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Friday, August 31, 2007

Employee Relations Part I

Scenario 1:

A high performing department manager walks into your office. She has been highly successful at turning a low performing group into a high performing group. In the past 3 years, she has won two awards for her work. Senior management is highly impressed with her and holds her up as an example to other managers on how to get results. Turnover has been high, but each of the employees told you they were leaving for better positions--obviously this manager had trained them well.

The manager says: "I want to put a formal warning in Karen's file. Two times in the past month she has called out with absolutely no notice. Yesterday was the last straw. She let clients hang, didn't check her voice mail or e-mail and didn't even answer her phone the second and third time I called her. She said her child was sick, but then why didn't she answer her phone? And she has a laptop and I checked her office and the laptop was gone, so she obviously had it at home. There was no reason she couldn't check her e-mail. I deducted both days from her vacation, but that doesn't make this behavior acceptable!"

Your company's official policy is that sick days are only to be used when the employee is ill, not for sick children.

Karen has been with the company 6 months. She came highly recommended and has performed well. She rapidly gained understanding of the company and her responsibilities. To the best of your knowledge, she was a good hire with potential.

How do you respond to the manager? Right now?

(read the comments and then read Part II and Part III.)

Carnival Reminder

The Next Carnival of HR will be held September 5th over at Fortify Your Oasis.

Click on the above link because it is truly worth it. What would we do without Rowan?

Entries to rowan dot manahan at gee mail dot com by 6.00pm GMT on Monday folks. Please include a short paragraph in your mail outlining the thinking behind your post.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Fair is Fair

Miss South Carolina was on the Today Show and re-answered the question given her at Friday's pageant.

Since I posted the video of her first answer, I think it's only fair to post the video of the second one.

She seemed quite well spoken and did a great job.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Teacher Shortage, or How to Write a Job Description

I live in a really good (read: high taxes) school district. We've lived here for 7 years, and specifically bought the house we are in now to be in this school district. It came at a premium, but we were willing to pay it to be in a good school district.

I have several friends who are teachers. They live in this good school district, but teach in other school districts. Why? Because getting a job in this district is extremely difficult. So, they commute and pray for openings here.

Which brings me to this article from the New York Times:
GREENSBORO, N.C. — The retirement of thousands of baby boomer teachers coupled with the departure of younger teachers frustrated by the stress of working in low-performing schools is fueling a crisis in teacher turnover that is costing school districts substantial amounts of money as they scramble to fill their ranks for the fall term.

Hmmm, what's the problem? My friends are desperate for jobs close to home. Other school districts are desperate for teachers. How can we solve this problem?

Well, first, let's identify the problem. Is it a shortage of people who can teach? I could teach. Granted, I'm not a certified public school teacher, but I've taught at a university. It always boggles my mind that while I'm not qualified to teach government to a bunch of 10th graders, I'm qualified to teach the same subject on a much more advanced level to college seniors.

So, perhaps lack of certified teachers is the problem. But, with programs like Teach for America and emergency certification programs, I think finding people who meet the criteria isn't the problem either.

Upon reading further in the story (2nd paragraph--I do do complete research before pushing post), we find this:
Superintendents and recruiters across the nation say the challenge of putting a qualified teacher in every classroom is heightened in subjects like math and science and is a particular struggle in high-poverty schools, where the turnover is highest. Thousands of classes in such schools have opened with substitute teachers in recent years.

Ah-ha. We need more math and science teachers.

At the university I attended, in order to get a degree in math education you had to take a bunch of education classes and a whole lot of high level math classes. Lots and lots of advanced calculus and other things that I don't know about because I majored in something much more squishy (political science).

Why? Why is that in the job description for a math teacher? Most schools (that I am aware of) offer calculus, but don't require it. In fact, here are the math requirements from North Carolina (the state with bad teacher shortage mentioned above). For people on a "university prep" path, Algebra II and one "higher level" math class or "integrated math" levels 1-3 are required. For other paths, the math requirements are even lower.

But, here is the University of North Carolina's requirement to get a degree in Mathematics Education to teach high school.
  • Math 231 Calculus
  • Math 232 Calculus II
  • Math 233 Calculus III
  • Math 381 Discrete Mathematics
  • Math 383 Linear Algebra with Differential Equations
  • Math 551 Euclidean and Non-Euclidean Geometries
  • Math 416 Matrix Algebra
  • Math 515 History of Math
  • Math 533 Number Theory

  • Why? If the vast majority of your students aren't going to be taking calculus (let alone, calculus II and calculus III and Matrix Algebra) why require that for your certification?

    Wouldn't it make more sense to require things that the teacher will actually use on the job? Why not, if you have 4 math teachers in the high school, require only one to have all the fancy higher level math skills. The rest of your teachers need to be qualified to teach "integrated math" and alegbra I.

    Kind of opens up your field of available teachers, doesn't it? Someone that might be a great algebra teacher just may switch her major if she doesn't have to take so many years of higher level mathemetics that she will most likely never use.

    And now for our general HR application--job descriptions. Are we writing job descriptions to make them sound more impressive then they really are? (10 years of experience, MBA, required.) Is it really?


    Maybe not.

    You really need to think about what is necessary to do THIS job. Not, boy, I really like people from Harvard! It's fine if you want to hire people from Harvard, but is it a requirement?

    Making high level requirements that don't truly fit the job can result in getting applicants who are barely qualified on paper and tremendously overqualified in practice. They are then bored and that increases your turnover.

    Make sure your list of requirements are truly requirements. Then you can add your nice to haves (7 years experience, bachelor's degree in business, social sciences or similar. MBA preferred).

    A Thousand Pardons

    I've had to turn on the word verification. I hate the word verification.

    But, I'm spending more and more time deleting spam comments. Hopefully this will help.

    And now a word for my spammers. You aren't very bright with your spam. Your grammar is terrible. And, furthermore, every time a comment gets posted to my blog, I get an e-mail, so then I go in and delete the comment.

    It's annoying, and unless you happen to be lucky enough to post one of your spam comments while I'm at the grocery story, they don't stay up long enough for anyone to read them.

    I hate spam. Although I like this Weird Al Song

    Sunday, August 26, 2007

    The Coming Talent Shortage

    In response to the YouTube video about demographic changes, Michael Moore (the lawyer, not the other Michael Moore) posted a link to this video about the upcoming labor shortage.

    I thought it was very good and should be seen, but I wasn't planning to blog about it, until my brother sent me this video

    Is this who we're going to be hiring in a few years? Yikes. Please, those of you who are in your sixties, don't retire. Looks like we're really, really, really going to need you.

