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Saturday, June 30, 2007

Evil HR Lady, PHR

I promise this blog isn't just about me. (Yes it is! Me, me, me!!!!!)

But, I have to announce. This morning I dragged myself out of bed at 5:30 a.m. and headed to the closest Thomson Prometric Testing Center and took the PHR exam.

Preliminary result? Pass!


I'm very pleased as I have been studying diligently for the past two months. Of course, if the official results come back as a fail I will delete this post and deny ever having taken the exam.

I've been dying to express my opinion of the whole endeavor, but have refrained because of the impending exam. But now it is over and you should expect to learn my opinion very soon.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Carnival of HR #10

Is up at The HR Capitalist. Appropriately it is a top 10 list of the reasons to be in HR.

Hop on over and take a look at the list.

The July 11th Carnival will be hosted by Lisa Rosendahl at HR Thoughts.

The July 25th Carnival will be hosted by the Manager at Ask a Manager.

The August 8th Carnival will by hosted by Ann Bares at Compensation Force.

The August 22nd Carnival will be hosted by Wally Bock at Three Star Leadership.

The September 5th Carnival will be hosted by Rowan Manahan at Fortify Your Oasis.

The September 19th Carnival will be hosted by Evil HR Lady at, well, Evil HR Lady.

The October 3rd Carnival will be hosted by Natalie Cooper at Personnel Today.

Let me know if any of the rest of you wish to host. Think of the fame and glory that will come your way! You can even put it on your resume: Hosted Carnival of Human Resources. Think of the number of job offers you can get with that! If you've previously hosted and would like to host again, let me know.

Thursday, June 28, 2007


Evil HRLady,

1)Can my company be held liable if an employee decides to leave the building during a paid break or lunch?
2)Can I tell my employees that they must clock out when leaving the building grounds?

We currently allow our employees to leave the building for lunch or breaks as long as they do not leave the office complex and surrounding buildings (Subway, Convenient Store, Restaurant...). We have a new employee that lives across the street from our complex goes home during lunch. Can I tell them that they can not do this? We also have other managers that leave the complex when they want to go to other places for lunch....Is is OK to say that it is not all right for one person and all right for the other (all are paid hourly).

Thanks for your input on this matter.

I'm trying to wrap my brain around this--a company that forbids employees to leave the campus during lunch. It sounds like Jr. High.

I am not a lawyer and have no idea about liability (and for what? Are your employees prone to injuring others or breaking laws?). However, I can tell you right now I wouldn't work for you if you didn't allow me to leave during lunch.

Granted, I only leave the office for lunch about once every other month, but that's beside the point.

If they are hourly employees, why are you paying them for breaks anyway? Of course they should clock out. You shouldn't be controlling what they do on breaks. If they are exempt you probably shouldn't be focused on breaks anyway.

Let people go where they want to for lunch. You can limit the amount of time they have for lunch. (There are laws that vary from state to state on how much time people should get for a "lunch" break.) This limitation on time will probably keep them on the campus.

However, you aren't required to let them leave. From the Department of Labor:
Where no permission to leave premises. It is not necessary that an employee be permitted to leave the premises if he is otherwise completely freed from duties during the meal period.

But, I'd really like to know why you want to prohibit them from leaving in the first place.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


Online Dating

Mingle2 - Online Dating

hat tip Home Education

Exit Interview

Hi Evil HR Lady

I came across your blog and found it very informative. I was wondering if you can help answer my HR related question.

Due to a management realignment in my group (hostile take over), my new manager has less technical and mananagerial experience. She was recently hired to perform the role of an ex-collegue. She also is older (mid 40's) and have been with my company significantly longer than I have.

I feel discrimminated because of my age (I'm 31) and am unhappy with upper management's decision to have me report to her. She announced at our weekly group meeting that she looked through my code without having the courtesy to inform me (i.e. she was snooping around). I know we loose certain privacy rights at work but it shows her lack of respect.

My question is, when I quit, should I tell HR my main reasons for quitting? I am afraid to "speak my mind" because I want to have good future references. I am well liked in the company and a high achiviever. In my two and a half years with the company, I have received two promotions.

Your input would be greatly appreciated.

I am so torn on how to answer this question. The HR side of me (that would be the evil side) says, "tell truth at the exit interview. Lay out why you are leaving. We can't fix the problem if we don't know about it. We'll keep everything you say a secret! Only report it in the aggregate."

Yes, this is the HR answer. But, let me tell you, when I leave a job, you would think I was only leaving because wild, rabid wolves were forcibly dragging me out the door. I hated to leave. I love everything about this place! Everything, do you understand?

Why? Because I needed references and in at least one case, I knew I wanted to come back to that company. (I quit after the offspring was born with the full knowledge that I wanted to come back part time later--which I did.) But, I also know what aggregate means.

Sure, aggregate responses mean that we group everything together and (theoretically) your manager would never know what departing employee said what about her. However, unless you have an extremely flat organization, managers rarely have more than 1 or 2 people quit in a year (with 5-10 people reporting into them), so everything "aggregated" means absolutely nothing. They know it was you.

So, then HR departments are smart and they don't share that information with the direct supervisor, it goes farther up the food chain, but too far up and your info does little good.

It's really a frustrating thing--I want to know what managers are doing so I can fix the problem, (ha! Like I have that power.)--yet I know that bad managers tend to take constructive criticism the wrong way.

So, find your new job and put a big smile on your face and be quite positive about the whole thing. No need to burn bridges--at least not officially. If you have received a great deal of positive feedback and promotions you might express your concerns to a former boss. If you really don't want to leave the company, start looking to post outside the department, but don't complain about your current boss when you do so.

