listing a brothel job on a resume, blocking coworker from Facebook posts, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. How do I list a receptionist job in a brothel on my resume?

I work in a place with a legalised, regulated sex industry. I worked as a receptionist in a brothel for over a year and for the most part, I was really good at it and gained some really valuable experience while there, that I think would be transferrable to other jobs and industries — possibly office or project management or something like that.

My issue is that I’m not sure about listing this position on my resume. Generally, brothels usually have alternative business names and receptionists might list their position as working front of house in a restaurant or something like that. That’s possible here but if I go that route, I don’t get to talk about my actual experience – juggling phone calls, coordinating bookings, paying attention to occupational health and safety, etc. Also, if you google the alternative business name, it comes up with a few directory pages saying that it is a restaurant, has been in operation for 20+ years, and that 15 people are employed there, but that’s pretty much it. One of those pages includes the address and it would be easy to link it to the brothel. I’m not sure whether it’s a believable cover. On the one hand, I could just say that it’s very small and quite old fashioned, hence such a small online presence. On the other hand, I don’t want to get caught out in a lie if they ask me for more details about it.

Would listing this position be a really bad idea? Or would someone who is hiring me be able to see the value in my experience and not get too caught up in what industry I worked in?

I’d list the alternate business name on your resume, but I wouldn’t outright lie about what it was (saying that it was a restaurant or something like that). Talk about all the experience that you want to talk about; just don’t specify that it was a brothel. You should be able to talk about experience in juggling phone calls, coordinating “entertainment bookings,” and so forth without saying “brothel,” “sex workers,” or other giveaway terms.

If you’re asked in an interview what kind of business it was, I’d say “entertainment industry” — and if pressed for details, I’d say “adult entertainment.” While that will get some interviewers clutching their pearls, there will be plenty who will see it as a business like any other — especially if you make a point of being extra polished and professional to counter any concerns they might have about norms in that industry. (And some might even figure that you probably picked up great customer service skills in a uniquely challenging environment.)

2. What Facebook posts should I block coworkers from?

I’m not a huge fan of being friends with work colleagues outside of work. It’s not that I’m not friendly, it’s just that I prefer to keep it very professional, maybe to a fault. I’m in a new office, and it seems like people here don’t prescribe completely to that same convention. So I’m trying my best to fit in with the office culture. I’m thinking about making a baby step and friending them on Facebook because they regularly come in in the morning and comment on pictures and postings saying things like, “Oh that hike looked really fun, where did you go?” “Hey let’s go on a hike this weekend.” Blah blah blah.

Anyway, I want to make Facebook groups, but I’m not sure what things should I let them see and what things I shouldn’t. I ask this because I don’t really post anything outrageous. I don’t drink or party so I don’t have any of those photos to share. I share funny stories about my crazy toddler and pictures of his cuteness. The only thing that might be “controversial” is that I post some unconventional political opinions for the region in which we live and for the religion of which I am a member (as are a few of my colleagues). Any guidance would be helpful.

Well, first, you really don’t need to friend coworkers on Facebook if you’d rather not. Plenty of people make a point of not connecting to coworkers. But if you decide to, it sounds like limiting them from political and religious posts would make sense. Put them in a “toddler pics only” group.

3. How can I refer a job candidate without vouching for them?

A former colleague from my previous place of employment reached out to me to let me know that he has been laid off during a restructuring. He wants to know if I can help him find a position at my new place of employment. My former boss did not think highly of him or his work product, and while I did not work with him directly, I wasn’t that impressed with him either. He was the type to sing the “No one appreciates me. Why am I treated so unfairly? How come no one recognizes how smart I am?” song.

On the other hand, this man has a family and two young children to support, and I would feel terrible refusing to help him. Still, I do not want to attach my name to his application, or in any way imply that I endorse him as a candidate.

My inclination is to direct him to our company’s jobs page, and tell him to let me know if he sees anything that he thinks would be a good fit, and that I can then send his resume to the assigned recruiter so that it at least gets seen. But what happens if the recruiter (or worse – the hiring manager) asks for my opinion of the guy? Should I just say that I did not work with him directly and leave it at that? I love my new job, and love working at my new company; it’s a huge fortune 100 though, and I feel morally inclined to put the best interests of a fellow human being above any loyalty I have to a corporation.

It’s kind of you to want to help, but make sure that you don’t tar your own reputation in doing so, because that can harm you in real ways. That means that you’d want to be very clear that you weren’t vouching for his work. At a minimum, you’d need to say something like, “I know him slightly, but I can’t vouch for his work.” But I’d think twice about helping in this way at all — if you’re encouraging him to apply for jobs with your company, you risk being associated with his application regardless, and this is someone who you know to be an undesirable employee. Why not help him in other ways, like offering to look over her resume or send him job leads elsewhere?

4. Setting goals for support positions

As we set annual goals, we are struggling to ensure that different roles have goals that have similar levels of rigor. We want everyone in the organization to have outcomes-driven goals (i.e., a sales total vs. cold calls made), but are particularly challenged by administrative staff. In the past, our goals for those roles have been very compliance oriented, and not really centered around the larger goals of the organization. Do you have strong examples of goals for receptionist, payroll clerk, and other types of support staff positions?

With roles where success is hard to quantify, goals should paint a picture of what the work looks like when it’s done well. The trick in doing that is often to picture someone doing a mediocre job in the role and someone doing an outstanding job in it. What’s the difference between the two? Your language can probably be found there. For example:

* Serve as a warm, helpful, and professional face of the organization to visitors and callers, leaving all visitors and callers with an image of XYZ Corp. as a friendly and easy-to-work-with resource.
* Interactions with visitors, vendors, and other employees regularly elicit unsolicited praise.
* Staff’s payroll questions and problems are resolved quickly and accurately, within one day for “urgent” issues and within three days for others.
* All meetings requests have been scheduled within 48 hours, with a first attempt to schedule made the same day request is received.
* Flawlessly execute weekly luncheons that present a highly professional image of the organization, have all logistics running smoothly, don’t go over budget, and receive at least 90% positive feedback on evaluation forms from both presenters and participants.

5. Can I see the profile of me that a recruiter is circulating?

Is the profile a recruiter has created about you considered their proprietary property? Or are you entitled to a copy of it?

I was contacted recently by a recruiter for a position that I am now actively interviewing for. Everyone I have met with so far has mentioned the great “profile” of me that the recruiter gave them, and now I’m very curious and would like to read it. I really like this recruiter, and would like to maintain the relationship even if this specific job does not pan out, so I don’t want to commit a faux pas. Totally acceptable or no?

You can absolutely ask to see it. And frankly, it’s a good idea, because you want to make sure that it’s representing you correctly — you don’t want to find out later on that the recruiter claimed you had skills you didn’t have or otherwise portrayed you inaccurately.

I’d say something like this: “Several of the people I’ve interviewed with have mentioned that they loved the profile of me that you sent them. I’d love to see that — could you send me a copy?”

{ 167 comments… read them below }

  1. LadyHope*

    Sorry this isn’t related to the content of the post, but I’m definitely still having a problem I know someone mentioned in regards to the new site design post. When I try to open the comments on a post with lots of comments while on my phone (Samsung Galaxy S3- Android – with the standard internet browser) it kicks up the error “Internet has stopped working” and closes the browser and loses any pages I had open. This has definitely only started since the updated design. I view the mobile version on my phone. (It also is still cutting off letters at the end of words on the right side of the page, but I can live with that… just not with this browser quitting business.)
    It does this on posts with as few as 25 comments, and I LOVE to read the comments but it’s kind of become impossible. :(

    1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      This is true for me as well, also on an Android phone – a Galaxy Nexus. I’m using the standard browser too. I’m not seeing the cutting off letters thing, but I am still having the issue I mentioned before about the questions not being in italics (it’s all regular text, like Alison’s answers). It means I’m not reading AAM as often on my phone because it’s a drag to have the browser crash.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          I just tried browsing the comments on the Free-For-All thread on my Galaxy S5, and it loaded in both Chrome and the stock Android browser…however, after rotating the screen it took 5 seconds to redraw in the stock browser and 15 in Chrome, so my guess is that it’s a resource issue. Elizabeth, have you tried it on pages of a similar length, like maybe a Reddit post with a lot of comments?

          The only other thing that I can think of is that every single comment is calling an image — even those with no avatar are loading, so 700+ attempts to load an image from the server, even if it’s 1x1px, might be a lot more resource-intensive than just loading the text and basic coding of the comments. Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of experience with WordPress, so I don’t know if it’s easy or even possible to turn that off, but that might be a good thing to test out.

