Writing Matters

Anita,

I have been aplying to to alot of admin assistant jobs, and I can’t even get an interview. While I don’t have any experience, per say, I have great orgazational skills and am great at meeting dead lines why won’t someone give me a chance???  plz help me.

Red pen correcting proofread english text

Dear “Miss Spell,”

Even if you are not applying for a position as a journalist, your writing skills will be evaluated by those reading your résumé, cover letter, and correspondence. Despite the fact that many intelligent people were terrible spellers – George Washington and F. Scott Fitzgerald, to name a couple – spelling mistakes, punctuation errors, and grammatical gaffes can make you appear, well, slightly stoopid. Take a look at these Cover Letters from Hell or résumé bloopers from Monster. (My favorite is “I am seeking a salary commiserate with my training and experience.” My sympathies for bungling your job chances because of that typo.)

Common Misspellings, Mistakes, and Muddles to Avoid

  • Your meeting is tomorrow, not tommorrow or tommorow
  • Accommodate has two Cs and two Ms.
  • Yours truly, not yours truley.
  • I’m sending my résumé under separate cover, not seperate. Remember, there’s a rat in separate.
  • There is definately no A, however, in definitely.
  • Did you receive my résumé? (The exception, “I before E except after C,” applies here.)
  • I believe I’m the best person for the job. (No exception here, the I goes before the E.)
  • I have the experience (not experiance) required.
  • Don’t be greatful for the opportunity to interview; be grateful.
  • You’re not in costumer service (unless you really do work in theater); you serve customers.
  • You have a Class A Commercial license, not a licence with double Cs.
  • It will be noticeable if you leave the E out of noticable.
  • Contact your Personnel Supervisor, not a Personal Supervisor.
  • Et cetera is abbreviated etc., not ect.
  • It’s a mistake to use the contraction for “it is” in its place. (Most possessives have an apostrophe – like Joe’s job – but “its” does not.)
  • Last, but not least, let’s address the homonyms there, their, and they’re.

Their = possessive pronoun
There = location/place
They’re = contraction of they + are

Used properly in one sentence: “They’re going over there in their car.”

Turn on Spelling & Grammar check automatically in your Word documents. Of course, technology can’t be relied upon to pick up every nuance. “I am fully aware of the king of attention to detail this position requires” [emphasis added] did not trigger any alerts, but wouldn’t escape a sharp recruiter’s notice.

Résumés are written in a kind of shorthand that breaks the conventional rules of English grammar. Incomplete sentences, often bulleted, are more conducive to quick scans by busy hiring managers who don’t have time to read a novel to discover if you are qualified for their open position. Check out Careerealism’s Special Grammar Rules for Résumés.

After creating any sort of business correspondence, check, double-check, and triple-check before hitting the “send” button. Better yet, find a second set of eyes – a friend or a colleague – to proof your work.

Readers: Have you ever noticed – after the fact – a mistake on your cover letter or résumé? Share your blunder below.
Recruiters: Do you have any humdingers from your Blooper Hall of Fame?

Do you have a job-related question? Ask Anita.

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Sick of Sick Leave? Consider PTO

Anita,

I’m in HR for a medium-sized company. I’m really tired of monitoring sick leave abuse. Our policy allows sick leave to be used for an employee’s own illness or medical appointments, as well as the employee’s immediate family. But it seems everyone has doctor’s appointments on Fridays, headaches on Mondays, and comes down with the flu during March Madness! It’s not fair to those of us who never take a sick day.

Dear “Policy Police,”

HR_HeadacheAttendance reporting, corrective counseling, verifying doctor’s notes, and meting out disciplinary action can take a copious amount of management time. My advice: Get out of the baby-sitting business by instituting PTO – one bank of Paid Time Off that combines vacation, sick days, and personal days.

Less supervisory oversight is just one of the advantages of PTO. Before making the switch, however, consider both the pros and the cons.

Pros & Cons of a PTO Policy

PRO: While private sector businesses are not required by law to provide paid sick or vacation time, most companies realize that offering PTO attracts and keeps employees, even more so than traditional sick/vacation/personal day policies.

CON: PTO tends to be viewed as one big vacation time bucket, so employees may take more time off than with a separate paid sick day/vacation day system. This could mean more staff coverage must be arranged.

PRO: Many companies find employees take fewer unscheduled sick days when they have the opportunity to plan and use PTO. Supervisors will likely get more notice of absences and find it easier to find coverage in advance than when someone calls in sick at the last minute.