And, as a little hint, referring to a boss in her mid 40s as "older" may be true when compared to you, but 40 will creep up on you faster than you might think.

Oops! I Lied

I have worked in pharmaceutical sales for the last 24 years 22 with the same company and was downsized. I have interviewed with a company and the have sent me a pre-employment consent form. On my resume I said I have a bachelors degree . But I have only completed 3 years of university. I do have a year dipolma from a business school as well. Usallly I am up front in an interview but was not asked any question about my University. I looked at the job requirements again and it says a university degree is required. My question to you is should I phone the H R person and tell the my situation. If yes should i tell him i will finish my degree at night or online to meet the requirements?

Why, oh, why did you state on your resume that you had a degree when you didn't? What good can possibly come of that?

Honestly, I think you've probably blown your chance at this job--most everyone does background checks and verifying degrees is pretty standard. By all means, call and confess and offer to finish, but I doubt it will do any good.

Sorry to be so pessimistic, it's just that having a big lie like that on your resume isn't accidental, so now I can't trust anything you've said.

With that much experience in pharmaceutical sales finding a new job shouldn't be difficult. Most require a degree, but I bet a lot of companies would be willing to waive that requirement since you have so much experience.

And if you can go back to school and finish the degree, do that.

And update your resume and put that you attended school not that you graduated. You don't have to worry about things when you stick to the truth.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Temp to Perm

Dear Evil HR Lady,

I was just offered a permanent position at a company that I have been temping at for the past 14 months. I am earning $20 per hour as a temp and I do get overtime pay.

The salary I was offered is $40,000 per year—which is less per hour than I am making as a temp. The position is non-exempt so I would get overtime pay but I feel disappointed (to say the least) that $40,000 is all they are offering. I was told by the recruiter that I interviewed with that $40,000 is as high as they will go. Is this type of this a common practice when going from temp to perm?

Yes and no. How come you don't get overtime as a temp? If you are doing the same job as a temp that you will be doing as a regular (note I didn't say permanent--you are undoubtedly still an at will employee and can be terminated at any time) employee, you should have been overtime eligible as a temp as well.

But, that is neither here nor there. As a regular employee you will probably be eligible for benefits that you would not be eligible for as a temp. Health insurance is a big item. This is worth more than the small amount ($1600 a year for 40 hrs/week) you would drop in salary. Plus your new salary ($19.23) means that instead of the $800 you get now, you'll get $769. With one hour of overtime a week ($19.23x1.5)you'll be up to $797, hardly worth quibbling over.

If you aren't getting any benefits, then it's probably not worth it. But if you are--it's a great deal. And health insurance isn't the only benefit.

Evil Marketing Man's company sends out a statement of total compensation ever year. We just got his yesterday. In addition to salary, they give the value of health insurance, life insurance, 401k matching, disability insurance, etc so that you know how much you really benefit from working for them. I think it's a brilliant thing to do. Plus, now I know that his benefits are over $30,000 a year. (Although some of which we'll be unlikely to use, but they are there for us if we want them.)

Benefits are a wonderful thing. Hopefully, you are being offered some fabulous one. Congratulations on the job offer.


I hope you can help

I’m thinking of applying for a job- It is a competitor for my current employer

How do I make sure the prospect employer keeps my info confidential. All the Docs in that community talk

They are still going to talk--you just have to make sure you don't give them anything to talk about.

This means you don't go to a job interview and when asked why you are looking for a new job say, "Doctor X is such a jerk. Plus, did you know his office manager is having an affair with one of the nurses! It's just like working in a soap opera over there, so I'm looking for something a little less dramatic."

That response will get you talked about. Guarenteed.

The response that won't get you talked about? "I've been working for Doctor X for 3 years and I really enjoy working there. However, when I saw this job opportunity open up I was delighted because I've always wanted to learn more about orthopaedics. I would be sad to leave, but excited to learn new things." Now you have said nothing interesting so you won't be talked about.

Hopefully. You can't guarentee no discussion, but also keep in mind that you switching jobs is not as interesting to anybody else as it is to you. You may mention that you would appreciate it if the fact that you were interviewing was kept confidential. However, some interviewers might find the implication that you think they'll gossip insulting.

Who are you going to direct people to for references? Something to think about.

Good luck on your job search.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Carnival Reminder!

The 10th Carnival of HR will be posted at The HR Capitalist on Thursday, so get your submissions to hrcapitalist at gmail dot com to be considered for this fabulous ride.

Everybody Wants to be an Evil One

Hello Evil HR Lady!

From your name alone, I can tell you have quite a sense of humor. Which gives me high hopes already. I am a rising college senior, pursuing a B.S. in Psych with a minor/concentration in Business. I am currently floundering around for a career path, and HR has fallen in my lap. I currently work at an area theme park in the ticket office, and I am starting as an HR assistant in a few weeks.

I've been toying around with the idea of HR for awhile, but I'm afraid I'm not really sure what I'm getting myself into. I'm also somewhat terrified of getting into the stereotypical, day in-day out monotony of the working world.

Okay, I'm basically curious as to what you would do if you were in my shoes. How did you feel when you were my age? What education level do you think I should further pursue? (MBA?) Or does "real world" experience hold greater weight in the long run? What other knowledge would you like to bestow on a youngin' as myself?

What do you mean when I was your age? I'm only 22. Oh wait, no, I'm not. I am much, much older. (Although still convinced that I look 22, although I think 22 year olds look 12.)

The working world does have a degree of monotony--that's why it's called work. Here is one my favorite quotes from Jenkin Lloyd Jones:
Anyone who imagines that bliss is normal is going to waste a lot of time running around shouting that he's been robbed. The fact is that most putts don't drop. Most beef is tough. Most children grow up to be just ordinary people. Most successful marriages require a high degree of mutual toleration. Most jobs are more often dull than otherwise. . . .

