employee won’t repay a loan from a coworker, employer wants references post-hire, and more

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

1. Employee won’t repay a loan from a coworker

I’m a manager in a fairly large corporation and have been having significant issues with a new hire. Without going into much detail, he won’t make it to the end of his probation period. Another employee has come to me for assistance with an issue she’s having with him: apparently he’s been borrowing money from her and is not paying her back. My initial thoughts are that private loans between people outside the office are absolutely none of my business, but she’s an excellent employee and a really lovely (if overly trusting) person to work with overall, and that’s a bad situation for her, so I was hoping you would have suggestions or additional thoughts.

I think your first instinct is the correct one: Private loans between individuals aren’t something that you as an employer should be getting involved with. Although they are a very, very bad idea in the workplace and should probably be discouraged, because you do not want to find yourself in a situation where there’s tension between two GOOD employees over money not being paid back. (And by “should probably be discouraged,” I’m just musing, not suggesting that anyone implement an official rule to police this.)

2. How to thank organizations that helped with our work this summer

I work at a nonprofit that works with people who have disabilities and are interested in entering the workforce. During the summer, one of my main jobs is to find internships for teenagers to get them a little bit of work experience. I basically approach employers in the community and, after about 8 or so, I find one that will take on my students. This summer we worked with 30 different students, and all of the employers have been amazing. I would really like to do something to thank the employers for working with the students and for being as accommodating as they have been.

The past two summers, my supervisor has tried to put together an “Employer Appreciation” wine and cheese event. I originally explained that I didn’t think this was the best way to go. Putting myself in the employers shoes, I would find it more of a hassle to attend an event like that and it hasn’t been popular with the employers the past (as in…not a single employer attending). I think that this year we would be better off with a thank you card, or featuring them in our newsletter or something of that nature. I guess my question is twofold, what would be the best way to discuss this with my supervisor and what do you think the employers would appreciate in the way of a thank you?

If no employers attended past events after being invited, you have the perfect lead-in to raise this with your manager: “Not a single employer has attended when we’ve done these in the past, I suspect because they’re busy and don’t have time or just aren’t interested. This year, I thought we could do X or Y instead.” If your manager still isn’t convinced, you could run a few options by some of the employer contacts you have the best rapport with, so that you have feedback to take to your manager.

For alternatives, featuring the employers in your newsletter (and sending them a copy) is a great idea, because it’s good PR for them. You could also do food gifts (which most people like) with a personalized note about what the experience meant to the students who participated, and/or personalized thank-you notes from the students themselves about what they got out of the experience.

Also, what a cool job.

3. Company wants recommendation letters — on my first day of work

I successfully interviewed with a company and they called me later that day to tell me I got the position and that they would email me the acceptance letter. I received the email, but along with information about my start day, they also requested I bring in 2 reference letters on headed paper.

My first day is in a couple days and I don’t have any saved, scanned letters. I’m also currently in a different country from anyone who could serve as a reference. It seemed strange to me that they would ask for references after officially offering me the position. What would you, as a manager, think if you requested this and your new hire showed up on the first day without these references?

This is a bizarre request. They’ve already hired you — why on earth are the requesting you bring reference letters on your first day? In any case, I’d email your new manager right now and say that you’ll reach out to contacts to get these, but that you don’t have any on hand and people will need time to write them (and you should usually allow 1-2 weeks for that process). It also wouldn’t hurt to add something like, “I wasn’t sure if I correctly understood the request; since I’ve already been hired and have a start date, are these recommendation letters or for some other purpose?”

4. I signed an email to a recruiter with the wrong name

I recently had an interview and I think it went pretty well. I followed up with both the manager and recruiter with thank-you emails. For the one I sent to the manger, it was perfect but in the one I sent to the recruiter, I signed my closing using my middle name, which my family and close friends call me, but this employer knows me and refers to me by my first name. Should I resend the email with the name corrected and if so should I acknowledge the correction or just send it corrected?

The recruiter is currently confused about why your letter is signed with a name she doesn’t recognize, so yes, send an explanation. Don’t resend the email with the name corrected though — that would be weird, like receiving the same message twice. Instead, just send a note saying, “I noticed that I signed this with middle name, which probably confused you — my family calls me Jane, but I use my first name, Petunia, professionally. Sorry for any confusion!” In other words, as is so often the case, just be direct and straightforward.

5. I don’t want my name or photo on my employer’s website

I read your post about work emails having the sender’s photo and agree that there is not a need for this. However, I am concerned about the fact the there are HIPAA Laws (for privacy) and our employer can just post our pictures on the company website. If I use Linkedin or Facebook, that is my choice.

I do happen to have people who I am avoiding who now can Google my name and find out where I work and what I do, which means they could be waiting for me in the parking lot, wathching me, and etc. I do not find this safe nor professional of my company to put me out there like that. Do I really have to go to my employer and explain why I do not want my name or picture on the website? And can they choose to terminate my employment over it?

Well, first of all, HIPAA governs what information medical professionals can release about you; it has nothing to do with the workplace. There are no laws preventing employers from listing employee names on their website, along with photos, if they choose to.

That said, if you object to this for privacy reasons, you can certainly talk to your employer about it. While technically they could fire you over that, it’s incredibly unlikely that that would happen; this isn’t the sort of thing that people usually get fired over. Most employers will be willing to work with you to resolve it, particularly if you have concerns about a stalker or other safety situation. (If it’s just “I don’t want to be listed,” you may be out of luck, particularly if they have an employee directory online or something like that.) But yes, in order to get this changed, you would indeed have to go speak with them, since they have no other way of knowing you object.

6. Asking to be kept in mind for future openings

Right now, I’m in the process of writing what I’m hoping is a gracious response to a rejection email, and following your advice I’m definitely going to ask for feedback. However, I was wondering if it would be too pushy/selfish to also ask the hiring manager to keep me in mind for future openings, as everything I learned about the company during the interviews makes me want to work for them even more. Is it too much to essentially ask them for two favors when they just rejected me and it’s also been very obvious to me throughout this process just how busy and fast-paced their work is (every point in the timeline they gave me ended up being pushed back, usually until I contacted them to ask about it, because of extra work, deadlines, or issues in the field)?

No, that’s fine to do and not too pushy. You’re not asking her to keep your resume on their desk and look at it weekly, after all — or at least she’s not going to take it that way. You’re basically expressing interest in being considered in the future, which isn’t really asking a favor — it’s just a sign of continued interest. (Relatedly, you should continue to check their job openings yourself; don’t assume she will remember to reach out to you proactively. Hiring managers don’t always remember to, even when you’re a good candidate, particularly when they’re dealing with lots of applicants.)

7. Explaining a career transition in my cover letter

My question is related to career changes. I have been in the finance industry for the past 10 years and especially hated the past 3 years and have always wanted to work in the nonprofit/public policy sector and have decided to start applying for jobs in that sector. How can I address this in my cover letter? Right now I am mentioning that I can translate the same skill set from finance to this new sector but is there something more I should mention in my cover letter that this is clearly a career transition?

