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May 9, 2012

12
P.M.

Career Coach takes your questions

Total Responses: 26

About the hosts

About the host

Host: Joyce E.A. Russell

Joyce E.A. Russell

Joyce E.A. Russell is the director of the Executive Coaching and Leadership Development Program at the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business. She is a licensed industrial and organizational psychologist.

About the topic

With an unemployment rate of 8.2 percent, a little career advice never hurt anyone.

Career coach Joyce Russell discussed jobs, negotiations and salary issues. Ask questions and get advice now!

Want more? Read Joyce Russell's Career Coach columns.
Q.

Joyce E.A. Russell :

Welcome to today's online chat, and thanks for submitting so many great questions. As always, feel free to send in your questions and offer your own insights and suggestions. 

Q.

Managing a Difficult Co-worker

I am hoping to navigate a tricky situation at work. I have a coworker in another office that often scolds me via email and adds additional names to the CC: line. It is not as embarrassing as it is annoying. I would like this type of banter to stop, but I don't want to seem like I am pushover. How do I approach her tactfully to put an end to this?
A.
Joyce E.A. Russell :

Great question and one that many people face. Email is often used inappropriately for addressing concerns and people often cc many others on these messages. It is definitely NOT the best forum for delivering bad or uncomfortable news, and yet often people use it to do just that. They need to stop doing this since the emails often escalate back and forth (with others just observing by reading) and then the issues never get resolved. In fact, they get to become even more difficult to resolve.

 

I would definitely talk to her and let her know that you appreciate hearing about her concerns and feel that talking in person or over the phone would enable you to respond more effectively to her issues. You need to make it clear to her that email is not the best forum for resolving issues. Or, you could ask someone else who has a closer relationship with her (or is her boss) to talk with her about this. Make sure the conversation is done in person.

 

Good luck with this!

– May 09, 2012 12:01 PM
Q.

For MAKING A CAREER CHANGE...

Don't forget about informational interviews. Often you can schedule this with someone in the field to get an idea about what they do and whether you'd like to do it as well. People who love their jobs love to talk about them. (Plus, you're not asking for a job, so they're usually happy to accommodate you.) Also, when contemplating a career change, it can be helpful to volunteer in your field of interest to see if you'd actually like working in it. For healthcare, for example, volunteering at your local hospital or a free clinic or something like that.
A.
Joyce E.A. Russell :

Great insights from this reader!

– May 09, 2012 12:04 PM
Q.

Underemployed

I was terminated back in 2007 from a non-profit job I dearly loved and was good at. My Executive Director retired and a few of us were let go with a regime change. Because my husband was self- employed and I carried the health benefits, I took the first job that came along. Then came the recession and I'm stuck. How do I explain the years of no productivity to an interviewer? I need to leave but now I'm divorced and essentially the sole provider for my two teenagers. Please help. Mary D. Akron, OH
A.
Joyce E.A. Russell :

Mary,

 

I think you can address all this. You need to make sure to have your resume updated and that it highlights your qualifications. Employers today are understanding about gaps in jobs due to personal issues, recessions, etc so it is not as bad as you think. But, I would definitely get someone to look over your resume and make sure you are selling your real quailifications as best as you can.

 

Also, have someone look over your cover letter (if you are using one) and practice your interviewing. Sometimes being out of the market means you need to refresh some of those interviewing skills. Good Luck!

– May 09, 2012 12:08 PM
Q.

NYC

I am a high-level executive assistant and am thinking of looking for a new job (it's time - I've been here 10 years and have been at the top of my salary range for 3 years).

 

I know we aren't supposed to ask about salary until we get an offer - but things are different in the career EA world. There is such a huge range of salaries in this field and I really don't want to waste anyone's time interviewing for a position that pays a lot less than I'm making now. It's impossible to even guess - some jobs assisting a CEO pay 40K and some pay 150K.

 

Is there any way it would be acceptable to ask a hiring manager for the salary range before agreeing to an interview? I went on one interview where they never asked about my current salary. They offered me the job and then almost fainted when they found out what I make - the offer was 45K less than I am paid now (yes, 45,000, not 4,500). It was such a waste of time for everyone involved - I had three interviews there before they made the offer and I found out the salary. I could always go through a headhunter, but a lot of good employers don't use them due to the cost involved.

