terse answer Thursday — 7 short answers to 7 short questions

It’s terse answer Thursday — seven short answers to seven short questions. Here we go…

1. My new job just reposted an ad for my position

I recently got a new job and have been working there for a week. It’s a copywriting position, and I was hired to replace another recent hire whose work was not up to par. This company puts new employees on a 90-day probationary/trial period to start and then evaluates their work and determines whether to offer them full employment.

After a week on the job, I feel reasonably confident that things are going well. I’ve always had strong writing skills, and my superiors have told me directly that I’m doing a good job and am picking up on things quickly. Yesterday, however, I happened to notice that the listing for this job had been reposted online that same day. It’s the exact same ad that I answered to get an interview and this job. What does/could this mean? Should I be worried?

Speculating won’t do you any good, because it could be something as innocuous as someone in HR automatically refreshing the ad by mistake. Rather than worrying without really knowing, ask your manager. Say, “I couldn’t help but notice that the ad for my position was reposted today, and it made me a little anxious.”

2. Explaining flushing at work (no, not that kind)

I’m trying to figure out the best way to handle a situation that I know will come up at my new job. I’m on a medicine right now – a necessary one, can’t be substituted – that has a side effect of causing fairly severe intermittent (so it comes and goes) flushing on my face and neck. And I have really pale skin, so it’s quite obvious. I’m concerned that it will be perceived as me being nervous or shy, and that will have a negative effect on my reputation and relationships at work. The flushing occurs in a whole variety of situations that are both high and low pressure.

I’m working on my ability to control this through mental tricks and maybe I’ll try out biofeedback, but I think there’s a limit to how much I can really control this, given that it’s happening due to the medicine. If someone were to ask me about it, I think I’d be fine with saying something casually like, “oh, thanks for checking, I’m on a great preventative medicine for headaches that has that unfortunate side effect – but I’ll take fewer headaches any day!” What I don’t know is how to handle people who just watch me and make assumptions. Maybe I can’t do anything about that, and they’ll just think what they think. I’d like there to be something I can do, though! I’d really appreciate any suggestions.

Can you feel when it’s happening? If so, I’d just say something in the moment: “I think I feel myself flushing — don’t be alarmed; I’m on a headache medicine that causes that sometimes.” If you can’t tell when it’s happening, then why not just mention something to your new manager after you start? You could say something like, “By the way, I’m taking a headache medicine that’s been causing me to flush at random times. I don’t want you to think it’s a stress reaction, so I wanted to warn you ahead of time.” Your manager can then correct anyone who might comment on it.

To be clear, you don’t have to do this — but because it’s bothering you, it might give you peace of mind to say something.

3. Why can’t I get promoted?

I have been passed over for a promotion twice in the six years of working in the same department, and three times for positions outside of my department. I have gotten my MBA, taken additional training, and am in the process of planning an event for a staff of 50. No one has any complaints about my work to my knowledge, and I was one of the top two for a promotion out of 250 applicants. I did ask the hiring manager what it was that I could do to improve myself for the future and he said “nothing, it was just one of those things.” Any suggestions?

You might need to go somewhere else to get a higher-level job. Your company isn’t necessarily sending you a signal that they don’t plan to promote you (it’s possible that there were simply better candidates each time), but (a) they should sure as hell be giving you some feedback on how to better position yourself at this point, and (b) after six years there, there’s no reason not to be looking at all your options if you’d like to move up.

4. Can HR share candidates’ information with a competing candidate?

Is it ethical for a person in HR to divulge a candidate’s information to a competing candidate, specifically give that person your LinkdIn information? This recently happened to me.

I interviewed for a position and found out it was awarded to someone else on the inside when that person, who I didn’t know from Adam, went on my LinkdIn profile announcing she had the job. There was no way she could’ve known who I was or that I had also interviewed for the job unless someone on the inside gave her my information (unless she somehow was able to sneak a peek at the competition). Why would someone do this? I am very disheartened and feel my privacy was invaded. Am I overreacting? I mean, this doesn’t seem ethical to me at all.

Are you sure that’s what happened? An internal candidate posting gloating messages on external job candidates’ LinkedIn pages seems pretty out there, and I wonder if there’s some more innocent interpretation. In any case, though, I’d just let it go and not be terribly disheartened — there’s no real privacy violation if she works for the company where you applied (since you have to assume when you apply to a company that anyone who works there could become privy to it); it’s just bizarre and not worth stewing over.

5. I’m being made to sit in a painful chair

I am a full-time employee for a very large national company. That company holds a government contract that I work on. Recently the government agency we are contracted with had new chairs brought in for our entire office, though no ergonomic study was done beforehand that I am aware of. At over 6’6”, I am a very large parson and my shoulder blades literally rest on the top of this hard plastic and mesh chair back. The lumbar support is also not adjustable so it does not feel right. This causes both lower back and shoulder pain that I have never experienced before. The day after I was forced to sit in these chairs I woke up with continued back and shoulder pain even though it had been 12 hours after I had last sat in the chairs.

After talking to my manager, they told me I had no other option but to get a doctor’s note. I made the next available appointment and went. They accepted my note and I got a new chair that, while not perfect, was 100% better than my current chair. But after only a week, I was told that I and anyone else who had a different chair due to a doctor’s note would have to give up their chair because the government contractor didn’t like that the chairs weren’t all the same. I was told that I would need another doctor’s note with more exact specifications or I would not be able to get a different chair. I feel that even if I bring in a note with the exact make and model of chair I need, I will still be sitting in these painful chairs for the rest of my time at this contract. My manager, I, and even my doctor don’t know what to do. What would you suggest as a next course of action for something like this?

Go back and get the more specific note that they’re asking for. Yes, it’s a pain in the ass, and yes, it’s ridiculous that they’re micromanaging what chairs you sit in, and yes, it’s even more ridiculous that they’re requiring this extra documentation, but they are. So get it, and hopefully put an end to it.

