my employee is openly job searching at work

A reader writes:

I am the team lead of a two-person admin team for a sales department. I am the supervisor of the second person, Jane, but not her manager; however, most critiques are expected to flow through me first unless there is a serious problem.

Jane spends most of her time in our reception area (answering phones, greeting visitors, etc.) It can be slow, so my manager is very flexible about internet usage. Recently though, I have noticed that Jane is spending quite a bit of her time at the front desk searching for a new job. She is doing this on the office computer, which is visible to guests and anyone who walks through the reception area. My office is absolutely the type where people notice what other people are doing on their computers.

My problem isn’t the idea of her leaving; this job has a high turnover and it’s expected most people will eventually leave the position because the room for growth is minimal. But I am not comfortable with her spending her time this way, as it feels inappropriate and unprofessional to use company time to find a new job. I am not sure if I am overreacting and I don’t want to create unnecessary conflict if there isn’t a need. Should I approach this with her, take it to my manager, or leave it be?

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 manager refers to me as her “supermodel”
  • I lied on a job application and my offer was pulled
  • How to ask a prospective employer for a schedule where I’d leave early
  • Interviewer rejected me when I said I’m going to school full-time

{ 123 comments… read them below }

  1. league.*

    I’m a little confused about the distinction between “supervisor” and “manager” here. I think of supervisors as the lowest level of people who are managing staff, but when we’re talking about (say) Helen’s supervisor vs. Helen’s manager, that doesn’t make sense to me – aren’t those the same person?

    1. cosmicgorilla*

      I tend to think of the terms as interchangeable, but as LW mentions team lead, I think they mean that they are the person in charge on the floor, literally supervising during the shift, handling any issues that crop up, but the person who takes care of hiring, firing, promoting, salary discussions, etc.. is the manager.

      1. Dragoning*

        Another way to think of it, if you have retail experience is “key holder”. Someone who is a level above the others, someone who has some authority, but wouldn’t be in charge of hiring, firing, or more formal write-ups. Kind of a dotted-line reporting.

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Yep — our team has a manager, who has HR responsibility for all of us, then two team leads who have no direct reporting authority or HR duties but handle training, education, and day-to-day directions, and then 25 individual contributors. But the ICs and TLs all are directly reporting to the same manager.

    2. The Original K.*

      You can be a supervisor or team lead who supervises work but doesn’t have hiring, firing, or discipline authority. For example, on a team with three widget-makers, a widget-maker supervisor, and a manager, the makers and supervisor all report to the manager, who is the one with hiring/firing power.

      1. doreen*

        Most of my jobs have had a slightly different set-up , with, for example 15 widget makers, two widget-maker supervisors, two office assistants ,an administrative assistant and a manager. The administrative assistant supervises the office assistants and the widget-maker supervisors supervise the widget-makers – by which I mean assigning and reviewing work, approving leave requests and work schedules, evaluating performance, counseling, training and having the authority to make certain decisions. The only people who report directly to the manager are the supervisors. The manager has overall responsibility for the office, is the person who can initiate disciplinary action , reviews and evaluates the work of the supervisors, may be called upon to make decisions in emergencies outside of business hours and is authorized to make decisions that are outside of the supervisors’ authority. If one of my widget-makers comes to me with an issue, chances are excellent that my first question will be “Have you spoken to your supervisor ?”

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      They can be interchangeable but it’s kind of like job titles, they’re not set in stone and uniform across the board.

      We don’t really use the term supervisor unless we’re talking about an actual manager. We use “Shift Lead” or “Department Lead” instead, they don’t have any duties outside being the one who keeps everyone aware of what the task at hand on that day are. If something pops up, they’re designated “adult” and get to call the managements attention to get it fixed.

      S0 if a lead reports an issue with a team member, it’s just that they’re in charge of reporting that kind of thing up the chain. They do weigh in moderately on hiring though because we want everyone’s team to gel given their specialties. In terms of they’re the tie breaking vote but they aren’t deciding which people get an interview or anything like that. They just sit in and have their own question/answer. It also helps the interviewing person to know who their lead is of course and they can see if they want to work with that kind of dynamic.

    4. Grand Mouse*

      I’ve had a manager and supervisor before. My supervisor would handle day to day things like assigning tasks, giving feedback and ordering supplies. I would go to my manager when I needed someone with authority to handle like accomodations or request a schedule change

      I would ask my supervisor first if she could help me with something because I didn’t want to immediately go over her head.

  2. PollyQ*

    #5 – Given that it’s a start-up, there’s a decent chance that the job requires significantly more than 40 hours a week, which may have also played into the employer’s not wanting a full-time student in the role.

    1. addiez*

      Even if they only wanted 40 hours a week – it’s realistic to expect that they want a full-time employee to be available 9-5, M-F at a bare minimum, and that they want it soon, so knowing you need significant time out for a full year often just isn’t realistic. At most places, especially for new staff, overlapping with colleagues for those core business hours is key to getting trained up and being successful in the role.

      1. A*

        This. Especially if the role is collaborative. We recently had to pass on an otherwise extremely strong candidate – top runner of the bunch, for sure – for similar reasons. They had just enrolled back in school to work towards their bachelors, and while they were only in school part-time it included labs that were held during business hours. We desperately wanted to make it work, but we just couldn’t do it. Our line of work is highly collaborative and comprised mostly of cross-functional meetings, so there was no way we could accommodate the candidate needing to be out for two hours mid-morning twice a week. We would have had to have all other members of her project teams (~12-24 depending on time if year) work around the candidate’s class schedule.

        I did recommend the candidate reach out to a recruiter I had worked with in the past that specifically focuses on flex schedule/remote positions. I hope it worked out for them, and that they re-apply once they graduate or are done with the lab requirements!