You should be explicit that you’re actively looking to make this transition (so it doesn’t just look like you’re applying for everything you see) and why. Luckily, finance skills are easily transferrable from one sector to another, though, so you’re not facing the same sorts of obstacles that someone who wanted to change from, say, accounting to communications would face.

{ 182 comments… read them below }

  1. A Teacher*

    As a state licenses athletic trainer with a medical background I find it odd that people still don’t know what HIPAA is. Maybe it’s just my medical background but you sign enough privacy notices as medical offices that I thought most people knew what it was…of course I had high school kids thinking the CIA or FEMA oversaw HIPAA last year too…

    1. Legal Eagle*

      I only learned what HIPAA was after working in a medical lab. The default is that people have no idea what the law is.

    2. liz*

      I think people sort of know what it is; something that protects their privacy. They just assume that applies to more people and situations that actually does. It is surprising, but I’ve worked in healthcare so I have a different perspective.

      1. Natalie*

        And conversely, they miss things that are actually in the law – health insurance portability.

        Poor, misunderstood HIPAA.

        1. louise*

          And not only misunderstood; too often misspelled! I worked in healthcare for 5+ years and was shocked at how many of my co-workers insisted upon spelling it HIPPA. No, people, it stands for something.

    3. Lillie Lane*

      Not related to HIPAA, but on the topic of “things people don’t know”….last week, my coworker asked her college student kids what Independence Day was for….she was appalled when one didnt know and the other thought that it was a celebration of the end of slavery. *facepalm*

      1. Loose Seal*

        Also not related to HIPAA but in the same vein as Lillie Lane…a friend’s high school Senior asked her why Black people didn’t get off work on Black Friday (for those not living in the U.S., Black Friday is nickname for the day after Thanksgiving, when lots of people do their Christmas shopping). She asked him why he thought they should have the day off and he replied, “Isn’t that the day they got their freedom?”

        1. Sourire*


          Though I have to admit I didn’t have a clue what Juneteenth was for the longest time, so perhaps I’m not much better.

            1. Sourire*

              It’s a celebration of the emancipation of slaves that is held on June 19th, not to be confused with emancipation day.

              1. Anonymous*

                In Texas. In Texas the slaves were not informed until June 19th 1865 of the emancipation proclamation.

                1. Sourire*

                  Yes, but it is celebrated nationally (or in almost all of the states). That is why I said it shouldn’t be confused with Emancipation Day. Unless you meant to respond to the post below me :)

              1. Sourire*

                Combo of June and nineteenth. Though not the best choice of combination if we’re being honest, because it could really be any day between June 13th and 19th, just going by the name.

        2. mollsbot*

          Also not related to HIPAA but a story like Lillie Lane and Loose Seal (great name!!)

          I have a pal that went on and on about how much the Indians get in college scholarships and grants. It took me a second to realize he was talking about Native Americans. When someone said something along the lines of “well, it’s a way of saying ‘sorry’ for how the Native Americans were treated” he looked at them with a blank stare and said “huh what do you mean?”


      2. Anonymous*

        I was a tourist over the fourth of July. Apparently the tour guide has asked in the past what we are celebrating on Independence Day or who won the Revolutionary War? Worst answer to both of these – The British.

        Arrgg! The Americans won the war; we get write the history. British were the bad guys!

        1. Jamie*

          When I was 16 I spend July 4th in the UK – talk about a subdued celebration. Couldn’t find a rocket pop to save our lives. :)

          Now I work the 4th every year and just try to get home before dark so I can make it to the expressway without getting bottle rockets shot at my car or firecrackers tossed under the under carriage when I’m at a light…or guns being fired into the air.

          I prefer subdued.

          1. A Dispatcher*

            Amen. July 4th and New Years are the worst days of the year for me (police dispatch). Yes, I know it’s late; Yes, I know your neighbors (and mine, and everyone elses’) are setting off fireworks; Yes I know fireworks are illegal in our state. I do not have 10,000 officers to dispatch to each and every firework complaint.

          2. Chinook*

            No celebrations in the UK on July 4th by Yanks? That sounds about right – who in their right mind would celebrate winning a war in the loser’s country. That would be like Canadians holding mini-celebrations on the front lawn of White House to celeberate the 100th anniversary of winning the War of 1812. ;)

            1. Jamie*

              Yeah – I didn’t mean to imply they should have had a fireworks display for us or anything. :)

              It was just one of those interesting moments we have when we’re young and seeing the bigger world for the first time…an awareness that things aren’t the same everywhere. Had you asked me as a kid in the US if the UK celebrated the 4th of course I’d have said no, and thought it was absurd…but being there just drove the point home in a profound way.

            2. Felicia*

              I loved the 200th anniversary celebrations of the war of 1812 last year, but fireworks on the lawn of the White House would have been way cooler. We don’t celebrate the 4th in Canada, but as teh 1st is Canada Day you could find fireworks here :)

          3. the gold digger*

            I went to a museum in Bristol – I think it was about England and her colonies – and the US revolution was presented as a bunch of rabble-rousers who didn’t want to pay the taxes to support the British army fighting the Native Americans on the frontier.

        2. FiveNine*

          I just went to see the Star Spangled Banner at the Smithsonian and the adult woman behind me said to her friend, “Remind me again” what it had to do with anything U.S.-history related.

          1. Windchime*

            Hey, I just saw The Star Spangled Banner a couple of days ago, too. Wasn’t it beautiful?

      1. fposte*

        Right. I think this relates to the “Why do people think these things are illegal?” question in the previous post. People know there’s a law about privacy, people think this is unfair or inappropriate, and they then extrapolate to thinking that this is the law that says it’s unfair or inappropriate.

        1. CoffeeLover*


          After taking a legal class I really start to realize how little power the legal system has in practical settings. Being in Canada, I learned a) how little money you can get for suing if you win anything at all b) it will take you years to get the case anywhere c) claiming you’ll take it all the way to the supreme court is completely baseless and d) our laws are COMPLETELY different than the U.S.

          After learning the last one, I’m surprised when people write in to Alison from a different country asking if x is legal. The U.S. laws, especially on employment, are quite different from most other countries (the employer has way too much power IMO in the U.S.).

          1. Portia de Belmont*

            Correct on all the above. Most awards from lawsuits are swallowed by attorneys’ fees and other court costs, unless you are lucky enough to get them awarded as well, which is getting increasingly rare. As my first attorney boss liked to say, when you file a lawsuit, you need to understand that they move like glaciers, not Nascar. The Supreme Court selects the cases they hear very carefully; I think I remember hearing that it’s like 3 or 4% of the cases submitted to them.

            And yes, in the US, employers hold almost all the power. (Shakes the AAM Magic 8-Ball and it says, well, you can guess…)

            1. Ruffingit*

              It’s even less than 3-4% for the US Supreme Court. They receive approximately 10,000 requests a year to hear cases. Of those, they will hear about 75-80.

              And I love what your boss said about glaciers vs. NASCAR. So, so true!