6. Termination if company ceases to exist

After two years of active job searching (unemployed), I have finally landed a job offer. Love the company’s culture (small company in terms of staff, but moderate size in terms of capitalization).

However, I am a little unsure of how to interpret the following paragraph in the offer letter: “Your employment with the company will be as a regular employee, subject to your successful completion of a six-month probation period, at which point your salary will be reviewed. However, should the company cease to exist, for whatever reason at any time, your employment may then terminate on simple notice as per the company’s policy.”

So, as I understand this, any possible future termination would be swift, with no notice or severance package, regardless of the amount of time employed with them? I can’t imagine a 15 or 20-year employee being treated in this way. I know that in Canada, an employer must at least pay vacation pay if not taken at the time of termination. Is there any way that I can protect myself from being booted out should the company “cease to exist”? Can I try to negotiate this clause in some way (doubt it)?

I can’t advise on what protections might be available to you in Canada or about anything related to Canada for that matter, but it’s pretty normal that if a company ceases to exist, it might not be paying severance. I’d point out, though, that this language isn’t saying that you’d have no notice; it’s saying that you’d have notice per the company’s policy — so to find out how much notice that is, you’d want to look at the relevant policy.

Overall, though, this doesn’t alarm me too much. It’s what would happen in lots of cases; they’re just telling you in advance. (Maybe because Canada requires it? Who knows what goes on up there.)

7. I put the wrong phone number on my resume

I recently realised I made an ridiculous mistake on my resume — my phone number had the wrong area code. In Toronto, where I live, there are two area codes and I inadvertently switched them — the last 7 digits were correct though. I know how important it is to have my resume perfect and am furious at myself for the mistake. However, in all of my cover letters (in the body of the email application) my phone number is correct. Would employers who were potentially trying to contact me have given up/passed upon reaching the wrong number, or would they have contacted me by email instead?

Do you think I should re-send emails for potential applications to inform of the mistake? Or will this look worse for pointing out a glaring mistake?

Some employers contact people by phone and some by email, so there’s really no way to know if someone has tried to reach you and given up. I’d err on the side of a follow-up email with a correction. It’s not ideal, but it’s better than letting the mistake go unfixed and possibly missing phone calls. (I should note, though, that even a follow-up may not fix the problem, because it won’t be attached to your resume itself — but it’s your best bet.)

{ 131 comments… read them below }

  1. Kerry

    #5 – I had a friend at a former job (large national company) who was very tall and had an ergonomical nightmare in her cube. The chair was not the right height, the desk was not the right height and it threw everything with her alignment off. The company ignored her request for a different chair or higher cube etc at first. and again and again. So finally, she filed a complaint with OSHA. BOOM! The company fixed everything for her immediately.

  2. Em

    I’m really confused by #4. To my knowledge, there is no way to “go on my LinkdIn profile [to announce] she had the job” – your LI profile doesn’t have a space for other people to write things like your Facebook wall, outside of recommendations. Is it possible that OP was following the company, and so LI posted a recent hire/job change there on their newsfeed? I really can’t figure out what else may be going on here.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      I figured it meant that she messaged her through LinkedIn, but if it did indeed show up on her newsfeed, then this would be the most likely explanation! OP, can you clarify?

      1. Em

        Yeesh. If your assumption is right (and it definitely makes as much sense, if not more, than mine!), that’s just freaking WEIRD. Who messages someone they don’t know to tell them that? People confuse me.

      2. Sarah G

        My first thought as well was that it must have come through the newsfeed, and that perhaps the OP misunderstands how LinkedIn newsfeed works.

        1. Anonymous

          Perhaps she is “following” the company and that’s why the message showed up on her newsfeed?

          1. Steve

            Or someone at the company checked both of the candidates’ profiles in a short period of time and the algorithm assumed they might know each other placing information on their respective feeds. This was my first thought.

          2. Lisa

            LinkedIn tells people that follow a company that they just hired someone based on that person changing their profile to add their new job which matches said company.

            If the OP is indeed following the company, then LinkedIn will automatically say “we just hired Susie, say congrats” or something.

            It is also possible that OP is in fact connected to the new hire, therefore, LinkedIn will in fact aotmatically say “susie chnaged jobs, say congrats” or something.

            It sounds like OP doesn’t understand how LinkedIn works, versus Susie is a total b****. Though it is possible that she is and did write a private message to announce her job to the OP directly.

      3. Piper

        This confused me, too. LinkedIn isn’t like Facebook or anything where you can “go on someone’s profile” and post.

      4. Vicki

        But… you can’t message someone unless you’re connected… or you pay to send InMail. WHo would pay to send InMail for this purpose.

        This definitely needs clarification.

      5. TeeSee

        I’ll try to clarify what happened. (Sorry for the confusion; in my haste and bafflement about what happened, I may not have made myself clear.)

        I was an outside candidate who had interviewed for an executive assistant position with the hiring manager at this academic organization. I was contacted the next day (after my interview) by one of the HR recruiters, who said I was being considered and she was going into a meeting with her supervisor to discuss further my qualifications. She told me she would contact me afterward to let me know the outcome. I didn’t hear anything for over a week, so I contacted HR and was told that no decision had yet been made. The next day, I went on my LI and saw that my profile had been viewed by a person announcing herself as the new executive assistant [to this hiring manager]. This was how I found out the job was filled. There was no way this other candidate (a total stranger to me) could have known about me to even go onto my LI unless someone (at the organization) had given her my information. (My cover letter to the hiring manager did have my LI link info in it, though, and he did view my LI profile before contacting me for the interview, but I’m not saying he gave it out to this candidate. Anyway, I would hope not.) But somehow, and very coincidentally the very next day after my inquiry to HR, she popped up on my LI profile announcing she was the new EA.

