new manager getting pushback from staff, employer keeps tweeting about a job opening, and more

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

1. I’m a new manager and getting pushback from some staff on job requirements

I’ve been promoted to the managerial position for a college program where I was formerly the program assistant and an instructor. I am also much younger than most of the other instructors who were my colleagues and now are my staff (about 10 people) and am taking over for a much-loved manager who founded the program.

While I have great relationships and feel respected by about half the team, there are several others who are having trouble adjusting (to say it lightly). The former manager was very lenient about some of the administrative requirements and I’m being pushed by my own supervisor to be more strict and make sure everyone is doing what they need to be doing. There are several staff members who have been under-performing and not following some of our grant requirements. These are are also staff members who are off-site (about an hour away). I recently sent emails to two in particular having issues, explaining that we need to make sure certain requirements are met in order to not risk our funding. I attempted to come from an empathetic perspective, and in fact the former manager (she’s been training me before she goes) looked it over and thought it was fine. I received fairly haughty responses back, along the lines of “(former manager) was very flexible, are you not going to be as flexible as her?”

I’m trying to be flexible, I’m trying to be delicate and empathetic, and I’m also trying to get respect and fulfill my responsibilities to my own supervisor and our grantors. These are people who have been in the program a long time and are overall good instructors so I don’t want to lose them, but simply don’t know the best way to proceed.

“I know we’ve been more lenient about this in the past, but we’re deliberately making a push now to follow the administrative requirements because ___. If it turns out to be really onerous to do this, let me know what you’re running into and we can talk about how to approach it, but (your own boss) and I are committed to following these requirements going forward.”

If you continue to get indications that some staff members are Not On Board with what you’re doing, talk to them about it directly — and if it’s getting in the way of them doing the work you need or being able to work with them relatively easily, be prepared to handle it as you would any other performance issue. It’s great to be flexible and empathetic, but don’t let that steer you away from being forthright when you’re not seeing what you need.

2. Writing a recommendation letter on a different company’s letterhead

I was asked to write a recommendation letter for a former employee who is now applying to graduate school. He was an excellent team member, so I’m happy to help.

However, the school he is applying to requires that the recommendation letter be on “company letterhead.” Both the former employee and I have moved on from the organization we worked for when we worked together. I called the school, and they confirmed that the letterhead requirement is important to them, suggesting that I use letterhead from my current place of employment (which the employee has no connection to).

The organization I work for now is well known and I’m not sure they’d want their letterhead used for this (something completely unrelated to them). I also don’t want to imply in any way that that I’m speaking on behalf of my new company or that former employee is somehow connected to this new company. Am I wrong to feel “icky” about using my current company letterhead? Are there any other options that I’m missing? (Also, what if I choose not to keep working after leaving my last place of employment? I wouldn’t have much option to use “current” company letterhead, right?)

It’s pretty normal to use company letterhead in this context. It’s not considered unethical, wrong, or weird. You’re not speaking for your current company, but you’re acting in your professional capacity, and this is where you now work. You’ll of course make it clear in your letter where you worked with the person, so you’re not being misleading in any way.

(That said, I agree with you in wondering how the school would handle it if you weren’t currently employed.)

3. Explaining why I don’t have a LinkedIn profile

I’m just starting my job search after completed a graduate degree and am trying to connect with folks for informational interviews where possible. It’s going really well, but I keep running into the same problem — every person I’ve connected with asks for my Linkedin profile. When I say that I don’t have a LI (or any social media), they tell me what a big mistake it is not to have an online presence during my job hunt.

The problem is that I don’t keep social media profiles for safety reasons, as I’ve been stalked online by an abuser from my childhood. I’m familiar with my legal options, but I don’t want to explain this very personal story to strangers or in job interviews. How do I answer this question? It’s exhausting to get a lecture on why I need Linkedin when it’s not an option for such an intimately personal reason.

I’d go with, “I know, and normally I would. There’s a long, complicated story behind why I don’t.” And then I’d immediately steer the subject to something else.

4. Severance agreement stops payments once new work is found

My wife has a severance agreement from her employer where she is paid on leave for a specific amount of time (a week for each year she was at employer). I believe she can not get a new job, and if she does this pay will cease. How would her old employer who she technically is still getting paid by now? They have never sent her anything where she verified she wasn’t looking and/or had other employment.

Does she have a written severance contract that clearly states that the severance will stop if she takes a new job before it’s set to run out? If so, she has signed a legally binding contract and should inform them herself if she accepts new work before the severance payments stop. Otherwise, if they later find out, at a minimum she’s likely to have burned that bridge with them (and possibly impact the kind of reference she gets from them in the future). Worse case scenario, they could take her to court to get the money back.

And they could certainly find out — through LinkedIn, the grapevine, knowing someone at the new company, or who knows how. Plus, there’s the whole acting in good faith thing — she made an agreement that she should honor.

5. Employer keeps tweeting about a job opening

I applied two weeks ago to a job that seemed tailor-made to my skill set. It’s also a job with a company that I’ve been following quite extensively for a few years now.

