What should I tell new prospective employers about a job I quit after one month?
April 22, 2008 5:02 AM   Subscribe

My job is just not working out, and it's my first job in six years. Should I mention this job when applying for others? Also, I have to clock in five minutes before my start time, is this legal?

At the place I work I'm required to clock in five minutes before my official start time, and I'm not paid for the five minutes. Supposedly it is to make sure that I am ready for work at my exact start time. My desk is about 25 feet from the time clock. I do wear a shirt with the company logo but I put it on at home so it's not the sort of thing where I have to change into a uniform or something.

When I first started I was told I could clock in at any time prior to five minutes before my shift, and then could sit in my car or do whatever I wanted as long as I was at my desk ready to start working promptly at nine. Now my boss has said that I can't be in my car or anywhere except the place I clock in (an old tool shed with a time clock in it) so I have to stay there until I'm ready to work.

I think I've decided that I can't stay there, but I just want to know for myself if this is legal.

Though it's quite possible that this is technically legal, I think this is just a method of getting an extra five minutes a day out of us, as everyone else just starts working when they clock in. I'm going to be leaving this job, because in addition to this five minutes thing, they expect me to answer phones at lunch when I am not being paid and have asked me to do work related activities at home, like looking through books of graphics to see if any might be suitable for use in the office and practicing my handwriting, which is already neat but lacks "flair".

It's not what I thought it would be when I started. They ask a lot of questions on the application about computer experience. In the interview they were very interested in my computer skills and wanted They asked me a lot of questions about computers and my experience. They told me it would be some clerical, some customer service, and some landscape drafting. I thought that I would be working on the computer, which I like and am good at. But I'm not on the computer, most of the clerical part of the job is writing things out neatly by hand. Many times I have to write the same thing over and over and over again. I'm so bored! I do like the drafting but it's only about a quarter of my time there.

They also micromanage me to a huge degree. I'm used to being given a list of things to do and working on them. Now I get my tasks broken down into little bits and they constantly supervise me and ask if I'm finished. I'm so bored and irritated it's really hard to keep writing the same words on a stack of invoices and I zone out, making me look like a slacker or something. I'm really trying to have a good attitude and telling myself that I won't be in this job forever, but it's really upsetting me.

Since it's my first job in a long time and it's seasonal I was really hoping to stay until the end of the summer when the drafting work would stop. But I just dread going to work so much. My husband really wants me to work full time, though we don't really need the money and that is the only reason I have stayed as long as I have.

I think I am going to try to do temp work. Should I put this job on my resume? Is there some way they can tell if you've been working? I don't want to be dishonest but I think they will be very irritated if I quit and I can't imagine they would say good things about me. Since I haven't worked full time in many years I was really hoping for a good local current recommendation but I guess not.

Sorry for the long disjointed post, I'm quite sad over this.
posted by Melsky to Work & Money (5 answers total)
 
Best answer: Though it's quite possible that this is technically legal

Doubt it.

I think this is just a method of getting an extra five minutes a day out of us

Bingo!

You can call the Department of Labor at 315 428 4057 to get their opinion on it. And then file a claim for unpaid wages. Doing this while you hold your current job will not make you many friends.
posted by grouse at 5:20 AM on April 22, 2008


All experience is good. It's just a matter of answering the question "why did you leave your last job" properly.
posted by PowerCat at 6:20 AM on April 22, 2008


I can't give you any specific advice, but as a general matter, if an employee's freedom is restrained, even if they not actively working, that is compensable time under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Also, requiring an employee to perform work during an unpaid lunch would also make that time compensable under the FLSA.
posted by pardonyou? at 8:06 AM on April 22, 2008


Best answer: The five-minute thing does not seem unusual in and of itself. Combined with the employer's requirement that you answer phones during lunch and do work in your off-hours, it shows a very unacceptable pattern of exceeding professional-personal boundaries.

However, I qualify that with that it may depend on what type of employee you are classified as. At my workplace, there are employees qualified as "exempt" and employees qualified as "non-exempt." It boils down to that exempt employees are paid a bit better and have higher staff positions, but are not paid for overtime and are essentially when-the-job's-done. Non-exempts' jobs are based more on hours.

I would not put the job on your resume. No, if you don't provide future employers with this employer's contact information, assuming it's not a small town where everyone knows everyone, there's not a way they can tell you've been working. (You do need to then "explain" the gap between jobs, however.)

My own suggestion would be to go ahead and inform places where you apply of your current job. You can turn this into a plus, actually, because (a) they were dishonest in their interviews with you, which gives you a perfect out; and (b) the things you desire from a position are things that employers want applicants to be looking for, which makes them pluses, not minuses. If you are asked why you left your current employer (and you will be) ...

"Why did you leave Wockets, Inc.?"

"Well, I accepted the position at Wockets with the understanding, based on our interviews, that the position would make use of a lot of the different skillsets I bring to the table, including what I feel are very strong skills with computers. However, upon accepting and beginning the job, the position and its duties was very different from what had been initially established -- and I didn't feel continued employment there would even maintain my current skills, let alone challenge me. I also have the ability to be given a project and run with it, and that was not really the management approach used there."
posted by WCityMike at 8:15 AM on April 22, 2008 [4 favorites]


Response by poster: Thanks so much for the input. I'm going to quit very soon.
posted by Melsky at 6:58 AM on April 28, 2008


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