        OP

        1. TeeSee

          And also, no, I am not following the company, and no there’s no “news feed” going on. She came on and viewed my profile under “Look Who’s Viewed Your Profile.” (I have since learned, though, through a friend who works there, that this particular organization is very “clique-ish.” So maybe this was a blessing in disguise!)

          OP

        2. Ask a Manager Post author

          It sounds like she didn’t gloat to you about it though; it was just info on her own profile that you saw since she had viewed yours, right?

          1. TeeSee

            Yes, that’s correct. But it still felt very odd to me and much too coincidental that she would even do that to someone she couldn’t possibly have known was a candidate unless someone told her. It just seemed very unprofessional, in my humble.

            OP

              1. TeeSee

                You’re right, of course. Going on someone’s LI profile is what it’s there for, and in fact, is a terrific business tool; but to me, not in this manner. It felt like she was announcing to me that she got the job and I didn’t with her title banner blazing that she was the “New EA to the Blank-Blank,” etc. It’s just something I never would have done to another contender I didn’t already personally know, and certainly I wouldn’t have chosen that way to get in touch. It’s difficult enough to be rejected, then “blown off” by HR without even bothering to let you know the status of the job, and then to find out in this manner. Frankly, it was hurtful. Fortunately, most places and persons I’ve interviewed with — even those I’ve just submitted a resume to — are polite enough to send a “Dear Jane” email when I’m not chosen as either the candidate for the job or for an interview. But learning about it this way was just, well, rude and childish, in my opinion. Anyway, the good thing is I landed a really good job paying more within a couple of weeks after this, so it turned out well.

                As my dear Nana used to say, it’s always best to try to be very careful with people’s hearts and feelings, even and especially in business. You never know whose a** you’ll have to kiss on the way down. Some people may not appreciate it, but most will. I do try to live up to that myself. And so, having said that I do wish the young lady who got the job success (and hopefully better manners next time).

                1. Ask a Manager Post author

                  Honestly, many people don’t realize that others can see they looked at their profile or assume people don’t check regularly. I’m sure she didn’t realize you’d notice or be offended.

                2. The IT Manager

                  You seem bound and determined to be upset with the woman who got the job you wanted. She did nothing to flaunt her new job to you. It is you who chose to click on her name and view her profile. BTW I so rarely click on the names of people who recently viewed my profile I forgot that that’s a feature.

                  Yes, how you learned that you didn’t get the job hurt you, but the woman you are blaming is not at fault. The business was impolite not to inform you and leave you hanging and even then there was no malicious there. You really seem to want to have someone to blame for your hurt when there’s no one really. People who hope to get a job and don’t are often hurt and disappointed but that’s an inescapable part of the process.

    2. CoffeeLover

      +1 to the newsfeed possibility and seconding need for OP’s clarification.

      If it was a direct message, I would be more inclined to think the person was telling OP she didn’t get the job so she wouldn’t hold her hopes, rather than trying to gloat (though there’s a tendency to feel that way). Maybe she was going for good sportsmanship? Anyways, forgive and forget OP. :)

      1. S

        I’ll add another +1 to the newsfeed possibility and clarification, but I think it’s important to make clear that divulging information that connects a person to a Linked In profile is not a privacy violation. Linked In is a method to *publicly* display yourself on the internet, just like Facebook is. If you don’t want people to see it, don’t put it on the internet.

        I would not advise the OP to forgive and forget. I would advise the OP to really learn about what on LinkedIn is public and what is not and to know that if your given name was revealed to the candidate (which is also not a violation) that’s it’s ridiculously easy to find that person on LinkedIn. I would also advise the OP to take stock of what is on their profile and clean it up now knowing that the entire internet is watching.

        There is no such thing as privacy on the internet.

        1. CoffeeLover

          I take it that OP is more upset that the company told the other candidate about her, rather than the candidate being able to message/find her on Linkedin. So the privacy violation is coming from the company divulging the fact that she was the other candidate to the person who contact her.

          1. Em

            But if the newsfeed theory holds, that means there is no reason to believe that the company shared her information with the other candidate.

  3. Anonymous

    #1

    I wouldn’t even mention being anxious. When I read OP’s letter, my first thought was maybe the company is simply looking for one more hire. Saying this makes you anxious may seem a little paranoid if that’s the case.

    1. CoffeeLover

      I don’t know if it would necessarily seem paranoid (since we’re all human and that’s kind of a natural assumption to make). She could just say, “hey, I saw the job posting for a similar position to mine, are you hiring someone else for the department?” in case she’s concerned about the paranoia perception.

    2. Anonymous

      “When I read OP’s letter, my first thought was maybe the company is simply looking for one more hire. ”

      This is what I thought, too.

  4. JT

    “because the government contractor didn’t like that the chairs weren’t all the same.”

    A follow-up question to #5: is it legal to be so stupid and petty?

    1. Jamie

      I cannot believe that any government resources are dedicated to giving a rats ass about what kind of chairs people sit in. Seriously? I want my tax dollars back.

      1. Frances

        I have a suspicion that the contractor is planning on billing the government for the purchase of the chairs, and thinks that if OP has a different one it will prove that they were an unnecessary expense.

        (Although my current workplace does have funders who also threw a fit when we needed to get one of our departments those Aeron chairs because they didn’t match everyone else’s, so maybe they are just that petty.)

        1. JT

          Someone 6’6″ is an extreme outlier in height.

          If they can’t justify it by saying “One person in the 98th percentile in height obtained a doctors not that he required a different chair to accommodate his height” they’re very very weak.

          1. Jamie

            This. My boys are tiny compared to the OP, they are 6′ 2.5 and 6′ 3.5 and while closer to average than the OPthey aren’t comfortable in every off the rack seating arrangement.

            If they had a little person (I believe that’s the correct terminology) working there would they deny them a stool or other things to make the workplace accessible? It’s no different on the other end of the spectrum.