          (Who am I kidding…there’s no off switch for that! :D)

      1. Arbynka*

        I had this problem on Samsung Tab, got Firefox browser for android and it is working fine. Just tried the default browsers, still crashing.

    2. Perpetua*

      I have the same phone and the same issue, so for now my solution is to read AAM with the Opera Mini browser instead of the “standard” one, so you could try that if you’d like.

    3. Cari*

      Does if still do it if you check the “request desktop version” and view that on your phone with the default browser?

      I view AAM on my android phone using Chrome and haven’t had any problems, so that’s another alternative browser you could try.

      1. 15*

        I had the same problem and I switched to Chrome. Now it does not happen anymore. For me it happened with a few sites I regularly read and it started a little before the new AAM. Maybe it has to do with a browser update?

        1. Cari*

          That could be it, aye. I get the feeling the Android default browser is similar to Chrome enough that certain problems may be experienced with both then, like you have found, disappear in the one following an update.

          If the default browser is actually default browser + manufacturer’s tweaks, and those experiencing issues have Samsung phones (two commenters at least), it could be something to do with that also?

          1. Cari*

            Eta. Disappear in one because they’re getting worked on separately and have a different user base for reporting problems.

          2. Jen RO*

            I used to have a Samsung and I hated the default browser… but, at that time, it actually *fixed* problems similar to what users are reporting now! Opera would crash (not on AAM, other sites) and the default browser worked fine…

          3. ligirl*

            Android default browser’s UI is similar to Chrome, but under the hood, it’s a mess, hasn’t been updated in ages, and is generally a pain to develop for. It’s the IE of mobile browsers.

    4. Sunshine*

      I had the same problem until I switched to Firefox. Must be something with that default Android browser.

    5. JC*

      I had the same problem with my HTC Evo/Android phone’s standard browser, and it no longer happens now that I switched to Chrome. It was happening with AAM after the redesign but also on other websites.

    6. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Those of you having problems with Samsung’s default broswer: It appears not to render things properly all of the time. One solution is to use a different browser like Firefox. If that doesn’t fix things, your device might not be able to handle the javascript from the ads, collapsing comments, etc. from the new version of the site — but if you’re willing to disable javascript, that should solve the problem.

  2. quix*


    I think the metric of “elicits unsolicited praise” would be more local-culturally dependent. A lot of places I’ve worked you could move heaven and earth for people, and the reaction would simply be to expect you to do it next time and be critical if you didn’t. If my performance evaluation got dinged if those jokers weren’t singing my praises, I wouldn’t be a fan of the metrics.

    1. In progress*

      True- I live in an area that is notoriously cooler (literally and metaphorically) and we just do not comment on service unless it was negative. Whereas I understand in other areas they make a point to be friendly and complimentary?

      1. KayDay*

        I consider myself a generally decent human being, and I too almost never comment on service (although, I do almost always thank people who assist me). Usually the only time I would ever give positive feedback to someone’s boss is when there was a problem that they solved (e.g. my food was terrible and the Alex got me a new dish; my computer broke and three people tried to fix it but only Alejandra could figure out what the problem was; etc). But this, naturally, requires a problem to happen…if everything is hunky dory and Alex is just a great waiter or Alejandra is a pleasant and competent helpdesk person, I don’t say anything more than ‘thank you’.

        1. Fish Microwaver*

          I often make the effort to compliment someone who is “just doing their job”, but doing it well. I have called to speak to their supervisor, or made the point of mentioning them by name in post-service feedback or even sending some cold beers to the staff at the pizzeria on a very hot summer day.

          1. HarperC*

            I try to do that too, to consciously offset people who are complainers. Which can even include ME on the wrong day. :D

    2. GrumpyBoss*

      I’m in agreement. I have been in a support role with very prickly customers. Not being told to “F off” was considered a great success. But you rarely got the unsolicited praise. I had a coworker who would actively solicit it. His signature to external email addresses said something like, “if I helped you out today, please visit our feedback link and give me a 5 out of 5!” This always wanted to make me vomit, but it worked. He was the only one on a large team who regularly received any feedback at all. And he was not especially good at his job.

      Praise often means nothing.

      1. Gina*

        I was coming here to say this. I remember being in a customer support role where I got three customer commendations in a year and that was actually really exceptional. It was also weird because I didn’t help those particular customers *that* much, not enough that out of everyone they should have been the ones to call back. It’s totally hit or miss.

        But what you had was the bulk of the team getting no commendations, a couple of us who had a few a year, and then another couple who just had tons. We got star-shaped pins for each one and some people had them all up one side and down the other of their lanyards. But having sat next to one of these people frequently, I know that she *pushed* custoemrs into talking to a supervisor. YOu know how you’re not supposedt to take no for an answer in sales? I’d cringe when I heard her say “Oh, it will only take a second, and you’d really be helping me out…Ms. Customer, now I was happy to expedite your order at no extra cost, I’m sure you have a minute to tell my boss you got good service today…”

        No one ever picks up on that, sadly. They look at 90% of the staff getting no unsolicited praise and 9% getting call after call and honestly think the 9% is the norm.

        1. ExWebDev*

          As a customer, I’m a lot more likely to say no to that request if someone keeps pushing me. If someone has been really nice and helpful and offers ONCE to let me answer the “short survey” or whatever, I’ll do it, but anything more than that comes across as pushy.

          I really wish companies would quit expecting me, as a customer, to spend so much time evaluating their staff. I don’t really want to go home and fill out a survey online at the URL on my receipt for $3 worth of pens at the office-supply store, even if it means I have a chance to win a $500 gift card. I don’t want to stay on the phone for another five minutes to rate a two-minute interaction. I do it when I feel like the CSR has been really good–and in some cases, if they’re exceptional, I tweet about it. Before Twitter, I once wrote a letter to CVS about my amazing pharmacists. But I hate it that every single time I go to a store or call a credit-card company about my bill I’m expected to rate the service. And I suspect that the customers who are the most likely to do it are the ones who want to complain about something, which obviously skews the results.

          Please don’t take it personally if people aren’t consenting to be connected to your manager to rave about the awesome job you’re doing. We’re just short on time and fed up with companies asking us to do it.

          1. VintageLydia USA*

            This reminds me of my old workplace. On our receipts if you did the survey you got a $2 coupon code to use on their next purchase (which means people filled them out more than the nebulous $500 prize no one actually wins) which included a voicemail part that, if you chose, you can talk about what your customer service experience, good or bad, and it would show up as a voicemail for the individual store. We always had one regular who always left a voicemail to sing our praises and we could recognize her voice (she came in near daily so we all knew her.) That was nice because most people who wanted to leave a voicemail had something to complain about. Most people just answered all 1s or 5s so they could get their coupon.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              I love these surveys that go directly to the store with some identifiable part to them. One here store offers online surveys and the customer’s name is sent right to the store. The customer’s name is NOT removed.

          2. Otter box*

            I’m on the other side of this. At my work our customers get surveys asking them to first rate our company on a 1-10 scale and then rate us individually. The problem is that we are actually ranked on the company’s reputation score, not our own. So I can have 100% of people loving *me*, and literally no one cares, but if only 1 customer rates the company below a 9, I can be disciplined. My only bad score this month is from someone who rated the company a 1 and said that they wished it could be lower because they hated being bothered with “spam”. Unfortunately that one response has got me on the hot seat for this month because all the higher ups see or care about is the number, not the comment.

            Basically, now that I’ve been on the receiving end of surveys, unless I’ve had a horrible experience, I always give out perfect scores because you never know if your survey gets someone written up or fired.

        2. Zahra*

          Oh, I would totally take her up on her offer, and tell her supervisor how I was browbeat into giving her feedback. :P

      2. Liane*

        Same here. There is no way of predicting how a given customer is going to react to the same quality, no matter how high, of service. Customer A will tell my supervisor that I am the vicious, inept love child of Cruella de Ville & Sauron (credit: Rich Burlew, Order of the Stick webcomic). Customer B–literally next in line, with a similarly complex issue for me–will tell Supervisor I am wonderful, cheerful & efficient, and make problems disappear so fast that it makes the Avengers look like the Keystone Kops on a bad day, without the collateral damage of either.

        1. Dan*

          As a math guy, it’s hard for me to rate service. If you did your job, did you provide *awesome* service? No, you did the job I paid for, and you did the job you got paid to do. You provide awesome service if I get off the call thinking, “Wow, I’m glad I do business with this company.” You provide awesome service if you’re able to work through a highly nuanced issue with little correction on my part.

