I don’t want to hire my former employee

A reader writes:

Our office employed a person in the same role for about a decade. Last year, he moved to a less demanding and technical job in the company. This was at a busy time for us and left us in a crunch, but we managed. Now, the person we got to replace him (who was excellent, and really expanded upon the work previously done by this position) has been promoted, leaving the position vacant again, and the position’s original occupant wants to return.

The thing is, we have some very promising candidates, and are not sure we want him back. Although he has a wealth of institutional knowledge, his work was sometimes sloppy and he didn’t keep up with the technological changes in the field. My sense is that he believes he is a sure thing for the job Do you have any advice for handling this situation delicately?

I answer this question — and four others — over at Inc. today, where I’m revisiting letters that have been buried in the archives here from years ago (and sometimes updating/expanding my answers to them). You can read it here.

Other questions I’m answering there today include:

  • My boss doesn’t understand what I do
  • Interviewer contacted mutual Facebook connections before interviewing me
  • Extending interview travel to interview with a different company
  • My coworkers expect I can cover for them whenever they’re out

{ 61 comments… read them below }

  1. Bones*

    Related to OP2- What’s the most diplomatic way to… I guess course correct? A newly hired manager? Ours is really missing the mark when it comes to reading & acting company culture (finance firm, but a more casual one). Would this be the same as managing up?

    1. K_A*

      I have a similar problem, compounded by the fact that it has begun to seriously annoy my boss when I try to point out basic facts about my company’s culture. She’s worked here less than 2 years, I’ve worked here more than 20 years, but while she used to want me to steer her through the shoals of our admittedly quirky company culture, she reeeeeally doesn’t want to hear it anymore, at least not from me (but I’m pretty sure that holds true for others, too, though possibly not everybody). So she *will* no longer hear it, at least not from me. I’d like to think there’s a way for me to manage up on this topic, but I don’t think there is.

      1. IL Jim P*

        She has been there almost 2 years at this point shouldn’t she have an idea about the company culture? If you’re just volunteering her advice, I can see how that might rub her the wrong way no matter how long you’ve been there

        1. K_A*

          Yes, I do get that, but the plain fact is that there’s a lot she still doesn’t know. Our business is very seasonal, so even after she finishes her 2nd year, she’ll only have been through the seasonal cycle twice, and people who come to work here do still have a lot to learn after just two cycles. I certainly did. There’s just a lot *to* learn. But this really irritates her, so…she’ll either learn some other way or she won’t. There’s nothing I can do about it.

          She also gets really annoyed if other members of my department ask me questions about this stuff. But I don’t know that there’s much I can do about that, either. Ah, well.

      2. MassMatt*

        I would stop seriously annoying your boss. She has been there 2 years, unless she is truly thick, or your company culture is extremely bizarre she should get it by now. And even if she doesn’t, it’s not your problem to solve. Maybe she is not wanting to bend to whatever quirks the company culture presents in certain areas. This is how change happens, and sometimes at least it is a good thing.

        What exactly is it you are thinking of doing to “manage up”? Your boss has let you know she is annoyed by your “well, we’ve always done it THIS way” and “you may not be aware, but Jane used to go out with Bob and you shouldn’t invite them to the same meeting” etc comments. Let it go!

        1. K_A*

          I have let it go. But allow me to say that what I’ve tried to tell her is important stuff, not “We’ve always done it THIS way.” In fact, I’ve *never* told her “We’ve always done it THIS way” because that is very seldom useful information.

          I think you are making an assumption about that based on how long I’ve been here and how long she’s been here. And I don’t blame you – long time employees do often get into the “We’ve always done it THIS way” mindset, and how are you to know that that’s not the case with me?

          I’ve had a number of bosses over the years and have coped with quite a bit of change, and I know that change is often necessary and often good. But she no longer wants to hear even important stuff, so I no longer tell her. I am, as you say, letting it go. I brought it up here just to vent a little, to be honest.