A.
Joyce E.A. Russell :

You raise some great points. It is perfectly fine for you, as an applicant, to ask them what the salary range is for the position. This is a good idea if you are worried about wasting your time and the fact that the offer may be significantly below what you would consider. Just remember that once you open that "can of worms", they may ask your opinion about the salary range. Then, you need to either be able to say - it is workable for you or not. You can still come back later to negotiate more, but you will need reasons for why you should get more (research you have done on the market, your worth and experience, cost of living due to the area, etc).

 

If you do ask them, definitely ask for the RANGE (and not a fixed number) since this will give you more flexibility later on. Also, if the range is in your ballpark for what you would consider, I would try to then switch topics and get back to letting them know about all the great things you bring to the table. That way, you can get them to make an offer at the higher end of the range.

 

Good luck!

 

– May 09, 2012 12:11 PM
Q.

Resume Revamp

I am in my mid 40s, graduated college with a B.S. in Management and Ethics in 2008. I have sent out approximately 75 resumes in the past month and I have heard absolutely nothing in response to my resume and cover letter. I utilize the resume with the date formats. All of my schools including high school. My work experience for the past 10 years has been as an administrative assistant for an extremely small financial planner; I have no accomplishments like found in big corporations. It has been suggested from friends to drop the years from the resume because it "date" my age and also to highlight my accomplishments at my current job.

 

The problem is how to I do that when I have no job description and I do the everyday administrative tasks for a 3 person office? Should I remove the date references from my resume? Thank you for your time.

A.
Joyce E.A. Russell :

Your resume really just needs to cover since college so having graduated in 2008 does not place you as an "older person" (not that recruiters should be looking at that issue anyway).

 

I would definitely highlight your accomplishments at your current job. There are plenty of examples of what resumes should look like. You might go to a book strore and check out Knock 'Em Dead Resumes or Knock 'Em Dead Cover Letters. They offer some great ideas for what you should include in both of these and how to highlight your strengths. It's possible you are not really emphasizing your talents. Having been an administrative assistant, you must have been responsible for people and money of some sort as well as scheduling, etc.

 

I would make sure you are clearly illustrating your strengths. Have others review your resume to make sure it is "selling you" effectively. Are you a member of any professional associations? Sending resumes to companies should not be your only strategy for finding a new job - you'll need to join social media websites such as "linked in"  and professional associations. Networking is much more important today in finding jobs than sending out resumes. Good luck!

– May 09, 2012 12:16 PM
Q.

Need something to do at work, anything!

Last year I was promoted into a corporate position from a client services position. With the client services position I was always busy and it was a lot of fun. The new position (not really new, I've been in it a year) is incredibly boring. Entire days and weeks will go by where I literally have no work to do. I ask, but am given minimal tasks that only take a few minutes or am told to just wait and we'll do something soon. I offer myself up for projects, but if I do that outside of my immediate group, my boss gets angry. Short of looking for a new job (which I'm doing) what are some other things I can do during my days? I have thought of taking online classes, but am not able to secure funding for them so are there free ones?
A.
Joyce E.A. Russell :

Before you start taking classes, I would encourage you to talk with your boss or another senior leader at the firm. You really need an internal mentor or advocate who can provide some advice to you about how you can diplomatically handle this situation. Your boss will always get upset with you working on projects outside of his/her group unless a higher level manager lets your boss know that this is actually good for the firm. 

 

Are there community projects or teams in your organization that you can volunteer to work on (maybe some that might interest you)? Talking to another senior level manager about how you can better contribute to the firm is important since if you do volunteer for some cross-dept work, you need someone (high up) who can let your boss know that it is okay and a good thing to do.

 

Are there areas where you can train or mentor others in your dept who are struggling with their jobs? Do you have any interest in doing this? 

 

I can sense your frustration with your job, and it is a shame that the firm is not fully utilizing your talents. Before you give up on the firm, see if there are other senior level managers you can ask for guidance. Sometimes they can really help you out.

 

Good luck!

– May 09, 2012 12:20 PM
Q.

Working Remotely

A tip for the person in April who asked about working remotely: I know a couple of people who work for IBM remotely doing computer support. This isn't to say that IBM is the only place, but that perhaps it's a place to start.