      2. VelociraptorAttack*

        The letter does not indicate that the student is taking classes that would interfere with a 9-5 job. I’m technically a full-time student in a grad program based upon my credit load, my husband is a full-time student in a grad program based upon his credit load. We both have fully online classes and work “traditional” hours of usually more like 8-5:30 and then do our classwork in the evenings and on weekends.

        Being a full-time student absolutely does not mean someone would need time out, much less significant time.

        1. Hey Karma, Over here.*

          I think this is good point and OP needs to be clear about definitions.
          Is OP a traditional student going to classes during the day (things with labs, like earlier comment)? If class time isn’t overlapping with work hours, then “full time” is a misleading leading description.
          If OP taking night classes, weekend classes, some online sessions that happen to equal twelve credits, but not requiring class hours out of the day , and OP is able to carve out class and study time away from core work hours, stop saying full time. Say you are enrolled, taking classes, currently working toward a degree. It’s not lying, it’s preventing confusion.

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          It actually does sound like LW was taking classes outside standard business hours because she specifically says she was (then) already working on a full-time job as well.
          But the potential employer doesn’t know that so it’s worth communicating if she wants to take this opportunity.

        3. Filosofickle*

          Yes, lots of people attend fully virtual programs and continue working without significant impact on the employer.

          I do think it is understandable to be leery of hiring a FT student. I know a number of people who’ve combined FT work with FT school — for sure some pulled it off admirably, but more did not. In my grad program, by year 2 more than half had quit their FT jobs or reduced hours because they just couldn’t keep it up. I worked half time and honestly could not have done any more without sacrificing a LOT of sleep!

        4. Kendra*

          There’s two types of “time” in play here: physical, “butt in chair” time, and mental, “I’m not distracted” time. I absolutely agree that you can be a full time student & a full time employee in the physical sense; I did it myself for two of my three degrees.

          It’s the mental side of things where it gets a little trickier. If the hiring manager knows the position’s going to need a lot of extra brain bandwidth, it’s absolutely understandable she’d have some concerns over hiring someone who’s dedicating a significant chunk of themselves to school. Plus, if she’s a decent manager, she’s going to want to help and support a student however she can, which could put her in a difficult position further down the line.

          Let’s say the employee has a major school assignment due the same week as an absolutely essential client presentation, and they ask for a day off to work on their school stuff; do you give it to them? Because that is going to happen at some point, and it’s going to cause hardship for somebody no matter what you decide. Better from the manager’s perspective to just avoid the whole situation altogether.

        5. doreen*

          I’m not sure the concern was about time out from the job – it might have been concern about the job interfering with school. Way back when, I went to grad school at night while working a full-time, mostly 9-5 job. If I had taken 12 credits, that would have meant I had classes from about 6-9 Mon-Thursday – which can work if you have the sort of job where you reliably leave within a few minutes of 5 every day. But not all jobs are like that – I couldn’t have attended school full-time because there was one day I worked 12-8 which meant only part-time was possible. Other jobs I’ve had involved me fairly frequently working past my scheduled endtime with little notice , and it would not have been unreasonable for someone to be nervous about quitting if I missed too many classes.

      3. Clisby*

        For a lot of jobs, sure. However, I went back to school full-time to get a computer science degree while working full-time as a newspaper copy editor; but the copy editing job was from about 3 p.m. to midnight, which left plenty of time during the day to take classes. It was a lot of work, but time conflict between work and classes was non-existent.

      4. Person from the Resume*

        I feel like saying full time really leads people to think traditional student who goes to class during the day. And if the LW is not a traditional student who could work during the day then she needs to make that clear.

        Full time undergrad is usually a minimum of 12 hours of classes, but I think the calculation is the average student has to study/homework/reading 3 hours per week for every hour in class so that’s 36 hours a week. I can see a company judging that their own 40 – 50 hour work week plus studying another 40 hours a week may leave an employee tired and less productive than someone who has more “free time.” That won’t necessarily be true. Employees have other kinds of commitments, but the LW made this big commitment clear to the hiring manager and it is something they can consider (legally) when hiring.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Even as an established business, we are leery about hiring someone at FT and then having them in FT school. We can flex only so much. It’s the same idea when someone has a part time gig or does freelancing, you start wondering where the priorities are going to land for the person, since you won’t know that until you’re much deeper into the process!

      I’ve seen employers spooked as well just by the IDEA of school in the future as well. I don’t personally care because I care about right now and assume turnover will happen, even when it’s not typically done in the role I’m filling. But lots of people have asked me about “my plans in the 5-10 year future” and the mention of possibly getting education or advancing myself in that kind of way gives them a pause. I’m sorry, not sorry that I’m constantly evolving and know that means I don’t want the job anyways if that’s a problem with them. But it’s just something that happens in these kind of discussions leading up to a job offer or not a job offer in this situation!

      1. Quill*

        Yeah, 8+ hours work (with commute and breaks etc), 8+ hours school (and coursework: depending on the course you either have zero homework or homework that can take more than double the amount of time you spent in class) does not really add up to being a functional person with time for things like sleep.

        It’s going to depend on the degree and schedule: your full time class attendance might be less than 16 hours a week but if any of your courses have a lab… or any sort of required out of regular class time collaborative events… or even run more than 1x per week and assign homework due at next class… It’s gonna get complicated. (Full disclosure, when I was on campus doing a science degree I could easily have 9 hour days due to having two 4 hour labs that could each run over on the same day, even without doing any of the homework. Yes, I was only signed up for ’16’ credit hours and they were allegedly 4 hour lab blocks, but in practice I was in class or lab for about 25 hours a week, and had at least 15 hours worth of homework to go with it due to having to write lab reports, etc… which is one of the many reasons why I quit my on-campus job.)

