LinkedIn just launched a new service for job hunters. It’s called Open Candidates. LinkedIn describes it like this:

Open Candidates is a new feature that makes it easier to connect with your dream job by privately signaling to recruiters that you’re open to new job opportunities. You can specify the types of companies and roles you are most interested in and be easily found by the hundreds of thousands of recruiters who use LinkedIn to find great professional talent.

It’s a nice tool for job seekers because it eliminates the need to change your headingto something like “Experienced HR Professional Seeking New Opportunities.” It allows you to signal your availability and allows recruiters to focus their efforts on people who are actively seeking new jobs.

To keep reading, click here: LinkedIn Made It Easier for Your Employees to Job Hunt Behind Your Back


What Past Names Do You Have Share on a Job Application

by Evil HR Lady on October 10, 2016

I’d like to ask about some special scenarios when an employer asks for other names you’ve been known by, and whether or not the applicant needs to provide said name in such cases:

1. If you go by a pseudonym for a particular purpose (e.g. online blog, religious name) that wouldn’t appear on any documents relevant to a background check?
2. The birth name of someone whose name was changed as a child (e.g. adopted or their parents were indecisive about what to name them at birth)?
3. If there are discrimination concerns with providing a former name (e.g. transgender people or those whose original name would be negatively suggestive of their ethnic origins)?

I know of several #1 cases, a #2 where he was given a placeholder name like “Infant” on his original birth certificate until a final first name was chosen, an adopted #2, a transwoman who transitioned as a teen where both #2 and #3 may apply, another transwoman but she didn’t transition until well into adulthood, and someone whose ethnic origins are such that he would never even consider voting for Trump who took on a more “American” name for reasons along those lines.

As a caveat to my answer here, this doesn’t apply to people who are applying for security clearance. They probably not only want to know your childhood nickname but your preferred toenail polish (Cherry-Berry). This answer is for normal jobs.

Companies ask about past names because they want to verify your information and perform an adequate background check. I changed my last name when I got married and both  my undergrad and graduate degrees are under my maiden name. If you call my alma maters to verify degrees for Suzanne Lucas you’ll get a “she never went to school here” response. You’ll have to check under my maiden name. That’s one example. Now, if I had gotten married before graduating from college and didn’t need references from my part time jobs that I had during school, I wouldn’t need to include my maiden name on the previously known as section.

Now, some universities will allow you to change your name, and some won’t. Some will for gender re-assignment, but not for marriage/divorce. You can call your university and ask. They will ask for documentation. I’ve never asked either of my universities, so I honestly don’t know. I  know my undergrad institution has my married name because they send me fundraising stuff but I don’t know if that transferred to my degree. My grad degree used to send me fundraising stuff under my maiden name, but they don’t anymore, so I don’t know if they gave up, or they simply couldn’t find me. (Or they don’t send overseas. You would not believe the number of databases out there that can’t handle foreign addresses.)

Likewise, let’s talk about my brother who goes by his middle name. (Side note: his first name is John, and my mother once wistfully said, “I’ve always liked the name John. I wish I had a son named John.” We had to remind her that she did, indeed, have a son named John.) His diplomas and licenses will be associated with his legal name and he’ll need to indicate that, although he can do that by simply stating his name as J. Middle Name Last Name.

For professional licenses, generally the law requires you to practice under the name on your license, so you’ll want to make sure those match. But, again, if you got your MD as Jane Smith and now you’re John Smith, and even though your license matches, you’ll still want to let a background checker know you used to be Jane Smith so she can track you down.

The idea is, you want people to be able to find you. Now, let’s go down your scenarios.

1. If you go by a pseudonym for a particular purpose (e.g. online blog, religious name) that wouldn’t appear on any documents relevant to a background check?

Not relevant. You can leave that off your resume altogether. Now, if you wanted to use that as an example of your awesome writing skills or something, then you’d want to include it, although I wouldn’t put that on an also known as on the application, I’d indicate it on the resume itself.


My Fabulous Blog (writing as Evil HR Lady)

2. The birth name of someone whose name was changed as a child (e.g. adopted or their parents were indecisive about what to name them at birth)?

This is irrelevant. Since they have no job experience as that name and, presumably, their social security number has been changed to the legal name, all is well with the world. No need at all to even bring it up.

