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  Hello Dr. L'esa,
My question for you, I was in the military from 1988 to the end of 1995(dec.24 1995), but I was in between jobs and unemployed from Jan. 1996- Mar. 1997. I haven't been putting my military experience on my resume because it's beyond the 7 year mark, plus it's not enough room to put it on my resume unless I add a second page. I heard that a lot of recruiters will not look at your resume unless it's one page, so please help me come to a conclusion. Thanks and God bless!

Dear Vet,
Resumes are such a subjective thing. The trends regarding resume writing change constantly. There are some recruiters who don’t like resumes that are more than a page, but most consider the information on the resume rather than its length. My philosophy is that you put pertinent information on your resume. If your experience in the military relates to the type of job you are seeking DEFINITELY put it on your resume. If your experience doesn’t relate to the type of job you are seeking you could simply put the 1988 – 1995 U.S. Military and the branch you were in at the bottom of your resume. Good luck in your job search.

Dear Dr. L'esa,
How often can I request to see what is in my personnel folder? And what should I do if things are missing in my file such as commendations and awards? Concerned

Dear Concerned,
You do have a right to review your personnel file and your company has an obligation to make it available for you. However, most companies (smart ones anyway) create some policy around your reviewing your personnel file. You should look at your employee handbook or ask for the policy. There are generally limits on how often you can request to review the file. Can you imagine how annoying it would be if everyone wanted to review their file weekly? Usually Human Resources (HR) will ask that you make an appointment to review your file. This is because there should be a representative present while you are looking at the file to make sure you don’t remove or change anything while reviewing it – not that you aren’t trusted, it’s just sound HR practice.

If you see commendations or awards missing you can make copies of them and request that they be added to your file. In fact, you can always request that things be added to your file. If the commendations aren’t there, I wouldn’t read too much into the omission because each company puts different things in personnel files. Some just stick with the legally required paperwork, while others put every little piece of paper that crosses their desk with your name on it in the personnel file. Whatever you do, even if your company doesn’t have a policy about how often you can look at your file, please spare the people in Human Resources and don’t request to review it more than twice a year. Otherwise, you’ll make a nuisance of yourself and appear to be Paranoid instead of Concerned. Dr. L’esa

Dear Dr. L'esa,
I am an IT professional with a large telecom company. Recently the company has been emphasizing attendance in an effort to increase productivity in the workforce so that it can get more work out of fewer workers.

I was recently approached by my supervisor concerning attendance. He had requested everyone in the work group state their work hours and he expects us to stay over if we come in late. He stated that he had seen me come in late and leave early, but he had not seen any record that I had taken sick time.

I have a job that requires me to be on-call 24/7 and there are times that I take calls at 3:00 am in the morning and sometimes stay to 7:00, 8:00 and on one occasion to 10:00 pm. I told my supervisor that those times haven't been recorded either, because we used to informally track those times and take time as we needed it during the day.

I'm in a quandary, if I record my time from the office, I'm sure that in light of the company's new attendance policy, it will be brought up in my annual review. However, on the other hand if I don't record it and the hours I stay over, I won't have a record of all the overtime I work (and don't get paid for because I'm a salaried employee) and of the time I'm away to show that they balance each other. We're expected to work occasional overtime and are still chided if we have to go to a Dr.'s appointment or some other appointment during the day.What should I do?  Sometimes Late - in L.A.

Dear Sometimes Late,
Your status really depends on whether you are an exempt or a nonexempt employee, not whether or not you are called salaried or hourly. As an I.T. professional you fall under a special set of circumstances because of the nature of your job and the salary computer technology professionals often receive. The standard in California is extensive but included in it is that computer professionals must be paid hourly (even exempt professionals) and must make at least $43.58/hour reference: http://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/LC515-5.pdf to be exempt from overtime. I assume since you say you do not receive overtime you are considered exempt. As an exempt employee it is anticipated that you will work until the job is done regardless of the number of hours it takes.