  2. Antilles*

    #3: I really wonder about the point of contacting mutual Facebook connections just based on the way people normally use Facebook nowadays. It’s not LinkedIn; it’s a personal network and almost everybody uses it that way. You’re getting primarily people who know the candidate socially rather than ones who can speak to anything work related…especially since many people have a policy to not friend people from work (or at least only the ones who you’re close to outside of work) AND plenty of people don’t really clean out their friends list.
    It just seems like calling mutual connections on Facebook seems like an exercise that isn’t going to get you anything productive. Instead, you’ll mostly get useless “oh uh, yeah, Ant, that name takes me back, we went to high school together, haven’t talked for years…what’s he up to nowadays by the way?” and “uh, I’ve never worked with Ant, but we played kickball together and he was pretty chill”.

    1. RandomMDAnon*

      The only thing FB Mutual’s would be able to tell someone is that I share high quality memes.

      Your comments about school and kickball are perfect. I have “friends” on FB from High School that I haven’t spoken to in 10-15 years. If someone reached out to them because we’re both friends with them, you’re not going to get anything of quality.

    2. Bea*

      It depends and goes to show how networking varies from person to person and industry to industry.

      One of my old bosses is a social butterfly and knows most of the town in some way. He would absolutely ask his golfing buddy about Dude Bro who applied for a position and was a mutual contact.

      Sure you can’t speak on work issues but you may know he’s a flake in other ways or really dedicated to his hobbies and thoughtful.

      I got rid of a few messy drama llamas as I got older.

      Sure I have old contacts or people who don’t know me on Facebook. They’d say “we went to high school together. I don’t know her well.” or maybe they’ll tell them I was voted most spirited and fell down the bleachers wearing a cape 20 years ago. I dunno but the person gathering information can do what they want with it, it’s just not always about the job. Especially when you’re looking for an assistant kind of job. Personality can make or break you.

      I’ve never worked with a few friends but I’m their character reference.

    3. Amber T*

      Yeah… I wouldn’t say Facebook is “off-limits,” but it definitely seems weird. I have 500 friends on Facebook. Do I have 500 people who could give me a positive recommendation or reference if I need it? Nope. Very, very few people on there could give me any sort of professional recommendation (and if they could, it would be from years ago, nobody recent).

    4. chrome ate my username*

      I understand that vetting mutual references is something that hiring mangers do, I’ve done it myself when hiring. However, I have seen so many hiring managers do this poorly, I am leery of people who seek out outside references from people they don’t know very, very well. I’ve seen people take feedback without considering the source’s potential shortcomings or biases, and I’ve seen people give feedback that has no basis in reality, ex: assuming someone was an excellent employee simply because they were popular, or assuming someone was a bad employee simply because of their gender/race/place of origin.

      Off-roading for references, especially from an inappropriate setting like Facebook, is something that would reflect very poorly on that hiring manager to me.

      1. Someone Else*

        Yeah, my primary concern with this approach is what if the mutual connection were someone I’d describe as “barely an acquaintance, we haven’t spoken in 5 years”, but what if said acquaintance, for reasons I can’t fathom, responds to the hiring manager’s inquiry with something absurd like “oh yeah, Someone Else, we go way back!” and proceeds to give confident sounding opinions of me that anyone who actually knows me might completely disagree with. Since the HM actually knows the person they might just trust them, and I wouldn’t have any productive way to basically say, um…don’t give this much weight please? Whether what they said were positive or negative there’s a large chance it’s just…not really true. I just don’t trust random acquaintances to be forthcoming about the nature of the connection. Stuff like that makes me glad I do not use Facebook.

    5. Let's Talk About Splett*

      I definitely think Facebook is more social than LinkedIn but empirically it’s not uncommon to be friends with coworkers on Facebook (even though it might not be a good idea.)

      1. Antilles*

        It’s not uncommon no, but (a) many people don’t friend co-workers unless they’re actually close and (b) even among those who do, I’d expect that the number of co-workers or other ‘work connections’ would be miniscule compared with the number of other connections that can’t speak (objectively) about your work habits.