          What rating do I give a person for handling a routine request? Yesterday I had to call the state tax department over a payment mixup. They actually took care of it right away with little input from me. I was certainly satisfied with my experience, but it was also the outcome that I reasonably expected.

          Same with TripAdvisor reviews. I know that a 4+ start rated hotel will be satisfactory. But if I’m not falling out of my chair (or bed) to patronize the establishment on my return trip, is it really worth 4 or 5 stars? Yet, if I give it 3 stars, am I hurting its rating, knowing that I’d never stay at a 3* TA hotel?

          So I don’t do the surveys. I don’t want t lie, and I don’t want to hurt anybody.

          1. GrumpyBoss*

            In with you. Few things in life are truly “excellent”, or whatever word you associate with your 5 rating. So I rate accordingly. Since I have a harsh curve, I rarely bother.

            I had a recent exception. Everyone’s favorite kicking boy, Comcast, gave me horrendous service, even by their standards. After finally getting a tech over, he was very helpful. I knew he probably fields a lot of the abuse from his company’s sucking, so I really was waiting for the call to give him his 5.

            But since comcast is Comcast, they even make the survey an unpleasant experience. I got a call from a very loud call center in India and the operator had such a thick accent, I couldn’t understand them. I said, “I’m sorry, now is not a good time. Please call back”. So they did. After I had gone to bed. I asked them once again to call me back during business hours and hung up. They called back 30 seconds later and said, “ma’am I need you to listen to me and do this survey right now”. I lost my cool at that point and informed him that I don’t “need” to do anything he is asking, and if I choose to participate, it will be on my schedule. Hung up. He called right back and again said, “ma’am, you need to do this right now”. I hung up and blocked the number. Sorry guy who I was going to give a good review. Your company shouldn’t put such a burden on me to give you a compliment.

            TL:DR: comcast sucks.

            1. Anon2*

              Comcast does suck. I have only internet through them, and *never* have to speak to a rep. Sometimes my internet goes nuts, and I have to call and use the automated system to get a signal reset sent to my system. No human action there.

              About two years ago, they tried to get me to sign up for a TV bundle with a much of channels and faster internet for about $10/mo more than I was paying then, plus an account credit. The sales guy told me I was going to *love* it. I took it.

              Except for after they installed everything, I got a TV package that was so cheap and bare bones that it wasn’t even advertised on the website. When I called customer service, they said they set me up with the correct package. So I took their $30 service guarantee and told them to disconnect it.

              They sent a tech out on a Sunday. WTF, I felt bad for him.

              TL;DR: comcast sucks.

              1. Andrew*

                I’ve never had a problem with Comcast customer service. Verizon Fios, on the other hand, changed the password on my account without warning and then refused to tell me what they had changed it to.

          2. fposte*

            My supermarket literally asks customers if we received “awesome service.” And I think they’re basically setting their staff and customers up for disappointment there, because there’s not a lot of awe involved in groceries.

    3. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

      Yeah, it does feel like that might be beyond your control. I agree that cultural, logistical and other barriers might mean that the goal isn’t reached. You might ask, “how likely is it that someone could do everything right and not accomplish this?” Being given a goal for something that is beyond your control can be demoralizing.

    4. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Yeah, it’s culturally dependent, but there are some environments where it works. A client and I actually set up something similar for one of the goals for my work with them (having something we produce regularly elicit unsolicited praise from the people who receive it), and it’s working in that context — and makes sense as a goal, because it truly does capture what we want success to look like there.

      But that’s sort of the whole point of goals — you don’t set them randomly or without thought. They need to truly capture what a successful performance would look like.

  3. Carolum*

    #2 – I have my friends (such as they are) are each classified into various groups – college friends, coworkers from Job 1, family, people I know from church, people who share my political views, etc. Some are in more than one group.

    The cool thing about that? I don’t need to I can share things with just one group at a time, or exclude certain groups, etc.

  4. Just Visiting*

    #2: I wouldn’t add them. For me, Facebook is a safe space where I can feel 95% free to post about whatever I want, with an “audience” that I know mostly agrees with me on the political stuff or at least won’t fight me on it. With the changes FB makes constantly to their privacy settings you can’t be certain that a “coworker” setting will always stick. Plus, what about people posting to your wall, wouldn’t the coworkers be able to see it? I have no desire to “curate” my Facebook for coworkers. Also, if one of the coworkers posted something that I found offensive (anti-LGBT articles, “Robin Williams was selfish,” stuff like that) I couldn’t help but judge them and it would spill over to my work interactions. That seems like something I shouldn’t admit out loud, but it’s true.

    1. Mabel*

      I’ve been having the browser crashing issue with the standard browser (Android HTC Incredible), but when I try to read the articles & comments on Firefox, I can’t re-size the text to be larger. Actually, it will get larger, but it doesn’t “re-margin,” so I have to scroll left & right, & that’s no fun. This is all new – since the site redesign.

    2. Shana*

      You hit on the biggest reason I don’t friend co workers – if you go post your tirade on something I find offensive I will not think of you the same way going forward. Facebook has messed up enough friendships, it doesn’t need to involve work too!

      1. ExWebDev*

        Bingo! When I started my last job I actually deactivated my Facebook account for a while, just to keep co-workers from being able to discover me during the first couple of months. I would have felt obligated to accept friend requests, and I already knew from the things they “shared” by posting them on their real-life cubicle walls that I didn’t want to see what they posted on their virtual ones as well.

        That actually worked, BTW; I know they’re on Facebook, but since I was able to say truthfully at the beginning that I wasn’t, nobody has friended me.

        1. tt*

          Like others have said, I prefer keeping work and FB separate for the most part. I have a few former co-workers on my FB, but only one current co-worker. Thankfully, I haven’t had any issues with co-workers friending me on FB, the nature of my offices have been such that people just don’t do that. We’re genuinely friendly and enjoy spending time together, even occasionally going out, but no one is coerced into it, whether in person or on FB.

          If you’re an “over-sharer,” I definitely l recommend you set up different groups/lists for people. Frankly, there are some things I don’t want to know about my own personal friends, must less co-workers. My former boss was certainly none too interested in reading one of my co-workers post about how glad she was the local gas station sold condoms…lol

        2. Nikki T*

          I don’t use my full first name on FB so few people who are merely acquaintances will find me. However, when I first started here, one of my new coworkers sent me a friend request, I pretended it never happened. She never brought it up and neither did I….only coworker to ever sent a request out of the blue…

    3. C Average*


      When my manager joined our organization about a year and a half ago, she sent me a friend request, something I’d never had a manager do before. I let it sit for several days, thinking I just wouldn’t respond. I, too, don’t care to curate my feed or build groups or filter my posts. I am who I am–funny, opinionated, a little sentimental–in person and on Facebook, and that’s not going to change. My manager kept asking me about it, and I really wanted to tell her no, but I reluctantly accepted the request because not accepting it felt too awkward.

      Fast forward to now and I wish I would’ve stuck to my guns.

      I’m privy to my manager’s oversharing, and it makes me respect her less.

      I see my manager’s posts about all the social things she’s doing with other members of my team, and it makes me even more keenly aware that I am not in the inner circle on my own team. (I don’t really want to be–I have a busy home life, too–but I don’t like having it constantly thrust in my face that my manager is spending lots of extracurricular time with my teammates while I’m lucky when she doesn’t cancel our one-on-ones.)

      I feel constrained about what I post because I know she’s there and watching. I don’t post anything bad, but I typically post for an audience of my friends and family–and my manager is neither. We have little in common and would never spend time together were it not for our office connection.

      I have applied for an internal role in another department, and if I get it, one of the first things I’m going to do is defriend my current manager.

      1. Fact & Fiction*

        Ugh; that sucks for you. :( I would probably either make two separate Facebook groups with her in and out of it, or filter her out (you can do custom posts to Facebook) of all but a few innocuous posts. You can also hide her posts so that you don’t have to see them, which may help in the short-term until you can de-friend her.

        1. C Average*

          I’ve kind of just stopped being very active on Facebook. It seems like less of a hassle than tailoring content to different audiences. That’s my day job (I’m an html copywriter and create content for both internal and external audiences), and when I’m just goofing around in my off hours, that’s a part of my brain I’d rather just turn off. It’s not a big deal; less time on Facebook = more time on my own projects, so my boss chasing me off of Facebook is actually a win on many levels.

          I’m just offering it up as a cautionary tale. Once your boundaries with your boss become uncomfortably blurry, it’s pretty hard to unring that bell. I will never be Facebook friends with a manager again, no matter how much they badger me.

