It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…
1. Former coworkers keep gossiping to me about my old job
I left my long-time employer about a year ago to take a new job. I loved the old place and envisioned a career there. But the job and workplace had changed so much, with several reorganizations and management changes, that I no longer felt respected or valued, and I didn’t see my career progressing. I realized I wanted to move on and I found a new job I love.
I was close to many colleagues and they were shocked that I left. It was very painful for me to leave, and I had plenty of sleepness nights and teary good-byes. I have stayed in touch with a few closest colleagues, I am LinkedIn and Facebook connections with many more, and I see a few around town in person on occasion.
The problem is that a few former colleagues contact me from time to time to tell me bits of gossip about my old workplace. They even pass along unkind things people have said about me or other news about the current management’s controversial decisions that undo a lot of our hard work. It’s painful for me to hear about this, or to see pictures on Facebook of ex-coworkers, who I thought were my friends and colleagues, having fun at work events. Some ex-colleagues ask for advice on how to handle various situations, and I don’t want to get involved.
I thought about un-friending people but I am worried it would look strange if I suddenly disappeared from 100-plus peoples’ Facebook and LinkedIn connections. I also want to remain friends with the people I was closest to, but I don’t see how I can do that and make our old workplace off the table for discussion.
You can indeed make your old workplace off the table for discussion. It’s perfectly reasonable to want a clean break and not to want to hear unkind things people said about you (!). Do the following:
A. Change your Facebook settings to hide posts from your former coworkers. That way you won’t be unfriending them, but you won’t see their posts.
B. When former coworkers try to talk to you about your old employer, say this: “It’s been stressing me out to keep hearing what’s going on at Teapots Inc. and I’m trying to make a clean break. Can we avoid Teapots talk for a while?” (You may have to remind them of this a couple of times before it sinks in. They’re used to seeing you in a work context.)
C. When necessary, say directly, “I really don’t want to hear stuff like this. I have a ban on Teapots talk for at least six months. Tell me about ___ (non-work-related topic) instead.”
Be aware, though, that once work is removed as a topic of conversation, there might not be a whole lot left to the friendships. It’s really common to discover after you leave a job that work was the basis of your bond; it’s no reflection on you if that happens.
Also, make a point of throwing yourself into building relationships at your new job. It’s normal to have some initial trouble cutting the ties to an old workplace, but you don’t want it to be painful to see photos of them doing normal things like attending work events. That’s a sign that you probably need to be very deliberate about turning your attention to other, more current things.
2. Should I give up a spacious office with a window for a window-less office closer to my team?
I recently started a new job. I am in a senior position at a mid-sized company. On my first day, I was given a very nice office with a window outside of my department. There is no room for me to sit with the rest of my department. My counterpart with the same title who does sit in the department has an office the size of mine plus a conference table. I really like my office, but I feel like I’m missing out because I am not sitting in my department. I think listening to water cooler chat about what others are working on would help me assimilate and be more successful in my position faster.
The other senior members of the department have gone out of their way to drop by my office for friendly chats. Also, my boss and I are definitely on our way to a great working relationship, but since I work independently, I have not had an occasion to have much interaction with the rest of the department. I have participated in every office lunch, baby shower, and happy hour that I have been invited to since I joined, but that often includes people from all departments and work is rarely discussed.
Here is my dilemma – my boss has been trying to figure out how to integrate me into the department more and she mentioned that there is a chance one of the smaller, windowless offices will open up in the department. The office barely contains a desk and two chairs and you have to move one of the chairs to close the door. I do have to close my door regularly for conference calls and when I need to focus on detailed work. If I were to move, I believe that would be my office for the rest of my career with this company (or at least until my counterpart with the same title chose to leave). Is it better to keep my great office outside of the department or accept the lesser office within the department?
Based on what you’ve said, I’d take the smaller office. (And get rid of one of those chairs so that it’s not so cramped and you can more easily close the door!) But that’s just me — I could work in a underground cavern with no sunlight and wouldn’t ever care. More normal people seem to like sunlight. You need to balance what’s important to you in deciding this.
Alternately, you could look for other ways to boost your opportunity for interaction with people. There might be things you could do that would be just as effective as sitting in their same area, or even more, like inviting people to lunch or coffee, walking over there to talk to people in person instead of calling or emailing (when reasonable, not in an annoying way), etc.
3. New hire taking vacation during most sought-after week
I’m the newest hire at my company, and it’s my first job out of college. My parents, who live on the opposite side of the country, really wanted me to come home for Christmas, so during my first month (in July), I spoke to my supervisor and my department head and requested the time off with HR. My request was approved. However, several of my coworkers, who are more senior, have been complaining. They do not think it is fair that the newest hire got approved for time off during the most popular holiday season.
I followed all of HR’s rules for requesting time off, and all my superiors gave me the go-ahead and support to do this, but now I’m feeling sort of crummy for asking for it in the first place. Was it inappropriate for me to request a Christmas vacation so early and when I was still really new, or are my coworkers being unnecessarily hostile?
No, it wasn’t unreasonable of you. It’s possible that there are existing conventions in your office that you didn’t know about, like that people generally don’t put in holiday requests until after Labor Day or something, but you obviously wouldn’t know that as a new person, and if they were formal rules, you would have been told when you submitted your request.
If it will give you peace of mind, you could ask your manager if you did anything wrong, but given that they approved the request, it’s pretty likely that you’re going to be told you didn’t. But having that conversation might make you feel better and might give you more insight into why people are complaining.
4. Can I tell colleagues that I really want a different job?
I am in a field with few jobs. As a result, my first job will likely be related to what I want to do but outside my field. Is there a way to tactfully express that this is a “starter” job and that my goal is actually to be in another position? I am thinking about conversations with colleagues and potential networking opportunities, not my manager or coworkers. I want to keep doors open and not imply that I have changed direction from my initial goal.
My plan is to be a public librarian, but I am applying for positions like research analyst, grants writer, records manager, and community resource specialist. I have experience as a library assistant but I can’t afford to live on the paraprofessional salary any longer and need benefits and full-time, stable work.
Well, definitely don’t call it a “starter job.” That risks conveying that you don’t take it seriously or think you’re better than other people in similar roles. But you can certainly share with colleagues that your ultimate goal is to be a librarian (just don’t make it sound to current coworkers like you’re actively looking and could leave any day, especially when you’ve been there less than a year, since that would make you look really unreliable and could get back to your boss and cause problems).
5. Building an online presence when you have a very common name
I have a very generic, run-of-the-mill name. I also don’t have much of a social media presence. I can’t even find myself using Google! How much effort should I put into cleaning up my online presence?
It doesn’t sound like you have anything to clean up (i.e., problematic things that you want to remove or push down in search results) but rather than you’re wondering if you need to proactively build an online presence. The answer is: In most fields, it doesn’t matter. There are a few where it does, but you’d probably know if you’re in one of them (for example, if you worked in social media). It’s not a basic that you need to have for job hunting the way a resume or professional shoes are; for most people, it’s truly optional.
Plus, if you have a very common name, the work you’d need to put into building an online presence that jumped out above everyone else with you name is probably pretty significant, and not worth doing unless you truly need to.You may also like:
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Do you have excellent customer service skills? We are looking for 6 individuals to work with our Business Development Team assisting with the hosting and delivery of weddings, conferences and other events for York Venues.
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Applicants are invited to tender for the design and build of a new exhibition Jurassic, opening at the Yorkshire Museum in March 2018, and running for five years.
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The deadline for the receipt of submissions is 5pm on Friday 12th May 2017.
Interviews will be held in York during w/c 30th May 2017.
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