Of course, this doesn't mean that your life has to be miserable, but if you are constantly looking for exciting, HR may not be the place for you.

However, the advantage of HR is that you get to know all the company gossip--in fact, it could even be your job to not only know but investigate all such rumors. Fun!

I'm a huge fan of real world experience. Some people are huge fans of MBAs. It depends on whether you want to work for me or for someone else. Typically, I believe it's easier to rise in large companies with advanced degrees.

If I had to do it over again, I would have my master's degree in Organizational Development rather than Political Science. I love OD work and I find it very difficult to get into that realm because I lack the degree.

But here is also reality, you don't have to stay in the same job forever. You don't even have to stay in the same field forever. One of my favorite HR colleagues spent 15 years in manufacturing, working his way up to a manufacturing manager. He then jumped into HR. People jump out as well--another colleague spent 5 years in HR (her master's degree is in HR as well) and is now in IS. You're not stuck.

Yes, you have to go to work every day. (Unless you are me--since I job share. Ha!) Yes, this is no fun. You no longer get breaks like you did in school. But, such is real life.

Don't worry about having your first job define your career. Just make sure you are the one to define it. I would recommend that if you decide you want an MBA that you get 3-5 years of work under your belt before going into a program. It makes you much more marketable and much more likely to get into a good program.

You're a senior in college and starting a job as an HR assistant. Excellent. Lap up all the knowledge you can while you are there. By the time you graduate you'll be well situated to get a professional HR job or to decide you don't like HR after all. Lots of psych majors in HR. You'll need it to deal with your future colleagues.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

How to Break into HR (legally, that is)

Hi Evil HR Lady,

I recently changed careers, from journalist to HR administrative assistant. (I've also started a resume-writing business.) My primary interest is in staffing and recruiting, but I want to learn at least a little bit about all aspects of HR. I know that I'll learn on the job, but do you have any recommendations for resources that will jump-start my learning curve? Books, Web sites, professional organizations?

Also, a related question: Do I need HR certification or an advanced degree (either an MS or an MBA) to move beyond an administrative position? I don't see myself wanting to be a high-level manager at any point, but I definitely want to move into a position where I'll be involved in decision-making. I've been surfing the Web looking for an answer to this question, but I haven't found one. (I'll ask my bosses, too, once I've been with the company for a while. I don't want to come on too strong!)

Making A Change

Ahh, welcome to the dark side. First, the easy part, you don't need an advanced degree or HR certification to move beyond an administrative position. At least, not everywhere. You may in the company you are working for--each company has different rules. (For instance, in my HR department all exempt employees are required to have bachelor's degrees. Doesn't matter if you have 20 years of experience--no degree, no job.)

Now, making the leap from an admin job to a professional job can be tricky. Getting your PHR (or SPHR) can be helpful, although not necessary.

What you do need is to be able to speak the language of HR--which you should pick up quickly in your administrative job. Ask questions. Volunteer for more work. Don't complain about filing and making power point presentations and handing out the mail--it's all part of being an admin, but ask for more substantial work. If you prove yourself, you'll get it.

Tell your boss your plans. Part of a manager's job is to help her people with their career goals. My feeling as a boss is that if you are still in the same position in 3 years I'm doing something wrong. (Note, this is for lower professional jobs. You're not necessarily going to leave your VP of HR job in 3 years.) Smaller companies have no where to go, but larger ones should have lots of opportunities.

You said you were interested in staffing and recruiting. This is a very popular entry level HR place. Lots of staffing/recruiting departments and companies are more than willing to train you. In house recruiting will come with a salary. Contract recruiting will come with commission--there is sales involved in that as well. Figure out if you want to do the sales part.

As for websites. Well, do I have advice for you! Go here. All, right, it's a link back to me. But, a specialized link to all the HR Carnivals. Go to each carnival and read the submissions. The carnival posters are the best and brightest in HR. Their posts won't necessarily teach you how to get an HR job, but they will teach you what HR is all about. And that's what you need.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


I've been wanting to post a picture of myself with horns or something, but this goes against my desire to remain anonymous. Instead, I've decided to post a picture of what I'm made of.

Posted by Picasa

mmmm, brownies.

Does HR Add Value?

Thomas Otter tagged me regarding his comments on a Workforce Article: Business Leaders Don’t See HR as Key to People Strategies.

Thomas asks:
It is not the first time I’ve read this sort of study, but it concerns me a lot. Yes, the sample isn’t huge, but the numbers are similar to stuff I’ve read before. It doesn’t seem to be getting any better. A couple of years ago there was a big huff about the “why we hate HR article”, but has much changed? Should HR care?

My answer? Yes, HR should care, but what are we doing about it? My previous post was all about recruiters. Like it or not, this is the face of HR. It should not be, but it is. And whose fault is that? Ours.

Do we add value to the business? Some of us do, some of us do not. Are we caught up in paperwork and policies? Do we create employee handbooks that would rival War and Peace?

We say things like succession planning are critical to an organization's success, but do we know how to make the business case for it? Have we developed metrics to prove what works and what doesn't? Do we even speak the same language as the line?

Once upon a time I worked for corporate HR for a Fortune Top 100 Companies to Work For. While I hope not to give away too much info, suffice it to say, the business was retail oriented. Do you know what they required of every corporate HR person? A minimum of 3 weeks in the stores. I stocked shelves. I listened to customers. I worked in every department. I learned to speak the language of the line. I learned to understand the business, not just HR.

