April 2012

How do you explain being fired?

by Evil HR Lady on April 30, 2012

Dear Evil HR Lady,

This is the first time that my probation of six months with a company was not confirmed, and I was asked to leave immediately.

So, I left as HR ESCORTED me out. What do I say at interviews? It seems to be a very negative perception.

No reasons were given for not being confirmed. I do not want to pursue legal action… only to get another job as soon as possible.

To read the answer click here: How do you explain being fired?


Opposing View on “Mom Salaries”

by Evil HR Lady on April 27, 2012

Last week I wrote Why I Hate Salary.com’s ‘What’s a Mom Worth?’ Survey. The Salary.com people (who are delightful!) contacted me and asked me to chat with them on their weekly podcast.

So, I did, and you can listen to it here: An Opposing View on Our Mother’s Day Survey.


Why sloppiness is killing your job search

by Evil HR Lady on April 25, 2012

I do edit the letters that come to me. Mostly I shorten them. I try not to change word choice or do something that would take away from the writer’s original voice. I will, generally, clean up small grammar errors, as heaven knows we can’t afford to have editors following us around all the time. (But, boy that would be a great job market for those unemployed English majors.)

I received this email this morning:

in my life ive only had one job. that job was th at i was manager of a small business owned by my parents. does that count as experience. lets say i apply for a job as an hr assistantwould a job working as a manager/cashier for my parents be considered relevant experience.

To keep reading click here: Why sloppiness is killing your job search


Do you have to sign termination papers?

by Evil HR Lady on April 23, 2012

Dear Evil HR Lady,
I am being terminated from my job this week and my boss would like me to sign papers. I don’t want to sign anything.

Do I have to sign them?

To read the answer click here: Do you have to sign termination papers?


Are you paid in compliments instead of raises?

by Evil HR Lady on April 20, 2012

Dear Evil HR Lady,

My reviews are glowing, my progress non-existent. I feel like I am getting paid in compliments and not in salary and/or title. I have been with this company for two years and have always gone above and beyond. I even faced an angry employee who had just been fired — sent in by the head of HR with little warning (I understand that she was scared) — and calmed him down. This is just one example.

My reward so far keeps getting pushed farther and farther into the future.

When it was made clear to me that my department had little growth, I applied for another position. The formal explanation for why I did not get it was that the position was reviewed and that a more junior person was needed. Except I saw the acceptance letter left out by the fax machine. This junior person is getting paid $7,000 more than me and has a much better title. And a career path.

I have asked for a salary review and only received verbal responses. Praise. Praise. Praise.

I would like to bring up the fax that I saw to HR. It was just left there. I am not sure that I can, or how. I am not in a position to be unemployed.

I do my work conscientiously and go above and beyond my call of duty. I continue to do all sorts of favors and tasks for HR and the department that did not hire me. I am loyal to my boss of two years and never speak ill of a person whom many people jeer at.

At this point I see little recourse other than to look for another job, but I feel sick at two years that I see as wasted. And if I were a bad employee, I would understand why. Is there anything that I can do that I have not thought of?

To read the answer click here: Are you paid in compliments instead of raises?


Salary.com’s annual “What’s a mom worth?” survey is out. The grand total for this year is $112,962. Now doesn’t that make you feel all warm and fuzzy? Go give yourself a big hug (if you’re a mom), hug your wife (if you’re married to a mom), or just give your mom a call to say, “Hey, thanks for doing all of this hard work for free! No one but a selfless, wonderful mom would do that much hard work! You deserve a medal.”

That, I suppose, is the goal. Along with reminding women of how oppressed they are that they would do laundry without anyone handing them an actual paycheck for it. Horrors! This annual survey actually makes me have the opposite reaction as I gag and contemplate stabbing my eyeballs out so I don’t have to read the whole thing.

To keep reading click here: Why I hate Salary.com’s ‘What’s a mom worth’ survey


Dear Evil HR Lady,
I left my company after 6 years of employment about 8 months ago to go back to school and get my MBA. I will admit, I did not leave on the best of terms. I recently found out from several former colleagues who were acquaintances of mine, that HR wants to know where I plan to be this summer for my internship and when my internship starts. HR was asking my former colleagues if they knew this information.

To put it lightly, I am concerned. I don’t know why they care where or what I am doing next. The company is in some trouble right now. However if they want me to come back, I don’t understand why they don’t just pick up the phone and ask me to come back. It feels like they are just keeping track of me to find some way to screw me over. Can you provide any insight?

I needed a bit more insight into this situation, so I emailed and asked: Define not the “best of terms.” That will give me more information and a better guess of what is really going on here.  He responded:

Well for a long time I was considered Top Talent and was being promoted through the ranks. Then I had a meeting with an HR manager who has a lot of influence. The meeting was part of some internal networking program. Well the conversation did not go well. His feedback was that I was arrogant. Anyway, after that conversation I had all kinds of issues. I wasn’t being considered for bigger roles and my raises became substantially smaller so I started applying for MBA programs.

When I turned in my resignation, I basically just said I’m done with this company and I plan to get a job on Wall Street making real money. Many leaders in the business told me to just play the game with HR and request a Leave of Absence, that I love this company and just want to expand my skill set, but I was fed up and had no intention of going back so I told the truth. I got an awesome internship offer for the summer that pays a ton and is exactly in the field and location that I wanted and I’m worried that they are trying to find some way to screw that up for me. I know it sounds like paranoia but that HR organization behaves like they are the CIA.