They tweeted the job out on their Twitter page for the first time on April 27. The job posting itself was first listed on their company website on the 27th. Since then, the job has been tweeted out once every couple of days. It was tweeted out again this morning.

Should I already assume I’m out of the running? After applying I received an automatic reply, the standard “HR will contact you in 2-3 weeks if interested,” and I understand that I should consider a job out of sight out of mind after applying, but… is there any way I could know what this means? Does tweeting the job posting out multiple times mean they aren’t getting applicants they want? Does it mean maybe they haven’t even started interviews yet? Is there any way to know if this means anything?

It means nothing.

It’s no different than companies that keep refreshing job ads until they’ve hired someone. It doesn’t indicate anything about the quality of candidates in their pool or whether or not you are still under consideration; it indicates only that they want to keep the flow of candidates coming until they no longer need to, because they’ve hired someone and closed the position. Smart companies keep recruiting actively no matter how much they like the candidates in their pool, because they have no way of knowing if things will ultimately work out with those candidates or not.

Plus, the person handling their Twitter may have zero interaction with the people doing the hiring and have no idea where the hiring for the position stands, other than the fact that there’s an open job.

I think you’re taking the tweets to mean “we’re increasingly concerned that we need more candidates because we definitely don’t see the right one in the existing applications,” but it really means nothing more than “we have a job opening that has not been filled as of today.”

{ 90 comments… read them below }

  1. Artemesia

    for #1. I have been in your position. It is important that you have the backing of your own boss. It might be worth sitting down with her and outlining the changes you are making in response to her requests and how you are dealing with the pushback. And find out if she would support you in taking this to the mattresses. Instructors are a dime a dozen; unless you are in Antarctica or something you could replace current off site instructors with equally or better qualified people almost certainly. So if your boss really wants you to manage, then you should feel confident to do so. I got rid of several people like this and their failure to be cooperative was just the tip of the iceberg; there were many performance issues. They had just never been managed before.

    That so, teachers at this level should have a lot of autonomy in order to bring their best to the process. It isn’t clear what these things they aren’t doing are, but it doesn’t seem like something that is likely to reduce the quality of their instruction or license to be creative. That kind of flexibility is important. And I might make that clear to them — your commitment to their creativity in the classroom — while also making it clear that certain standards of management have to be kept.

    I had people who were not measuring student progress continuously, who were not giving timely feedback to students, and often didn’t get things wrapped up professionally in a timely manner at the end. It is not acceptable to leave students in the dark on their progress and to not have several assignments throughout the semester. And I had one who was sleeping with students and one who was often a no show, perhaps due to substance issues. This is all incompetent and unprofessional. So don’t be petty, but be clear about the things that are require to keep the program in good standing and then get rid of them and replace them if they don’t get it done. (making sure you have the backing before you go that far.)

  2. No LinkedIn profile either

    #3, I refuse to have a profile on LinkedIn for exactly the same reason. With FB, at least I can block individuals, control tags, and so forth. I went round and round with Customer Service at LinkedIn, asking why I couldn’t block an individual from access even if they have the professional account (I am certain this person has that service, in order to “build their accounts” – this is a safety measure anyone should be able to request.) LinkedIn said it could not be done.

    I also find these social networking sites to be an enormous time suck. I prefer to spend free time on AAM because I learn so much from you all.

    1. snuck

      My linkedIn profile is virtually non existant – partly for a similar reason.

      The abuse of information by stalkers is horrendous, and really there is little need for you to share a lot of this information for the whole world to find… if you are looking for work you can provide the same information in a written form.

      I wouldn’t trust most references/endorsements on LinkedIn … the only thing I can see that it provides that a quality resume wouldn’t… because I know for a fact a lot of my LinkedIn endorsement requests come from people I have never worked with, and only a few come from people who could give an accurate reflection of how I work.

      1. Colette

        IMO, there are two advantages of Linked In. First of all, it allows me to find former colleagues easily. Secondly, it allows me to easily find people I know at companies I’m interested in. Both of those things would be difficult or impossible to do manually.

        1. M-C

          +1 This is particularly acute for me because I’m in an industry where people move a lot, and because I’ve worked a lot in startups, most of which are now defunct. LI has been invaluable in getting back in touch with old colleagues, some old clients, and because of that I really wish it had been around since the beginning of my career.

          But OP I fear that you’re hurting yourself professionally in order to avoid this stalker. As everyone has been telling you, it’s now considered practically mandatory to have a Linked-in Profile with basic info, much more than a business card. Not having one is weird, and some vague excuse about not wanting to be found is even weirder, you’d be better off to be blunt about it (“I’m avoiding an online stalker”). In my opinion, you’d be better off giving out a very measured amount of information on LI than not having anything up at all. So the jerk gets your email, so what? You can pick a solid password, you can block his attempts at contact, you’re not really at risk.

