10 Beyond Simple Ways to Boost Your Career Right Now

by Evil HR Lady on November 13, 2014

You want to succeed in your job? You don’t have tons of time for developmental seminars and you don’t want to wait until the boss retires to get that promotion. Instead here are 10 easy things that will help your career today.

1. Stop worrying about your co-workers. Jane comes in late. Steve slacks off. Holly’s presentations fall flat. What do all these things have in common? They are none of your concern. They become of concern only if you have to do extra because of them. If Jane’s coming in late means you have to go to a meeting she’s missing, then it’s your problem, but if it doesn’t affect you, ignore it. You’ll be happier and better able to focus on your own work.

To keep reading, click here: 10 Beyond Simple Ways to Boost Your Career Right Now


Everything You Need to Know About Paid Sick Leave

by Evil HR Lady on November 12, 2014

Traditionally, in the United States, companies didn’t have to offer any paid sick leave (or any paid leave at all, for that matter). Lots of companies do, of course. Professional level employee could pretty much count on at least some paid time off (PTO) either in the form of sick days plus vacation days, or a general pool that they could draw from whether the reason for the day off was the flu or a trip to Disney.

Regardless, 90 percent of us come to work when sick, and that can cause additional problems. Of course, when people are too sick to work, they have to stay home, and companies that don’t allow for that are beginning to find out that their lack of sick plans are resulting in a bunch of new laws.

San Francisco was the first to implement mandatory sick time, then Connecticut and New York City. California’s legislature just passed a paid sick leave law and Massachusetts just voted one in this week. If your business is in any of these places, you need to know the law for each place. If your business is located elsewhere, pay attention, because it’s likely that you’re next.

To keep reading, click here: Everything You Need to Know About Paid Sick Leave

And FYI, while this might possibly be the most boring post ever written, it contains links to the official policies on all states/cities that have sick leave policies, so if you live in CT, MA, CA, or NYC, it’s worth looking at.


Why You Should Hire People Who Make Typos

by Evil HR Lady on November 12, 2014

The best people for certain jobs may not have perfect résumés. Oh, sure, they’ll have the skills you need, but you might spot a “their” that should be “there” or vice versa. Many hiring managers reject such people on the spot. Research suggests that this may be a bad idea.

Typos are made because we’re so busy trying to convey meaning that we don’t always notice when we’ve made an error. We all know that it’s difficult to catch our own typos, but why is that? It’s because we already know what we mean, so our eyes read one thing but our brain translates it into the meaning that it already knows exists.

This, of course, means our readers have to extract our meaning without the benefit of being inside our head. Plus, they can’t see our facial expressions or hear our tone of voice as they can when we speak. This is why some people can give fantastic speeches and yet be awful writers.

To keep reading, click here: Why You should Hire People Who make Typos



The key to making employees happier

by Evil HR Lady on November 11, 2014

A movie scene that wants to make it abundantly clear who’s in charge typically has the boss in a suit, sitting behind a big desk in a spacious office, while all the workers hunker down in undersized cubicles. Because that’s what bosses, do. They separate themselves from the masses and get special privileges. If some dirty job needs doing, don’t ask the boss!

Well, turns out, if you want to be a boss with a productive workforce, that’s exactly the wrong path to take. A new paper, Boss Competence and Worker Well-being by Benjamin Artz, Amanda H. Goodall and Andrew J. Oswald, found the secret to worker productivity, and it seems like it should have been obvious all along.

The strongest indicator of worker well-being? The boss’s competence. The researchers asked survey participants “Could your supervisor do your job if you were away?” and “Does the supervisor know their own job well?”

To keep reading, click here: The key to making employees happier


What can workers do if they get a bad performance review?

by Evil HR Lady on November 11, 2014

When employees get an unfair performance appraisal, typically their only choices are to accept the blot on their work record or find a new job. But not if you’re New York teacher Sheri Lederman.

According to the Washington Post, even her school superintendent says that “her record is flawless” and that “she is highly regarded as an educator.” Her students also performed better than average on state tests. So why was she rated as “ineffective”?

That is the mystery Lederman, a fourth-grade public school teacher in Great Neck, New York, is hoping to uncover by suing the state officials who evaluated her. Educators in New York use a complicated computer model to figure out how students should perform, a common measure of teacher performance.

To keep reading, click here: What can workers do if they get a bad performance review?

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Yet Another Swiss Schools Post

by Evil HR Lady on November 10, 2014

As I’ve mentioned before, Offspring 2 attends Swiss public school. He’s in first grade and 6 years old. Cutoff for the school year is the middle of May, and so half of the class is 7 and the other half is 6. He’s in the younger half. (In fact, he missed the cutoff by one day, but we petitioned the school board to let him into kindergarten “early” so that he would be more likely to learn the language, so he’s the absolute youngest in his class.) Anyway, I want to be clear that these are very little kids. (Well, except for Offspring 2, who is at the 50th percentile in height and weight–for a 9 year old. He’s always been big.)

Anyway, last week we got a note home asking us to send in the following this morning:

  • ein spitzes Messer mit kurzer Klinge (wenn möglich ohne Zacken)
  • ein Apfel-/Melonenlöffel oder ein Kaffeelöffel mit scharfer Kante

Now, I assume most of my readers don’t speak German, so here’s a picture of what I sent him:


And, in reality, the spoon isn’t quite what they asked for. It’s neither a melon baller nor a spoon with sharp edge, but honestly, I don’t own either one of those things, and I’m too cheap to go out and buy one for a school project. (That and I procrastinated pulling this together until 10 minutes before he had to leave for school.) They are carving Turnips for the annual “Räbeliechtliumzug.” Translation? Lighted turnip parade. (Google Translate won’t do it for you, as it’s Swiss German and Google Translate doesn’t speak Swiss German.)