          2. Felicia*

            I’m Canadian too and I know a lot of people who get their legal information from Law and Order and end up not understanding the criminal law that actually applies to them, because they get it all from American TV. For example, we don’t have the right to remain silent in quite the same way

            The biggest difference I’ve seen is that in Canada we don’t have “at will employment” which AAM frequently references. I kind of assumed we did too from reading this blog until I googled it and found it’s considered a foreign concept here. I wish I knew of somewhere easy to understand like here where I can find responses to the “is it legal?” questions from a Canadian perspective.

            1. Sourire*

              Law and Order often has very little to do with how the actual criminal justice and legal systems work in the US as well. Entertaining, yes. A big old pain in the behind for people in the legal and CJ professions, also yes. Though it’s no where near as bad an offender as CSI.

              1. Portia de Belmont*

                That’s funny! On the first day of Paralegal School, the teacher asked us to identify by show of hands how many of watched Law & Order every week. Those who did (about half the room, myself included) got a one question oral pop quiz. Mine was “what is a motion in limine?”. Most of us got it right!

              2. Ruffingit*

                CSI is completely ridiculous in so many ways, it just makes me want to cry sometimes as a member of the legal profession.

                1. Chinook*

                  Hey, everything I ever learned about military rank structure I learned from M*A*S*H ;)

                2. A Dispatcher*

                  I want to hunt down and smack Anthony Zuiker and Jerry Bruckheimer (creator and producer, respectively) every time someone calls the police and whines/swears at or threatens to fire me because we won’t come out and fingerprint the rock someone threw through their window or do a trace DNA test on their clothing because a stranger in a bar shoved them.

                3. KellyK*

                  Could be worse. Most of what I learned about military rank structure I learned from watching Star Trek (Starfleet’s structure is based pretty closely on Navy ranks).

              3. Lexy*

                My husband is an attorney and hates all courtroom dramas/crime procedurals. I *love* them (obviously, with the understanding they are not accurate). But can’t watch them in his presence as he is just *INSUFFERABLE* about how inaccurate they are.

                1. Elizabeth West*

                  I nearly died of disgust when I watched “The Bone Collector,” with Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie. That scene with the body in the sewer cuffed to the pipe was so wrong. I almost turned off the movie right there. Thinking about it now, I wish I had. What a waste of time…. :P

            2. Chinook*

              I too am surprised by how many Canadians think are laws are exactly like the US. You would think the fact that anytime you go to court you are being charged by “The Crown” would be a sign that we do things differently.

              Here is somethign I learned only since DH became a member of the police force in red serge. In rural parts of the country (i.e. places without daily access to judges for criminal proceedings), the RCMP officer who arrests you may also act as the Crown Prosecutor for the bail hearing with a judge in another town over closed circuit tv. (i.e. If this were Law & Order, this would be like Lenny Briscoe acting like Ben Stone.) So, if you are arrested, you really don’t want to tick off the cop otherwise you may not get to go home anytime soon!

              1. Felicia*

                I used to be a little guilty of that assumption, but I’ve never been to court or really had any interactions with the police so all my knowledge is theoretical. Even in a big city with its own police force (I’m in Toronto so as big as it gets) everything is much different.

                Canadian Law and Order would sound more like “In the criminal justice system, the Crown is represented by two separate yet equally important groups: the Mounted Police who investigate crime and the Public Prosecutors who prosecute the offenders. These are their stories.”

                1. Portia de Belmont*

                  I’d love to see a Law & Order: Toronto. One of my favorite shows set in my favorite city!

                2. Jessa*

                  Would be cool. Have you seen Law and Order UK? They show it in the US on the Beeb America channel. Very neat. But I’d LOVE to see LO/Toronto. That’d be so much fun.

      2. KayDay*

        Agreed. I actually think that because people fill out so, so many HIPPA forms, they think the law is much broader than it is.

    4. Xay*

      I didn’t understand HIPAA until I attended a HIPAA training. I’m not sure what consumer friendly training/information there is about HIPAA other than the standard document that they give the doctor’s office.

      1. perrik*

        Information for consumers:

        The short version in brochure form:

        FYI, most folks think HIPAA = privacy, but that’s just part of it. The full name of the act is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, and it encompasses a bunch of administrative and security changes as well as the Privacy Rule that limits how covered entities can disclose protected health information.

        Just because patients sign the HIPAA form doesn’t mean they actually understand what it covers. Or that they even read it.

    5. Kelly O*

      I worked at a university with a hospital and medical school when the HIPAA law was passed, and we went through a ton of training, especially at a central administration level, because we had a little of everything, so the decision was made to be HIPAA-compliant across all areas even though some groups really didn’t have anything.

      You would not believe the people who got even more confused by that and thought anything privacy-related was a HIPAA issue. No, we’re just taking extra steps to ensure we’ve done all we can.

      1. fposte*

        Oh, similar things happen to me–because my university has to do so much stuff because of state law, I’ve wrongly assumed some policies are state law when they’re not.

    6. Elizabeth*

      When I worked for a network of physicians I found out first-hand how little people understood HIPAA. Once I got screamed at by a woman when I called her to tell her that the doctor she wanted to transfer to (her old doctor had retired) was not accepting new patients. I offered to help her pick a different doctor in the network, and said something like, “I see in your chart that you live in X suburb; Doctor Y is in your area.” Cue rage: “You’re looking at my chart? You’re not allowed to look at my chart! HIPAA MAKES IT ILLEGAL FOR YOU TO LOOK AT MY CHART! ONLY THE DOCTOR CAN LOOK AT MY CHART!”

      It took a callback from my manager to calm her down and explain to her that, as a HIPAA-trained employee of the organization, I indeed was allowed to look at the relevant portions of her chart – such as, say, the cover sheet with her phone number on it. I guess this woman thought that doctors do all their own copying, filing, etc…

      1. Ruffingit*

        I hope you referred her to a good psychiatrist. Sounds like she needs one with that kind of out of control rage.

  2. Mary-Lynn*

    For Question #2 – what about taking out an ad in the local newspaper from your organization thanking the (listed below) local businesses for participating in your program? It gives them a broader recognition and some free advertising and I can’t imagine a local business that would object to it (though you may want to ask or run it by them). As someone who tries to support local businesses I’d take notice of that and those would rise to the top of my list if I were interested in their services.

    1. Nicky*

      Similarly OP#2, could your organization perhaps come up with a ‘official’ logo or badge that participant employers can use on their own communications? For instance when companies sponsor a big event, they’re sometimes sent a logo that they can use in communications or adverts to advertise their involvement. “Proud Supporter Of Op#2’s Non-Profit” or something like that. This would probably be more attractive to the companies that tend to sponsor things/go in for business awards, but everyone likes to blow their own trumpet!

    2. Daisy*

      Or even ask a reporter from the paper if they wanted to do a piece on it. I see that kind of thing in my local paper all the time- ‘local teens enter workforce’ or whatever. (Of course that’s probably dependent on some of the students being willing to have a photo taken.)

      1. Lillie Lane*

        Oooo, great idea. Good exposure for the businesses, and I bet most kids/parents would love being featured in the story (with permission of course).

