columnist Alison Green answers questions about workplace and management issues--everything from how to deal with a micromanaging boss to how to talk to someone on your team about body odor.

Here's a roundup of answers to five questions from readers.

1. Our employee is openly job searching at work.

I am the team lead of a two-person admin team for a sales department. I am the supervisor of the second person, Jane, but not her manager; however, most critiques are expected to flow through me first unless there is a serious problem.

Jane spends most of her time in our reception area (answering phones, greeting visitors, etc.) It can be slow, so my manager is very flexible about internet usage. Recently though, I have noticed that Jane is spending quite a bit of her time at the front desk searching for a new job. She is doing this on the office computer, which is visible to guests and anyone who walks through the reception area. My office is absolutely the type where people notice what other people are doing on their computers.

My problem isn't the idea of her leaving; this job has a high turnover and it's expected most people will eventually leave the position because the room for growth is minimal. But I am not comfortable with her spending her time this way, as it feels inappropriate and unprofessional to use company time to find a new job. I am not sure if I am overreacting, and I don't want to create unnecessary conflict if there isn't a need. Should I approach this with her, take it to my manager, or leave it be?

Green responds:

Your job as her supervisor means that you should say something to her, and for that I'd say something like, "Jane, I've noticed you spending a lot of time looking at job sites while you're at work. It's fine to look at news or other non-work sites when it's slow, but we can't have you job searching during work hours. If you're ready to move on, I'll support you in doing that, but openly job searching from works looks bad to people who see what's on your computer."

You should also give your manager a heads-up (and let her know that you addressed it) so she's not blindsided if she hears about it from someone else. That's not tattling; you're both part of the management team above this employee, and she should have the same information you do.

2. My manager refers to me as her "supermodel."

I am the most junior employee at a small nonprofit. My manager is a 66-year-old woman who is very sweet but a little overbearing. We work very closely with another organization, and the head of that organization is a very beautiful, tall, 28-year-old woman. (She is also extremely professional, competent, overqualified, and just an overall very kind person.) Our two organizations work out of the same office building.

I assume this must have already been a running joke between the two of them before I started here, but my manager would say that the other organization had their "own personal supermodel" working for them. Now that I've started working here, I've heard her say multiple times that "now we have our own supermodel too." I don't mean to come across as vain or ungrateful for the compliment, but when she refers to me this way, especially in front of legislators, the president of the company, and other VIPs, it makes me feel as if my work is unimportant compared to my looks. I don't want to offend her by saying something, but I worry that potential connections are being lost when I'm introduced as "office supermodel" instead of "office manager."

Green responds:

Eeewww -- yes, of course you feel that way. It doesn't matter how complimentary she intends it to be; having your looks discussed in a professional setting is demeaning and inappropriate. And by doing this, she's inviting other people to think about and possibly comment on your appearance too.

You absolutely should say something to her. I'd say this: "Jane, I know this is a joke between you and (other organization), but I'd really prefer you not refer to me as a supermodel. I want to be known for my professional achievements and competence, and I really don't want the people we work with thinking about what I look like; I want them thinking about my work."

Hopefully, she'll apologize and say that she'll stop doing it. But if she becomes defensive or tells you that it's just a joke, you should say, "I know it's a joke. But it makes me uncomfortable, so I'd like you stop. Thank you."

3. I lied on a job application and my offer was pulled.

I've been working at a job for about three months now. Between having a new baby and the hours, I've come to the conclusion that it's not for me. I applied for a new job, and I got an interview. But since at the time I applied, I had only been at my new job for a short time and I didn't want to have a gap in employment or come across as job jumping, I said on my resume that I was still at my previous job, which I had been at for over two years.

When the HR person did a background check, they saw I had left earlier this year. Now they have taken away the potential job offer. I know it probably wasn't the best option, but is there any way I could still get the job or is it a lost cause and I should just move on and deal with the current bad job until I find something else?

Green responds:

It's very unlikely that there's any way to salvage it. You lied about your employment and said you were still working at a job you'd left months before. That's going to be a pretty big red flag about integrity; employers generally don't want to hire someone who lies about that sort of thing, because they assume you're not trustworthy and will lie about other things too. I'd write this off, and take it as a useful lesson for future applications.

4. How to ask a prospective employer for a schedule where I'd leave early.

I am currently searching for a new job and I'm wondering how to ask for specific work hours. I have a 1-year-old daughter who attends a daycare we adore, but it is only open until 4:30, which means I need to leave work to pick her up before then. At my current job, I've modified my hours, so I come in early, take a short lunch, and leave early. I'm also available to work at home in the evening if needed. I'd really like to continue this schedule and not have to find a new daycare. If it matters, the jobs are upper-level research and development roles that involve working with a team, as well as a lot of solo work.

How do I bring this up? In the past, I've always accepted the terms as they were offered (and kick myself afterward), so I don't have a lot of negotiating experience. Am I crazy for even asking a potential employer to accommodate this sort of schedule without only being considered for lower-level positions? I feel a trapped in my current job because it fits our family needs so well, but I also want to advance my career.

Green responds:

Ask for it! In many contexts, you're actually more likely to be able to negotiate this for higher-level positions than lower-level ones. 

Wait until you have an offer, and bring it up see if you can negotiate for it. An employer may or may not agree, but it's not unreasonable to ask for it. If they won't agree to it, then you can decide whether the rest of the package is attractive enough to make it worth it to you anyway, or you can always turn it down. But you're better off trying to negotiate it once you have an offer; if you bring it up earlier in the process, you risk it being a strike against you before they've made up their mind that they want you, or the hiring manager not wanting to bother figuring out if they want to hire you.

5. Interviewer rejected me when I said I'm going to school full-time.

Recently, I was contacted by the CEO of a new startup for an exciting job opportunity. But when she asked how much longer school would take (a year), she said she had full-time employment in mind and didn't think I would be able to dedicate myself to the position. I'm going to school in a subject directly related to the job and have been working a similar job the past two years for another startup, so I am a very strong candidate.

Should I not mention that I'm going to school full-time if I get a similar offer? I could go to school part-time instead, though I'd rather not. Should I have said that? I'm wondering if I should contact the CEO and ask to be reconsidered, but I'm not sure if that's something that's done.

Green responds:

Yeah, a lot of employers are nervous about people going to school full-time while they're also working full-time, because they're concerned that you won't won't be able to balance both, and that work will suffer. That's especially true with high-stress or high-workload jobs, and startups tend to be both. When an employer tells you that you can't do both, you should believe them -- it often means they'll need you to work long or unpredictable hours, and that they're not going to be willing to accommodate class or studying schedules.

Want to submit a question of your own? Send it to