The reason I left? To be promoted I needed to work in the stores. And while I loved the company, retail requires hours I wasn't willing to work, so I left. Was that a bad policy on the part of the company? Absolutely not. Their business is retail and I wasn't willing to pay the price to learn it, so no promotion for me. (And for the record, I was not encouraged to leave, I got a new job and then resigned. I wanted career growth and I knew that wouldn't happen without working nights and weekends.)

Did HR show value there? Absolutely. HR realized what the needs of the business were and created policies accordingly.

For HR to add value we need to speak the language and be able to state our case. We often get in scuffles with finance because training, development and benefits all cost money. When we give in because the CFO says, "that's too expensive" we have cooked our own goose. Before we propose we need to have the figures that will show how it will save money in the long run--lower turnover, higher productivity, etc. If we can't show that, we have no business making the proposal in the first place.

We need to not sit by quietly while the "big boys" make the decisions and then carry them out. Are we conducting layoffs? Why? Before we sign on the dotted line we better be showing that his layoff will truly help the company financially. What is the cost of turnover? How come we don't know this off the top of our heads? (Or at least how to calculate it?) Are we increasing the employee portion of medical expenses? What will be the result of this in terms of turnover? We better be able to build models.

What are models? Crud people, hire yourself some statisticians.

Bad, Bad Recruiters

Oh dear, I am harsh on recruiters. (Although, incidentally, none has come by here to defend the profession...)

I stumbled upon an obstetrician's struggle with recruiters.
I started out with enthusiasm about recruiters, and with great hope. Here are these people that have "hundreds" or "thousands of jobs nationwide", that have "the best jobs", that "personalize a search for you", that routinely find "the perfect practice for you". Great! Call several recruiters, get a great job and start working!

It turned out quite different. I had graduated from one of the large Boston teaching hospitals and wanted to stay locally. And with "locally" I meant really Boston, specifically inside the I-95 ring. So I sent my CV to recruiter after recruiter, but strangely, such a job did not seem to exist. Even the recruiters that advertised jobs with "Enjoy all Boston has to offer" live and work in "the Boston suburbs" never had jobs within the I-95 ring. To my dismay, recruiters defined the "Boston suburbs" very creatively and differently than I did. The suburbs suddenly turned out to be Methuen, Lowell, Lawrence, Framingham, Worcester, Plymouth etc. Driving distances in ads were routinely understated; places advertised as "only 30 minutes from the city" always were an hour away.

Why oh why do this? To attract people who don't want the job you are offering? Hoping to get someone to "settle" for something? Because as a contract recruiter you are only interested in placement, not retention?

Outsourcing your recruiting seems to be growing in popularity, but I believe it has some unintended consequences--like looking only for placement. If I get paid based on a placement and then walk away, what is my incentive to find a good fit, not just a warm body?

Granted, the hiring manager makes the final hiring decision. But, in this case, the hiring manager's specialty is obstetrics, not hiring. The expert should be the recruiter.

The best job interview I ever had was done by a former boss. Why? She said, "I'm going to tell you all the problems about working here." And she did. And there were many, many, many problems. She also told me the perks and what she would do to protect me from the awful politics of the place. I took that job knowing full well what I was getting into.

If she had said everything was peaches and cream I still would have taken the job, I just would have been angry and sullen and prone to leaving as soon as possible.

Recruiters, please note: I took the job even knowing the bad things. In my situation, the good outweighed the bad (which it did and I still work for the same company 6 years later, although in a different department and the problems she spoke about went away after a time anyway).

Monday, June 18, 2007

Why You Shouldn't Lie

Lying--and why you shouldn't do it--has been somewhat of a theme of this blog. I get lots of hits from Google of people querying whether they can lie about salary, jobs or any other job related thing. The answer is no. You will be busted. And I have a story.

I teach the adult Sunday School class at church. Yesterday we had a bunch of visitors from two states away who were up in our neck of the woods for a Boy Scout camp out. The Scout leaders were in my class.

After Sunday School was done, one of these visitors came up and said, "you remind me so much of a Sunday School Teacher I had 20 years ago. I forget her name, but her husband was [my father's name]. So, it turns out that my mother was his Sunday School teacher 20 years ago, and I looked and acted enough like her that he felt compelled to tell me.

He had no idea who I was--not only was I a child back then, I now have a different last name and I go by my full first name rather than the nickname I used back then, and I was raised in the West and now live in the East. My point? It's a small world. You will run into people who know you or your relatives. You can't expect to keep things secret. As soon as you say, "I was making $120,000 a year at my previous job," your former boss will waltz down the hallway and see you.

So don't lie. You never know who that person in the back row is. I certainly didn't recognize him. It's a good thing I didn't say or do anything that would embarrass my mother.

I hope.


I am home from work today because I am sick. I even have a fever. (102.2, thank you very much.) I can't remember the last time I had a fever.

There isn't any valuable information in this post. Just a bunch of whining. Oh yeah and for the past month the mail has been coming between 4:00 and 5:00 p.m. So, today at 12:30 I drag my sick self out to the mailbox to send back a Netflix movie (nothing will keep me from the next episode of House) only to find the mail has already arrived.

I think they do that to me just to annoy me.

Hmmm, I think I'm getting negative again. Let's hear it for paid sick leave! (Although, truth be told, I've been working all day and have a phone conference in 14 minutes.)

Friday, June 15, 2007


Evil HR Lady,

My husband was recently fired from a job - long story and not important. It has been 1 month since his firing and we just discovered that the HR dept at his former employer had not even received the paperwork stating he's been fired. He's still in the system as an employee. My husband is owed a payout of his PAL time that he is accumulated over the years. We cannot receive that check until HR receives his paperwork. We have spoken to the supervisor who is supposed to be sending the paperwork to HR. She says she has and that "they" have misplaced it twice. The HR Dept says they never received it and in fact have been badgering the supervisor for it.