        Plus you will get advertising for the program and you could ask the reporter to write up a last sentence with your contact info in case other businesses are willing to cooperate next year.

      2. RB*

        This is what many non-profits do here. A press release with a picture of the CEO or other staff that assisted is sent out describing their good works on behalf of the charity or community service.

        Businesses understand the benefit and good will it can create for their company. It helps with recruiting, team building and positive customer impact. You can’t put a price on that.

        1. Runon*

          I’d very much recommend a press release with information. (And next year you could do a set of them, one at the start, at least one with a featured business/teen partnership, and one at the end). The little local presses are often interested in this kind of story, and you can send the release to some blogs that relate to your area of interest as well.

          If your boss really wants to do something physical for the businesses you could do a delivered gift bag (and you or the lead on this could deliver it to help build that rapport and make sure they are in again for next year) with something very simple (buy from those local businesses! do NOT buy from their competitors, they will know) and a certificate or note of appreciation.

      3. Kay (OP #2)*

        I love this idea, I wish I knew the best way to implement it. Would it work to reach out to the local papers?

        1. Lillie Lane*

          You might want to see if you can use your network to contact someone at the newspapers directly, like a reporter or editor. Or a local news station that likes to do positive human interest pieces. I used to work for a non-profit and we would send out press releases, but they just wouldn’t “stick” and we rarely had anyone follow up on the story or even print a blurb. This may have been my area, though. Others may have had better luck with just press releases.

        2. Kiribitz*

          It wasn’t unusual for org’s in my last town to send a letter to the editor of the smaller 2x weekly paper as a thank you to the community for supporting the event, in it they also acknowledged the volunteers and/or sponsors individually (volunteers sometimes by group if that was less unwieldy) for making it possible.

      4. Anonymous*

        That’s a great idea. Search around to figure out which reporters cover these kinds of feel-good/community stories.

    3. Anonymously Anonymous*

      All great responses here. Also you can create some type of certificate they can display in their office or lobby area.
      Also do you take pictures of the students while they are working there? This can be included in a press release or included with the thank you note.
      In the past, whenever I asked companies to donate things to us, I follow up with a thank you card and pictures from the event.

      1. Kay (OP #2)*

        I started taking pictures of the students this summer and I was thinking that including a page on our website with the employer’s names might be the way to go.

        I love the idea of including the student in the press release although I’m worried that employers (or students) would be offended if they were not spotlighted. I can’t figure out how to condense all 30 students enough to include all of them in the release.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Do you have a communications department where you work? If so, they should be able to help you pitch it to the press.

          If not, though, you definitely don’t want to include 30 people (or even 5) in the release — you want to think like a reporter and what will catch their eye. Probably just a quick overview of the program, what local employers participated, what kind of work students did — keep it brief (less than a full page). Reporters who are interested you will contact you for more information, and that’s when you can start getting specific about students.

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Also, keep in mind that students and employers probably won’t see the press release. The release is just to pitch it to the media, who would then write their own stories (if interested).

          (Caveat: Some very small papers and blogs will sometimes reprint releases word-for-word. But if you’re dealing with those, you could simply reach out personally to pitch the story rather than doing a mass release.)

          – former communications director

          1. Kay (OP #2)*

            I hadn’t thought of that, basically a highlights pitch to get their attention.

            We do have a communications department. The only issue is that they don’t proofread what they send out. Would it be stepping on too many toes if I wrote the piece and sent it to them?

            (Itwas the invitations for the previous employer events that read “Your invited” and “Employeer recognition Receiption”)

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              I don’t think that would be stepping on toes at all! (In fact, it would be if you sent it out without checking with them, so it’s good to coordinate with them.)

            2. Susan*

              You have a communications department that doesn’t proofread? Please hire me. I write AND I proof.

          2. Anonymously Anonymous*

            ++ Agreeing. I was coming to say that the students won’t see the press release. Plus I’d doubt they would get offended if they aren’t a part of the picture. Your audience will be the larger community. Not to discredit the students.

            *Try to capture that one really good picture of one kid at their job site and maybe a group photo (if you can).

        3. Tasha*

          Speaking as a recently-graduated student and the subject of several human interest stories, reporters sometimes frame an article around one or two people with unusual backgrounds. Featuring many more just gets unwieldy. At least in my experience, reasonable people don’t get offended: their reactions range from “good for you” to “better you than me.” :-)

          1. Anonymously Anonymous*

            “At least in my experience, reasonable people don’t get offended: their reactions range from “good for you” to “better you than me.”.. ”

            I use to organize college tours for high school kids and whenever I pulled out the camera– more than a few dodged it!

    4. COT*

      I also want to second Alison’s suggestion about personal notes from the teens themselves. Any employer willing to participate in this program would be really moved to know that it’s making a real difference. Regardless of what else you do, make sure employers get those notes!

      Also, you could add a social media component. It could be as simple as a photo album on your org’s Facebook page showing each teen in action at work and highlighting their employers, or using quotes from the teens’ thank-you notes. If you’ve got the time and skills to do more, what about a video showing a teen, their employer, and the benefits both of them received? It could double as a great marketing tool to engage more employers next year.

      1. CoffeeLover*

        The personal notes are a win-win because you can teach the students how to properly express their gratitude in a professional setting and how to write semi-formal business communications. :).

        1. IronMaiden*

          I love these suggestions. I feel more inclined to use businesses that support community projects/teams/initiatives and anything that brings this to my attention is a great form of advertising.

          I like the idea of the students writing and/or making a video presentation for social media about the benefits of the relationship with their employer.

          1. Anonymously Anonymous*

            Same here. Some stores display this type stuff in their customer service desk area. I love reading the thank you notes, appreciation certificates, and looking at artwork and pictures from community projects they helped support.

  3. Mike C.*

    Regarding OP #3:

    I’ll just keep this short. screw letters of recommendation.

    “Yes, I’d be more than happy to bother close colleagues of mine to drop whatever it is that they’re doing to write out a letter which could be better replaced by a phone call.”

    And on the first day? If they do drug screenings, I hope they saved a test for the hiring manager…

    1. Steve G*

      Ha! I call my niece Petunia because when she was a pudgy baby my sister used to dress her in those little shoes that I remember Porky Pigs girlfriend petunia used to wear. I was dying laughing when I saw that name used,

  4. Anonymous*

    OP5, I am an attorney working at a law firm and we have the same thing (our names and office contract information on the website). Most firms also have photos and I’ve always wondered about the safety aspects of it. I guess the problem for lawyers is that (at least in my state, and I suspect in most, if not all others) I am required to register periodically and provide my business address for a publicly searchable database. It’s very easy to find me and that is a bit scary if I think about it. I would hope that a request to be removed for safety reasons would be honored but I would note that in my industry (and probably in several others) it might be more problematic than in others. I’ve noticed that this less common for other types of employers, so my lawyer friends who work for companies or the government can’t be found on their employers’ websites (but then again, they can be found on the court system’s website). I guess the bottom line is there may be good reasons to have a person’s information online but the availability to the entire world is scary and I hope that your employer would understand your desire not to be listed, especially if you explain that it is for safety/privacy reasons.