      2. Anonymous for now

        Don’t you think this is a privilege of government only. I worked until recently to a Fortune 10 company in which someone would come down the hall and replace chairs based on the types that should belong to each area.

        I HAD MY CHAIR TAKEN FROM MY CUBICLE TWICE. My boss told me to place a sticker saying “This chair has been authorized to be in this area by [ boss name ].” Nobody could understand how someone could have been paid to make the rounds to ensure cubicles only had black chairs. Because of my special permission, I was the only blue chair allowed in my area. Sigh.

        Needless to say, I’m much happier now working for a Fortune 500 company.

  5. Canuck

    “Maybe because Canada requires it? Who knows what goes on up there.”

    LOL! Too funny; AAM, we’re not that different than you ‘mericans down South :) :)

    1. Lynne

      Not true. We spend all winter PLOTTING TO TAKE OVER THE WORLD.

      …or at least warmer parts of it. California, I’m looking at you.

      More seriously, this varies by province; a little digging online seems to indicate that BC requires severance and/or notice to employees when a business shuts down, under the same rules as terminating someone’s employment without cause. Ontario only seems to require this of employers with at least 50 employees. Some provinces likely don’t require it at all…

      …and of course, you can’t get blood from a stone, so this is all dependent on there being any money left over, which I wouldn’t count on.

        1. the gold digger

          Someone up there doesn’t like us. You are holding onto a cold air mass, apparently, that had me shivering in the -1 F (with wind chill) temps at the bus stop this morning. Please! We’ll give you what you want! Just quit sending us your frozen air!

          1. Jamie

            This. Honestly it’s March 21st and I had to clean snow off my windshield this morning. I’ll kick in money – just please stop. I have been longing for the moment I can walk outside in shirt sleeves and feel a warm breeze and sun on my face.

            1. Anony-mousse

              Canada seems to be sending it everywhere! I’m in Germany and there was 15 cm of new snow overnight. Do not want!

                1. Chinook

                  Now,now. That was yesterday. 5 days ago it was -25 celcius with wind chill and today I am looking at blowing snow. We wouldn’t want them to think every day is like that ;)

                2. Chinook

                  Ah yes…I think back fondly to southern Ontario and snow free April’s and May. Here it is only frustrating when you are wiping the snow off the car in June in heels after having packed away the boots (though the snow brush is always in the back seat).

                3. AL Lo

                  Lol meanwhile over in chinook-land Canada, it’s +14 outside :)…

                  Ah, yesterday. Such fond recollections of sun and no winter coat.

                  And then I woke up this morning and told my husband that I’m boycotting life until spring is here to stay.

              1. Lynne

                Huh. One of the weaknesses of my world domination plan has always been a lack of funding*. I didn’t realize we could blackmail people with cold air masses. No shortage of those. Woot. :)

                *outfitting an army with zeppelins and jetpacks is unreasonably expensive, I find.

                1. Chinook

                  The only problem is that we would then have to send them our warm air every so often to prove it was in our control and I for one refuse to give anyone the chinooks – they are what make life worth living here (even when factoring in the headaches)

                2. AL Lo

                  Agreed. I have individual sympathy for those who suffer from chinook-related migraines, but as a group, given the choice, I wouldn’t trade their discomfort for cold weather all winter. I’m heartless like that.

            2. JessA

              Ha. When I graduated college in New York, we had an outdoor ceremony. I was wearing long sleeves underneath my gown – IN MAY!

        2. AL Lo

          Me too.

          I moved back to Calgary from California a few years ago, and on days like this, I really wonder why.

          (And then I feel guilty for wondering why, since the actual reason was to end the long-distance part of my relationship with my now-husband, but on days like today, I just might trade him in for good weather.)

            1. AL Lo

              But then I’d lose my built-in nighttime furnace, which keeps me warmer than a sweater.

              However, the cat does a pretty good job at being a tiny, body-heat-generating furnace, too, so maybe the sweater wouldn’t be such a bad deal…

    2. CoffeeLover

      Canada and the US are actually vastly different in terms of employee rights for firing and laying off. From what I gather from AAM, an employer in the US can fire you for any reason that’s not discriminatory without any kind of severance or notice period. In Canada, after a probationary period (I think legally it’s a year, but don’t quote me), you have a minimum of a couple of weeks (I think its 3 or 4) notice period and severance (2 weeks worth of pay or something like that). This time increases the longer you’re there (to a maximum of 6 weeks severance pay or something like that). While that’s the minimum, the courts generally award WAY longer (about twice as much) severance. As a result, employers are pretty good about being even more generous than the required minimum. Not to mention the fact that it’s you cannot fire someone without just cause, which means a long paper trail of you trying to help them improve and giving them chances etc. Immediate firing is possible for truly erroneous mistakes, but even then companies tend to give notice/severance just to avoid the possibility of being taken to court over it.

      Sorry for the inaccurate numbers. I took a business law course recently, but can’t remember the specifics without looking it up. Also, I’m in Alberta.

      Honestly, given the legal requirement of a notice period AND severance (which exists to varying degrees in every province), I do think it’s strange that they wouldn’t give you the severance (because I agree with AAM that it sounds like you’re being given notice). I mean a legal requirement is a liability and should be paid off when the company ceases to exist. This is conjecture, but if you’re really concerned, then maybe you should consult a lawyer before signing. S/he would be able to tell you in greater clarity what’s going on.

      1. Jamie

        How does just cause factor into layoffs or downsizing.

        If a company audits it’s labor to billing and sees that it has 5 accountants when it really only needs 4 – it doesn’t make sense to keep an inflated department where you have more employees than you need…but you aren’t firing for cause regarding the employee assuming all of them were good performers and it’s just a question of being downsizing making fiscal sense for the company.

