mini answer Monday — 6 short answers to 6 short questions

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

1. Organization where I volunteer won’t bother to reject me for a job I interviewed for

I was rejected, apparently, for a job for a nonprofit I’m actively volunteering for. I’m not only volunteering, I’m developing and leading a public tour for their development department. This is the department where I applied for a job.

After a two-hour interview, they have not even sent me an email that I didn’t get the job. I heard it through the volunteer grapevine that they hired someone else. Even a polite email from me asking about the job was ignored. I understand that there may have been more qualified candidates. But doesn’t a high-profile volunteer deserve the courtesy of a return email?

I know I should forge on and be brave. I believe in the work they do, and in the work I’m doing for them. Advice on how to do this would be much appreciated. I’m feeling pretty much like a doormat right now.

Talk to whoever you report to as a volunteer, and explain that you’ve never heard anything back from the person you interviewed with, despite emailing and directly asking for an update. Say that you certainly understand if you didn’t get the job, but you’d hope they’d respond to anyone who put in time to interview, let alone someone who volunteers huge amounts of time to the organization. Ask them to look into what happened. Once you get a response, decide if you’re interested in continuing to volunteer — and if you decide you’re not, make sure you let them know why. This kind of behavior is incredibly rude when it’s done to regular candidates; it reaches a whole new level of insult when done to a volunteer.

2. When you don’t want to work with someone your company might hire

My supervisors are interviewing to fill a position on my team at work. The other day, I noticed a resume from a man I know from a little while back who they have interviewed. Someone I am close to was discriminated in their workplace, lost their job, and then won the lawsuit against the employer. I realized that the candidate for the job at my work is the son of one of the defendants of the lawsuit. Because of this, I do not want to work with this man, but I am not making the hiring decision even through I will be his coworker and will be training/working closely with him for the next few months if he gets the job. Should I tell something to my boss about a conflict with his family? I’m concerned this will affect our ability to work with one another.

What?! Do you want to be denied jobs or treated badly by potential coworkers because of something a relative may have done? What you’re proposing is incredibly unfair, as well as poorly thought-out. This guy didn’t do anything to you or anyone you know. Stay out of it, and if he’s hired, treat him as you would anyone else.

3. Employer won’t reimburse mileage or cell phone costs

I’ve just started working for a nonprofit and am realizing that they are expecting us to use our personal property for the job. This was not mentioned in the interview process. For example, they want me to use my car to transport supplies to another center. I’ve done it twice but I don’t want to make it a habit since they are not reimbursing for gas, mileage, etc. When my coworker asked for reimbursement for using her personal cell phone to call clients, our manager said that in this industry employees are expected to use their personal property without reimbursement. I would like to be seen as a team player so I don’t know how to proceed. I thought of saying that my car is not a reliable one and I can only use it to go to and from work….what do you think?

People are sometimes expected to use their personal car or cell phone for work purposes, but they’re generally reimbursed for doing so (mileage or gas, the portion of the phone bill that’s over and above what it would have normally been with non-work use, etc.). Your manager is wrong that nonprofit employees are expected to incur costs without reimbursement — use the property, yes, sometimes (as in any sector), but go without reimbursement? No.

As for what to do … perhaps you and your coworkers can show your employer policies from other nonprofits on this, many of which are available online, or suggest they get guidance from the Center for Nonprofit Advancement or a similar group.

4. Writing a cover letter to a previous employer

I have looked elsewhere on the internet and there is very little (almost non-existent) information on how to write a cover letter to a previous employer. How should I approach this? Also, it’s a retail company. I am applying for a different position than what I did last time though they are both hourly.

Approach it the same way you normally would, but more informally (if you’re writing to someone you know), and let your previous time at the company inform what you write.

5. Performance review accused me of something I never did

After 5 years of working for a nonprofit and constantly receiving good reviews, I have received an unexpected poor review. The only reason given for requiring improvement was one I was not previously made aware of or given the option to explain or contest.

At the end of last year, while we were moving from our long-time location to a new space, a long-time volunteer who I had worked closely with asked me what the new location would mean for my commute. I told her that it would not be any more difficult to get to through transit but that I would non longer be able to bicycle everyday.

This volunteer, upset about how the move would affect her volunteer experience, wrote a letter to management to complain. In this letter she mentioned that the change of location would negatively affect me (in addition to many volunteers) due to not being able to bicycle any longer. Management concluded that I had a bad attitude regarding the move (which I did not) and that I was sharing my negative opinions with volunteers (which I was not). The fact that this letter even existed was only mentioned to me once casually and I was unaware that it was causing me to be perceived negatively. I was never solicited for my version or events, nor were other volunteers contacted regarding their experience with my attitude towards the move. I did not once discuss my feelings towards the move with volunteers in a negative manner and instead worked with them to ensure them their volunteer roles would not be negatively affected. The only time I mentioned the change in commute was when specifically asked if I could still bike.

It has also been brought to my attention that my two immediate supervisors over the year do not agree with my negative appraisal. I am unsure how to proceed be do not feel this appraisal was fair or adequate. I have been given two days to sign and return the assessment but do not feel I can sign it. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Well, first, signing doesn’t indicate agreement; it indicates you received it. It’s fine to write, “signing to acknowledge receipt only.” Meanwhile, though, talk to your manager and tell her that the content of the review is factually inaccurate and that you want her help in getting it changed.

(By the way, if this single incident caused the entire review to be negative, someone at your company is out of their gourd.)

6. Should I apply only for positions I’m fully qualified for?

After 4 years at my current company and over 2 years in my current position, I think that it is time to move on. I am a corporate trainer and am looking for another training position. Due to lack of experience (this is my first position as a trainer) and lack of formal education (I don’t have a college degree and my education in Adult Learning is all independent study), I don’t feel as comfortable at interviewing as I have in the past. I know I can train, I just don’t know how to “market” myself in an interview.

Basically, should I only apply for positions I feel qualified for, or should I apply for positions that I may not have enough experience for just so I can interview more? (As a side note: it normally takes me a week to apply for a job once I see it because I take the time to research and make sure I have a good resume and cover letter.)

Apply for positions you’re qualified for, but don’t feel that you have to be a perfect match. If you have 80% of the qualifications they’re looking for, go ahead and apply.

But don’t spend a week researching and preparing to apply. Given how many jobs most people have to apply for in this economy just to get an interview, if you spend that much time on it, you’ll either be spending every waking hour doing this or only applying to a job per week, which isn’t going to be enough. Aim to spend a maximum of an hour per application (including research time and writing the cover letter; ideally you’d have a basic cover letter that you could customize for each position — but not start from scratch for each, at least not most of the time). If you get called for an interview, at that point you can do more research and preparation — but the initial resume and cover letter shouldn’t take more than an hour, tops.

This entry was posted in HR, Leadership. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.