonizing over this.

        1. Melissa*

          Until you’ve been a military spouse and had to give notice, whether you’ve had the orders for a month or you’ve had the orders for three months, you may not necessarily understand what this is like. When you’ve worked in 9 different states in the past 20 years, having to continually start at the bottom, having to continually give notice at job after job, as you enjoy the “bonus” of moving 10 times in 20 years, then you’ll understand. Each and every employer is different and each and every employer reacts differently to the news that your husband has orders and you are leaving. OP #7 understands that with this employer, she’s worried about a negative review/recommendation. I completely understand that. Every employer reacts to this news differently and unless you are in the very situation that OP #7 is in, you may not understand. And no, you do not need to show anyone your husband’s orders. Period. And should they ask, you should refuse as an invasion of your husband’s privacy, not to mention a violation of OPSEC. In 20 years no one has ever asked to see my husband’s orders. I wish you the very best of luck OP #7. I hope you have a successful PCS and should you seek one, I hope that you are able to find a great job at your next duty station.

          1. OP on #7*

            Melissa – Thank you so much for your kind and thoughtful feedback. This is our first PCS and I’m kind of terrified about a lot of things. Again, thank you for your kind words and for the good wishes on our next duty station!

    2. OP on #7*

      I also forgot to mention that I am FULLY expecting a host of grossly inappropriate questions about my notice. Which heightens my anxiety that it will be come a “dun dun dun” kind of moment…

      1. fposte*

        Well, in general I’d say be vague rather than making up a whole false story, if only because they’ll be even more pissed if they find out, but you’re the one on the ground there, not me.

        Do you know what kind of references they’ve given other people in the past? I’m thinking that a place this crazy is kind of a crapshoot on references anyway, so you might want to limit how much you bend over backwards to try to get good ones.

        1. OP on #7*

          I agree that vague rather than totally made up is a better route. There’s a lot of questions that I will happily answer for them (I’ve gotten to know them all well and do like working with them.) The ONLY part that I want to be vague on is exactly how long I’ve known. And providing a copy of the orders shatters this.

          Unfortunately, we have always had a VERY small department and I do not know if personal opinions have jaded the recommendations given other people. My biggest problem is that past experiences have shown that their behavior is too unpredictable, so I’m erring on the side of caution.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Tell the truth about everything but don’t mention how long you’ve known. If someone asks how long you’ve known, say that it wasn’t confirmed until recently.

            It’s highly unlikely they’ll ask to see the orders; that would be bizarre. If they do, say no, those are confidential.

  6. Another anon*

    #7– Not that OP is like this, but the question reminds me of odd people who give notice and won’t say where they are going. The industry I’m in is very small so we all end up finding out. I tend to write those people off as “crazies”. I know….judge much? I just wish people were normal!

    1. Anonymous*

      I’m not from the US-
      We mostly don’t tell co workers where we are going until we are safely in the new job.
      (irrational ?) fear of sabotage

      1. Another anon*

        I think that is what makes it so odd in the cases where I have seen this. Because the person thinks anyone cares enough to sabotage them! It reminds me of the time when our departmental secretary quit and on her last day I brought in donuts and gave the box to her expecting she would open the box and people would stop by to wish her well. But she didn’t! She kept the box closed all day and brought it home to her family!

      2. Mel*

        I *am* from the U.S., and my last boss absolutely would have sabotaged my new job, so I definitely didn’t tell them where I was going. Paranoid and weird – totally. But thems the breaks. ;-)

    1. OP on #7*

      I’ve thought about this answer. I just don’t know the legality of it. I realize that comments listed here do not function as legitimate legal advice, but I figured that it couldn’t hurt to ask and see if anyone had any ideas of the best way to handle this situation.

        1. Jenn*

          Let’s say they’re crazy enough to ask. Can you just politely say something like, “I’m sorry, I would if I could, but I can’t”? Maybe say “I’m not sure, but it could be an issue of confidentiality” and repeat as necessary?

          1. OP on #7*

            Jenn – I think I could address the issue with your latter answer, “I’m not sure, but it could be an issue of confidentiality.” I can not properly explain in writing why, but I know that if I included an answer with the terms “I can’t” it will lead to additional questions like, “Why not?” That’s just how this whole job has been since day 1.