        I am assuming they can still do that, if they pay the severance and whatnot, because otherwise if you could only downsize if someone was fired for cause a business wouldn’t have the flexibility to change with their needs. I am really curious as to how this works – I mean you can’t ensure job security absent cause forever, I would imagine?

        1. Esra

          Layoffs/downsizing are not treated the same as a firing/being let go for just cause. You could still let go the extra accountant in your scenario, but you’d have to pay them severance or give them notice in lieu of severance.

          1. CoffeeLover

            Esra, I’m pretty sure you can give severance in lieu of notice, but not vice versa. If you don’t want to impact moral, you can let the person go home immediately, but still pay them for the required notice period + severance. I’m pretty sure you can’t force an employee to work through their severance because that’s not really severance.

            1. Esra

              Alas, they can give notice of termination in lieu of severance. They still have to pay out any remaining vacation etc. I’m speaking for Ontario here. From the Termination of Employment page on the gov’t web site:

              “Under the ESA:
              1. an employer can terminate the employment of an employee who has been employed continuously for three months or more if the employer has given the employee proper written notice of termination and the notice period has expired;
              or
              2. an employer can terminate the employment of an employee without written notice or with less notice than is required if the employer pays termination pay to the employee.”

              It just sucks in this economy, because who can find a job in the period of time required while working full-time? The whole team at my old workplace is being let go, given 3 months in lieu of severance. They talked to an employment lawyer and it’s legal, even though it sucks.

              1. CoffeeLover

                Government of Canada website says: “You have the right to collect severance pay if you have completed at least 12 consecutive months of continuous employment before your dismissal or layoff resulted in a termination of employment.[Employees get] the equivalent of two days pay at the employee’s regular rate of wages for regular hours of work for each complete year of employment, with a minimum benefit equivalent to five days wages.”

                So after a year of working you get a weeks worth of severance along with notice period. This is from the federal labour standards site which should be the minimum for all provinces, no? Obviously I know less than an employment lawyer, but I find it weird.

                I guess it is worth noting that some professions/jobs are exempt from this required notice and severance, so maybe your in one of them?

                1. Esra

                  I’m not sure, I mean, I’m a graphic designer and my team was all programmers, so we’re just regular office types.

        2. CoffeeLover

          Alright, I totally mixed things up, so let me rephrase. To lay someone off you don’t need just cause, but you do need the required notice period and severance. If you’re firing someone for just cause, then you don’t need to give the required notice or severance, but most companies give it anyways to avoid going to court (and by most I mean it’s pretty unusual not to, since they’re opening themselves up to some seriously bad PR and court expenses). From an employees perspective, even if you prove they didn’t have just cause in court, the most you’ll get is a generous severance. If the employer is already giving you this, and you can spare yourself the hassle of court and being labelled as too high of a risk for hire, then why would you take it to court?

          So, short answer: no your not safe from lay offs, nor do you have absolute job security. If you’ve been their more than a year though, you’re getting severance and notice no matter the reason you’re let go.

        3. Zahra

          Laying off/downsizing is actually firing for just cause: “Not enough work”. If I recall correctly, if you do fire someone for lack of work and re-post a job advertising for the same position in a short period of time, say, 6 months or less, (as an “Oops, we downsized too much” move), you do have to contact the recent laid off employees and offer them the job back, otherwise, they could have ground to sue you for wrongful termination.

          If the layoff was really about lack of work, it *could* actually be a good move for the employer, since the recently laid off employee doesn’t have as much of a learning curve (assuming there are no hard feelings and that the employee would not be looking for another job and leave soon after coming back).

          1. CoffeeLover

            Ya, you can sue for wrongful termination if you can show you’re being laid off was actually a termination in disguise (i.e. they rehire for your position). This is kind of a stupid move though in my opinion. The courts do have the power to give you your old job back (along with severance), but to what avail? Imagine forcing someone to hire you back when they don’t want to. Ya, that’s not going to be a great work environment. Plus if the company has already given you a generous severance, you’re not going to get any more through the courts.

        4. Chinook

          I just read a book on the CBC (similar to NPR) that talked about their layoffs and how they had to budget for the cost of laying people off. As a result, they tried their best to limit it to attrition and retirements, which have no severance costs.

      2. A Bug!

        I’m in B.C., so the situation here might be different from Alberta’s.

        But in addition to the legislated minimum notice periods which are in line with your own comment, there’s also a “common-law” aspect to it. If your contract does not explicitly say that the applicable notice periods for dismissal without cause are the minimums as set out in the legislation, then if you’re not dismissed for cause you can have a case for even longer periods of notice, sometimes months and months.

        So my wager with respect to OP’s letter is that the line in question is the employer’s way of ensuring that they are limited to paying out the minimum required notice periods. Just standard CYA. But if you’re concerned, OP, look up an employment lawyer and pay for a consult.

        1. CoffeeLover

          Yes, it’s the same here. I was referring to the “common-law severance” when I said, “While that’s the minimum, the courts generally award WAY longer (about twice as much) severance.” I couldn’t remember the name so thank you! :P

          Wouldn’t they just say explicitly that if the company ceases to exist, the federal minimum notice period/severance would be awarded? Why would they leave such ambiguity in a contract (ambiguity in contracts = contracts being thrown out in court).

          1. A Bug!

            Hurf, way to go, my reading comprehension! Sorry about that. I guess that renders my comment an over-wordy “B.C., too!”

        2. Chinook

          The other difference in Canada is that employment insurance kicks in if you are fired without cause, laid off or the company ceases to exist. It doesn’t if you quit or are fired with cause.

          Also, I think employee wages and vacation pay are a first tier creditor if the company goes bankrupt. I don’t know if severance pay is considered part of that or is considered part of the benefits like pension plans (which employees of Nortel were fighting for years after their bankruptcy). That is important as I believe it means you are guaranteed full payment instead of pennies on the dollar like other creditors. It makes sense because, in a social welfare state, it is to the government’s benefit to ensure employees are paid fully or else we become a cost to the government.