          What I find most worrisome in how you express yourself is that you feel that facebook might be more secure. It’s not – facebook was designed by a stalker, and much of that remains in its fundamental design no matter how they deny it. Your setting may be perfectly adjusted now, but the necessary ones will change in 6 months without notice, and your stuff will be flapping open for anyone who knows their way around for at least some time. And unless you’re certain every one of your friends never accepts friend requests from unknowns, and they’re all looking out for you, your info is never safe. Linked-In is actually better in that they’re up front about how what you put up there is basically public, so that you think harder about it.

          It sounds like you need to inform yourself better about what info about you is kept online, and how to control it. Sticking your head in the sand and cutting yourself off from professional networks is not a long term solution. Check out what people who have studied the question say and recommend, there are lots of helpful sources. http://www.crashoverridenetwork.com was founded by the women who got caught in Gamergate, http://www.eff.org tirelessly fight for your right to privacy and have some very informative stuff about it, ACLU is also fully on the no-tracking bandwagon, just for a start. Your local domestic violence organization may also be able to advise you, as many have figured out that extra effort is needed against the techies who keep tabs on you. You’re not an unusual case, you’re not alone, please don’t isolate yourself.

          1. Vicki

            I’m +1 Liking this.

            Please – YOU control your online presence. But isolating yourself away from everyone because of one or two people from your past gives them power over you they Should Not Have.

            1. neverjaunty

              While I’m cheering on the reference to resources, I don’t think it’s anybody’s business about what someone “should” do to avoid a stalker, whether their stalker will or won’t be able to use a particular site against them, or whether they should take certain risks as some kind of stance to avoid giving the stalker “power over you”.

              1. Vicki

                I never said anything about what someone “should” do, only what they can do.
                I was also writing to several people, not just one, and not everyone who has people from their past they want to avoid has an actual stalker.

                Finally, if it’s nobody’s business, the original comments about “I don’t use Site because Reason”… should not have been made. Once made, those comments become public. I wanted to provide some alternatives that perhaps had not been considered.

                What people do with those alternatives is no one else’s concern.

          2. Cat

            I think what you’re missing is that LinkedIn profiles have where you work posted publicly giving your exact real world location. Hacking is not the issue here.

      2. BananaPants

        LinkedIn endorsements are next to useless. I have a grad school marketing professor from nearly 10 years ago who has endorsed me for around 20 different technical/engineering skills. He has NO idea what my skills in these areas are. If I could figure out how to turn endorsements off while keeping skills on I would do it.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger

          I have a bunch of endorsements from people with whom I have no professional relationship, and know nothing of what I do. They’re mostly high school or college friends with whom I wanted to network, for my sake and theirs. I’m assuming they got the prompt from LinkedIn to endorse me, and I appreciate the thought, but they have NO idea if I am actually any good at those things.

          1. Vicki

            I hear this from people, but honestly, again, YOU control this. If someone endorses you for skills you don’t have, it’s up to you to accept and/or publish those endorsements.

            1. The Cosmic Avenger

              Yeah, they’re usually things that I did a little of, and now that they’re there, people who have no idea if I can do those things are endorsing me for them.

        2. Retail Lifer

          Endorsements are such BS. I have a bunch of endorsements from my boyfriend. We did briefly work at the same company at the same time years ago, but we didn’t even know each other.

      3. Kyrielle

        The “endorsements” it prompts to give regardless of how the person knows you and those are useless. But the “recommendations” – those are hand-written by the people that supply them and are, IMO, really valuable. (They’re also one-sided, since obviously no one will choose to accept and display a negative recommendation – but they’re real.)

        1. Kimberlee, Esq.

          This! Recommendations are much like your reference list… employers won’t just take their word for it and hire you, since they’re going to be positive, but it does mean something that someone took the time to write out a recommendation. I’ve only done a handful, myself, and I don’t know anyone who just hands them out the way they hand out endorsements.

        2. Ask a Manager Post author

          It’s true that endorsements count for literally nothing (you’re better off turning them off on your profile) while recommendations have a little weight … but it’s really, really little. People write recommendations for people whose work they don’t know a ton about, and they look for positive things to say even when there’s plenty of negative or mediocre.

          The recommendations that count are the ones that come in private conversations, not displayed on a LI profile. It’s fine to have them, but I wouldn’t put lots of energy into getting them or much stock into the ones you see for others.

          1. Liz

            What about recommendations written by customers/managers/staff *at your current company*? I would think that would add meaning to anyone from your current workplace, because they’ll likely know the people involved.

            1. Ask a Manager Post author

              Nope, same answer :)

              People know that the way this often works is that people write recommendations for each other upon request. Private conversations count; public LI blurbs not so much. There are some exceptions to this, of course; if it’s an incredibly glowing remark (truly superlative, not your typical rec) by someone who’s specifically known not to be a sunshine-blower, then maybe. But in general, don’t put much stock in getting them or reading them.

          2. Vicki

            But again, you don’t need to publish the recommendations that aren’t real. And yes, they’re positive because a) they’re called ‘recommendations’ for a reason and b) each person has control over the recommendations they publish.

            But are they realistic? Read them. It’s pretty easy to tell a recommendation is realistic.

