Joyce Lain Kennedy
Career Q & A
June 1, 2012
DEAR JOYCE: When I tried to review my personnel file, I was told no, that the company owns it and that I can't see it. Can that be right? -- F.T.
DEAR F.T. -- Many states have enacted laws giving employees of private employers the right to view their personnel files. Your personnel file rights depend on the law in your state.
The personnel file rights issue is too complex to summarize in a few sentences. Here are three free websites that I consider authoritative on the topic, and I recommend that you check out all of them:
-- Nolo.com, "State Laws on Access to Your Personnel File" and "Your Personnel File and Your Rights."
-- FindLaw.com, "Who Can Look at Employee Personnel Files?"
-- HR Specialist (thehrspecialist.com), "Access to Personnel Files: 50 State Laws."
Personnel record access is a volatile area of employment law, with states constantly rearranging the details. To be certain you have the latest information on your rights, contact your state's department of labor to obtain a written copy of its current personnel records access law.
DEAR JOYCE: Concerning H.H., the reader who wants a new job with more money and less travel, but is worried about his privacy being at risk and being fired if he submits an online resume: You said you know of no way to be 100 percent certain that an online resume won't find its way into the wrong hands, and that if you need zero risk, to keep your resume offline and to job hunt in old-school ways.
I don't have a new suggestion to protect the online privacy of a resume, but in my view, the best advice for H.H. is to suggest that he speak to his current boss. He should do a little research, include the target job opening and let the boss know that while he's very happy working at his current job, he would appreciate discussing a modification to his current position. I think the negotiating approach will yield the most favorable results. -- J.J.F.
DEAR J.J.F -- A tip of the hat to you J.J.F. for suggesting another possible solution. It's a good one.
DEAR JOYCE: I've applied to at least a dozen jobs where I've been a perfect match with the stated requirements, and I don't even get an interview. What's going on these days? Are employers rigging the game? -- D.C.
DEAT D.C. -- A host of pressures -- including fierce global competition and warp-speed technological change -- are causing employers to rethink what's required of new hires. The situation is evolving and, in many cases, job ads haven't always caught up with what organizations think they want and need.
Happily, I've just read an engaging and thoughtful discussion of your plight in a new novel about three out-of-work baby boomers. Give it a read! The book is "A Multitude of Hope: A Novel About Rediscovering the American Dream" by Peter Weddle, a major guru in the employment world. Although the book is fictionalized, I highly recommend that you find out what's going on behind the employment curtain that's keeping you on the bricks and to discover Weddle's possible solutions.
DEAR JOYCE: I was told that I'm the top candidate for a professional job I want. Then came the surprise -- my "future manager" called me at home last night to ask if I would work for a month as a contractor while he finished interviewing others for the job. I find that weird. Would you agree to this proposal? -- S.W.
DEAR S.W. -- Yes, but continue your job search. Don't let your search momentum sag, forcing you to restart it from a dead stop in case there's a nasty surprise at the end of the month. Let the indecisive manager know that other companies (provide no details) have contacted you and that you may need a bit of time off to do interviews. Use psychology -- employers want what other employers want.
Your manager is covering his bases; cover yours as well.
(E-mail career questions for possible use in this column to Joyce Lain Kennedy at email@example.com; use "Reader Question" for subject line. Or mail her at Box 368, Cardiff, CA 92007.) .
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