3. If there are discrimination concerns with providing a former name (e.g. transgender people or those whose original name would be negatively suggestive of their ethnic origins)?

This will depend on whether or not the name will be needed to verify past employment or education. Just like a maiden name (or a married name and now you’ve divorced) you don’t want a potential employer to call up your past employer and not find you. If she says,  “I’d like to verify that Jane Smith worked here from 2003-2007,” the HR person at your old say, “no such person worked here then,” because you were John Smith when you worked there. Or Jane Smithowski or what have you. Would a company change your name if you asked? Maybe. I’ve never had anyone ask, but that doesn’t mean a company wouldn’t. But, your former managers and co-workers will know you by your original name, and you don’t want to mess that up. Better to state you used to be known as Jane Smith.

Now, there are some people who will be judgmental jerks about everything under the sun, and you can’t avoid that. But, the vast majority couldn’t give a flying fig about a past name–be it for marriage, gender change, or trying to hide national origin. Your resume can contain the name you go by. So, it’s fine to say, “Bill Jones,” and not “William Jones.” On the application, you’ll need to put the necessary information to find you. But, here’s the key: In many companies, the hiring manager never sees the application, and that stuff is strictly for the recruiter to do the background check.

So, don’t worry about name changes. They are super common and no one cares. Okay, some people might care, but you don’t want to work for those people.

Now, if you’re in the witness protection program, ask your handler.

One last note: As far as legal names and professional licensing goes that’s almost exclusively handled under state law, so double check with your state licensing board, don’t just listen to some random person on the internet.



Is This A Hostile Work Environment?

by Evil HR Lady on October 7, 2016

I get this question a lot. Okay, most people don’t ask if their situation is a true hostile work environment, they just think that a miserable job=hostile work environment. But, last night, when I was watching The Good Wife and the lawyers got it wrong, I knew I had to act. (I’m only on season two, so no spoilers, please!)

To learn what a real hostile work environment is, and why you shouldn’t be a jerk even if it’s legal, click here: What Is a Hostile Work Environment?


Have to Schedule Employees? Here’s How

by Evil HR Lady on October 6, 2016

If you’re a restaurant, retail, or other manager that deals with scheduling issues, it can seem insurmountable. But, it’s not. While no  method will ever be perfect, there are some tips and tricks that make it easier.

To learn about it, click here: Managing Employee Scheduling: Tips and Tricks to Know


I like hiking as much as the next slightly overweight,  middle-aged woman. That means, I like to ride the gondalbahn to the top of the mountain, and then walk around, taking in the lovely views.

This job is not for me. Columbia is hiring two Directors of Toughness. You’ll hike, you’ll ski, you’ll sleep outside, and subsist on trail  mix! Also, you’ll tweet about it.

If this sounds interesting, check this out: All-Day Hiking, Skiing, Tweeting, and $39k? Yes, please.


How to Stop Helicopter Parenting

by Evil HR Lady on October 3, 2016

When you hover over your kid and fix all his problems, you’re being a good parent, but when your neighbor does it, it’s obnoxious helicopter parenting. Or something.

The problem is, helicoptered kids aren’t prepared to solve their own problems, which  makes it tough for them to survive in a business environment. But, what if business owners could solve the problem?

Here’s how: How Entrepreneurs Can Stop Helicopter Parenting


Swiss Saturday: A Rose by Any Other Name

by Evil HR Lady on October 1, 2016

So, no one in Switzerland can pronounce my name. My name is Suzanne, by the way. Like Suzanne Somers. If you can get that reference you’re probably as old as I am, and your parents probably didn’t want you watching Three’s Company either, but you probably did when they weren’t home. Ahem.

The problem with my name is that the aaaa sound in Suzanne doesn’t exist in German. And the z sound is close but not the same thing. As a result, everyone calls me Susan. And by everyone, I mean Swiss and German people–even those who have better English grammar and vocabularies than most Harvard grads. The sounds just don’t exist in German, so try as they might, they can’t say my name.

This does not bother me.

My children both have traditional biblical names that are spelled the exact same way in English and German, but they are pronounced differently. By the time Offspring #2 was two years old, if you asked him “What’s your name?” he’d say his name with the American pronunciation, but if you asked him, “Wie heisst du?” he’d respond with the German pronunciation. (And before I get comments, the Swiss don’t use the ß like the Germans do, they simply use a double s. So no correcting my German grammar. Okay, you can correct my German grammar all you like. That’s what comments are for.)