    Friday, August 24, 2007

    The High Cost of Geeks

    Dear Evil HR Lady:

    I just discovered your site, and it really is great! And as fate would have it I now have an evil HR question. My employer recently implemented an ERP system and took the occasion of scrapping all the existing HR data as an opportunity to reclassify every single position in the organization, not a bad thing in and of itself. Here's the problem: back in the day (e.g. pre-ERP) we knew how to write job descriptions so as to maximize the paygrade that would be assigned to the position -- a critical skill when trying to attract technical staff to positions in a tight, tight market for this talent. Now the whole compensation analysis criteria scheme is a mystery...nay it is a secret! The grades that our compensation analysts are assigning to positions that we know are high-five figure jobs in our market are just not competitive, and we're facing having to hire and train bozos right out of college rather than being able to attract the high-level techies we NEED to run our crap. (And by crap I mean a complex server environment that houses several billion dollars worth of financial data.)

    My question: Is it standard evil HR practice to keep the criteria by which a position description will be analyzed and assigned a pay level a secret? Do you have any advice for gaming on the system so that we can hire for newly created positions and replace high-level staff members at appropriate salary levels?

    Geeks Cost, and Right Here Is Where You Start Paying

    Methinks someone is on a cost saving power trip. To quickly answer your question, paygrades should be based on market data. Your compensation department should be looking at salary surveys to determine what other companies are paying for similar jobs. This should not be secret at all. They should be able to show you what the market rate for the job is and it should correlate pretty closely with the assigned pay grade.

    Make an appointment with your compensation analyst, don't be accusatory, just ask her to explain how she comes to a decision about the grade for any given job. She should be able to do so. If she hemms and haws, produce a job descriptions and say, let's level this together! This will make her very annoyed, because chances are she's operating under stupid rules put into place by the power hungry cost saver above her.

    However, some companies think they can get by with a "cheap" labor force. This always cracks me up because a cheap labor force will cost you more money in the long run--for several reasons. I'll start with my two favorite.

    1. You get what you pay for. (Generally, we all know there are exceptions to this rule. We all wish we could be exceptions to this rule--being overvalued, that is.) If the market rate for one of your techie positions is $95,000 (not unrealistic in my neck of the woods either), and you can only pay $75,000 you aren't going to have as many candidates to choose from. Sure, you'll be able to hire someone (because IT jobs are frequent targets of outsourcing), but that person will lack the skills and experience of the person you could hire at $95,000. You will have to train. This costs money. You will have more mistakes. This will also cost money.

    2. Once you get this person up to speed she'll say, "why am I working here for $75,000? I can go across the street to the competitor and make $95,000. Plus they'll give me a sign on bonus!" And so she leaves. Now you've got recruitment costs, overtime costs (sometimes) when others have to fill in and do her job until you find someone. And you are stuck with the same low pay grade, so you have to start with the under-qualified person (not a bad person, mind you, just an inexperienced one) and the cycle continues.

    One of the big overarching HR problems is our lack of understanding of not only the financial side of the business, but everything else. Once upon a time I led a task force to determine how our business wanted to look at turnover. The consensus among the senior HR people was that we only really wanted to look at the professional population. The factory workers--an hourly, unionized group--didn't matter. Heck, they're cheap labor.

    I was flabbergasted. The hourly factory workers made up a really high percentage of our workforce, and their turnover was quite high. I suggested we include them in our turnover. No, no, no. We only want to see the professional people.

    Finally, a plant HR manager spoke up, "we have a really hard time filling positions" she said softly.

    Everyone was shocked. You do? Really?

    Here was a bunch of senior HR people who literally had no clue what was really going on. Factory labor is cheap, so they didn't care about it. Except it's not cheap and it's necessary to keeping the business running.

    If your business is in the business of storing financial data, your IT people are beyond critical to your business. But, HR may be focused on the sales force or the stock brokers or whatever is the glamor group for your company.

    You may have to do some hard work to help them understand the critical nature of getting the right geek on board.

    Are You Ready for the Changing Workforce?

    This video is long, but very interesting.

    I wonder if any of us HR types are truly prepared for a changing workforce.

    Wednesday, August 22, 2007

    Carnival of HR #14

    Is now up over at Three Star Leadership. Hope on over and read.

    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.

    The October 17th Carnival will be hosted by Kris Dunn at HR Capitalist

    The Spooky October 31st Carnival will be hosted by HRO Manager at HRO Manager

    The November 14th Carnival will be hosted by Patrick Williams at Guerilla HR

    The November 28th Carnival will be hosted by Carmen Van Kerckhove at Race in the Workplace

    The December 12th Carnival will be hosted by Wayne Turmel at The Cranky Middle Manager

    The December 26th Carnival will be hosted by Ann Bares at Compensation Force.

    The January 9th Carnival will be hosted by Ask a Manager at Ask a Manager.

    The January 23rd Carnival will be hosted by Deb at 8 Hours & a Lunch.

    The February 6th Carnival will be hosted by Wally Bock at Three Star Leadership.

    The February 20th Carnival will be hosted by Lisa Rosendahl at HR Thoughts

    The March 5th Carnival will be hosted by Gautam Ghosh at Gautam Ghosh - Management Consultant

    We're always looking for new participants and new hosts. Send me an e-mail if you'd like to host and make sure to submit your posts to Rowan Manahan for the next carnival.

    Tuesday, August 21, 2007

    Toxic Boss

    My daughter has been working for a bully. He plays associates against each other and always wants to be the good guy. She has told me that he talked to one of her colleagues(peer) about her, and the colleague came to her and let her know about it. She signs in and out on a time sheet, and if she does not take lunch, the company automatically assumes she did and deducts an hour from her day. She recently went to a trade show and was verbally told before going on site that she would only be paid for 8 hours a day.

    She ended up working as a non- union laborer in a union environment, was asked to lift and perform physical duties beyond "normal" activities and was reamed out by someone, who is sleeping with the boss, but is not my daughter's direct report.

    She also worked 12 hour days with no lunch breaks, and was told that it was just the way it is at trade shows. It is clear that expectations were not explained, since she is a new associate who has only been working with this firm since mid June. She is not an exempt employee. She does not supervise anyone. She was put in harm's way. These are just the highlights of her toxic employment, do you have any words of wisdom for her???

    Thanks for your help!

    Start looking for a new job. I know, I know, there should be some way to solve the problems of a really bad work environment. And there is, it's just that it's going to take a long time and if Senior Management isn't on board, well then it ain't happening.

    In the mean time, if she is a non-exempt employee (as you stated) then what they are doing is highly illegal. The fines for not paying overtime are

  • Fine of up to $1000 per violation
  • 6 months jail time
  • initial $10,000 fine for willful violations

  • The people to contact are the Department of Labor.

    Now, some words of caution. She needs to make sure she really is a non-exempt employee. Supervising people isn't necessarily the trigger that makes people exempt. I don't know what she does, but if it's more "professional" in nature, she could be exempt, even if she has to punch a time card.

    But, assuming she is eligible for overtime, there are just huge violations all over the place. Making people work off the clock will get you in a whole host of troubles.

    Because she was told, "that's just how it is," she can probably expect little sympathy from her boss if she complains. But, go ahead and do it. Ask for the overtime pay owed.

    If she is unionized (sounds like she is, since you mentioned non-union activities)tell her to meet with her union rep and file a grievance.

