mini answer Monday — 7 short answers to 7 short questions

It’s mini answer Monday — seven short answers to seven short questions. Here we go…

1. Coworker’s loud calls are distracting

I work for a F100 company and I was recently promoted from a union to a management position on a new team. Since the promotion, I was moved to a new office floor that is somewhat vacant. There are about 5 union employees and the rest of us are management on varying levels. Everything is great, I really like the position, growth opportunities and I still have a huge window overlooking the park!

My dilemma is one of the managers (who was sitting over here before me) who sits in the back talks extremely loudly. We do not have doors that we can close, so I am stuck listening to her all day. Sometimes I put my headphones on and listen to jazz, but even then she can still be heard. I dread having to listen to the conference calls that are on speaker phone and every detail of her work that she is discussing. Everyone else manages to talk softly and discreetly. Since she is on the other side of the office and I can still hear her, she must be talking pretty loud. I assume no one has brought this to her attention since there are very few people over here. As I type, she has got on another call and she is ridiculously loud.

I have heard her speak to other people and she can be very brash and almost rude and condescending. How do I politely bring this to her attention without confrontation? I want to specifically address her volume and the fact that every call is on speaker. My work is important too and I need some concentration. My boss is in another state so I can’t (and wouldn’t) rely on him to fix this. I’m not “scurd” as they say, I just want to put an end to this and retain an otherwise pleasant office atmosphere.

“Jane, I hate to ask, but I wonder if you could keep your voice down when you’re on the phone? I’m finding that it really carries and make it hard to focus on times.” Or, “Jane, could you avoid speaker phone when you’re on calls? It makes it hard for me to concentrate.” You can probably only ask one of these for now, so pick it carefully.

I’m assuming she’s a peer, by the way. If she’s significantly above you in the hierarchy, you might need to just suck it up or find someone else to talk to her.

2. Adding a spouse or friends on LinkedIn

Is it appropriate to add your spouse on LinkedIn if you have no major professional ties? What about friends?

Sure, that’s fine. Lots of people add social contacts on LinkedIn and don’t confine their networks only to people they’ve worked with or know from a professional setting. (Part of the value of LinkedIn, after all, is gaining access to your circle’s network — something that doesn’t require you to know them in a professional context.)

3. Interviewing with the CEO

I’m super nervous about my upcoming second round interview. I’m interviewing for a junior position on a communications team. I’m meeting with a panel for the second round that includes the CEO of the organization. I’ve never had an interview with the highest ranking person at an org before–my question is, what will he be looking for? I assume they wouldn’t waste a CEO’s time with asking behavioral interview questions. What do you think he will be looking for ? More examples of my experience?

It could be a completely typical interview, with behavioral questions, etc., or — somewhat more likely — he might just want to talk more informally with you. I’d prepare as if it’s going to be the former because most people don’t do well at that type of interview without preparation, but don’t be thrown off it’s the latter.

4. Interviewer asked what my husband thought of him

I was at an interview, and the main interviewer knew my husband from a previous job. He asked me what my husband thought of him. The more I think about it, the weirder it seems. What are you thoughts?

Yes, that’s a weird question. He might have been joking, or he might have just been a weird and maybe awkward guy. Who knows?

5. Employer thinks I’m over-stating how difficult my work is

Ten years ago, I was hired at a church because they were starting a communications dept. and I had some Quark experience. I’m self taught on Photoshop. I’ve improved tremendously over the years with my design work. It’s solid and competent — for our demographic — but not inspired. A true graphic artist who I respect has judged my work to be quite on par with our church’s needs, for most things.

One of our pastors has decided that all three of us need to be cross trained. I was shocked yesterday when he told me that “due to my insecurities, I’ve over dramatized how difficult my job is.” Yes, I am insecure, yet I’ve been honest about the complexity for people who have never used these programs. I’m discouraged and distressed to hear this, especially after all these years. But worst of all, is that my word has no value to them. What is the best way to deal with this low opinion they have of me? How do I convince them that insecurity doesn’t equal liar? And why is it so hard to believe that people who have never done this kind of work might, possibly, find it a touch difficult?

Well, first, people are notorious for thinking that graphic design doesn’t involve as much work as it really does, so that comes with the territory.

But it doesn’t sound like anyone is accusing you of lying — just of perhaps being overly dramatic or overly anxious about the work that your job involves. Yes, it’s easy to be insulted by something like that, but it’s not going to be particularly helpful to you to take that stance. It’s not crazy to want some degree of cross-training in a small department, so that if you’re out some day and they need something changed in a document before you’re back, someone is capable of at least basic updates. I’d just look at it from that viewpoint and give up on trying to convince them that they’re wrong, since I suspect that will be fruitless — and frustrating.

6. Sent home for being in a bad mood

A friend of mine who lives in North Carolina just told me that his sister that works for a company on a commisson basis was told not to come in for a week because on this particular day she was in a bad mood because the windshield of her car was smashed. Is this legal?

Yes. If her position is exempt, she needs to be paid her full salary for every week in which she does any work, but if they sent her home for the full week — or if she’s non-exempt — they can absolutely suspend her without pay for a week. I’m assuming that if was at the point that she was sent home for it, that bad mood must have been pretty disruptive — that’s generally not a good idea at work.

7. Will a master’s hurt my chances of getting an internship?

I am finishing up my first year of grad school (it’s a 2-year program), and I am now applying to internships for the summer, when I will be on break. My field is communications/journalism/PR, and I am finding that a lot of people in my industry, even those at the top, don’t seem to hold advanced degrees. As a matter of fact, I was often warned in undergrad that in my field, experience is valued a lot more that a master’s degree. So my question is, do you think a master’s degree can hurt my chances of getting an internship for the summer? I am already having trouble even finding internships to apply for that accept grad students. Will I seem overqualified, un-experienced, or (at the risk of sounding narcissistic), I have even heard that some employers are intimidated by candidates with master’s degrees. I would love to know your thoughts!

I don’t think I’ve ever met a professional adult who was intimidated by someone with a master’s, so I’d drop that worry — or you risk coming across as thinking that it counts for more than it does. In most fields, most employers value work experience far more than graduate degrees (with the usual exceptions, like academia), and that’s certainly true in journalism, where what matters most is your ability to write and your published clips. (In fact, had you written to me earlier, I would have advised you to skip the graduate program and start writing. Much less cost to you, and a bigger pay-off.)

Anyway …being in a masters program, or having a masters, may or may not harm your chances of getting an internship. Some internships are specifically designed for undergraduate students, and those obviously won’t be a good fit. But your school should help you find internships that you’d be a good candidate for; that should be part of what your program does for you, and if they don’t, I’d think really hard about what exactly you’re getting out of the program — it should be helping you become more marketable, not less, right?

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