What do we do? We can't seem to get this paperwork processed. My husband can also not begin collecting any unemployment benefits until this is done. Any suggestions?

Thank You for your time.

I'm not sure why your husband can't begin collecting unemployment--unless they haven't terminated him in their system yet. Generally, once you are terminated you are eligible to receive unemployment. (Generally people--let's not get into rules and exceptions.) But, if you can't you can't.

It's fully illegal to withold pay for time worked, but I understand that this is accumulated vacation or similar. It's probably still illegal to withold but not as urgent as salary.

Everybody may be telling the truth. When you say HR you tend to think of the HR person you know. In reality, that person may have no clue where to send paperwork for payout of vacation. So, your manager did send it but sent it to the wrong HR person and the HR person who is supposed to have it has not seen it. (For instance, once mail came for me but the mail room made a mistake and sent it to staffing--horrors! The person responsible for mail didn't know who I was, so rather then sending it back to the mail room or--gasp!--asking, she just set it in a stack. It turned out to be legal paperwork regarding severance. I had to call the former employee and she said she'd sent it in, but we couldn't find it and she had to re-do it and it was a huge mess--all because someone wouldn't take 30 seconds to ask around.)

Did your husband sign a general release in conjunction with his termination? There may be a contact person listed in that. Try that person. This person will be well versed in terminations and---here's the important part--understands the value of getting former employees to go away happy. Happy terminated employees don't sue. Unhappy ones start calling lawyers. They will expedite your PAL.

If that doesn't work, call payroll directly. They will be responsible for paying it out--and will say they need the form from the supervisor to do so--but if you are nice enough and explain how you know it's not payroll's fault, but could they please call your supervisor and have them send the form directly to payroll? Please? Pretty Please?

Don't give up but don't stop being nice. Nice helps. Nice with a lawyer helps even more. Of course, being unemployeed makes it difficult to obtain a lawyer. So, you write a letter, addressed to the CEO and head of HR and Person in the General Release. Then below your signature you write: cc your brother-in-law/neighbor/second cousin who is a lawyer, esq. Then send that person a copy of the letter with a note saying, "ignore this." Then you've been honest--you did send a copy to the lawyer--but it hasn't cost you anything. And you've just upped your ante.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

People are Doing My Bidding

Yeah! I'm so excited, I can hardly stand it. Our friend at Ask a Manager has posted What Does a Good Cover Letter Look Like".

I have never been very good at cover letters (and frankly, I've never really seen a great one before today), so I've been begging. And she did it.

Go read it. Now--or at least before you send in your next resume.


I have a friend that is employed by a subsidiary of a large UK company, but here in the states there are only 38 employees.

The friend fell into some acute depression recently, and I suspect it will take at least a month before this person is able to work again.

In the meantime, the employer has given her one week to return to duty or she will be fired.

She lives in California, and the U.S. employer is in Texas.

Since she does not qualify for the Family Medical Leave act as the firm has less than 50 employees, does she have any other recourse?

BTW, I observed the advice in the BLOG of getting on with your life, but finding a new job whilst recovering from a major depression is ill advised, as this is a major stressor. I know, I tried when I had the experience many years ago.


California may provide some protection to your friend, as California has lots of laws that I am unaware of. You're right that she doesn't qualify for FMLA (not only would there need to be 50+ employees, but they would have to be in a 75 mile radius).

She may have protection under the Americans with Disabilities Act, as depression can be a qualifying condition. However, needing a month off may not be considered a reasonable accommodation--although it doesn't hurt to try.

Companies may seem cruel and heartless, but they are in business to make money and they can't do that when an employee is not working. Does she have short or long term disability insurance? If so, she could qualify for those payments, given that her doctor states that she is unable to work.

Has she spoken with HR--both in the US and the U.K.? Many times a manager makes harsh decisions like this without consulting with HR. It could be that this is fully against policy, but that he has deadlines and sales goals to reach. If the depression has been going on for a long time without a specific diagnosis, her work could have been suffering and the manager might see this as the last straw. Call HR--it's worth a shot.

I'm afraid, though, that beyond that, the advice may be to get on with your life. I know, I know, it's not helpful. Job hunting while healthy is no fun. Job hunting while recovering from a major depression doesn't even register on the pleasant things of life scale. Plus, being unemployed can really be detrimental to the recovery process.

Apply for unemployment, I believe she should be eligible.

I hope your friend is being treated by a competant therapist and a competant physician. The focus should be on getting healthy.

I'm sorry I'm not of more help. Perhaps some of my HR colleagues can weigh in on this one.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Why Do They Do That? or Recruiters--Again

Dear EvilHRLady,

I burned-out a couple of years ago in my first attempt at a management job and have struggled at work trying to do the best I could. I finally decided that I had to have a change and quit my job about a month ago.

I've been trying hard searching for a new job and I've got some calls but then things go badly. I've received two calls now saying that they want me in for an interview and that they will e-mail me the details but then I get no e-mail information and when I call to confirm the interview the time is changed (again and again until I finally give up).

I don't understand what is going on and if they don't want to interview me, why call in the first place? I don't think my former work place would sabotage me but I'm starting to feel that way. I haven't lied on my resume (although I leave off the six months as a manager since I really don't want a management position anyhow).

Am I doing something wrong? Why would HR do this? The second time it happened the job offer came through a trusted friend and the HR person was very nice.

Thank you.

Regular readers know that I'm not fond of recruiters. Because of that I'm dying to blame this all on the recruiters. (Note, I am not using the term HR because HR does so much more than recruit. For instance, we also fire people and make bad vacation policies.)