PRO: No need to fake it! Employees like to be treated like adults rather than required to bring doctors’ notes. (And really, in this day and age, it’s incredibly easier to forge excuses than it was back in junior high when trying to ditch gym class).

Sick at WorkCON: People may come to work sick – spreading their germs – to save their PTO for a 2-3 week vacation. In the long run, this propensity could cause even more absences office-wide.

PRO: PTO can be used equally by all employees, including who get sick less frequently or don’t have to take time off for dependent appointments (whether child or parent).

CON: Like the unwise green protagonist in The Ant and the Grasshopper fable, some employees may use up all of their PTO for vacation time, creating a hardship when they or a family member becomes ill. (But adults need to accept the consequences of their actions.)

PRO: PTO is easier to administer, which can mean cost savings.

CON: In some states, the law treats PTO like vacation time when it comes to calculating final wages at termination. While companies generally are not required to “cash out” for sick time, businesses could end up paying out more for PTO.

One last California CON: If your company is in California, PTO may not meet the minimum level of benefits mandated by the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act (HWHFA), especially for part-time workers.

Readers: What do you think are the pros and cons of a traditional vacation/sick day policy versus PTO?

Do you have a job-related question? Ask Anita.

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What’s the Tress Code?

Anita,

Interview Question: Do you wear your hair up or down?

Dear “Splitting Hairs,”

I myself have been wearing a stylish high bun long before Kim Kardashian popularized the hair donut. But I’m equal opportunity when it comes to hair. The loose curled hairstyle on the model (left) or the upswept ’do on the right are both winning looks for an interview.

Interview HairBe sure to tame any bedhead on the big day. If your mane tends to look unruly (or if it’s a particularly humid day), wearing your hair up may project a more professional image. Now don’t go overboard with an elaborate updo – you’re going to an interview, not a wedding! Save the milkmaid braids or Princess Leia buns for the Renaissance Fair and Comic-Con.

While I support the right to self-expression by hair, you don’t want your faux-hawk or dreads to distract the interviewer from your impressive résumé. Perhaps it’s best to wait until your down time to put your hair up if you have a curious undercut. Now is not the time to shave a new design into your hair; make sure your hair tattoo has grown out before the big interview. Hats, ball caps, fascinators and kerchiefs should be avoided (religious headwear such as hijabs and yarmulkes are the exception). While Baby Boomers dying their gray hairs may increase their marketability, coloring hair in shades not available in nature may decrease an applicant’s appeal.Lincoln-man-bun

Guys, I have to say that I’m not a fan of the man-bun. Call me old-fashioned, but remember that some interviewers may share my beliefs. I concur with Fast Company’s photo blog title, Try Taking These World Leaders Seriously When They Have Man-Buns.

Follow my three simple rules for interview hair:

  • Make sure it’s clean.
  • Avoid distracting hairstyles.
  • Verify it fits the company’s culture.

Check out my Pinterest board Tressed for Success for visual inspiration, and for cautionary tales, peruse the pins on A Hair Out of Place.

Hiring Managers: Voice your opinions on interview hair below.

Do you have a job-related question? Ask Anita.

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Bad Blood in the Workplace

I have two questions related to alleged nepotism that I’ll answer together:

Hello, Anita. I would like to know if it’s conflict of interest when the company owner’s sister is the Human Resources Manager. I’ve been asking for some needed information is she is not assisting me with what I need.

Dear Anita, I’ve been working for an Adult Day Care as a CNA [Certified Nursing Assistant]. My boss makes me and my co-workers clean the entire facility, even his desk. It’s a family business so they all have each other’s back. We only get 15 minute breaks when we work 6 hours, 5 days a week. The boss has cameras and is always looking at what we do or if we’re doing something bad, he will come out and stand there looking at us. Is it fair that only me and my other two co-workers clock in and out and the boss’s family don’t, they just leave whenever? Who to call? Or what to do?

In the U.S., 80%-90% of businesses are family-owned, ranging from mom-and-pops storefronts to Fortune 500 companies. You’re bound to work with blood-related employees at some point. But nepotism (preference shown because of a family or personal relationship) may or may not be present.

Reclining_Businesswoman_000026954117An Inc. poll explored perceptions on the factors that lead to getting ahead at work. Connections (e.g., being the boss’s sister) received the most votes at 48%. This real or imagined favoritism may result in bad blood. And as Taylor Swift says, “Now we’ve got problems.” But I think you can solve them.