            1. Jenn*

              Hmm….so maybe you could use not knowing to your advantage, and just say use phrases like “I’m not sure”, “it could be”, etc. Just play dumb and say you’re not clear on the whole process. ;-)

              1. Jess*

                I work for the military and have some (albeit limited) experience with this. While your husband’s specific orders/unit/branch may have their own rules, generally speaking, deployments (and by extension, all orders) are considered secure information. Obviously logistics prevent this information from being kept entirely under wraps, but there is a general assumption that military orders are not public information. I think it would be wise to respond with “Military orders are secured information, and thus I cannot provide you the documentation.”

    2. anonymous*

      Why would they ask for the papers? At will employment means you can quit whenever, for whatever reason. There is no need to justify your decision to quit. Surely OP’s employers know that and wouldn’t bother asking about the papers.

    3. Your Mileage May Vary*

      If OP lives near a base and civilian spouses are frequently leaving to follow the military spouse, then the company may have done this before. So if OP says it’s confidential or she is unable to provide it for security reasons, it may be that boss comes back with “Jane and Bob brought in their spouses’ orders”, blowing that excuse out of the water.

      I think it’s unlikely they will ask unless they are truly petty people. But then your reference is screwed either way. They will give you a snotty reference if you choose not to provide the orders and if you DO provide the orders, they’ll give you a snotty reference when they see the date.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        The OP shouldn’t provide the orders regardless. If they ask for them, she can be vague and forget to follow through. There is zero reason she should produce them.

      2. akaCat*

        “Jane and Bob brought in their spouses’ orders”

        That’s when you put on a concerned face and reply with something like “Oh, they really shouldn’t have.”

  7. Josh S*

    Re: #6 No Online Presence

    I’m right there with you–I don’t like to be easily found in a Google search. I prefer to keep my public online presence minimal. (My friends will, however, list me as one of the most prolific online commenters/posters they know in social media/’private’ venues.)

    My first inclination is to agree with Alison–a lack of an online presence shouldn’t raise any flags. But then again, I just saw this article posted a few days ago:

    Now, those articles twist statistics and anecdotes SO badly as to be laughable. But they have picked up enough media attention (thanks to the unfortunate intersection of the topics “Facebook” and “Batman theater shooter”) to become one of those false-but-persistent urban legends.

    I don’t for an instant think that anyone/everyone who doesn’t have a Facebook profile is a psychopath. (Indeed, I’m in the process of migrating my social media life from FB to Google+.) But the fact that this is being reported so widely means that some (less-than-brilliant) employers will glom onto the trope and say to themselves, “I can’t hire this person! S/he doesn’t have a Facebook account! S/he must have red flags!”

    *sigh* The stupidity of people sometimes.

    In any case, it might be worth simply creating a simple static website (or a type front page) that gives your contact info and perhaps a short list of some projects you’ve worked on/accomplishments/areas of expertise. Just so you can point to something to say, “Look, I’m not a psychopath. I promise!” as though such a claim should be even remotely necessary.

    1. E*

      I think a brief profile on LinkedIn is appropriate for this. Definitely fine not to have details of your resume listed, but some very basic info could be helpful – HR or a hiring manager who’s looking will find your LinkedIn page, see that it’s you and it’s appropriate, and probably stop their search when the other results on the first page don’t look relevant.

      1. Tax Nerd*

        I agree. I keep my private life private. I don’t want clients or future employers seeing my Facebook or Twitter accounts. If they find me on LinkedIn, that’s fine, because that is my ‘professional’ online presence.

        A few things I have done/written with the expectation that they’d be semi-private ended up Google-able. Things like a quote I gave in a grad school communications class or my political donations. Nothing out of line, but still things I wish I could hide, because I’d rather clients and boss-types didn’t see them.

        1. Vicki*

          I’m always amused by how different people can be. I keep my private life private too, but my definition of “private” is very very different from yours. :-) That’s not to say either of us is right or wrong; I’m just amused.