            “Alison is a great blogger” isn’t worth much.

            “Alison writes the AskAManager blog, providing expert advice for job seekers as well as people who are frustrated with their jobs. Her skills and knowledge come through in her replies. She also manages to maintain the most polite and knowledgeable community of commenters I’ve seen on the web. If you want excellent advice, look no further than her blog.”

            There’s too much detail here for it to “not count”. (And if Alison didn’t like it, she doesn’t need to publish it in her profile).

            Every one of my LI recommendations came to me unsolicited. Personally? I cherish every one.

    2. Carrie

      I don’t have any social media because I’m a very private person by nature, and I left my previous job on very poor terms…..I don’t want any former colleagues or managers knowing my next steps, either.

      However, I lost a great job because of this. I was interviewing for a position that required me to update the company’s Facebook page. They said they saw that I had no social media and I explained that I would happily learn for the job and make every effort, but then they looked at each other with raised eyebrows. I knew then that I lost the opportunity : (

      So, I understand how you want to avoid social media (as I do, too), but I am also starting to see where it can cause issues in the employment field (which is pretty scary, in my opinion….in order to get a job, you need a public profile?)

      1. Vicki

        Well, in this case, you wanted to get a job that had, as one of its requirement, knowing about and using Social Media.

        At LastJob (a BigName Internet Company) we hired a woman who had never used a PC or a Mc. She had never used Excel, or Word, or Mail, or the equivalent. She tried to learn; she couldn’t keep up; she left. I think everyone wishes that someone in the interviews had asked her about this stuff.

        It’s sad to lose out on a job because you don;t have all of the requirements. It’s worse, I think, to get the job and do it poorly and then leave because of the same reason.

        There are (still) plenty of positions that don;t require social media experience. But, as with jobs that don’t require computer skills, I think we’ll be seeing those becoming fewer and fewer with time.

      2. Olivia

        Yes, it’s not simply a matter of learning for the job. On Facebook and LinkedIn, you need to have your own established accounts. Your account is then provided with admin privileges to manage the company’s social media. It’s not like there’s an actual company login to manage the company page.

        With Facebook, you can at least stay “invisible” to the public. But on LinkedIn, it’ll show you listed as the admin.

    3. Vicki

      #3 OP and “No LinkedIn profile either” – there are many options for privacy in LinkedIn. You can set your profile as visible to no one. You can set your activity as visible to no one. You can leave out personal information such as current city, etc. If you make your profile public, you can control whether or not each piece can be seen. You can set your photo visible only to your connections. You can lie about your name if it’s an unusual name. You can use an initial for first or last name. You can choose to be annonymous when viewing anyone else’s profile. You absolutely do not need to include your home address or current place of work. You can be vague about your location (e.g. mine says i’m in the San Francisco Bay Area).

      I suggest you consider taking Control of your online presence. Don’t let someone else control it for you.

      And if you find social networking sites to be an “enormous time suck”, I suggest you rethink how ou use them. Because nothing can takes your time unless you allow it to do so.

      1. Higher Ed Admin

        All good suggestions for making a profile more private, but used together, they would render a LinkedIn profile completely useless. If you give me your LinkedIn link and I find that it’s not your name, isn’t specific about where you’re located, and doesn’t list the job you told me you currently do, it’s unhelpful at best and at worst suggests to me that you either have something to hide or are completely inept with social media, which may or may not be true. If you include the information but lock down your profile, there’s always a risk that the stalker will be able to access it. I got the impression that the question of whether OP should have a profile is off the table-they don’t want one. I don’t think there’s any harm in your suggestion that the OP could, if so inclined, look into ways to reduce the impact of the safety concern on their ability to move about the digital world, but the OP *has* taken control of their online presence…by minimizing it. There are professional consequences to that, but it sounds like the OP has accepted those and just doesn’t want to hear about it while networking anymore.

        1. Vicki

          Mine will tell you what I do – but has never given my current company name.
          Mine will tell you where I live; you truly do not need to know the name of the town my house is in.

          The OP _does_ have something to hide. But once a connection is made, those people can see things.

          If using the tools that LinkedIn provides make you think that someone is “completely inept with social media”, first, recall that LI _is not_ “social media”. And then re-examine your thinking because these tools are provided by LI for a reason and many many people use them.

          1. Higher Ed Admin

            I think it’s fair to say that omitting all of the information that could be used to actually identify you on a professional networking profile (we’ll have to agree to disagree that LinkedIn isn’t social media) could make it look like you don’t understand the purpose of LinkedIn, which could be also be a negative professionally. I’m not objecting to the use of privacy tools as a whole, just saying that using them to the extent that would allow the OP to completely avoid any reasonable risk of the stalker finding them through LinkedIn would render the page so generic that it wouldn’t be any better than not having one. Stalkers can be very resourceful, and once you publish something online it can potentially be accessed even if you took precautions. I can understand why the OP has decided that they would prefer not to take the risk, despite the privacy options available.

        2. Vicki

          I am merely suggesting that refusing to have an online presence is not “taking control of” your online presence… and it lets the stalker win.