        2. Eva*

          It can be tricky to hide people on FB. If they announce something major that garners enough likes and comments that everyone who hasn’t hidden them will be sure to see it, and you don’t see it, it can get awkward IRL when they realize you haven’t heard the news and ask if you didn’t see it on FB.

          Source: Have hidden 75% of my friend list. It has happened several times. :/

    4. Sadsack*

      I am not on FB any longer, but when I was I did not friend coworkers or accept their requests. I never mentioned it and they never brought it up either. No big deal. If they were having a conversation about something seen on facebook, I could just as easily ask what they were talking about if it sounded interesting. No one ever seemed annoyed or even remotely curious why I wasn’t already in the loop on it.

    5. nyxalinth*

      You and I have similar views. I wouldn’t add co-workers to Facebook for the same reason. that and I can get really fired up about things when I’m really passionate about it (as in blunt sarcasm and salty language) and I’d rather not have that seen by people I’d be working with when I find work.

      Plus I’m sure they’d think I ws either insane or a total bore reading my posts about world of Warcraft and Dwarf Fortress :D

      PS: Alison, +1 internets for using the phrase ‘pearl clutching’ I found that on Consumerist and have used it ever since.

    6. ThursdaysGeek*

      I’ve sent friend requests to a few co-workers, but only after I know them well enough that I’m interested in being friends and not just co-workers. Nonetheless, if they don’t respond, I never mention it to them.

    7. ThursdaysGeek*

      Do people really have issues with seeing what your friends post? Because I have friends who make postings from the very liberal side to the very conservative, both politically and socially, and everything in-between. I don’t see that as a problem, but rather something to be celebrated: we can be so different and yet still be friends.

      1. Just Visiting*

        I guess I’m less tolerant. I don’t think that believing LGBT people are evil, or ranting about “black thugs,” or calling people of a different religion barbarians, are differences to be celebrated. It’s easy to talk about celebrating political differences when you’re not in the group that’s being targeted. I prefer filtering hateful people out of my life, and if they’re not people I can filter out (like coworkers), I would rather not know their political beliefs.

    8. Elizabeth West*

      I just don’t like it because when you leave a job, you often never see these people again and then it gets awkward. Who unfriends first? It’s just weird.

      If they want to friend after that, and we’ve been more friendly than just mere colleagues, then fine–then I know they really want to stay in touch. But if the only thing we had in common is that we both worked at Consolidated Widgets and we only spoke at the coffeemaker, I’m not likely to want to keep interacting with them way after the fact.

  5. Cari*

    OP #2- Facebook don’t like people doing this, but you could create a separate FB profile to use for work purposes. I know some people who do this. That way you can add colleagues and see what sort of things they share to get a feel for what to post, without sharing personal things about yourself that you would share with friends and family on your other profile. If you did this, you could also then block these people under your main account so they don’t see your main profile.
    Ofc, you really don’t have to add them at all. There should be privacy settings (I think under something like “who can search for me” and “who can contact me”) to limit who can search for you on FB and who can send friend requests and messages to you.

    1. The Real Ash*

      This is exactly what I was going to suggest. There is no reason to add them to your personal Facebook account if you don’t want to. Just make up a fake one with a couple boring photos of you, and then use it as a “professional” FB page. Like companies that you are interested in or are in your industry, and maybe friend some of the more famous people, like CEO or whoever. If anyone gives you any guff, just say that it’s your personal brand FB that you use only for work connections or some other similar nonsense.

  6. Perpetua*

    #2 I think Alison’s advice is good, but Just Visiting also makes a great point re: Facebook design and setting changes that can make it hard to fully control everything that happens with your profile.

    I can really empathise with wanting to both fit in AND keep some boundaries. I’ve been wondering what to do about it since starting my new job in HR at a smallish company with a very casual culture and fairly young coworkers (the vast majority are in the 22 – 29 age range, including me). I have one of my bosses on my friend list due to us being in the same circle of friends (and removing him would be more weird than letting it be), I’ve accepted a friend request from a coworker I have mutual friends with (but I’m debating on whether that was a good idea, simply because of setting precedents) and now I have another request waiting until I figure out what to do about the whole situation. :D

    A part of me thinks that it would be better not to have any of my coworkers as FB friends, especially since we’re not peers regarding the type of work we do and what if they post something I as HR should be worried about (in addition to what Just Visiting says re: FB stuff coloring my opinion of someone when it’s not actually work-relevant, even unintentionally), etc. However, another part of me thinks that saying something in the vein of “I like to keep my personal and private life separate” might be thought of as more weird in this culture (also, we’re not in the US, not sure how much of a difference it makes). I don’t have the perfect solution yet, obviously. :)

    1. Nikki T*

      When people ask I just tell them I don’t use it much, just random thoughts and it’s the only way to keep up with old friends from HS. I act like it’s not a big deal to me and never bother giving out my Fb name.

      I think it’s weird that adults beg to be friended on Facebook, like one’s life is not complete without it…

  7. KayDay*

    #2 Facebook – I don’t go out of my way to add colleagues to facebook, but I’d feel awkward turning them down if they friended me (I also do sometimes add ex-colleagues to facebook). Because of the who-knows-what-will-get-out factor, I tend to not post anything particularly controversial. Although I’m sure someone somewhere might judge me for things I post, I only post things if I think that I wouldn’t want to work for/be friends with someone who would judge me for what I post (e.g. if someone an employer finds out I went to a vineyard tour and has a problem with it, I probably wouldn’t be a cultural fit with them anyway). That said, I do restrict my posts to some people. I just keep 2 groups (I forget what they are called, but it’s essentially close friends and non close friends) and restrict any pictures of me in a bathing suit or doing something not victorian-grandmother-approved to the close friend group. None of the restricted content is particularly bad, I just don’t necessarily want it in people’s face.

    1. some1*

      “I’d feel awkward turning them down if they friended me”

      Agreed! Also, work friendships can change on a dime. A coworker you have no problem being friends with on Facebook now could be the last person you want to see there in 2 months.

      1. tt*

        You could say something like “thanks for the request, but I prefer to keep work and FB separate,” which works with most people. Then maybe have coffee or lunch with them or something, so there’s still a sense of camaraderie and it’s not personal.

        1. Chuchundra*

          Yes, this is what I do. I don’t friend anyone who works at BigLab, whether I work directly with them or not.

          I just tell them that I prefer to keep work and Facebook separate.

        2. Stephen*

          “I don’t normally add collegues on facebook, but I am on LinkedIn if you want to connect there.” Making this conversation less awkward is 90% of why I am even on LinkedIn.

      2. Sadsack*

        I have just ignored requests from coworkers and nothing was ever said about it. It really isn’t a big deal.

      3. Kimberlee, Esq.*

        There’s an important side-note regarding feeling awkward when someone friends you, but you’re not really wanting to friend them back. While you have that little “friend request” notification at the top of your screen until you do something with it, they do not. If they specifically look you up, they’ll see a greyed out “Friend request sent” box, but otherwise there is nothing constantly reminding them that you haven’t accepted.

        If you don’t accept their request, they’ll assume that you’re just not on FB that much, or that you’ve got a million notifications and thus started ignoring them (I have friends like this… it just got out of hand one day and now they basically just don’t respond to direct messages, tagging, etc), or that you dismissed the request by mistake. IF they think to assume anything at all; most people send friend requests out into the ether and then forget about them entirely.

        Now, if they push it (“Why haven’t you accepted my friend request yet?!”) then you can have something ready, like “I’m not on that often” or “I prefer to keep work and personal separate” or “I don’t use my FB account for anything work-related” or whatever. But in my experience, it rarely comes up, because people just do not track who they friended and who they did not.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Yes — just ignore it. Most people won’t ask about it. And if they do, say, “ugh, yes, my Facebook is a mess, I need to sort it out at some point” or something else that conveys “my Facebook is a cesspool of disorganization and your request is probably somewhere in that chaos.”

      4. Frances*

        This may have changed because Facebook loves to mess around with their privacy settings, but at one point I had my Facebook profile set to only be visible to and allow friend requests from “Friends of Friends.” I don’t have any mutual friends with my coworkers (that I’m aware of) and I never link my work emails, so no one can even find me most of the time.

  8. Chloe*

    #2, I wouldn’t do it at all. But if you absolutely feel you must I’d do one of two things:
    – block them from all your updates, so nothing you post appears in their news stream.
    – friend them and then a month or so later just unfriend them. They probably won’t even notice.

    Its very awkward when people try to be friends and you don’t want to, but I think keeping FB for friends and Linkedin for work is a good split.