          My Twitter, FB, Google+, and blogs are fully public. I try to be authentic, but that doesn’t mean I’ll talk about my medical problems, or (gasp) anything personal about people in my life. and (in my field, tech in the Silicon Valley area) I would be suspicious of anyone without an online presence.

          To me, online is just like any other interaction with people. What I talk about in Twitter is exactly what I would talk about in email with a friend or at lunch with co-workers. I assume that anything I say or do publicly (and that includes charitable contributions) is out of my hands and out of my control, whether it’s online or at the grocery store.

          1. OP on #6*

            I’ve had a few stalkers. While I, too, talk about things on twitter and facebook and my blog just the same way I would talk about them if I were face to face with someone, I am very grateful to the technology that allows me to somewhat control who I’m talking to.

    2. Rana*

      I’d be hesitant to create a stand-alone website with contact info, myself. One, it’s spam-bait. Two, do you want random strangers contacting you?

      I’d just create a really basic profile on LinkedIn and use that.

        1. Vicki*

          I’ve had a personal web site (with email) since 1994. Random strangers do not contact me.

          I have fully public Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ accounts. I have three blogs.

          Seriously, there are Millions of people on the web. You and I and everyone else commenting here, together, are such a tiny fraction. The chance of any one of us being “contacted by random strangers” is minuscule. It’s probably even less likely than someone chatting you up in the grocery store.

        2. Rana*

          It was the “gives your contact info” part that I was responding to, which includes, yes, your e-mail. (And sometimes people put on things like their personal phone numbers, and/or addresses. There’s no reason to put that stuff online, on an unsecured site. There just isn’t.)

          1. Rana*

            Also, some of us have the misfortune of having acquired stalkers, ex-partners, weird former co-workers, et al., so it’s not so much “random strangers” as “people who already know you but you would rather they not know more.”

    3. Blinx*

      I have my Facebook account locked down, except for my “about me” info. There, it pretty much looks like my resume. That way, a future employer knows that they have the right name (since I use all kinds of different things for my photo), but they can’t get into anything personal. Not that it’s an issue, it’s just personal.

    4. anonymous*

      Um, I would never want to work for an employer who is stupid enough to think that you might be a psychopath if you don’t have a Facebook account.

    5. OP on #6*

      I’m in academia, so the majority of the jobs I’ll be applying for will be academic positions, and I *hope* that anyone who googles me will have the sense to put [my full name] [my most recent university] but one can never be too sure.

      I have a fairly common last name, so even though I do have a linkedin profile (and facebook, and one blog under my real name) most of the results that come up have nothing to do with me. Luckily, they also aren’t anything bad; I have a friend who shares a name with a serial killer. Poor guy.

      The other good thing about working in academia is that I can be relatively certain of my references, and of the future employer’s ability to verify my work history–so much of it is already public record. Now, to get myself to the top of my own google search… *grin*

      Thanks for all the responses. You are all most helpful.

      1. Rana*

        You might want to create an Academia profile too; it’s better suited to the sorts of things that go into an academic c.v. than is LinkedIn (I have both) and it’ll increase your Google ranking so you’re more likely to show up as you wish. :)

  8. Steve G*

    Walmart Workers – Dont do it! Dont stay in unclocked. Just act completely confused when they ask you to do this and say “but I won’t get paid then?” and let the corrupt manager fill in the ackward silence.

    I am sick of seeing the working poor uselessly getting taken advantage of, and worse, not standing up for their own rights. We all know Walmarts pay is bad, so its not like you’d be putting them out by logging all of your hours.

    Good luck

  9. Anonymous*


    I guess the “authorization” is when the manager says “stay or else.” However, with a punch clock, do you need to obtain an override if you are working when you’re not supposed to? That usually comes from a manager’s authorization into the actual clock. That’s where you might come into trouble.

    I’d dare him to write me up. Or, I’d ask him if I’m needed and then bolt for the punch clock and straight for the door.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Not a great idea to dare managers at low-wage jobs, where they tend not to be super professional and the workers tend to be seen as very replaceable.

      1. Anonymous*

        Working for free doesn’t strike me as a better alternative than daring the manager to push an illegal matter. At least if he got fired for it, he’d be able to collect unemployment, which puts him ahead if he’s not being paid for his time in full.