So, “Waiting on HR,”

There is no legal conflict of interest when a relative serves as an HR manager – or in any position – in a company. (In a way, all of us may have conflicts of interest in the workplace when we are trying to please our supervisor, our co-workers, and other departments!) The issue here is one that could happen with any colleague – you are not getting the results you desire. The HR Manager may be busy (give her the benefit of the doubt), so be sure to remind her of your inquiry. If you asked in person, follow-up with email or vice versa. If she doesn’t honor your request after your reminders and a reasonable timeframe, go to your supervisor and ask him or her to get involved – without pointing out the familial relationship. Just reiterate the facts of your situation without emotion.

clocking systemAnd now, “Ticked Off CNA,”

If you are unclear about the job duties expected in your position, ask your boss for a written job description. If you are unhappy with cleaning tasks, and these were not expected when you were hired, talk with your boss about it. But there is no law against requiring an employee to clean; in fact, a CNA job description probably includes cleaning and sanitizing patient areas. Your boss can add his desk to your duties if he so desires. He may also supervise your work. As for breaks, there is no federal law requiring lunch or coffee breaks. Your state may have a law requiring a meal break or rest period; check these Department of Labor Meal Period and Rest Period Requirement charts.

Your boss and his family may run their business however they choose. As in many companies, some employees may be hourly while others may be on salary, not dependent on actual hours worked. Family members may be doing work from a home office. Some relatives may even work in a family business unpaid.

Just because it may seem unfair on the surface, as long as blood relatives are not impeding your ability to work, quite frankly, it’s none of your concern. Mind your own business, and do the job you signed on for to the best of your ability.

Readers, how have you learned to handle any “blood is thicker than water” situations at work?

Have a question you would like to ask? Visit http://anitaclew.com/ask-anita/.

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Embellishing Your Résumé

Anita,

I don’t have a lot of work experience. I’m in a dead-end job, and want to move up in the world. Is there anything really wrong with fudging my experience on my résumé or job applications? Like saying I have advanced Excel skills when I’m more intermediate? I’m sure I could google to figure out the answer to any questions that come up and no one would be the wiser.

Liar_Crossed_Fingers_000057522922Dear “Pretty Little Liar,”

Oh, really? You think you’ll be able to fake it ’til you make it when you need to use an Excel pivot table or complex formulas?

I believe everyone should wax eloquent about their qualifications on their résumé and portray themselves to potential employers in the best possible light. But enhancing your education, exaggerating your duties, and embellishing your skills is a horse of a different color.  Walt Disney said, “If you can dream it, you can do it.” But only include it on your résumé if you can actually do it.

Résumé padding (doesn’t that euphemism sound a lot less consequential than “falsifying?”) seems to be a widespread problem. In fact, there are deceitful services out there – which shall remain unnamed – that offer counterfeit degrees and provide bogus virtual companies to add on résumés that will even supply fake job references when called. Sigh.

Pinocchio_Nose_000000335618A recent CareerBuilder survey found job seekers’ most common résumé lies:

  • Embellished skill sets – 62%
  • Embellished responsibilities – 54%
  • Dates of employment – 39%
  • Job titles – 31%
  • Academic degrees – 28%

Just because 62% of people fudged about their skill sets, doesn’t mean you should too. More than half of employers (56% to be exact) uncovered the résumé lies. Education credentials are easily checked. Dates of employment and job titles can be verified by previous employers. When interviewing for a specialized position, you may be asked technical questions that will show you’re obviously not qualified. (I heard of an instance where the candidate looked up answers on his smartphone!) Why waste your time and the interviewers’?

If you do manage to hornswoggle a company into hiring you, what happens when your deceptions are discovered? While you may root for Mike Ross on TV’s Suits who faked his way into a law firm position without the Harvard degree, in real life it could cost you the job, as these executives discovered. Where safety is a factor (claiming you are certified to operate a forklift, for instance, or have the necessary medical training for a healthcare position), your falsehood could have disastrous consequences for others.

A better way to move up in the world is to take classes in areas in which you need to gain proficiency. Then proudly list those courses on your résumé under “Education” to show prospective employers you proactively focus on career development.

Readers: Have you ever padded your résumé? How did your embellishments return to haunt you?

Do you have a job-related question? Ask Anita.