A.
Joyce E.A. Russell :

Thanks for your suggestion!

– May 09, 2012 12:23 PM
Q.

Burnout

I think I have reached a point where I am too tired to be effective at work. I don't feel challenged or motivate at work. I have a long commute which made me shift my work hours earlier than usual to avoid the worst commute. But it is hard getting to bed early on a consistent basis, especially if there are activities planned in the evenings (like club meetings). I know the seasonal pollen allergies are NOT helping. I have been with my current employer for almost two years. I knew from the start it wasn't an ideal job, but in the current economy, having a job was better than unemployment. I feel the need to both recharge and find something new. Hopefully, closer to home. I know that opportunities and offers are not easy to find. What can I do now to get my energy and motivation up?
A.
Joyce E.A. Russell :

Have you talked with your current employer about possibly doing some of your work by telecommuting/ You did not mention the type of work you do, but is that a possibility? This might enable you to get more done without having to make the long drive.

 

What are you doing while making your long commute? Sometimes people use this time to continue working (making phone calls), yet this does not enable them to recharge. If you have to do work on your drive, you could still make sure to use some of the drive time as an opportunity to recharge yourself by doing something you enjoy and which relaxes you (like listening to music you like or a fun book). You have to figure out how to make the drives more enjoyable for yourself. Most people do not do this and they get more and mroe frustrated with the long drives. But, if you are listening to an interesting story, it makes the time go faster.

 

Sleep is definitely an issue as you mentioned - so you do have to figure out how to get more rest - what about seeing if you can come in early some days and later other days? You might want to read "The Power of Full Engagement" - it offers some great tips for what to change in our lives to enable us to be more engaged (from physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual issues). Then, I would definitely meet with your boss and see what you can work out for changes in your schedule.

 

Good luck!

– May 09, 2012 12:25 PM
Q.

Maternity leave concerns

I will have been at my current job for a little over a year by the time my second child is born. The job has not worked out like I thought it would - I have A LOT of down-time, very little direction from my superiors, and discussions about other projects I could work on have been shut down or not amounted to anything.

 

I do have some responsibilities that will have to be taken care of by someone else while I'm gone, and I'm terrified that when I go on leave, that person will notice that I'm not doing anything. The funding for my position comes from a contract, so I'm also worried that when it's renewal time, they will reduce/eliminate my position & salary in order to make the "deal" more favorable to the other party. I'm worried I will come back to no job (or, a job for only as long as they can manage without breaking discrimination laws), and I can't give myself more responsibility so I don't know how to stop this.

 

I am sort of looking for other jobs, but it will soon be very obvious that I'm expecting and I know that won't help my chances.

A.
Joyce E.A. Russell :

Congratulations on your family!

 

You bring up several important issues. First, other employers, if you are currently looking for jobs, should not take into consideration your pregnancy when hiring you. If you get on the www.shrm.org website you can learn more (if you want) about the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. If you are worried that they will consider your pregnancy and not hire you (despite the law), then you might proactively let them know how you will be able to do the work (if you think they might be worried about this). You really do not have to share this information, but reality suggests it might help you to convince them you have a realistic plan for what you will do.

 

About your current job, what about the possibilities of trying to enhance your work responsibilities at this point in time to ensure that you are able to come back to a viable job? Isn't there anyone there to talk with about giving you more to do? Are there other managers in other departments you might be able to talk with (or volunteer to work with)? If not, your fears might be realized if there really is not much work involved in your current job. I would try to do this unless you know you really want to work someplace else.

 

Good luck!

 

– May 09, 2012 12:27 PM
Q.

Practice Interviews

Hi Joyce, I conduct frequent interviews and I am often reminded of how beneficial practice interviews would be for recent undergrad/grad school graduates (or anyone really). Are you aware of any organizations (alumni orgs., non-profits, etc) who run a program like this? I'd love to volunteer.
A.
Joyce E.A. Russell :

Gerat question and yes, this is very important. You might consider volunteering back at your college (if that is possible due to location) or a local college or high school. I am sure they would really appreciate it. Many schools bring back alums for exactly this type of thing. I know at the Smith School, our alums are excellent in coming back and helping students with practice interviews. I would start there first. Thanks for volunteering - I am sure it will be greatly appreciated!