    1. Legal Eagle*

      This was my thought as well. Know your industry. When I see an attorney without a picture on a law firm website, I start to question why. (“Did they just get hired? Are they not a real associate or partner?”)

      1. Bwmn*

        Completely agree about knowing your industry. I’m in a nonprofit industry overseas where for an assortment of political issues connected to my sector and transparency, it is the norm to list employee information on the website. It is such the norm that no one would think to ask an employee before putting the information up.

        If an employee had a serious reason for privacy concerns, then I believe most employers would be understanding. However just saying “I’d like to opt out of the website for privacy concerns” I really don’t see being enough for an employer. Given the standards of our industry, most directors would need to know more before taking that step.

        1. Chinook*

          I agree that it is so normal to have employee photos on a website that, if you have legit safety concerns, you will probably have to give some details about the why. It woul also be good to point out that, if you are worried about being confronted at work, this would also cause issues of general workplace safety (ex. Crazy ex-husband showing up with a gun at the office puts more than you in danger).

          I would think this is something best brought to the attention of H.R. as they may already have a policy in place for it and should know who else to give a heads up to (building security, receptionist who should be cautious about someone coming to see you without a meeting, etc. )

          1. Jazzy Red*

            “Crazy ex-husband showing up with a gun at the office ”

            That’s the first thing I thought of. Some people have very good reasons for wanting to keep a low profile.

    2. A teacher*

      Most professions where you are required to be licensed and that has a searchable database would give your address. My athletic training license, my sister’s nursing license, my friend’s cosmetology license, etc…all are registered and searchable in the State of Illinois

    3. dejavu2*

      In my state, you have to list an address in the public attorney registry even if you are unemployed… which meant I had to have my home address listed while I searched for work after graduating in the horrific legal economy two years ago. Talk about invasion of privacy. Luckily, I am of no consequence to anyone deranged.

      1. Dorothy Lawyer*

        This is a good use for P.O. Boxes — if someone deranged is interested in where you live, use a P.O. Box.

  5. Jessa*

    #2, in addition to all the ideas that everyone else has come up with, I know that when I was working at the answering service and we had students working with us (some disabled, some not,) we did appreciate thank you notes from them as well (if this is within the capabilities of your client base that is.) A note saying “thank you for the experience doing x I hope to get work doing y thanks to you,” is a very nice thing to get.

    We also did a cookout WITH our student employees on our end. So maybe something like a get together that includes them might be something your participating employers might like.

    But then we had an owner who was a grill fiend and we had a property that had a back parking lot where he parked a really nice grill wagon.

    1. Chinook*

      I think any thank you for employers taking on employees should include the whole company because you wouldn’t know who it was that impacted, positively and negatively, by them. Food for the breakroom and a certificate for them to post would be a great idea as well as a thank you ad in the newspaper.

      1. AnonHR*

        Our company partners with a number of charities and employees are able to volunteer with any of them during work hours. When the company gets thank you cards, newsletters, and photos, they are put out in the common break room, I love to see them. Individual volunteers occasionally get them as well, and I see them pinned up in a lot of cubicles (including mine). Genuine gratitude goes a long way!

        1. Shoshie*

          My lab gives occasional tours to school classes and we host students from other institutions every summer. We always appreciate personal thank you notes from the students! One postdoc was particularly delighted by receiving a package of peanut butter cups, her afternoon pick-me-up snack that summer. That sort of inexpensive, personalized gift is a lot nicer, I think, than an invitation to an event.

          1. Chinook*

            My mother’s store in a small town does up gift baskets where people can bring in other items (or she is willing to buy them from other local business if she doesn’t carry those particular products) and they are always a hit as thank you gifts because she often knows who they are gonig to and can personalize it to their tastes. She has also been known to give it at cost, or even free, to non-profits because she knows it is going to a good cause, is thanking others for helpign that cause and it is a good way to help promote her business.

  6. Not So NewReader*

    OP3- The times I have seen this belated request is because of company policy or legal regulations that state the employer must demonstrate some attempt at checking into a person’s background. The oddest one I have seen was an employer that asked AFTER several years of employment. I guess they really needed that paperwork on file.

    OP1- Even if there is no company policy in place-you can tell the good employee that it is just good practice not to make loans at work. Companies are not responsible for private transactions. This is tough because of desire to help the good employee. Kind of the same desire that got her into trouble in the first place. This works into leadership by example- you can’t help her, nor should she be helping others to this degree. You can encourage her to follow your example for her own “financial safety”.

    OP5. I am not sure what industry you are in. However, please take heart, most people do not pay attention to employee photos on line. I was very skeptical about this, myself. But I later found out that hardly anyone takes the time to go through all the photos. It worked into a non-issue. This might be the case for you, too.

    1. Katie the Fed*

      I’ll notice if there’s a group picture on the home page and everyone in it is a middle aged white man. And it definitely does happen.

        1. Felicia*

          The OP mentioned concerns about someone Googling them specifically, so I imagine if they’re Googling that specific person, then they’re going to see their specific photo. When I google myself, I can find pictures of myself, and staff listings tend to be the easiest place to find pictures when you’re googling someone.

          1. Glennis*

            I have a colleague who has had some trouble with a cyber stalking situation – second hand, this person’s significant other is the stalker’s fixation – and my colleague has asked that his/her name not be added to the company website. I only learned about this because I was the webmaster – while our company policy doesn’t really address this, we agreed because this person’s job wasn’t something where it would be necessary to make it public.

            I never thought about it much but for my colleague it has been very frightening.

      1. Chinook*

        I would be careful about judging a company because there are only middle-aged white men on home page. When i worked for an IT company, 10 out of 10 were white and I was the only woman but most of the employees were immigrants (from Eastern Europe) and English was not the mother tongue of most of them. When my emplyer asked if he was racist/sexist in his hiring, I pointed out that he can’t hire someone if they don’t apply and I saw the resumes and few women applied and we couldn’t tell the cultural background of someone until we saw them in person.

        And when you looked at the make up of the partners at the accounting firm I worked at, they were all older white men except for one older woman. But, considering that was the cultural makeup of the community until approx. 10-20 years ago, that makes sense because making partner takes time and the more junior employees came from a range of cultural backgrounds and this would be reflected in the partners 5-10 years from now as well

        1. Elizabeth*

          Depending on the company, I think that “We can’t hire them if they don’t apply” isn’t always good enough. Broadening the way in which the company does recruiting can broaden the applicant pool. For example, does the company do recruiting events at only rich private colleges, or state schools as well? Are all the job fairs the company has a booth at in mostly white parts of town? Supporting women and minorities who are at the company already can also change the applicant pool, as the company can get a reputation as a friendlier place to work.

          I don’t believe that hiring decisions should be based on race or gender, but if your applicant pool has decidedly different demographics than the population at large in your area, it’s worth looking at why that is. Not just for the sake of “not being racist/sexist,” but because having diverse points of view can strengthen a company. (Case in point: I think that LEGO might do a better job of selling their toys to girls if they had more than *zero* women in executive roles at the company.)

