announcing a layoff on Facebook, getting to know new coworkers, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. How to announce on Facebook that you were laid off

I’ve been an event-marketing consultant for over 10 years, working around my family schedule. Due to life changing events such as a divorce and relocation, I secured full-time employment as an account executive. Of course, I quickly updated my Facebook page and LinkedIn profile, posting pictures and events I had executed. Right before Christmas, the company announced it was closing their Austin office and let the staff go. I had only worked for the company for four months.

I have not updated my Facebook information, nor have I posted my unemployment status due to the company closing its office. My concern is the perception people may have regarding my short-term employment, especially given the fact I have not had full-time employment with a company for many years. What suggestions would you recommend for posting this type of information online? Especially in this day and age when recruiters and hiring managers look you up online and view your postings?

Just be straightforward! When an entire office is closing, people aren’t going to think the problem was you. And by alerting your network, you create the possibility that someone will reach out to you about openings they know of. (Don’t rely an a Facebook post to be your whole networking strategy, of course; you also want to be reaching out to people in your network individually.)

It’s also likely that people aren’t remembering all the details of your work history that are so front-of-mind for you; anyone other than close friends and family probably doesn’t even know or remember that your jobs were part-time before this.

2. How can I get to know people in my new office?

I’m an introverted new attorney who just started working with a small engineering firm. I’m the only attorney, so I work exclusively with management. Is there an easy way of getting to know the rest of my colleagues and office norms so it isn’t as awkward in the cafeteria, etc.? All of my work so far has been with law firms or in academia (i.e. places where there is a 30-page plus manual outlining what to wear, where to go, etc.) so I don’t know how a more informal office functions – and as you might expect, most of my colleagues are middle-aged men, so it’s hard to find commonalities.

Does anyone seem especially open or friendly? Go talk to that person. Make conversation! You can even say you’d love to get to know more people in the office since your job hasn’t put you in contact with any. Then repeat with the next friendliest-appearing person. And if there’s no obvious choice to start with, start with the person whose office is closest to yours. It sounds boringly simple, but that’s the most straightforward way to do it. Most people have had the experience of being new in an office and knowing no one and will be friendly. (And if someone isn’t, assume it’s about them rather than you, and try with someone else.)

In addition to that: If there are any office social events (happy hours, cake for a birthday, etc.), go to them, even if it’s not normally your thing. Also, consider the power of food; you might bring in bagels one morning or some other food-related lure.

3. How do I deal with my incompetent American manager?

How do I deal with my American manager? She is a nice person and the same age as me and we get on quite well, but I am resentful about the fact that she is from America doing a basic level admin job in the UK which could be easily filled by a British person.

As we are the only two people in the office, my other work colleagues don’t notice the fact that she doesn’t come into the office until the middle of the morning and spends quite a lot of the day looking at the internet and taking extended lunch breaks and going home early. She also “works from home,” i.e. I have to get to work to deal with the students (I work in a college) and deal with people face to face while she is at home in the warm only answering emails. She also is being paid to be a manager but has shown zero management skills to me (I’m her only employee). Whenever I ask her a question she just refers me to someone else.

Basically she doesn’t do the hours or the work and there is no reason an American worker needs to do the job and take away the job from a British worker.

I think you’re going to be far better off focusing on the fact that she’s a bad manager than what her nationality is. Her nationality doesn’t change the fact that you have a bad manager, and this wouldn’t be any more acceptable if she were British. (Plus, I’m assuming that she’s working there legally, in which case your beef is with your country’s immigration policies, not with a person who is complying with those policies. She herself is not taking a job away from anyone; whether or not your laws are doing that is a different issue.)

In any case, what you have is a bad manager. Here’s some advice on dealing with that (here, here, and here) … and it’s also worth keeping in mind that whoever manages her is the other big issue here — because it’s their job to ensure she’s performing well.

4. Telling an interviewer that I’m now eligible to intern, when I wasn’t before

I applied for an internship. When I went in to interview, I had planned on graduating in May. Later, my interviewer explained that company is looking for a student who will stay in school for a few more semesters so could not consider my application any further.

Recently, I found out that I needed six more classes to earn a second degree. I plan to graduate and then continue taking classes in the summer and fall, thus graduating again in December. I’ve just recently made this decision about going for a second degree, and am unsure whether I should tell my interviewer and try to continue with the internship. Would it make a difference? I suppose she’s made her decision, and I don’t want to be bothersome or make the hiring process more difficult by “putting myself back in the running.” I also don’t want to make it seem as though I’ve decided to stay in school just for this.

It’s fine to email her and let her know that your circumstances have changed; it’s not bothersome to give her that information, as long as you don’t come across as if you believe that the job is now yours as a result. I’d say something like this: “I wanted to let you know that I’ve decided to take additional classes, pushing my graduation date back to December (in order to get a second degree in __). In case that changes my eligibility for the internship, I’d love to still be considered. If you’ve already hired or moved forward with other candidates, I of course understand.”

5. Wording a sign to indicate that drinks are for guests, not employees

My organization’s policy is to provide sodas and coffee pod drinks for guests in the conference room. The room and refrigerator are both unlocked under the honor system. As we are open 24/7 with three work shifts, opportunity has arisen for workers to anonymously help themselves after first shift to the refreshments, leaving shortages for guest events. Locking up the pod coffee maker and installing locks on the refrigerator would be measures that are excessive and not cost effective.

A sign has been requested, but I’m at a loss as to how to phrase the sign. How would you phrase a sign in the conference room that makes it clear that the refreshments are for visitors only without offending current employees? The sign is expected to be left out at all times for all to see.

Actually, current employees aren’t that likely to be offended; it’s your visitors who are likely to be made uncomfortable by it. If the policy is important to enforce (and we had a discussion here recently about why it’s worth reconsidering that), I’d do it by talking with employees directly and explaining the reasons, not by edict-via-sign.

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