– May 09, 2012 12:30 PM
Q.

On the way out...

Hello -- I'm currently unsuccessful in a job that I don't think CAN be a success. Until this year, I have been just successful enough but things have been bad enough recently that I am pretty certain I am on the way out. I have two questions for you -- 1) is it better to resign than to be terminated? and 2) how should I deal with this unsuccessful job on my resume and in a job search?
A.
Joyce E.A. Russell :

Sorry to hear about your situation. I am sure you are not happy with this. I think if you feel sure you are going to be let go, it would be better for you to take things into your control as much as possible. I would be actively job hunting (while still employed) to "look better" to the outside market. You usually look better to them when you are employed than unemployed. You will then want to resign once you have another job. This is the preferable strategy, but it may or may not work out like this. You may have to resign before you get another job (or risk losing your job first).

 

As far as your resume and job hunting goes, you need to be prepared for how you will address this job (and your resignation) with future employers. You also need to make sure you have people (references) who can talk about your great skills (if not in the current job, then from previous jobs you have had). You will need to list the current job on your resume, otherwise, there will be a gap in your record. You will need to determine what you will tell (and how much) future employers about your current job experience. Are there aspects of your "failure" that you can use as "teachable moments". Everyone has had setbacks - this is to be expected. What is important is how you learn from those setbacks and what you can tell employers about how you have learned or grown from the experience. Think carefully about this.

 

Best of luck,

– May 09, 2012 12:33 PM
Q.

Benefits and Time

I know a few people who have been with the same employer for 20+ years. I have been employed for the past 15 years, but 3 of my former employers are no longer in business. It seems like I can't stay somewhere more than 5 years, even if I want to stay that long. I am frustrated by the fact that most companies give out benefits based on the amount of time there and NOT total experience. Why should I have to start a new job with just one week vacation when someone with less experience, but longer time at the company gets 3 weeks of vacation.
A.
Joyce E.A. Russell :

Yes, this is frustrating and frankly - probably needs to be reevaluated given today's times and the fact that people do not stay at firms for as long as they used to. But, there still are companies that use benefits, and vacation based on length of service. You could consider negotiating on this issue - to get more vacation time. I have known many people who have negotiated to get more vacation time rather than other perks. Some firms do this, while others do not. But, it is always worth asking about. See if the firm has a precedent (where someone was able to negotiate for more time). This will help your case.

– May 09, 2012 12:37 PM
Q.

transitioning from public to private sector

I would like to leave my government job at the State Department and join the private sector, where I think I will have more opportunity to be creative and innovative in the international operations management and policy work I do. What types of networking organizations or conferences could you recommend I join to find opportunities in the private sector that match my skills and interests?
A.
Joyce E.A. Russell :

You might check with several organizations such as APICS or www.POMS.org. These are two organizations dealing with these issues.

Good luck!

– May 09, 2012 12:38 PM
Q.

Horrible job market in a place I love living:

I've been looking for a f/t job for 5 years - am currently working p/t with an end date next year, and have done contract work. How do I keep up the energy for the hunt? I can't commute far (single mom w/ sole custody) and I don't want to move.
A.
Joyce E.A. Russell :

I applaud you for all of the things you have been managing - your job, family, job hunting, etc. It is hard to keep all that up with all the demands you are facing. You might try one of two strategies - eiher devoting a specific time each week to working on the job hunt (maybe 2-3 days a week for a set time period) or give it a break for a little while and come back to it once a month. Either of these strategies have worked for many people. The other thing to consider is what does your network look like? I know it may be hard to get out while also taking for your family, but do you have friends who are also spreading the word about you? Have you updated your resume? Have you joined professional associations where you can network? It will be very hard to find your job all on your own, so if you have others who can assist you (other contacts) that will help. You will need ot make a really concerted effort to be on the market several months before your contract work ends, unless you can get that extended.

 

It can be overwhelming - try to break it down into parts that seem more manageable - updating your resume, polishing your interview skills, joining professional associations, joining social media websites like "linked in", etc. By doing this, it makes it feel like you are making progress which can continue to energize you.

 

Best of luck!

– May 09, 2012 12:39 PM
Q.

