applying for a job where my manager’s husband works, is my masters degree hurting my job search, and more

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

1. Is my masters degree hurting my job search?

I graduated with a masters degree in Communications Management and have spent about a year doing various part-time jobs and internships to gain more work experience and am looking for a full-time job. I also applied to a temp agency after I felt like I need some help in the “getting a job” department. I got a call from the agency about a position and they called back saying the company felt I was overqualified. I laughed as I’ve never heard that before and didn’t agree that I had enough experience to be considered overqualified. The temp agency person retorted that I do have a masters degree.

Is my masters degree hurting my job search? Should I leave it off in some instances? I have been trying to apply to more entry level pr and marketing positions since most of my work has been part time or internships for a few nonprofits. I don’t know if I am undervaluing my skills going for positions that only require a bachelors or even a just a high school degree.

Maybe. One problem with getting a masters when you’re seeking work in a field that doesn’t require it is that some employers will think you don’t really want the job you’re applying for, since it’s not in “your field.” That alone can end up being a reason not to hire you—for the exact same job you might have been a stronger contender for before you got your graduate degree.

On the other hand, that’s not what’s necessarily happening here, and it’s dangerous to let one company’s opinion dictate how you present yourself. But yeah, it’s useful to be aware that advanced degrees aren’t always exclusively helpful.

2. My manager is over-scheduling and under-paying me

As a recently transitioning officer out of the Marine Corps, I found myself with several months of “free time” prior to my next career starting up. So, as a means to keep myself physically active and busy, I took a Job for part-time hours working in a warehouse. I specifically asked for no more than 30 hours a week. It is now going into the third month of employment and I have been consistently working 50 hour weeks. Because of these tremendous hours, I have not been able to focus my spare time on my GI-Bill.

As a part-time employee, I am making $10 dollars an hour with no benefits. The full-time employee I work with in the warehouse makes $25 an hour with full benefits. But we are now working the same hours day on stay on.

As a former officer, I knew it was on me to bring this issue up with my manager immediately, and his response was as follows: “Oh, you are such a good employee and we need you here! You working 30 hours a week was just a white lie, I actually expect you to work 50 hours or so a week.”

So basically, because of my work ethic, I have been forced into doing a full-time job (that I am extremely overqualified for) for part-time pay with no benefits. How should I address this with HR, as I know this will come down unfavorably on my manager? And ultimately my next career starts in January, and I fear for the event that they ask for a review from the part-time transition job.

Well, first, try talking directly to your manager. Say something like this: “I’m glad that you appreciate my work. However, we agreed when I started work that I’d be scheduled for no more than 30 hours per week. I cannot work more than that because of other commitments. Will that be a problem?” If your manager says that it will in fact be a problem, then you have to decide if you’re willing to work the additional hours (at which point you should insist on receiving the corresponding benefits and consider negotiating a higher salary) or if you’d rather decline all the hours. It’s not unreasonable to do either of those, and it shouldn’t harm your reference as long as you do it in a pleasant, professional way.

3. Working at a large organization where the rules change constantly

I am new to a position as a state employee. How do I handle being at a large organization that no one seems to have answers to the simplest questions or you get conflicting answers. You don’t need receipts to be reimbursed for travel but when you hand in the travel voucher you are asked, “Where are your receipts?” I am accused of having attitude when I remind the person I was told I did not need them. It is very frustrating and the rules change constantly. They is no leadership and HR is absolutely no help. How do I deal with this frustration on a daily basis? I am reconsidering this position.

You basically have to decide if you’re willing to put up with it because you like other parts about working there well enough or not (whether that’s the work, the pay, or whatever). But one thing I can tell you is that if you’re being accused of being snippy, you’ll get better results if you don’t let your frustration show — particularly at someone who might not be responsible for it. There’s a big difference between “Jane told me I didn’t need receipts” said in a defensive or annoyed tone and “Oh! I’m sorry — Jane didn’t think I’d need receipts — do I?”

4. Applying for a job where my manager’s husband works

I recently saw a position that is a great fit for me — the type of job I am looking for at a great company. The problem is that my current supervisor’s husband (I’ll call him Bob) works at this company. The job is at a very small division of a large company. Bob is in a related department, not the one I am applying to work in. The thing is, he used to work at my current company for several years and just moved to the new company a few months ago. Since it is such a small division and Bob previously worked at my company, I am fairly certain that the hiring manager or the recruiter would ask him about me. I would even expect that he would be part of the panel that interviews for the position.

How should I address this? Bob is very professional and not one to gossip, but not to tell his wife one of her employees is applying for a job at his company seems like a stretch. I am afraid to discuss it with my boss because I am afraid that would limit my future growth opportunities at my current company if I don’t get the other job.

It doesn’t seem like you can apply for this job without your current manager hearing of it — which might mean that you can’t apply for it at all, if you don’t want your manager to know you’re job-searching. That sucks, but it sounds like the reality of the situation.

5. Sending thank-yous to interviewers who said that future communication should go through HR

Quick question regarding follow-up notes – what if you interview with a few people, but they tell you to funnel all future communication through the HR person who scheduled the interview? Is figuring out how to contact them each directly something that goes above and beyond, or does it disregard their instructions? If I do communicate through the HR person, do I ask them to pass along my note?

If your interviewers specifically tell you to funnel all future communication through the HR person, you should follow that instruction when it comes to communications that require a response — such as checking in about the hiring timeline, asking for an update, or asking a question about the position. But a thank-you note doesn’t fall in that category, and you should be fine sending thank-you’s directly to your interviewers. (It won’t count as above and beyond though; it’s not sufficiently above and beyond for it to be perceived that way. But it’s still a good thing to do.)

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