It sounds as if your concern is not about receiving overtime pay for the time you work, but rather not being reprimanded for coming in late or leaving early when you’ve receive a call at 3:00 am. Your employer does have a right to expect you to be at work at a certain time; however as an exempt employee they cannot deduct sick time for partial days. Only you know if you are truly working 40 hours per week. As a computer professional you can be required to record your time. The statute for computer technology employees is more complicated than for others and if you think you are being treated unfairly you might want to contact either the Department of Labor http://www.dir.ca.gov/ or an employment attorney who specializes in “high technology” employment.

Company cultures often create a situation where people are expected to work overtime even though they are not paid for it. I’m against this type of culture but it is difficult to change. The best you can do is watch your time and record it accurately to show that you work your fair share. However, if you are not working your full 40 hours per week, you might want to examine your habits and adjust them accordingly. Your employer would be right to reflect in a review if you are not putting in your fair share of time. If you know you are working your full 40 hours, I suggest you begin documenting it to protect yourself (you might even want to include lunchtime so that there is no room for question).   Dr. L'esa

Dear Dr. L’esa,
I have recently begun my career with a large company in the San Francisco Bay Area directly out of college. I like my job and my coworkers but there is potentially one big problem. My supervisor demonstrates behavior that could be construed as sexual harassment. For example, we went to a group lunch, I sat in the back seat of his car and he adjusted his rear view mirror so that he could look at me. You my think that this is a coincidence, but on the way back from lunch I sat in a different position in the back seat and he readjusted the mirror, so that he could again see me.

There have been many instances witnessed by my peers where he pays undue attention to me, and my peers under similar circumstances get no attention at all. It is a standard joke around the office that he is in love with me. Oh, just so you will know, I am male (and heterosexual). My supervisor is also male. I could share more instances with you, but you get the point. What should I do? I'm just starting my career and don't want to rock the boat. However, his continual need to come on to me is getting annoying. Signed, Not Interested in Pleasanton.

Dear Not Interested
Based on what you’ve said, either you are paranoid or your supervisor is one (love) sick puppy. You have a right to be at work without feeling harassed. Your supervisor’s behavior certainly sounds out of line and if it is making you uncomfortable you need to do something. You have a few choices:

(1) Talk to the supervisor yourself and tell him that you’re not interested (my guess is that you won’t do that); (2) go to human resources or the designated harassment officer in your company and tell him or her about your supervisor’s behavior (you can remain anonymous-though your supervisor will probably figure it out); (3) talk with your other coworkers and if they feel uncomfortable because of the behavior have them talk with the harassment officer or go with you to talk with human resources or the harassment officer. This way it will be a complaint in your group about your supervisor’s behavior not a complaint by you.

You mention that you work for a large company so there may be an anonymous telephone line for making complaints, if so you can utilize that line to make an anonymous complaint and the behavior will be investigated. Companies should take sexual harassment seriously and should investigate every complaint. Don’t worry about rocking the boat. Your supervisor should know better and unless there have been other complaints your supervisor he will probably not lose his job, but will be warned to stop the behavior. Keep in mind that your supervisor is the one behaving badly so whatever happens, he’s already rocked the boat.  Dr. L'esa

Dear Dr. L'esa,
I'm pregnant and have no job. Do I have to inform any prospective employers that I'm pregnant? I have a feeling they won't hire me if they know. If I do get the job, though, I'll feel bad for not telling them. I don't want them to think I'm just getting a job for maternity leave. Proudly but privately pregnant

