my coworker is married to a con man, warning an employer about bad credit, and more

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

1. Should I warn this employer about my bad credit?

Today I got a conditional job offer. The offer was made in person, and that point I was told that the background check I need to pass includes a credit report. This wasn’t a huge surprise, given that the position is with an insurance agency, but it was the first time that had been explicitly stated. I didn’t want to bring my credit problems up early in the process and torpedo myself before I had the chance to impress them. The other wrinkle is that it’s not the agent running the credit check but the insurer for which he sells exclusively. This agency does their own hiring, but the mama company gets to sign off on all the new producers.

Should I let the agent know ahead of time? The criminal part of the background check will be fine. And I don’t have a bankuptcy, but I do have a considerable amount of accurate, negative and current information on my report. I can honestly point to an external cause (loss of income), as well as some poor youthful decisions on my part. I can also share a number of steps we’ve made in the right financial direction if given the opportunity to do so. Some mistakes do take a long time to fix. I’m just wondering whether I should be preemptive or wait for the phone call.

Yes, I’d tell them preemptively, because otherwise you might not get a chance to explain at all. I’d say something like, “Since I know you’re checking credit as part of your background check, I want to let you know that mine isn’t perfect right now, due to some bad decisions when I was much younger and, more recently, loss of income. I’ve been actively working on cleaning it up and am committed to keeping it strong once I do, but I didn’t want you to be surprised by it.”

2. Why is my supervisor hesitating to let me manage staff until I can attend a training?

I am a young professional in the library field who started my first full-time position in April. My probationary period will be ending in early October, and I had a mini-meeting with my supervisor this morning to see where I am with accomplishing the goals I had set for myself. All appears to be in order, and I have been working hard my first few months to feel out the office culture, policies and procdures of the system, etc.

However, when I mentioned that I feel confident to begin my supervisory duties for two career staff members in October, my manager told me that we will “revisit that after the probationary period is completed.” I know she would like me complete a supervisory training course that is required for all supervisory staff (but not scheduled for the near future), and she is known for being conscientious about not piling everything on at once. I do not believe it is a prequisite to me taking on the supervisory duties outlined in my job description. As there are no performance issues I have been made aware of, she seems pleased with my progress, and I work hard to be seen as professional as possible (which is hard, since I am the youngest person here by far), is she just being cautious? I gave her ample opportunity to tell me if there are any concerns she might have, and she did not have any. She is generally good at communicating, so I am wondering if she is just waiting to get word about the additional training and for me to be out of the probationary period.

I have not managed in a formal capacity, so that may be part of her hesitation. I am currently supervising non-career staff (part-time hourly workers); judging by how the organization is (tons of in-house training), I feel that a large part of her reaction is the fact I’ve not had my scheduled training yet. Just wanted to know if I’m reading the situation right.

Managing people is a completely different skill than doing the work yourself, and even with extensive training, most managers take at least several years to get competent at it. (And some never do.) So your manager is absolutely doing the right thing by waiting until you can take a training course. After all, would you yourself want a brand-new manager who hadn’t even had any training? You would not. (Frankly, most people wouldn’t want a brand-new one with training, either, but there’s no way around that and training can at least help a bit.)

I do know that you’re currently managing part-time hourly non-career stuff, but my hunch is that they see that as much more low-risk than setting you loose on managing other staff.

3. How should I stay in touch with my new team during the 2-1/2 months before I start?

I have been offered a position which requires a somewhat lengthy clearance/on boarding process: around 2.5 months before I am cleared and actually start. (Many thanks to you and your blog — the advice on here has been priceless!).

I am kind of confused as to how to maintain contact with my team in the meanwhile. We had a great rapport during the interview process, and it feels kind of strange to cut off communication for 2.5 months and then jump on the scene. It also feels strange to just send emails saying “hi.” Should I ask what types of activities I can engage in while I wait to officially start? Or could I end up in trapping myself and working for no pay?

