I don’t want to be an employer’s second choice, manager doesn’t care that our new coworker is horrible, and more

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

1. I don’t want to be an employer’s second choice

I got an interview for an internship, and the interviewer told me they would get back to me on a Tuesday (interview was on Friday). I hadn’t heard back from them on Tuesday so I sent a follow-up email. Interviewer replied back, saying it’s taken a bit more time to meet with all the candidates (even though I knew they interviewed my “competition” on the same day I had my interview), so they would get back to me on Thursday/Friday. Friday came and no news. So the coming Monday, I sent a follow-up email. Before the end of the day, I got a call from the interviewer that they were moving forward with another candidate. I asked for feedback, etc – the reason that I didn’t get it was because the other candidate had IT background, which I don’t have. So I totally accept defeat. After the call, I still sent a thank-uou email for the call and the opportunity and said that I look forward to be considered for future opportunities at the company (I really liked the person who interviewed me, so I was still happy despite the rejection).

So the Thursday of that week, interviewer replied to that thank-you email and asked if I have time for a second interview. Thinking it was another opportunity, I said yes. He called me to give more info. And I found out that I was being interviewed for the same role. Over the phone, he gave me some tips on how I can do better in the interview. Given that I was already rejected, I asked if there was a problem. Interviewer said he felt like he lacked info about me that they are unable to make a decision. Really?

I am done with the second interview but I honestly wanted to cancel the interview all together if I had the chance. Am I making assumptions too early that they just want to interview me again because their first choice rejected them? Am I wrong to feel demoralized to work for a company that only thinks of me as second choice?

Lots of people get hired for jobs as the “second choice,” and there’s nothing wrong with that. This isn’t like dating, where you probably wouldn’t want a date with someone who only asked you out after someone he liked better turned him down. This is employment; it’s not personal if they originally preferred someone else to you. Really, the only relevant question is whether you want the job if it’s offered to you.

I also wouldn’t be too put off that they want to have a second conversation with you. It’s not unreasonable to interview someone twice before hiring them, especially if you still have outstanding questions. In fact, it would be a very bad idea to hire someone when you still have outstanding questions, so it makes sense that they’re asking to talk again — and you can probably get a sense of what those questions are by whatever his “tips” to you were.

2. Our manager doesn’t care that our new coworker is horrible

I work in a small office where we recently added a new position due to our growing business. Our jobs entail a lot of complicated tasks and requires sharp memory and attention to detail. Our new employee has been with us for four months. She does not like to follow directions, argues, and makes mistakes frequently. She always has a bad attitude. We have tried re-educating her on things she makes mistakes on in the nicest way possible, but she still makes the same mistakes and is basically rude. Our manager is pushing us to give her more tasks to learn when she is struggling with the little we have given her. When we told our boss our concerns, she turned everything back on the team like it is our fault she can’t retain anything. The team morale is very low now. What can we do so that our boss address the issue which is the not-so-new employee?

Your manager sounds like she sucks, which might trump anything you try. However, I’d push your manager to recognize what’s going on by continuing to push the problem back to her to deal with. Keep it dry and factual — you don’t want to sound your assessment of your coworker to sound personal — but do go back to her with what you’re seeing, and don’t pull any punches. For instance: “We’ve tried X, Y, and Z to train Jane to handle these projects, but she hasn’t caught on. She sent the wrong proof to the printer this week, and when the client complained, she told him it wasn’t her problem and then left for the day. When Bob tried to coach her on fixing the problem the next day, she told him not to talk to her. All three of us who work closely with her have serious concerns about her ability to do the work she’s charged with. How would you like us to handle this?” If she tells you that you need to give Jane more training, then say, “I’m certainly willing to, but I’ve tried X, Y and Z. Can you help me figure out what else to try?”

But ultimately, you can’t make your manager be a good manager. If she’s resolved not to deal with performance problems, there might not be much you can do to change that.

3. Applying for jobs when I have a specific requirement of the company

I am trying to get licensed as an accountant. My state requires working experience under an active licensed CPA in order to get licensed, and my current manager(s) are all inactive CPAs, which will not fulfill the work experience requirement as mandated by the state. I have decided to start job searching to find a company that is eligible to sign off on my work experience, but how do I convey that in the application process without coming across as snooty/pretentious (“I only want to work for you if you have an active CPA in your company”)? I’d rather not waste their or my time.

I suppose you could say something in your cover letter about this being the reason that you’re looking, but I think you’d actually be better off waiting until a company reaches out to you for an interview or phone screen and asking at that point. (You don’t need to go to the interview to find out; it’s fine to ask over the phone at that point and explain why.) You’re going to be sending in these applications either way, so I’d rather you not get into it in your cover letter and just wait until you’re actually talking to someone.

(You could also try using LinkedIn to figure out if a company has an active CPA on staff, which might help you narrow down your applications.)

4. Resumes when you don’t have much to put in the Education section

I understand that there shouldn’t be any mention of high school on a resume. However, what if you never attended college or had any specialized training of some sort?

Just skip the education section on your resume altogether. It’s not required to put it there.

5. My old manager keeps emailing me job listings that don’t fit what I need

One of my supervisors from a past internship emails me about job openings in my field once in a while. Unfortunately, the jobs have all had an hour and a half or more commute if I drove to them (which I can’t because I don’t have a car), and the jobs don’t pay enough that I’d be able to afford to leave my parents house and move closer. Basically, they’re jobs I can’t apply to. The first time my old supervisor emailed me one of these, I thanked them for keeping me in mind but told them I couldn’t apply because it was just too far away. I didn’t want to seem ungrateful or discourage my old supervisor from emailing me about jobs in the future, so, after that, I started emailing back a thanks for the heads-up and not saying anything else.

Is this a good way to handle it? Or should I let my old supervisor know about my current transportation/living limitations? I’m afraid I’m going to see them/talk to them at some point, they’ll ask if I had any luck with the jobs, and they’ll want to know why I didn’t tell them I wasn’t applying to any of them.

Well, when people send you job listings, they’re not generally expecting that you’ll apply to each and every one; it’s more “here are some listings to look at.”

I don’t think you should keep reminding your past manager about your transportation situation since you’ve already told her one; if you continue bringing it up in response to these emails, it risks coming across as “do a better job of finding me suitable postings.” Instead, just thank her when she thinks of you, and disregard the postings if they’re not right for you. And if she asks you about any of them at some point, you can simply say, “I so appreciate you forwarding me postings that you see! It’s been challenging for me to find something close enough to where I live since I don’t have a car, so the more listings I’m able to look at, the better.” (Note that that’s not a commentary on her specific listings, but rather a broader statement about the challenging you’re facing in your search.)

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