    I wish I had a warm and fuzzy response, or some magic words which would "fix" the problem, but I don't. The reality is, these people violating all sorts of laws and (probably) union contracts. She's going to have to be direct and file complaints.

    Most importantly though, she needs to either decide that this job is worth keeping despite all the problems or start looking for a new job. Even with the union and the DOL involved, it may take years to resolve and get owed back pay. And she may never get the back pay. The other reality is that bosses don't appreciate being ratted out and her life may get worse before it gets better.

    I feel bad leaving on such a depressing note. Did you hear the one about two chickens and a pancake that walked into a bar?

    The Company Owns You 24/7

    Dear Evil HR Lady,

    I've got a good one for you. In preparation for our company's 20th anniversary, it was decided that we will hold a draw for our clients for a trip for 2 to Las Vegas. We are sending out colorful postcards and attached to the card will be a poker chip, dice, and a chocolate coin, all wrapped in metallic foil.

    Our company president has now decided that it would be a waste of company time to make these up during the work day (and who knows why we aren't hiring a temp for 2 days @ $10 / hour). Instead, she's sending each member of the sales team home with a box to make up on our own time.

    She's so determined that this is the way to go that I got a voicemail from a co-worker telling me about it (I'm on holidays this week) and that she is going to deliver my box to me to do on Saturday.

    I'm pissed off to say the least because the last thing that I want to do during my own time, is do anything work related. In fact, my Friday off was ruined by the voice mail message that I received at 4:30 pm. Now, instead of 2 more work-free days of rest and relaxation, I'm expected to do arts and crafts.

    So what's my HR question? Can a company expect you to do this on your own time, without warning? I don't know about you, but I tend to have plans when I'm not at work. I'm tempted to not do them and simply tell them when they ask me why not "I already had plans for the weekend".

    Your thoughts?

    I'm confused. How is this actually a problem? Don't you just live to do meaningless tasks like this? I mean my high school psychology teacher thought it was more important for us to build bridges out of straw then it was to learn actual psychology. And then there was the time that my English teacher made us make fish out of paper because we read a poem about fish. Clearly they understood something that you just cannot understand: Arts and Crafts are fun! It is not work. It is not a waste of time. It is FUN!

    Your boss is in the same category as a bridezilla, if you ask me. (It's my daaaay and you'll do what I saaaaay! Let's fill little tulle bags with color coordinated M&Ms and plus you have to pay to get your nails done so we'll all match. And if you get pregnant you are out of the wedding party. Do you hear me? O-U-T Out!)

    If I were you, I just flat out wouldn't do it. I'd play dumb as well. "Oh, you wanted me to do this on Saturday? Why? Oh, well, you should have given me advance notice, as I had plans. Sorry!" Then I'd put the box of materials on my boss's desk and walk out.

    But, you have to ask yourself, is your manager crazy enough about this that you could be fired for not doing the "project"? Will you be branded as "not a team player" and docked at you next performance review?

    The problem with being an at will employee is that as long as it's not illegal, they can ask you to do it and can fire you if you don't. But, I seriously doubt they would do so. Especially if you are in a large company with an HR department and termination policies.

    Please let us know what you did do and how it turned out.

    Hello Evil HR Lady,

    Thank you to everyone who commented on my plight. This is what happened:

    - I begrudgingly made up some of the packages late on Sunday night while watching television. I know - some of you might say that I caved in, or worse.

    I finally calmed down from my anger, and realized that I do work for good people. It has been overly stressful at the office this summer and I think that the stressed breached my manager's limit on that day and this was her way of reducing her stress.

    I've decided to try to be more calm and not react as quickly when something irks me. I think that will make our working environment ever so much better for everyone.

    Thanks again!

    PS - it turns out that the packages are too big to mail and stay within budget so we have to deliver about half of them ourselves *smiles to herself*

    Monday, August 20, 2007

    Policies that Result in Non-Compliance

    Although this policy was not created by the HR department (of course, that is an assumption on my part), it amused me greatly:

    In one of history's more absurd acts of totalitarianism, China has banned Buddhist monks in Tibet from reincarnating without government permission.

    This makes me want to start making lists of our policies that are practically begging to be violated. But, I won't. You should, though.


    If the e-mail seems familiar it's because I wrote you with my HSA problem. After a twisted trail through the various Government agency's, turns out no agency can enforce a voluntary contribution from your company. You have to take them to court for breech of contract.

    Life is too short, so I am pursuing other opportunities. Here is my question: I have applied for some quality jobs via e-mail, with no response. I figured you win some, lose some. Then while chit chatting at break someone said most company's won't accept attached e-mail for fear (rightfully so) of viruses.

    Any truth to this?
    I enjoy your blog. Thanks

    First off, I agree with your decision to look for new opportunities. Don't waste your life stuck at a company that doesn't respect their employees unless you absolutely have to.

    I don't know about most companies not accepting attached files. I know that is how my company accepts most of our applications. We are, however, a very large company with a very large IT department and very good virus protection. Still, I can see a point.

    How did you find the e-mail addresses for these companies to begin with? If it's through networking (great, good job, that's the way to do it!), you might want to put the text of your resume in your e-mail just in case they are skittish about attachments. Offer to send a version in Microsoft Word.

    But, personally, I would just attach the document. If the file is JohnDoeResume.doc then (to the best of my knowledge) it's unlikely to have a virus. Viruses usually are in .exe or similar files. If there is a virus macro in the resume, word will warn you before you open it.

    If you found the e-mail address on the internet, look at the "jobs" listing almost all companies have and follow their instructions on how to apply.

    Good luck finding your fabulous new job!

    Sunday, August 19, 2007

    Happy Blog Birthday!

    Today is the first birthday of the Evil HR Lady Blog. (The Evil HR Lady is much older than the blog.)

    So to celebrate, I am listing a few of my favorite posts. Then I'm going to submit this post to Wally for the upcoming carnival. He said he wasn't accepting shameless self promotion posts, so we'll see if this makes it.

    I'm Sorry, Your Services are No Longer Needed

    Performance Appraisal Anxiety

    Bored With Business Travel? Try Being Wealthy!

    You Didn't Ask Me, But You Should Have

    Performance Appraisal? Check


    Affirmative Action

    Why Are We Doing That?

    What Happens When You Don't Take Care of Problems

    Does HR Add Value

    Title Mania

    HR Detectives

    Have fun reading!

    Friday, August 17, 2007

    Carnival Reminder

    The next Carnival of Human Resources will be published August 22, hosted by Wally at Three Star Leadership.

    He even made a form to make your submissions easier.

    Don't let Wally's hard work on the form go to waste. Send him great submissions.

    Why HR?

    how to answer a question like why did you choose H.R. for your job

    Well, why did you choose HR for your job? I don't think there is a "right" answer to your question. I will say if you say, "I chose HR because I really like working with people," the person interviewing you might burst into paroxysms of laughter.

    So, to answer your question, I will pretend someone has just asked me why I chose HR for my career.

