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. Fired and asked to train my replacement

I am in a situation at my current job where the owner has already hired my replacement. I’ve been there four months, but she brought me into her office the day after Christmas to let me know that “this isn’t working out” and had a replacement in by that afternoon! She posted my job behind my back twice, has generally micromanaged and disrespected me as an employee, and clearly has no qualms about letting someone go on a whim. I agreed to stay on for the time being to train my replacement, but I’m at the point now where I just want to make a clean break. I am planning to relocate out of state anyway in a few weeks, so my question is this — is it okay to simply leave this job now? This owner will literally push me out the door as soon as she feels that the new person can take over the role — why put myself through the stress of helping her out when I may end up on the street in a few days anyway?

Well, ethically, there’s no reason you shouldn’t leave right away. She’s the one who told you that you’re being fired; it’s not a resignation situation where the professional thing to do is to give notice. You’re allowed to exert some control over when your last day will be, and there’s nothing wrong with saying, “Given our conversation and since I’ve only been here four months, I think it makes sense for today to be my last day.”

However, why not try to get something for yourself in exchange for training the new person? Specifically, you could agree to train the new person in exchange for a couple of weeks of severance pay (more than that is unlikely after just four months of work) or guaranteed pay through a specific date. (Get this in writing if you agree to it though.)

2. Do some companies have too many job openings for their size?

Do some companies post too many job openings for their size? Just an example, back in September I applied to a new posting for a company and still haven’t heard back one way or another. My question doesn’t revolve around my own status, though — I’m over it and pressing on with more applications. However, this company’s website says it employs 1200 people, but there are 149 open listings (including the job to which I applied three months ago). I am guessing that a company of that size has too small of an HR department to effectively sift through so many applications. Or, they have filled these positions and haven’t closed them out on their site. I know every company differs, but I’m wondering if job seekers should even bother applying at companies that have months-old postings since that may be indicative of a slow-moving hiring process.

There’s really no way to know from the outside; I definitely wouldn’t assume that you shouldn’t apply for a job just because the opening has been posted for a long time. It could be that they’re hiring multiple people for that role, all with the same title, or that someone was hired but didn’t work out, or that the hiring was put on hold for a while but has now restarted. Or, yes, it could be that they’re inefficient — but there are so many alternate explanations and no way to know which it is from the outside that I’d avoid trying to read anything into it.

I also wouldn’t assume that they don’t have enough people involved in hiring to do it well — that’s another thing you can’t usually tell from the outside, at least not without more interaction with them.

3. Rejected but asked to interview for another position

I had a very interesting experience recently. One of the employers I interviewed with (a very large company) asked me to come in for an interview. My interview lasted about 4 hours. I was confident I did well. I was told I was one of the top candidates. A week later, they called me and told me they decided to go with anther candidate, but the HR representative said she would be more than willing to help me look elsewhere in the company. She suggested another position very similar to the one I interviewed for elsewhere in the company. The position she suggested was a more senior role. The hiring manager for the position i first interviewed for also went out of his way to act as a referral for the position the HR rep suggested.

I am very thankful to both of them for their help, but I am a little lost! Have you heard of similar scenario before? What should I expect? Is it a good sign? Why would they decide not to offer me a position but than assist me with another role within the company? I do not believe I was overqualified, so I ruled that out.

Yes, it’s a good sign. The fact that you didn’t get the initial position doesn’t mean “you suck and we’ll never hire you for anything.” It means “someone else was a better fit for this particular role, this particular time.” And in a market where most job openings attract tons of well-qualified candidates, that’s very common. So of course they might think that you’d be a good fit for something else, despite not getting the first position. Assume you can take them at their word — but also know that you might not get this second position either, and don’t assume that the HR rep and hiring manager’s involvement means that you have a leg up over other candidates; assume you’re a regular candidate like anyone else.

4. Should I remove volunteer work from my resume because it’s unrelated to the jobs I want?

I was laid off about 2 months ago, and the job hunt hasn’t been going so well. Part of my problem is that I have horrid interview anxiety. I previously thought my resume was pretty good, but something happened recently to make me doubt it. Someone I used to work with recently looked at my resume and told me that I should take off my volunteer experience in Haiti (I lived there for a year working in an orphanage) since the work I did doesn’t apply to the work I am looking for. Should I take it off and have a gaping year and a half hole in my work history?