    2. OP1*

      This is OP1.

      That’s pretty much what I initially told her – really, in practical terms, there’s not much else to say and it really isn’t my place to do anything. It’s just a bad situation for her.

      She also has a history of being too trusting/having questionable judgement (and she is really quite young), so I’ve tried to give general advice: it’s a good idea to keep things separate between work and home, involving money in your relationships with colleagues is complicated and you have no guarantee they’ll pay you back, etc. Any general advice that would be applicable/might help her would be really welcome, at this point!

      1. COT*

        If she’s not getting your gentle advice (and it’s affecting her work performance) maybe you need to be more direct or specific: “I’d really like you to stop lending money to coworkers because it has become a workplace distraction in the past. If someone is bothering you about a loan and you’re having a hard time saying no, please come to me and we can brainstorm some approaches you can use.”

      2. Sourire*

        It’s not really your problem to deal with as her boss (imo), because most of these issues sound like personal ones, but if you feel comfortable being a bit of a personal mentor as opposed to a professional one, that’s up to you.

        If she’s too trusting and a bit naive, it’s likely that the only thing that is going to change that is getting burned a few times. People can sit down and talk to her all day long about how there are just some bad apples out there, but if she has on rose colored glasses, it probably won’t sink in. A good bit of advice someone (maybe you, maybe not, because again, this is more something a friend or parent should probably address with her) regarding loans is to never give loans to friends (coworkers included in this) or family without being okay with just letting that money go. If you start off with the mentality that it is more of a gift, there are no hard feelings or ruined relationships over it, and if it is paid back, it’s a great bonus.

      3. CoffeeLover*

        You should have a setting professional boundaries conversation with her. Both because she lent this guy money and because she came to you expecting you to rectify the situation. Take about how as a professional, she is expected to manage her own relationships with colleagues. You can’t tell her what she can and can’t do in her personal time (re: whether or not she lends money), but you can stress (as you’re doing) how that can make managing relationships at work harder.

        1. IronMaiden*

          Perhaps you could refer her to the “Boundaries” series of books by Drs John Townsend and Henry Cloud.

      4. LCL*

        Tell her to go to the Captain Awkward blog and read every post for basic how to say no advice. The blog isn’t safe for work because of some of the subjects and language, but the author is excellent and insightful, and easily found by typing ‘Captain Awkward’ into her browser.

      5. Natalie*

        I wonder if she feels uncomfortable turning people down. I know when I was young, I hadn’t really mastered the polite-but-firm decline. If that’s the case, some wording suggestions may help. One of my favorites from Miss Manners is applicable to almost everything: “No, I’m afraid that won’t be possible.” Repeat ad infinitum.

        1. Rose*

          It would be helpful for her manager to offer to back her up when she says no, if the “bad employee” tries to retaliate in any way. I was once asked by a repeat customer to use my personal cell phone and I told him no. He took offense, and went out of his way to make my life miserable any way he could. Having someone with more authority tell him he was being inappropriate would’ve been really helpful– maybe the manager could also talk to the bad employee?

      6. EngineerGirl*

        I’m concerned that the other employee was badgering her about money. Yes, professional boundaries need to be enforced and the good worker (for her own sanity) needs to learn to say no nicely ( and hold to that). I am concerned that there was some bullying going on due to the other issues the bad employee had. In that case I might encourage her to come forward with the unprofessional behaviors. But only after she’s tried on several occasions to stop it herself.

  7. Anonymously Anonymous*

    #2 kudos to the work you’re doing. My kids got summer jobs through something like this. They are in “training” this week and yesterday the employers came to interview them. They have been so excited all week but yesterday took the cake.

    1. Kay (OP #2)*

      Thank you so much. Honestly it’s the kids and the employers who really make programs like this one sing. It’s a lot of fun.

  8. Cali7*

    #5: If you aren’t talking about an required or industry listing on the website (like the comments above), but more of a “photos of what we do” situation or informal staff listing, why don’t you just informally, and politely of course, contact your webmaster or webmistress? It may not even be necessary to make this an official request to your boss or the company. I maintain our website, and just assume that mission related pictures of staff (which most of the time are forwarded to me by staff) are fair game to go in the revolving slideshow, department pages, newsletter, social media presence, etc. If, however, a staff member told me they never wanted to be pictured because they were concerned or avoiding someone, or even if they asked me to neglect to list their name anywhere as staff for these reasons, then I would just do it and it wouldn’t have to be a big deal (unless a superior happened to question it, at which point I would tell them about the request and let them work it out). There’s a chance this doesn’t have to be a big issue involving many people, just talk to the person who actually places your picture on the site and ask if they would mind not doing so. (This of course doesn’t apply if it’s a company wide requirement, industry requirement etc.)

  9. ExceptionToTheRule*

    OP #5 – please share your specific concerns with your employer. The type of crazy behavior you’re describing isn’t just a threat to you, it’s a threat to everyone and the company would want to know about that potential security issue.

    1. LisaLyn*

      Yes, I agree. Many people who haven’t been in a situation like that don’t understand, but posting photos and information online can cause serious trouble. I get a lot of questions about why I’m not on Facebook. Well, there are reasons for that. I wish there weren’t, but it’s reality.

      1. A teacher*

        I wish my school district agreed. Like I said above, because I have a state medical license you can look me up online although my address is blocked but for the district I teach in they want a picture of each teacher on the classroom website, a bio, school listings, and other personal information.

    2. Anonymous*

      Yup, agreed. Due to some similar issues in my past, I’m another one who tends to be hyper vigilant about where my name and photo get used online where I can. I did push back against this at my previous workplace by explaining my concerns to my supervisor and ultimately got my info kept off the site. I think just saying “I don’t want to be on the website” is easily dismissed as being shy or not wanting people to see a profile picture you hate, unfortunately, so bringing your specific concerns to your employer are likely to be taken more seriously.

  10. LisaLyn*

    OP#7, I think going from the private sector to non-profit after 10 years is a fairly common thing, so yeah, address it as AAM suggests but I wouldn’t worry about it at all. They’re going to be used to it! Good luck!

  11. Anonymous*

    I seriously feel like I might have this issue soon:

    I’m a part time intern. I’m reaching work now and feel really bad (stomach pain) so I might have to leave work early if it doesn’t get better (which it might).

    What do you say/ask to leave an internship early?
    Is it really bad for an intern to do this? It’s not an internship that leads to a job

    1. Chinook*

      If you are having stomach pain that doesn’t feel right (ie you are pretty sure it isn’t gas), tell your supervisor and go to a doctor or ER soon, if not now. It could be an appendix or kidney stones and won’t go away without medical treatment and could get worse. If in doubt of the seriousness, go to WebMD and do their symptom checker and follow their instructions. Only you know your body and unusual pain is a sign you shouldn’t ignore. A good supervisor will know this and a bad supervisor is not someone worth risking your health over.