    1. Mephyle*

      In fact if you do both of those two things together, it works particularly well because they’ll be even less likely to notice that you unfriended them if they weren’t seeing anything from you anyway.

  9. Kelly L.*

    To add to #1, I don’t actually know this for sure (disclaimer), but I bet that if you’re in one of the places where it’s legal, this is not actually rare. The employer might well have even seen the cover name before, know what it is, and not really mind or get pushy about it (also disclaimer). Other people must have worked in brothels before and then moved on to different things. :)

    1. HarperC*

      I was thinking this, too. If the OP is still in the area, I bet most employers have come across this before.

    2. LBK*

      Yeah, if you’re still in the same area presumably everyone in that area knows this is a legal industry there, and even outside people may still know (I’m 90% sure it’s legal in Vegas – is that the only place in the US?). I think part of the taboo of working something like that is if it’s not legal, the standards and expectations for your work would be completely different – a lot more under the table dealings, and a lot more of your job responsibilities would probably revolve around secrecy and cover ups rather than just normal office receptionist stuff.

      FWIW, I’m one of those people Alison describes that would consider this a positive for your candidacy – you’d certainly bring some unique experience to the table and I’d also appreciate your candor (if you were straightforward about it) and open-mindedness. I imagine there’s more people like that out there than you’d think.

      1. Natalie*

        “I’m 90% sure it’s legal in Vegas – is that the only place in the US?”

        Assuming the US, Nevada is the only state with legal brothel prostitution. Oddly, though, brothel prostitution can be legal everywhere in Nevada *except* Las Vegas. The law is written to apply to counties below a certain threshold population, and it’s adjusted when needed so that it only applies to Clark County (where Vegas is) and no where else.

      2. Miss Betty*

        Prostitution is illegal in the city of Las Vegas and in Clark County. Of course it exists in Las Vegas – but it’s illegal. It’s legal (and regulated) in the rest of the state, though. Friends in Pahrump have a neighbor who’s a sex worker in a local brothel.

        1. TK*

          As Natalie says, it *can be* legal and regulated in the rest of the state, but it can still be banned at the local level, and is in several counties (most notably Washoe, where Reno is).

      3. TK*

        Actually, it’s not legal in Vegas proper, but it is in most of rural Nevada (indeed the only place in the US with legalized prostitution).

      4. NoPantsFridays*

        Yeah, I have to be honest, I would think it was really interesting/cool that a candidate had worked there. If it were rare, i.e. not many candidates had that unique experience, I would consider bringing the OP in for an interview, provided the rest of their application was up to par (all else being equal). To me, this could only give a candidate a positive edge.

    3. Jane Jones*

      Unfortunately, there aren’t really many role models for moving onto different things while being honest about it. I’m pretty sure all the brothels in my city have alternative business names (this is especially helpful for EFTPOS and credit card transactions!) and it seems like most receptionists stick to their cover story when they are trying to get out of the industry. I’ve known receptionists who haven’t even told their long-term partners where they work!

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        If you’re ever interested in letting me interview you for a post here, let me know — I would find it fascinating to hear how you fielded some of the work situations that I imagine came up there and I bet a lot of others would too.

      2. Jenny Doe*

        Oh yeah, the names on credit card slips! I charged some stuff at an adult boutique once and my statement showed “Stadium Gifts, Inc.” (Stadium was the name of the street it was on). In my particular case, the items weren’t a secret from my partner or anything, but there are situations where they could be!

  10. Bea W*

    “Flawlessly” in a goal makes me cringe. We’re humans in an imperfect and random world, and events are rarely flawless behind the scenes. Best you might get is an end product that participants are none the wiser about any of the drama going on behind the scenes.

    1. LBK*

      I don’t think “flawlessly” necessarily means 100% to perfection without a single error along the way – that’s virtually unachievable. I do think flawless presentation is what matters, and if someone is a master at covering/cleaning up mistakes so that they’re no more than a mild blip in the overall finished product, that’s flawless as far as I’m concerned.

    2. Jessica*

      Agreed. With any project of multiple parts, something is bound to go wrong somewhere along the line. I think what matters is the way you handle and learn from the things that go wrong.

      For, example I recently coordinated a rather complicated event that included lunch and breakfast. I was told I did an amazing job by my bosses but it definitely wasn’t flawless. A communication error between myself and the lunch caterer resulted in us having no vegetarian sandwiches, meanwhile a good quarter of the participants could not eat meat. I did what I had to do and got the meals exchanged and made sure double sure I emphasized we needed vegetarian options next time.

    3. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      But it’s not like you’re going to get fired if it’s not flawless. Flawless isn’t impossible in most contexts, but it IS extremely challenging and ambitious. You don’t want to set a goal for an employee of “Do this, and like, make it OK” just because you know OK is the best they will achieve. Ambitious goals change the framework of how you think about your goals. Doing what you did last year isn’t OK, because last year wasn’t flawless, and flawless is the goal. If the goal is “good,” there’s no stretching to achieve it.

      1. Alex*

        This is assuming great employees don’t generally strive to surpass goals, which I disagree with. The problem with the word “flawless” or setting very ambitious goals is that it can be demoralizing to feel like 99% is a failure, and feel like even at your absolute best, you’re simply meeting the expectation.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          It depends on how you’re using goals. If you’re in an environment where everyone has a shared understanding that goals represent ambitious (but reasonably realistic) progress, people understand that success is hitting the goal, which in and of itself is something of a stretch. It really comes down to how your org uses goals though.

          1. Judy*

            Everywhere I’ve worked the middle review level is called “Meets Expectations” or “Strong Results”. You are expected to meet either most of your goals while exceeding some or meet all of your goals to get that. To get an “Exceeds Expectations” or “Outstanding Contributor” you must meet all of your goals and exceed many.

    4. AVP*

      I work in an environment where I’m often putting on events and similar and the expectation is “flawless production” – and I have to say, if I get it 99% correct I will beat myself up over that last 1%. But my manager sees that and tells me pretty much the same thing you just did…99% is still damn good and the most we can reasonably expect from anything involving humans.

      But one of my interns gave me the best compliment when she said I run things like a swan – under the surface my legs are going like crazy but above the water there’s not even a noticeable ripple. I loved that, and go back to it when I worry about my internal strife becoming external.

      1. Alex*

        I have this conversation with my manager a lot… when the goals are set up so the top 2% are the only ones to reach them, and at 5 or 6%, I am technically failing, but at the same time being praised for fantastic achievement. I’m sure this is more of my own mental block than anything, but it really is a demotivator, especially knowing that there is basically no way that I’ll be able to surpass any expectation because the bar is so high that even achieving the expectation isn’t truly “expected”.

        I’ve come to understand that I just really like things black and white. Say what you mean, mean what you say, etc.

    5. Jennifer*

      Hah. I have literally been told at my job that we have to be perfect. No, that person was not kidding.

  11. Eliza Jane*

    #3: Put my vote in the “don’t” column. It’s great that you want to help this guy, but there are a lot of people in the same position (kids and no job), and many of them are not toxic complainers. I’d give him the same advice you’d give if a random stranger on the bus asked about working at your company (“our openings are all listed on the company website. You can click the ‘careers’ link to browse them”) and then let it go.

    If you think he may namedrop you, you might want to preemptively warn him that you don’t know enough about his work to give him a recommendation if someone asks.

    I wanted to comment specifically on this line: “I feel morally inclined to put the best interests of a fellow human being above any loyalty I have to a corporation.” Keep in mind that you aren’t just putting his best interests above the corporation’s: you’re putting his interests above that of the other qualified candidates who don’t have his networking option. It’s easy to view him as a real human being and them as a faceless mass, just because of the way our brains are wired, but they are all people with needs and worries and difficulties, too.

    1. fposte*

      I really like that last paragraph. Additionally, the people who will have to work with this guy are also fellow human beings, and they’re the ones who may have to work late to pick up his slack and thus not see their own kids, if he’s that lackluster. For that matter, the OP is also a fellow human being that stands to lose from this association–so just how many human beings is this guy worth dinging for?

    2. Graciosa*

      Thank you, thank you, thank you.

      I think people have a tendency to regard corporations as “things” that have nothing to do with people – which is sort of true, but not the whole story. In addition to other real human beings who may not get the job because Poor Employee You Recommend gets it instead, and all the real human beings who have to pick up his slack at work, there are occasionally real human beings who depend upon the success of the corporation for their livelihood (both investors and employees) and a few bad apples can do more damage than most people realize.

      I’m old enough to remember Enron.

      1. Dan*

        Real people own stock in a corporation. Real people work there. When a company goes belly up in a catastrophic manner, odds are it’s the real people who get hurt the most.