No, absolutely not. If you were supposed to remove all experience unrelated to the job you were applying for, lots of people would have nearly blank resumes. Leave the work on — both because it prevents you from having a gap for that time period and because it’s interesting work that plenty of hiring managers would be interested in hearing about. And ignore this former coworker’s advice on job hunting.

And as for your interview anxiety, read my (free) interview prep guide — there’s a section on nerves that might help.

5. What should I think of this hiring timeline?

I had an interview two weeks ago. It seemed to go well and the interviewer told me that they were planning to make a decision before Christmas and that if I didn’t hear from him by the following Friday, I should email him. I sent a follow up “thank you” email after the interview, to which he responded saying that he was going to try to schedule some follow-up calls later that week, before Christmas. I was a little surprised that he mentioned that yet he didn’t actually ask to schedule a followup call/second interview with me.

Anyway, when I emailed him at the end of the week, he responded saying that they hadn’t made a firm decision yet and were hoping to decide soon. He also mentioned that they might be looking to fill two positions and that he would let me know about both.

I know it’s the holidays and deadlines may have been pushed back, but what do you make of this? I’m inclined to think that it’s a good sign that he’s keeping me in the loop and giving me updates and information about the hiring process. However, the fact that he never asked to schedule a second interview with me is a little disconcerting and on top of that it’s past Christmas, which is when he said they wanted to make a decision by.

There’s nothing too unusual about this — hiring processes often take longer than the people involved in hiring think that they will, so that’s normal. I wouldn’t read anything into the rest of it though — he might be keeping you in the loop simply because he’s polite and responsive, for instance. The best thing that you can do is mentally move on. When they have something to tell you, they’ll let you know. If you haven’t heard anything by mid-January, you can always check back in — but if they want to hire you, they’re not going to forget about you.

6. Will employers hold it against me that I couldn’t do internships in school?

I am an undergraduate in my penultimate year and I have recently begun to focus on my career after graduating. Your blog has been invaluable thus far, and my resume has improved considerably after taking your tips and advice into account.

I just have one quick question for you. I have noticed that most resume advice aimed at my age group places a lot of emphasis on volunteer work and work experience. Money has always been tight for me, so I have always had to seek out paid work rather than internships and volunteer positions. I have primarily taken on bar work, but did work for a software company last summer and hope to do something similar in a different area this summer. Unfortunately, my priority at the moment has to be earning enough to support me through my studies rather than taking on a job that might be relevant or otherwise beneficial to my future. Is this likely to count against me when applying for a job after I graduate?

With some employers, yes. In a crowded job market, employers have a lot of candidates to choose from, and so many are going to prefer the ones who already have some experience working in an office job. If there’s any way that you can do an internship or two before you graduate, it’ll probably put you in a stronger position once you’re job-searching. Of course, if you absolutely can’t, then you can’t — but I’d explore all options (including paid internship, jobs in campus offices, and very part-time volunteer work) before concluding it’s prohibitive.

7. Applying for a job in one location when you’d like to work in a different one

I’ve been kicking my job search into high gear in prep for the new year, and have been searching for new places to contact. I found one company with an entry-level position I think I could be good at, there’s just one issue. The company has two offices: a main office in Chicago, and a second office in eastern Tennessee they opened a year ago. The position is advertised for the Chicago office, but I live much closer to the Tennessee office and would prefer to stay in the area (for several reasons including family ties.) On one hand, I’m a little worried that if I send in my information and get their interest, then say I’d like to work for their other office, it might make me look a little presumptuous. On the other hand, part of me says “What have I got to lose?” and thinks if I apply, it’ll function a little like a cold-call and at least let them know I’m here, I’m available, and I’m interested. Should I even bother, and is there a way to tactfully mention this either in my cover letter or (fingers crossed) the interview?

I contacted the company through their Twitter and asked if they planned any openings in the Tennessee office, and all I got was a vague: “Can’t say! Keep checking back, you never know.”

You can certainly apply for the Chicago position and if you progress in the interview process, can ask if there’s any flexibility on location at that point. Don’t say, “I absolutely won’t work in Chicago,” because then, yes, it’ll look like you ignored their instructions and potentially wasted their time, but it’s fine to say that you’re open to working in Chicago but would love to stay in your current area if it’s possible. (But keep in mind that there are plenty of reasons why the position might be need to be based in one office rather than the other, reasons that you might not be able to perceive from the outside.)

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