I had two more questions: Are you arrogant? (Think long and hard before answering this.)  and What tier MBA program did you get into?

No I am not arrogant but I am proud of my accomplishments and I’m not going to pretend like I am not as good as I am. I know I have development needs like everyone else. In my experience, I have always gotten along very well with A players, other top performers. However, B and C players are usually threatened by me and usually find me to be too action oriented and abrasive. I don’t sugar coat and I know how to get results. I am at a top 15 MBA program. I received a full scholarship and I made sure to mention that in my resignation letter.

It’s extremely unusual for HR to follow up with a terminated employee, other than an exit interview. We’re much too busy to track down former employees to ruin their lives. And it’s not like there is a secret HR network where we make lists of employees to never hire. Heaven knows we wish we had that secret network, but we don’t.

(Note to self: start secret HR network.)

This is what I think is going on here.

1. You are arrogant. The fact that you identify yourself as an “A Player” and know that Bs and Cs don’t like you tells me that you’re probably pretty annoying. There are people who have this ability to simultaneously suck up to the boss and screw over coworkers and I’m guessing you’re a person with this talent. This may serve you well, but the reality is that it also make enemies. Which you have.

2. The HR person doesn’t like you. Now, some HR people are actually good at their jobs. I cannot say, without at least meeting both of you, if this is the case with this HR person. He may have been able point out to your boss that while your work was good and you’re smart (undoubtedly true given the MBA program you’re in), that you have social skills problems (good managers need the B and C players to respect them), as a result you shouldn’t be on the fast track.

Or, he could be someone that is intimidated by brilliance and determined to destroy you.

I suspect the former with a little touch of the latter thrown in.

3. Since more than one of your former colleagues has been asked about your plans, I can say it’s not just casual conversation of the, “Hey what’s Jim up to? How’s his program going?” variety. It does seem like he wants to keep track of you for whatever reason.

So, here’s my suggestion: Send a nice email to the HR manager and say:

“I’m finishing up my first year at Business School and I’m excited to start my summer internship at [company]!

I wanted to thank you for the feedback you gave me while I was working at [company]. It was just the kick in the pants I needed to realize that an MBA would help me gain the skills I need to be successful in this business. I’ve really been pleased with this program, especially the [management/finance/whatever] emphasis. I thought it might be helpful to you, as you counsel with other employees to let them know about this option.

Thanks again for your help and advice,


John Doe

Now you might look at that and say, “What a suck up kind of a letter! I’m never going to write that!” But here is what this does.

  1. It lets the HR person know that you’re not scared of him or what he can do to you. What you’re doing isn’t a secret, and you’re not concerned he’ll call up the new company and bad mouth him.
  2. On the off chance that he is interested in bringing you back, you’ve done a very nice networking letter. It’s best to try to put the fire out on that bridge you tried to burn.
  3. You’ve told him he was right. People LOVE to be right. It will actually make him like you more (or dislike you less, as the case may be).

Try at your internship, though, to be a little less arrogant. Get along with everyone. Yes, be a hard worker and straight shooter or whatever, but for heaven’s sake be nice. You need to learn how to gain the respect of the whole office, not just the boss.


Stop being the office slob

by Evil HR Lady on April 16, 2012

A recent survey by Adecco asked people what they thought of cleanliness at work. It turns out that how you keep your desk influences what other people think of you. Adecco found that:

— 57 percent of Americans have judged coworkers on how clean or dirty they keep their work spaces

— 42 percent of Americans have judged a coworker more negatively if his workspace is dirty

To keep reading click here: Stop being the office slob.


Self appraisals for an average employee

by Evil HR Lady on April 16, 2012

Dear Evil HR Lady,

I am in an odd boat this year. I have been reading up on preparing for the annual review. In the past I have been the stellar employee, with lots of successes and easy to document accomplishment of goals and objectives. This year I have been straight up average. There have been few avenues to shine.

All I have done is my job. Nothing more. No excuses. It has just been that kind of a year. There have been no significant customer complaints or kudos. I worked independently. I lent a hand when I could although not that often. There were few opportunities with lots of turf and job protection going on. It has been a pretty miserable place to work this year. I have managed my work load. That was not that difficult. Due to budget cuts there was much less to do. In times of plenty I considered a 60 hour work week slow. I have enjoyed the new work to life balance.

The only things I can claim are I am reliable, competent and hard working. I cannot go into my review and say, I came to work. I did my job well. I am still here (only because my job search has not turned up anything better). Every bit of information I have seen about preparing for a review involves documenting successes. So what does one do when the only good thing to report is, I did my job. I am not proud of it but I met expectations this year, nothing more, nothing less.

There is no money for pay increases this year, so that is irrelevant.

To keep reading click here:  Self appraisals for an average employee

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How to fight a bad vacation policy

by Evil HR Lady on April 16, 2012

Dear Evil HR Lady,
Our firm just implemented a new policy stating that vacation days must now be taken in increments of one week. The managing partner’s (who seems to be the only one that feels this way) reasoning is that taking a day here or a day there is disruptive to the lawyers work. So if I need one day off to go to a family function, or whatever, I must take the entire week. This has all of the secretaries very disgruntled!

We are a small firm of 6 lawyers, 4 secretaries, one bookkeeper/receptionist, one law clerk and one runner/file clerk.

To keep reading click here: How to fight a bad vacation policy