      2. Anonymosity*

        I do not friend coworkers on Facebook until/unless one or both of us are gone from that job. I have three ex-bosses on my friends list–two are current references and the other I haven’t seen in many years and barely talk to. The other coworkers are from OldExjob.

        I don’t socialize with coworkers; it just hasn’t happened, I think because I rarely have anything in common with them. So there’s no reason to put them on Facebook, especially while we’re still working together.

    6. AnonEMoose*

      I think that if I were to start job-hunting, I’d be very tempted to lock down my Facebook so that you have to have me friended to even see my profile. Specifically for that reason.

      I would see it very much as a very unwelcome intrusion into my personal life, and I would not appreciate having my friends bothered when they haven’t agreed to be references. It would feel like ignoring or overstepping boundaries.

      I wonder if there’s a professional way to say up-front that you have professional contacts on LinkedIn, and do not include coworkers on Facebook. Plus, checking out Facebook seems like a potential minefield of potential discrimination allegations – people might be more likely to list things like their religion on Facebook, or post things that reveal their sexual orientation, etc. In short, I think it’s a really, REALLY bad idea.

      1. toolazytocomeupwithausername*

        I have my profile set the same way, but it wouldn’t help you in LW’s situation, as FB will show you mutual friends and there isn’t a way (that I know of, unless it’s changed recently) to hide mutual friends.

        1. Helper*

          Settings – Privacy – Privacy Settings – Who can see your friends list – and select “only me”.

    7. Trig*

      I agree you’re unlikely to get great positive references that way, but it might just weed out some definite Nopes, like, “Ant?! Oh man, only reason I still I have him on here is entertainment value. He posts THE WEIRDEST stuff! Longwinded rants about how windmills cause the auras to get out of whack and are the reason for tornadoes, going off on people because they posted a dog pic, WAY oversharing the details of his divorce, complaining about his boss and coworkers endlessly! It’s a trainwreck, but it sure is something to watch!”

    8. Emily K*

      I’ve used Facebook this way, but I hire for nonprofits and a lot of my extended social network on Facebook is people I met through advocacy and all their friends they met through advocacy, and a large majority of those folks work for nonprofits. So I’m not blindly firing into the friend network, it’s usually something like I see that candidate used to work at Llama Locks of Love, and I have a friend Percival who used to work there, so I check Facebook and see that Percival is connected to the candidate. Then I’ll message Percival and ask if they overlapped with the candidate, if so whether they worked directly with the candidate, and whether they could share any feedback from their own experience or anything they heard from colleagues who did work directly with the candidate.

      (And as a disclaimer, like with any reference I don’t blindly assume that the reference’s word is gospel, and I double the salt when it’s a reference reporting second-hand feedback – but I still want to hear the second-hand feedback in case it lines up with feedback I’ve gotten from first-hand sources or traits I observed in an interview, etc., in which case it becomes more credible.)

  3. Anna Canuck*

    I had a job that ended up with a boss that had no idea what I did. Unfortunately, I wasn’t at a level to invent my own work (I was a junior engineer – great for taking projects forward and doing technical work, but not ready or desiring to pitch new projects and secure funding). I took a layoff package and am much happier working at a place that understands what I do. In my experience, the shake-up that led to me being supervised by someone with no idea what (or why) I did was writing on the wall that the organization did not value what I did. You don’t have to be able to DO the work to understand the generalities of what’s going on.

    1. Hey Karma, Over here.*

      I was wondering if LW’s friend could help. Not step in and arbitrate, but to clarify what the boss is not getting. “Boss says he has no idea what you do. Haha. It seems like you type gibberish into the computer/add numbers/look at spreadsheets/watch beakers all day.”
      Because it seems like boss recognizes this is a problem and therefore could be open to a new discussion.