          Now, if you simply don’t want one, that’s your own choice. An increasingly unusual choice in the modern world, but your choice. But if you make this decision based on _someone else_, they’re in control.

          Do recognize, however, that you may have an online presence that you are unaware of. If it really matters to you that you’re unfindable online, be Very Diligent in searching for yourself on a regular basis.

          1. Cat

            Sometimes you have to compromise what you do to avoid worse harm. Not everyone is in the situation of getting to ignore someone who might harm them entirely. Telling them that means they’re letting someone else “win” is basically making a game of someone else’s life.

            1. Myrin

              Yeah, I’m really uncomfortable with some of the comments above. How is it more important to have a LinkedIn profile than avoiding a stalker? To be fair, I don’t have any social media accounts and LinkedIn specifically isn’t really a thing where I come from so I might just come at this from the angle of someone who sees LinkedIn for less than it is, but seriously, OP is not talking about an annoying aunt who likes to check her online presence once a year and then asks embarrassing questions about it at a family reunion, but a stalker, and not only that, but an abuser. It’s beyond me why some people feel like a profile that at least outs OP’s place of work is more important than her safety and essentially try to argue her into getting one nonetheless.

              1. AnonAnalyst

                This. I haven’t dealt with exactly what the OP has, but I also had a stalker in my past (as well as some potentially dangerously unhinged relatives), so I’m really uncomfortable putting anything online that gives information about where people can find me. I can definitely understand where the OP is coming from on this. I eventually decided the benefit outweighed the risk for me to create a LinkedIn profile, but it sounds like that’s not the case in the OP’s situation so I’m not comfortable telling her she needs to get on LinkedIn despite her concerns.

                That said, I also agree with some of the comments above that the OP should tell people that she doesn’t have a profile because she’s avoiding an online stalker if she’s comfortable sharing it. My experience is that people tend to be much more understanding about that than about just not wanting to be online, which seems to be the assumption people make in the absence of specifics.

          2. Jen S. 2.0

            Re the stalker winning: So be it, then. The situation the LW is describing is not just an annoying old boyfriend or a kinda weird neighbor. Sometimes it’s not about winning or losing; it’s about staying alive. This is one of those times. You know how common wisdom is that if you’re being robbed, you need to just give up your purse, because often the other choice is being shot? If you’re staring down the barrel of a gun, you don’t hang on to your cell phone to prove the point that “otherwise the mugger wins.” Someone who is avoiding a stalker doesn’t have anything to prove to anyone.

            I’ve read in a few places that the human animal is pretty much the only one on earth that consciously runs toward danger instead of away from it. That’s made me reconsider the episodes when I’m tempted to do that. Why would you go to the lengths described to keep your information private when simply opting out is faster, easier, safer, and far less drama? Having a LinkedIn profile is not so critical to professional life that someone who has a serious stalker NEEDS to create one by any means necessary. It’s just not.

  3. Three Thousand

    I could definitely see myself thinking like #5 and worse when I first started job searching. “Why didn’t they take down the posting as soon as I applied? If they wanted to hire me, they wouldn’t still be looking. I clearly have no shot whatsoever.”

    1. BG

      But on the employer side, they still have to choose to interview you, schedule the interviews, see if you show up to the interviews, have the interviews go well, put an offer out, have you accept the offer, and actually start working before closing the job. It’s not a quick and simple process.

      1. Three Thousand

        Yeah, I know. I just didn’t realize how silly my thinking was at the time.

        1. A Dispatcher

          I totally get what you mean, especially if you’re used to jobs in a more retail/customer service/food service etc type environment where the hiring process goes much quicker or hiring decisions can even be made on the spot. It’s a hard mental shift to make.

  4. MR

    Yep. For #5, the person who is tweeting out about that particular position is likely tweeting out about all their available positions. They have no idea where in the process the company is with any of the positions, and just looks at what they have available on a particular day (or over several days), and just tweets about them until that position is no longer listed as available by the hiring manager.

    It really means nothing and as usual, just continue your job search as normal. Good luck!

    1. Mean Something

      +1 that it means nothing. I recently hired someone who applied quite soon after the job was posted, but we didn’t interview her until about six weeks later. We looked at several other candidates first and found her on a second review of the candidate pool. The job announcement didn’t get taken down until the new hire returned her signed contract, so I was still getting (and reviewing, since we have likely openings within a year) new applications until that happened. Good luck!

  5. MattRest

    For #4, I got the impression that LW believes that his wife cannot start a new job while their severance agreement is in place. I don’t think this is the case – as AAM said, this only applies if the contract says it does. The fact that an employer is paying you x number of weeks in severance does not mean you can’t also be on someone’s payroll for those weeks.

    1. Apollo Warbucks

      It really depends on the nature of the agreement, I’ve seen agreements where people have been given two months pay as severance but as part of that have agreed not to take any paid work elsewhere in that time.

      1. MattRest

        Exactly – there’s an agreement stating otherwise. It doesn’t look like there is one that prohibits this for the LW. LW “believe(s) she can not get a new job.” That tells me it’s nowhere in writing.

