Sunday, April 29, 2012

Back in Business and Employer Tactics to Keep You Out

Alright #workinggirl, I admit it, I'm not perfect.  This is my first blog in three weeks and I'm sure you are in the midst of major withdrawal from your continuous need for career advice.  Every once in a while, we all need a break, and while three weeks is extreme, I felt it was better to go on hiatus than to push out poor quality material.

But the good news is we are back in business.  So let's start off with a bang.  Last Friday, I saw a segment on "20/20" on ABC titled True Confessions: Ex-HR Exec Tells All.  A former HR executive exposes how employers weed out potential employees by finding out personal information, such as if they have children, through any means possible without directly asking (which is against the law).

Although somewhat shocking, the fact employers try these tactics is not all that surprising.  See the full excerpt below.

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1.  Keep your personal life personal.  This is specific to a job interview.  It is only natural to want to talk about the people that mean the most to you when someone asks about yourself, but on a job interview, you need to keep it 100% professional.  Speak to your interest in travel or wine tasting, you don't need to mention that you travel with your husband with kids in tow.  And girlfriend, I know you love that rock on your finger, but leave it at home.  Engagement ring equals marriage and marriage equals kids which is enough of a reason NOT to hire you.

2.  Vacation Time.  I disagree a little with the video with regards to time off.  I think it is fine to use your vacation time, it just depends on when you use it.  If you have been at the company long enough to find your footing and you are planning two weeks to New Zealand during the slow season, you should have no problems.  Similarly, if you had a trip planned before you even accepted the position (which you only told them after they made you the offer, of course), that you should be fine as well.  However, if you need three weeks off and you just started two months ago, eyebrows will certainly be raised.

3.  Fashion Police.  This doesn't mean you need to spend every free penny on the newest looks from the catwalk.  It does mean however you need to look tidy and put together.  People like to be around other people who are confident.  You don't need to be a model and spend thousands on designer clothes.  Dress so that your confidence shows and you'll never be accused of being frumpy.

4.  HR is not your friend.  My jaw dropped open when I saw the segment about the Citibank worker in the clip above that was fired because of her wardrobe.  Not because of what she was wearing, which didn't seem inappropriate to me, but because she stood there crying saying she honestly believe that HR was on her side.  Is she serious?  HR is never on your side.  HR is there to protect the company and look after the company's best interest, not yours.  I almost never recommend going to HR with an issue, it never ends the way you envision.  Find another route.

5.  Leave or get left behind.  If you have been passed over for a promotion, requested to take on more responsibilities, or applied to work on a specific project and were denied, it's time to move on.  Your leadership do not see you at the next level.  If your goal to continue to move up the career ladder, you are going to have to do it in another department, or better yet, at another company.  Do not be afraid to move on.  Being managed out is not a bad thing, the only bad thing is letting it drag on for years.

Cheryl Reynolds
College Girl to Working Girl

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