Dear Proudly pregnant,
Keep your proud pregnancy private. You have no obligation to tell your potential employer that you are pregnant before you are hired. However, don't assume you will be eligible for maternity leave or benefits because you are hired. Check the companies benefits eligibility plan and also their leave policy. The FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) in combination with some state regulations places requirements on medical leave that all employers with more than a minimum number of employees must follow. According to FLMA (Family Medical Leave Act) qualifying employers currently are required to grant up to 12 weeks of leave (can be unpaid) to employees who have worked at least 12 months and 1250 hours of service. Some states have additional and more liberal (for the employee) regulations. It is a good idea to check with your state's Department of Labor, the company's policy and the Federal Department of Labor at: http://www.dol.gov/dol/topic/index.htm
Congratulations on your pregnancy and good luck on your job search.  Dr. L'esa

Dear Dr. L'esa,
Do I have a harassment case? Please read the story below and tell me if you think I might have a case. My boss asked me to come to the conference room for my annual review. He handed me the review and began to read it aloud. After reading it, we discussed the residential vacancy factor and my frustration with the lack of support I receive for my department. I wanted to know the details of my review (ie: would there be a salary increase, rent increase, performance bonus, etc.) I asked him, “What will happen to my rent?”. I asked this because another manager had asked me several days earlier to write down my rent and the rent of my co-workers. He pulled out a piece of paper (that I had given him earlier, with my actual rent and the current market rate, as well as the rents of two co-workers).

On this paper someone had penciled in several numbers. Next to my rent, he had written in an amount, suggesting this would be my new rate (which would be more than a 36% increase). However, he did not have an actual rate to give me, although when I asked when a new rate would be effective, he stated “November 1”. I told him that he could not legally give me or my co-workers an increase without proper notice and he responded by saying, “Aren’t you an at-will employee?” I interpreted this as a threat to fire me under the terms of at-will employment, meaning with no notice or reason. He then told me I would not be getting a salary increase but that he would be implementing a bonus program for me. I asked for the details of such a program and said he did not have any details.

We ended the review, I returned to my office and typed a resignation letter. I took the photos of my children off my desk, left all property keys in my desk drawer, placed the resignation letter in his box at the front desk and left. The next morning, I was informed by (former) co-workers that my former boss notified all of the staff of my “unexpected and shocking” resignation, asking people if they knew of anything that was “wrong” with me. (these comments can be substantiated.) Two days later left me a voice message stating he needed additional keys returned and that my final paycheck(s) would be ready the following day. He said nothing about my offer to meet with him to discuss any pending tenant/employee issues. Therefore, I assumed he did not want to meet with me. I decided I would wait until the following day when (he said) my paycheck(s) would be ready and return the keys in question.

The next day, I received a voice message from stating that he had expected to hear from me (although there was no indication he would). Based on the previous message regarding the readiness of my checks, I had reason to believe that meant for me to pick up my check and return keys on the date he told me my check would be ready. The message he left contained threats that law enforcement would be utilized to get the keys in question “one way or another”. I called immediately upon receiving this message and asked if my checks were ready. I was told they were and I told him I would be there immediately to return the keys and pick up my checks. I then opened my apartment door and found a “3 Day Notice to Pay or Quit” taped to my front door. I paid my rent three days earlier with a check. The check was posted to the account and cleared the bank on within two days. This notice greatly embarrassed me.

It had been on my door for many hours for my neighbors and staff to see. I went into the leasing office and told the resident manager who prepared and signed the notice that my rent had been paid at the main office. She said “I’m sorry but I was made me do that.” I assured her I was in good standing and that could be confirmed through the main office. When I arrived at the office to make the key/check exchange, My former boss approached me and we entered the conference room. We began to discuss the situation.

I debated that my review was unfair, resting entirely on vacant units with no regard for my management responsibilities and performance in all areas of my position. He stated that “Unfortunately, no matter what you do my dad only cares about vacancies…” Upon learning that I had another job offer, He stated, “The only person you ever think about is yourself.” I attempted to defend myself, reiterating that I had no ill-feelings for the company and would not be engaging in any negative bashing of the company with the staff I had been managing. The conversation ended and I left within approximately 15 minutes. Harassed

Dear Harassed?
I don't think so...as I read your story I don’t see how you could possibly think you were harassed. You quit your job without notice. I don’t know if you signed a contract regarding the amount of rent you would pay and any subsequent rent increases. And, I don’t know the agreement you had with your employer regarding your apartment or the rent if you were to leave your job. But it's possible that that you may have broken a contract by essentially walking off the job.

