February 2012

When illegal interview questions are legal

by Evil HR Lady on February 29, 2012

Contrary to popular opinion, the job interviewer can ask if you’re married, have children and a whole lot more.

To read more about this click here: When illegal interview questions are legal.


The Carnival of HR–5th Anniversary Edition!

by Evil HR Lady on February 29, 2012

“So, where do you see yourself in 5 years?” I always thought that was a stupid question–because what could the “right” answer possibly be?

  • This is my dream job so I hope to be doing this same thing in 5 years! Means you’re a slacker without ambition.
  • I hope to be managing this position! Means you want the interviewer’s job so watch out because if you can stab me in the back you will.
  • I want to continue to be in a function where my skills and attributes are utilized! Means that you’ve spent too long thinking about this question.
  • I intend to go back to school and get my MBA! Means you’re a short timer and we shouldn’t invest in you.

So why do we ask that question? (And by we, I mean not me and not you, because we’re not that stupid.)

It’s been 5 years since I began the Carnival of HR. The very first one only contained a few posts and I had to beg to get those. Now, of course (thanks to the love and feeding given to it by Shauna Moerke and prior to her, Alison Green) it’s grown to a fabulous size with people from all over the world contributing. Marvelous.

So, where were you 5 years ago and where do you think you’ll be in 5 years? These posts are written to the theme, so they get top billing!

Ian Welsh at the Tool Box writes My HR 5 Year Flex Plan – Blog and All. Ian actually did make a plan 5 years ago, and this is a look back at the twists and turns that happened along the way. He sees the blog as a big art of it and I have to agree. Blogging changed my plans as well.

Sandrine Bardot at Compensation Insider writes A Few Career and Life Lessons From My Last Job in Italy.5 Years ago she accepted an “easy” job that turned out to be anything but. Sometimes you have to throw your current plan out the window and try something new.

Shauna Moerke at HR Minion tells us where she was 5 Years Ago. Oh my word, she didn’t even read blogs back then!!!!  Shauna, a social media queen did not even read blogs. Which tells me that we’re all clueless about the social media we’ll see in 5 years.

Nancy Saperstone at Insight writes Was Human Resources Any Different 5 Years Ago? The fundamentals have (or should have) remained the same, but other things have changed. She even dreams of a paperless HR society.

Ben at Upstart HR writes Five Years Ago. He was still in school and, like Shauna, wasn’t even reading HR Blogs. (This is why the first HR carnival only had a few participants!) He started a so-so job but still managed to learn from it. Reminding us that we should always be learning.

Tim at The HR Introvert writes 1,827 Days Well-Spent. I’m not checking his math to make sure that’s the right number, but he details his experiences. Life is far more than work and we need to remember that as part of our plans.

And Suzanne Lucas (that’s me) at Evil HR Lady writes Where Was I 5 Years Ago? Still anonymous and still working for the man. Boy, have times changed.

Not everyone stuck to the theme–which was expressly permitted. But, being somewhat controlling and demanding, I will manipulate every post to make it seem like it fits into the theme.

First up is The Thriving Small Business’s post on Managing Workplace Grief. Unfortunately, this is a topic we should all be aware of and prepared for. No 5 year plan plans for this, but it comes up more often than it should.

Jennifer V. Miller at The People Equation writes on Are You Cut Out for Self Employment? Sometimes people just jump into self employment without making a plan. Sometimes getting laid off pushes people in earlier than they normally would. But she makes excellent points and even has a little quiz. I scored a 5 out of 7, so I’m qualified to be  solopreneur, which is good, because that’s how I make my living now.

Naomi Bloom at In Full Bloom writes Reflections on a Long Career. She even includes a picture of Cher, but don’t let that scare you off from clicking. (Cher needs 5 years worth of fabric to have an outfit that meets dress code.) She reminds us that 5 years is merely a flash in the pan and that we need to spend a life time learning and growing.

And speaking of learning, Arunima Majumdar at Learn to Succeed writes about Gaining Insights to E Learning. In HR we’re not only responsible for our 5 year plans, but for those of entire companies full of people. If you can’t interpret the results from your training you’re in big trouble.

Jesse Lyn Stoner at Jesse Lyn Stoner Blog writes Are You a Team in Name Only? Her first question is “What do you want to accomplish?” which is a fabulous question, not only for teams but for developing your own 5 year plan.

Michael Haberman at Omega HR Solutions writes Social Media as a Knowledge Creation Tool. Instead of looking at social media as something people either do outside of work or is done by marketing, he takes a look at what implementing social media platforms in the office ca do to you. Add that to your 5 year plan!

