tiny answer Tuesday — 7 short answers to 7 short questions

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

1. Company offered me a job, then called me back to meet with the owner

I’ve been searching for a job and think I’ve finally found the one that I want and luckily it seems as though they want me too … I think. I have had a phone interview and an in-person interview over the past several weeks and then Friday they called and made a verbal offer. They said they would send over the written offer today or tomorrow (Monday/Tuesday). Today, the person with whom I’ve been interviewing asked me to come in for an interview with the owner. I was caught off guard but offered up my availability. I’m scheduled to meet the owner later this week. I haven’t received the written offer yet. Does that mean they’re re-thinking their decision? What should I expect from meeting with the owner, whom I met once briefly last week, and should I bring up the verbal offer with him?

They should have been clearer with you when they called to ask you to meet with the owner! Since they weren’t, ideally on that call you would have said, “Just to clarify, we’d talked on Friday about you sending over a formal offer. Is that on hold pending this meeting?” Since you that easy window to ask has closed, at this point I would just go to the next meeting and not ask about it (although it’s still your prerogative to call them now and ask) — but either way, assume that there’s no offer yet, since it sounds hazy enough that you shouldn’t rely on it until it’s formalized. Certainly in your meeting with the owner, if it doesn’t become clear what’s going on, before the meeting ends you can ask about it. I’d can say something like, “Can you tell me your timeline for next steps? When I spoke with Jane on Friday, she had offered me the position — but I’m less clear now where things stand in your process.”

2. Company removed my name from my work after I stopped working there

I wrote a bunch of blog posts for a digital marketing agency’s corporate blog while I worked there, and now that I have left, they took my name off of all of the content I contributed. I’m sure they legally own the content, but is it even worth reaching out to them to ask about it? I ask because I work in online marketing and writing relevant blog content is important for my portfolio. It’s probably not worth it, just bummed to have spent the time on writing posts (10+) and not getting any credit.

Sure, you can ask. They do indeed own the content since you produced it as part of your work for them (and in fact they could have chosen not to byline it with your name even while you were employed there), but there’s no harm in asking them. They can say no (and really, a company that removes your byline when you leave probably has some reason for doing it that isn’t going to be reversed by you asking them), but it’s certainly no inappropriate to say something like, “Hey, I’d love to show this work in my portfolio. Is there any way to return my byline to it?”

Keep in mind, though, that even if they say no, you can still include that work in your portfolio because you did indeed produce it.

3. Withdrawing from a hiring process when your interviewer knows your current manager

I just walked out of a second interview for a position and decided that the chemistry just isn’t right and that I want to withdraw my candidacy. Normally I would handle this in the post-meeting thank-you email so that they can quickly move on to other candidates (“thank you for taking the time to meet with me, but the position isn’t right for me at this time,” etc), but there’s a thing. I work fairly frequently with the hiring company in my current capacity. Hell, the hiring manager and my boss are on a first name basis. When I submitted my resume, I did write “resume submitted in confidence, please don’t contact current employer at this time,” and of course I only spoke good things about my current employer, but I’m a little nervous now that I know for sure I don’t want the position.

Should I email them now with my withdrawal or wait and hope they sensed what I did and reject me? If I email them my withdrawal, should I reiterate my need for discretion, or not mention it and hope they’ll be discreet (and bite my fingernails for a few weeks)? As background, the hiring company is a very small one, with no HR department, and my second interview was with the head of the company.

Well, if they’re going to be indiscreet, they’re probably going to do it whether you withdraw or not. So I would proceed however you normally would, and not worry that a withdrawal email is going to send them into a fit of pique that will cause them to tell your boss you applied. Just make sure your email is particularly gracious and doesn’t sound like the decision is because of some failing on their part. If you want to be extra safe, you could even say that your withdrawal is because you’ve decided to stay in your current role, thus mitigating any potential “Jane is job searching” gossip that might be passed on.

4. Boss interrupted me in a meeting

I’m in a job that demands the most of my resources. I’m a pretty good thinker, but I never planned to end up in business analysis, and I’m surrounded by people who have majored in this stuff and gobble it up. It’s challenging, to say the least — and just like people who speak English as a second language, I’m often out to sea when they’re all running ahead. I’m afraid I’m being seen as less competent than I’d like to be. Last week in a meeting, when a particularly tricky analysis was being discussed and it just, just didn’t make sense to me (and thinking of it over the weekend, it still doesn’t, and I’m wondering if maybe I’m right!), I started to voice a train of thought — paused — and right in the middle of it my normally polite boss just picked up and changed the subject. Also, the supervisor has said in meetings, “what Jane is trying to say…” and I’m not the go-to person for answers. But one-on-one I’m fine! It’s scary, and it’s frustrating.

How do you privately address a boss who interrupted you in a meeting and it’s still burning you up??

Hmmm. I think the issue here is less about talking to your boss about interrupting you and more about figuring out the bigger picture here. Is this the right role for you, and the right company? If you’re struggling and not following along in meetings, and your boss has stopped waiting for you to work through your thoughts and you feel less competent than others, these might be signals about overall fit. That means that being irked at your boss is a side issue; the bigger one is what all this stuff is telling you about your long-term success in this role.

If you have good rapport with your boss, it might be worth talking with her about what you’ve noticed and saying that you’re trying to figure out what feedback to take away from these instances. Don’t do this if you’re not prepared for hear fairly critical feedback, because you might … but on the other hand, you might hear that you’re doing fine overall and these thing are minor in the overall scheme of things, and that could give you more peace of mind.

5. Job postings on job boards that aren’t on the company’s own website

Sometimes I come across interesting job postings on external job sites (like Monster), but when I go to that company’s own careers webpage, the position is not listed. The external site prompts users to apply through their own system instead of pointing to the company’s website to apply. Is something like this worth pursuing? Or is something sketchy/unreliable about it? Any idea of what’s going on here?

It often means that the position is no longer open, but the external job sites haven’t removed it. However, sometimes it means that the company didn’t post the position on their own site and is relying solely on external sites to advertise it. This could be because they don’t post any jobs on their site (some places don’t) or because they’re not publicizing the site internally yet (because someone doesn’t know they’re leaving yet, for example). It’s hard to know from the outside which it is, unfortunately.

6. Addressing spiritual requirements in a cover letter

If a job description (for a religious higher ed institution) lists “Spiritual Requirements,” do I need to address these in my cover letter? I don’t think I’m exactly the religious person they are looking for (although I do think I’m a good fit for the actual position, which has nothing to do with religion), but would rather apply and see if I get to the interview stage before addressing it (where I would be honest about my personal religious views if they asked). Does this seem like a bad idea?

Nope. You’re under no obligation to address any particular requirement in your cover letter, unless they specifically tell you to.

7. Books for new managers

I start a new IT job in 2 weeks where I will be managing a small team of technical people. I’ve managed project teams and technical teams, but direct people management will be new to me. I’m so excited and really want to be a success. I’m engaging with an HR leadership coach. I also wanted to do some reading on my own. I’ve heard good things about “First Break All the Rules.” Are there others you or your readers would recommend?

Well, there’s mine — which, uh, is awesome. It’s geared toward nonprofit managers, but 95% of what’s in there applies to managers in every field, and I wish I could make it required reading.

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