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Keeping Employee Tech in Check

Anita,

All the news coverage about accessing the San Bernardino shooter’s locked iPhone got me thinking about our company’s BYOD [Bring Your Own Device] policy. Do you have any insight into how businesses balance employees’ privacy rights with the concern over data breaches – unintentional (say they get hacked through a personal app) or deliberate (when a disgruntled employee quits, for instance)?

flat design concept of BYOD bring you own device

Dear iWorried,

There are pros and cons for companies who permit employees to Bring Your Own Tech (Device, Phone, or PC). BYOD programs most often shift the costs to the user, saving businesses a potential boatload on their balance sheet. Plenty of companies are requiring workers to cover all the costs of their devices and, surprisingly, employees are not complaining. (Well, some would still like an allowance or reimbursement.) Employees get to use the device that they prefer – we all know Apple aficionados are notoriously loyal – and that may result in higher productivity. Personal users tend to upgrade to the latest technology at a faster pace than bureaucratic organizations, which can keep your company on the leading edge at no expense to you.

Businesses generally have users sign an acceptable use agreement for company-issued IT, but employees may be a bit touchy being told how they can use their own personal devices. A policy update may be in order. You must insist on strong passwords and lock screens on personal devices. Beyond that, there are plenty more issues to discuss. Will your acceptable use policy dictate which web browser employees must use? May sports fans livestream March Madness games during work hours? (Can your network bandwidth handle the surge?!) Is posting on Facebook while on their device’s Virtual Private Network (VPN) a violation of policy? What if a security hole in an app on an employee’s personal phone allows hackers to access your company’s relay mail? Should you decide which apps will be allowed or banned (what, no Spotify?!)? Use this BYOD policy template as a jumping off point to develop your acceptable use agreement.

When employees leave a company with BYOD, it’s not as simple as turning in the work-issued IT and wiping it. You must have an exit strategy that retrieves company data and removes email access, proprietary applications, access tokens, and more.

You are wise to be concerned about the BYOD technology issue. But it’s far more complex than this little old lady can address in my advice column, so please check with your IT administrators for up-to-date best practices.

Readers: What is your company’s Bring Your Own Device policy?

Do you have a job-related question? Ask Anita.

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Target Your Perfect Job

Anita,

I wasn’t happy at my former position, so I searched the online job boards and found a similar job at another company. I started this new position six weeks ago, and already it’s worse than the one I left! What do I do now? I can’t seem to land a job I really like.

Bow-n-Arrow_iStock_000021553751Dear “MockingJaymie,”

You may be at the wrong company, in the wrong position, or you could even be in the wrong profession altogether.

Everyone has a hunger for fulfilling work. Ask yourself some soul-searching questions: What’s your passion? What’s your purpose? What’s your raison d’être, as the French inquire? Companies have mission statements; what is your life mission statement? What’s your “calling?”

If you’re more numbers or science-oriented rather than touchy-feely, this Forbes formula may help you rate dream job opportunities.

After some introspective contemplation (long walks in the woods optional, but highly recommended!), you now have the understanding to find a satisfying career path that aligns with your personal values and aspirations. Stop applying for random jobs that just so happen to be open during your job search! Make a plan to proactively seek out a position that better suits you, before it’s even advertised.

Target_Arrows_iStock_000070073053Start by compiling a list of 30-40 target companies you’d absolutely love to work for. Your willingness to relocate will determine how wide you cast your net geographically. With the advanced search tool in LinkedIn, search for Companies by entering industries in locations that line up with your passions, interests, and life goals. Click and read company profiles and Follow any that resonate with you. It’s a good professional practice to stay active on LinkedIn consistently, long before you’re in active job search mode. Comment on your favorite companies’ posts. Offer congratulations on achievements. Find connections. Nurture these online relationships before you need to ask them for a favor.

Don’t forget about offline networking as well. Join associations for the industries in which you are interested. Attend Chamber of Commerce mixers. Talk with friends about your “target companies” to see if they can introduce you to any insiders.

How do you approach these 2nd and 3rd connections and friends of friends? On his CareerPivot blog, Marc Miller suggests asking for AIR – Advice, Insights, and Recommendations. Most people will be flattered and inclined to be helpful.

In his book, 48 Days to the Work You Love, author Dan Miller recommends this 3-step process for making yourself know to those target contacts doing work you admire:

  1. Send a letter of introduction by mail, not email.
  2. In one week, send a cover letter and résumé. Again, by mail.
  3. Call to follow up (this is a step only 1-2% of job hunters do).

