I spent six years and nine months in my first newspaper job. I started as a part-time copy boy while I was in college, and I eventually moved into a full-time reporting job.
Then I decided it was time for another job, and I began looking across the country for another employer. After receiving a stack of rejections, I got one from an East Coast newspaper that seemed promising.
In the following weeks, an offer appeared imminent. I was excited about my prospects when my prospective employer said it would have to check my references. I had a couple of friends on my reference list, but since I had worked only for one newspaper, I had to list the editor of that newspaper as a reference, too.
I promptly walked into the managing editor’s office and told him I had been looking for a job and that he might receive a call from an East Coast editor about my qualifications.
The next day, the managing editor called a staff meeting and announced some staff changes, including assigning me to the worst job in the whole newsroom.
So much for candor and honesty. I felt betrayed: I didn’t have a job offer in hand, nor any promise that one was coming, and was stuck in a rotten job.
I came to realize; there are some things you probably just shouldn’t tell your employer.
The web site Salary.com recently reported a list of things your employer probably doesn’t need to know about you. This is information the company can use against you if it chooses to.
Here are some things to consider before sharing what may be too much of your personal life at work.
Religious beliefs, political beliefs or sexual orientation. Of course there are anti-discrimination laws to protect you on the job, but there are subtle ways these things can be held against you, and you’ll never be able to prove it.
How you spent your Saturday night. Your idea of fun might not match up to that of your supervisor. By revealing your weekend exploits, you might find that you’ve shared information that doesn’t sit well with the boss. It’s not fair, but it happens.
Revealing your spouse’s pay or job status. If your spouse happens to hold a very good position or recently got a big promotion or pay raise, there are some bosses that may decide that you don’t “need” a promotion after all. That’s wrong, of course, but it does happen.
Revealing health issues. This can be a dicey situation. There is a reason our country has strict confidentiality over medical records. And, even though anti-discrimination laws are in place, penalizing workers for their health problems remains one of the biggest issues in today’s workplace.
Revealing that you are working a second job. Many employers discourage their workers from taking on part-time or outside jobs. But as long as it doesn’t conflict with your ability to do your full-time job, or compete with your employer, you should be free to do so. Just don’t tell your boss what you’re doing.
We probably all agree that we shouldn’t have to hide this information, yet the only reason we do is so many others have been penalized before. It’s up to each of us to decide how much we want to share on the job.