Career Changing

I am a 55-year-old male. I left a 20-year career in the public policy world (education and workforce) for "related" 11 years of work in the private sector (Corporate Affairs and HR) - always looking to return to the public arena. While my work was "somewhat" related, the two worlds are very different. As a result, my decision to take a job in a small consulting firm working in education one year ago is taking a surprisingly long time to take off like I had imagined.

 

Is this unusual? How long does it take to transition into a new job and relaunch into a somewhat new field again? Thanks in advance.

A.
Joyce E.A. Russell :

Great question, and I think it really depends on the field you are in and the economy. So, it could take longer based on these issues.  How is your current firm doing overall? If it is not doing well, then it will take more time. Is there anything that can be done to enhance the firm's performance? How can you help with new leads and contracts? I really think the economy might be the biggest factor here and as it improves, things will move faster for you.

– May 09, 2012 12:42 PM
Q.

A woman with experience and some age unable to get back into workforce

Hi Ms Russell I am 57. I am a woman who spent the last 10 years owning a flamboyant restaurant and now with the economy as it is, it is not viable for me to keep it open. I am selling it and wish to rejoin the work force. It is very difficult to even get a response back for my job applications for similar work where I can use my experience. I very much want to work with other like-minded hospitality business people and I feel my age and experience is getting in the way. I need to work and I am starting to consider jobs at the lower end of the ladder just to get in. Is this what I should be doing. Many thanks Yasmine
A.
Joyce E.A. Russell :

Dear Yasmine:

 

Given your experiences (owning your own business), you have some very marketable skills. I would make sure you are selling these skills to your best advantage. Have you had anyone look over your resume to make sure it is updated and reflects your real value and skills? What are you hoping to do? Given your previous ownership, what about reaching out to your patrons to see what opportunities they are aware of? If they saw you running a business, they might have leads for you. I would not jump to a lower level position just yet. I would first make sure your resume, cover letter, and connections on social media sites are updated and truly reflect what you bring to the table. Have someone review all of those for you. Reach out to your prior contacts. Depending on your financial situation, give yourself as much time as you can to search for the higher level position (which would be what?).

 

Have you also considered hotels? They are hospitality businesses who might appreciate someone with your overall business experience. Good luck!

– May 09, 2012 12:44 PM
Q.

Management Philosophy

What type of management training books for first-time supervisors do you recommend? My company gives overall training, but it really isn't pertinent to my department. I'm trying to figure out what type of information I could gather to teach my supervisors the best way to manage their subordinates, but it's pretty overwhelming. Obviously, I would give them our company's mission, etc., but looking over the books on Amazon and such, there are too many to choose from. Help!
A.
Joyce E.A. Russell :

Great that you want to help your supervisors!

 

You are right - there are lots of books out there. Some better than others. It really depends on what you are hoping to accomplish since there are books that focus on different aspects of leadership (e.g., empowering others, handling performance reviews, etc). You might try any books from John Maxwell (e.g., Leadership 101) or John Kotter or Kouzes and Posner (Leadership Challenge). All of them write books that offer practical tips that can be used by managers. You could have them all read the same book and then have a lunch book meeting where you talk about certain chapters. That would be a nice way to encourage them to read and then to share thoughts and questions they might have. It also highlights the importance you place on leadership in the company.

 

In addition to books, they could take courses on leadership - check out American Management Association or American Society for Training and Development (www.astd.org) or Society for Human Resource Management (www.shrm.org) for listings as well.

 

Best of luck!

– May 09, 2012 12:45 PM
Q.

company hiring both spouses

Good morning. My husband will be graduating from his PhD program this year and is currently on the job hunt. A few of the companies that have offered him interviews are outside of the US where it would not be easy for me to find a job. I'm hoping that I would be able to get a position at the same company (I have experience in program management and budgeting).

 

At what point in the interview process should my husband mention that I am also looking for a position? What is the professional way to let companies know that we are a package deal and we won't be relocating unless I also have an offer? Thank you!

A.
Joyce E.A. Russell :

Great question and one that is facing more and more people today. Generally, it is better if he gets the actual offer first before bringing this up (since they will then want to do everything they can to get him on board). IF you are definitely not going to take any position outside of the US, then he probably should not even be taking these interviews (if they tell him upfront that he will definitely be locating outside the US). If, on the other hand, they are open to various locations, then he should go through the interview process to see what arises.

