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. Is it worth joining this honor society?

I just started getting mailings soliciting my membership in The National Society of Collegiate Scholars. I checked and it’s legit (for what it’s worth) and the invitations are GPA-based, so it’s not an “anyone who can pay gets in” sort of thing. The lifetime membership fee is not negligible, but also not particularly onerous ($75), and it’s a one-time expense. But it’s not something I’m going to shell out for if there’s no tangible benefit to me beyond the chance at a few scholarships and an ego boost.

However, one thing they tout is that you can put your membership on your resume. And I’m sure you can — the question is, assuming that it is a legit and reasonably well-known honor society like the NSCS, do hiring managers care one way or the other? Because if you do, that might be worth the investment.

Nope, not at all. If your GPA is impressive, list your GPA. But employers don’t care about this type of membership.

2. Asking for a more private office space

My position is being moved from our downtown offices to a location nearer to my home – yay! I have no problem with this whatsoever. But … the new workspace (cubicle) is in a very open space compared to the rest of the open plan office spaces. Also, it is quite smaller than the space I have been used to occupying. I would have to downsize on quite a bit of my historic documents and files. I have asked the facilities manager if I could swap spaces (there are a couple of “empty” cubes – being reserved for people who have yet to be hired).

I know for a fact that I will not be comfortable in a workspace that is as open as this (I would be constantly worry about who was checking out my work). There is a completely unused cubicle space (not assigned to any yet-to-be-hired employees)…it is just used as storage space for filing cabinets. I am not trying to cause problems and I’m trying to come up with solutions – would it be wrong to go to senior management and suggest that they move out the filing cabinets and set up a suitable workspace for me? After all, I am not a new employee, and have a stellar record of accomplishments. Is it too much for me to ask to be comfortable?

It’s fine to ask. Don’t go to “senior management” though; go to your own manager. Be prepared that they just might not be able to do it though; they may want to use the space for the filing cabinets that are currently there. (And realize that those yet-to-be-hired employees may actually have a higher need for privacy than you do, based on their job duties — try not to take it personally if so.)

3. Prospective employer wants me to meet with an industrial psychologist

I have just concluded 3 rounds of interviews with a firm and the prospects are excellent. Now they have asked me to meet with an external industrial psychologist. The job I am applying for is a senior position (associate), but they have clearly stated that they are looking for a candidate who will eventually take over a senior management position. I have never done a face-to-face psychological interview. What is the purpose of such an interview and how much personal information is necessary to divulge to this company?

They have also indicated that this half-day meeting will be confidential and that the hiring company will only receive a summary report of my discussion. Is there anything more that I should know about this exercise? I am a little leery.

Some companies use industrial psychologists to help determine fit with the position they’re hiring for. But this interviews aren’t generally about the sort of invasive psychological questions you might be picturing — they’re not going to ask you about sexual fantasies or tensions with your mother. They’re going to ask questions designed to get at the traits and skills they’re looking for. I’d treat it like any other part of the interview process. And if you’re asked something you’re not comfortable answering, it’s fine to say that.

4. Negotiating salary when becoming a full-time, non-temp employee

I am currently a contract employee (the company’s term) for a large, international company. Although they posted the position and interviewed me, I am paid through a third party employment agency. During the initial salary discussion, I was told my requested salary was at the top of their range, but when I received the offer, it was for this top number and sweetened with 6 paid vacation days, so I accepted. (It is paid hourly.)

I started last May as a part-timer (3 days/week), and will soon be moving to full-time. I expect at some point the company will ask me to become a full-time “permanent” employee instead of contract (most employees here started out that way). My question is, can I negotiate a hiring starting salary at that point? And how much can I ask for? I know the company pays the third party employment office over and above what I make hourly to “employ” me, but how much of that can I expect to recoup for myself? I should add that I very much enjoy working here — it’s a great job, great culture, and great people! I really couldn’t ask for much more other than the security of being permanent. Are there rules for this sort of negotiation?

You can certainly try negotiating. Keep in mind, though, that you might not be able to “recoup” what they were paying to the employment agency. They’re paying that fee for a purpose: to have the agency handle the administrative pieces associated with your employment, to be able to replace you with a minimum of fuss if needed, etc. So you shouldn’t base your salary argument on that. Rather, you should research what’s reasonable to ask for just like you would with a new job, and build your case around that.

5. Manager didn’t turn in my internal job application

My supervisor did not complete and turn in my internal job application. I gave her plenty of time to do it and she said she would turn it in. I am home-based and do not go in the office. She did not turn it in and never even filled out her part. The job posting closed. Do I have legal recourse?

No. It’s unfair and bad management on her part, but there’s nothing illegal about her neglecting to do it.

6. Banning certain foods from the office microwave

Can you ban certain types of food from being cooked in the microwave in the workplace, such as fish? Is it legal?

Of course it’s legal. There’s no law protecting workers’ right to microwave smelly foods.

7. Applying for a job where husband’s job search might complicate things

In November, I applied for a position in another state. Time marched on and nothing happened. Meanwhile, we were lucky enough to find another government job in the same town for my husband. He made the cut and his name was sent forward to the hiring official. Several weeks later, the job was canceled and readvertised for the employees of a particular agency only — not his — so he couldn’t apply. The job I applied for readvertised for a particular agency — mine — I reapplied and have a call. We are looking daily for him, but have found nothing.

We both would not mind moving. We are more than willing to trade in our daily 3-hour commutes for a 20-minute commute — not a problem. Bottom line, I want to be a contender — I have a very good chance and it would be a promotion. How to I gracefully answer questions about him and his employment? If he is unable to find a job, it will be a dealbreaker. Also, we would need to move — very complicated. We do have a child and would look at the end of the school year — is this unreasonable?

Government hiring often moves slowly, so waiting until the end of the school year might not be a deal breaker, but you’d need to ask. Only they can tell you.

Regarding your husband, you’re unlikely to be asked questions about him and his employment — or at least you shouldn’t be. Your husband’s situation is none of their business. (And this isn’t academia, where they might ask because they’d want to hire you as a package.) If he’s ultimately not able to find a job there, you can turn down the offer if you get one. But there’s no reason to get into details with them about that situation.

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