Yeah, you’d be inviting a situation where you could end up working without pay. You can certainly ask if there’s anything you can read in the meantime to prepare yourself, but I wouldn’t ask for more than that. As for how to stay in touch, two and a half months actually isn’t that long, so I don’t think you need to go way out of your way to stay in touch. You might send the email inquiring about reading material a month before you start, and another a week before your start date to tell them how much you’re looking forward to working with them all, and leave it at that.

4. Can I alert my boss that one of my coworkers is married to a con man?

I would like to know if I should or can legally inform a boss that one of her employees is married to a convicted felon. This employee is fully aware of the fact that her husband is a con man/crook who has been stealing from good people for his entire life. It is my feeling that he will at some point target the boss’s business as a potential source of revenue.

There’s no law stopping you from doing that, but you do risk coming across as simply spreading gossip rather than as looking out for your boss, unless there’s some real reason to suspect the husband truly has plans to scam her.

5. Should I quit my job so that I have more flexibility for jobs in my field through staffing agencies?

Currently, I have a full-time job, which I have had for a little over six months. This job is a low-paying position and has nothing to do with what I went to school for. I am trying to get an entry-level position in my field. It seems, however, that the only way to get an entry-level position or anything that I am remotely qualified for in my career field is to go through staffing agencies. Unfortunately, I have had two staffing agencies so far tell me that my being employed is a problem because they need someone right away for their clients and cannot wait two weeks for me to leave my current company.

I am strongly considering resigning from my current position just so that I would have the flexibility in my schedule to start whenever the staffing agency needs me to. Is that a really foolish idea? I don’t know how else to get an entry-level position in my field. Thank you in advance for your advice.

Well, first, are you sure that this is really the only way to get a position in your field? I’d be pretty skeptical of that, unless you’re hearing it repeatedly from people actually in your field who either do what you want to do or hire for those positions. So if you haven’t already, I’d start by reaching out to people in both those groups (try LinkedIn to locate them) and asking them for their opinion on this. If they confirm it, then I’d follow up by asking for recommendations of particularly good staffing agencies they like to work with. And then, talk to those staffing agencies to get a sense of how strong a candidate you are (and what you can do to become a stronger one if needed). I’d do all that before quitting your job for an agency that can’t even wait two weeks for you to give notice.

6. What should I expect from a day-long interview?

I had a phone screen a few weeks ago for what is basically my dream job at this early stage in my career. Earlier this week, I finally heard back from HR asking me to come in for an in-person interview (they have yet to respond to my email about my availability, but let’s hope they do). I talked to my friend who works there in a different office and she warned me that this company does one huge day of interviews with 12-15 people, but then no additional interviews after that. She also said it was really, really tiring when she did hers, but it’s a good sign because not very many people make it to that stage.

What should I expect and how should I prepare for something like this? Do you have any special advice for interviews that take this long and cover meetings with so many different people? If they don’t specify in advance, am I expected to bring my own lunch or go out somewhere on my own?

See this post and especially the comments on it for information about day-long interviews in general, but regarding lunch, assume that they’re going to take care of it. Generally with a day of interviews like this, they’ll take you out to lunch — and make sure you don’t forget that you’re still being assessed then, even if the conversation seems more casual. Keep it professional and don’t say anything that you wouldn’t say in a formal interview just because it’s over food. (And if for some reason they don’t provide you with lunch, take that as a flag that they’re fairly thoughtless — although you could always stick a granola bar in your bag in case that happens.)

7. How can I leverage support from my coworkers when applying for an internal position?

The position of manager over my current team is open. Unsolicited, a member of my own team and two people from the team under that position’s boss have encouraged me to go for it and said other supportive things. Is there a way to leverage that support appropriately in a cover letter and interview?

I don’t think I’d mention it in a cover letter because there’s no way in a letter to distinguish genuine support among your coworkers from the kind things people sometimes say in that situation, but you can certainly encourage those coworkers to recommend you. Go back to people, tell them that you decided to apply, and ask if they’d be willing to proactively reach out to the hiring manager and explain why they think you’d be a strong candidate.

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