      1. Anonymous*

        Thanks for responding. It’s not gas, but it’s not as bad as kidney stones. It’s part of an ongoing condition that flares up occasionally, but I haven’t told my boss about

        1. The Other Dawn*

          If it’s something that’s ongoing you might let your boss know so there’s an explanation as to why you’re having to leave early often or take time off. You don’t have to give details, but as a boss myself, a heads-up would be good. That way the boss doesn’t think you’re just slacking off.

        2. Chinook*

          I agree that giving your boss a heads up about it being an ongoing condition. The fact that you are concerned about it looking bad if you took time off gives me the impression that a good boss wouldn’t be concerned about you abusing a sick leave system. And, as an intern, you have a lot of leeway when it comes to questions about office procedures ebcause that is what interns are there to learn (on top of everything else). Ask her how you should handle calling in sick.

    2. COT*

      Just say, “I’m so sorry, but I’m not feeling well. I was hoping it would get better throughout the day but it’s getting worse. Would it be alright if I went home early?”

      Don’t stress about this at all. Illness happens and no reasonable employer will judge you for taking a sick day, even from an internship, unless it becomes a frequent pattern.

      1. fposte*

        I think this person is referring to the earlier post about somebody who ends the whole internship early due to health reasons.

      2. CoffeeLover*

        This is a throw back to an old post, but I was always under the impression that in an office setting, you declare (for lack of a better term) you’re leaving, you don’t ask. So something like, “I’m not feeling well, so I’m heading home” rather than, “Can I go home now?” Though I have to force myself to do this since it’s such a force of habit.

        1. Chinook*

          That askign for permission to go home thing is so ingrained into us as children that we forget that, as adults, we are in control of ourselves (with certain noteable exceptions in certain jobs – i.e. military). It ranks right up there with asking permission to go to the bathroom or feeling the need to tell someone when you go for lunch (in an office situation – when working retail or at reception, this is still necessary)

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Aah! I know. I still have trouble not telling my boss and team that; unless we’re in the throes of something, they DO NOT CARE. But I’m not on the front desk anymore and don’t need anyone to cover me.

        2. Jessa*

          Yes, unless you’re in some kind of critical job where you cannot leave without coverage, and must get someone in. IE a military post, an emergency police or fire post, some kind of critical medical setting, etc. In which case you kind of have to be “Look, I need to leave, you gotta get someone in here, can I please go now. Can you stay til you get someone else.” But still be prepared unless you need to go straight to hospital, to suck up and stay.

    3. Sourire*

      Absolutely should not be a problem, particularly because you actually came into work, showing a great work ethic. I have ongoing stomach issues as well, and sometimes it is bad but goes away quickly, so it makes sense to try to go into work and see if you can make it, if that makes sense. I would not recommend coming in with something contagious, but stomach issues, which just as debilitating as other illnesses, usually are not.

      All employees, interns or otherwise, sometimes get sick. As long as you’re not making a habit of it, any reasonable employer won’t see an issue with it, especially if you have been doing a good job thus far.

    4. Shoshie*

      Interns get sick too! Any reasonable employer is going to understand that. Take care of yourself, and definitely see a doctor if you’re having severe abdominal pain. Even if you just have a stomach bug, nobody is going to want you around if you’re sick, ESPECIALLY if it’s stomach stuff.

  12. Sales Geek*

    I work for sales in a F100 company and we have a global “telephone book” that allows anyone to look up our contact information; this can include a picture, email address, cell phone and work numbers.

    However, we have an “opt out” policy. By default you will be listed with the information gleaned from our internal phone book. But if you request it to our corporate web team they’ll remove any contact information from our external web site.

    In the U.S. this is more a matter of personal choice but in other countries it can be a personal safety issue. While you’ve been advised (correctly I believe) to contact your company’s web team there should be formal mechanism to allow you to do this via your (internal) employee profile. This is company policy and I’ve used it. It works very well for us.

    1. Kay (OP #2)*

      That made me lol. The past two years absolutely zero people showed up, but at least we knew ahead of time so we didn’t have leftovers. I think at this point she is more interested in having her idea be “right” rather than having it happen if that makes sense.

        1. Kay (OP #2)*

          Though subtrefuge and long-winded planning. It’s like Game of Thrones with less blood (ish).

  13. Anonicorn*

    Also, what a cool job.

    +1 to that, and to the idea about notes from the students explaining what the experience meant to them. My husband is a teacher and sometimes gets notes like that from his students. Those kinds of things greatly improve his crappy days of dealing with moody teenagers and remind him why he does it in the first place.

    1. College Career Counselor*

      Very cool job. And +1 for the notes from the students. Teachers and professors (and career counselors) don’t get to hear about their students’ successes nearly as often as they’d like.

  14. Joey*

    #2. Employers love food. Take them some cookies, donuts, breakfast tacos or something like that.

    1. Chinook*

      I once worked at a place where one of our advertisers would bring in cheeseburgers (when they were $1 at the local fast food place) or fudgsicles (when it was hot) for everybody in the office. We loved him and always went an extra mile if he ever needed anything. When he did this, he would make a day of it and hit a number of places where he was a customer. My goal is to one day be comfortable enough so that I can be that guy and show up with ice cream for everyone :)

      1. Jamie*

        Fudgsicles? I haven’t had one in ages – that would totally buy my loyalty!

        And do posts have more food comments in them around lunch time, or am I just quicker to notice?

  15. B*

    #5 – For your photo I would definitely talk to them directly about this. A safety concern is a very big deal.

    However, I caution that if you are on LinkedIn with a photo and your place of employment that will be very tricky for you to then opt-out and should also be a safety concern. I state this because anyone would then have access to that information. A bit hard to say this is because of safety but then allow yourself to still be out there.

  16. Realistic*

    #7 – I’m curious if this person has worked in nonprofits ever. We had several formerly corporate people hired at one of the NPOs I worked at, and the culture shock was too much for them. They were not used to not being able to just order whatever supplies they wanted, or having to justify a training budget, or paying for certain things out of pocket as can sometimes happen when money is prioritized for direct services instead of employee comfort. We learned during peer interviews to ask better questions about their understanding of the nonprofit culture (this was in direct client services at a small nonprofit, obviously not all cultures are the same). I loved working in nonprofit social services, and I only survived a year in the corporate world. Not for me! Anyway, OP7, the skills are very transferable, but you may have interview questions about the differences in culture. Good luck!

    1. the gold digger*

      Here are some things about working at a nonprofit (or my nonprofit):

      1. Don’t expect to get the for-profit holidays. Until this job, I had never had to work on July 5 when it was on a Friday.
      2. Don’t expect to get Christmas Eve off. Or even half the day.
      3. The pay is very low.
      4. The benefits are horrible.
      5. There is as much mismanagement and poor leadership in non-profits as there is anywhere else. Just because the mission might be noble does not mean that the people are competent.

      Again, my experience only. Maybe it’s just my organization.

      Yes, I am trying to find another job. :)

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        For what it’s worth, while that’s definitely true at some nonprofits (and some small businesses too), others do have good holidays and benefits and competitive pay — just depends on where you go!