You’re sowing and nurturing seeds in fields where you will actually be happy in your work. Now, wait for the Reaping. Sure, this may take longer than the traditional “see job ad—apply—interview—get hired” cycle (which can sometimes take quite a while as it is). But isn’t it worth it to wait for a career that inspires?

May the odds be ever in your favor!

Readers: Have you identified your life’s purpose and found a job to support your calling? Inspire us with your story in the Comments below!

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My New Boss Hates Me!

Anita,

After a company merger, I got a new manager directly over me who is the polar opposite of her predecessor, who I just loved working for. It’s been a few months, and I have a funny feeling that my new boss hates me. I don’t know what to do about it. Help!

Boss_Hate_iStock_000023671292Dear, From Elated to Hated,

Now, now; let’s not jump to conclusions. You may not have adjusted to your new boss’s completely different personality yet. Have you noticed any of these red flags?

  • You’re being micromanaged when others are not.
  • Your boss avoids you and doesn’t return your phone calls and emails.
  • She doesn’t make eye contact, has crossed arm “closed” body language, and rarely smiles in your presence.
  • She doesn’t ask for your input and dismisses your contributions in meetings.
  • She leaves you out of key meetings completely or hands plum assignments to others.
  • She doesn’t give you feedback – positive or negative.
  • Or, she criticizes you – constantly or in front of coworkers.

If you are experiencing several of these behaviors, you may be right: Your boss may dislike you. But it’s still early in the transition period. You may be able to win her over.

  1. Clarify expectations. Set up a one-on-one to provide your new boss an overview of your current role and ask if she envisions any changes. Bring your job description to see if she foresees any duties that will be added or taken away. Ask your new manager how you can be successful under her leadership.
  2. Boss_Like_iStock_000023669427Help your new boss succeed. This isn’t a one-way street. If your new supervisor was hired from the outside, you can help explain procedures and help her get acclimated. Without calling her out or embarrassing her in front of colleagues (“That’s not the way we do that!”), share your institutional knowledge and you may win an ally.
  3. Identify her personality style. If you’ve taken the DiSC profile or Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) in your workplace, you’ll probably be able categorize your new supervisor’s traits. Don’t judge her by your former boss’s best attributes; discover your new manager’s strengths. Read up on workplace profiles to learn how you can increase your effectiveness in your 9-to-5 relationship.
  4. Actively participate in meetings. Even if your ideas seem to be met with the enthusiasm of a wet blanket, continue to chime in with optimism. If you’re taking a “wait and see” approach, your lack of engagement in meetings may cast you as a non-contributor and possibly put you on the top of the chopping block list. Give your new boss a chance to get to know you and value your contributions.
  5. Be open to new ideas. If you want your boss to respect your opinions, avoid being negative about new perspectives or procedures your newly-appointed supervisor brings to the table.

Even though you and your new manager did not have the luxury of choosing each other in an interview and hiring process, you can learn to coexist and employ your differing approaches to your company’s advantage.

Readers: Have you ever had a rough start with a new manager? How did you improve the work relationship?

 

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Cover Letter or Cover Email


Anita,

Can you settle a question for me? If applying for a job via email, is the email itself the cover letter or do I have to think up something else to say in a separate cover letter that I attach?

Email_Resume_300Dear, Covering Your Bases,

If you are applying for an open position you found through Craigslist, a company website or some other avenue that requests that you apply to an email address, your email IS your cover letter. There is no need to reinvent the wheel and create a separate cover letter attachment (just remember to attach your résumé!).

If you are applying through a job board such as CareerBuilder.com, Monster.com or Indeed.com, you may have the option to apply with your résumé only without a cover letter. DO NOT SKIP THE COVER LETTER! (Can you hear me shouting?) You may not feel you are good with words, but if you don’t include a cover letter, you’ll appear apathetic to the hiring professional.

Man Applying for a Job on the InternetNo matter whether you email or attach the cover letter, spend a bit of time tailoring it for the specific job. A generic “In response to your ad for yada yada yada” is more likely to produce a yawn than an interview. Customize each cover letter/email using the following advice:

  • Inject some personality and enthusiasm.
  • Address a person by name, if possible, rather than “Dear Hiring Manager” or the outdated “To Whom It May Concern.” It’s often a snap (or a couple of clicks) to find the name of the person hiring by searching LinkedIn or the company’s website.
  • Mention the specific employment opportunity for which you are applying. Companies may be hiring for several open positions.
  • Keep it short. Don’t include your life story, and don’t rehash irrelevant experience.
  • Outline how you match the qualifications using keywords from the job listing. Bullet points make it easy for busy hiring managers to skim.
  • Highlight the ways you can help the company. Review the Pain Points Letter.
  • Close with a proactive request for an interview.

