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By Lindsey Novak
Q: I was hired away from my former employer and required to move to a new city for the new job. After I had just joined the new company, the senior staff resigned, one after the other. Then the company announced it was restructuring the entire department that I was in. As if that wasn’t bad enough, my new manager called me into her office to say that I wasn’t meeting the company’s expectations. She wanted to fire me but agreed to allow me to stay and look for a new job for the next two months because she felt responsible for my being there. To date, I have been at the new company for only three months. What should I put on my résumé? What am I going to say in interviews? I’m also worried a potential employer will call this manager and ask why I was let go.
A: This manager should feel guilty. She obviously did a poor job interviewing you and describing the state of affairs at the company and an even poorer job explaining what she expected of you once you were on the job. She perhaps did not know about the entire staff’s plans to resign, which also shows how out of touch she is from managing a department.
You, too, must share in that responsibility, as it sounds as if you did not do your homework on the company and carefully interview this manager to see whether this was a job worth moving for. You have two months to get her to talk openly, directly and honestly to you, if she is capable of it. Understand that she may not be.
Talk to her in a non-threatening manner, but ask detailed questions until you get solid answers. You cannot interview until you know what this woman is going to say when potential employers call her, and they will check your references. If she refuses to extend to you a good reference letter or explain in detail what you have done to deserve this low performance review, then leave this company off your résumé.
You can’t afford for an unstable, unprofessional manager to ruin your career. Without a reference letter, tell potential employers you wanted to move to the city first and then begin a full-time job search. This is assuming you do not want to return home to see whether you can be rehired at your former job.
Employee signs contract without seeking lawyer’s approval
Q: I have worked in insurance sales for the same company for the past four years. I signed a “vesting” contract that states the amount in sales we must make according to the premiums the company receives. How do I interpret the wording of this contract?
A: Although it is too late to change anything, submit your entire employment contract to a lawyer for inspection. Hire a lawyer concentrating in contract law who will charge you an hourly fee. He or she will need to read the full agreement before explaining to you the terms and conditions stated in the contract. In the future, don’t be penny-wise and dollar-foolish.
Any company asking for a signature on any type of employment, commission or non-compete contract should allow you several days for attorney review. Even if the human resources department says that it will accept no changes or alterations to the contract, you always must understand what you are being asked to sign. If a company balks at your wanting a lawyer to review it, assume something is askew in the contract. Many employees naively and willingly sign these agreements for fear of not getting the job or of getting fired, but a company that refuses to allow a review period may not have the standards you want in an employer.
Please send your questions to: Lindsey Novak, c/o Creators Syndicate, 5777 W. Century Blvd., Suite 700, Los Angeles, CA 90045. E-mail her at [email protected], or visit her Web site at www.LindseyNovak.com. To find out more about Lindsey Novak and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. Copyright 2009 Cretors.com