terse answer Tuesday

It’s terse answer Tuesday. Here we go…

1. Employers’ experience requirements

Are many employers now asking for several years of experience in job advertisements 1) to discourage the number of applicants they receive (and thus reduce their workload), or 2) because the position genuinely takes that many years to master, and employers are attempting to avoid the financial resources neccessary to train a potential employee? The thought crossed my mind; I would enjoy your insights when you have time.

It’s a buyer’s market. Employers are asking for several years of experience even for entry-level positions because they know they can easily get those candidates … and if they can, why wouldn’t they want them? In most cases, it’s easier to hire and train someone who already has some experience than someone who’s starting from scratch. So of course employers prefer that. If the market were tighter, you might see this change.

I know some people feel that employers — as a group — have a responsibility to society to train people rather than preferring already-trained candidates … but if you’re an employer, you’re looking for the fastest, most inexpensive path to your goal, which is to hire someone who can get to work right away. Your goal, after all, is to run your business efficiently, not to solve a larger social issue, altruistic as that might be.

2. Some bathrooms are off-limits to employees

On the second floor of the restaurant I work at, there is an event room with three restrooms. We are being told not to use two of those restrooms but to use only one of the three up there, or to go use the restroom two levels down taking an elevator which takes long (about 5-10 minutes; that is a long wait in the restaurant business), since it is used to move cargo for another company in the building. One night, I was feeling sick and I really needed to use the bathroom as soon as possible. One of the owners of the restaurant saw me walking into the event room, which was empty at that moment, and I stopped on the entrance of these “forbidden restrooms” when I noticed he was there with another of my coworkers. I turned around and started walking to the other restroom that we are allowed to use. Right after i started walking, he called me and said “How do you even dare to go over there — that is no man’s land and you are getting a write-up for this.” Is it legal to deny access to the restrooms like this?

Yes. They’re offering you three other bathrooms. It’s legal for them to designate one for guests only. Your boss sounds like a jerk though.

3. Explaining a short-term job

I worked for a major national bank in a call center recently, for all of three months. Honestly, I am ashamed to say that I was there such a short period of time. When I interviewed for the job, I was told that sales were a requirement of the job — something I thought I could deal with. What I didn’t realize was that sales were virtually the ONLY part of the job (where the people calling in are already upset), despite there being an entire separate department for that. After a matter of a few weeks, I was so emotionally miserable and uneven that I began getting physically ill. I began searching for a new job before I left there, but it eventually became too much and I did end up leaving, without a new job. It’s been almost three weeks now since I left, and I’m still scrambling trying to find a new job. My question for you is this: Is there any way, any wording, that I can explain to an interviewer why I left that job after so little time, without sounding unreliable? My previous job lasted eight months before I left, and that was due to unstable hours and income (again, not proud to admit that short of a stint). Before that, I spent five years with a major national retailer before I left after my fifth job position was cut by corporate downsizing.

“The job turned out to be almost entirely sales, which I hadn’t realized when I took it.” Loads of people hate sales; this is going to be a perfectly understandable explanation.

4. My coworker was hired because of nepotism

I recently accepted a position and have been working there for about a month now (yay!). I think it’s going to be a good opportunity, and there are some nice perks that go along with it. But (isn’t there always a but?) I have a coworker who started shortly after me and is about 4 or 5 years younger than everyone in my department, makes really unprofessional comments, and has no direct experience in this type of work (customer service to a pretty niche international field). She’s smart though and is learning, so I am trying to overlook everything else and give her a chance.

The issue is the blatant nepotism. One of her parents was a huge player with two of the organizations we work with and it’s just so obvious they got her the job. Several senior directors still haven’t learned my name (or the names of people that started before me), but they already know my coworker’s birthday. Several of the newer staff (including me) are often left off of department-wide emails, but never my coworker. And people ask about her family all the time, so it’s like they’re not even trying to hide that she’s getting special treatment. It’s just frustrating and kind of killing the morale, at least for me. Any advice on moving past this or making peace with nepotism? I’m not in a position to look for another job (and otherwise this is a pretty good fit) and I know that she’s probably not going anywhere.

There’s nothing you can do about it, and you’re otherwise happy with your job. There’s always going to be something you don’t like about an organization or something that isn’t perfectly fair. Your best course of action is to stop thinking about it. (And if you can’t do that, then try to find it amusing.)

5. Employer asked me to “keep in touch”

I applied for a position with an organization that was my first choice, until they took so long to make a hiring decision that I ended up taking a different position. They recently got in touch with me to say that they had had budget issues, but would love to talk to me about another position. I replied back to say thanks, and that although I was very interested in their organization, I’d already accepted a position elsewhere, and wished them luck in their search. They replied back asking me to keep in touch. I would love to do this, but how? I basically went on two interviews with the organization and that’s the length of my connection to them. The field I work in now and have worked in previously, isn’t really related to what they do, so it’s not like we’re going to similar conferences or anything like that. Is it more of a “if you end up looking for a job in the future, keep us in mind” kind of request?

Yeah, I think it basically means “we’d be interested in talking if you’re in the market in the future.” That said, you can certainly do things like connect on LinkedIn, send them the occasional interesting article you come across that you think would be of interest, etc.

6. Listing a store transfer on a resume

I work for a nationwide clothing retailer as a part-time sales associate. I recently moved to a larger city so I could be closer to my boyfriend and have a better chance at finding full-time work. I’m keeping my retail job, just transferring stores. It’s the same job and same responsibilities, but in a different city. How should I put that on my resume?

Like this:

Sales associate, Chocolate Teapot Factory
Maui, Hawaii, 2012-present
Washington, D.C. 2010-2011

Or if that messes up your resume format, you could do it as the first bullet point in the series of bullet points describing your work there:

Sales associate, Chocolate Teapot Factory, 2010-present
* Based in Washington, D.C. 2010-2011; based in Maui, Hawaii 2012-present.

7. Including class projects on a resume

I am a soon-to-be-grad with a major in marketing. My classes have a heavy emphasis on projects rather than exams. Would it be acceptable to include relevant projects from my classes on my resume (especially if they are always group projects)? I would obviously focus on my work experience (a full-time key holder position at a retail store as well as a research assistant position at my university that I have just started), but I feel as if some of my projects would also apply. For example, one of the projects I have recently completed was for a well known pizza company, where someone from corporate was present for the final presentation. Another project required that I worked with exchange students to create and complete a business plan for a restaurant concept, complete with all the necessary financial information.

I feel that, because each project was pretty big (a semester long, with a complete report and presentation at the end) they could be relevant depending on the position. I would only include one or two projects underneath the Education part of my resume, which would come after the Work Experience section. Currently, after each semester, I sit down and type out a several bullet points of what I accomplished that semester with each project. Am I wasting my time?

Eh. You’re not going to harm yourself by including them, but I’m skeptical that they’re going to add anything. Doing a project like that for class just isn’t the same as doing it in the workplace — it’s not subjected to the same rigor, and it doesn’t involve navigating the politics, competing priorities, and other elements you’d get at work. If the work were actually used by a business, it would be different, but it doesn’t sound like that was the case here. So I wouldn’t put a lot of weight on it for your resume.

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