    2. jhhj

      Sometimes they will give you up to X weeks severance or until you find a job, whichever comes first. (Plus whatever the legal minimum is, if any.)

      1. MattRest

        I agree – but when it’s based on years of service, that tells me it’s more of a benefit than true severance. You’re under no obligation of not finding new employment when it’s a benefit, like vacation or sick days.

        1. jhhj

          It depends. Right now I work in a place which would need to give me 8 weeks severance if it shut, so I could find a job the next day and the law says that I get 8 weeks severance anyhow. (The numbers are slightly different if they are letting one or two people go, I think I am in the 4 week bracket.) But the company could elect to give everyone more than the legal minimum, and they can put whatever stipulations on the amount over the minimum that they want.

          1. Ask a Manager Post author

            Exactly. It totally depends on what the contract says. It is possible for contracts to include a clause that the severance stops if the person takes a new job before the payments are set to run out. The OP needs to look at the contract.

        2. TheLazyB

          Just for interest – not in the UK, where your redundancy payment is calculated on years of service.

        3. LD

          It just depends on the severance agreement and how it is written. It may or may not be a benefit such as vacation or sick days…unless that’s the way the policy or agreement reads. They should just read their agreement and find out. Most severance packages don’t indicate that you won’t get paid once you find a job and I believe that’s a common misconception…that it stops when you find other employment, as if it it were the unemployment benefit. The best way to find out is to read the agreement.

      2. MK

        Basically it depends what the company means to do by paying severence. If it’s “sadly we have to let you go after many years of faithfull service, here is a monetary goodguy present”, then they won’t place stipulations on it. If it’s more “sadly we have to let you go and the job market sucks, so we will try to ease your inevitable period of unemployment and lessen the amount of time you won’t have an income”, it’s probably a severance–till-you-find-new-job situation.

    3. The Cosmic Avenger

      Even if the OP has the terms right, I’d start looking immediately, because it could easily be 10 or 20 weeks before she finds a new job. Even if she quickly finds a new job that pays less than what the old job did, a lower salary for full-time employment is a better bet than a higher one that’s only for a certain number of weeks.

      That said, if I got an offer quickly, I’d be fine with a delayed start date in order to take a paid vacation. :)

    4. Artemesia

      The wording of #4 suggests a husband who is making assumptions about his wife’s work rather than someone who knows it is contractually forbidden. Severance is generally not dependent on future employment. It certainly could be contracted that way, but that is not usual. The husband appears to be just making this up because he thinks that is the way severance usually works. Perhaps not. But the first step is to make sure what the contract or severance agreement says. If he is right she still can organize her job search so that the new job takes up where the severance ends or close to it. (my second step would be for him to stop intruding into her work life, but perhaps this is how they operate.)

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        It’s certainly possible, but I get tons of letters from people writing in about a situation their partner is in, and I think it’s usually just because they’re an AAM reader and the partner isn’t (or they’re an advice-seeker and the partner is fine with that).

        Interestingly, it used to be way more women who did this, but in the last couple of years, it’s become a much more equal split between men and women.

        1. Broke Law Student

          That’s really interesting. Do you think there’s been a shift in thinking around gender re: job searching or advice-seeking, or do you think it has something to do with your site’s skyrocketing popularity? (This stuff fascinates me to no end).

    5. Jen S. 2.0

      I’m not an expert or a lawyer, but I’d be shocked if she can’t get a new job. They likely just stop paying her if she does. She is free to take a new job; she just is not free to take a new job AND collect the old company’s money at the same time.

  6. Colette

    #1 -I’m concerned that you’re handled this discussion over email. Do you regularly meet with your employees? That would be a better way to handle it – you get the advantage of tone, and you can immediately answer questions.

  7. NJ anon

    #1 I work for a nonprofit that is heavily government funded. You can tell the employees that ever since the “great” recession, requirements have gotten more and more strict.
    The hoops they make us jump through are insane!

    1. BoomShaka

      This. Also–MAKE IT CLEAR THAT THEIR WORK ETHIC IS DIRECTLY RELATED TO THEIR ABILITY TO KEEP THEIR JOBS. If our grant is not renewed due to lack of efficacy in reporting, then that’s partly their fault for making things hard.

      1. A Dispatcher

        I’m not sure I’d jump right to mention of job security because the last thing you want to do as a new manager is make people feel like their jobs are threatened. It will not create a good working environment and could create a pretty hostile relationship between you and employees, even though what you said is indeed completely true. What I do think is important is that LW stress the *why*, which should certainly include that these requirements need to be met in order to keep the grant funding. If LW still gets pushback after that, then it’s time for the in-person conversation where it get mentioned that grant funding ties into everyone keeping their jobs.

        1. Ani

          Except sometimes new management is chosen specifically to clean house, and though it doesn’t sound that extreme here, it does seem that OP is supposed to Crack down where the prior management did not. (Honestly, when my current boss came on board it was brutal, not everyone survived, it was something akin to Game of Thrones — both in the bodies left in the wake and in the trial by fire for her, because frankly there were folks who were never going to accept her in the role and that could quickly have poisoned her ability to manage everyone else if there had been no consequences.)