In addition to people not being able to say my  name, I can’t say their names either. Sure, some names are easy enough for me to say, but some are downright impossible. There’s a darling girl in my church music class named Caroline. Except you don’t say it like you would say Caroline Ingalls. I’d tell you how to say it, but I can’t. I’ve tried for years and years and years and well, I can’t say it right. She’s a good sport, though. She doesn’t complain. (Although she does correct my German grammar, as all the kids do.)

Why am I talking about this? Well, my pal Lenore Skenazy (okay, I’ve never met her, but I have exchanged numerous emails with her and I think she’s awesome), just wrote about one school district is declaring that mispronouncing a student’s name can be damaging to them, and basically, it’s racist.

It’s not racist if your mouth doesn’t move the right way. When we learn to speak, we develop muscles in our mouths that allow us to say words. If you don’t grow up hearing certain sounds, your mouth doesn’t build the muscles necessary to say those sounds. It’s why I’ll always have an American accent when I speak German. Sure, I could go to years of therapy to help reduce my accent, but ain’t nobody got time for that.

Now, if a teacher can pronounce a child’s name correctly and chooses not to, that’s a huge problem. But, an American born and raised teacher who had English speaking parents, probably won’t be able to say the names of all the Asian born kids in her class. Not because she’s racist, but because her mouth won’t go that way.

Incidentally, a few years ago, I asked a woman from China to come teach a song in Chinese to my music class. She did. The kids learned it quickly. I couldn’t even repeat the words. My ears couldn’t capture the different sounds. So, there’s a good chance, that many of the kids in your little darling’s kindergarten class will learn how to pronounce everyone’s names correctly, but the teacher won’t.

Does it stink that no one around here can say Suzanne? Not really. I made a choice to move here, and Susan isn’t a bad name. Besides, I grew up with a last name no one could pronounce either, which I find funny, because I thought it was pretty easy. (Maiden name is McConkie. I got McCorkle, McConokie, Mc just about anything except the right sounds.)

So, all in all, stop looking for reasons to be offended. If people can’t say your name correctly, it’s probably no reflection on you or on them. Does that mean I’m telling people to use whatever pronunciation they want to? Of course not. Do your best. But, if your co-workers are doing their best, it’s time to let it go.


Fired For Violating a Company Policy

by Evil HR Lady on September 30, 2016

I was recently let go from a job due to accessing information on our system that I had been taught was allowed. HIPAA guidelines show no issue with getting this information because it was requested. I did break a policy (that I was unaware of), and the company did not wish to discuss the matter further. I had been an employee of the company for nearly three years with no other issues. While I was technically at fault, it was out of a misunderstanding and would not have happened had I been aware that my action was disallowed. The official reason for termination is accessing files not “necessary” for my job. I’m trying to find a way to point out what I did was done in good faith and not due to unprofessionalism. Also, I’ve been job hunting for nearly a month now and suffer from depression and anxiety, which makes the search harder. If you have any pointers, I’d appreciate your input.

To read the answer, click here: Dilemma of the Month: Fired for Breaking Company Policy


Swiss Thursday: Guaranteed Vacation Time

by Evil HR Lady on September 29, 2016

Everyone knows that “Europe” has fabulous vacation policies. (I put Europe in quotation marks because I’ve encountered so many people that don’t understand that the different countries in Europe vary wildly in so many things, EU or not.) In Switzerland, you’re guaranteed 4 weeks of paid vacation.

But, if you have little darlings at home, and they have a school break, you get another benefit–your boss can’t say no to your vacation request. Even if it’s busy season. Even if EHRL needs her Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. (True story!)

To read all about it, click here: When Your Boss Can’t Say No to a Vacation Request


10 Awesome Telecommuting Jobs

by Evil HR Lady on September 28, 2016

How would you like to be a Senior Threat Researcher and work from home? Frankly, this job sounds super cool to me, even though I’m wildly unqualified for it. Also, I already have a work from home job. But, I had to make that job myself. If you’re not the entrepreneurial type, you might want to check out FlexJob’s list of telecommuting jobs that are available right now.

To read it, click here: 10 Surprising Telecommuting Jobs