"I DID NOT TELL THEM I WAS EXPECTING"
BY JEANINE "J.T." O'DONNELL AND DALE DAUTEN
Dear J.T. & Dale: I worked for five months for a manufacturing firm as an executive assistant. It was a temp-to-hire position through a recruitment agency. After three months, my supervisor told me that they were interested in hiring me. I did not tell them I was expecting a baby. I knew they noticed my belly getting big, but when my supervisor asked, "Are you expecting?" I just smiled. I did not formally tell them till two months before my due date. They said I was welcome to come back. Prior to my leave, I taught my replacement everything. I even worked the day before I delivered the baby. Then, four weeks later, I called my agency. They told me that the company's human-resources representative had said that the temporary person they had hired was working out well, and that they did not need my services. I was shocked. Is this unfair labor practice? -- Greta
DALE: Well, it sounds unfair to me. However, I know that what you're really asking is, Is it illegal? J.T. and I get into trouble when we offer legal opinions, but from what you've told us, you were always a "temp," and all you have to go on are a vague promise and your suspicions.
J.T.: I wonder what would have happened if you'd been more candid with your supervisors. It's possible that when you didn't respond to the inquiry about your pregnancy, they felt disappointed that you didn't feel you had a good enough relationship with them to trust them with the truth.
DALE: I can sympathize with women who consider their pregnancy to be nobody's business. But I also sympathize with businesses trying to plan their staffing. I know one executive who hired a replacement for an assistant on maternity leave, only to discover that the replacement was pregnant and wanted maternity leave. He put in considerable effort to figure out how to find spots for both of them when they returned; then, after the leaves were up, both announced they weren't coming back. I bring that up as a way of illustrating that managers know that there's a percentage of women who decide not to return after maternity leave. So, if J.T.'s theory is correct, your former supervisors felt no emotional connection to you, and so they made new plans.
J.T.: Going forward, I suggest you reach out to a different staffing company, just in case there are any lingering doubts at the old agency. Start with a clean slate at a new place, and I'll bet they find you a spot with a company that's glad to have you on its permanent staff.
Dear J.T. & Dale: I'm a vice president at company that is slowly dying. I need to redo my resume. When I look at executive resume writing sites, every service claims to be the best and wants anywhere from $500 to $1,000 to write a resume that gets attention. So how does one pick the best one? -- Ken
DALE: Curious, I just put "resume writing service" into Google, and it offered me three-quarters of a million hits. Visiting a few, they quoted amounts much less than the range you suggested. Perhaps the companies you've encountered are offering additional services. So you'll need to get details as to what's included, as well as references and examples. Moreover, a good consumer is a knowledgeable consumer, so I urge you to do some background reading. I'd start with one of Kate Wendleton's books, either "Building a Great Resume" or "Packaging Yourself: The Targeted Resume." You'll either decide you don't need a service, or you'll know just what sort of resume you want.
J.T.: Or, you might reach out to one or two of the most reputable executive search firms in your area (head hunters), and talk to them about confidentially marketing you to prospective employers. Oftentimes, they'll do your resume for you as part of the chance to promote you to their clients. Keep in mind, their clients pay them a hefty fee for finding you, so making you look good on paper is worth it to them -- and it makes the resume redesign FREE for you!
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Jeanine "J.T." Tanner O'Donnell is a professional development specialist and founder of the consulting firm jtodonnell.com. Dale Dauten's latest book is "(Great) Employees Only: How Gifted Bosses Hire and De-Hire Their Way to Success" (John Wiley & Sons). Please visit them at jtanddale.com, where you can send questions via e-mail, or write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10019.
(c) 2008 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.