 

Remember that they should not be asking questions about his personal life, etc so they may never ask him about family issues. So, he would need to bring this up (about a dual-career couple) once he gets an offer. I have known many people who have successfully brought this up after getting an offer and the company has done a lot to try to get the person's spouse a job. You can also research the firm to see what their policy is on hiring dual-career couples. Sometimes employees can share this information or you can find it on the website. In some cases, they are very receptive (especially if they are in a geographic location which makes it difficult to hire people).

 

Do as much research as you can about the company's policies before he goes into the interviews. He can also ask some of the employees about their views on this.

 

Good luck!

– May 09, 2012 12:47 PM
Q.

Career Change Crossroads

Another PR/public affair professional. I am in my early 30s with two small children. I have been doing PR since I got out of college and currently I am at a mid-level position. My fear is a lack of work life balance in this profession. So I am at a crossroads in my life. Should I stay in the field and seek a new job and hope that it will provide a better work life balance or do I leave the field all together and look for other careers that have a better balance like maybe HR?
A.
Joyce E.A. Russell :

Before you rule out the profession as a whole, I would do more research. Companies are much more receptive to work-life balance issues than they used to be. But, of course, there is more progress that can be made here!

 

In any event, if you love this profession, you could still look at the firms you are interested in working at, see what the opportunities are, and see what types of arrangements can be made to enable you to have more work-life balance. There is a great book on this exact topic - The Way We're Working isn't Working. It addresses many of your points. I would try to get your offers and see what flexibility the firms have for you to work part-time or telecommute, etc. If you are a good performer, there is often some flexibility they can arrange for you.

– May 09, 2012 12:49 PM
Q.

Quitting at a bad time for employer

I am interviewing for a job that is a step up from my current position. However, I will be managing my department when the current manager goes out on maternity leave. If I get the new job I will be leaving my employer at the worst possible time. But new jobs that are a step up don't come around that often. I'd like to ask the new employer, if I get the offer, to let me give a month's notice. Do you think most employers will scoff at that?
A.
Joyce E.A. Russell :

What a great professional thing to do. I would certainly ask the new employer and see what they say. Of course, I would not bring this up until you get the job offer from them.

 

They might give you the month, or several weeks or less. It never hurts to ask, especially if you let them know about your managerial responsibilities and don't want to leave the firm too soon. This should show them you have a sense of loyalty and professionalism. They may not agree to a month, but they still  might give you more time. What is their status for how soon they need you? How desperate are they for someone to step into the new job right away? If they are really in dire shape, is there anyway you can do anything for them (small projects) to help out?

 

Good luck!

– May 09, 2012 12:52 PM
Q.

attitude and fishing expeditions

(submitting early due to networking meeting).....thanks for the chats! Dearly need advice!

 

I get contacted by recruiters with some regularity. For jobs actually in my field and geographic region, they want samples and often for me to review information and give them feedback/ideas about how I would approach a project, etc. They tell me what I've submitted looks great and then either I don't hear from them or they contact me three months later saying the job is on hold or they've hired from inside. I am fed up with being the recipient of fishing expeditions.

 

How can I adjust my attitude and not feel like I'm wasting time or being frustrated at their lack of planning? Really...if you want someone who can teach XYZ custom software and has 10 years experience teaching it in a language only spoken on the island where you live...why not look within? ;-) (and of course they only decide on some of those parameters after reviewing prospects)

A.
Joyce E.A. Russell :

Great questions. I can understand your frustration here. It seems as if they may be wanting to get your consulting input (with the samples/reviews you provide). You might need to ask them at the onset about the job requirements and whether they are looking internally vs. externally. It could also be that something you are doing in the interview is not convincing them that you would be the best one for the job. Have you reviewed your interview skills with someone? How do you come across? Maybe your work is really good, but you are not selling yourself in the interview? Just asking since it is important for you to evaluate the whole process. Think about when you get stopped in the job process. Is it always about the same time (i.e., after the 1st or 2nd interview, etc). If so, then try to think about (or ask them for feedback) to learn what you could be doing differently here.  Maybe this is not it, and they just have budet issues or something else - in that case, I would ask as many questions up front as possible about the viability of the job. Otherwise, like you said, you feel like you are wasting your time and efforts.