    2. Justin*

      At my last job (smallish company), I was hired by one boss who knew what I did and loved my work, then she left and I was placed under someone who had little to no idea what I did. I was the only person doing my particular job and under this manager, I didn’t really have peers or a department that aligned with what I did. It was a weird feeling, I had established myself as talented and valued under my old boss and suddenly I was managed by someone with no clue.

      I was laid off less than a year later. Oh well, I am at a new job at a bigger company with lots of peers and a good boss now so it worked out. But it was a weird thing to go through.

  4. Jamey*

    Honestly, I don’t even really KNOW a lot of people who I’m friends with on Facebook. If I meet someone at say, a party or a camping event, sometimes they’ll add me and I’ll usually just add them back. I don’t use Facebook for much, so we don’t even have each other’s posts to go on.

    If a friend came to me asking for a recommendation for some facebook mutual I met once, I would a) have nothing to say, and b) be a little put off by my friends judgment.

    1. Hey Karma, Over here.*

      Same. If I’m your friend on FB, then I might have met you. I might not. I might have liked a post on a mutual friend’s page and started a conversation which resulted in us friending each other and five years later, here we are, saying happy birthday.

    2. DouDouPaille*

      The LW specifies that the hiring manager called mutual friends on Facebook. Still not a great idea, but at least it’s people they BOTH know, not people who are strangers to the hiring manager.

  5. Hey Karma, Over here.*

    LW being asked to cover everyone hours. What your boss is not understanding is that you want a full time job, not full time work. These are very different things. She is not seeing the difference. In fact, she has a very skewed perception if she thinks extra hours versus job security is even a debate.

      1. Hey Karma, Over here.*

        I wonder if LW’s boss has.
        It seems the boss is oblivious is she’s saying, “well, here are 40 hours worth of work, isn’t that what you are asking for?” instead of “I can give you 40 hours worth of work if you want it, but I can’t give you a full time position.”

    1. PhyllisB*

      What I’m wondering is, are you getting paid for this time you are staying late/coming in early? This may seem like a DUH!! question, but a lot of companies expect extra work (illegally!!) in the sense of “being a team player.” What made me wonder was your comment that if she allows you to only work hours you are assigned she’s “accommodating” you. If you are getting paid and don’t mind extra hours sometimes then great, but perhaps even saying something along the lines of if they can afford to pay you for all these extra hours, why can’t they make you full-time so this will not be an issue? But if they are expecting you to do this for the sake of the team, then I would do some HEAVY push-back. Of course, that’s easy for me to say because this might lead to resolution that you don’t want, so consider this advice as just another opinion and proceed in the way that makes sense for you.

  6. Xarcady*

    Re: #5, the part-time job.

    When I was desperately looking for work, any work that would bring in some money, I applied for a lot of part-time jobs, thinking that I could cobble together a living wage out of two part-time jobs.

    I cannot remember the number of 15 or 20 or 30 hour a week jobs, clearly office jobs with a M-F, 9-5 atmosphere, that wanted 24/7 availability. Had to be available weekends and evenings. Not just during busy times, but all year long.

    “Yes, the job is 20 hours a week, but many weeks we’ll have more hours for you!” “We expect all our employees to step out and stay late until the work is done!” “Weekend work only happens if you can’t finish your work during the week!”

    My take on this was twofold. One, they had the work for a full-time employee, but didn’t want to pay for a full-time employee, given that benefits cost money. And two, they probably had experience dealing with part-time employees with two jobs and didn’t like the scheduling juggling that would go on when either job demanded more time from the employee.

    1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      I was just chiming in to day that a lot of retail and service or food industry jobs work like this. They only want to pay for 25 hours a week but want to be able to send you home if it’s slow or pull you in if it’s busy. Or give you a rotating set of different hours every week. Sorry but people have families, kids, commuting costs, other commitments. It’s ridiculous and abusive. Especially for the low wages these jobs often pay.

      Want me available whenever for 25 hours a week? Sure, pay me $200/hour.