But first, we must deal with our question writer.

Your first mistake was quitting without having another job lined up. It is always easier to find a job when you have a job.

Second, put your management job back on your resume. Otherwise, you have 7 months of unemployment to explain away. And if the question comes up, "what have you been doing for the past 7 months" you either have to lie (you'll get caught) or confess that you purposely left off a job. This makes us HR types very curious and more likely to probe into that job.

A better idea? Be upfront. "I had a management position at Company X and it turns out that I'm a fabulous individual contributor, but only a mediocre manager. My strengths lie in doing the work, rather than managing others. Let me tell you about some of the things I can do for your company."

Companies really are starting to realize that a non-management track is a fabulous idea, so you may find things look up for you when you start admitting that is what you want--to be an individual contributor.

And now to blame the recruiters. They are desperate to fill the position, so yes, they notice that you fit the qualifications and so they call you to schedule without consulting the hiring manager. Or, they didn't notice the 7 month gap on your resume. After they called you, they realized they didn't want to interview you. Rather than having the guts to say so, they just lead you on until you stop calling back.

Or, your prior company is sabotaging you--which is unlikely, since you don't have it on your resume.

Or, you've just been hit by bad luck. Positions frequently get put on hold after candidates have been contacted. It may open up again so they don't want to tell you no only to have the position open again.

See, it's not all the fault of the recruiter. There are a ton of players in the hiring game and anyone of them can mess it up for you.

Go and re-write your resume and then hop on over to Ask a Manager and read about cover letters. Write a fabulous one for each job you are applying to. If you don't know how to write one, harrass our friendly manager and maybe (please!) he'll give us a sample one.

Carnival of HR #9

Is now up at Gautam Ghosh's place.

There is all sorts of fascinating info out there, so run over and read it.

The next carnival will be held June 27 at The HR Capitalist.

Monday, June 11, 2007

On the Same Page

Posted by Picasa

The Offspring's dance recital was this Saturday. I love this picture because it is an example of many companies--everyone is supposed to be doing the same thing, but no one is. Sure, they are all wearing the same costume and on the same stage, but none of them are doing precisely what their manager--umm, dance instructor--is telling them to do.

How is your business functioning? Is the instruction from your leadership clear? Are you all on the same page?

They are 3 and 4. What is your excuse?

I bet it is a lack of communication. HR tends to be the ones responsible for making policies and procedures known to the employees. Are your stated procedures the "real" way things happen or do the rules state one thing and in practice it's another?

If they differ, why? Is it because official channels require a ton of paperwork and signatures and so people do things without asking. Is it easier to obtain forgiveness than permission? Why is that?

It should not be that way. Get your management in line and get them to either enforce a policy or eliminate it. It's cute to have everyone doing something different when you are 3. It's not so cute for your shareholders.

Speaking of Carnivals

The Carnival of the Insanities is up over at Dr. Sanity's place.

Carnival Reminder

Get your submissions in to Gautam Ghosh as soon as possible for this week's fabulous carnival. Send them to gautam dot ghosh at gmail dot com
The June 27th Carnival will be hosted by Kris Dunn at The HR Capitalist.

The July 11th Carnival will be hosted by Lisa Rosendahl at HR Thoughts.

The July 25th Carnival will be hosted by the Manager at Ask a Manager.

The August 8th Carnival will by hosted by Ann Bares at Compensation Force.

The August 22nd Carnival will be hosted by Wally Bock at Three Star Leadership.

The September 5th Carnival will be hosted by Rowan Manahan at Fortify Your Oasis.

The September 19th Carnival will be hosted by Evil HR Lady at, well, Evil HR Lady.

The October 3rd Carnival will be hosted by Deb Owens at 8 Hours & a Lunch.

The October 17th Carnival will be hosted by Gautam Ghosh at Gautam Ghosh--Management Consultant.

Let me know if any of the rest of you wish to host. We're starting to recycle through previous hosts, so if you want to host again, let me know as well. The carnival is a huge success. Let's keep it going!

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Crazy Employees

You mean the problem isn't just with crazy executives and there might be some problem with regular employees? I'm shocked.

Stanely Bing, who wrote Crazy Bosses, wrote this article on crazy employees.
Because we are nuts, you know, we who work for those who go insane above us. We're crazy and incompetent and lazy and churlish and occasionally stupid and cowardly and disloyal. And it's time we all sucked it up and stopped blaming our bosses for everything.

Those of us in HR know the truth. The employees are whacked. The managers are whacked. The cafeteria workers (who are a managed service and not employees) are strange too. The only rational people are one guy in finance, the woman at the company store, and 3 people in HR.

You know it's true.

Friday, June 08, 2007

I'm late, I'm late!

The New York Times published an article on being chronically late--on Sunday. It's now Friday and I'm getting around to blogging about it. Hmmmm...

Anyway, they say those who are chronically late don't do so to control or offend, they just are late--for everything. If you are one of the late ones, consider this:
Q. Can being late all the time hurt a career?

A. Yes. At a place like a manufacturing plant or a call center, it can be grounds for dismissal if it occurs often enough. But it can damage a career even in jobs where schedules are more flexible. Tardy people tend to think that they can make up for their lateness by working extra hours, Ms. DeLonzor said, “but they can never overcome the fact that it makes a very bad impression.” Managers, she found in her research, “are less likely to promote tardy employees.”

In my experience, this is true. For some reason being there before the boss brings big points, while staying after she leaves is not given nearly as much credit.

You're a star employee if you're early and a huge slacker if you are late, regardless of how much work you churn out. I rather dislike this philosophy, even though I tend to be an on time person. I was an early person prior to juggling a husband and daycare and it bothers me that I'm not early any more.

