Talk Jobs: Is the reason for a ’personal day’ personal?
Is the reason for a "personal day" personal?Dear J.T. & Dale: I wanted to go to a protest march on a Saturday when I was scheduled to work. It was Thursday, so I let my boss know I was taking a personal day. He said it wasn't enough notice and that I'd have to give a good reason. It was my understanding that a personal day can be taken at any time without having to give a reason, just like a sick day. But, it was clear I wasn't sick. So, I told him I wasn't comfortable sharing why and that I was told I could use a personal day whenever I needed it. He told me if I didn't give him a reason, I would be marked as absent and could lose my job. Can he do this? -- Kiki
J.T.: Technically, it comes down to what is in your employee handbook. If personal days can be taken without notice, then you can take it. Looking back, it might have been easier to just call in that day, but I can see you were trying to give your boss a heads-up. I think what concerns me more is that you were afraid to tell your management the real reason you needed the day off. That tells me you aren't comfortable sharing with your boss your desire to support someone you care about. Sounds like this might not be the right place for you to work long term. My advice, go have an honest talk with them about why you needed the personal day and if you can't come to some understanding, then it's time to look for a new employer.
DALE: I'm not sure about having that conversation, but I still reach the same conclusion about the workplace. After all, the beauty of the personal day is that there's an unspoken agreement that the answer to the question, "Why do you need the day off?" is "It's personal" and thus that question is never asked. On the other hand, in the best kind of workplace it never gets legalistic and no one is pulling out the employee handbook and thumping on a page. In a great work environment, you don't demand the day and management doesn't debate it; rather, you help one another figure out how to make it work. So, all this tells me that yours is not enlightened management, and that tells me it's time to start looking.
Dear J.T. & Dale: I recently heard that recruiters only spend about "six seconds" skimming a person's resume. It seems like they'd miss a lot of good candidates. -- Roya
DALE: I know that six seconds per resume sounds absurd when it's your resume, the one where you spent days perfecting every word, but take a piece of paper, or the equivalent on a computer screen, and spend six seconds with it and you'll be surprised how much you can take in. With a resume, you can see in seconds where a person lives, where they went to school and what sort of jobs they've held. That's the first screening, enough to make the initial determination -- maybe or no. That's why larger companies have automated the process with programs meant to emulate that initial decision process.
J.T.: Yes, recruiters skim your resume to look for specific skill sets and experience. If you have the basics, then they go back and read more thoroughly. Why do they do this? Because thanks to technology, recruiters now get overwhelmed by the sheer volume of resumes they receive online. When you get hundreds, sometimes thousands of resumes, you physically can't take the time to read each one fully. It would take weeks. So, they learn to skim and then narrow down. The result? Yes, some good people get passed over because they don't pass the skim test. The solution? Go around the online process network with people who work there and see if you can't get your resume and credentials reviewed via referral. That can help you get a shot of being considered in a time when there is more competition than ever for good jobs.
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, 628 Virginia Dr., Orlando, FL 32803.