          BTW, if the company does go belly up, apply online for EI that day as your first payment starts 28 days after you apply, not after your last day. I recently had to go through this process and it is rather painless but it does need to be done ASAP. (And it is the same for all provinces/territories because it is federal.)

      3. nyxalinth

        Well, employers in Canada know how to treat people like human beings and not just easily replaceable numbers. I know that not all employers are like that in the US. , just feeling cynical and grumpy for a job that didn’t work out recently.

        1. Chinook

          I know that in Alberta, atleast, part of not treating employees as replaceable is because they aren’t. We are still at low unemployment and that does mean good employees can go elsewhere. But, when I have worked elsewhere, I have seen bad employers who treat their employees as badly as anything described here. The only difference is they have to pay severance for firing “at will” after 4 months.

          Unfortunately, bad employers will always exist as long as we humans are in charge.

      4. Vicki

        It’s not “firing”. It’s just, “letting go”. They eliminate your position. They say goodbye. They stop “willing: you to stay.

        We have this dreadful concept called “At Will Employment”. Either party can sever the relationship at will with no reason or justification.

        Been there twice now. Bleah.

  6. Lucy

    #2 – A while ago I had a similar problem when I had a non-contagious viral thing that lasted for months. I would get random low-grade fevers that would cause my face/neck to look flushed and stay that way for, sometimes, hours. Since I wasn’t contagious and the symptoms were manageable I was still at work. I found that at first people would look concerned and ask if I was okay, I responded with something like, “Oh, yes, fine, it’s just a medical thing I have going on. Nothing serious.” Pretty quickly word spread (it’s an open office and people overhear things) and it just wasn’t a big deal.

    I had a co-worker who had very sensitive eyes that watered often, and similarly word quickly spread that she wasn’t crying!

  7. Anon1

    For #6, legally the company must meet your province’s labour standard. If it doesn’t, the policy is null and void. Practically, if the company goes under, no money might be left to pay anyone but that is a different issue. Once you get into bankruptcy, the rules change and the bankruptcy trustee and law run the show.

  8. Pandora Amora

    #7 You live in Canada, known as the aww-shucks friendliness capital of the world. Why not just call the person whose number you listed , explain your gaffe, and ask them to redirect callers to your correct number?

    Strangers are much friendlier than we generally expect.

    1. fposte

      I would advise against calling a hiring manager unless it’s been indicated s/he’s okay with calls. Calling is really disruptive. It’s not about whether the person would be friendly, it’s about whether that’s the best way of communicating the information. In general, follow up the way you conveyed the original info.

      1. S.L. Albert

        I think Pandora meant call the number that is the wrong number that the OP provided on the resume and ask said stranger to forward calls to the right number.

  9. AdAgencyChick

    #1: OP, are you the only copywriter in the company? Because my guess is that some other team now needs one too. At any given time, my agency has openings for at least two or three copywriters (and the job description that’s posted is boilerplate, not customized to each team), so that would be my first thought, not “they’re reposting my position.” I’m with Alison — just ask your manager, I bet you’ll be reassured that it’s nothing.

    1. LaRaine

      Thanks for the information. I thought about the human factor as well. I do get along with the higher ups well since I am working with my 3rd supervisor and I am a temporary employee. I worked this long to accomodate a family health issue at the time. I have been afforded wonderful opportunities that I took full advantage of. I do agree with the manager, it is time to move on now that my situation has stablized. Seeing this in black and white puts a whole new outlook on things for me.

      Thanks again.

  10. Brooke

    #2 I have a similar condition, but mine is just a natural condition, not brought on by medicine. When I’m feeling ANY kind of high emotion (really sad, really happy, really mad, really excited…anything), my skin gets red blotches all over my chest, neck, and sometimes on my face. I can’t feel it coming on, but I can see people looking at me strangely, and many times, people will ask me if I’m ok. I just flat out tell them that it’s a condition that I have when I feel high emotions. Then I usually just keep going on with whatever I was saying or doing. In my thinking, this is a way that I can address what other’s see and may be curious or concerned about, but if you put a lot of emphasis on it and talk about it a lot or in great detail, people will think more about it. If you just act like it’s something that’s not a big deal (because it’s not a big deal!) then other’s will treat it like that as well. They will follow your lead. I suggest just a one-word sentence when you feel it needs to be addressed, and then keep moving on with whatever you were saying or doing.

    1. AnotherAlison

      Me too, but it doesn’t have to be due to emotions. If I work out hard or get hot, I turn red. Once I’m already flared up due to exercise or heat, it’s even easier to flush from emotions. Grr. I can feel it coming. I don’t say anything to others, and no one at work has ever said anything to me. I just keep in mind that my face is going to give away if I’m angry or embarrassed.

    2. Jamie

      Yeah – I do something similar, although for me it’s when I’m angry or embarrassed…and I can feel the heat and redness creeping up from my decolletage up my neck, face, to the roots of my hair. I swear my ears turn a shade of red so deep it needs to be seen to be believed.

      It doesn’t happen that often and it is what it is…what sucks is that I stay kind of blotchy for hours after the fact. I never thought of it as a condition – unless that condition is being super pale and lacking lovely flush covering pigment.

      It’s funny, I work with someone else to whom this also happens but she gets embarrassed more easily and often than I …so I can see it start and help her out. Like we weird little signal.

  11. littlemoose

    OP #5, I don’t have much to add to Alison’s advice, but I had to say: your employer/contractor is being RIDICULOUS. Sorry for the yelling, but they’re being so ridiculous that it warranted all-caps. I really hope you are able to get or continue using the chair you need. I cannot possibly imagine why any contractor would care so damn much about what kind of chair an employee was using.