        It’s another matter if the guy is clocking back in, of course, but then I doubt his wife would’ve bothered to write in about it.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Oh, absolutely not. They definitely should not work for free — it’s illegal. I’m just saying that you don’t “dare” a manager in these cases. You simply deal with the issue head-on, explaining that you can’t work without clocking in because it’s against company policy and the law.

      2. Anonymous*

        I’m not the type to actually say, “Alison, I dare you to write me up for not working overtime.” Rather, I would walk away and go home if he were to give me a hard time for clocking back in (as I explained about overrides) and didn’t do it. Then, I’d “dare” him to report me for his illegal activity/refusal by saying, “Then I can’t help you until I’m back on the clock.”

    2. ex-Retail Manager*

      “However, with a punch clock, do you need to obtain an override if you are working when you’re not supposed to? ”

      Not necessarily. At my old store, as long as you were over 18 you could clock yourself in outside of your scheduled hours. Anyone younger needed to have an override. But I know we were hardly the rule, so it definitely is a case by case thing

      1. Anonymous*

        It is a case by case situation. In my store, whether you are 16 or 101, you need an override if you are not working within your scheduled hours. Someone needs to leave early, and they call me in – need an override. Staying 15 minutes + passed your scheduled shift – need an override to punch out. Not scheduled to come in but someone called out last minute – need an override. With that last one, you need an override for everything (punch in, punch out, and lunch, if applicable) you do that day unless the computer person puts it in so the clock knows.

        So, I still pose that question to the OP.

  10. Anonymous*

    #7 – Broadly speaking, the only questions you should answer about why you are leaving should revolve around YOU. Your husband doesn’t work for them, so what he does isn’t any of their business.

    You can quit at any time for any reason or for no reason at all. You don’t have to explain yourself if it makes you uncomfortable. You don’t have to tell them where you are going or when you found out. Heck, you don’t even have to tell them that you have a husband or that he’s in the military. If I were you, I’d just say that I had another opportunity elsewhere, or that I was moving for family reasons.

    1. OP on #7*

      I completely agree!! It should just be my business and I should be able to walk in and say, “Pursuing other opportunity.” End of story.

      Unfortunately, this type of answer would be perceived the same way as if I just completely refused to tell them why I was quitting. Our department (four people total) is very chummy. Everyone knows everyone’s personal affairs (two of the people are best friends from a LONG time ago) and the other person has been working in the department a long time.

      It comes down to the fact that I really am leaving because my husband has orders and I feel good telling them the truth about this. They all know that my husband is in the military, so it shouldn’t be a shock. But, what would be a shock and sign of betrayal is if I didn’t tell everyone right away when I first found out. Which, I didn’t do.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Right, but this is really pretty easily solved. Explain you’re leaving because of your husband, and if someone asks how long you’ve known, say that it wasn’t confirmed until recently.

        It’s highly unlikely they’ll ask to see the orders; that would be really, really odd. But if they do, say no, those are confidential.

        1. OP on #7*

          That’s why I wrote in to begin with! I knew that this group would point out the obvious and make me realize that I was spinning my wheels mentally for nothing.

      2. E*

        If anyone is shocked you didn’t give notice sooner: “It wasn’t 100% certain until just recently and I didn’t want to give notice until I was sure.” That is perfectly reasonable. I think you are overthinking this. There are lots of chummy offices out there… just be professional, and if you need to play into the chumminess so as not to burn bridges, act disappointed to be leaving, tell everyone you’ll miss them and that you wish you’d known sooner (if they’re upset about “only” 2 weeks notice). You’ll be fine.

  11. Blinx*

    #2. It’s completely normal, unfortunately. They may be in the middle of a reorg, or trying to get funding for the headcount. It’s frustrating. Sometimes it seems that the larger the outfit, the slower things move (so many approval levels!). Follow up with the company and the recruiter as you would for any other job you applied for.

    I just accidentally applied to my old company through a contract agency! (The ad listed the wrong city). When I found out, I was thrilled, but the agency cautioned me that things were “moving slowly”. I contacted people I knew in that department, and they said that the position was on hold. I wasn’t too surprised. Not holding my breath.