I'm in favor of a Results Oriented Work Environment myself. But, being on time will count for something even in that place. It's being where you said you'd be when you said you'd be--not just being at work at 7:30 because the boss comes in at 7:45

Wednesday, June 06, 2007


This was sent out by one of our sales reps to his entire sales team, to his boss, his boss' boss, and a member of my staff.

How's that for totally inappropriate for the work place. My favorite lines:

"The beach itself is really nice, and the night-life, very colorful (insert winky face)"

"Any weekend you make the extremely wise decision to join us, I will personally guarantee your happiness :)"

So the question for Evil HR Lady: how in the sam-h*ll do you react to something like this?


Well, yes, first you chuckle. Then you delete the e-mail because 14 other people have already forwarded it to employee relations and his boss has already called him into his office and chewed him out.

At least I hope that is what happened. Some people have no sense. Like, for instance, I got an e-mail from an employee I laid off in January. It's not unusual to get e-mails from such people (I encourage them to contact me if they need help with anything). What was unsual was this was an invitation to join a dating site.

People, think before you send! And never send anything that is not 100% business related to your boss. And if you want to send this horrible e-mail to your friends at work, you should be good enough friends to send it to their home e-mail.


Violence in the Workplace

My husbands boss physically and verbally attacked him on Saturday because he was unable to work on Saturday, but requested his check for the weeks work. At that point he had already worked 62 hours from Monday – Friday, which he only receives his straight pay for all hours worked. (No overtime is ever paid).

After approaching me in my vehicle at the job sight, his boss got angry with me because I would not agree with him and make my husband stay at work, verbally (profanity +) abused me and fired my husband. When my husband bent over to pick up his tool belt he physically attacked him and it took 3 people to pull him off. My husband did not fight back and let it get broke up knowing the boss was totally in the wrong.

What do we do now?

First, you call the police and file charges. Yes, you do. People who just jerks should be ignored and avoided. People who physically attack other people should be arrested and locked up.

Second, you go to the Department of Labor and file a complaint about the overtime. I am presuming, based on the comment about a tool belt and getting paid by the hour, that your husband is legally eligible for overtime. (There are some IT people who are paid by the hour but not eligible for overtime. In this case, even if your husband is IT, let his boss prove he's not eligible for overtime.)

Third, no matter how bitter and angry you and your husband are at the situation (with good cause, I might add), don't let it ruin your life. Start pounding the pavement and look for a new job. Apply for unemployment. If it's denied--because his boss claims he was fired for cause--present a copy of the police report and appeal the decision.

I hope your husband can find a new job quickly and that his boss gets locked up.

Carnival Reminder!

Just a friendly reminder to submit your carnival entries to gautam dot ghosh at gmail dot com. Next Wednesday the Carnival will be posted over at Gautam's place.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Why I Hate Recruiters, 3

Dear Evil HR Lady,

I'm a recent graduate of an MBA program. I was recently interviewed by a firm after spending 3 weeks getting documentation from companies I had worked with in the past. I was told the documentation was required just to start the interview process. This came as a surprise to other people who had knowledge of this company's application process as no one had heard of this requirement before. Finally, I got all the documentation together and had a brief informational interview, at the end of which a second interview was scheduled. The next day I was informed that my undergraduate gpa was too low to be considered for this position (I had reported my gpa to them almost a month earlier, so this was not news to anyone) and the second interview was unceremoniously canceled. Naturally, I feel the firm was not being truthful with me, especially since I was an experienced candidate with a graduate degree and not an entry-level kid. I feel that road blocks were constantly being thrown at me for the purpose of disqualifying me as quickly as possible. I don't mind being rejected for a job, but I do mind not being told the real reason.

This has grown very frustrating to me because this has happened before with other companies. Usually the company will just not contact me after an interview and not respond to any follow up e-mail or phone call. And I've recently heard that some firms claim to have a policy to not give any feedback on candidates. We need to know why we are rejected so that we can address these issues in the future. Why the secrecy? We put our heart and souls into these interviews. It seems the least a company can do is give us a good reason why we didn't get the job. I hope you can shed some light on this subject.

Frustrated Job Seeker

This is wrong on so many levels. Now, for the record, there are darn good reasons why companies don't like to tell you why you aren't hired. "You weren't a good fit for our culture" is a perfectly legitimate reason not to hire you, but if you happen to be in a protected class, you might think the real reason is your protected class status.

But, companies should not make any candidate jump through hoops that all candidates don't have to go through. If your GPA was of concern (who does that? I mean, sure, for entry level jobs, but your undergraduate GPA when you're finishing up an MBA?), they shouldn't have interviewed you in the first place.

I really can't tell you what is going on at that particular company, but I do think recruiters should (at minimum) do the following:

1. Tell candidates all relevant information. For instance, if the job is going to require lots of overtime, that should be laid out prior to the interview. That way, you don't waste your time interviewing when you aren't willing/able to work overtime.

2. Require consistent information from candidates. All candidates coming in for an interview should be required to fill out an application. This application should be the same for everyone applying for similar jobs. (Yes, you can have different ones for your sales force or your manufacturing team, but all sales people get the same form, all manufacturing people get the same form.) If you don't--and you happen to require something different of someone in a protected class, you are in big trouble, Ms. Recruiter.

3. Have the decency to keep every candidate who comes in to interview informed. I know, I know, you're busy. But, it does not take long to send an e-mail saying, "Dear Jim, Thank yo so much for coming in. The [insert position] has been filled. We appreciate your time and interest and will keep your resume on file for one year. Sincerely, Recruiter." It took me less than 30 seconds to type that and you recruiters can keep it on file and just copy and paste and change the name and the position.