Dan McCarthy at Great Leadership by Dan writes Top 10 Excuses for Being a Lousy Manager. Dan, himself, is a fabulous manager, but he’s counseled some lousy ones and he gives us insight on what needs to be fixed as you develop your 5 year plan for yourself.

The Tribe HR Staff at Tribe HR writes Hiring Effectively During Rapid Growth. One thing to think about, that few people think about when planning the future, is how growth will affect your corporate culture–for good or bad.

Alison at Recognition at Work writes Start With a Warm Employee Welcome. If you want your new employees to stick around for 5 years, make sure you do a good job of welcoming them to the team.

Wally Bock at Envisia Learning  writes Would John Glenn Make the Cut Today? I didn’t know that Glenn was outside the requirements for the space program yet was still selected. Wally asks if our hiring software eliminates the John Glenns of the world. Think about that when you’re hiring people to fulfill your future plans.

Hugh More at Humor’s Office writes Office Supply Art: 10 Examples of Art Made with Office Supplies. It would take me 5 years to replicate some of this. It’s awesome. Now get back to work!

And take what you’ve learned and write a plan that can be changed when life doesn’t go as expected. And order some extra staples for your office art.




Where was I 5 Years Ago?

by Evil HR Lady on February 29, 2012

I won’t even begin to talk about where I think I’ll be in 5 years, other than to say, I have no idea. If you had asked me 5 years ago, where I thought I would be, I would have said that I would most likely still be working for the same company (I had a fabulous job) albeit in a different role.

5 years ago I was handling layoffs for a major pharmaceutical company. I worked 20 hours a week in a job share arrangement with a fabulous job share partner. The company was in the midst of an outsourcing, which was going to include a large portion our responsibilities, although we would definitely be retained. (My job share partner and I were geniuses, I tell you. Okay, we were very good at what we did and we had all sorts of mad skillz which made no one want to lose us. How do I know that? By the very fact that we were in a job share situation in the first place. Plus, part of our job was to review all HR increases and performance ratings. I knew where we stood.)

I was also blogging. Very regularly, it turns out. I started looking through my history and boy did I amuse myself back then. I was posting anonymously and I think it gave me a bit more confidence to say what I really thought. (Some of you are thinking, as if you don’t say it now? Well, I do, but now I use bullet points, which somehow softens the effect.)

Well, that outsourcing didn’t occur. We transferred (as a pair!) to the Labor and Employment Law department (best move, ever), and then we both had babies. Not at the same time. We wisely timed our pregnancies so the other one could cover during maternity leaves. (I told you, we were awesome employees.)

My perceived 5 year plan was humming along smoothly.

Then my husband got a job offer in Switzerland. In the same week a bigger pharma company swooped in and bought the company I worked for. (Trust me, it was a swoop and it was a huge shock for everyone except for the CEO and a couple of his buddies.) We took this as a further sign that now was the time for me to leave and move to Switzerland.

They have chocolate in Switzerland, you know. Also cheese. And this:

photo by Flickr user knickinoptic

That’s a parade, not some sort of mob scene. Also they have this:

Flickr user Kaeferchen61


Which is also a parade, but doesn’t involve fire. Just candy and confetti. Lots of confetti. When you get home from this parade you are likely to have confetti in your underwear.

They also have this:

Flickr user Garaigoikoa

And this:

Flickr user Ed Coyle Photography

So, how could I say no?  (You wouldn’t either. Trust me.) And off we went, and there went my 5 year plan out the window.

And so that’s why, if you ask me what I’ll be doing in 5 years, I’ll respond, “I don’t even know what continent I’ll be living on in 5 years!”

Which probably wouldn’t go over well in a job interview.


Why senior management loves your incompetent boss

by Evil HR Lady on February 27, 2012

Dear Evil HR Lady,

My boss is a mess. I don’t even know where to begin. Among other things, her most serious problem is her incompetence. It is troublesome that nobody above her notices her incompetence because she has a competent team working under her. She is up for a promotion, which I and all of the other coworkers in the team do not think she deserves. We are worried that she is presenting the work the team does as her own. What do we do?

To read the answer click here: Why senior management loves your incompetent boss


5 Mistakes you may be making on your resume

by Evil HR Lady on February 24, 2012

You’ve proofread until your eyes are bloodshot, but you still might be committing these errors.

To see what they are click here: 5 mistakes you may be making on your resume.


Why even great employees get average evaluations

by Evil HR Lady on February 22, 2012

Dear Evil HR Lady,

I have been in a new role for four months and have gone above and beyond my written job description. I complete all my weekly tasks on schedule, take on new projects, and often stay late or work on weekends to get the job done. When I first started, I was trained on a new function (let’s call it Project Bob). My boss then asked me to work on a special project (let’s call it Project Jane), which took up a lot of time. We both agreed two months in that I should focus 100 percent of my time to work on Jane.