  12. ChristineH*

    #5 – Drivers license requirement.

    This has been the bane of my existence!! I have a terrible habit of passing over otherwise interesting-looking jobs that include a DL requirement, even when it isn’t clear to me why it’s needed (I do appreciate employers who take the time to specify why it’s needed). It is very common to see employers list it on every single job they ever post. I’ve always assumed that it is required of ALL employees; I didn’t even think of the possibility that they may just be using a boilerplate.

  13. ChristineH*

    #1 – Negative talk in interview

    Wow. I’m certainly glad that this employer is upfront about the atmosphere, but at the same time, I have to wonder if they’re being TOO up front. Are there really people out there willing to put up with that?

    #6 – Online presence

    I’m mixed about having an online presence. My LinkedIn profile is pretty detailed and I’m somewhat active in a couple LI groups. I also have a FB account; I comment a lot, but rarely post my own updates. I’ll admit that I sometimes forget that prospective employers can look me up. I have nothing shameful out there, but it still creeps me out a little bit.

    I do have one question: Does the talk about “online presence” refer only to those places where a person’s real name is being used (Facebook, LinkedIn), or can an employer ask you about sites where users post with a screen name/alias?

    1. OP on #6*

      If they asked, I wouldn’t tell them. I know that the internet is no guarantee of privacy, but I think if something has been done to minimize the identifiable features of your activities, that would be rather like the employer asking for your diary. They’re free to ask, but if they won’t take no for an answer they’re not really someone I’d like to work for.

  14. Sara*

    Re: online presence…

    one thing I never really “got” so to speak….how employers can look you up online? I’ google myself almost every month, I don’t come up AT ALL. the only thing that comes up is my linked-in profile picture on teh second or third page of images. I am on Facebook and I use it regularly; and I’ll admit, I’ve googled others and nothing has ever come up. Either my circle is smart enough to not be “googled” or I’m totally missing something?

      1. Rana*

        When you do the search, do you put your name in quotations? As in “Sara Lastname”? That tends to focus the search more.

        That said, if you’re showing up only on the third page or so, it suggests to me that you’re not very active online, that you share a name common to a lot of other people, etc.

        Personally, I think that relying *solely* on Google to find out about someone to be ineffective; there are, for example, several people with my same first and last name who work in areas that relate to my own interests and hobbies and career, so it’s a bit amusing to me to think that someone looking for me might carelessly end up browsing the the profile of a woman in Australia who does similar work. (I might feel differently if my name dopplegangers were involved in something unsavory.)

        For what it’s worth, if I Google my own name that way, with middle initial, I dominate both the first and second pages of results, and I prefer it that way, because I have some degree of control over all of those sites, and they are things I am either proud of or don’t mind being public. (Again, one’s mileage may vary, depending on how careless you – or your friends – were with your information and/or activities.)

      2. Sparky629*

        Or you could use a professional email for job searching/business purposes that has your name (or some variation of it) and a different email for FB and twitter accounts.
        You can have as many as you want-they’re free.

      3. RJ*

        Oh dear, I just Googled my email address and found all sorts of stuff I wasn’t expecting. Nothing scandalous, but posts I made to a car repair forum and things like that where I used my email address as my user name. That isn’t the same email address I use professionally, so I don’t see it being a job search issue, but it’s still a concern I never thought about.

  15. Sara*

    “Your search – *********** – did not match any documents.”

    Nada. I’m not complaining; just wondering. :D

    1. OP on #6*

      For me, they could search my previous universities (both of which are on my CV), or they could search some of the jobs I’ve had (one was a school newspaper–I’m on the internet in a lot of places for that one). I like to plug in my full name, all my active e-mail addresses, my full name plus each school, etc. just to make sure that the things like facebook or the anonymous posting under an alias is not showing up. I don’t post much that people would consider controversial on facebook, I’d just prefer that my employer not be privy to that side of me.

      If you don’t see yourself showing up at all, it does probably mean you just don’t have much activity. My stuff is there, it’s just a bit buried.

  16. Mollyg*

    For jobs that require a government security clearance, having little or no online presence is a good thing. The idea is to give as little personal information out that enemy spies can use to try to recruit you. This is taken seriously in some departments.