4. If a decision is going to be post-poned, let the candidate know that as well. "Dear Jim, We wanted to let you know that no decision has been made yet on the [insert position]. We still consider you an active candidate and will let you know when a decision has ben made.

Candidates want to know why they weren't hired--and I think it can be valuable info to have--but I don't advise handing that information out wholesale. Something as stupid as GPA should have caused an elimination long before the interview process began. But, candidates, listen up--I would be shocked if you ever get this info from a recruiter. But, you may get it from the hiring manager.

It's worth a shot.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Red Flags

Dear Evil HR Lady,

Why is a gap in work history such a big deal? Why do applicants have to list volunteering, education, commercial attempts to account for what they were doing? So long as they weren't in jail, having mental therapy, or engaged in some illegal activity, what's wrong with taking off a couple of years (after a quarter-century of working 110%) and sitting by the beach contemplating life? When I was working, my co-workers and myself had to feign a "laid-back" attitude. Everyone had a driving sense of urgency; that was a given. We worked hard to do the job and (sometimes) harder to hide the sense of urgency. Yet I have always heard from HR that gaps in employment are a "red flag."


Dear Hammock-Jocky,

A red flag is not a brick wall. It's just something that jumps out to say, "ask more questions about this." In my experience, periods of unemployment ususally have good explanations--I got laid off, had a baby, moved with my spouse, my mother was ill and I needed to take care of her. It's that the ones with bad explanations can be really bad--I was in jail, repeatedly got fired so I just gave up for a while, I was too busy stalking someone to work.

I don't know why you had to feign a "laid back" attitude in your previous job. But, I don't see your explanation of "after giving it 110% for 25 years, I decided to spend 6 months relaxing" as a bad thing. Just something that needs explaining.

An Inspiring Bonus Story

Would you believe that the California Government did something not right? They offered a bonus for early completion on repair of the collapsed bridge in Oakland. The result? Bridge repair complete in 17 days. It takes longer than that for pot holes to be filled around here. Here's the New York Times discussion:
But the company owned by C. C. Myers, a 6-foot-5 contractor who favors peacock cowboy boots, fixed the mangled freeway so fast that some residents have recalibrated their respect for the California Department of Transportation, which hired him.

The state estimated that repairs to the 165-foot-long ramp between Interstates 80 and 580 would take 50 days and cost $5.2 million. For every day short of the June 26 deadline, it promised a $200,000 bonus, not to exceed a total of $5 million. The highest bid came in at $6.4 million. Mr. Myers’s company, C. C. Myers Inc., won with the lowest bid — $867,075 — and completed the project in 17 days, winning the full $5 million.

“This ain’t no $800,000 project,” Mr. Myers said in an interview, adding that he hoped to realize a $2.5 million profit.

Boy, C. C. Myers is my new hero. Way to work smart. And see, HR, performance bonuses can really work! (Just think what I could accomplish with a $200,000 per day bonus for early completion.)

Friday, June 01, 2007

Public Service Announcement

You know what your name is. I realize that. Your friends recognize your voice when you call them. However, when you are an employee, or former employee, and you call some HR lady (an Evil one at at that) with a question and you get her voicemail, don't say:

in one breath and then proceed to talk painstakingly slow about how you don't know how much vacation you have left. (Hint, me neither! Don't you keep track of these things?)

I get annoyed when I have to listen to a voicemail 3 times in order to try to figure out what either your name or your phone number is. If I can't figure it out, I can't call you back. If I can't call you back, I can't tell you that HR doesn't track vacation, but you should and your manager should.

So, really, it's generally pointless for me to return your call anyway.

But my point is, because I've never talked to you before I don't have context to place your call in to help me figure out who you are. When you leave your name and phone number on voicemail speak s-l-o-w-l-y and clearly.

Really, it will make my life easier and you're more likely to get called back.

More Blogging Thoughts

Or, rather, thoughts on blogging. I posted here about blogging anonymously. I mentioned that one of my favoritebloggers, Dr. Flea, pulled his blog down.

Well, he should have done it earlier:
It was a Perry Mason moment updated for the Internet age.

As Ivy League-educated pediatrician Robert P. Lindeman sat on the stand in Suffolk Superior Court this month, defending himself in a malpractice suit involving the death of a 12-year-old patient, the opposing counsel startled him with a question.

Was Lindeman Flea?

Flea, jurors in the case didn't know, was the screen name for a blogger who had written often and at length about a trial remarkably similar to the one that was going on in the courtroom that day.

In his blog, Flea had ridiculed the plaintiff's case and the plaintiff's lawyer. He had revealed the defense strategy. He had accused members of the jury of dozing.

With the jury looking on in puzzlement, Lindeman admitted that he was, in fact, Flea.

The next morning, on May 15, he agreed to pay what members of Boston's tight-knit legal community describe as a substantial settlement -- case closed.

Let this be a lesson to all us anonymous bloggers--whatever you say may show up on the front page of the New York Times--or in Lindeman's case, the Boston Globe.

Lindeman shouldn't have blogged in real time. Of course, I don't know how the rest of the trial was going, so I don't know how much of an impact his lawyers felt the blog exposure was having--and the decision to settle after being exposed may have been just timing.

But, probably not.

Let that be a lesson to you--well, to me really. I was chatting with our in house labor and employment counsel today and I said, "my goal is to make it out of here without ever having to testify." She actually laughed at me. "Good luck with that one," she said.

And for the record, in case I'm exposed, she's a fabulous lawyer and I'm thrilled to work with her. And with everyone else at my company. Except for the people I'm going to blog about in my next post.