Totally cool.

But, the whole thing makes me realize the stark contrast between the Swiss schools and the American schools. I’m afraid the police would be called if I sent him to an American school with a “sharp knife with a short blade.” Of course, he probably would have been expelled from the public schools years ago for the “bomb” he made in Kindergarten. Since it was out of cardboard, paper, and glue, his kindergarten teacher just made sure he knew the German word for bomb. As a result, he’s learned the important lesson that just because you call something a bomb doesn’t make it a bomb. Also, that a bunch of 6 year olds are unlikely to cause death and destruction with paring knives. I presume the teacher has a supply of Bandaids on hand.

No real career advice (although, feel free to draw your own conclusions about what the utter paranoia and the inability to distinguish between real and imagined danger in America). Just a peek into life here.


The most affordable cities for grads’ first job

by Evil HR Lady on November 10, 2014

When you graduate from college, where should you move to look for a job? Lots of people either stay where they went to school or move back “home,” wherever that may be. Sure, mom and dad charge less rent and you might be able to get your laundry done, but is that really the best place for someone just starting out?

Or is Paris a better bet?

It is, at least according to the Youthful Cities index, which arrived at this conclusion after looking at the things that matter to people just starting out.

To keep reading, click here: The most affordable cities for grads’ first job


Dear Evil HR Lady,

I recently accepted a part-time exempt position; I’m contracted for 220 days/year. Unlike most part-time people, I work about 50 hours most weeks. But, I get to choose 3-4 days that I’m off work each month.

Recently, I had to work on one of my “off” days. My supervisor told me that as an exempt employee, I am expected to work when needed 24/7, and despite working most the day, it still counted as one of my “off” days.

I understand that exempt employees work above and beyond 40 hours each week, but is this particular circumstance ethical? I don’t mind pulling 12-hour days on my regularly scheduled workdays, but I do not want to start working on days I’m off. My salary is prorated to part-time status. 

Ethical? Well, kind of, but not really.

For what it’s worth, I spent 3 years as a part time exempt person. I was in a job share, so if I wasn’t in the office, my partner was. But there were plenty of times I put in tons of hours from home on my days off because stuff needed to be done and we had hard deadlines. Was it unfair? Well, to be honest, if I’d been full time, those would have been the weeks I put in 60 hours instead of 40 anyway.

The problem is I suspect your boss is not very nice about it and that you didn’t have a choice. My boss never said, “Suzanne, you MUST do this from home, RIGHT NOW!!!!” I saw that it needed to be done and did it.  I felt responsible and so I did it. I also came in on a Saturday to do work when needed. And that’s the thing about being an exempt employee–you’re supposed to be independent enough and responsible enough that you can spot when you need to work more all on your own. Bosses of exempt employees should also treat their employees like they are responsible enough to know when they need to pull some extra weight as well. From time to time, my boss would call me at home on my days off but she’d always begin, “I’m so sorry to bother you but…”

So, I think this is less of a problem of needing to throw in a few extra hours here and there, but that you feel that your boss doesn’t respect you or your arrangement. It is absolutely normal for an exempt person to have to put in additional hours than what is “scheduled.” But, it’s not ethical for a manager of an exempt employee to demand 24/7 availability. It’s also reasonable for you to have comp time if it gets excessive. But, if you were full time, you wouldn’t be demanding comp time every time you stayed late.

So, if this is a one time occurrence and your boss was stressed out and this isn’t her normal reaction to such things, I’d let it go. If it starts to be a problem, I’d sit her down and say, “Jessica, I’m getting concerned about something. I accepted this job precisely because it was part time, but it appears to be moving into full time territory. That’s not what I agreed to. What do I need to do so that I’m not needed on my days off?”

Or, since you get to choose your days off, is it possible that you can just not schedule them in advance and be like, “Oh, Jessica wants me to come in today, so I’ll take next Tuesday off?” And what is her response if she wants you to come in and you have plans so you can’t? All those things need to be taken into consideration.


Do you have one of these 10 scary jobs?

by Evil HR Lady on November 7, 2014

Just in time for this year’s Halloween scare-fest, Career Builder has put together a list of jobs that invoke fear in the hearts of many. Sure, some of us like these sorts of things, but for lots of people, these jobs cause weak knees and churning stomachs. Somebody has to do them, but we’re sure glad it isn’t us.

Or is it? Do you do one of these scary jobs? (Of course, regarding the first one, most of us find having politicians scarier than being a politician.)

To find out these scary (and somewhat cheesy jobs), click here: Do you have one of these 10 scary jobs?


Catty Chatting

by Evil HR Lady on November 6, 2014

I manage a group of about 13 people, and we communicate via instant messages. Employees are aware management has access to chats, which is a condition of using the feature. I have one employee who persistently bad-mouthed me in online conversations. I confirmed that he was aware that I could see his messages, and I told him I saw messages that concerned me. He told me he felt I fought harder for someone else to be promoted over him. I explained that I had advocated for him but that upper management had denied the promotion. Since then, he’s disengaged from his job and is only doing the bare minimum. I feel I should address this with him, but I’m unsure of how to do so.

To read the answer, click here: Catty Chatting