asking for a better title as a volunteer, declining an offer to interview, and more

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

1. Can I ask for a title that better describes the work I’m doing as a volunteer?

I am a licensed attorney, and have been for about seven months now. Because the job market still sucks hard, I have been clerking (for free) in the office of a local judge. While not ideal, this has gotten me both experience and exposure to the legal community. My issue is this: the judge, in introducing me to other attorneys, often refers to me as his “intern,” a title which bothers me because in the legal world “intern” generally denotes someone still in law school and otherwise unlicensed to practice. My position does have some similarities to that of an intern (most notably being unpaid) but I am an attorney and I do the job of one, and I would like other attorneys — particularly those that might employ me one day — to know that. Do you think this is a reasonable request, and if so, how would you go about asking it?

Yes, it’s absolutely reasonable. You’re doing what sounds like substantive work, and you’re doing it for free; you should at least get an accurate title out of it. I’d say something like, “Do you think we could give me a title? I’d love to be able to put something that accurately describes my work on my resume and be identified that way when you’re introducing me. ___ is a title that many offices like ours seem to use for someone doing the type of work I’m doing.”

2. Declining an offer to interview for a different position after being rejected for another

I received a rejection letter for a part-time position I interviewed for last week. The top half of the email was standard boilerplate: “We decided to move forward with other applicants …” In the second half, she stated that the company believes I would be a better fit for a different full-time position within the company and asked if I would be interested in applying/interviewing for that. I had read the description of this other role before I applied and I have no interest in it. I like to do follow-up emails, but the question I have here is how do I address the second half of her email in a polite, respectful manner?

Just be straightforward. It’s not rude to not be interested in a particular job. Say something like: “Thanks so much for mentioning the X position. It’s not quite what I’m looking for, but I appreciate your thinking of me for it. Thank you also for letting me know your hiring decision for the Y position, and best of luck with your new hire.”

If you’re inclined, you can be specific about why you’re not interested — “I’m focusing on roles with an emphasis on teapot construction” or whatever — but that’s not necessary.

3. Should I reapply to a position when I applied last month and haven’t heard back?

A company I would love to work for recently had a job posting for a junior position that seemed right up my alley. I quickly applied, heard nothing, sent a follow-up a week later, and still got nothing. This was about a month ago. The posting is still on the company website, even as others have been taken down, making me think they’re still looking. I’ve been toying with the idea of tweaking my resume and cover letter and applying again, which makes me wonder: is there any kind of expiration date on a job application? Is there a certain amount of time a job posting should sit empty before applying again (assuming I even should, or should I just take the hint and move on?)

If you reapply only a month later, they’re going to assume that you forgot you applied the first time and you’ll look disorganized. A better idea, if you want to reach out to them, would be to send the hiring manager a letter reiterating your interest (and if you sent a lackluster cover letter the first time, improve it now).

4. My interviewer discussed my interview with a former employee

I recently had an interview to become the manager of my current department. The day after my interview one of the ladies I work with tells me that my store manager discussed my interview with an ex-employee rather extensively. Is this illegal? I feel humiliated and degraded by her actions. What should I do?

No, that is legal. It’s legal for an interviewer to discuss your job interview with pretty much anyone in fact. And indeed, interviewers often do talk interviews over with others when they’re working through their assessment of a candidate. There’s no reason to feel humiliated by it, unless the discussion was particularly disparaging.

5. How are other companies increasing the number of women in upper management?

Today my company announced it will be introducing a mentor program and focusing more on training staff for upper management. During the meeting about it, I raised the point that our upper management is entirely men, and asked about whether the programs could help address that imbalance.

People were very positive about the idea but didn’t seem to have thought about it before; the CEO and HR head both came over to me to chat about it afterwards, and were both keen but also went “ah, well, it’s hard because we’re a male-dominated industry and sometimes the person with the most experience and skills is always going to be a man.” I agree this is currently true, but I think we should be working to change that rather than just iterating it.

I’d like to email the HR head who’s implementing our program with examples of how other companies are actively supporting women and equality in upper management and go “hey, look at what this company is doing, maybe we could incorporate something like this?” Do you (and/or your readers, maybe?) have any ideas or examples I could send him?

I’m throwing this out to readers for ideas. Readers, what can you offer that might help?

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