      2. Chinook

        #1 – I am late to the party but feel your pain. Part of my job is chasing paperwork from field guys in a highly regulated industry, something that was not done as diligently in the past (and perusing our historical records from even 10 years ago causes me to shudder). When I started, I put my foot down firmly but gently and said that, because I don’t see them do the work, there is no proof they did it without the paperwork. My bosses backed me up and now our mantra here is it is not done unless there is paper to prove it. And we follow through – we had to redig one location (at thousands of dollars) because nobody filled out one section of a form to prove that we looked at a particular defect to see if it existed. they didn’t fake the paperwork (thank goodness) because they realized our forms existed as a QA checklist and that it probably meant it wasn’t done.

        My point is that you may want to show the staff why the paperwork is important (and not just because it equals money). Is the paperwork there for QA/QC? Is it to ensure continuity if someone is hit by the bus? Does it ensure you are in line with the funding goals? Good paperwork should serve a purpose (other than giving people like me a job). Poorly created paperwork with no purpose, though, is absolutely penance for poor karma that needs to be paid.

  8. S

    For #5, the person tweeting may have scheduled tweets when the job was first posted, which is not a reflection of the candidate pool.

    1. nonegiven

      There may even be a specified time they are required to advertise it before a decision is made.

  9. Retail Lifer

    #1 – Been there many times. In my current job and several past jobs I’ve dealth with a mostly older group of employees that had been there forever that was never really managed properly before. I looked like the bad guy when I tried to enforce long-standing rules and policies that had always been ignored. You can be nice but you still need to be firm. Alison’s phrasing is a lot better than mine was, but I did essentially what she said and my team eventually all got on board. Yours probably will, too, and if they don’t…like she said, handle it like any other kind of disciplinary problem.

    #5 – They could very well be posting the job until they have a decent pool of candidates, or they just might be auto-posting it until it’s filled. You might be out of the running, you might not be. You won’t know until you either get a call for an interview or you get the canned auto rejection email.

    I keep seeing ads again and again for a job I interviewed for that I was 100% qualified for and my asking salary was within the right range but I already received the rejection email for. I’m half tempted to apply again. Sounds like they’re getting desperate. ;)

  10. Kat M

    >it really means nothing more than “we have a job opening that has not been filled as of today.”

    Or, just as likely, it means “Somebody scheduled this to post regularly via HootSuite and hasn’t given it a thought since.”

    1. Kimberlee, Esq.

      Or, there are job-posting services that auto-tweet (I think Jobvite is one of them?)

  11. zadie

    Just wanted to throw in some sympathy for #3 – I have no social media presence under my full real name because my estranged abusive father likes to google me, and although I am not worried he would put me in physical danger, the emotional ramifications of unexpected contact can still be pretty heavy after all these years. My future employer puts staff profiles on their website, and I’m trying to figure out the most tactful wording for “please modify my name.” They’re good people and I’m not worried they won’t, but it sucks how these things just never go away.

    1. Kimberlee, Esq.

      I wonder, for stuff like staff directories, if there’s not a way to convince them to post as an image, rather than text? Like if you typed it out and then took a screenshot. Then, it’s easily readable for anyone on the page, but search engines can’t pick it up like they can text.

      1. MinB

        That makes the text inaccessible for visually disabled people using screen readers, though. Listing titles instead of names on contact sheets or otherwise modifying employee names on request would protect employees who need to hide from stalkers while still being accessible.

        1. Koko

          It also means people can’t easily copy and paste an email address or postal address and you’re relying on them to transcribe by hand, which will annoy a lot of people and inevitably cause some emails to be lost because it was not copied down correctly.

  12. Jillociraptor

    OP 1, have you directly announced the increased compliance expectations? It can be a little disorienting to suddenly have different expectations, and I think a formal announcement might let you manage the message a little bit – explain why it’s happening, what the expectations are, and the consequences for individuals and the division if those expectations aren’t met.

    1. Blue_eyes

      This. Acknowledging that things are becoming stricter and giving reasons why should help some with compliance so it’s not just “geez, OP is so uptight about paper work.”

  13. HRWitch

    For OP #4, IME (18+ years in California HR) severance agreements based on years of service are paid out without regard to future employment. Part of my severance agreement discussion includes the reassurance that with receipt of a signed release, severance will be paid as stipulated (biweekly, lump sum, etc.) without regard to employment with another company. The only exception I’ve seen is with unionized employees; the collective bargaining agreement may have stipulations about other employment that affect severance payout. Of course, YMMV, as California is a often unique, especially in the employment law arena!!

  14. TalleySueNYC

    Re: #1
    I’m not a fan of Alison’s wordier approach. My response to “I received fairly haughty responses back, along the lines of “(former manager) was very flexible, are you not going to be as flexible as her?”” would probably be, “No, sorry to say. The grant requirements are very clear.”