    3. Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers*

      I’m not sure how someone could hold down even a low stress full time job and study full time. If work is 8h a day and studying is another 8h, that leaves 8h for sleeping, eating, shopping, getting from place to place – it seems logistically impossible. Plus there aren’t 16 daylight hours available (unless you’re working night shift). Or is full time study not 8h? I haven’t seen this in my part of the world so genuinely curious :)

      1. ThatGirl*

        Going to school “full time” doesn’t necessarily mean 8 hrs a day. It’s been awhile since I was in college, but on average my classes only took up 3-4 hours a day at most, and studying may not be that intensive. It’s certainly a lot to take on, but the time commitment may not be as high as you’re describing.

        1. Clisby*

          That was my experience. By the time I was finishing up my final classes, I was seriously tired, but it was doable. (I was single, no kids, so didn’t have to deal with anybody but myself.)

      2. Elizabeth Proctor*

        A full time course load is generally 12 hours of class-time per week. That of course doesn’t include reading/writing/studying, but a lot of people who attend school while working try to save those things for the weekend. It would be possible, but I’d be leery about hiring someone in that position too, unless it was for a strictly hourly job.

      3. VelociraptorAttack*

        Former university employee here as well – In most universities in the United States, classes are on a credit system – 12 credits per semester is considered “full-time”, this is usually 4 classes as most classes are 3 credits. Typical rule of thumb is that each credit represents 1 hour in class and 2-3 hours of studying per week. So, each 3 credit class is 3 hours in the classroom and an additional 6-9 hours studying per week. If we go on the low end, a 12 credit load is expected to be a commitment of around 36 hours a week.

        These calculations are typically used to give incoming students an idea of the time commitment but naturally it will vary with courses. Sometimes it’s a heavy week, sometimes it’s not. Some people read faster than others, write faster, need more time to work on concepts for math-heavy courses, etc, etc.

        1. DJ*

          Grad programs tend to only require 9 credit hours to be considered full time too, so they may only be taking 3 classes per semester. That’s how my program was when I went to grad school full time and I currently work at a university that uses the same minimum 9-hour requirement for full time grad students.

      4. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        Yeah, we had someone come in and say they wanted to work two full time jobs awhile back. I’ll go ahead and let people guess how long that worked for them…I’ll wait.

        They ended up quitting when they realized what 16 hour days were like and we were only allowing it because we were throwing things to make them stick at that point with the role! It did help us though because the person was well adjusted to the shop life and could confirm we weren’t awful.

        But as others have pointed out, full time students aren’t engaged with school 8 hours a day! Usually it’s a few hours of classes and the rest is research/study time which depends on the person’s area of study. Unless you’re in med school of course.

    4. iglwif*

      Even if that weren’t the case, I feel like the number of people who can successfully juggle a full university course load (typically 15 hours/week of formal classes plus many more hours of reading, project work, research, writing, lab time, etc.) with a full-time job (say 37.5 hours/week of actual work) plus commuting time for both things, and give both the time, attention, and effort they each need, is pretty small. When is this person planning to sleep?

      1. alienor*

        It’s rough, and I wouldn’t recommend it to most people. For a couple of years when I was in college, I worked 32 hours a week and had a full-time course load, plus I commuted an hour each way to campus. I solved that by working all day M-W-F-Sa, going to school all day T-Th, and doing the majority of my studying/paper writing/life stuff on Sundays. In my last two quarters, I couldn’t take it any more and got a small loan so I could afford to cut my work hours, which left me going to school M-W-F and working T-Th-Sa, still with Sundays off. That let me spread out my classes across three days so I got home earlier from school, which in turn let me do some coursework during the week instead of doing it all on Sundays–not a huge change, but it helped a lot.

      2. CallofDewey*

        It’s not fun, but it’s certainly doable. I worked full time for my entire undergraduate and while in grad school. You just have to be really good about budgeting your time.

      3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        I mean, people juggle multiple jobs frequently in the part time/gig culture. Plus raise families or have hobbies that take up an extensive amount of time.

        Lots of people work over 40 hours a week. It’s not unheard of by any means. It’s something some people can do, other people cannot.

        I got plenty of sleep when I worked 60+ hour weeks. I just don’t have an outside life to rise and grind, which is the price I chose to pay.

        1. iglwif*

          I too have juggled multiple jobs plus family and other commitments, and it was stressful and terrible and I hated it, and during the period when I was putting in the most time on both my day job and my freelance gigs, I wasn’t doing any of those things well: I was anxious and distracted from both jobs, I snapped at my family a lot, we were all eating way too much takeaway, and my anxiety reached critical levels. (On the plus side, that was the period when we had the least trouble paying our bills.)

          It was awful, and I had to stop. Other people’s tipping points will vary — but as a hiring manager, I would for sure be *very* wary of hiring someone who said they were in school full-time, at least not without a whole lot of probing into what exactly they mean by “full-time”.

          A lot of people juggle these things, but I’m not sure so many of us do it *successfully*, in the sense of being able to do all the things to an acceptable standard and not lose our sanity.

          1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

            Oh I know, I come from that cautious hiring manager mindset as well. Despite personally being able to handle it happily, I thrive at high pressure/high stress levels [I have a breaking point, that’s for sure but it’s very far up there!]

            Whereas my brother has the same work ethic and cannot deal with longer weeks due to his anxiety/stress levels. He has found the balancing point that works for him and his needs!

            And I reread your comment, I apologize I see you mention there that you think the number of people who can do it successfully is low, not impossible. That’s my reading comprehension failure on display. So I totally agree with you. I only recently learned that I’m a weirdo in that aspect. Another one of those “Just because you can, doesn’t mean everyone can, gurl.” moments…I have a few of those under my belt, argh.

