short answer Sunday — 7 short answers to 7 short questions

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

1. I told someone to get out of my spot during a break at work

During coffee breaks at work, my coworkers and I all sit in a conference room if no one is using it. We all have our certain places where we sit and have sat for years. And there are certain people that you don’t mess with and you don’t sit in their spot.

A person who has been working in our office for a year sat in my spot and I said, “That’s my spot” and the person said that they had seniority because they were older and not because they had worked there longer. The chair had wheels on it, so I wheeled the person over one space and put a new chair in my spot and sat down. Later, the person came to my cubicle and said that they were embarrassed and thought that what I did was really rude. So I apologized and they left.

Now I wonder how bad was this really? I didn’t think it was big deal at the time, but I have been obsessing all day about this and wondering if what I did was really out of line and horrible. Should I be expecting anything else in the form of reprimand? Should I talk to this person again or just let it go? Should I not go back to coffee or will that make a mountain out of a mole hill?

Yes, that was rude. But you apologized and you don’t need to stop going to coffee over it, and you probably don’t need to apologize a second time. But all of you should chill out about owning your spots, because, come on, really?

2. Can you mention that you’re excited about a job because it’s close to your house and family-friendly?

I applied for a position where the ad did not mention the name of the firm or location, so I was pleasantly surprised to find out it’s only 5 minutes drive away from my home — walking distance! I got an interview, and the manager emphasized how family-oriented they were and while they didn’t offer great benefits, they were flexible if you needed to leave early to bring kids to a doctor occasionally, etc. (they know I have kids as I mention it in my cover letter to explain a gap in my work history). In my thank-you note after the interview, I thanked them for the interview, mentioned a few business reasons why I think I would be great for the job, and then as a last sentence, how happy I would be to work for a family-oriented business that is so close to my home. My friend says I should not have mentioned it, as it sounds like I want the position for convenience… is she right? I would take the job even if it was further away, but the location is definitely a bonus.

Your friend is right. They want to hire someone who’s excited about the job for the job’s sake, not because of the commute or benefits. (And after all, what happens if they move to a different location?) In general, you want to stick to focusing on the job.

3. Listing achievements at unrelated positions on your resume

I have a question about listing older work positions I have held that do not contribute to the requirements of jobs I am presently applying for. Do I need to put bulleted accomplishments for those jobs or can I simply list the position and use the extra space for those positions that have much more relevant accomplishments? The positions I am applying for are early career level and I do not think it would benefit me to go beyond a one-page resume.

Focus on the jobs that are most relevant to the work you’re applying for. That doesn’t mean that other accomplishments aren’t relevant, though. If you can show a track record of achievement and getting things done, that’s always going to be a good thing, even if it’s in a different field.

4. Working more hours than I’ve been authorized to work

I just started working as temporary part-time job. I work 28 hours a week for four days a week. On my first day of work, I was told that I can’t have work more than 28 hours because then, they would have to do extra work in filing the needed papers to get paid. The bottom line is, it’s going to be more work for my supervisor, and she doesn’t want to deal with it.

In the two weeks that I have worked there, the amount of work that they want me to accomplish often exceeds 28 hours. So I tend to stay after hours to complete the tasks (it has happened about 3 days so far). I have been logging in my hours for all the hours I have worked, despite working over 28 hours. Seeing the upcoming projects as well as events that I am helping to manage, I will be staying a lot longer than 28 hours for the remaining time at this company. Moreover, I have had them contact me over the phone and email on the weekend and my day off to give me tasks. I want to do my job well, but I don’t want to compromise my time off to accomplish those tasks. How do I manage this situation? Should I only work during the time that I am paid for or do I work during my time to get those tasks done to show to my supervisors that I can do a good job?

First, stop working more than 28 hours/week, because you were explicitly told not to do that, so doing it anyway is a big deal. Second, talk to your manager and explain that the amount of work you’re being given would take more than 28 hours a week, and ask how she wants you to handle it. She may tell you to push certain projects back, or she may assign some work to someone else, or she may approve you to work more hours. But you cannot work more hours than you’ve been authorized without potentially getting into trouble when it’s caught. (And I can’t tell from your letter whether you’re reporting the hours or not; if you’re not, and you’re non-exempt, you could get the company into legal trouble because they’re legally required to pay you for all hours worked.)

5. Resigning when my boss is out on medical leave

My boss is on FMLA. He was out most of first quarter, came back for a couple weeks, and is out again. During this second leave, his surgery has been delayed, and now I realistically do not see him back until the end of Q2.

I have accepted an offer that starts in 6 weeks. Before the surgery delay, my plan had been to give my boss 2 weeks notice. I’ve seen him show people the door, but I haven’t seen anyone at my level resign. We’ve worked closely together, and it’s going to be a big surprise to him. I would say he’s been a mentor. I did not sign a non-compete, and I will be working for a privately held portion of the same company. My ongoing relationship is very important.

My new plan is to resign to the CEO, with more notice. I don’t think he’ll show me the door. But my question is how to break this news to my current boss? And when? I don’t want to stress him out during a medical procedure, but this will be a big shock. Also, I’m not staying local — I’m moving cross country, so I can’t just wait and tell him when he gets back.

You’re almost certainly overestimating the impact this is going to have on your boss. It’s very, very unlikely that this is going to cause him stress during his medical procedure. People leave jobs all the time; it’s normal. He might be disappointed, but he’ll get over it. Just call him and tell him, and offer to do whatever you can to make the transition easy (although obviously be sensitive to his situation and don’t call him on the day of his surgery or while he’s on heavy painkillers afterwards — just like you presumably wouldn’t call him about any other work thing on those days).

6. Relatives endorsing you on LinkedIn

I have over 300 LinkedIn contacts, and am actively engaged in a job search. A small percentage of my contacts are my relatives, including my parents. Every now and then, my mother or one of her many cousins will endorse me for some skill or another. Does this make me look as bad as I think it does? On a related note, sometimes colleagues endorse me for skills, in what I believe is an attempt to have me return the favor. However, I rarely feel comfortable returning the favor. Is it better to keep the peace and endorse someone I don’t believe in, or maintain some level of integrity?

Honestly, I don’t think anyone is paying much attention to LinkedIn endorsements, since they lack all credibility. Anyone can endorse you for anything, whether they know you and have worked with you or not. I wouldn’t spend your time endorsing people because it’s so worthless, but I wouldn’t worry about the source of your endorsements either. (For anyone unclear, we’re talking about skill endorsements here, not recommendations. Frankly, LinkedIn recommendations don’t carry a ton of weight either — as is true of any recommendation that the recommendee sees — but they’re not as ridiculous as skill endorsements.)

7. Applying for a job after starting to volunteer

I recently accepted a volunteer position at a company, but I have not actually started yet because of red tape. I am set to work in a department the company does not usually allow volunteers to work in, but the Volunteers Director obtained a special volunteer spot for me there because I have the qualifications that a typical employee there would have.

To be honest, I applied to be a volunteer because there were no openings for the job I am interested in at this company. However, the company recently posted a job listing for a position I have been coveting and has highly similar responsibilities as the volunteer position.

I am torn because with the job, I could be getting paid to do the same work I would be doing as an unpaid volunteer. But at the same time, I feel that if I apply for the job and get accepted, I would be making a really bad impression, not to mention betraying the director who made the special arrangements to get me into the department in the first place as a volunteer. Would it be considered “jumping ship” and inappropriate if I apply for the job instead of volunteering?

Go ahead and apply. If you’re the best person for the job, they’d almost certainly rather have you in that role than volunteering (for presumably far less hours and with less responsibility).

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