        Here’s some stuff I’ve written on this:




      2. Chinook*

        My experience at NFPs when it came to paid vacation days is that they were often more generous with them because they paid us a salary (i.e. we were budgeted so much for the year regardless of how many days worked so shorting us one or 2 days wouldn’t change things). OTOH, I also worked in ones that operated on Stat holidays, so they understood we often didn’t get long weekends and would let us go early when we weren’t busy.

      3. Realistic*

        The reason I left non-profits/social services is because my last boss just couldn’t adjust at all to the communication style we had. He came from big corporate finance background, and before that the military. He was used to telling people to do stuff and them just doing it. We were a homeless and addiction recovery community for people with HIV/AIDS. … some teams would hold “group consciences” before even deciding what to order for lunch, LOL. I wore a t-shirt that said “People like you are the reason people like me need medication” when I handed him my resignation letter. :-)

      4. COT*

        I’m at my third nonprofit (social services, not a sector known for being flush with cash) and I’ve always had more holidays, more PTO, and better health insurance than my husband who works in for-profits. Even at his current Fortune 50 company, my benefits are better (and while neither of us is paid super-competitively, at the moment he only makes $3k more a year than I do). I have a lot of friends in the nonprofit sector and our workplaces, benefits, and pay vary widely.

        That said, yes, salaries are often (but not always lower) and there’s usually less allotted for travel, professional development, etc. (though there are a lot of frugal for-profits too). I do think that people moving from the for-profit world do need to be honest with themselves about whether or not they’re willing to work in a place that may have fewer resources than they’re used to. But not all nonprofits can be painted with the same brush.

    2. dejavu2*

      This is a great point. Definitely do what you can to understand the cultural differences. One of the non-profits I worked at had a revolving door of recovering corporate types who seemed to feel the non-profit sector is low key and for people who can’t cut it in the for-profit world. However, based on watching people waft through the non-profit world, I’d say it is at least as accurate to characterize people in corporate America as those who couldn’t hack it in the non-profit sector. They just require different skill sets. People in the non-profit world know this and are likely to be skeptical of an applicant who cannot assuage these concerns in a cover letter and/or interview.

    1. tcookson*

      I’m very interested in this AAM Magic 8-Ball . . . So, s0 far we have “Yes, that’s legal”, “Except in California [or academia]”, “Do not loan co-workers $$$”, and one side has to be just a picture of a glaring cat . . .

      1. Chinook*

        The 8 Ball also needs “did you talk to your coworker about it first?”, “start looking for a new job” and “free food makes it better”

      2. College Career Counselor*

        I would add, “Accept it (or start looking for another job)” and “RUN!”

  17. Yup*

    #7 – Do you happen to have any volunteer or board experience with nonprofits, especially related to your professional skills? If yes, be sure to list it on your resume and cover letter. If no, maybe consider doing a little volunteering at a local nonprofit — in any capacity, but especially if you can use your professional skills — so that you can gain some experience in the sector that will help bridge the career transition.

  18. SarasWhimsy*

    HIPAA does impact HR and Benefits in the workplace. We are no longer to help employees near as much as we once were. It’s definitely not applicable in the situation described here, but it does impact the workplace.

    1. fposte*

      Can you give some examples? Unless you’re working in a field with health information, the only situation I’m coming up with is calling doctors to get information without the employee’s authorization, and I don’t see the change there as being that problematic.

        1. Tax Nerd*

          Some organizations self-insure, as in they pay all (or a portion of) their employees’ medical bills directly, rather than going through an insurance company. I briefly worked at a place that did this. (It’s not popular, for a lot of reasons, privacy being one of them.)

          In other situations… way back in the day, if an employee was having problems with their health insurance, they could ask their HR person (or whoever handled insurance) to go to bat for them, and occasionally they would. Now, even in the unlikely event that HR would be willing, the insurance company couldn’t discuss it.

      1. SarasWhimsy*

        Certainly! We used to be able to assist employees with insurance issues, questions, etc. We can no longer do this – for the most part. This doesn’t impact a lot of employers and employees though, because a lot of employees move around fairly regularly. I have found it’s more of a problem when there’s a more stagnant workforce where the employee’s stay in their positions for 20+ years and their health benefits don’t change often. For employers who CAN still do this, it’s because they have strict regulations in place and because employees sign a HIPAA notice.
        Also, a lot of employers can be classified as hybrid entities. Beware the “hybrids”: 1. Employers who have a nurse for employees on site. 2. Employers who have a company “clinic” (similar to an urgent care facility but typically only for employers and their families – not terribly common anymore but they are still around). 3. Employers who offer self-insured group health plans (this is the one that is most mainstream that is very often overlooked). In all three cases, virtually every employee will sign a HIPAA notice.

      2. HR lady*

        In addition to what was mentioned about HR departments not being able to help with health insurance problems: this is not really a big deal, but the P in HIPAA stands for Portability, and that’s related to being able to take your insurance with you when you leave (COBRA). Employers have to give employees who are quitting (and who are eligible for COBRA) a HIPAA certificate. I’m probably not explaining it very well, but the point is that HR/benefits departments do come in contact with HIPAA, even if in a very limited way, almost every time an employee leaves.

  19. Kay (OP #2)*

    I just wanted to thank Alison for her advice, I really loved the idea of having the kids be a part of the thank you note. Another thank you for everyone else who replied, I hadn’t thought of any of these ideas, so I am really excited.

    Food definitely seems to be a part of the equation. No one says no to free food.

  20. Anon*

    I just helped a non-profit organization apply for and obtain 501(c)(3) status as a favor from my law firm. They thanked me with a nice greeting card and a gift card for a restaurant. I would have been more than happy with just the greeting card. :)

  21. Ed*

    For #5, I have two similar experiences.

    The first involved children’s photos on a school district website. They were just group photos of an event but it turned out the mother was in hiding from her abusive ex. He knew the basic area they were in and was able to pinpoint them to a specific elementary school and then he followed the child home to get their new address. I don’t know what happened as a result but the mother complained and we changed our policy so a parent had to sign a release.

    The second also involved a woman hiding from her abusive ex. We added all employee addresses and phone numbers to our email server so they were visible in Outlook for everyone. It actually seemed like a great way to store that info and we honestly never gave it a second thought. Well, a friend of her ex also worked there so he was able to get her new info and then he showed up at her house to rub her nose in it (as bullies are known to do). She informed HR and we immediately removed all personal info from the address book. We also implemented a new feature in our phone system for those who are oncall and have to be available. You would call the main number, select the option to page the admin oncall and then the phone system would connect you without revealing the number.

    I can imagine that it must be horrifying to spend all that time and energy (and maybe money) to keep your personal info secret only to have it revealed without your permission. It’s not like the average person can afford to repeatedly keep moving.

  22. SJ*

    The misconceptions about HIPAA (or Hippa, as people at my work like to call it) are endlessly amusing. It’s like people think they can invoke it for any perceived violation of privacy. “You can’t do this!! I know my HIPAA!”

  23. Quinn*

    I’m late but thanks Alison for answering my question! (re-Q4) I was unsure and am just now reading the post so I did not send the explanation email as you advised, although if I had not received an offer yesterday I would have!! :)

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