      4. doreen*

        It can be done – and I did it for a while , but it required a specific set of circumstances. First, unlike the day job/grad school I mentioned above, for undergrad I took classes during the day and worked nights and weekends. Second, the jobs I had as an undergrad did not require me to “take any work home” – once I left work, it was completely off my mind. There were no future deadlines, projects etc. Third, one of those jobs had a lot of downtime where we were sitting around waiting for work to be delivered from other locations ( like 2-3 hours of a 7 hour shift) which allowed me to read, etc.

        1. iglwif*

          Yes. I worked in my third and fourth years of uni, but my job was strictly “leave it at work” — and also, I packed my classes into Mon-Thurs and worked Fridays, which is completely different from adding full-time work to full-time school. (Plus, my field of study was such that a lot of my homework was reading, which turned my long commute to work into homework time. There are lots of disciplines for which that’s not the case!)

    5. Lobsterman*

      A full-time student cannot work 40 hours a week and reliably succeed. Some people pull it off for short periods, but the crash and burn is the most likely result.

      1. VelociraptorAttack*

        I guarantee you, you are wrong. There are plenty of people who are able to “pull it off”, there are people in this very thread who have said they have done it.

    6. vlookup*

      I managed someone who was in a master’s program while working full time. Even though it was a 40 hours/week role where it was fine for her to flex her schedule occasionally, it was…tough. The problem was that her performance was really inconsistent, and bad periods seemed to coincide with finals or other big deadlines (my sense was that she’d stay up all night writing a paper, come into work a total zombie, and then make a bunch of mistakes she wouldn’t have otherwise made). My guess is she would have been a much higher performer if work had been her priority.

      I’m sure some people could make it work, and I’m sure it’s easier in jobs that doesn’t require the same kind of mental energy as your schoolwork, but honestly after this experience I’d be extremely hesitant to hire someone juggling school and work full-time. It just seems so hard to do!

  3. KitKat*

    #1 “But I am not comfortable with her spending her time this way, as it feels inappropriate and unprofessional to use company time to find a new job.”

    I mean she shouldn’t be doing it out in the open, but with the way job searching is these days, it’s a job in itself. You’re going to be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t job search at work, especially if they don’t like their job enough that they are looking for a new one.

    1. A*

      Yup. It’s something I’ve always tried to avoid, but especially when I was younger and actually had occasional downtime at work – I’d occasionally browse postings… ON MY PHONE. I can’t even fathom using my work computer. I think I’d have an anxiety attack before even making it to Google!

      1. Zephy*

        Yup. Scroll through the Indeed app on your phone, on data, with your finger on the lock button in case someone walks by.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I know everyone shades smartphones and our growing dependency on them but this has been a saving grace when job searching. I feel funky using a company computer as well and nobody is looking at my search history basically ever, most bosses couldn’t even if they thought about it, oops being the only computer minded person in most situations.

      Job boards tend to make it easier since you apply through their system, with their stored version of your resumes.

    3. we're basically gods*

      Especially given the research (which was just drawn from one site but was still fascinating to me) that suggested that people get the best results when applying to jobs before 10am! In a job with high turnover, especially one that’s 40 hours a week or more… when are people supposed to get their applications out?

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Work on it the night before, then get up early and post it before you go to work?

        I know that’s difficult if you have kids. But if not, you could probably do at least one or two a day during the week.

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      The one exception I’d point out — if she’s an excellent, reliable employee looking at the company’s *internal* postings for promotion opportunities, she should have at least a place to read those through. That seems like a good investment in your own employees.

    5. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      I actually had a teacher* in my High school fired with two weeks to go in the school year for job searching on the school issued computer, at his classroom desk, during school instructional hours (the district IT was able to pull time and date stamps from the district network). It was deemed fraudulent use of school resources, and he wasn’t able to get another job in the state because of it.

      All this is to say, be mindful of what, when, and where so that you don’t harm yourself and your reputation.

      *the job searching was reported to the principal by one of his students who had gone to the desk to ask a question. None of us were sorry to see him leave, especially those who had been in his classes (i’d had four semesters of him as a teacher, this was an elective class). He thought of himself as slumming it by teaching at our school…….

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        It’s important to remember that teachers are held to much different standards than others though. Academia and government workers have a lot of clauses they have to abide by!

        A standard for profit business may be annoyed or questions your choices, dislike your choices even but it’s not going to get you blacklisted like that teacher did. It’s a receptionist/sales role in this case.

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          Oh yeah, I started out in early childhood education, I know that the rules are different.

          That particular teacher had left a different state because of “rumblings” about how he and his wife had met. He was not my favorite, and a lot of the other teachers at the school also didn’t think much of him.

          Reputation is way more important in education.

          1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

            Yuck. I’m glad you’re in an area that flushes these kinds of turds though.

            I grew up where our teacher pool was extremely limited. So if you were willing to take the job given it’s location, you got away with practically anything. Including meeting your future spouse in the high school literature class you taught.

            So if that guy wasn’t so up his own butt and thinking that he deserved some kind of nicer district [wtfffff], yeah, he wasn’t ever going to make it in the profession, questionable morals aside!

            1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

              Becky, yup my HS principal didn’t tolerate shenanigans at all. The teacher in question had been forced on him, and was gone in just under two school years. His wife was at the middle school – teaching the same subject – and also was the only teacher I ever heard of to order an entire case of discipline forms.

              This was all almost 25 years ago – some memories just stick with you. That was a miserable four semesters (but I loved the subject then and still participate at a hobby level as an adult.)

    6. Amethystmoon*

      Yeah but you can’t make it obvious. Maybe she needs to consider using her cell phone on lunch break to do the job searching, and not use the company computer for that purpose. Or bring in a tablet computer that only gets used at lunch, etc.

  4. Hats Hats Hats*

    #4 – totally ask once they make an offer. When our kids were small we had them in a co-op school that required a 4 hour per week in-classroom parent commitment. I was skeptical, but all three jobs I had were able to accommodate it. My husband and I alternated weeks in the school so every other week I’d work four 9-hour days and one 4-hour day. My husband’s higher level job was even more accommodating. Considering that he worked from home and after hours all the time they didn’t mind at all as long as his team knew the schedule. I was shocked (and pleased) by how readily my employers agreed to the modified schedule during negotiation!

