Dear Evil HR Lady,
It seems like when I truthfully state my work experience from other employers and from my apartment-building-owner/landlord mother, I never get job interviews or the job 99 percent of the time (high job or low job). I am university educated, worked for private sector companies and government in temporary jobs. I did election volunteer work for politicians that were known to my parents. Wouldn't some of this name dropping at least push some people's buttons in my favor?
When I do get a job, bosses, supervisors, team leads and staff workers seem like they want to avoid talking to me, or being in the room with me, as if they were afraid of me or something. I find I have to deal with my bosses and some peers like a poker player or politician and be Machiavellian. The amount of workplace politics I have to play is incredible just to protect myself from the games of others. I'm not desperate for jobs to survive because of my resources, but this gets a little old and boring. I'm always passed over for the best assignments and promotions. People say I always have a serious, all-business demeanor in my facial expression.
I like to have more than one part-time job for "leverage," as opposed to one full-time job. One job alone is a weak position with nowhere to go if it goes bad. More than one part-time job means you can play your multiple bosses against each other for the best deal if any of them becomes unreasonable. They can't back you into a corner and try to take advantage of you. Don't tell each of your bosses who you work for, be vague and keep them on the edge, and you can pull their strings easier, if necessary. Nice or bad bosses will toss you away if it benefits them. They are not 100 percent loyal to you. Why would you be 100 percent loyal to them?
That is my general work-life strategy. It had worked well in the past, until around 2010 when the world economy really crashed. I could have gotten some nice jobs if I would have given up my multiple-job leverage system, as their HR people wanted me to do. However, that would have left me without backup. Why would I give up my jobs-leverage strategy, since as a landlord kid with background resources, I can wait for the ideal multiple part-time job-mixture? How do you feel about this tactical plan for an uncertain work world?
I think you're a spoiled rich kid who has had everything placed in your lap your entire life, and now that that is not happening, you're freaking out. You know what I want to see on a resume? That you've worked. Not that you volunteered on some random politician's campaign. If you worked on the campaign, I want to see what your results were and how you succeeded. I don't care what politician it was. And in reality, most businesses couldn't give a flying fig if you worked on a state senate campaign.
You mentioned twice that your mother is a landlord. My mom is a registered nurse, and while I can take blood pressure like a pro, you don't want me coming at you with a needle. Your mom's job, regardless of how much it influenced you, is utterly irrelevant to your job hunt. It should not come up in any question regarding your employment at all unless what you did is relevant. For example you can put it on your resume if you did work for your mother:
Office assistant, Acme Property Inc., August 2007-March 2010
-- Accomplishment A
-- Accomplishment B
-- Accomplishment C
Otherwise, it does not belong.
You have trouble with people not wanting to be in the same room with you after you've been hired? You're the problem. One crazy manager or coworker is understandable (we've all been there), but when this happens repeatedly, it means you're the one who is doing something wrong. And part of what you're doing wrong is playing different bosses off each other and purposely withholding information. Bosses don't like this. Coworkers don't like this. They may have tolerated it in the past because they needed you more than you needed them, but now the tables are turned. Why on earth would anyone put up with a part-time employee who was so focused on playing games? Unless you've got some sort of super specialized skill, there are probably 14 people you pass on the street on the way into work that could do these jobs. Why would anyone want to choose the one guy who will play games with them?
If you want to climb the corporate ladder and be eligible for promotions, you have to drop the part-time game. You have an advantage that people would kill for: you don't really need the money. This means that you can aim towards an industry you want to work for and take a job for less money than others would take, so that you can gain experience. Yes, having one full-time job means that should you get fired and you'll be without your two part-time backup jobs, but it also means that you can move up.
Your multiple-job leverage is not working and will not work in the future. While it's true that companies aren't 100 percent loyal to their employees, they do expect employees to be loyal to them during employment. If you're withholding information and refusing to answer questions such as, "Where else do you work?," you're out the door. (Or rather, not getting in the door in the first place.) Your manager needs to make sure you have no conflicts of interest. (Your manager can't discuss the new fall line with you if you're simultaneously working for a competitor. Since you won't share this information, your manager must assume you are.)
What hiring managers and recruiters are looking for are results. Not connections. In fact, if I suspect that you got these jobs through your connections rather than your merit, it's actually a strike against you. Yes, networking is good. Yes, you should use your network to help you find a job. But you should not name drop. Your campaign experience should go on your resume as a job, complete with bullet points on what you did.
In short, forget your mother, stop dropping names, don't play games, be honest with your managers and work on your own merits. Then you'll be far more likely to find success.
Have a workplace dilemma? Send your questions to EvilHRLady@gmail.com.