If you have another job you are lucky and it is best for you to move on with your life. My advice for your future is that you refrain from impulsively quitting jobs. Regardless of how well you did your job, employers do not appreciate people leaving without notice and future employer’s respect people who give notice. Many companies have a strict policy that if you leave without providing a minimum notice you are automatically not eligible for rehire. Not liking your review is not a reason to just quit.  Dr. L'esa

Dear Dr. L'esa,
I have two master’s degrees and a lot of experience in my field. I’ve been unemployed for two years and now I’m just looking for a job. I don’t care what kind. The problem is that people keep telling me that I am over qualified for the jobs I apply for. I’m not getting many interviews and those I get quickly tell me I’m overqualified. What does that mean anyway? If I am willing to work at a job where I don’t use all of my skills, why shouldn’t someone want to hire me? Should I leave off my degrees and “dummy down” my resume to look like I don’t have the level of experience I have. Overqualified and Frustrated!

Dear Overqualified,
I certainly understand your frustration, but I understand the concern of the hiring managers too. It is a very difficult decision for hiring managers to decide to hire someone who is overqualified. There are several reasons they may not want to hire you. One reason is they are threatened that you know as much as they do and therefore at some point you’ll either compete for their job or resent that you work FOR them. Another reason is an assumption that you are just looking for an interim job and you’ll continue to look for “a real job” when you join the company; therefore they think you won’t stay very long. A third reason is that you might now think you’re “just looking for a job” but most managers know that once people get in a job if they are not challenged they either leave or create problems because they are dissatisfied.

First, you need to take a deep look at your motivation for trying to just get a job and why are you not aspiring to your level of competence? Being out of work for two years can be a blow to even the biggest ego. Create an action plan for yourself to get back in the game. Take a class or two in your field. Join a positive support group. (Don’t get involved in one of those groups where everyone is complaining – that won’t do anything for your self-confidence and self-esteem.) Go to the library and read industry magazines and journals. If you are tired of being unemployed and want an interim job, look for something in the evening. Leave yourself time in the day to do consulting or a good thorough job search to find a job that matches your skills and experience.   Dr. L'esa

Hi Dr. L'esa,
I have been working for about 15 years now. I've worked for four major hardware stores. I've worked in almost all the departments. I've even done backup cashiering. I've had some supervisory experience in these jobs too.From all this experience working in hardware stores, I've learned a lot about residential electrical. I've done side jobs, working alone and under general contractors. I wired a house completely from the main to each circuit. It passed 3 electrical inspections.

So the first part of my question is how can I find a job doing electrical without having papers to show I know it. I talked to one guy that might hire me later, he said he would put me through the electrical apprenticeship program. I thought that would be great. I was wondering if you knew of more people that would do that. I also wouldn't mind going to schools but would prefer to work too.(Experienced without papers)

Dear Experienced, Knowledge and experience can get you a long way. If you want to get licensed, the apprenticeship might be the way to go. Make sure the person you are working with is licensed and I hope you are being paid or have arrangements to be paid something at least after a certain number of hours. If you just want to do handy jobs, you can put ads in the newspaper, those free papers that come in the mail or on a list like www.craigslist.org
(maybe in your community).

If you are doing handy work on low voltage jobs be clear with your customers that you are not a licensed electrician and of course because of that you can’t expect to get paid what a licensed electrician is paid. Before doing handy jobs you’ll want to check state regulations about electrical work. To find out more about becoming a licensed electrician the Department of Labor has a great website for veterans. http://umet-vets.dol.gov/electrician.htm#national it provides lots of information by state. Dr. L'esa

Dear Dr. L’esa,
I am a young professional and have grown up dealing with issues I disagree with by avoiding or finding a back door regarding "the issue". It seemed to work fine as a child and well though now however I am a mature professional woman in a well exposed position which requires me to be more assertive and at times disagree or speak up.

