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. Can my manager force me to quit even though I don’t want to?

I am a 22-year-old woman who has no problem working two jobs because I’ve done it before. Recently I was hired to be an assistant store manager. I accepted the job and let my new boss know that I wanted to still work my other job(grocery store). When I told my current boss about my new job, she keeps telling me I can’t work both. All of her reasons seem like personal opinions. Now she’s asking me when am I turning in my two weeks notice. My question to you is, can they make me quit even though I don’t want to, or are they firing me? I’m really disappointed in how this is turning out. I just don’t understand.

No one can ever make you quit a job if you don’t want to. Of course, they can fire you if you refuse, but if you have reasons for preferring to be fired than to quit, they certainly can’t force you to quit.

In your case, it sounds like your manager has clearly told you that you can’t have both jobs. It doesn’t matter that you don’t have a problem having both; she doesn’t want you to. This isn’t an unusual stand; sometimes employers don’t allow second jobs if it might interfere with your availability for them. Go back and talk to your manager. Tell her that you believe you can work both jobs without interfering with your commitment there. Ask her what her concerns are, and see if you can address them. But ultimately, she can certainly tell you that you can’t work there if you don’t quit the first one.

2. Listing free courses on your resume

I’m taking classes on coursera.org and edx.org that are offered free (open) online for anyone who wants to take them. Some of them are from very prestigious schools like Harvard and MIT. How do you feel about listing classes that you’ve taken and passed through those websites on your resume and LinkedIn that are relevant to your field? As for the classes that are irrelevant to your field, should you list those at all or only on LinkedIn?

I’m not a huge fan of listing individual courses on a resume, except in narrowly defined situations where it’s highly valued by your industry or you’re trying to send some specific signal — such as that you’re working to keep up to date in your field, boosting your skills in X, or whatever. Simply attending a class doesn’t convey much beyond that you attended; it doesn’t say what you took away from the class or what you’re doing with it. And the prestige of a school doesn’t matter when the classes are open to anyone who wants to attend. All of which is to say … it’s probably fine to list it, but don’t list a ton of individual courses (this should take up one or two lines at most) and don’t count on it having a significant impact on the reader.

3. I have to work more hours than the rest of my office

All of the employees in my office who are paid a salary work 37.5 hours a week while I am required to work 40. I am the receptionist, while their positions include file clerks, assistants, and a courier. Is this common/legal? I don’t really think it’s fair but have a feeling there’s nothing I can do about it.

Yes, it’s common and legal. Unless they’re basing hours and pay on people’s race, religion, sex, etc., there’s nothing illegal or even unfair about assigning different positions different hours.

4. Training classes as an unpaid intern

I started interning at a nonprofit just a couple months ago. I am interested in taking some classes in grant writing. I am thinking, would my organization be willing to pay for the classes for an unpaid intern like me? It’s a large organization, and one of my supervisors is a grant writer/manager, but I am interested in learning more about it and getting certification.

Very unlikely. They already have someone writing grants, and a large organization is unlikely to give grant-writing responsibilities to an intern, so there’s no real incentive for them to pay for you to take a class in the subject. That said, you can certainly mention to your manager that you’re interested in learning more about the area and that you’d love her advice on how you can gain experience and skills in it.

5. Accommodations from my company to care for a child with autism

I am currently working as a retail manager and have been with the company for 12 years. I am mother of a 2-year-old with developmental delays and have been taking him to see a speech and occupatinal therapist for a year now. I was recently told he may have autism and needs more therapy. I let my employer know my situation and that I can’t be a manager and still do the things his doctors and therapist suggest. They told me I can’t step down and my only option is to quit. I can’t help but question is this true or legal? I have letters showing what his doctors suggest and how my son will benefit from my be able to spend more time on his therapies.

If your company has 50 employees or more, you might be eligible for up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to help your son under Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). It can be taken in pieces (you don’t need to take all 12 weeks at once), but it sounds like that probably isn’t quite what the situation needs. Beyond FMLA leave, I can’t think of anything else they’d be obligated to offer you, and from their point of view — as sympathetic as they might be to your situation — it’s not unreasonable to take the stance that your managerial responsibilities can’t be uncoupled from the rest of your job. It’s not a question of whether your and your son’s needs are legitimate; it’s whether this job and this employer can accommodate them or not. Unfortunately, it sounds like your best option might be to look at other jobs that are a better fit with the change in your circumstances.

6. Will my job change under a new manager?

I took a job three months ago in the regional office of a large corporation. My department is small, just three people, and I took the job largely based on compatibility with my boss and coworker, the industry experience they said I would gain through the responsibilities of my job, and special projects they would give me based on my past professional experience. Fast-forward to now: my boss left the company last week and my coworker told me last night that he is leaving as well. I’m concerned that when their positions are filled, many of the special analytical projects I’m working on will drop off as my new boss and coworker attempt to establish themselves in their roles and that I will be left to do project accounting full time, which is only intended to be 15% of my duties.

I’m considering going to our regional president, who thinks highly of me but does not work with me on a day-to-day basis, to discuss these concerns but what is proper protocol for renegotiating/solidifying my job responsibilities in this situation?

I would talk to whoever your boss’s boss is (which may or may not be the regional president) and say that you’re concerned about ensuring that the arrangements you made when you took the job will continue under the new manager. She may be able to assure you that it will, or she might tell you that it’ll be up to the new manager when that person is hired. If the latter, then I’d wait and see what happens when that person starts — and don’t be shy about talking with the new person about your concerns as well at that point. Ultimately, if she makes major changes, at that point you can decide whether it’s something you want to stick around for or not.

7. My coworker won’t leave me alone

I have a coworker who will not leave me alone. Unfortunately, she’s also friends with the head of our organization, so many options that I would otherwise try won’t work here because she will tattle to him. She stops by my office numerous times a day, for 30-50 minutes at a time. We don’t really ever have a conversation, she usually just talks at me.

I’ve tried saying I’m busy, or that I’m on a deadline, and I usually keep my door closed. Sometimes I’ll even be on the phone and she will barge in and sit there until I end the conversation. I’ve talked to my immediate supervisor about this, but his advice was to basically suck it up because she’s friends with the boss. I really have tried, but she is ruining my life at work. In addition to being a chronic time waster, she’s also done things on occasion that really bother me on a personal level (for instance, lying to clients to make them feel sorry for her). I am constantly afraid she’ll interrupt me and I’ll be sucked into an hour of wasted time with someone I deeply dislike. Lately she’s also been trying to get me to hang out with her outside of work. I’ve been able to avoid it so far, but she clearly either can’t read or doesn’t care about social cues because I’ve been pretty obvious I can’t stand her. In fact, she’s complained to my supervisor that I’m not friendly enough to her! I don’t want to be mean, but politely telling her I’m busy and don’t have time to talk hasn’t worked. I would really appreciate any advice on how to stop this, or at least cut down on the interruptions.

You need to be direct: “I’m busy right now and can’t talk.” “I’m on deadline so need you to leave my office.” “Sorry, but I need to focus and can’t speak with you.” “Please do not wait in my office when I’m on a phone call.” Repeat over and over as necessary.

As for the social overtures: “No, thank you.” “No, I try to keep work and home separate.” “No, thank you.”

No one can force you to talk to them without your permission.

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