Inc.com columnist Alison Green answers questions about workplace and management issues–everything from how to deal with a micromanaging boss to how to talk to someone on your team about body odor.
Here’s a roundup of answers to five questions from readers.
1. I was rejected after a manager looked at my LinkedIn profile
I recently applied for a job at an organization that I am really interested in working for. On Monday, I noticed that a senior manager in the department had looked at my LinkedIn profile on Sunday. However, I received an automated rejection letter that morning. My profile is pretty similar to my résumé and I am unsure if I am overanalyzing it or if there’s something I need to fix on my profile or résumé for future applications!
Don’t read anything into it. I look atLinkedIn profiles of candidates whom I end up rejecting for other reasons all the time. Very rarely, if ever, is what I saw on LinkedIn the reason. I’m just looking to get a better sense of them, or sometimes because I’m curious about one particular fact, or because I’m wondering if they’re the same Jane Miller who worked with me years ago, or so forth. Assuming that your LinkedIn profile isn’t really messy or quite different from your résumé and that you don’t have a wildly unprofessional photo up or something, I’d assume you were rejected for routine reasons that had nothing to do with what you have on LinkedIn.
2. Should I have disclosed that my networking connection is actually my spouse?
I got my current job through my spouse’s network of professional colleagues. My spouse referred me to my employer, and I refrained from mentioning that he was not just a former colleague until I’d been on the job about two weeks, at which point I told my boss that I was married to the person who’d essentially networked me into the job. She reacted pretty well and didn’t seem offended, but I still wonder if I handled it appropriately.
Should I have disclosed it earlier? I couldn’t decide if disclosing pre- or mid-interview would make it seem like my spouse had only referred me because we’re married or make the employer feel pressured or like they couldn’t trust the recommendation. (I don’t think they checked any of my other references, or got a more formal recommendation from my spouse besides “Here’s Moira. She’s great!” in the introductory email.)
In the future, can I still list my husband as the point of contact for the job where he was my boss? (We didn’t start dating until I’d left for grad school, and I still get freelance work from his company occasionally.)
It depends on exactly how your spouse networked you into the job. If he just told your employer something like “Moira Smith is a great analyst and I’ve suggested she apply — keep an eye out for her application” … well, that’s still a little weird but not terrible. But if he sang your praises and gave a glowing recommendation and they interviewed you on that basis, then he really, really needed to disclose the connection from the start. (And if he did not, then you needed to.)
In general, spouses are not considered credible references because it’s assumed they’re biased in your favor, and if your husband gave a real reference as part of this process, he denied your employer highly relevant context by not mentioning the relationship.
And, yeah, you shouldn’t use him as a reference in the future. If an interviewer asks to talk to your manager from that job, explain that said manager is now your spouse but that you can supply other references.
3. Employees aren’t covering their tabs
It’s becoming a theme with a few employees that they always want to be involved in coffee and group meals but never offer to contribute once the food or beverages are purchased. As a result, my assistant manager and I (I’m the manager) end up paying for the whole group.
At first I thought it might have been a misinterpretation on the staff’s part (that they thought the food or coffee were being purchased by our employer), but there have been two occasions where I’m positive money has exchanged hands in front of them after they have ordered food or beverages, and still they do not chip in. Is there a polite way to discuss something like this with a person? And if so how?
I don’t know how to make the distinction that the organization is paying versus I am paying. We work in a nonprofit where all salaries are low. I would love to treat my staff to lunch out of my pocket, but I don’t have that luxury.
You have to speak up! It’s really common for a manager to cover the tab when people dine together, or for the employer itself to, so it’s not odd that your employees are assuming that’s what’s happening. Even though others are putting in money, some people are just oblivious and they really might not be noticing.
You just need to be really clear in advance that everyone will be paying their own way. Next time a group meal or coffee outing is being organized, say something like, “Just a heads-up that we’ll all be covering our own tabs.” And then if money isn’t offered up when it’s due, directly ask for it — as in, “Jane, I think yours was 10 bucks.” Don’t spring that last part on people with no notice, though; make sure you first set the right expectation when the outing is first being organized, so that they can opt out if they don’t want to pay.
4. I’m still getting calls from clients after being let go
A few months ago, I was let go from my job. It was an amicable parting after the job description changed and I no longer fit the role the company needed, and both of my former bosses agreed to be references for me.
However, I’m still getting phone calls from former clients whom I called before I was let go. Naturally, I am answering every phone call that comes in the hopes that it is for a job, but many times it is a former client who doesn’t know that I have been let go.
Most times I will apologize, explain that I am no longer with the company, and tell them that I will tell someone within the company that they called. It’s quicker for me to message my former supervisor and tell them “so and so from such and such a place called” rather than spend agonizing minutes on the phone dictating an email address and all the while being painfully reminded that I was let go. Am I doing too much? Should I be screening my calls despite looking for a job?
Ugh, one of the many reasons not to use your personal phone number for work, although it’s too late for that to do you any good now.
You’re right that you want to be answering your phone right now since you have résumés out there. In theory, you should be able to screen your calls and employers should leave messages and be reachable when you call them back, but it doesn’t always work out that way. Given that, it’s fine to keep doing what you’re doing. But you could also ask your old manager if there’s something she can do on her end, such as having a current employee proactively get in touch with the clients who were assigned to you to give them updated contact info. (That’s better for her, too, since it’s not great to have client calls going to someone who no longer works there, so hopefully she’d be willing to do it.)
5. Changed my name, now changing it back
I’m a woman who got married a few months ago, and changed my name socially and professionally but not legally. I took on a hyphenated last name. I’ve since decided I’m actually more comfortable going by my maiden name, and want to change it back. However, I’m concerned about colleagues thinking that my going back to my maiden name might signal that I’m getting divorced, which isn’t true. I just want my old name back. Is there a sensible way for me to signal that I’m going back to my old name but not getting divorced, or would that be making a big deal about nothing? Is there a way for me to message this that doesn’t sound too weird?
I’d just be breezy about it! People probably aren’t paying that much attention or reading that much into it. You could just say, “By the way, I decided not to hyphenate after all so I’m sticking with just Cranwell!”
This should be fine for most people, but if you notice anyone looking particularly concerned, you could add, “I’m working on convincing Dave we should pick a brand-new third name” or anything else that mentions Dave in a non-divorcey way.
Want to submit a question of your own? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.