  12. businesslady

    re: #7–back when I was in college I accidentally put my boyfriend’s cellphone number on my resume instead of my own! (it was for a job that was pretty much a long shot anyway, but still–what the heck).

    my excuse was that I was trying to put our shared land-line & I guess I just went with the other number I called the most instead. but I still felt pretty dumb about it.

  13. Jess

    #2 – Maybe I’m just a bit sensitive because I’m shy myself, but is the possibility of being mistaken for “shy or nervous” really that bad? I can see maybe if you’re in sales or something, but I don’t think it should be considered a defect in general, just a personality trait.

    1. Esra

      I think in general people don’t want nervous employees. And even shy, I can’t imagine a position where that would be a desirable trait.

      1. Jamie

        I don’t know – replace nervous and shy with tense and antisocial (they can manifest in similar ways) and it’s worked pretty well for me in IT.

        Half kidding – but being nervous and shy wouldn’t be issues in technical areas where if you’re good enough they don’t care…as long as you can do what you need to do.

      2. Jess

        See, I can think of examples where being too outgoing could also be a drawback (I worked at one place where the human resources lady could absolutely not stand to not be socializing with someone for less than five minutes at a time – forget about getting any work done around her), but I wouldn’t think of being outgoing as a negative trait in general, just a variable amongst human personalities.

        1. Esra

          I’m not saying being shy or nervous will prevent anyone from getting a job, but I can’t ever imagine a job posting where they’re actively looking for those things. Whereas outgoing is something that could be desirable (though, per your example, in moderation).

        2. Jamie

          There are fabulous HR people out there – so I’m not painting everyone with the same brush – but almost every person with whom I’ve worked who has been outgoing to this extreme (the constant need for chatter and companionship) has been in HR.

          I’m lucky we have a great one – but sometimes I’ve wondered if the people who need constant interaction go into HR with the mistaken notion that there will be a lot more human interaction than is generally the case.

          You should be comfortable with people if you’re in HR, but it’s more paperwork than brainstorming sessions.

    2. Lucy

      I think in some roles shy and/or nervous could be a definite negative, for example my job often requires running workshops with large groups of teenagers. I guess I could be shy/nervous but I certainly couldn’t let them see it!

      I also think there’s an element of people associating being flushed with being upset/worried/especially emotional, and the OP is perhaps concerned about being perceived as frequently upset/emotional. Giving that impression could interfere with building relationships at work, which seems to be the OP’s concern.

    3. A Bug!

      Shy or nervous is one thing (although as other commenters have noted, this could be interpreted as standoffish or unfriendly), but a random flushing of the face could give others the incorrect impression that a person is on the verge of tears or otherwise upset. And that could give her a reputation as an emotionally fragile sort, which can be pretty damaging in a professional environment.

      (“Watch what you say around Jane. I told her I ordered a different brand of coffee for the break room and she almost cried!”)

  14. Anonymous

    I get red and flushed at times, and I use green tinted makeup to help camoflage the skin,I also use anti-redness cream, my favorite is
    http://www.mariobadescu.com/Control-Cream
    And I carry a small atonomizer spray bottle with mineral water inside to give my face a little refresher when flushed. Every little bit helps..

    1. A Bug!

      As a person who is basically hopeless in the makeup department, I find green-tinted makeup to be fascinating.

      But if you’re normally a pale person who flushes very red, wouldn’t using green-tinted makeup to counteract the flushing result in a green tinge when you’re not flushing?

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        It’s weird — it doesn’t show up green on your skin. I don’t quite understand how it works, but it does seem to. I’ve used the one by Smashbox and like it.

        1. A Bug!

          The idea of it just blows my mind. I mean, I understand the theory of it, put green on red, cancels out, I get that. But I don’t understand how it could cancel out a spontaneous flush without looking green when the red isn’t there! Makeups! How do they work??

          As far as I’m concerned, makeup is magic and I am resigned to my muggledom.

  15. AB

    OP#3: I deal with lots of people in your situation in one of my online courses (I’ve posted a link to the sales page in my signature only because that page has several links to books that may be of great help to you).

    Leaving this job for another with more prospects of advancement may not help if your problem is that you are not applying one or more of the 9 work strategies identified by Professor Robert Kelley from Carnegie Mellon as essential to top performers. He studied many workplaces with people with excellent technical skills but who were missing something equally important (organizational savvy, initiative taking, etc.). Your manager probably can’t tell what you are missing because it’s not something tangible such as lack of training. Do check out the resources listed, as they have made a tremendous difference for many people facing the same situation you are in.

  16. Jessa

    To number 5 – Now, I’m disabled to the point where I qualify for vocational rehab services in my state. However, this may be something that can be done through your doctor: there are groups that do ergonomic research on stuff like chairs and can fit you for a proper one. You might want to get a referral through some kind of rehab specialist doctor, or someone who fits wheelchairs or orthotics. They can not only evaluate you, they can come up with the EXACT proper model chair for you and the medical rationale for you having it.

    I had to go through this with an incredibly anti-ADA boss who insisted that even though his company OWNED the chair I was sitting in, it was NOT a reasonable accommodation to let me keep it when they changed chairs, company wide, because he thought it looked bad. Even though I worked overnight and was not customer facing at all.

    If your doctor doesn’t know a specialist, call a rehab doctor’s office and ask for a name. Not only will this get you the right paperwork, it will likely get you a FAR better chair that genuinely fits you.

    1. Lisa

      If you get the exact model number, I suggest you buy it yourself and take it with you when you ever leave the job. Save your receipt in your car for if you are ever let go, so that you can get your property back though.

      1. Jessa

        Also if you cannot afford the chair, depending on how bad it makes it for you not to have it, it might qualify as disabled enough to have voc rehab pay for it FOR you. If sitting in a regular chair makes you unable to work. Their mandate is a little different than most organisations. The idea is to keep people AT work and off aid. And that aid includes unemployment.

  17. KayDay

    OMG #5!

