my company monitors us to make sure we don’t job search, school-issued email addresses, and more

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

1. My employer monitors employees to make sure we’re not job-searching

I am employed for almost 2 years now with my current employer and I already feel the need to explore opportunities somewhere else. I am an assistant manager and I love my team, they’re actually one of the biggest reasons why Im still here. However, I’m beginning to dislike the company. For me, the corporate values are just engravings on the walls- something that isn’t really embodied by the organisation.

However, our COO is watching every move of all managers. He tracks our jobstreet/monster accounts and flags anyone who he thinks is exploring other jobs. Yes I admit that my loyalty to the company is not 100% anymore but that doesnt mean I’ll not meet my deliverables as I ease myself out. You see, it has been a recurring thing that he is bitter whenever someone leaves the company for greener pastures. Now I don’t know how to make my career move. I want to explore but I don’t know how. Is it unethical to update my job accounts while I’m still employed? Do I really need to explain myself?

Your COO is ridiculous and I can certainly see why you’d want to get out of there. Luckily, you can conduct an active job search without ever updating a or similar account. In fact, simply passively posting your resume online is one of the worst ways to job search. Instead, leave those accounts alone and just apply for specific jobs directly. That’s going to get you better results anyway, and your activities won’t be broadcasted online for your absurd COO to track.

2. Required to sign a non-disclosure statement in exchange for severance

Did you see Gawker’s bit about the guy whose severance was withheld because he refused to sign a non-disclosure agreement? I always thought that pretty standard and would love your thoughts.

Yeah, it’s completely normal, so I’m not sure why Gawker presented it as a noteworthy thing. Generally, in exchange for receiving severance, you sign what’s called a general release — a legal document agreeing not to disparage the company and releasing them from any future legal claims of harassment, discrimination, etc. You’re asked to sign this not because the company thinks it did something wrong (usually), but because they’re giving you free money that they have no legal obligation to offer you, and so it’s generally considered reasonable for them to say “hey, we don’t want to give you free money if you’re going to turn around and stab us in the back.”

3. Using a school-issued email address when job-searching

I know that you have addressed using a yahoo or hotmail account as your primary email, but is using a school email ([email protected]) going to hurt you on an application? My boyfriend and I have been having this discussion for a long time, and I think that being a person in their late 20′s still using their school based email is not going to look good to any potential employer. My boyfriend is still in school, but trying to find a better job, and he thinks that it’s fine and why start a new email when the old one works just fine?

School email accounts are completely fine to use in job-searching and will not hurt you.

4. My coworker slacks off on shared responsibilities

I work at the front desk of a doctor’s office with two other women (let’s say Barb and Suzy). We all get along, and we all really like each other and have had no issues so far, but recently Barb and I have started noticing that Suzy is slacking off. We have duties that are given to us as a whole, and we each have our own personal duties, and Suzy is doing her personal duties just fine, but when it comes to the group duties, she never does them. We have two or three things that are quite time consuming and no one likes doing them, but she never even attempts to do them. We are very behind on one of the tasks, and at the beginning of the day Barb will say to us as a group, “How about we each do 20 of the calls we need to make?” and Suzy never completes any. Suzy will either ignore that the work is there or she will say things like “I don’t know how to do that” or “Oh, you guys will have to show me how to do that again” when she has been trained 3 or 4 times already.

Barb and I aren’t sure what to do, because we don’t want to cause friction by going to Suzy directly and say that this is bothering us, but we also aren’t sure that going to our manager is the right thing to do either (it feels a bit like tattling, and other people in the office have a very bad habit of tattling about anything). Any advice?

It’s not tattling. It’s reporting an issue that’s getting in the way of own work, because you’re having to pick up Suzy’s slack. It’s absolutely reasonable to ask your manager for advice on how to handle this or even to intervene, although you should talk to Suzy directly first. If it causes friction, that’s on Suzy, not on you, as long as you do it in a pleasant, professional manner. I’d start by just getting more assertive about dividing the work: “Suzy, I’m doing X and Barb is doing Y, so you’ll need to do Z today.” If she says she doesn’t know how, say in a genuinely puzzled tone, “What’s going on that you’re having trouble with this? I know we’ve talked many times about how to do it.” Or, “I know you’ve mentioned that before, but you’ll have to be responsible for this on many days, so let’s figure out right now how to ensure that you have all the training you need and this isn’t an obstacle going forward.”

From there, if she continues to slack off, say, “Hey, we keep getting stuck with X, Y, and Z and we don’t have enough time for all of it. Can we work out a better system so that it’s evenly divided?” And if that still doesn’t work, that’s when you need to get your manager involved.

5. Can I ask for an informational interview when I’ve applied for a job with the same company?

I’m a recent graduate looking for work in the human rights field, and I recently applied for a paralegal position at a prominent civil rights firm that I would be incredibly thrilled to join. As I sent in my application, I thought of the following question— is it okay to contact someone at this firm for an informational interview even though I applied for a job there? If that’s inappropriate, can I ask later on, if I get rejected? I really don’t mean it as a sneaky way to get an official interview, and I don’t want it to be perceived in that way. It’s just that I’m in the “informational interview” stage right now, particularly concerning legal aid services, and I really would love to speak with someone at this very impressive firm, but I don’t know if it’s appropriate, as I applied for a position there.

Nope, don’t do it. Because you’re currently applying for a job there, it will come across as a back-door attempt to get an interview. However, if you get rejected, you can absolutely ask at that point.

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