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. My boss is pressuring me for information about a coworker who’s also a relative

One of my coworkers happens to be my cousin’s spouse, whom I live with. We never work together and in the past when we did, we were extremely professional. It was never obvious that our relationship even left the building. Recently, she did not show up to work, but called in an hour late, which is considered a no-call no-show. I never tried to defend her or justify her actions. My boss came in the next day and asked me what happened, and after I told her that we keep our work and private life separate, she continued to press the matter. I really had not been home and didn’t know what happened, but she seemed to think I was lying and kept asking if I’d seen her later. I refused to divulge information and told her I’d let my cousin’s wife know that she’d like to speak to her. I was wondering if she has a right to press information out of me just because we live together. Also, I am a shift leader and my cousin’s wife is a crew member, one step below me. Not sure if that has relevance. I’d like to know what I can say in future situations.

Your boss was being unprofessional and rude by pressing you on this, but tthere’s no law preventing it — other than the law of Be Professional and Not an Ass.

In the future, I’d simply say, “I don’t know. Please speak with her directly.” And repeat as necessary.

2. Replying to an email of praise

I’ve been in a contract position with a company for about 4 months. Originally, it was only going to be 3 months, but then they offered me a spot on another team when it became short-staffed and I switched over last month. I knew I was doing well before, and although the work I’m doing now is new to me, I like it and I’m happy to learn it.

I recently received an email from my new manager, saying that she thinks I’m doing great and that she wouldn’t know where the team would be without me. It was a very nice email and she CC’d her boss (a bigwig) and my old manager. I replied with my thanks right away, but I didn’t hit “reply all”; I thought it might be too self-congratulatory. Was that the wrong move? Do I now sound ungrateful to the other people on the email? I’m already trying not read into it as to whether or not they will offer me a position at the end of my contract. I hope I didn’t mess anything up…

You’re over-thinking it! Your response was perfectly appropriate, and it sounds like they love you. (In the future, it would fine to cc the others who were included on the message, but it’s not a problem that you didn’t.)

3. My coworker won’t stop asking me for help

I currently work with another support officer who is the same grade as me. I like my job and have been only in this department for 6 months. My coworker has been doing this same position for at least 18 months. I am still trying to learn the work, as there is a lot to know. However, my coworker is continually asking me questions about how to do things. It has gotten to the point where she is actually interfering with my learning.

I realize we need to work in a team environment, but she leaves all the hard tasks to me. I have been coping with my own self esteem problems and her constant insecurities and self esteem problems are bringing me down. Can you offer any advice?

Be direct: “Jane, you’ve got a lot questions and I’m still learning myself. Can you check with (your manager) for help with this instead?”

And when she leaves all the hard tasks to you, speak up: “How about you take A and B? I’m going to do C and D, and they’ll be time-consuming.”

If that doesn’t work, ask your manager for advice about getting the work split up more equitably. (Asking for advice is a good way to bring a problem to your manager’s attention without actually complaining.)

4. Interviewing by Skype

I have a Skype interview scheduled later this week, and I’m wondering if you have any advice that pertains specifically to Skype/video interviews that might not be covered in your prior interview posts. While I am comfortable using Skype in work settings, I have never actually interviewed via Skype. In particular, I am concerned about attire. I will be interviewed by two directors for a position with the federal government. Thus, if it was in-person, I would unquestionably wear a suit! However, because it is a Skype interview (and will most likely take place at my kitchen table), I’m wondering if the fashion conventions are different. What are your thoughts on this?

Nope, wear a suit. And don’t be tempted to wear only the top half — if you have to stand up unexpectedly to adjust the camera or something like that, you don’t want to reveal that you’re wearing a suit on top and sweatpants on the bottom. (The clothing version of a mullet?)

Personally, I hate, hate, hate Skype and avoid conducting interviews over it, in large part because of the slight time lag — I find that it makes everyone’s reactions seem just slightly off because they come a second later than they should, and it makes the whole conversation feel weird. But maybe others who like it can chime in with tips.

5. Applying for multiple jobs at the same company

I’ve been playing a game of resume freeze-tag with a company for a few months now regarding a copywriter position. They filled the position recently, but have had other postings. There’s another job on their site for a media planner, while also has a creative slant but also involved sales a lot more. It’s a company I like and a job that I think I could do well, but I wondered if applying for every job I’m qualified for and hoping anything sticks makes me look persistent or simply wishy-washy?

It’s fine to apply for a couple of jobs that aren’t wildly different. But if you start applying for more than that, it does start looking like you’re resume-bombing and aren’t focused. Suzanne Lucas has a great article about this here.

6. Pharmacist degrees that I don’t know about

I am a pharmacist with the old 5-year undergrad professional degree (BSPharm) and I am finding a lot of positions for pharmacist holding the 6-year undergrad professional degree called a PharmD. I see the write-ups for jobs asking for a pharmacist with a doctorate. I believe these HR people think that my degree is a 4-year undergrad degree and the PharmD is a 4 years graduate degree, which is incorrect. How does one educate HR about the various healthcare degrees?

This is way outside of my expertise, but maybe someone here with more of a health care background can weigh in.

7. Using the same writing sample in a second application

My cousin is applying for an internal position that she has applied to before, but for a different department. They’ve asked for a writing sample. Can she send the same writing sample that she’s sent before, for the same job, with a different group, that will go to the same HR department?

Technically, yes … but if she didn’t get an interview last time around, it’s worth considering that the writing sample might not have helped her last time, and it could be worth trying a different one. (This is true of cover letters too — if you’re reapplying to somewhere you’ve applied before, don’t use the cover letter that didn’t get you an interview last time.)

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