        Senior officers generally get golden parachutes, stock options, and laugh all the way to the bank. When something bad happens to the company, odds are they still have more money in the bank than I will ever see in a lifetime.

        Bottom line: Real people work at companies and get hurt the most.

    3. Ann O'Nemity*

      I’m also in the “don’t” column.

      My husband had a bad experience by simply forwarding a resume to a hiring manager. He made it very clear that he couldn’t speak to the candidate’s work, only that the candidate was the son of a family friend. Turns out the new employee had a poor work ethic and stopped showing up. Although it didn’t directly affect my husband’s performance review, he was told that he shouldn’t attempt to make any future recommendations.

      1. fposte*

        And if one of those future recommendations would be a really good employee who could also really use a job to feed his or her kids, how frustrating to have squandered the opportunity on somebody who didn’t deserve it.

        1. Dan*

          Kids shouldn’t be part of this discussion. I don’t have kids, but still need a job to feed myself. Someone with kids shouldn’t have dibs on a job just because they have higher expenses than me.

            1. fposte*

              Agreeing here–I just brought them in for my hypothetical employee to balance the kids the OP was worried about.

      2. Elsajeni*

        This is a good example for the OP, too, because it sounds like your husband made exactly the type of recommendation she’s thinking about making, the “just forwarding a resume, can’t vouch for his work” type where a reasonable person wouldn’t have any reason to hold it against the recommender if it didn’t work out — if anything, the manager who hired the dude is the one who should have gotten the talking-to, and it should have been “Don’t hire people based on ‘recommendations’ without making sure of their skills and work habits first” — and yet it still came back to bite him.

        1. OP #3*

          Thanks for the advice – if anything, it makes me feel like less of a toad for being reluctant to help this guy out. The one wrinkle in this case is that my former boss, who did not like this guy, was an emotionally abusive nightmare, and she was herself fired recently. (I try to quell the schadenfreude). Regardless, I bristle at the “No one appreciates how smart I am! Don’t they know that I went to ?” But he probably was mistreated, and I do feel sorry for him. But not quite sorry enough to risk my own behind over it.

  12. TeaBQ*

    For #4: Speaking as someone who used to be in a support position, another thing you can consider is improvements. There’s always ways to handle phones, mail, supply ordering, etc. better and more efficiently. So you could include a goal of finding ways to improve their daily tasks.

    Organization and documentation are also good ones. Document what they do for whoever has to fill in when they’re sick. (For example, “Ned Stark doesn’t work here anymore, so give his mail to Joffrey.”)

    And for organization, there are always files, both physical and virtual, that could be gone through, old stuff weeded out, necessary documents put into easier to find folders and systems, SOPs created regarding record keeping, and so on.

  13. The Cosmic Avenger*

    #2: I have separate “Work friends” and “Work only” Facebook lists. The former are pretty much like most FB friends, they see most of my posts except for the most dirty/political/crass, although a couple of the people at work that I actually hang out with are on my regular “Friends” list, too, so they’ll see those. But you can specify a post to be seen by all friends except those on specific friends lists, the easiest thing to do is to block the “onlys” — Online Only, Work Only — from the more personal stuff.

    The two work lists are what works best for me because some work-related orgs. have Facebook groups, and my company is active on FB, so sometimes there really are work-related posts, and I can include just those two groups when I share posts about webinars or conferences, for example.

    That’s just me, but I wanted to point out that it is quite possible, and it’s not that hard.

    1. Ali*

      This is how I organize my friends list too. I’m friends with both current coworkers and people I used to work with, and I just change my settings on a status when I don’t want them to see something. My company has a social culture, though, so adding each other on Facebook isn’t seen as weird or “I would NEVER add people I work with.”

    2. The Real Ash*

      But you could always have two separate accounts so that way you aren’t constantly having to double-check that you are sharing the post with the correct list, or blocking these three spcific people from seeing this picture, etc.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        You could, but it’s more of a pain to log in and out of two different accounts (been there, done that) than it is to get used to deciding which posts get seen by which lists. I’ve also moved people back and forth between business contacts and personal, which would be awkward or impossible with two accounts, but easy with lists. Plus, duplicate accounts violate Facebook’s TOS, and they will shut down duplicate accounts when they catch them (been there, done that too).

        1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

          I agree. Lists and groups on FB are only complicated to the extent that one doesn’t use them. They’re a new skill/habit, but once you get used to it, it’s really not hard to maintain and do automatically. Plus, if you hit “post” and immediately realize your error, you can now delete those posts within a certain time window. Easy peasy. Much easier, in my opinion, than switching between FB accounts, keeping track of which one I’m in, making sure I’m sending requests and posting things within the right one, having to post items to both when I want both to see them…

      2. voluptuousfire*

        I had two FB accounts and (one under my given name for work/easily searchable by those who try to find me to check out my social media and one under my nickname which has everyone else) I had no trouble. If you use different emails and names, I’d gather it’s not an issue. I rarely posted under my work Facebook account and no one noticed.

  14. Enid*

    I’m not sure if I’m being really weird in not really seeing the problem with the brothel job. If you had been a sex worker, I could definitely understand not wanting to put that on a resume. But wouldn’t a receptionist position at a brothel be pretty similar to a receptionist position at, say, a massage clinic or a doctor’s office? Maybe it’s my inexperience with brothels talking, but it seems like the tasks and skills would be pretty much the same, regardless of what the appointments are for. But maybe I’m drastically underestimating the number of people who would look down on someone performing even a non-sex-related job at a legal brothel.

    1. HarperC*

      I wouldn’t have the slightest problem with it, either, but I was also thinking maybe it’s just me. It’s legal in that area and a business is a business.

    2. Anon for this*

      Anything connected with the “adult entertainment” industry is HUGELY looked down on. I am in this industry (in addition to having an office job, I am actually trying to transition to full time adult industry work) and I have a friend whose flat I once used for filming some content for my website (all of this is legal where I am, BTW). I paid her rent for the time I used it, and when she off-hand mentioned it to someone, they were HORRIFIED that she had accepted “dirty money”. The person who was horrified was someone I would have considered really open-minded and non-judgemental. The transferable skills from my adult work are things companies would love to have: email marketing, social media, photo editing, video production, web design and coding, etc, but I know I will have to find other ways to put those on my resume because I won’t be able to explain where it came from without immediately putting myself out of the running. Which is silly, because what I do is legal, I declare all of my income (even gifts…if someone in the adult industry receives a gift basket from a client at Christmas, the tax man considers it payment for services rendered, even if it isn’t), and I work darned hard at it.
      Never underestimate the hypocritical judgement people in the adult industry world face, because it is really disheartening and frustrating.

      1. The Real Ash*

        All you have to do to explain away your skills is just say that it’s a personal hobby of yours, or something that was interesting to you and you taught yourself in your spare time. No need to make up anything or lie. You could even always spend some time interning somewhere, or volunteer to help a local charity or business with their website or social media.

        1. fposte*

          Though that still leaves the skills substantially undersold. If I’m looking for a social media person, I’m not going to consider a self-taught hobbyist.

          1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

            This. I mean, I’d consider it, but skills gained in the context of employment (where someone is holding you to standards and judging your work, putting you on external deadlines, etc) are SUBSTANTIALLY more important than skills you picked up doing hobbies.

            1. Jamie*

              Tbh I wouldn’t consider any of it if I couldn’t see it. If someone tells me they can design websites or has done Y on social media I want samples …I want to see the work.

              And they can’t link to it and keep it vague – and you definitely can’t link to porn without forewarning someone what they will find there…I think it’s even less helpful than having it as a hobby.

              If I tell you I’m an artist and talk about the art I can do, but I can’t show you any and I won’t tell you why…it would be so off putting.

            2. Anon for this*

              Yup. And while it is self-employment rather than having a boss, it sucks to not be able to show the work I’ve done. I mean, obviously you wouldn’t show a hard-core porn site, but my site for work is soft-core that just links to my content elsewhere, but even then I doubt anyone looking to hire me would be able to see past it.

      2. Jane Jones*

        (I asked question #1)
        It is indeed frustrating and disheartening.
        Good luck with your career transition!

        1. Anon*

          Good luck with your job hunt :) I always find it funny that I am trying to leave the “vanilla” world when so many women I know in the same business are trying to get back into the vanilla life.

      3. Anon2*

        Hell, even stripping is legal in just about anywhere in the US, and you *still* have the workers with issues on how to present their employment and not telling their families what they really do. In Los Angeles, it’s common to rent out posh houses for porn shoots, and it’s my understanding that it rarely goes over well with the neighbors.