    I really like people. Ha! I do. More specifically, I like training people. I entered Human Resources with the goal to be a trainer. I had strong technical skills and strong experience teaching college level classes, so I jumped in. I landed in an HRIS department and I've been in HR ever since. I've never realized my original goal of being a full time trainer, but I do conduct regular training sessions and find that works out well.

    So, now I throw out the question to all my HR readers. Why did you choose HR for your career?

    Wednesday, August 15, 2007

    One More Thought

    After you've finished writing up your self appraisal, update your resume. Even if you aren't even thinking about looking for a new job, update your resume.

    There will never be an easier time than after you've just listed all your accomplishments.

    It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

    Performance Appraisal Time! I know you are all so excited you can hardly stand it.

    Yes, I realize many companies operate on a calendar year and it is August and we have 4 1/2 months left until the end of the year. I understand that. So, sometime in the month of December your boss is going to want to sit down and have a meeting with you.

    So, let's calculate backwards. If your boss has to have the appraisal written by December, that means he's going to be doing the planning and writing in October/November (assuming he's not a super-procrastinator). This means you have until the end of September to do your part.

    Yes, I said, do your part. Managers hate performance appraisal writing. They do. You would too (and probably do--remember, managers have managers as well). So, it is to your advantage to make it as easy as possible for your boss to write you appraisal.

    The easiest way for someone to write an appraisal? Copy and paste. And we want to make sure your boss is copying and pasting from the self appraisal that you are just about to write.

    Step one--pull out last year's appraisal. This is especially critical if you have the same boss as last year. Look over any goals (you've probably forgotten about them) that you had. Is there anything you haven't done yet? If so, it's only August, so make plans to accomplish those things.

    Now, start making lists. For each of your objectives, list what you have done. If you haven't done enough, make notes on what you need to accomplish between now and the end of September. Many managers make the mistake of emphasizing your most recent performance, so take advantage of that fact and start shining.

    Once you've gone through all your objectives, take a quick look through your sent e-mail. Are there any projects or other areas that aren't specifically covered by your objectives, but where you did valuable work? Note those as well.

    You'll be surprised how much you have forgotten. Your boss has forgotten as well. It's your job to remind him.

    Now that you know how wonderful you are, write it all up. If you company has a self appraisal form, use it. If they don't, then list each of you objectives and how you achieved it, as well as what you plan to do to keep shining. Then describe the "other" tasks you did.

    Now, you are almost done. The next part of your appraisal is next year's objectives. You want to be in charge of these. So, write up proposed objectives and goals. Make sure you list any training classes you want to take. You boss may not know you are interested in X, Y, or Z. Now is the time to tell him.

    Last of all, have a trusted co-worker read it. Why? First of all, for typos and grammar errors. Secondly, to say to you, "Hey, Bob, you said that you single handedly turned the entire sale of anvils around. Karen and Holly really helped out with that."

    Why do you want that mentioned? Because first of all, teamwork is important, and secondly, managers don't appreciate it when you are pompous and take credit where you shouldn't. Yes, you want to emphasize your accomplishments. No, you don't want to make yourself out to be something you are not. That will come around and bite you.

    Now, if your company has a formal self appraisal process, send an electronic copy to your manager. Why not hard copy? Because you want to make it easy for your manager to copy and paste from your document into theirs. It's easier for the manager and more likely to result in you getting a positive review.

    If your company doesn't have a formal self appraisal process, tell your manager you have made a few notes about your performance for this year. And send him an electronic copy.

    Will this method guarantee a good review? No. But it will remind your manager of everything you've done throughout the year, not just the things you did the week before the dreaded appraisal is written.

    The Definitive Job Hunt

    Rowan Manahan has listed all the links in his Definitive Job Hunt writing project.

    I cannot stress how important reading all of these things is to you job seekers. These people KNOW what they are talking about. Go over there and read it. Maybe even bookmark it.

    You will not regret it.

    Tuesday, August 14, 2007

    New Career at 52

    Hello Evil HR lady,

    I need your expert advice. Should someone at age 52 go to college (online) to get an associates degree in HR? Is it unrealistic to think I have a good opportunity to gain employment in this field? I do value your opinion!

    Thanks for listening.

    Yes, and no. It depends on how much money it costs to go to the online college and what other experience you have.

    I imagine that the online school will be fairly inexpensive in which case go for it! (If it's Harvard online and you're paying $30,000 for the privilege, forget it.)

    HR is a great field, but it's not a super high paying field. Entry level jobs are usually administrative assistants (don't knock it people, you can learn a ton in such a job) or low level staffing jobs.

    Many companies require a 4 year degree, but many don't. Get your associates degree and find a good job. Then keep going in school.

    I don't think age should be a hindrance to your career. At 52 you have some experience (with life at least, if not a career)and (hopefully) some level of maturity. Even if you plan to retire right at 65, you've still got 13 years to work. (And many people are working well past 65 these days.) Why wouldn't I hire someone under those conditions?

    Good luck with school. Do your homework on time and be nice to your teachers.


    Dear Evil HR Lady,

    I recently contacted you to ask about interview delays. I am in the process of a career change and I am seeking my first paralegal position. Well the firm that I told you about finally interviewed me last week. I received a call from HR explaining that the attorneys who interviewed me thought I was overqualified!! I have a BS and a MS degree.I explained that I am trying to gain experience as a paralegal and I feel like their firm would be a good starting place. The HR manager said that they are in the middle of a crunch and that they would not hire until after August 17 and that they are willing to reconsider my application. In the mean time I will keep applying with other firms. What do you think? Is there a chance they could still hire me? Are they politely rejecting me?

    Thanks for your time.

    There is always a chance for everything, so it doesn't hurt to keep that stick in the fire, but most likely they are politely rejecting you. Maybe not, though, so don't give up hope--just don't count on this.

    The problem is as they told you--you are overqualified for the job. This can be about them most frustrating thing a job seeker can be told. You want the job. You need the job. You're qualified for the job. And they don't hire you because you are too smart or too experienced.

    I will tell you why I am afraid of hiring "overqualified" people.

    1. You'll get bored. If you have a PhD in astro-physics and you tell me that you want to be my admin, I'm pretty sure that you'll be bored to tears. This doesn't mean you aren't capable of doing the job, just that you'll be so bored you'll be miserable. And miserable people are no fun to work with.

    2. You'll be constantly looking for a new job. Job hunting, as we all know, is a huge pain and it takes time. And the time it takes is usually during business hours. This means you'll be calling in "sick" or taking "personal days" with short notice so you can go on interviews. This leaves me short handed and worse leads to problem 3.

    3. You'll quit. Eventually, everyone quits (or gets fired), but an overqualified person has more incentives to quit, and is more likely to find a better job sooner rather than later. Then I've got to go through the whole hassle and expense of hiring a replacement.

    So, now you know why, let me help you overcome this. You want to change careers, not just jobs, so you may appear to be overqualified, but you really do want the job you are looking for. This, you have to convey.