    1. Antilles*

      Especially given that you’re only asking for basically shifting your hours by an hour or so – coming in an hour early so you can leave an hour early. In most jobs, this would be a fairly easy request to accommodate.

    2. Artemesia*

      I would also be looking for a good day care that actually was designed to support working parents. My daughter’s day care is open till 6 for her 2 year old and the after care for her older child till 5:30 — a day care that closes at 4:30 is odd and useless for those who work full time. Knowing options for good day care that is not so restrictive will also help if you can’t negotiate your preferred schedule.

      1. Mama Bear*

        In our neighborhood, many schools and daycares actually close early on Friday for religious reasons. While closing at 4:30 daily would not be my preference, it’s also not unheard of to close that early part or all the time, so I agree to ask. Most school-based aftercare runs til 6 or 6:30, so once the child is in school, this may no longer be a concern.

      2. Fikly*

        But it’s not always useless for those working full time – clearly the LW has been making it work while working full time.

        Part of my job involves researching good daycares/preschools for clients. They are harder to find than you might think, and the good ones typically have a massively long waiting list.

    3. Elizabeth Proctor*

      I was able to shift my hours from 9-5 to 8:30-4:30 to accommodate daycare pick-up. Provided you don’t have a coverage based job, hopefully your employer will be accommodating.

    4. Justme, The OG*

      Flexible leave times were the one thing that I asked for when my soon-to-be job was offered to me. They thankfully had no issue with it. But I did definitely wait until they had offered it to me before asking.

  5. hmmmm*

    #1 – While I agree that openly job searching is a bit unnerving and I’d be stuck if I were in your position as well, you do admit that, “this job has a high turnover and it’s expected most people will eventually leave the position because the room for growth is minimal.” Should we expect an employee in this position to pretend that they aren’t looking to move on, especially if you know that they will be doing that at some point?

    I’m not in favor of openly job searching, but I do agree with Allison’s response. And I feel strongly that job searching is a full time job in itself. Maybe you can create a uniquely supportive environment for her instead of retaliating, like other bosses would.

    1. Fikly*

      The point where I would draw the line is when it’s not only other employees who can see what she’s doing, but clients/customers! That just looks terrible.

  6. AndersonDarling*

    Is the employee job searching for herself or for someone else? I’m frequently searching for jobs for my husband because he isn’t savvy at searching job boards. If someone comes by, I will mention that I’m not job searching and we all have a laugh.
    If I saw someone with glassdoor open, I would assume they were doing general research on vendors/competitors, and based my my experience, if I saw Indeed I wouldn’t immediately think that they were job searching for themselves. I’ve sat at reception desks before and I was happy to do anyone’s job search because I was so bored.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I would assume that she’s clicking on job listings so you can see what kind of jobs she’s looking for though. If they fall in line with what she does, it makes sense to assume it’s for her and not a friend/family member. But of course, you never know.

      Which you could still bring up to her and she can just say “Oh I was looking for my BFF Lucy actually! She finds these boards hard to navigate.” [Yeah it could also be a nice cover story for her too but at least she knows you’re onto it and it’s an issue to be searching the job boards on company resources.]

      1. yala*

        I mean, I did the same for my brother when he was between jobs. (He lives with us, and his ability to pay his third of the rent is kind of important)

    2. Jedi Squirrel*

      I was wondering this as well. I’ve helped friends job search (as someone pointed out above, job searching is almost a job in and of itself), and friends have helped me job search as well.

      Additionally, when I’m researching potential suppliers, I will often look at the “Careers” (or “Jobs”) section of their website to see what kind of people they are trying to hire. And I’ll check their ads on Indeed or Monster to see how long they’ve been trying to fill positions. I’ll also look at Glassdoor, as well. It doesn’t give me a complete picture, but if they have positions open for months or even years (I’ve seen that), and Glassdoor reviews are overall negative, it tells me a lot about the kind of people I’ll be dealing with should I choose to do business with them. Again, it may not be accurate, but it does give me some clues about the types of questions I might ask them.

  7. Brett*

    In my current role I work with a lot of “upper-level research and development roles that involve working with a team, as well as a lot of solo work”. It is very common for people in these roles to ask for shifted schedules. Since they are already expected to be strong communicators, the time shift is expected to be something that they and their team members can readily adjust to.
    They also tend to have a lot of remote people on their teams, and work with teams in other continents. This can make time-shifted people on an earlier schedule valuable to the team! They can be the first people to respond to needs coming out of Europe or Asia

    In addition to negotiating at the time of the offer, it is very common for people to request to shift their schedules later, after the first 3-6 months. Part of being an upper-level professional is having extra deference that you know how to best manage your time.

  8. AnotherAlison*

    #2 – The office supermodel person may also not realize this is offensive to the office regular-looking-people or future less attractive people who may fill the OP’s role. I did Job X for Division A and my counterpart in Job X at Division B was a German (born and raised) 5′-10″ blonde with model looks and about 5-10 years younger than me, with no kids/spouse. This was in a male dominated field. Men just wanted to bend over backwards to help my counterpart out, and I had to repeatedly ask for the info I needed to do my job. I can only imagine how much more aggravating that would be to have my manager adding more comments emphasizing attractiveness. I mean, OP is being called out as a hottie, but there have to be others around her who are not happy that the manager is focusing on the other two women’s looks, too.

    1. Filosofickle*

      Right. Any time one person is being excessively praised for something, it implies the others are Not That. Lots of focus on people’s looks is damaging all around, especially at work. It’s not ok.

      My brother was often called the “good-looking one” and people would say things to me like “you must be the smart one”. We both grew up with a bit of a complex.