      1. Ashlee*

        I’ve never understood why part-time jobs want you available 24/7/365. I guess they think if you work part-time you are just sitting around doing nothing when you are not there?

        1. Xarcady*

          Thinking about the people I know who have a part-time job, their reasons for part-time work are:

          1. It’s a second job. Their other job is full-time.
          2. They have care-giving responsibilities, either child care or elder care, that prevent full-time work.
          3. They are going to school full-time.
          4. They would like full-time work, but can only find part-time.

          So most of them can’t simply drop what they are doing and work extra hours–they have stuff that fills up those extra hours. The people who want full-time work *might* be able to take on extra hours, but that’s not a guarantee.

          1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

            Similarly, if you kept your Tuesday afternoon free for example to go to work, you don’t want to be sent home after an hour because the store/restaurant/whatever is not busy.

            Basically, all humans need: 1) the ability to predict their schedule and make plans 2) the ability to earn money to live.

            To a certain extent, you can take from one of the two pools to give to the other – someone might work random hours for a lot of money or give up money for a predictable schedule. But there’s still a baseline need for both.

            1. Rosemary7391*

              When I was part time (student), schedules were done 3 weeks in advance and rarely changed – only by mutual agreement. That was a good way to balance both. Overtime was mostly during the summer to cover holidays which worked well on both sides. It can be done, just needs a bit of understanding on both sides.

              1. Nephron*

                That is why some states are requiring jobs to post schedules 2 weeks in advance. Part time work can be a useful thing, but not in a system when you have an unpredictable schedule.

        2. MassMatt*

          It’s terrible and short sighted thinking by the employers and managers to think the flexibility is all on their part and none at all for you. This is the sort of thing to hire an agency for, that can pull from a pool of people for whatever hours they want in the short term. Of course, they are unlikely to get very skilled employees, and employees asked to stay late at the last minute or get sent home hours early are likely to move on at the first opportunity, so their employee turnover will be high.

        3. pleaset*

          “I’ve never understood why part-time jobs want you available 24/7/365. ”

          Because they can.

  7. Technical_Kitty*

    I feel OP2’s pain. My work is technical but my boss has no metric for measuring it other than deadlines. It helps to have other people in higher positions or consultants who do understand what I do tell him I am doing a good job or explain it a bit to him. But otherwise it’s the deadline thing, understanding delivery dates and project timing are the only other way to measure my performance.

  8. schnauzerfan*

    Most of my FaceBook friends could say Hmm she also has schnauzers, seems crazy about her dogs…

    But as a person who has hired, sometimes you get the motherlode of information, good or bad, so yeah sometimes it pays to touch base.

  9. Ron McDon*

    #5 I also work part time, in a job where there is not a lot of other coverage available (because we work in a school, we have our holidays when school is closed, so it is just covering sickness/medical appts etc).

    I am usually happy to cover when I can, and either get paid overtime or take time off in lieu, but I do sometimes say no when I could cover, if I get the feeling like my availability is being taken for granted. I am the lowest ‘grade’ in our workplace, so the cheapest option to prove cover; I don’t like feeling like my acquiescence is expected in advance, so sometimes I will say no so that my line manager has to cover instead.

    It’s good for her to be reminded how difficult the job is and appreciate the fact that she doesn’t have to do it very often!

    But on those occasions my boss says ‘ok, no problem, we’ll sort something out’ – I don’t ever get the feeling that my boss expects me to be sitting around waiting to help on my day off. That would annoy me too!

  10. Stuff*

    Oh #2 I had this exact same thing happen – my grand boss looked at me one day and asked “so what exactly do you do?”. I worked across a lot of projects so didn’t have visibility within my own team who worked on projects specifically within it. What I did was ask for peer reviews – I gave my boss names of people I worked with on every project and she sent out an email asking for feedback on my work. It was so successful that they started doing it with all of the people in my group.