    As I first started reading, my thoughts were, “silly OP, why don’t you just grab one of the old chairs, duh!” and then I got to the part where you were made to get a doctors note, and from that point I was thinking maybe you should just tie said contractor to said painful chair and not let them up until they grant you permission to use a decent chair.

    Or you could try kneeling at your desk (bring a pillow for your knees)….maybe once they realize that kneeling on the floor is more comfortable they will let you use the chair.

    Or you could just throw all the new chairs into a lake somewhere….

  18. MM

    #7 – There have been times that I called a candidate for an interview and been unable to reach them by phone (disconnected or wrong number or whatever) and then sent an email instead. If the company is really interested in you, they’ll want to speak with you enough that they’ll use an alternate method to contact you.

    1. Waiting Patiently

      “If the company is really interested in you, they’ll want to speak with you enough that they’ll use an alternate method to contact you.”

      true. Since I rarely apply for positions coupled with the fact I rarely check my home and cell phone voice mails–I almost missed an opportunity to set up an interview. The recruiter was relentless and I apologized to her (after a round of phone tag that day). That day I finally checked my caller id then decided to check my voice mails –after complaining on here how I hadn’t heard anything back from places I’d sent resume and cover letters. She I talked to her on a Friday at 5—she had being trying to set up an interview since that Wed and had left voice mails on my home phone and cell phone.

  19. LCL

    For#5, I would try a different direction for this. It sounds like it has gotten stuck between your manager and the contractor. Since your company is a large national company, you should contact their safety department and tell them the whole story. Someone in their safety and health unit will specialize in this, and will contact your manager.

    Partner and I are both govt employees, and he is taller than you (think basketball player height) and I am tall, and we are both kind of big. It took just 1 request to our respective safety units for reasonable ergo adjustments to be made. (Bigger chairs, adjustable chairs, keyboard tray, desk raised, etc.)

  20. Canuck

    Haha! I should post more Canadian-related comments, see how long of a thread we can get :)

    1. Chriama

      I agree. I always thought I was one of very few Canadian lurkers, but all it takes is one question and we’re crawling out of the woodwork in droves :D

      1. Laura L

        Yes! I love it when you guys crawl out of the wordwork. Canada is so interesting to me as an American.

    2. jubileejones

      Yes please. You even brought me, a perpetual lurker, out of comment hibernation. I was giddy when I saw that not one, but two questions had Canadian references.

  21. nyxalinth

    #5

    Oh god, I have had a similar problem recently. I just left a job (to be honest, it was crappy all around–the ad was misleading about the pay saying 9-11 an hour but the truth was minimum wage with bonuses for each completed phone survey that adds up to 9-11 an hour, no one looked happy to be there when I went in for the interview, they treat people like five year olds even worse than most call centers when it comes to getting up to use the bathroom –they made you sign out and the time was taken out of your pay!–and I ignored all those red flags and my gut “I have a bad feeling about this” feeling because I needed a job and the money) because the chairs there were old, crappy office chairs (wobbly, broken hydraulics so they would sink nearly to the floor and/or wouldn’t go back up) and the desks were just tables with partitions.

    Ergonomics? What’s that? My carpal tunnel started flaring badly, and I would go home barely able to move and get up in worse shape in the morning. I was basically told “Oh, well, that’s just how it is here, we can’t afford to do it differently.” After waking up with a back ache yesterday I called in and told them I wouldn’t be back except to turn in my headset and get my check. Minimum wage isn’t worth the agony, and it was a stern lesson in listening to your gut and acting on any red flags you see!

  22. #5 OP

    This may be solved in the next week, hopefully sooner. There are some very good people on my side at the company I work for so I may not even have to go to the doctor anymore. If I do I would have to go to a specialist that could cost a lot of money. That is why I am leery about going to the doctor. I don’t want to drop a months rent on a doctors appointment that won’t come to anything.

    1. Rana

      I understand, and sympathize. I can’t imagine successfully convincing my insurance plan to cover such a visit, and even then it would just go towards our deductible. It would probably be easier (and cheaper) to do what the one person suggested upthread and just buy your own chair.

  23. Missa

    #7 – I did this recently and didn’t realize it for the longest (eek!) time. I had recently used a resume service to polish my resume (because I wasn’t getting any response, and I wasn’t reading this blog at the time either, ha!) and either *I* put my number wrong on their website’s form or the person transcribed it incorrectly… either way, I take full responsibility for not noticing it. Let’s face it, I should have reviewed it more.
    It’s even more embarrassing to admit that it wasn’t until my contact at a temp agency told me it was wrong that I realized the error! I was absolutely mortified. Luckily for me, we all had a good laugh about it and the poor guy who had the phone number I had had on my resume probably was sick of hearing about this person who needed a job. :) My dad, however, teased me for weeks about it, because I had teased him for the exact same error three years before.
    I try not to think about the “What could have beens…” Those potential interviews (if any) just weren’t meant to be because of my derp moment.

    But it still is kind of funny.

  24. Charis

    #1 sounds like a job I had about 4 years ago. The company had extremely high turnover due to the the fact that the hiring manager/vice president is most likely a sociopath. My official armchair diagnosis is that he wasn’t very well respected growing up and is using his current position to “make up” for that fact in the worst way. Anyway, I was hired as a copywriter for that company. Should have turned the job down when I left the interview in tears, but I accepted it because I was young and naive and had always wanted to be paid for my writing expertise. Worst 6 months of my life. I must have seen at least 10 people come and go in that time (and this is for a company with about 15 total employees). It was a blessing to be fired when the time inevitably came. It’s not like copywriting job postings are exactly rare so your situation may be completely unrelated, but I remember when there started to be talk of a new job posting for copywriters that I was about to be canned. This was after 6 months though, not a week. They may actually be looking to get more people on to help out. It keeps the writing “fresh”.

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