    2. Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers*

      OP is being subjected to repeated, unwanted and irrelevant “compliments” which make her seem more like a company mascot than a respected professional.

      I don’t think she need concern herself about whether her non-supermodel colleagues are offended by this objectification which has nothing whatsoever to do with them.

      I myself am a non-supermodel and I would find it 95% cringey and embarrassing to hear someone refer to a colleague this way, and perhaps 5% offensive to me personally, on a bad hair day.

      1. Observer*

        No, she doesn’t. But it’s useful for her, because she could use it as ammunition. “I wouldn’t want to make other staff feel uncomfortable. And I CERTAINLY wouldn’t want them to think that all the compliments are going to my head.”

      2. AnotherAlison*

        I meant the manager may not realize it’s offensive to the other non-supermodel colleagues, in addition to being offensive to the OP. I don’t think it’s the OP’s problem to raise concern for her colleagues to the manager, but she may have more allies who find this annoying than she thinks.

    3. LC*

      That’s an important point. When I was young (also in a male-dominated field), I got a lot of comments from men about clients wanting to work with me because I was young and pretty. I had an older, also female colleague who had been in the role much longer than I had and was awesome at her job. Years later, I shared with her how these comments made me feel diminished at the time, particularly next to her experience. She pointed out the implication – which at 25, I had missed – that she was not young / pretty. Although she was not going to work seeking that validation, it still did not exactly feel great.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      In that earlier letter, the person wanted to work from home 2 or 3 days a week — a much bigger request than flexing your hours to leave slightly early. It also was a dealbreaker for the first person, a non-negotiable — whereas this person isn’t saying that.

  9. AnnieB*

    Re #2 –
    “It doesn’t matter how complimentary she intends it to be [or not be for that matter]; having your looks discussed in a professional setting is demeaning and inappropriate. And by doing this, she’s inviting other people to think about and possibly comment on your appearance too…I want to be known for my professional achievements and competence, and I really don’t want the people we work with thinking about what I look like; I want them thinking about my work.”

    To me – if people could just really get this one concept (not that hard people!), a whole lot of harassment/hostile work environment issues would disappear overnight. You nailed it Allison!

    1. Amethystmoon*

      Right, we all have to go through harassment training where I work this year and that is something that was brought up as a “red” flag behavior. Don’t make comments on people’s bodies, period.

      1. corporate engineering layoff woo*

        I also had mandatory in-person harassment training this year and have the exact same response. This is 100% one of the trick-not-trick examples that could be used in one of these HR slide decks. Definitely something that should stop on both teams in question.

    2. The New Wanderer*

      Ugh, yeah, I had to have that conversation with someone after he basically introduced my female colleague and me to his coworkers as eye candy. Gross. And of course he fell all over himself apologizing because he was trying to be “complimentary.” I’m 99% sure he’s one of the people for whom harrassment training went right over his head, because he wasn’t a sleaze in his own mind. After all, he’s paying women compliments on their looks, not groping them. *eye roll*

      It’s not a compliment if it’s only about something not relevant to your work or performance.

  10. RaeaSunshine*

    #4 – definitely bring it up once you have an offer! I would recommend preparing yourself for the possibility that they are on board with the idea, but not open to putting it in writing. I’ve asked for a flex schedule, similar to what you’re talking about hours-wise, at my last three employers. It followed the same process for all three. Aligned during final interview on flex schedule policy (I know this is controversial, but personally I always ask about salary + policies surrounding PTO/sick/flex/remote) + my desire to utilize those once settled in. Employer agreed, but would not put in writing as those ‘perks’ were all covered under pre-existing policies open to all in good standing. I always made sure my reporting manager was looped in so nothing would get lost in translation.

    Not ideal, as in theory it could be taken away, but luckily I haven’t run into any major issues yet. I might push for it in writing under different circumstances, but in those three situations I had negotiated very heavily on salary so I didn’t want to push my luck beyond the informal agreement.

  11. RaeaSunshine*

    #1 – I think Alison’s advise and the advice in the comment is on point. Another note is that your office might want to consider getting privacy screens for the receptionist’s computer – not to hide this employee’s job search since that’s not ok, but just as a better business practice. Given that you mentioned customers could see it, it could help prevent issues surrounding privacy etc.

  12. Me*

    #3 i’m baffled that the lw is asking if a job is salvageable after it was rescinded for lying. Lying is always a deal breaker.

    I kind of understand not wanting to list the current job and having a gap, but leaving it off and saying you left your old job, had a baby an are now looking for blah blah, works around the 3 month job without lying.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      A lot of folks have a difficulty understanding lies and trust issues, so I’m not baffled or stunned by the question at all.

      I’ve found a lot of people fudge their end dates, for us, it doens’t matter much. We shrug it off but other places are sticklers for that and that’s completely reasonable for them.

      It’s one of those risk/rewards things. Unless you’re in somewhere that’s strictly regulated and held to high ethics, bending the truth is not always seen as an unforgivable transgression. And it’s up to the other party here to decide where their opinion on the subject lands. This place decided that nope, lying bad.

      1. Me*

        Of course employers can do what they want, but I doubt there’s many who catch applicants in a lie and are cool with it.

        To me bending the truth would be leaving off the current job. I’m not sure what level of fudging or dates you are referencing, but I’m curious that it doesn’t matter. In hiring you have nothing to go on about people except what they are giving you. I can’t fathom why lying is ever not a big deal – it’s one of the few concrete statements to their character that one has. Omission is a grey space sometimes, but intentional inaccuracies are another story.

        1. EPLawyer*

          Ehh, if someone actually left on the 20th and their resume said the 30th, I’m not getting het up about 10 days. MOst people don’t even put dates, they put the month and the year. If someone assumes the entire month instead of part of the month, well, that’s an assumption. But again, not a deal breaker.