    You said, "I explained that I am trying to gain experience as a paralegal and I feel like their firm would be a good starting place." This screams flags 2 and 3 to me. What you need to say is, "I really want to be a paralegal. I've done X and I've done Y and I've now been certified as a paralegal (is there such a thing? I don't know) and I'm ready to jump in and go to work. Your firm has a great reputation and I'd love to be a part of the Begge, Borrow and Steel team."

    You need to convince the interviewer that you want this job at this company. Not that you want a job at a company. You also don't want to fall into the "I only want to gain experience from your firm and then write my tell-all book about how lawyers really operate" trap. Remember, in a job search, it's all about the company until the offer is made. Then it becomes all about you and your needs.

    Good luck, and this law firm may be salvageable. August 17 is coming up, so make sure to follow up.

    Sunday, August 12, 2007

    HR Detectives

    FMLA. It seems like a nice idea, right? You have a baby, or break your leg, or get pneumonia--or the same happens to your spouse, parent or child, and you get 12 weeks off work. Great. Right?

    Sure, in theory and if you aren't responsible to track and verify the FMLA leave. (Which can either be granted in a large chunk or taken intermittently for various problems.) And all of us HR types know that we can trust employees 100%, right?

    Except when we can't. But that's okay, because FMLA requires a doctor's approval. And we can always trust doctors, except when we can't. Or when they are fake doctors.
    Sick of working? A virtual fake doctor is eager to prescribe the cure. proclaims it has the answers to getting 40 hours of pay without the work, to clocking in and out and beating the clock, and to getting a doctor's note without the hassle of getting an appointment. The Web site offers five templates for excuse notes ranging from funeral to medical evaluation to an ER visit -- all for $24.95.

    Now, the people at that lovely website forgot that not all medical leave is paid leave, so oops! They are encouraging dishonesty and they didn't do their research.

    Oh well. And now, a story. Once upon a time, I was in graduate school and I was teaching summer undergraduate courses. I had a student come to me the day before the midterm for a class and beg to add it. I am a huge sucker so I told her that if the university would approve it and if she passed the midterm, I would allow her to add the class. (Passing the midterm shouldn't have been a huge deal--she was a senior and the class was Political Science 100. Theoretically her upper division classes should have covered most of the material in greater depth.)

    She thanked me profusely and then didn't show up to take the midterm. Eh, no skin of my nose. That course ended and the second course of the summer began. This student appeared on my class roll. Now, these were block classes, so we met twice a week and each class was three hours long. Missing one night was like missing an entire week during a regular semester.

    She missed the first class and showed up at the second. I required everyone to do a project and she signed up.

    I didn't see her again until the day before her scheduled presentation. She'd been in a car accident a few weeks ago and she was injured and in the hospital and could she please have some additional time. Umm, okay. Car accidents stink and she did look pretty beat up.

    She disappears and I don't see her again until the day of the final. Can she please, please, please have an incomplete? She's already been accepted to graduate school and she needs one more political science class to graduate. Please? Please? Please?

    I've ceased trusting her, but what can I say, I'm nice. So, I draw up a list of the requirements for making up the incomplete and have her sign it. She must write one 2 page paper for each of the topics we covered and the first will be due next Friday.

    Friday comes and goes and no paper. The next Friday she comes in breathlessly and turns in the first paper with an apology and a doctor's note. She's been sick. She has, in fact, cancer and the doctor's note states this. So, so sad. Can she have more time?

    "You must write all the papers or you will fail the class," I say. But, I am compassionate. She has cancer.

    The paper was the absolute worst paper I have ever read, and I have read some doozies. No coherent thoughts. No coherent grammar. Bleh.

    She turns in 4 or 5 papers, all of the same abysmal quality. Then she disappears again. I turn in her final grade--an F.

    On the same day as grades are due, I get a fax from her doctor's office. She has cancer, remember? She's in the hospital. She's in a coma! How can I fail a cancer patient in a coma? I'm compassionate. I'm loving. I'm a good person! I feel terrible. So, I change her grade to a C.

    I tell my colleague about the saga. "Can you believe it? This poor girl in my class is dying. She's in a coma! And I almost flunked her."

    My colleague calmly looks at the fax and says, "Uhh, it says it's from Mount Siani Medical Center. That should be spelled S-I-N-A-I. And look at the fax information on the bottom. It was faxed from Kinko's. I think Mount Sinai medical center actually has their own fax machines and could fax it from there."

    Uhh, duh. Then it hit me. You are sick, you are dying, and as you slip into a coma, you say to your doctor, "Please, just send a fax to my political science professor and tell her that I'm here. Please, the last thing I want to do before I die is get a passing grade in Women in Politics."

    Before I flunked her sorry little self, I did call Mount Sinai medical center and asked to speak to the doctor listed. No such person.

    Can you say big, fat, F?

    Surprisingly, she never complained about the grade. Maybe she never woke up from the coma.

    (hat tip Overlawyered)

    I Am Not a Lawyer; But I May be Insane

    This is true. And over at HRO Manager I explain some things about HR and the Law.

    Jump over there and read it.

    And when you are done jumping over there, the new Carnival of the Insanities is up over at Dr. Sanity's place. If you look hard enough, you'll find a link back to our friend, Lego Man.

    Friday, August 10, 2007

    Past Mistakes

    Dear Evil HR Lady,

    SO glad I stumbled across your website, as I need some direction.

    5 years ago and fresh out of college, I got a DUI. I did not learn my lesson, because in March of 2006, I got a second after happy hour w/ a client.

    Long story, short, it was both a nightmare and an eye-opening experience. I did a mandatory 5 day jail sentence, completed numerous hours of community service and alcohol-related classes, and lost my drivers license for one year. Although it was one of the most challenging times of my life, it could have been worse. My company kept me on board (I'm in sales---I hired a driver for 12 months so I could continue to perform my job), and I truly learned from, and am a different person from the experience.

    My question is this: I'm currently interviewing for a different high-profile sales job w/ a different publishing company, and I'm about 48 hours away from an offer. I have not yet mentioned anything about my record, because I haven't yet filled out any formal paperwork. A background check hasn't been conducted, but I know it's in the cards.

    Do I have a chance?

    I'd like to know:

    1. What my chances are of being employed at a company w/ two DUIs under my belt.
    2. When I should bring everything up. I've always felt that being up front is what's best, but I'm not sure when/and how to address all of this.

    Thanks in advance for your thoughts,

    Learned from my mistakes...the second time around.

    This is a very good question. Legally, you cannot discriminate against someone because of a past conviction that is unrelated to the job.

    The problem is, defining related to the job. 2 DUI convictions doesn't exactly add gold stars to your resume, as you well know. (And as a side note, I hope you have stopped drinking altogether. You've proven you lack judgment when drunk.)

    Here is a copy of the EEOC's Guidelines on Conviction Records. Three things a company must consider
    1. The nature and gravity of the offense or offenses;
    2. The time that has passed since the conviction and/or completion of the sentence; and
    3. The nature of the job held or sought.