  17. Anonymous*

    #7-Okay, I’m concerned that you just won’t say “my husband got orders”. “Blame” the short notice on the military. Most of the time people have pretty good advanced notice on major moves but it’s probably not unheard of for decisions to be made at the last minute, promotions or special projects to come through. I’m sure your coworkers know that you are a military spouse. Being secretive would be extra weird to me. I’m not sure what is so difficult about: I’m sorry to tell you this but John has gotten orders and we are leaving the area. I need some time to get our stuff together, so I’m putting in my two weeks. I appreciate my time with X company and value the relationships and experience.

    My company hires alot of military spouses (and guard/reserve) and we are also very chummy people. I would expect my staff to be upfront about a move and not leave me in a lurch. But then again my team works really well together and wouldn’t do that. Just be professional that will serve you better in the long run than anything else.

    1. OP on #7*

      Actually, my conversation is going to start with, “My husband has received orders and we will be relocating in the next several weeks. I need to give you my 2 week notice today, so that I can assist with packing our house and getting ready to move…. blah blah blah….”

      I have mentioned above that I have absolutely no intention of being vague about *what* is going on. Just how long I’ve known.

      Trust me, the military is going to be thrown under the bus for the “short” notice…

      1. Vicki*

        How is two weeks “short”? It’s standard.
        MOST people don;t give more than two weeks’ notice, unless they’re a senior VP or some such.
        Yes, they’ve “known” for a long time. They’ve been interviewing and looking for work.

        It’s not unusual to give two weeks’ notice. It’s normal.

  18. Anonymous*

    For #5, I found a document from my university that talks about this kind of thing. They say that requiring a driver’s license for a job that really doesn’t need it is a way of discriminating against the disabled in a barely-legal kind of way. It’s in a document that outlines the kind of things that aren’t supposed to be in any of the University’s job postings because they’re discriminatory in practice, if not necessarily illegal. They gave “bus driver” as an example of a legitimate position to include this requirement.

    I wouldn’t jump to the conclusion that they’re intentionally discriminating against the disabled, but it’s a possible explanation for an otherwise bizarre requirement.

    DL requirements are also used commonly in voting laws to discriminate deliberately (as in, this is the clearly stated intent of the lawmaker) against blacks, Hispanics, and poor people. Again, I wouldn’t leap to any assumptions about nefarious intent, but it’s possible. There’s a bunch of recent news articles about this kind of thing available.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Exactly. Generally not intentional discrimination, but it has the effect of discrimination, which is why the ADA doesn’t allow it (and places that do this are opening themselves up to an ADA lawsuit).

  19. Candice*

    I wonder if employers put “valid driver’s license” in their ads as an attempt to say something similar to “must have reliable transportation?”

  20. starts & ends with A*

    Re #6

    (1) Make sure that when you google yourself you log out of google – so you can see the search in a way it’s not personalized to you. (Logging out of facebook helps, because then you can see how other people may come across you on facebook versus your own stuff.)

    (2) My husband shares a name with someone who has a myspace profile that is SO NOT OK. Luckily, it’s clear they are not the same person (different location etc) but it’s pretty icky to search his name and see this up near the top. I unfortunately don’t share a name with anyone – so I have to avoid getting into any trouble because it’s definitely me.

    1. OP on #6*

      I just tried that using firefox private browsing mode, and nope, same results. Thank you for the suggestion, it’s not something I’d thought of before.

      *giggle* at the yes it’s definitely you. Before I got married, my name was very distinct. I’m in the process of getting divorced, and one of the conditions is that I get to keep my new, and more anonymous, married last name. I’ve published under it, and darn it, it’s staying!

  21. Driver's License Question OP*

    @Ask A Manager: I had not considered that the DL requirement might be just a case of “sloppy/laziness” in some job ads. That makes a lot of sense. I’ll start ignoring it when applying and deal with it if it comes up. :)

    @Monique C.: I check bus/subway routes too, and take into consideration a friend and parent who said they might be able to drive me depending on when work started and where the job was.

    @Anonymous re: State ID is acceptable too: That is comforting to hear.

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