washingtonpost.com
How to Deal

Lily Garcia
Tuesday, April 20, 2010; 11:00 AM

_______________________

Welcome to How to Deal Live: Let' begin.

_______________________

rehab-no no no: Lily,I'll be starting work in a few weeks after time off in rehab. I can duck the reasons why I went away, but kind of worried about my own abilities to work again. Of course i'm also worried about someone finding out.Suggestions? advice?

Lily Garcia: You can also view helpful information from the Kolmac Clinic at www.kolmac.com.

_______________________

Switching government agencies: Hello, I am relocating to the Langley AFB area and I am thinking about trying to work in a government IT position. I have 7 years in the IT field and I am also a disabled veteran. My biggest debate is the fact I am currently in school for International Relations.If I were to start a career in IT, would I be pigeon-holed into that career track or would I be able to transfer to say, the State Department or CIA when I graduate? And would it be extremely difficult to transfer?

Lily Garcia: Although you will not necessarily be pigeonholed, it will probably be easiest for you to pursue a position that incorporates your IT skills, which can include positions that a focus on cyber espionage and other concentrations that are not purely IT.

_______________________

Salary History?: How should a salary history be formatted? Is it OK if I include a quantified estimate of my benefits (let's say metro subsidies or tuition reimbursements) as part of the total compensation, or should I list the information somehow differently? If it matters, I'd go off the total compensation statement from my current employer, so there would be no dishonest "inflation."

Lily Garcia:

_______________________

Paying the price for maternity leave: Hi Lily, I have a 6 month old baby and returned to work about 6 weeks ago. I was lucky to have 4.5 months of maternity leave (combination of sick and annual leave as well as some unpaid time off). I had a particularly rough delivery and recovery which made it necessary to take at least that amount of time off. I have been lucky enough to have a supportive work place in terms of flexible working hours and teleworking options, and my boss has been pretty supportive in the past and also during my maternity leave. However, I can't help but feeling that I'm somehow being penalized for being on maternity leave- projects I previously managed were re-assigned to others (I thought it was just temporary but found it was a permanent change) and I feel as if I'm being given the projects nobody else wants. I've been working here for 7 years and had gotten to the point where I could talk to my boss about which projects I was interested in and which I'd rather not deal with, most of which he respected. But now I feel all that has changed and I have to 'work my way up' all over again. I can't help but think this is unfair, especially when I wasn't particularly motivated to come back to work because of my young baby. The projects which I found so rewarding were really the only things keeping me going, and now those aren't even there. Am I justified in feeling somehow that I shouldn't be penalized for maternity leave?

Lily Garcia: That will allow me more time and space to answer your question.

_______________________

Laid off: I had signed a severance paper, however am slightly annoyed that my previous employer is recruiting for what is very close to my previous position. What, if any, recourse do I have? Confused.

Lily Garcia: If you do not believe that you have some legitimate claim against your former employer and/or the revocation period in your separation agreement has expired, you might still benefit from reaching out to your former supervisor to ask, honestly, why you were let go.

_______________________

Facbook as part of a Background Check: Hi Lily, thank you for your chats and columns! I've been hearing a lot about prospective employers checking up on applicants via Facebook and Twitter. I don't put anything online that would embarrass me if me my boss or little sibling saw it-and I also don't "friend" anybody I don't know-but how does this process work? If I don't friend somebody I don't recognize, and they are in fact a recruiter, do you think I'd be missing out on an opportunity? For example, do recruiters let you know they'll be looking at your profile? If they don't let me know, how do I know they are looking at me actually, and not somebody else with the same name? Thank you for your insight.

Lily Garcia: You could otherwise risk exposing yourself not only to invasion of your privacy, but also identity theft.

_______________________

Laid off, independent consulting?: Hi - I was laid off in November, and since January, I've been doing Independent consulting. The work I do is in my field, I'm learning alot, and really enjoying working for myself. Is this a good resume filler until I find a new full time job; or will future employers wonder why I want to return to an office? I'm planning on doing this through 2010, as I'm getting married and have several trips planned...I'd hate to start a new job and then say I need the following 20 days off. Thanks for your input.

Lily Garcia: a team, have health insurance, and reap other benefits that come from belonging to an organization. I agree with your decision to suspend your search for full-time employment until you have completed all of the traveling you have planned for this year.

_______________________

Passive Aggressive Behavior: I'm at a complete loss as to what to do. I am a senior staff person reporting directly to the head of a company and acting in the capacity of a chief of staff. As such there are many times I need to work with his deputy. However, I cannot get this person to meet with me. I try to talk with him and he is unavailable, I try to get on his calendar and he cancels the appointment with no notice. I have even offered to stay late in the evening if that is what it will take to meet with him. I have mentioned this to my boss who has told us both to have weekly meetings and to open our lines of communication. I feel like I cannot be successful in my job without access to this person. Do you have any advice?

Lily Garcia: If you are unable to accomplish even this, then you should go back to your boss and ask him to directly intervene.

_______________________

Woodbridge: A few weeks ago, someone wrote in about their employer, I believe a supermarket chain, which had started hiring people with prison records. This person was concerned about public safety.My question is, wouldn't the supermarket chain (or any other employer) check with their legal counsel first, before doing anything like this?

Lily Garcia: Yes, any organization would be well-advised to check with their legal department or outside attorneys before participating in a work release program.

_______________________

JOBS: On thank you letters- If during the job interview, a second person is called in to talk to the applicant, is it appropriate to send a thank you letter to this second person as well, without running the risk of appearing to have "overpassed" the original interviewer?