    Here is your advantage: You feel like you are close to an offer and they haven't asked you to fill out an application.

    Here is your disadvantage: The job is in sales and while I am in no way representing this as the absolute truth and I could be completely wrong here (remember, Evil HR Lady is not a lawyer and does not do hiring) (Do I have enough disclaimers here?), but I think a company could successfully argue that a DUI is related to a sales job because of the driving involved.

    Now, here's the tricky part. If they make you an offer and THEN they have you fill out an application or conduct a background check they are in the awkward position of having to say, "we are not hiring you because of your DUI convictions." As I said, I'm no expert in this area, but the burden would be on them to prove that it's job related.

    Here's my advice. I do not think this is something you needed to put on your resume, so I think you are fine there. (Note to HR types: Have people fill out an application which asks about convictions prior to conducting interviews.) But, when they make you an offer, it will undoubtedly be contingent on a background check, reference check and drug screen. (And if it's not, boy the HR department in the prospective company is asking for trouble.) At this point you tell them about your DUI conviction.

    And you tell them what you told me. Tell them that you hired a driver to do your job. Tell them that you don't drink any more. (Only if this is true. I'm hoping that it's true.)

    The thing you don't want to have happen is for them to find out through the background check about your DUI. You do want to be upfront about this. I would tell them even if they don't say they are going to run a background check. Why? Because they will find out anyway. Secrets like that are not easily kept. And even if it's their own darn fault for not knowing (since they didn't have you fill out an application), they'll hold it against you.

    So, will this affect your chances of getting the job? Yes. Does it guarantee that they won't hire you? No. Do people realize how a mistake such as this can have devastating effects on every aspect of your life for years to come? No.

    Here is someone else's thoughts on DUI convictions:
    The denial of employment for a DUI conviction, specifically, always seems to be a gray area. How many times did one drive drunk to get convicted? How many convictions does it take to deny someone a job based on character? If the applicant answered the DUI question no and the background check shows them to have lied, then the issue of character goes not to the DUI, but to the falsification of the employment application.

    I know I have readers out there who are experts in this type of area. Hopefully they will offer you some guidance in the comments.

    Good luck.

    Thursday, August 09, 2007

    What's in a Wrapper, er, Title

    From the Houston Chronicle:
    CHICAGO — Anything made by McDonald's tastes better, preschoolers said in a study that powerfully demonstrates how advertising can trick the taste buds of young children.

    Even carrots, milk and apple juice tasted better to the kids if it was wrapped in the familiar packaging of the Golden Arches.

    The study had youngsters sample identical McDonald's foods in name-brand or unmarked wrappers. The unmarked foods always lost the taste test.

    Yes, you say, this study was about the influence of marketing on toddlers. We are not toddlers. We are adults and we are above such things.

    Are we?

    Let's say you are in a meeting. Joe, the intern has an idea. Everyone immediately rejects the idea. Two days later, Karen the VP makes the same suggestion. Suddenly it's the best thing since sliced bread and everyone is immediately on board.

    It's not the idea that changed, it was the wrapper.

    Companies hire consulting firms to tell them things that their people have been screaming about for years. Sr. Management doesn't listen when it is Jose from accounting and Linda in accounts receivable, but when it's Steve from Big Named Consulting Firm that interviews Jose and Linda and reports the information back, suddenly it's believable and actionable.

    Why do we do this? Well, there are some good reasons and some bad reasons.

    Good reason is that Joe, the intern, is an unknown quantity. He doesn't have a great deal of experience (he's an intern, after all), while Karen is a VP and your boss's boss. She wouldn't have gotten to that position if she didn't have great ideas. Right? Of course, it doesn't hurt your career to suck up to Karen and championing the ideas of Joe the intern could hurt you if other people aren't on board.

    But what about Steve, our consultant. Do you know who consulting firms hire? People straight out of school. Joe is straight out of school as well. But, we listen to Steve the consultant because he has the title and the backing and the resources.

    Those resources are helpful. But, it would be cheaper to ask Jose and Linda who do the job what problems they see and what potential solutions they think are possible. If you get nothing back, then it's time to spend money to hire someone. But, if you do and you ignore it, just know that there's a pretty good chance you'll get the same answer back from your expensive consultant.

    The difference? Instead of an e-mail with 3 bullet points from some chic named Linda in accounts payable, you get a fancy power point presentation from a guy in a suit. Same hamburger, different wrapper.

    Now, I'm not arguing that the intern's ideas are always as good as the VPs. And I'm not arguing that the highly paid consultant is just repeating back what the accounts payable clerk said. What I'm arguing is that by only looking at the wrapper the idea comes in, you can end up missing some pretty good hamburgers and choking down some that don't taste so great.

    Evaluate ideas on their merit. Listen to people who actually do the job. You might be surprised.

    Wednesday, August 08, 2007

    There is No Need for This Post


    Giant Lego Man Found in Dutch Sea

    I keep trying to come up with some HR related thing to say about it. I keep failing.
    Posted by Picasa

    Carnival of HR #13

    Is up over at Compensation Force. Since it's the 13th Carnival, Ann has managed to get exactly 13 posts and talks about being either lucky or unlucky.

    Do you think it is just coincidence that Satan's new training brochure came out at the same time as the 13th Carnival of HR? I told you HR was evil.

    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.

    The October 17th Carnival will be hosted by Kris Dunn at HR Capitalist

    The Spooky October 31st Carnival will be hosted by HRO Manager at HRO Manager

    The November 14th Carnival will be hosted by Patrick Williams at Guerilla HR

    The November 28th Carnival will be hosted by Carmen Van Kerckhove at Race in the Workplace

    The December 12th Carnival will be hosted by Wayne Turmel (the Cranky Middle Manager)at Management Issues

    The December 26th Carnival will be hosted by Ann Bares at Compensation Force.

    The January 9th Carnival will be hosted by Ask a Manager at Ask a Manager.

    The January 23rd Carnival will be hosted by Deb at HR Thoughts.

    The February 6th Carnival will be hosted by Susan Heathfield at About Human Resources.
    We're always accepting new hosts--and old hosts to host again. So send me an e-mail at evilhrlady at hotmail dot com if you are interested.

    Satan's Training Brochure

    You knew Satan runs a training company, right? Well, his fall brochure is out. Fortunately, our friend, The Cranky Middle Manager has posted a copy.

    I think I'll take this class:
    3. Communicating With Difficult People- How to Avoid It

    What you'll learn: Business is full of people you don't enjoy working with. Trying simply wastes limited time. In this one-day experiential workshop you'll master:
    Email obfuscation: burying action items among detail, using re: please clean the lunchroom as a subject line for critical messages and other ways to avoid actually talking to the person while maintaining you sent the message

    Timing voicemail: dealing with people is so much easier when you can leave messages rather than answer questions or hear their annoying voice. Job aids include tracking the other party's lunch time, and average arrival/departure schedule

    You all should take it with me.