        It’s really interesting traveling elsewhere in the world where the stuff is legal and nobody cares. They really present it as an up and up experience in many places.

    3. Jane Jones*

      I’m the person who asked question #1. Unfortunately, even though sex work is legal where I am, there’s still a lot of stigma around the whole industry. Some of the receptionists that I worked with wouldn’t even tell their partners/families where they worked, because they were worried that people would assume that they were working actually on the other side of the desk. And that’s not really a wild assumption, I guess, since there are some sex workers who will say that they are a receptionist. And there are also receptionists who have worked both sides of the desk. A lot of people also just associate the sex industry with organised crime, even though that’s not really true.

    4. Rebecca*

      The question made me remember a funny experience I had in an interview once!

      I was interviewing a woman who had recently relocated from Las Vegas. Early in the interview, I asked her a question about how she could apply past experience to the customer service job she was applying for. She started with, “Well, when I was a dealer…” and answered the question very well. Well, my mind went straight to “drug dealer” and I was thinking, “Wow, I can’t believe she just told me she was a drug dealer!”

      We continued talking and she was very professional, engaging, friendly, etc. Really perfect for the job! I remember thinking, “Well, I guess you do have to have a good level of customer service. Plus she has lots of other experience, so maybe that was a long time ago.” It was seriously the end of the interview when it dawned on me that she meant she was a card dealer at a casino! Haha, I did hire her (and she was a great employee) and honestly I probably still would have hired her even if I’d never realized she wasn’t a drug dealer.

      1. Sigrid*

        Ha! Great story. Also, I’d imagine that dealers (of the casino kind) probably have a LOT of experience with obnoxious customers, which is a very transferable skill.

  15. Oryx*

    I’m not FB friends with any of my current co-workers and I don’t plan to be. I prefer to keep that part of my life separate from work and the few former co-workers I am FB friends with, it’s because that developed into an actual legit friendship where we get together and talk outside of work in a non-work related setting (so, y’know, the annual off-site Christmas party doesn’t count).

    I work in a culture very much like the OP in #2, where everyone is constantly commenting on things on FB from other people and are all friends with each other and what not but I’ve still managed to fit in with the office culture. Granted, it perhaps took longer than if I had allowed them to be FB friends with me but this way it’s a bit more under my control.

  16. anon-2*

    #1 – tough thing to bring forward on a resume. As AAM said – classify it as something else – dwell on the administrative skills. People get typecast easily, too — even in the business world.

    Example = take a job working in a call center, after that you become LESS marketable. I advised a family member = “DON’T TAKE IT. You are better off working at a fast food place.” — because if you want to work in a different role in finance, they won’t let you.

    Some “working experience” can kill a career. I wish you luck … I realize that you did what you probably had to do but you did make a living .. so .. that might be a good thing.

    1. The Real Ash*

      Did you mis-read the post? She only has administrative skills, she is not one of the sex workers at the brothel.

    2. nyxalinth*

      I don’t necessarily agree that call centers – doom and gloom for your career. Yes, you can get typecast–I did–but I also held an office position for a good while until we were laid off. As for working in fast food, in some areas, it can actually be harder to get in. I live in Colorado, and fast food here is dominated by Hispanic folks and college students. You almost can’t gt in if you aren’t either or both. I’ve tried, and people who tell me to swallow my pride and “just get a fast food job” don’t get that. Anyway, that’s an aside.

    3. Anon for this*

      “I realize that you did what you probably had to do but you did make a living”
      Just so you know, there are people who work in the adult industry who actually enjoy their jobs and actively chose that path. Yes, some people are in it as a survival job, but some of us chose it, and when people paint us all as desperate without choices, it adds to the stigma around the work.

  17. Leah*

    #1 I think AAM really hit the nail on the head and I would only add one thing. When possible, try to target companies that are web-based or have a heavy web presence. My husband and a number of my friends have been involved with hiring for a number of those companies and have all had to review [the code on] porn sites when hiring people. The content of the sites was never an issue and a lot of these coders were on the edge of problems that other sites would face down the road (payment systems, videos, streaming, etc).

    My point is that there is a much lower probability of encountering pearl-clutching there. Don’t do this to the exclusion of other opportunities, but I’d start with web companies when possible.

    1. Jane Jones*

      re question #1. Thanks for your input. I’m definitely interesting in working in tech and I think that customer support or a similar role (maybe leading into project management, or maybe even a role in web dev) is something that I could be really good at. I used to work night shift and have had to deal with some strange and difficult clients and situations, so after that, I could probably deal with any kind of customer complaint or issue that could come up!

      Ironically, you’re making me consider whether I should – if I ever get anywhere with teaching myself to code – consider looking into working behind the scenes for a porn site. Alas, I’d be too worried about ending up in a similar situation to what I’m in now. ;)

  18. Allison*

    I’m generally very hesitant to add co-workers on Facebook, especially if we haven’t been working together long. I did end up friending a few people at my last job, but only after we’d gained each other’s trust, and even then I sometimes blocked them from seeing stuff that was too personal. In general, I’ll wait until we’re no longer working together but want to stay in touch, or get back in touch.

    I’ve also had people decline friend requests I was sure would be accepted, and didn’t really think much of it. People have their boundaries and its their prerogative who they connect (and don’t connect) with on Facebook. I’ve never expected or demanded an explanation. That said, it might not hurt to decline and then simply explain “sorry, I don’t connect with current co-workers on Facebook.”

  19. Jessica*

    #4 I am really glad someone asked this question. I am an admin and we are asked to set our own goals for performance evaluation. Also, what do you put on your resume when it comes to achievements other than “I did my job to my best of my ability and no one yelled at me so I guess I’m doing okay” – there is not a lot of moving and shaking in admin work, though there is often some room for innovation.
    I’d love to hear more suggestions for goal-setting for support positions (especially ones without a lot of contact with customers/public), if anybody has any.

    1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      I think having a goal around internal service is really good. Even if you’re not talking to external customers or the public, you’re in a support position, which means the co-workers you support are your customers. Internal service is a *huge* predicator for retention, so admin/support positions are a key place to make your staff love their jobs.

      Structuring goals around those ideas could look something like:

      Employee is known throughout her team/the office as a go-to resource when something needs to get done.

      Complaints about this employee are almost unheard of, and managers often hear phrases from their staff like “Lily was a total lifesafer here,” or “JoJuan just knows so much about this process” or “I know that when I need it done right, I go to Caspian.”

      Employee innovates in her position, regularly makes recommendations on whether the newest tech or tool would be useful for the company or not.

    2. AndersonDarling*

      A lot of my goals were around satisfaction and I would send lots of surveys. I had a goal for booking travel. After the executive returned, I would send an email with the voting button asking to rate their travel in regards to reservations.
      I would also send surveys to any people that I worked with throughout the year. This would make my “internal satisfaction” goal.

    3. AVP*

      I asked Alison a similar question when she reviewed my resume, and she recommended the same idea about looking at the difference between what my role would look like if a standard person was it in, compared to my performance. Based on conversations with my manager about solving problems they’d had in the past, plus specific compliments that I’ve gotten from contacts and clients over the years, I realized that I’m a lot faster to respond to emails and requests, make fewer mistakes, don’t need to be asked for things repeatedly, and am generally a lot more together than other people who’ve had this job. This efficiency let me take on a lot of new tasks that were interesting to me, that other people didn’t have time for, which has led to some big promotions.

      I think if you can look at your performance that way, and use your reviews to try to distill what people like about the job you’re doing, you can jump off from there and come up with some goals. You can also look at if there’s anything you’ve gotten negative feedback about, or that you wish you were doing better or in a different way, and try to build in some goals for improvement.

      When I first started here, after I got up to speed, I was also pretty good at noticing what parts of their jobs my managers hated and offering to help with those, which led to new goals for learning things.

    4. Jennifer*

      Hah, my goal would be “written up less/got less complaints this year.” Oh, public service….

      I used to be able to keep statistics for how much I did at work, but it’s harder now than it used to be and way too overwhelming to write down every single day every single one of the fifty things I do.

  20. Brett*

    #2 Two things to understand about facebook privacy settings.
    No matter what you do, all of your friends will always be able to view comments on your posts. There is no privacy setting on comments on posts nor are their settings to prevent comments on your posts.

    Tagged posts automatically break privacy settings. So if you tag a person in a post, they and their friends can always see it. This could possibly be the entire public if that tagged person’s privacy settings allow that. More importantly, if someone tags someone else in the comments on your post, that tagged person can now see your post.

