It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. Refusing to comply with a workplace vaccine mandate

Now that we’re seeing the vaccine mandates take effect, I was wondering whether the people who leave their jobs after refusing to take the vaccine would be considered to have quit or been fired.

It’s not clear-cut and will probably be up to the employer to decide what they consider it, but fired seems most logical to me since the person is refusing to comply with a condition of the job.

2. Volunteer’s mom is hanging out and distracting an employee

I manage a small nonprofit organization. It’s usually a pretty quiet and relaxed environment. We have a young girl (around 12) who volunteers for us and she’s great. Her mother has befriended one of our staff members and they spend an excessive amount of time socializing during her shift. This mother will follow our staff member around for an hour or more talking to her while she’s working. I often find them looking at photos and videos together during her shift. Our staff person enjoys this, and I realize other channels for socialization have been curtailed due to the pandemic. I feel awkward about addressing this, but it is disruptive and it does interfere with her work. What is the best way to handle this?

The easiest way is to address it is with the staff member, since you have direct control over how she spends her time at work. Let her know that the socializing has become disruptive and she needs to keep focusing on her job even if the mom is around. I’d talk with her how to message that to the mom too.

But I’m also curious about why your volunteer’s mother is hanging out in the office in the first place. If it’s because she doesn’t want to leave a kid that young there alone, you could let her know that you’re happy to have her stay but your staff need to stay focused on their work and so you’re going to set her up in a conference room instead. But if she’s just sticking around because she’s befriended your employee, it’s reasonable to explain that you’re not set up for visitors to hang out in the office (but maybe she’d like to be put to work too!).

3. How much loyalty should I have when working with recruiters?

I work in a field that has become very “hot” in the past few years. I recently had a call with an external recruiter who wanted to propose me for a position. After discussing it, I was not really interested in the position itself but I thought it could be a good idea to explain what I was looking for. They told me I could leave my resume with them and they would share it with their network so it could reach people who were working more closely to the sub-field I was interested in.

I sent my resume by email and they thanked me and said they were always available to help, and if I wanted to send my profile to any specific company I could let them know and they would intercede for me.

At this point I am not sure if I have made the correct choice in sending my resume. I thought it couldn’t hurt, but I am now scared they might send it to companies directly, without asking me first. I also wonder if this means that I cannot work with other recruiters, in case they come to me with more interesting roles. I just received a message from another recruiter, and I don’t know if it would be fine to hear about what they are proposing. How loyal do I have to be to the original recruiting company?

You don’t have to be at all loyal to the original recruiting company! It’s very common for people to work with multiple recruiters. There’s no exclusivity agreement. Go ahead and talk to that other recruiter.

Also, do not ask that first company to be your intermediary for other jobs you want to apply for! If they happen to be handling the hiring for a particular role, you’d go through them — but otherwise you should apply directly to the jobs you see that interest you. If the recruiter doesn’t have an existing relationship with that company, they won’t bring you any advantages that you wouldn’t get from applying on your own. And in fact, going through them could actually hurt you, because once a recruiter submits you for a job, they “own” your candidacy with that company (according to the terms by which companies and recruiters work together), which means the employer would need to pay them a fee if they hire you. If the company is already working with that recruiter, they expect that fee — but if they’re not, that will immediately make you a more expensive candidate than you would be otherwise. And if a company isn’t interested in using a recruiter (and many aren’t) or in using that recruiter, they’ll often just automatically nix your candidacy if a recruiter presents you.

4. If a company recently rejected me, will they keep me in mind for other jobs?

Lately I’ve been getting to the final round with companies but not getting offers. Usually I feel like I did pretty well in the interview, so probably someone else was just a better fit. (Not that I’ll ever really know.) If those companies post another job I’m qualified for, part of me wants to apply … but part of me figures they know who I am already, and they know I’m looking. If they thought I might be right for this, would they reach out to me?

Especially if it’s a small-to-medium company and I interviewed quite recently, what’s best practices? It almost feels delusional to apply to a small org that rejected me a month ago, even if it was for a different role.

You should still apply. The position could be on a different team with a different hiring manager, and that person probably doesn’t know of you at all. But even if it’s the same hiring manager, there’s no guarantee they’ll think of you. Managers often just move on to the next job they need to fill and focus on the applications they have for that one, without thinking back to other applicants they saw recently. When you’re doing interviews, it can be easy to forget about the person you talked to six weeks ago who wasn’t right for that job but might be right for this one.

So go ahead and apply! It won’t look odd. And even if it turns out that you’re not right for the second role, there’s still no shame in trying; people submit applications for second, third, even fourth jobs at the same company all the time.

5. Looking fresh after biking to work

I’m about to start my first professional job out of college in a new city. Although I’m close to public transportation, the bike commute time is 20 minutes while the train is 40. I love biking, so this is a perk, but I’m worried about ruining my work clothes and showing up sweaty! Do you (or readers who bike) have any tips on looking fresh for work after biking there, especially while managing rain and snow? (I doubt the office will have a shower.)

Let’s find out. Readers?

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