    1. MassMatt*

      This is a great outcome, overall I would take the news that my boss didn’t know what I did as a huge warning sign and start looking for a new job. Both because the boss is likely to propose eliminating me whenever there is a round of cost-cutting or layoffs, AND because it shows that the boss is out of touch. You have no idea what one of your employees DOES? That sounds like a clueless manager.

      Knowing what your employees do, and how to measure their success/failure, is really the bare minimum for being a manager, IMO. And it’s not an employee’s responsibility to teach their managers what they do, though sadly the employee is likely to pay the price for their manager’s ignorance.

      1. Cedrus Libani*

        I think it’s understandable if the boss’ boss does not know exactly what you do, especially if it’s a large group. But if the boss is asking that question…yeah, I’d be very worried.

        I’ve been in situations where I’m the only one with my expertise, and my boss legitimately has no idea whether the project I just did was hard, or whether I did it in an afternoon and then spent the next four months playing Angry Birds. This requires a lot of communication. I had to be really clear about what resources I would need, what the timeline would look like, where I was in the process, and so on. And the boss had to trust me to get on with it. If the boss is wondering what I do all day, then either I’ve messed this up royally, or they have.

  11. BRR*

    #2 My boss doesn’t understand what I do

    This is my situation and it’s been difficult. I have had to simultaneously establish what a good employee looks like and that I’m better than that. I would add a couple of things to Alison’s advice. Are there any industry metrics you can compare yourself against? My boss loves when I use outside evidence. I directly tell him know when I’ve done a major accomplishment or something is particularly challenging. “This was particularly difficult because X but I was able to create a work around.”

    Without praise though I also sometimes question whether I’m even good at my job. Sometimes if I need an ego boost I’ve presented something that may not be difficult, but is more easily understood and will seem impressive.

  12. AnonEMoose*

    Then I’d probably have to figure out a way to change my name on Facebook and change the profile picture. Yes, this whole thing does make me distinctly cranky – I’m very much a “Stay the @#$%#@$ OUT of my personal life unless I INVITE you in” type.

  13. Didi*

    OP2, I feel for you. In my career I have put up with bosses who are dumb, cheap, lazy or mean, but I have never been able to put up with a boss who doesn’t get what I do and doesn’t every get it, no matter how I or others explain it.

    If the boss is a trusting sort who will leave you to get on with you work, you’re fine, but beware that he/she will never know your skills and experience very well, and that will hinder your career. If the boss is not a trusting sort, and if she/he plans to stick around, you will need to get a new job.

  14. Vivien*

    OP2, That happened at my last job. Boss hasn’t gotten out of the marketing age where ads were hand-painted rosy-cheeked housewives and accompanied with a paragraph of patronizing BS. He had no idea how social media worked. And he declared himself a “marketing expert” along with other ridiculous titles. And then he’d only approve tiny amounts of ad budget that wouldn’t actually get us any traction, proving that our methods were wrong.

  15. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

    I wonder how OP3’s interviewer is going to react to people who go by an alias on Facebook. I know someone who does this to keep their hobbies apart from their professional life, since some are considered childish and frown upon.

    1. Nancie*

      Wouldn’t they just think the person doesn’t have a facebook? Unless they have a really common name, then someone else’s facebook might be mistaken for theirs.

  16. Workfromhome*

    #2 I have so much sympathy for this. In my old job we went through 3 buyout and mergers as well as having multiple senior managers from other countries or industries parachuted in that stayfor only a short time. Non of them understood what I my team did despite the fact that we were THE client facing people in the company. We were he only ones with long relationships and understanding of our clients but were constantly asked to explain what we did and justify our existence.

    We were asked to fill in endless spreadsheets or to record every minute of our day to “show what we do. But a new person would come along and we’d need start over at the beginning.its a big reason why I and many of my co workers left.

    The best reasource you have to show what you do and your value are your clients (be they internal or external). Rather than you trying to explain it if you have clients sing your praises about the value you bring it not only makes it clear but builds your value. If clients say you a invaluable then they are the ones that will be unhappy if you are not there.