    As an example, you make a post that you do not want Co-Worker Acquaintance to see, but that Co-Worker Friend can see. Co-Worker Friend posts a comment on your post (which you cannot stop), and tags Co-Worker Acquaintance in the comment. Co-Worker Acquaintance can now see the full post and comments. More importantly, they can now share the post. Work Boss is one of Co-Worker Acquaintance’s friends, so Work Boss sees your original post on their timeline now as well.
    Not only is this impossible to prevent with the current facebook privacy model, once Co-Worker Acquaintance shares your post, there is no way to undo it on your own even if you delete your original post. (Facebook “deletions” only remove the content from your timeline. The content is still stored and permanently linked by Facebook, and so the post “share” stays active.)

    1. De Minimis*

      That’s a big reason why I don’t friend people on Facebook unless I’m okay with them seeing everything I do there. Even though I try to have my settings to separate people like family, acquaintances from school/my home town from others that I tend to be more open with [people I’ve met online with whom I share common interests] my settings are only as good as my friends’ settings, and as Brett noted there are too many things that the settings don’t cover.

      If family or people from high school are upset by my liking something they disagree with, they can unfriend or block me [I certainly block a lot of the things from them,] but I don’t want to risk creating problems at work over what I do on social media away from work, so I avoid interacting with people from my current job on Facebook.

    2. nyxalinth*

      Given that FB is a company, and companies exist to make money, what possible benefit is it to them to have such screwy privacy settings? What’s going on that doing it this way, (even when it annoys people, and they’ve said is much) makes it better than doing it how their users would much prefer? I guess I don’t have enough of a business brain for it to make sense.

      1. KellyK*

        The thing to remember about Facebook (and any other free internet site) is that the users aren’t the customers. The customers are advertisers. The users, and all their posts and personal information, are the *product.*

    3. TK*

      Your first point is a little confusing; it would be nonsensical for someone to be able to see only the comments on a post, but not the post itself, so I assume you mean “all of your friends who can see that post” will always be able to view comments on a post. That is, comments can’t have stricter privacy settings than the posts they’re attached to. This only makes sense.

      The tagging thing is a little awkward. You can set it so that you must approve it anytime someone adds a tag to a photo or post of yours, but not a comment. You can, of course, always delete the comment itself, and then escalate to talking to the commenter/unfriending/blocking them if they continue tagging, but that seems like a lot of ridiculous work, and you have to catch it in time anyway.

      If you share something on Facebook, it still can only be viewed by people who can see the original post. When you go to share something, a message pops us that says, “Some people may not be able to see this attachment because of its privacy settings,” unless it’s already set to public. If you add text when you share, you control who sees that, but the original post is still only visible to those its creator designated.

      So sharing doesn’t have a lot to do with your scenario: Work Boss is going to be able to see your original post because it’ll show up on Co-Worker Acquaintance’s timeline once they’re tagged, even without any sharing being done.

      The whole business of tags in comments making the whole post visible to all that person’s friends seems a little weird to me, but I can’t find anything online to contradict it, and Facebook is always erring on the side of less privacy.

      1. Brett*

        Yes, that is what I meant. All of your friends who can see your post can view the comments on your posts. More importantly, everyone who sees the post can comment on the post. You cannot lock a post in any way to prevent comments.
        Tagging is really where you run into huge problems, because tagging is basically a one-time release of current privacy restrictions that cascades upwards from comments to the post.

        1. Judy*

          You can apparently delete comments on a post. One of my cousins posted a “What do you think the meaning of life is?” question, and the first 3 or 4 comments were something like “42, of course”. She responded with “What???” I responded with an explanation. Soon afterwards there were only comments on that post by her mom “family”.

  21. Jenn*

    Facebook & work is an awkward thing. I’ve been places where hardly anyone friends anyone else and I was fine with that. However, my past two jobs, it’s been the norm that everyone is friends on Facebook. In fact, at my last job, everyone friended the boss except for me and then I really began to feel left out of the conversations they were having online. I ended up friending her and it turned out OK.

    I have a ton of co-workers on Facebook now and it’s actually really helped my job with networking and figuring out what’s going on in different areas of the University I work in. I am definately more in-tune with other departments than the co-workers who aren’t connected.

    My rules have been: keep it clean, don’t go political, don’t be boring. I post photos of my kids because I have kids and they’re an important part of my life. I post links that I find interesting as long as they aren’t too controversial. I want people to get an idea of my personality but I also want them to get a somewhat sanitized personality.

    In general, it’s the best idea on Twitter, Facebook, personal blogs, tumblrs and anything else to never ever ever post anything that could be construed as even slightly negative about work or co-workers. Even if you think it’s private, there are screen grabs and security holes. Just never go here. Ever. It shocks me even today when I see people complain about co-workers on Facebook. It will get back to them and it makes you look insanely unprofessional.

    1. De Minimis*

      I tweaked my Twitter profile because it had a snarky comment about my job [I mentioned being a proponent of the “close enough for government work” philosophy.] When I applied for a better job with my agency, I decided I might want to remove that line….

  22. Anonforthis*

    #4 – I work in payroll. My tangible goals all revolve around payroll errors (must be under 1.5% – number of errors/total headcount). I do have leadership goals as well, such as customer focus (since I don’t deal with external customers, this obviously refers to our employees), collaborative (do I play nice with other departments?), ownership, inventive (do I think outside the box to fix issues) and a couple others but you get the idea. I have to give examples in a self-review and how I’ve met each one. And something that could work for all of your support roles, if they deal with other locations or other managers, solicit feedback on how they are doing. It can be very eye-opening to find out that the employee that is always extremely professional to you, is nearly insubordinate when dealing with other managers (for example).

    1. De Minimis*

      I have a similar role, the goals on my evaluation all involve submitted required reports on time each month, completing certain trainings each year, etc.

      My job doesn’t involve a lot of direct entry of information so there’s not a need to measure errors, which is a relief to me!

  23. Karon*

    I understand people feeling weird about not following through with a friend request on FB, but I honestly think a lot of people won’t even notice if you do friend them. Many people have so many friends on FB, and send out so many friend requests (sometimes automatically without thinking much about who they’re friending), it would take them actively checking back to see if the person responded to the request. The same if you “un-friended” them: chances are they would not notice.I think would be odd if someone came back and asked you about it, though I see from some of the comments that this has happened.

    I don’t add coworkers on my FB. My account is private. If anyone asks I tell them this, and after awhile they don’t bother to ask again. After some coworkers have left, I have added the ones I wanted to keep in touch with.

  24. Sunflower*

    Facebook- Honestly, I wouldn’t even mention it to coworkers. If someone friends you, act like it never happened. While Facebook used to be a huge young person thing, I’m finding it’s way more popular with the older population as a means to reconnect. Facebook started when I was in high school and my senior year was the first year it was open to high schoolers. I’m already connected to anyone in the past mostly. I’m 26 now and people my age are way more into Twitter and Instagram than they are facebook. I have LOTS of friends with facebook profiles that never go on or check them.

    LSS- Just don’t even acknowledge the ‘I don’t friend coworkers’. Just say ‘I really never go on facebook anymore. I’ve pretty much abandoned it!’ It’s really not that weird nowadays

  25. Noah*

    #1 – In college I worked for a gay porn website. My official title was travel coordinator, but I really did a ton of various small admin tasks. It was a really fun job, very laid back atmosphere.

    When I was interviewing for a previous job I was asked “what were your tasks at ABC Media (not the real name)”. I told them I coordinated travel arrangements for model’s and various admin tasks. They then asked “what kind of models”. I replied “male models”. So the interviewer asked, “like fitness models?” I replied, “kind of.” He kept pushing until I blurted out “gay porn models” and turned bright red. I did get the job, and everyone in the office knew I worked for a gay porn website. Got that out of the way early on I guess.

    The worst question I was ever asked is if I was also a model. The answer is no, but I then felt like I had to explain that I wouldn’t be ashamed to be one either. Those guys were all great to work with and several are still friends. I probably wouldn’t do it because of my own hangups about it and my friends/family possibly seeing it, but I don’t think there’s really anything wrong there either.

    So, FWIW, I don’t really announce it to the world, especially during interviews. I try to step around it just because I know anything connected to adult entertainment is a huge issue for some people. However, I also don’t know that I want to work somewhere that would make me feel like I need to hide every part of my past, especially when it’s not something I’m regretful of.

    1. Jane Jones*

      Excellent story. I also share your thoughts about how I don’t want to work somewhere that would have a problem with where I have worked, but I guess my main concern is actually getting my foot in the door at all.

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