Dear J.T. & Dale: Difficult question here: How would the typical employer view situations like mine where I had no choice but to leave my chosen industry due to the unlawful actions of others. This includes my having been a whistleblower on unlawful actions of state agencies. Of course, I’m not afraid to show anyone the complete lawful record of events. I’d appreciate your perspective on this situation.
J.T.: It’s tricky, being a whistleblower. It’s brave and admirable but comes with serious consequences. Most employers just don’t want to deal with it. In HR, we are taught there are three sides to every story — yours, theirs and the truth. So, if your explanation of what happened is all one-sided, with you taking no accountability, then they’ll avoid hiring you.
DALE: Agreed. Let’s be clear here: You will be discriminated against. However, you must not let that thwart you. Instead, press ahead knowing that everyone faces some sort of hiring discrimination. I’ve worked with ex-cons who’ve overcome that obstacle and gotten new jobs. What’s important to understand is that the solution is rarely to get better at explaining yourself; rather, the solution is to get better at finding those who are open to hiring someone like you. If your case was righteous, there are people who admire you and would welcome you. So I’d urge you to keep networking in your prior field, even while you investigate new ones.
Dear J.T. & Dale: A co-worker, let’s call her Tina, just negotiated to work from home one day per week. I was shocked, because when I took this job a few months ago they said working from home was not an option. What can I say to my boss about this?
J.T.: I think you can inquire; just be prepared that you might not like the answer. They are not obligated to share with you why they allowed this agreement with your co-worker. Has she been there longer than you? Perhaps they feel she has earned it.
DALE: That’s why I would not go to your boss until you’ve had a cheery, congratulatory conversation with Tina. You need to learn how she made her successful pitch for working at home.
J.T.: Then, the next time you are with your boss alone, you could say: “I was excited to see that you agreed to allow Tina to work from home one day each week. I don’t know if you recall, but this was something I was hoping to do at this job. I’m wondering if at some point we can discuss what I can do to eventually earn the same opportunity.” This way, you are letting your manager know you understand there may need to be some investment on your end to receive this benefit.
DALE: Your managers might be prepared to insist that Tina’s was a special situation, not a precedent. If so, you won’t get far. But, it could be the opposite.
JEANINE “J.T.” TANNER O’DONNELL is a career coach and the founder of the leading career site www.workitdaily.com. DALE DAUTEN is founder of The Innovators’ Lab and author of a novel about H.R., “The Weary Optimist.” Please visit them at jtanddale.com, where you can send questions via email, or write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St., 15th Floor, New York, 628 Virginia Drive, Orlando, FL 32803.