          On the other hand, flat out saying you were still working somewhere you were not is deal breaker. That’s not fudging, that lying. And is a Big.Deal. Especially when the truth is fine to explain. Even leaving off the current job is fine because it’s only been 3 months. Alison always says a resume is not an exhaustive list of every job you have ever had and advises leaving off short term jobs where you can’t point to any accomplishments that would make your candidacy stronger.

          1. Quill*

            Also, I don’t… have records of the exact dates I worked at some of my earlier jobs? Which is an ex “recent grad who didn’t think knowing if I started on the 20th or 24th would ever matter again” problem: I didn’t save the copy of my resume that had those.

            I’m guessing a lot of people are in that predicament, of not really having records more precise than the months. (though I did have a point where I seriously wondered if I should put a 3 month contract down as “March to june,” because they hired me for the four months and let me go via phone at night on friday, on May 3oth, meaning I had to come back in the next monday, clearly in june, to retrieve my things! yet it didn’t even look like I’d necessarily been there two months!)

            1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

              It took me many years to realize that I should probably keep a note of things like exact dates of employment. Some of my older jobs are best guesses because I didn’t keep anything at all to document my work dates.

        2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          We get a lot of seemingly “old” resumes where someone is “currently working” at a place and then when they come in they go “Oh yeah that’s old, I haven’t worked there in awhile, I haven’t updated.”

          So in reality thinking about it in those terms and doing that deep dive into the process, they do out themselves which is probably why we don’t care instead of finding out ourselves. This is also an industry that doesn’t deep dive into people’s dates and employment history though. If we did, we’d find ourselves up a creek without a paddle. I also know people who simply do not know their start or end dates, that’s a fun life setup there.

          Most around here are used to hiring for roles that really emphasis on being professional and showing good decision making choices. So my background in that setup may be what’s tainting my mindset.

          1. Amethystmoon*

            Also, some employment sites only have people list months and years, instead of actual dates. That may help with the memory issues.

          2. Observer*

            That’s a bit different, though. In some cases, that kind of thing makes sense. But, the OP was actually deliberately trying to be misleading. And they also don’t indicate any good reason why someone would expect them to have a resume that hasn’t been updated before looking.

    2. fposte*

      Yes, I think the OP may not be understanding the hiring manager’s thought process here. As with many defensive deceptions, the coverup is a lot worse than the original crime.

      1. Archaeopteryx*

        It’s like when an employee where I work was being fired for stealing – apparently she was shocked that offering to reimburse the cost of the stolen (medical) equipment didn’t make it OK. Like, it’s not just about the individual lie – they want to hire employees who just aren’t liars or thieves.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          This is the age old “criminals aren’t known for their smarts” in play there.

          We’ve fired people for similar reasons and they’re always like “But here, let me just give it back, we okay now?!” No. No we’re not, that’s not how this works!

          They only stroke of luck some of them have had is that it’s only firing and not reported to the police.

        2. Engineer Girl*

          “Now that you’ve caught me I’ll make it better”.
          Dude. I don’t want to catch you because I don’t want you to do it in the first place.

          There’s a huge difference between “don’t do it” and “don’t get caught”.

    3. User 483*

      They also say that they don’t want to appear to be job hopping. Even though they are job hopping. So they seem to be fine with just making up their ideal story and trying to have everyone go along with that.

      I mean, sometimes you do what you gotta do to get a job.

      But, it’s the important distinction between saying “I messed up.” vs “Mistakes were made.”

      1. ScottishOnion*

        I’m super confused on Alison’s answer to this because she routinely recommends leaving off job experience where it isn’t necessary on resumes. In fact, not less than at least two weeks ago, she recommended leaving off a job on a resume for someone who’s position didn’t work out; it was less than 3 months. Why is she condemning the letter writer now?

        1. MCMonkeyBean*

          The problem isn’t leaving off their current job, it’s claiming to still be working at their last job.

        2. LJay*

          Because there is a difference between leaving off a job and lying about the details of a job.

          If you leave off a job you don’t try to give the impression that you were at a different job, you just let the assumption be that you were job hunting or taking care of a sick relative or in school or whatever. (I also don’t think you should or that Allison has ever encouraged outright lying if the interviewer directly asks what you were doing during that time.)

          Leaving off a job is just curating.

          Just like in your resume you likely don’t describe every little detail of your job including like filling out expense reports, emptying the office trash, or attending the monthly safety meeting. And that’s fine.

          But if you were to claim that you signed all vendor contracts, when that’s not something you do, that’s not okay.

          There’s a difference between omitting something you do/did, and lying about something you didn’t do, whether that something is a job title or task or staying for 3 years when it was really two.

  13. Jennifer*

    Re: daycare

    I have never heard of a daycare closing at 4:30, the time when a lot of people are just leaving work, or even a little before. I get that they love that daycare, but I wonder if they ended up moving their kid elsewhere. That has to be a hassle to ask for at every job.

    1. Sis Boom Bah*

      I came here to basically say this too: #4, it’s unreasonable for a daycare to close this early. I think you should ask for the schedule that you currently need, but also say that you could look for another, reasonable, daycare once you had a good position in place.

    2. Quill*

      Sounds like it might be via a school. If your kids are enrolled in a school based or adjacent program and you drop them off for the morning at a reasonably early time (say, at 7 to be at work at 7:30, when the school also starts,) they may only have the staff to cover 30 min in the morning, 1 hour in the evening.

      So if OP can work 7:30 to 3:30 consistently, it works out, but if they have to take a lunch and can’t start earlier than 8, or often have meetings that go to or past 4 pm, it doesn’t.