    I think that using too many words and saying “no” too indirectly is exactly what this sort of push-back person is looking for. They want to have a long conversation about how there’s something “wrong with” *you*, how you are inferior to the old manager, and the old ways.

    I also find that I find it easier to be strict and firm, and I look less like a bitch to judgmental people, when I point to the neutral third party: “the grant’s requirements” or “the job needs” or “Our standards must be…”

    It’s not *me* making up these rules and insisting that people follow them. And even when it is, it’s not because I just got some control-freak whim. I have checklists because they keep us safe; and I expect people to follow them because “our quality control standards need that kind of thoroughness.” Not because *I* want people to jump through hoops for me.
    I just -manage- the process, for some other, outwardly determined goal.

    And especially for the OP, who has grant requirements, pointing right away to those non-negotiable requirements is something I’d do immediately.

    Anyway, I’d vote for shorter, less wordy, and much, much firmer. And point to the outside reasons way before you get into “I” and “me” statements.

    1. Anon for this one

      I think being that terse isn’t necessarily how someone replacing the long-standing department head should be. It’s too bad the original communications about meeting the reporting standards couldn’t have come as a joint communication from the new department head and the administrator over them, to make it clear that this was a “new broom” action from on high.

      Yes, it’s better for a new supervisor to stand on their own two feet, but in an organization where the founder has not enforced all standards strictly, having someone higher up say that there’s a new sheriff in town might make people understand that the new supervisor isn’t letting power go to his or her head, but is instead doing what the organization wants and is supposed to do.

  15. Morag

    #2 When I write a letter of reference, I do use our company letterhead, but the last paragraph is “The opinions stated in this letter are those of the author and not necessarily those of [our parent company] or [my organization].” This seems to be sufficient for my management.

  16. MH

    OP #3, I sympathize with you. I had a stalker incident about two years ago and I ended up changing my profile’s security/privacy features where I could control how people searched for me. I could hide my current position, place of work, and my photo – and I only linked to people who I knew for sure. LinkedIn now has a block option where another member of LinkedIn can be blocked and/or reported. Contact LinkedIn if you have any questions; don’t be afraid to express your concerns. As for your stalker, don’t be afraid to seek help from the courts or legal authorities and document any encounters or attempts to contact you.

  17. Artemesia

    It may be too late to comment here – but again on #1. When you take over as manager and especially if you are going to crack the whip, the second step (after sitting down with your own boss and being sure she has your back and is serious about enforcing policy meaning she will back you if you actually get rid of problem people) — the second step is to sit down with each faculty member — on phone if necessary for your outlying adjuncts or instructors — and ask them about their impressions of the program and what would make their lives easier and more productive. Listen and then share the need to make changes. You will probably learn something that will help you be more effective and you have a chance to make clear why changes are needed.

  18. LW #5

    Hello All!

    LW #5 Here. So… I feel pretty silly worrying about the frequent tweeting because… I received a call this morning asking about setting up an interview. It’s been about 4 years or so since I was last looking for a new job, so I guess it was hard for me to get into that submit and forget mindset. Thanks for all the comments! And thanks AAM for answering.

    Wish me luck with my interview! :)

    1. Jillociraptor

      Good luck! I’m on the job hunt for the first time in almost 5 years, too, and I’ve been shocked by how strong all those feelings are that I have no problem advising people to quash in the comments here :) Job hunting is an emotional process! I hope your interview goes great!

  19. Flora

    I don’t use drugs of any sort and am against that sort of thing. I also don’t believe in lewd, sexual posts and wouldn’t ever put any such activity on social media. But I think it’s unfair that people are judged based on Twitter and Facebook posts(I mean on things that ARE appropriate). As long as a person isn’t planning to rob a bank, molest children, or murder anyone what they post online is their own business. This is part of the reason(not the main reason) that I don’t have a Facebook or Twitter. And If I did, even though my posts would all be decent and appropriate, I wouldn’t use my real name. Employers are a little on the unethical, shady side. Spying on people is just as wrong as an inappropriate social media posts. I took a personal day off from work because my overbearing, cruel, satanic, immature, unappreciative, unethical employer was stressing me out(she used to verbally abuse me on an almost daily basis and left me feeling stupid and insane) and she had the audacity to have someone spy on me from their car and watch my every move.

    Anyone in their right mind would pretend to be sick to get a day off from that evil succubus. Employers are the most unfair, unethical, tyrants on the planet and they wonder why they have so much turnover and get so much dishonesty, disloyalty and disrespect from so many employees. How do employees triumph over these evil, arrogant, vicious, apathetic demons who refuse to admit when their wrong?

    I take issue with ANY employer who believes spying on people is okay. It shouldn’t be done unless theirs a GOOD reason for it like the things I mentioned earlier. Other than that, employers have NO EXCUSE for invading anyones privacy. Corporate America is the Devil’s adovocate.

  20. Flora

    I know this article is about a different subject, but job related posts remind me of how employers unfairly spy on employees through social media. had to get that off my mind while it was still on there.

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