 

– May 09, 2012 12:55 PM
Q.

Employed at Will

In an at-will employment situation, is it ok to discriminate based on gender or age when the situation calls for one employee to be let go?
A.
Joyce E.A. Russell :

It is never okay to discriminate based on age or gender. You might want to check out www.shrm.org or www.eeoc.gov for more discussion on these issues. They describe many of these issues as related to emplyment at will.

– May 09, 2012 12:56 PM
Q.

Employer hiring tactics

I'm more-or-less happily employed, so this doesn't affect me directly right now. But recently I've read and heard a lot of things about hiring practices by some employers that seem unreasonable and even abusive. Things like refusing to consider candidates who are not currently employed (i.e., who need a job). Requiring candidates to furnish social network passwords. Doing credit checks and refusing to hire people with a lot of debt, even if it's student loans taken on for the purpose of getting a job. Is this kind of thing really getting to be common? It seems excessive. Where will it stop?
A.
Joyce E.A. Russell :

You raise some great questions that have been up for debate lately. In fact, a colleague (John Bernardin) and I just published  a Human Resource  book that addresses some of these issues. There is plenty of discussion about many of the points you raise - especially the latest notion about companies being able to get appplicant's passwords for their facebook accounts (which seems to be getting shot down).

 

There are many firms who use really good HR practices, yet there are others who abuse the system. I think things are generally pretty good, but there are definitely some grey areas that some firms are taking advantage of. If any applicants have questions about what employers can or cannot do or ask in interviews, etc then go to the www.eeoc.gov or www.shrm.org websites and look up what is allowed or not ( legal mandates). There are alot of protections for applicants. It is important for people to be familiar with their rights.

– May 09, 2012 12:58 PM
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Re:What are you doing while making your long commute? Sometimes people use this time to continue working (making phone calls),

Um, no. People should not be working while they are driving. If they are in a carpool or vanpool and not the driver, then it's fine.
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Joyce E.A. Russell :

I totally agree, and think it would be great if people used the commute time to relax and slow down!

– May 09, 2012 12:59 PM
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Blushing at work

I have a terrible issue of blushing that I cannot control. It often happens when speaking in meetings or meeting someone new. I am good at my job but I feel this is really holding me back and making me seem immature. Also people at work will frequently mock me for this at work which I think is inappropriate. It would shock you how many adults do this. How would you handle this?
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Joyce E.A. Russell :

I can understand your concern over this. I am assuming you have checked with a doctor about this and anything that can be done medically to help you? I have known people that were able to get some help in this way. It is a shame people use this to stress you even more - sorry to hear this. Are you nervous in speaking situations? If so, what about taking some oral communication or improv classes to help build your confidence in this area? It is an important skill to have in any job so it would be time well worth spent.

 

Another thing is that it seems you feel your blushing is holding you back, yet remember that people take their cues from you. If you blush, but still come across as confident (and ignore the blushing), they may also ignore it. I know this is much easier said than done. I would definitely encourage you to think about courses such as Dale Carnegie or Toastmasters if public speaking makes you nervous. Good luck with this.

– May 09, 2012 1:03 PM
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Gap on Resume

Why is this so bad? I'm early 30s and have been working full-time since I graduated college in 2000. I am single and completely financially secure. I want to take a few years off and just enjoy my life. However, the only thing that holds me back is knowing how badly this will be held against me when I want to re-enter the workforce. Sometimes I just pray that I get laid-off since that seems like a "reasonable" excuse. Also having a child seems to be an accepted excuse. Why is it so bad to just want time off to travel and enjoy my life while I'm still young and healthy?
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Joyce E.A. Russell :

I understand and I don't think the GAP is seen as nearly as "bad"  as it used to be. In fact, if you can talk about how you used your time off (traveled, did volunteer work, etc) then this helps. But, to the employer, they want to know you view work in a stable, predictable way and won't just leave when you feel like it. Understandable from their view. So, it really depends on how you market your "time off" to them. It can be done!

– May 09, 2012 1:07 PM
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Joyce E.A. Russell :

Readers:

Thanks for your great questions and insights. I look forward to addressing the remaining questions and new ones when we return on June 20th. In the meantime, good luck in all your career endeavors!

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