my new hire is badmouthing our business on Twitter, referral bonuses, and more

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

1. My new hire is badmouthing our business on Twitter

I am the manager of a small business and recently made a verbal offer of employment to someone for an entry-level/cashier position. In the last day, this hire has made several deprecating comments on Twiiter about the business. My knee-jerk reaction is to rescind the job offer, but I have doubts about how ethical that would be and the ramifications of it all. Do you have any insight?

Rescind it, and don’t have any qualms about doing it. You don’t want someone working for you who’s already badmouthing your business (publicly, no less!) and who has the double-whammy of having the terrible judgment of doing it on the Internet where you can easily find it. Hire a candidate who’s glad to work for you, not this one.

2. A new job, referring a friend, and a possible referral bonus

A few weeks ago, I was contacted by a third party recruiter at a company to join their team (office 1) while I was already in the hiring process with another recruiter at one of their other offices (office 2). After I was given an offer at office 2, a colleague of mine expressed interest in the same position at office 1. The colleague is someone whom I’ve worked with in the past, and I can definitely vouch for their work. However, although I’ve been given a formal offer, I won’t actually begin the job for a month and I don’t want to refer my colleague so soon after my being hired, as I am afraid it will give the impression that I am just trying to get everyone I know into the same company.

How soon can I refer a colleague into my company’s referral program after starting a new job? Would it be bad form to refer my colleague to the recruiter before I even start my first day?

And a more complicated question: I want to refer my colleague to office 1, but am afraid I may lose any kind of employee referral bonus I could get, since I suspect most third party recruiters get a finder’s fee and it wouldn’t be considered an employee referral. If I refer my colleague to the recruiter at office 2 who I have a better rapport with, there’s a better guarantee I can get a referral bonus if my colleague were hired. But if I wait too long (such as wait until my first week or even my first month of work), there is a possibility the position may be filled by that time.

I’ve gone over it many times in my head and it seems to come down to choosing between making my colleague wait, and possibly have the position be filled while they wait, or refer them now but lose out on any bonus I can gain for myself. What should I do?

You should refer them now because that is the decent thing to do. You aren’t referring them just for a referral bonus, right? So you do it now and let the chips fall where they may, rather than playing with someone’s job prospects to get some extra cash for yourself (which I’m sure isn’t the way you intended it, but if you think through that path, that’s what it ultimately ends up as).

And it’s fine to refer someone before you work at a job — don’t worry about that looking weird. Unless you start referring all your friends or referring people who aren’t qualified, no one is going to think you’re just trying to stock your company with your friends. They’re going to think, “Oh good, a candidate lead.”

3. My recovery from an injury is delaying my internship start date

I interviewed for a field internship position with a reputable nonprofit at the start of January. Someone else got the position, but they came back to me with another (intern) position that fit me better, and I agreed to discuss this position with the manager. However, before this chat could take place, I injured myself pretty badly and ended up in hospital needing surgery. When the chat finally did take place, I had to let them know that it would take some time before I could start – I thought around mid-March – but that I would know more at the end of February. The manager seemed happy with that. Now, however, I am realising that I might not be ready to go until May (I might need another surgery), but I won’t know for sure for at least another two-three weeks. If I’m really lucky, I’ll be ready begnning of April.

I need to get back to the manager next week. What should I tell him? I’m so excited about this position, it’s a brilliant opportunity and a great adventure. I worry that he will think I am stringing him along and that he might let me know that it’s not going to work out. I haven’t signed a contract or anything, and there is no renumeration involved.

Yes, he might tell you that the timeline won’t work out, but if that’s the case, there’s nothing you can really do about it — and he’s more likely to feel strung along if you aren’t up-front about what’s going on. Just be direct: “I’m really excited about this internship, but I want to talk to you about the timeline for starting. My recovery is taking a bit longer than we’d originally hoped. I’ll know in the next few weeks whether I’ll need an additional surgery. If I do, I might not be able to start work until May. Otherwise, I’m hoping for early April. I’m really hoping that will work with your timeline, but I understand that it might not. What makes sense on your end?”

4. Where’s my freelancing check?

Last fall, I interned at a magazine/publishing company that I loved (I’m still in college). It was unpaid, but occasionally they’d send me to work events on weekends, and one of them was supposed to be paid because I was filling in last-minute for a paid contractor. The following week in the office, my supervisor had me fill out a tax form so they could pay me properly, but I never got a check. I think she really just forgot to give it to me; she’s not the type who would just actively not pay me. I’ve since left the company, but I still keep in touch with my supervisor and we talk periodically. I’m really close with her (at least compared to most people I’ve worked for), and she’s only about two years older than me so we’re kind of chummy.

The gig she forgot to pay me for was in November, I believe, and I have no idea how to ask her to pay me or how to bring it up. I want to keep doing freelance gigs for this company this spring and was actually planning to tell her I’m very interested in it. But how do I tell her to pay me while telling her I want to keep doing gigs for them at the same time? After I stopped interning there, she made our relationship much more friend-like because she wasn’t my boss anymore, which I’m totally fine with but it makes it hard for me to bring this up. I was also really liked as an intern there and built a great reputation – I just hate feeling like I’m bugging them after ending things on a good note. It’s just $100, but it’s my $100 and I felt so proud of myself for earning it at a company I admired after working there unpaid. I want it! And I want to keep freelancing for them! Help? I’ve started branching into freelance writing so I really need to get comfortable with reminding people to pay me.

Yes, you absolutely do need to get comfortable with reminding people to pay you, and especially in a situation as straightforward as this one, where you assume there’s no dodginess involved, just absentmindedness.

There’s no secret to this; you just lay out the fact plainly. As in: “I haven’t received the check for the assignment I did in November. Could you look into it for me?” And then, if you haven’t heard back about it within a week — or received the payment itself within a few weeks — you follow-up: “Hi Jane, I still haven’t received the check. When do you expect me to receive it?” You can do this in email (which will probably feel less awkward to you, plus give you something to forward back if you do need to follow up on it).

If it helps, put yourself in your manager’s shoes. Wouldn’t you be mortified if someone you were supposed to pay hadn’t received it and wasn’t sure whether they could ask you about it?

5. I’m applying for organic farm internships and the hiring processes are chaotic

I have been applying for organic farm internships for this summer/fall, as I will be graduating in the spring. A lot of the farms that I have contacted have been extremely unreliable in communication. Things like not hearing anything for weeks and then getting an email that I am still in the running, employers forgetting to call for phone interviews, claiming they forgot, and then wanting to reschedule, and calling references but never getting back to me. I know organic farms aren’t your expertise, but I was wondering how much of this can be considered normal and what should be seen as a warning for how the farm is managed.

It’s very normal in job searching in general, and it’s also often an indication of how a place is managed. Because shoddy management isn’t terribly uncommon.

That said, it’s also probably the case that — although I know nothing about this particular industry — even well-run farms might put less emphasis on things like phone interview logistics, and that you might have a great experience there regardless of how annoying their interview process is. Instead of drawing too many conclusions from this, I’d put more of an emphasis on talking to people who have worked in the industry themselves and know particular farms’ reputations.

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