The cover letter is to the résumé what the back cover synopsis is to the book – an enticement to delve in and read more.

Readers: What’s your best opening line for your cover letter?

Do you have a job-related question? Ask Anita.

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20 Interviewer Questions NOT to Ask to Stay out of Hot Water

Anita,

As a small business owner, I rarely need to interview and hire. Recently, I had a woman come in for an interview and after she introduced herself, I asked about the origin of her unusual name. One of my team members later told me to be careful; that question could have been illegal. Really, Anita?! I was just making polite conversation. I’m no HR expert, so what should I watch out for in the hiring process to keep me out of legal hot water?

Dear, Inquiring Mind,

What’s considered appropriate cocktail party small talk could be a legal faux pas in the world of Human Resources. You’ve heard, “There’s no such thing as a stupid question”? Well, there is in job interview situations!

Some questions may seem perfectly innocuous, but inquire with caution. By federal law, it is illegal for companies with more than 15-20 employees to base employment decisions on the following protected characteristics:Questions_iStock_000061208998

  • Race
  • Color
  • Religion
  • Sex (including pregnancy)
  • National origin
  • Disability
  • Age (40 and over)
  • Genetic information

Read up on the federal laws prohibiting job discrimination – Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, The Pregnancy Discrimination Act, The Age Discrimination in Employment Act, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act – and research any individual state laws.

Sometimes, a bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ) may allow you to ask certain questions. Say you are a women’s clothing manufacturer. You may ask model applicants if they are female, as it is a job necessity to properly parade your product.

Below are 20 Questions that are illegal or inappropriate. With a little tweaking, you can get the information you desire on applications and in interviews without any legal repercussions.

 DON’T ASKREPHRASE
1Where are you from? Are you a U.S. citizen?Are you eligible to work in the United States?
2Is English your first language?In what languages are you proficient?
3You have such pretty skin. What race are you?We have an affirmative action program; would you like to voluntarily reveal your race?
4How old are you?
(Unless you are interviewing a teenager to ascertain if they can work in a limited, non-hazardous job)
Are you the minimum age required to perform this job? (For those who obviously are over 18, “Tell me about your experience.”)
5When did you graduate?Do you have a degree?
6Are you married?
(After hiring, you may collect contact/beneficiary information about spouse or domestic partner)
7What is your maiden name?Would you have any work experience or references under another name?
8Are you pregnant?
(Note: This is a question that can turn into an embarrassing situation in your personal life, as well!)
9How many kids do you have?Are you able to travel for this job?
(After hiring, you may ask for depending information for tax/insurance purposes.)
10What are your childcare arrangements?Are you able to work overtime on short notice?
11If you plan to have a family, would you return after maternity leave? / How long do you plan to work before retiring?What are your long-term career goals?
10How far would your commute to our office be?Will you be able to start work each day promptly at 8:00 a.m.?
12What type of discharge did you receive from the military?What education or experience did you gain during your stint in the military that relates to the job duties required?
13Which religious days do you observe?Will you be able to work weekends for this position?
14Do you belong to any clubs or organizations?Do you belong to any professional or trade groups relevent to our industry?
15What exactly is your disability?Can you perform the essential job tasks with reasonable accommodation?
16Have you ever been arrested?Have you ever been convicted of a crime?
17Do you have any outstanding debt?Since you will be in charge of collections for our company, can you tell me how well you balance your personal finances?
18Do you drink?
(Surprised? Alcoholism is protected under the ADA)
19Have you ever been addicted to drugs?What illegal drugs have you used in the last six months?
(Past, but not current, drug addiction is protected under ADA Note: you cannot ask about prescription drugs.)
20How much do you weigh?Are you able to lift boxes weighing up to 50 pounds?

Here’s a simple rule of thumb: If it’s not job-related, don’t ask!

Readers: Have you ever been asked an inappropriate or downright illegal question during a job interview? How did you respond?

Do you have a job-related question? Ask Anita.

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Disclaimer

Anita Clew's blog posts are intended for general guidance and should never be taken as legal advice. In all instances where harassment, inequity, or unfair treatment is believed to be present, please consult your HR Department or legal representation.
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