Lily Garcia: Yes!

_______________________

I keep trying but no luck: I keep sending my resume to the HR dept of a college where I live for various staff positions available. I have been doing this for the last 5 years as I really want to get back into the education systems. It's a small community college in a small town and my only higher education propect for 100 miles. I am well qualified for all the jobs applied and I have given all the right paperwork to HR only to get back your standard form letter saying I was not selected. I never get an interview and I have many years of experience in one particular area that would not be overlooked by most. I am mystified as to why I am never selected let alone called into interview. How can I find out what is going on and if my application and resume are really getting to the right people? Could I be blackballed and not know and is that not against the law?

Lily Garcia: Because you live in a small town, I imagine that it might be easier for you than for applicants elsewhere to find a personal connection to the employer you are targeting.

_______________________

switching agencies- input: I can somewhat relate to that poster's question. In fact my issue has been the same, going the other way. Similar degree and background, but cannot seem to get into the pure IT side because i've been so government-y. Its hard to break free of one's background.

_______________________

Faxing and emailing resumes to unknown companies: Dear Lily,Thank you for taking my question. In response to their ads, have been submitting my resume to companies via fax or email. The ads do not give the name of the company. Googling the fax numbers doesn't help, because I suspect that the fax numbers are "unlisted" or are the home fax numbers of the HR employees, not the companies' fax numbers. And the email addresses are always personal, not company-affiliated.What i find very frustrating is being asked during an interview, 'What interested you the most about our ad?" and I have to admit that I don't know which ad I responded to was theirs. I have asked them which ad was theirs, and they always say that they don't know. They never even know if their company's ad listed a fax number or an email address. So then, when I was called to come in for an interview, I would ask the caller what their ad said, and what was the fax number or email address used, and the caller always said, "I dunno. Someone gave me a list of people to call and their phone numbers." I would ask them to find out which was their ad, and the person who placed their ad was never there.Once, during an interview, I asked what the company's health insurance was like, and the interviewer very angrily told me that it was fully described in their ad. I was certain that none of the ads to which I had responded had described its company's health insurance plan, but I pleasantly asked him about the ad his company had placed. Did it have a fax number? Did it have an email address? He had no idea, but he was so angry at me for daring to ask about their health insurance (since he claimed that it was fully discussed in their ad) that I knew that I had no chance of getting the job.So what should I do? What's the appropriate thing to say when I'm asked about their ad if I have no idea which of the many ads that I responded to was theirs? Or is the solution not to answer ads that don't specify the name of the company?

Lily Garcia: But I have to say that I find all of the subterfuge you describe quite odd.Has anyone else out there experienced this?

_______________________

Are lawyers becoming more mobile?: Is the classic advice that lawyers should settle in one location, as early in their career as possible, still applicable? I understand the limitations of the state bar system and the need to build a client base, but more and more firms are going national or even global. Do a few moves 5-10 years into a legal career still significantly impact job prospects and income?

Lily Garcia:

_______________________

stagnant unemployment: Hi Lily,I spent 8 years in the intelligence community and left to try something different, but with some people from a similar background. I'd like to do some international NGO work, but haven't gotten any responses, despite an international relations (including development studies) master's degree. I've also tried for some closer to entry level positions and have gotten the "...We received many qualified applicants..." email far too many times. Once, 17 minutes after applying for a job. I've even tried to get informational interviews with no luck. My attempts at corporate jobs usually fall short b/c i cannot quantify the impact of my previous work. MBAs and less public sector experience seem to be the key. The only leads i get are to go back into government, a field from which i need a break.Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks so much.

Lily Garcia: This way, you may receive leads about upcoming openings and even secure a personal introduction to a hiring manager here and there.

_______________________

Maternity leave ethics and etiquette: Good morning. I will be leaving shortly for maternity leave and part of me is not certain whether or to what extent I want to come back (part time, full time, etc.). I love my job and want to conduct myself as ethically and above-board as possible. If I were not to come back, I'd like to propose doing some work for them on contract or staying involved in some capacity -- so I absolutely don't want to burn any bridges. Right now my boss expects me to return after 12 weeks and I am not sure how much of my uncertainty to share. I definitely do not want to leave anyone in the lurch or come across as a "flaky" employee who goes on leave and then bails. On the other hand, however, I don't want to jeopardize my own job security if a situation arises that necessitates my returning. I've been here for several years and have a great relationship with my boss, and I definitely want the best for my agency. (I should add that I do have other kids so this is not a question of waiting to see how I adjust to being a new mom or anything.) Thanks in advance for your thoughts.

Lily Garcia: After childbirth, return to work?

_______________________

Unknown Companies: I too have this situation when applying for jobs, and too boot, I also get emails/phone messages from recruiters saying they "saw my resume" but they don't say where or what job board, even though I have my resume marked as Private or Confidential on these job boards, quite frustrating indeed!

_______________________

Dating the boss: Lily, I've been offered a new position where I would be supervising someone I had a brief relationship with when we were coworkers. Nothing's going on and we're still friends but does this disqualify me? They don't know but I feel like I need to tell them.

Lily Garcia: Regardless of what the policies say, you might decide in the end to disclose the relationship anyway simply because, if it becomes known, then you could be perceived to have deliberately withheld critical information.

_______________________

Ads with No Company Name: Sometimes, the company is trying to replace a current employee without that employee finding out that they're about to get the ax.

_______________________

Until Next Time: I may not be able to reply immediately, but I will answer every question.All the best,Lily

View all comments that have been posted about this article.

© 2010 The Washington Post Company