  17. Dr J*

    RE: #4 – Thinking about Alison’s “check out the area” phrasing, I wonder if the appropriate thing to say varies by field in terms of whether you admit you have another interview lined up. In academia (which, I know, is always weird), it is Not Done to extend an interview trip for what could be perceived as personal reasons (e.g. to “check out the area”), but it would be totally fine to explain that you had another interview in the area and therefore needed to extend the trip, and the two universities might even work together to split transportation costs.

    1. Twig*

      Hmmm… I work in academia and we usually offer to extend the trip for candidates from outside the area. We specify that we will only cover hotel for the interview day(s), but if they want to check out the area, we’ll make the reservations accordingly.

      Part of this is because our location can be a selling point (right on the edge of the Sierra Nevada mountains within easy reach of ski resorts and wilderness)— that might make up for the lower salary that we offer (as an IT department at a state university, we can’t compete, salary wise, with private industry)

      1. Dr J*

        Yeah, I can definitely see the rules changing if location is a selling point. When I was job searching, I was always strongly advised against asking to extend interview trips unless it was for a big conference or something similar.

  18. not using my usual name*

    So, to add on to letter 2 – what are the essential details that your boss needs to know?

    I’ll use myself as an example – I’m responsible for all of the invoices in my division, so I need to know a few things:

    -what services are provided for each customer. I work in document management, so we might bill based on the number of boxes, the number of files, the number of images scanned, or even the number of characters entered (we have a data entry project). In addition, we have a microfilm lab on site, so I also need to know that there are different types of film by material (silver halide or diazonium halide, I think), frame size, and reel length. (The fact that I’ve just called them silver and diazo for as long as I’ve worked with them and actually had to look it up on Wikipedia just now shows the depth of my knowledge – or lack thereof!) Finally, we contract out some services that we bill hourly rates for.

    -the regular billing cycle. Some customers have set delivery dates – one usually bills twice a week because they deliver twice a week. Others bill every month. Still others have semi-regular deliveries and bill when they deliver end product (these are the toughest because I have to track down when stuff actually got delivered so it can be invoiced, and I’m not sure that a lot of people at my job understand this).

    -general file details and organization – or basically, what kinds of files we process. Most of our projects operate on a “shipment” basis – we pick up pallets of containers at the same time and process them as one large unit. Files might be grouped based off of date, document type, and other metadata (like county of origin). So, I might need to note that we processed X number of files from Essex County that were opened in 2010.

    I don’t really need to know project specs unless it affects the rate (for example, the DPI we scan in can affect the rate we bill), and I don’t need to know how to organize the files properly to bill for them. (Although I’m pretty curious about everything!)

    Basically…as usual, Alison’s advice is really good. Your boss only really needs to know what affects him – if he’s responsible for your deliverables, then he needs to know that you’re supposed to have X and Y running at 99.99% uptime, for example. If he’s primarily responsible for delegating work, he needs to understand what a reasonable workload is – that it’ll take around 7 hours to shampoo one llama to spec, and then you need to spend another couple of hours per week updating the databases with all the details of the llamas you shampooed – and that it takes even good employees 7 hours to shampoo a llama because you have to inspect them for fleas. (Because no one wants a flea-bitten llama.)

  19. The Doctor*

    OP #5…

    The Boss clearly believes that “wants to work full-time” means the same as “is always available to work full-time.” Think about that when contemplating your future career path. Do you really want to stay with a company that takes you for granted?

  20. Susie Q*

    #2: I don’t understand what regulations are preventing the federal employees from providing feedback. I’ve worked for numerous federal contractors and now the federal government. Part of managing contracts is providing feedback in regards to the individuals working on the contract.

  21. Chaordic One*

    So often, in cases like those from OP#2, it is difficult to explain exactly what you do. At my bad old ex-job, I still don’t think they know what I did, but they do now know that it takes at least people to do it as well I used to to.

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