    Tuesday, August 07, 2007

    Secretary and IT

    We're thinking of having one of our secretaries handle the internal/desk top support for our office. We are a small firm that pays a quarterly consulting fee to an IT firm. The secretary's time would be split 50/50 between IT and secretary. The secretary would be responsible for all desk top issues, working with the IT firm on servers, upgrades, security, etc. The secretary we have in mind makes approximately $29/hr and will work more than 40 hrs/week most of the time.

    Exempt or non-exempt? I'm thinking the non-exempt status for the secretarial duties will keep her in a non-exempt status even with the new IT duties?

    Your question is actually more complicated than it looks. There is no set ratio of "exempt" to "non-exempt" duties that determines your classification. Most everyone has some sort of duty, that if it were a full job, would be considered non-exempt. I, for instance, open my own mail and do my own filing. But, this is about 10 minutes a day, so not cause to make me non-exempt.

    I did find this list of jobs to help you determine exempt/non-exempt jobs. Isn't the internet fabulous?

    Scrolling down I find a link to help for computer related jobs that takes you through a series of questions to help answer your question!

    Wow. I'm really impressed now. Of course, being the pessimist that I am, there is probably some disclaimer at the bottom of the page that says, "using this method to determine exemption is not a valid defense in face of an audit."

    But, your person is still 50% in a job that is clearly non-exempt, so I would have to advise you to stay on the safe side and keep her classification non-exempt. It's better to be safe than sorry, and I think you'd have a hard time defending a position that was 50% administrative.

    But, thanks for asking your question. I've now found a really cool tool. And let's face it, this blog is all about my needs.

    Monday, August 06, 2007


    Can a company tell you you have to leave your desk for paid breaks? There is not a specified area for these breaks, but we were informed we “can not” stay at our desks for breaks, or for that matter lunch, which is an unpaid lunch. This is a high security facility, and if we are forced to leave our desks for a break in the “lunch room” can we make them find us a place for our breaks. The smokers get special privileges and area for their break. Is there a way we can make them do the same for us non smokers that like to sit at our desks and read ???

    In short, yes. I'm not sure, if you are sent to take breaks in the lunch room, why you would need a special break area.

    My bet is that your employer has had a problem with employees working during their breaks. People don't generally think that it's a big deal if they answer the phone, answer a co-worker's question or respond to a quick e-mail during break. After all, it's good for business and good not a big deal.

    Except, it's a huge deal for the company. If you are a non-exempt employee (overtime eligible) and you do ANY work off the clock the company can be in big legal and financial trouble.

    Your company is probably trying to ensure that there is no misunderstanding--when you are on break you are NOT working. If you are "forced" to go to a lunch room for breaks and lunches, there is no way for you to claim, "I always worked through breaks."

    You can read in the lunch room.

    As for the smokers, well it's pretty obvious that when they are standing outside in the pouring rain, desperately puffing that they aren't working. Just hope they are clocking out before each of their smoke breaks.

    Sorry that it's not the answer you wanted.

    Friday, August 03, 2007

    Your Salary is Not Arbitrary and Capricious

    My previous post on salary history generated several comments, two of which are below (both by anonymous posters, by the way).

    What planet do you live on?? In a perfect world, people's salaries increase with responsibility. In the REAL world, however, people's salaries can stay the same or increase only slightly because a company's revenues are down the overall budget is tight. Salary history is an inaccurate way to assess the job applicant, because it may reflects corporate situations that the applicant had absolutely no control over.


    I'd love to see research that connects salary to anything meaningful. It seems to be a poor element to base anything on, despite how convenient it might be to the process.

    To address the planet I live on, it's called earth and despite what happens when Ms. Frizzle and the gang go into outer space, it really is the only inhabitable planet in our solar system.

    Glad we've cleared that little bit of information up. Now, let's talk about salary. Our second anonymous friend wanted to see salary connected to anything meaningful. I am now going to do that (albeit without putting on a lab coat to be more scientific).

    Everyone listen up: Your salary/benefits package is how much your company values you.

    That's it. That is what your salary reflects. If they value you more, they'll pay you more. If they value you less, they'll pay you less.

    Now, please note that I did not say, "your salary is how much your boss values you." Your boss and your company may have very different value systems. Ultimately, your company wins. Now, granted that value also includes your benefits, such as health insurance, vacation, flex time, etc. But, for the sake of simplicity, we'll use the term salary to encompass all that good stuff.

    McDonalds values their CEO more than they value their burger flippers. How do I know this? Their salaries differ by a little bit. As they should. Just about anyone is capable of making hamburgers, but very few people are capable of running a company. If a company loses a good CEO they are in big trouble, as they are hard to replace. But they expect turnover amongst restaurant cooks to be high.

    If a company's revenues are down the pool of money for increases will go down as well. Then it becomes even more apparent who is valued and who is not. Trust me when I say there is always SOMETHING available for the super-valued employee. (Extra vacation, flexible schedule, telecommuting--something if financial conditions don't allow for more hard cash.)

    Now, sometimes (and I bet our first anonymous poster would argue that the word should be frequently, but I don't think so) the value the company places on you is dead wrong. Slackers get big raises and someone who is actually bringing in money to the company gets nothing but a pat on the back.

    This, I think, is a problem HR should help solve. Having strong performance rating criteria (Like the SMART method discussed below) helps to get what should be valued actually valued.

    So, if you came to me and said, "I didn't get an increase for 3 years because the company was having a down turn," I would ask these follow up questions:

    1. Why did you stay with a company that was doing so poorly you didn't even get raises?
    2. What did your company do to show that it valued you?
    3. How did you attempt to turn the company around? How successful were you?

    Good answers? The company gave me additional stock. With the stock being so low, there was nowhere to go but up. I believed that the company would eventually pull itself out of the slump and my stock would be of great value.

    Bad answers? Ummm, I don't know, I thought it would get better.

    Now, if you truly believe you are underpaid, ask your boss to re-evaluate your position. You need to point out why the company should value you more than they do.

    Now, the world is not fair. Some things are even wrong. Everyone argues that teachers should make more money than movie stars, but the reality is? As long as there are people willing to take the teaching jobs at the salaries being offered that is precisely what they are worth. (Ironically, the unions keep schools from being able to place appropriate values on teachers. Therefore, those that could do better elsewhere leave, and those who couldn't, stay. It's a perverse system that encourages bad performance.)

    So, if you didn't get a raise? It means that the company you work for values something else more than they value you. It may be shareholders. It may be paying the electric bill. It may be your co-worker.

    Be someone who brings values and (in a relatively free market economy) your value will be worth dollars. If not at your current company, leave. Hit the job market. You'll find out pretty quickly what you are worth.

    Thursday, August 02, 2007

    SMART Objectives

    Hi Evil HR Lady,

    I need your help!

    This will be the first year my company uses SMART approach to do the performance management. As a manager, I am supposed to set up measurable objectives for my subordinates. It's not a problem for me to set up measurable objectives for my assistant managers as they have deadlines to meet. But when it comes to my secretary and the clerical staff, I am not sure how to set measurable goals for them as their duties are very routine and tedious. Could you give me some examples?

