The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


January 21, 2014

Your Office Coach: When a job applicant has the dirt on HR manager

QUESTION: After submitting several unsuccessful applications to a local business, I have concluded that I’m being blocked by the human resources manager. “Ashley“ and I previously worked together at a different corporation until she was fired for sending obscene text messages. She may be afraid that if I join her company, I will tell people about this incident.

I have tried to reconnect with Ashley by sending friendly emails, but she never replied. She also failed to acknowledge my LinkedIn invitation. I hate to just give up, because this company has a great reputation and the position is perfect for me. I know there could be other reasons why I’m not getting an interview, but I strongly suspect that Ashley is the problem. How can I get past her?

ANSWER: If Ashley holds a gatekeeper position, and you are correct about her motives, then applying through HR will be an exercise in futility. To have any hope of getting an interview, you will need to take the more circuitous route of establishing communication with the hiring manager.

To make this connection, use your network of contacts to identify the appropriate person and obtain an email address or phone number. If you can find someone willing to make an introduction, that will be even better. Connecting through LinkedIn is also a possibility.

However you make contact, your objective is to create such a strong impression that the manager will want to schedule an interview. HR may still be part of the process, but Ashley will no longer be in the power position.

Q: The owner of my company is pressuring me to retire. He keeps setting dates for me to leave, but I just ignore them and keep on working. I am 73 years old and have been here for fifteen years, though I currently work only three days a week.

Because this company has no retirement benefits, I believe the owner should lay me off or fire me so that I can draw unemployment insurance. So far, he has refused to do this. I would actually like to retire, but I’m mainly staying just for the principle. I don’t want to give in and walk away empty-handed. What’s your opinion?

A: My opinion is that you’re being silly and stubborn. You want to retire, your boss wants you to retire . so retire already. Given the wisdom of your years, you should be able to see that you are currently engaged in a pointless power struggle.

You’ve known all along about the lack of a retirement plan, so you can’t complain about that now. And since you intend to stop working, you will not be eligible for unemployment insurance. Those benefits are provided exclusively for people who are actively seeking employment.

The bottom line is that you should abandon this ridiculous tug-of-war and have a straightforward talk with the owner about the terms of your departure. If you remain pleasant and cooperative, perhaps he will honor your long service with a reasonable severance payment.

Marie G. McIntyre is a workplace coach and the author of “Secrets to Winning at Office Politics.“ Send in questions and get free coaching tips at, or follow her on Twitter officecoach.


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