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. I was interviewing for a job when suddenly they started talking about an internship instead

I am going in for a third (and final) interview for a customer service position at a large corporation and have several years of experience in the field. This position would have significantly better benefits and pay as outlined in my initial interview (and posted position). I just received an email stating that my third interview is for a customer service “intern.” I never applied for this, never discussed it, and frankly have no interest. As an intern there are no benefits, and the pay is 40% less than discussed. What are my options, and how are they getting away with this assumption that intern is an acceptable level for someone more qualified?

Well, they’re not “getting away” with anything (it takes two to interview and put someone in a job, you know; it’s not something they can “do to you”), but more importantly, you haven’t spoken up about it! For all you know, it could be a mistake or miscommunication — why didn’t you immediately write back and say, “Your email says that this is for an internship, rather than the staff position we’ve been discussing. Can you please clarify?” If they respond that they think you’d be a better candidate for the internship, then you can let them know that that’s not a path you’re interested in.

2. Asking for an informational interview with a related office

I’m a new paralegal with ABA certification and I’m interning at the county trial court (mostly doing administrative work for a judge’s court clerk). I’m wondering about the best way to request an informational interview with the prosecutor’s office (in the same building) and the public defender’s office (down the street). I’d like to introduce myself and get my resume into the hands of the hiring managers.

It’s a plus that I’m interning because I see assistant prosecutors and public defenders daily in court, and a referral from a judge would go a long way. But I’m not sure about the initial contact with these offices. Should I call, email, mail, or walk my resume in? I do have a contact who works at the prosecutor’s office, but she is in a very junior position and extremely flaky (to be generous). Not sure whether it’s even a plus to mention a connection to her.

Email. Always, always email unless your contact there specifically instructs you to do otherwise. Email allows them to respond when it’s convenient for them (unlike calling or showing up in person), and it allows them to review your materials before doing so.

However, are you sure what you want is an informational interview? Those are not to get jobs; those are to learn about a field. If you ask for one and it turns out you’re hoping they’ll think about hiring you, they’ll (a) not agree to the meeting if they figure it out beforehand, or (b) be really irritated if they figure it out afterwards. If what you want is a job interview, that’s what you need to say.

3. Did my company secretly have this recruiter call me?

I work for a large corporation and was recently told by my manager that I could be promoted this year pending the HR process. About four weeks after that conversation, I got a call from a recruiter saying they saw my profile on Linkedin and had a position I might be interested in.

My company is experiencing a lot of turnover lately. Is it possible HR had this recruiter call me? This recruiter was working very hard to pull information out of me and I got nervous and when that person asked for me to send a resume, I said I would (even though I had no intentions of doing so; I just wanted to end the call). Instead I sent the recruiter an email later that night saying I am happy with my current employer and am not interested in another job.

I mean, it’s possible that HR had a recruiter call you, but it’s very, very unlikely. Close to paranoid levels of unlikely. That’s not how these things normally work. And when a recruiter calls, they normally do try to pull a lot of information out of you, so that isn’t a signal of anything nefarious.

4. Can my resume be as short as half a page?

I’m an average college student. I’ve had a couple internships, and am active in few campus organizations. I strive to keep my resume concise and objective, which makes it roughly half of a page. Is there anything wrong with that? I’m not sure. My college’s career center said yes, and constructed a version that “solved” the problem by being verbose. They also had me include work experience from high school. Perhaps having a half ‘o’ page resumé is an issue, but there’s a better way to fix it.

Yeah, you really want to have enough to say about your qualifications that it fills a page — otherwise, you’re basically conceding that you have so few qualifications that no reasonable employer should consider hiring you … which is the opposite of the normal goal of a resume. That doesn’t mean you should be superfluously wordy, but with a couple of internships and the high school jobs (assuming they were within the last 5-ish years), you should be able to fill a full page if you think about what you did in those jobs.

5. Can I decline an exit interview?

I’m resigning as soon as I get a written offer for another position and formally accept. But I always dread exit interviews. I’m not going to say anything negative because I don’t want to risk hurting a future reference from my current managers, so I’m just going to be super positive and say how great everything is at my current job. There’s nothing horrible going on like harassment or anything that I would feel obligated to report, but there is plenty that needs to be addressed and those things certainly are the reason I’m leaving. With this in mind, how would it be viewed by HR if I just politely declined the exit interview? If it matters, this is a Fortune 500 company, I have a professional position and have been there about two years.

I would much, much rather you simply decline the exit interview than be falsely positive in it. If it’s a form to fill out, just don’t fill it out. If it’s an actual meeting and HR makes it hard for you to avoid it, it would be better to simply be carefully neutral than to take positivity that you don’t feel. But try to just avoid it if you can — say you have a ton to do before you leave or something like that.

6. Online application systems that won’t accept design portfolios

I’m a designer, so I often check design-specific job boards for postings. As expected, to apply for a design position, these postings always ask you submit your resume and portfolio/samples. But large corporations usually don’t give out email addresses; they instead direct you to their career center website. The problem I’m running into is these are never set up to accept portfolios. The past three jobs I’ve applied to… One allowed you to upload a max of 500KB, which is pretty much my resume and nothing else, and my resume is nothing fancy. One just wouldn’t upload my portfolio, no error message, no size limit given (it was 5MB, which I consider reasonable); no matter how many times I hit upload, nothing happened. And one just didn’t even give me the option; there was space to cut and paste my resume and that’s it, no option to upload anything.

So given these difficulties, I’ve just been putting a link to my online portfolio in my cover letter and resume. Short of maybe stalking people on LinkedIn to get a contact, which seems insane, I can’t think of another way to get my work in front of them. But the posting specifically asks to send work samples (and then provides no way of doing so!), and I hate feeling like I’m wasting my time creating targeted resumes, cover letters, and portfolios that they will never see because of there system. Is this reasonable to expect them to click on the link I send? Or am I just wasting my time even applying?

Your solution of including a link to your portfolio in your cover letter and in your resume is exactly right. It’s perfectly reasonable to expect that if your cover letter and resume interest them, they’ll follow the link to see your work. Keep doing that, and don’t stress about it.

7. Should I keep following up for feedback from the job that rejected me?

I interviewed for a job, and didn’t get it. They asked me to ring them, which I did, where they then said I didn’t get it, and asked if I had any questions for them. Note that when they told me, it was exactly when they promised they’d get back to everyone.

I asked for feedback, and the manager said she’d get back to me in the next few days. When a week had elapsed with no response, I sent an email to follow up, saying I was fine with written feedback if she was too busy to phone. She responded by email, saying, “No it’ll be fine, ring me tomorrow.” I did, and she said she was snowed under and could she ring me back in 45 minutes. That never happened, and that was last Friday. Fridays and Mondays are generally busy, so I didn’t bother following up yesterday. Now that it’s Tuesday, should I, or move on? Have I persisted enough in getting feedback?

Yes, move on. You’ve requested her feedback three times now — and while she’s actively encouraged you to do that, if she really was motivated to give you feedback, she would have done it by now.

This entry was posted in HR, Leadership. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.