    First, let's talk about the SMART method. This is where performance criteria are based on the following:

    T--Time Frame

    The Evil One (who apparently has taken to referring to herself in the 3rd person. She promises this will stop shortly) finds this a downright delightful method of doing performance appraisals and goal setting. (Which should be done in the reverse order, but I find backspacing so tedious.)

    It can be difficult to do the first time around. Here's a question that you can ask yourself to help you get started:

    How do you know if [insert position]is doing a good job?

    As you begin the objective setting process as yourself this question. Then really think about it. Let's see, you know your secretary is doing a good job when he is on time to work, promptly sorts mail, keeps your schedule, arranges teleconferences and travel, produces monthly reports and runs interference when you want to avoid your boss.

    Let's do two of these as SMART objectives

    First, an easy one--Produces Monthly Reports:

    Specific--Secretary will produce Reports A, B, and C

    Measurable--Reports A, B, and C will be formatted according to guidelines and contain zero errors

    Achievable--yes, reports are standard and not complex, 100% accuracy is possible

    Relevant--yes, this goal applies to the job of secretary

    Time Frame--reports will be produced by the 5th of each month

    Keeps Boss's Schedule--A little more difficult.

    Specific--Secretary will schedule meetings, ensure boss's knowledge of such meetings, work with other administrative staff to coordinate schedules. There is a problem here--not specific or measurable enough. Let's try again

    Specific (revised)--Secretary will schedule meetings on same day of request and provide written schedule on boss's desk for next day by 5:00 p.m. previous day.

    Measurable: Secretary will keep a spreadsheet of meeting request, time requested, and time scheduled to track turn around time. 100% success rate expected. Boss responsible for tracking schedule on desk.

    Achievable--No way. Anyone whose ever tried to schedule meetings knows that getting all relevant parties available at the same time is like herding cats. To require a secretary to get all meetings scheduled on the same days as requested would lead to guaranteed failure and your secretary wouldn't like you. Revise the success rate to 75% and then you have an achievable, yet still difficult, goal.

    Relevant--Yes. This is a core responsibility and something the secretary should have control over.

    Time Frame--Yes. Daily requirements and specific deadlines (same day, 5:00 p.m.)

    Hopefully this helps get you started. Just remember--how will you know when this person is successful?


    Can you help me?

    If an employer wants to rehire an employee who had quit and had given written 2 weeks notice but did not comply with finishing the two weeks. Can the employer rehire this employee even if the employee had not completed the resignation agreement as required upon leaving?

    Thanks for your help.

    Absolutely. An employer can hire anyone legal to work. Why on earth they would want to is another story.

    If the employer is absolutely desperate for employees I can see this happening. Otherwise, why hire someone you know isn't reliable? Unless of course, the person's reason for not working the two weeks was that someone had died or ended up in the hospital.

    Wednesday, August 01, 2007


    I updated my HR Blogroll. I know I missed some people that I shouldn't have, so there may be revisions. If you believe you should be included, state your case in the comments.

    Oops, I Did it Again!


    I have a question, I applied to a Fortune 500 company with over 50,000 employees. They did a very extensive background check on me and haven't let me know anything as of yet. My start date was due to be July 16th. There was one issue and that was with my degree. Now, my resume was not updated for some time (over a year) which is totally my fault. I had an old projected graduation date of 2006 on there and I never noticed. I looked over the resume before I sent it out, but I had just glanced at the education/qualifications part. I was more focused on overlooking my responsibilities and duties in my current job.

    To make a long story short I ended up getting an offer. And at my interview when asked of my education I said I had not completed my degree and I was about 8 classes shy (which reflects in my transcripts from college that I personally sent to the HR department) and also I had to complete an official online application with the company. In that application there was a choice: Not yet received Diploma, HS Diploma, Some College etc etc. I checked the option "Some College" however, when I uploaded my resume it put "Associates Degree + 13 years". I received an email from one of the people conducting the background check asking me to verify my degree

    (this is a transcript from his exact email:

    I have just about finalized your background
    verification...the only item that we were not able to verify is your
    associate's degree. If you have a moment, can you fax over a copy of
    your degree to the number listed below? That is the last item pending at
    this point...Thanks in advance!" )

    and I had wrote him: "
    I have not completed all of my coursework for my associates degree. I am currently (exactly) half way through. I have 2 semesters to go. When completing my official application with (COMPANY) I had indicated that I completed Some College Coursework. Also, when asked in my interview if I had my degree I had told my interviewer that I did not have it yet and that particular part of my resume had not been updated. I was looking back at the official application I had submitted to (COMPANY) via the online source and I did notice that while uploading my CVV/Resume the computer automatically put "Associates Degree + 13 Years" which is not the case. I did not catch it at the time as I had already answered "Some College" when asked about my Education. I apologize for any and all confusion. I hope that clears everything up."

    My question is this: Since they now think I've falsified my degree, is there any way to redeem myself with the company? I have a good source that works at the location I applied to who let me know that it doesn't look too good for me, however they were reviewing my file and there is a small chance I could still get in. (that was as a friend, not an official word from the company) Also, in my interview I was overly prepared with a 30 + page portfolio showcasing all the various skills and work I've put in over the years, which I whole heartedly feel gave me a very large advantage in obtaining the offer and possible position. I am young, adaptable and very knowledgeable in the field in which I applied for. (I am not trying to sound cocky, as I could always stand to learn more and more)

    Well, you provided a nice explanation, but unfortunately mistakes like this can cost you. I don't want to be unnecessarily harsh, but PLEASE PROOF READ YOUR RESUME BEFORE SUBMITTING. (No snarky comments about typos in my blog. This is a blog. It is anonymous and I am lazy.)

    For you, it wasn't just a matter of not proofreading, but not updating. Even though you made a mistake (and didn't try deceive), it still came back around and bit you in the behind.

    Personally, I'd probably recognize it as a mistake, especially if your resume said, "projected" or "anticipated" about the degree. If it just said, "AA Degree, June 2006" I'd be less inclined to believe you.

    Let us know if you got the job or not.

    Salary History

    I have an HR person (probably not evil) insisting that I must provide my salary at each previous employer so they can do a background check before I start. This is all after I've already accepted a written job offer (they asked me to complete an application at the same time they sent me an offer).
    I went a head and provided the info because I want the job, but it just strikes me as unnecessary and inane.
    Any comments?
    Texas Boy

    It would be unnecessary if all your fellow job seekers weren't a big pack o' liars. People lie about their titles, their salaries, the companies they work for, their level of responsibility and their degrees (or lack thereof).

    So, unfortunately, companies have learned that they cannot trust what a candidate says.

    As a matter of fact, the next question I'm going to answer is about a person who "made a mistake" on their resume.

    And if your HR person isn't at least slightly evil, you probably don't want to work there. I mean, policies that make sense? Career development? Benefits you actually need? Bah! Who needs it?