Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Cut Your Losses and Move On

I had an interview for a part-time job. At the interview the manager of the store told me that the part-time job had been taken and the vacancy they had left was a full-time job. I wanted the job and explained that I would have to arrange some childcare first. The manager told me that because it was getting close to Christmas (the busiest time) I would have to work full-time hours, but she would sort out part-time hours for me after Christmas when the store becomes quieter.

I started work on December 7th, and another girl started four days later. (She seemed a very odd character and complained from day one in front of everyone that she never had any money.) Anyway, we were both shown how to use the cash register, but were told we couldn’t use it unless we were utterly confident as they didn’t want any mistakes made.

A few weeks later as the manager counted the day’s money, there was money missing. I told the manager that she could check my wallet and jacket as I had nothing to hide, and got quite upset. The other girl said nothing.

The owner of the shop visited a few days later and told us that money just doesn’t fly out of the cash register, there was no mistake on the receipts "THIS MONEY HAS BEEN STOLEN!" she exclaimed.

I explained I hadn’t made a mistake on the register and definitely hadn’t taken any money, and I hadn’t been the only one to use the register that day -- but the other girl denied using it even though I knew she had.

I told the owner to check her security camera above the register to clear my name of theft. She said she would look at it after Christmas.

The day before New Year’s Eve I wanted to know what date to start back at work. The manager took me aside and told me that the Christmas period had not been as busy as normal this year and that business goes very quiet in the new year. She thanked me for my hard work and help but said she wouldn’t be requiring me back because they had enough staff.

I am worried now as I am trying very hard to find work, and have asked the manager three times for a reference letter. On the third time she said it wasn’t her job to write me one - I would have to ask the owner of the store. Surely if it is the manager’s job to hire and fire people, it is her job to give me a reference - after all, she knew how I worked and how my timekeeping was. I never worked with the owner.

Could you give me some advice? I am worried that when my next employer asks them for a reference, they will say that I stole money. How can I prove my innocence and not get a bad name? They let the other girl go too.

by Honey Smith, Ed.M., Professional Life Coach

At the moment you're feeling outraged, humiliated, and vulnerable. This can make it hard to step back and consider your situation from another perspective.

First: It seems pretty clear that neither the Manager nor the Owner is interested in recommending you. This is a sure sign that you probably don't want one from them anyway.

Second: Do you really need to mention this job in your resume or future interviews?

You come across as a responsible, ethical and hardworking parent who has much more to offer a future employer than the fact of a few weeks of holiday temp work gone bad. So, how do you put this behind you and instead use your successes and strengths to achieve your goals? As you prepare for the next job, try asking yourself the following questions:

- How important was this experience to me, in the context of my whole life?
- Given this level of importance, how much energy, time and worry should I devote to it?
- Can I control what the Owner or Manager choose to think of me?

If you see yourself having trouble letting go of this situation, try also asking yourself: What about this makes it so hard? And what will it take for me to let go?

Now let's look at what you can control: Try reviewing your overall work history and life experience. What does this tell you about what you have to offer your next employer? Are there ways you can draw their attention to all of the reasons why they should hire you?

If you're concerned that a future employer will somehow make contact with your former one, how can you build a convincing case in your favor? For example, are there people in your life - other employers, colleagues, teachers, classmates etc. - who will speak highly of you? What would it take to ask them to be references?

The great thing about asking is you'll get to hear nice things about yourself - most people are truly happy to help. And it sure doesn't hurt to be reminded of how much people care about and admire you when you're in the middle of a job search!

I'd love to tell you life is always fair. Considering that it isn't, why not try making each experience - good or bad - work for you? What did this experience tell you about yourself and the working world? How can you use this knowledge to your advantage?

Susan Ireland's note
Job Lounger, do you have a question? Email it to me and I’ll post your question and an expert’s answer here in The Job Lounge.

1 comment:

Mr Black said...

Letters of reference are pretty rare in retail these days. Most employers, at least at the retail level, will only aknowledge dates of employment and position. And if someone from your previous store tells ANYONE you stole money you could sue them, and rightly so. Holiday staff are very common in retail. It's good experience and just because you weren't kept on doesn't mean that you aren't a good worker. Indeed, your willingness to work during the busiest, most stressful time of the year, and to "give up" your holidays for your job, show a lot about why you'd make a good employee.