      1. doreen*

        I haven’t seen a 4:30 closing even at school-based afterschool care. The only place I’ve ever seen that sort of schedule is at summer camps that do not advertise themselves as daycare. ( and I generally can’t figure out how they stay in business)

        1. Quill*

          My mom worked at a school that, due to bus related offset scheduling, DID have a post-school daycare that closed at 4:30… but in practice this meant that parents started picking kids up at 4:45 at earliest and the workers didn’t get paid past then, because they couldn’t just turn the kids outside like so many chickens and go home.

          The school was otherwise not well run, as I’m sure you could gather.

        2. WS*

          I have: my nephew’s afterschool care closed at 4:30, strictly, and if you missed it by more than a minute it was a three strikes you’re out rule. It was otherwise excellent and the only one available for students at that school, so my dad retired a few months early so he could pick up his grandson when my brother and his wife couldn’t. What people without family members locally were meant to do, I have no idea.

    3. Andream*

      There may not be any other options. In my city daycare is extremely expensive and there are waiting lists a mile long. Childcare in many areas is in high demand, so she may not have the luxury of changing.

  14. Rainbow Roses*

    Yikes to the person who lied on her resume!

    They can see your previous job was two years which is pretty good. They won’t think you’re a job hopper just because your current job is only three months.

    Forget this job and chalk it up to lesson learned. Never lie on a resume. They usually find out about lies even. Especially since they almost always check your employment dates if nothing else.

    I had a coworker who got fired after months because he lied on his application that he had a college degree when he didn’t. Sad thing is that only a high school degree or GED was needed so a lie cost him a job. So even getting hired doesn’t mean you’re safe.

    1. Pobody’s Nerfect*

      We have a coworker who lied on his resume making it look like he had a Master degree, but when we questioned him, he said he’d only taken one or two classes in the degree program and “forgot” to list it that way. He was still hired and has lived down to that degree of smarminess ever since.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Yikes, I’ve heard so many stories about people falsifying their education like that.

      And after seeing the 20/20 about the doctor in Utah that falsified transcripts to get into medical school…which he then did become a doctor and ended up murdering his wife while she was under his care…yeah, my head cannot continue to wrap around the levels some people are willing to go through to get that job that they desire.

      Sometimes it’s out of desperation and sometimes it’s because they’re just stone cold liars.

    3. Busted*

      I worked with a very competent senior engineer for 5 years who was being promoted to manager. He was frog walked out the door when it turned out he didn’t have the degree he listed on his resume. He didn’t have any degree actually.
      I guess they didn’t check when he had started the job; he’d been working there over 15 years

  15. Micklak*

    Can someone explain daycare schedules to me? I know that people work all kinds of schedules but how could a 4:30 cut off time work for most people? I’ve had jobs where if the pick up cut off was before 7:00 I wouldn’t have been able to make it, and that’s not accounting for bad traffic.

    I could probably leave early at my current job, but I don’t think most places would be as flexible. How do people do it?

    1. SimplyTheBest*

      OP’s daycare is unusual. I’ve worked for several and if it’s a full time program (not just like after school care) they usually close between 6 and 7. Maybe they’ll also have half time programs that end at noonish, but you sign up for that specifically.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Yeah it’s not the typical setup in terms of scheduling.

      I’m wondering if it’s a set up where it’s in someone’s home, with select few clients. So they aren’t catering to the wide variety of people that other large scale daycares would.

    3. Beatrice*

      They could cater to a base that works a different schedule, too. I work in a manufacturing town – there’s a lot of shift work available that starts at 5 or 6 am and is over by 1:30 to 2:30, and the max ending time would be 4:30 if they’re working overtime. It’s a smaller town, so you can get from one end to the other in 15 minutes or so.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        That would make sense around here too, with first shift at the factory going from 6-2 or similar. So I could see if it had a really early opening time to compensate for the relatively early closing time so the parents still have a 9-10 hour window to account for commuting (which here can be substantial).

  16. Not One of the Bronte Sisters*

    I worked fulltime and attended graduate school in the evenings, with classes Monday through Thursday. Online school wasn’t a thing then. I managed to get some studying done on the subway home after class (couldn’t get a seat on the way there) and sometimes a little during lunch hour. I would seriously hit the books on weekends. It was really, really hard. You have to schedule your life to the minute. I was hard pressed to find time to do my laundry. When, several years later, I decided to go to law school, I decided I had to go fulltime and I would just bite the bullet and take out loans. Of course, I also had a child by then.

  17. Jane Doe*

    I actually think I might be Jane, given the description of the dynamic of the office and manager/supervisor situation. If this post is about me, I spend a lot of time applying for jobs because I’m treated very poorly by my coworkers. I’m constantly snapped at and spoken down to, to the point I’m often in tears. Another coworker quit for the same reason, and our new hire told me she feels the same way, and is often afraid to ask higher ups for help.

    I have several promising interviews next week, so I do not regret applying for jobs, nor do I regret introducing our team lead to Ask A Manager. By all means – confront me on it. I have a lot to say to you too.

  18. Bookworm*

    #1: Read this out of curiosity because it brought up an anecdote from an old boss, who had to handle a similar situation in previous job he had. The person was also using the organization’s stationary for cover letters, apparently (this was back when places still accepted paper or maybe the person was trying to lean on the connection, because at the time it was a BIG name).

    Old boss had someone fire the person. He was asked if he wanted to have any sort of sit down or to talk to person and he said nope, person has made it very clear they’re not committed to this job (which, TBF, was also going to be temporary and was unlikely to have led to anything permanent) so the person was fired without ceremony, told to go ASAP.

    Good luck! I understand why old boss took the approach he did but I hope it goes better for you.

  19. Luna*

    I was always told there are two things you do not use your computer at work for.
    1) Watching sexual content
    2) Searching for a new job
    I’m not sure why the second one, but I guess it’s considered rude?

  20. johanna*

    I saw the title and I thought : is this about me? . I’ m not happy a t my job so I’m constantly searching for a new position hahahah. No shame !

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