I usually go with whatever is the flow and never really voice my opinion. I am always being told I need to speak louder. I am really needing to find out how to speak or disagree honestly and professionally. My biggest fear is permanent non-acceptance due to honesty or the manner in which I speak out.

Dear Young Professional:
Based on your letter, it seems that you need to learn to voice your opinion. Voicing your opinion does not necessarily mean you disagree or are contradicting what someone else has said. The best decisions often come for a combination of opinions. If you are in a professional position and you are not sharing your ideas, opinions and thoughts you are not contributing at a professional level.

When other people feel differently about things than you do it does not mean that you are wrong. Avoid phrases like, “I disagree...,” “You don’t understand...,” “That’s wrong...,” and “I don’t care what you say...”; instead try using phrases like “and,” “also,” “I think of it this way...” etc. Seldom are there right and wrong answers anyway, just opinions. If you effectively share your ideas you will probably find that your opinions will be valued much more than you think.

Most of all, you cannot take it personally if someone doesn’t agree with you; that’s what communication is about. There are inexpensive assertiveness courses for women available in most major cities. You might want to take one of those.

Here are a few books that might help Communicate With Confidence! by Dianna Booher, The Assertiveness Workbook: How to Express Your Ideas and Stand Up for Yourself at Work and in Relationships by Randy J. Paterson Ph.D., and Did You Say Something, Susan?: How Any Woman Can Gain Confidence With Assertive Communication by Paulette Dale, Ph.D.Good Luck, Dr. L’esa

Dear Dr. L’esa,
I work in the entertainment business and I have over 15 years of experience in this field. I am currently at a startup cable channel where I have worked diligently for the past three years as a manager in the department. I came to the network as a consultant and after one year was hired as staff. This staff position came with a pay cut since my rate was over the range for the midlevel management position. I was promised a promotion to Director where I would get a bonus to compensate for the financial loss.

Fast forward 2 years, although paper work had gone in for me to get a promotion it was stooped for various reasons: 1) new president joining the company, 2) Company being audited and 3) New head of the department.

Last month, the current company president left and the head of the department became the GM. Several people were let go and it is quite obvious there is a new sheriff in town. On Oct. 1, my boss makes an announcement to the team that there will be a new Director starting that Monday. You can imagine my shock because that was my position, the one that had been promised for the past 2 years!!! Glowing reviews, great work ethic and they give the position to someone from the outside!!!??? I am at a lost for words.

Needless to say, I am trying my hardest to relieve myself of this stress by searching for new employment. Is what they did legal? Where can I go for further advice? I am not sure if it's a race thing, but whatever it was it was under handed and dirty. I am thinking that corporate America is not for me. HELP!!! Feeling Hung Out to Dry

Dear Hung out to Dry:
I agree, the scenario you describe doesn’t sound fair. Technically, you might have a case if you have your reviews and a copy of the paperwork that was in process for your promotion depending upon the age, race and gender of you and the person who was hired over your promotion. You might be able to find an employment lawyer to talk with about your rights.

However, from a company’s perspective things look a bit different. First, it is very common for consultants to make more than employees. The company does not pay taxes and benefits for the consultant. The consultant is paying his/her own taxes and benefits so all-in-all the amount made is probably comparable. Plus, it is assumed that as an employee you have some level of consistency in pay and job security.

As for your promotion, it was irresponsible of them to “promise” you a promotion. As you have just experienced, things change very rapidly in companies and when someone leaves and someone new comes in, they have their own ideas, management style and personnel interests. Simply put, the new “sheriff” probably just wanted to hire his own deputy.