When the time came for my performance evaluation, my boss gave me a 2 regarding my work on Bob. For everything else she gave me a 3 — and gave me one 4 on a piece related to Jane. Thus, my score averaged out to a 3. I have a comfortable relationship with her, so I explained why I disagreed with her assessment about Bob. I then asked her to reconsider the 2. She did not agree or disagree.

Overall, I am very disappointed with my score. My boss claims that a 3 is a good score, particularly for someone who is new. I am wondering if I should dispute this further — particularly the 2 — or should I just let it go?

To read the answer click here: Why even great employees get average evaluations


When is it okay to quit without giving notice?

by Evil HR Lady on February 21, 2012

Dear Evil HR Lady,


I work for a small non-profit. I was hired to open a preschool/daycare in the building. None of the board members or the director have any education or experience in the early childhood field. As a consequence, I am repeatedly asked to do things that run contrary to the law in our state. Last month, I went over the director’s head to the board to protest four specific instances of questionable ethics. Those issues were basically resolved in a heated meeting where not only my intelligence but my entire profession was insulted. To my knowledge, the board of directors does not seem to care about the employees’ complaints, which included the use of racial slurs by the director. No one from the board contacted me or the 17 out of 20 current employees who wished to speak with them. Obviously, employees are leaving quickly.

The past two weeks I have been involved with yet another battle about my interpretation of the daycare laws. I am exhausted and I cannot fight this anymore. We are yet again not in compliance with the law and I am due for a surprise inspection any day. I have a glowing reference from my immediate supervisor, who also just quit. I want to resign on Tuesday with no notice. I do not want the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) licensing rep to associate me with a school that is not in compliance, because I have fought very hard to adhere to the letter and spirit of the law.

When is it OK to leave without notice?

To read the answer click here:  When is it okay to quit without giving notice?


Why does your salary offer stink?

by Evil HR Lady on February 17, 2012

Dear Evil HR Lady,

I recently applied for a job within the same institution where I am currently working. I am an administrative assistant for an academic department, yet I have a master’s degree in sociology, so I applied for a research analyst position. Before applying, I inquired in the HR department about the salary range for the new position. I was quoted a particular range, yet when I received the job offer, the salary was $2,500 below the low end of the range. My question is this: How can an institution have a salary range for a particular position, yet make an offer under the stated range? Given that the advertisement said it would consider candidates who were currently in a master’s program, rather than having a degree in hand, it seems odd that the offer was so low. I have absolutely no knowledge of how ranges are calculated, but it seems to me that if there is a stated range, the offer should fall within the range. Am I missing something?

To read the answer click here: Why does your salary offer stink?


Know when to give up

by Evil HR Lady on February 16, 2012

Dear Evil HR Lady,

I have a coworker who just talks and socializes and doesn’t work, forcing me to pick up the slack. After more tearful conversations between my coworker and my boss and frustrating conversations between myself and my boss, he called a meeting between the three of us. During this meeting he went over types of communication and expectations of the front office staff. I was told to watch my tone, as it might come off as snippy. She was told to learn to keep personal problems away from work. She denied having that issue right in front of him, and he didn’t bring up examples of why he thought she might have a problem in that area.

Basically, I felt like my boss just accepts that my coworker is “relationship oriented” and prefers not to work, while I am “task oriented.” I feel like in any professional setting, everyone should be task oriented, as that is what we get paid to do — work. I realize my boss has too many other responsibilities to really give this much time, but it’s starting to affect the work environment up front. I’m torn because in any other company, my coworker would not be allowed to keep up her unprofessional and bad behavior. I’ve tried to just ignore her, but that doesn’t work, seeing how our workload is shared. I’ve tried being nice, but that only encourages her to chat and slack off on her work. I’ve gone to my boss, but he doesn’t seem interested in the problem or flat out doesn’t have time.

I’ve gone to the HR manager, but her advice is to just ignore the issue. It’s getting bad enough that I’m considering finding another job. I love the work, but I can’t stand to be in this type of environment. I’m hard-working, young and I earn my keep. With the economy the way it is, I’m not sure that I can find a job that pays the same or more. Any suggestions on how to deal with the coworker that keeps on giving?

To read the answer, click here: Know when to give up


Judge: Legally, breastfeeding not related to pregnancy

by Evil HR Lady on February 13, 2012

A judge ruled that breastfeeding discrimination is legal in the office

To find out why and what your protections in the office are click here: Judge: Legally, breastfeeding not related to pregnancy