wee answer Wednesday — 7 short answers to 7 short questions

It’s wee answer Wednesday — seven short answers to seven short questions. Here we go…

1. Should I stop by in person to see why an employer called me?

I applied for a summer job in February, interviewed at the beginning of March, and have been anxiously waiting for early April when they said they would be done with interviews. I finally got a call from my interviewer, but due to some phone malfunctions on my end did not get her message until two days later. All the message said was to give her a call back, which I did immediately. I got her voicemail so I apologized for not getting back to her right away, briefly explained the issue with my phone, and left her my number again. That was Friday. On Monday, I tried her again and got her voicemail again. She hasn’t called me back.

I volunteer in the building where she works tomorrow, and my parents suggested if she hasn’t called me back yet that I should stop by her office. Is that appropriate? Also I’m assuming she was calling to offer me the job, otherwise she could have just emailed. But is there a chance I could be putting her on the spot to give some news in person she would rather give over the phone?

No, don’t do that. You’ve called her and left her messages, and she knows how to get in touch if she wants to. Stopping by in person without an appointment will put her on the spot and come across as overly pushy and inappropriate. At this point, I’d simply move on and trust that she’ll get in touch with you if she wants to. You could send one final email (as opposed to a call), but that’s it.

2. Finding out the hiring manager’s name

What’s the best way to find out exactly who is hiring for a position? I’ve been told to never address a cover letter to “whom it may concern” or “HR dept,” and I agree, but sometimes it can be quite difficult to find out who a hiring manager is. You can simply call and ask for smaller companies, but large companies that use automated voice response can make it impossible to even talk to anybody at all!

I recently reached out to a company’s recruiter through LinkedIn, and I never got a response from them either. What is the best way to reach out to a recruiter to get my question answered? Or is a recruiter the best person to go through? And if, in the end, I’ve exhausted all of these attempts, should I still send the cover letter without a name on it?

Stop thinking about this at all. Seriously, no sane hiring manager cares whether you address the letter to her or to “dear hiring manager.” They care about your candidacy. Write “dear hiring manager” and be done with it.

This is not worth any expenditure of stress or energy, particularly when there are so many more important things to spend your time on, like writing a great cover letter. And if your cover letter and resume don’t need more attention, then read a book or watch a movie — there’s no reason to spend time on something like this. More here.

3. Fitting my resume on one page

I’ve followed the philosophy that resumes should be one page only. I am starting my third job in my career, and due to the amount of responsibilities, can only fit my last two jobs on one page. If I leave out my first entry-level job, will it look like I have a 2-year gap between my college graduation and my actual second job?

You can go to two pages if you’re more than a few years out of school. If you’re not, then you’re including too much detail and you need to edit. Resumes should include the most impressive highlights of what you’ve achieved; they don’t need to list every responsibility you had at each job.

4. My resume shows I left soon after a promotion

I was “promoted” to a different position within my last company in my last 6 months on the job. I would like to show both positions on my resume so companies can I see I have experience in both areas, but would it look bad to have a position last only 6 months before moving on to another company? I had already known I wanted to leave when I was promoted, but I accepted the position so that I could show better/more experience on my resume. I’m worried that companies may think I was let go or something equally negative.

No, that’s fine. It’s not the same as leaving a brand-new job (at a new company) after only six months; it’s different when it’s internal and you have a longer history with the company.

5. Negotiating salary when my company might have pulled someone’s offer over it

I’m planning to apply for an internal position, and I believe I’m likely to get it–I’ve been told so by the hiring manager, plus I helped develop the job description. I hope to negotiate the salary offer for the first time in my life. As I’m sure you can imagine, since previously I’ve always just taken what I was offered, my current pay is on the low end. I’m excited for the chance to boost it up to a professional level.

The problem is that I’ve heard nasty rumors about how management handled salary negotiations with a recent potential hire. What I know for sure is that the hiring process got to the point of making one candidate an offer, and then the job was suddenly reposted. What I heard from the hiring manager was that the candidate was “crazy” during the negotiation and that the offer was rescinded. What I heard through the rumor mill was that the candidate tried to negotiate salary and management was so taken aback and insulted that they rescinded the offer, even after the candidate tried to back down.

This is obviously concerning to me. If it matters, my organization is a nonprofit, and there’s definitely a culture of considering it an honor to work here and help advance the mission, so… maybe that’s part of what happened? Of course I don’t know what really happened, but the management of my organization has been just screwy enough in the past that it seems possible that the rumor mill is correct. If it is true, how can I handle a salary negotiation without running into a minefield? I don’t want to push too hard on the off chance that management will react really poorly, but I also don’t want to just take what I’m offered and sabotage my own payscale yet again.

Ask your coworkers what their experience has been in trying to negotiate raises. It’s possible that the story you heard wasn’t accurate, or that at least key details weren’t accurate. And even if it was, it’s possible that your company handles internal raise requests differently from salary negotiations with job candidates.

It would obviously be ridiculous for them to function this way, but ask the people who are going to be most likely to know: your coworkers who have been there for a while.

6. Coworker loudly slurps liquids

We have a well educated, middle-aged man in our office who slurps any liquid and loudly! Whether in his cube (his is next to mine), in office meetings or in the lunch room, he slurps! It is not a cultural thing, as I think his family came over on the Mayflower. We’ve tried to say things like, “Gee, that coffee must be really hot” to draw attention to the fact that his slurping is distracting (disgusting, really). He always responds in a hurt voice, like “I wasn’t aware that I was doing that” or “in my house, slurping and burping are signs of good food.” Sorry, it’s really an excuse.

What can I/we do to tell him it’s offensive? Should we take him aside and do it one by one or as a group or ….? What should we say?

Stop hinting and be direct — as is always the answer when you want someone to stop doing something but haven’t yet told them that! The next time it happens, say, “Bob, could you please not slurp your drink? I can hear it over here and it’s very distracting.” If it continues, say, “Bob, I understand that you have different conventions around this, but it bothers me when I’m working and I’d appreciate you reining it in.”

If it continues after that, well, you work with an annoying slurper and will have to live with it. You can’t fix every annoying behavior in the workplace — but you can certainly start by directly asking for what you want.

7. Do I need in-state residency to apply for jobs?

My husband and I are thinking about moving from Michigan to Florida for a couple of years in order for him to attend seminary. We’d both need jobs — part-time for him, full-time for me. My snowbird grandma is adamantly insistent that my husband and I would both need Florida residency — drivers’ licenses, plates for the car, etc. — before we could even interview for jobs. Is this true?

For reasons of convenience and expense, we’d like to maintain our Michigan residency while in Florida, which I’ve always assumed is standard for out-of-state students (and their spouses). Would doing so really impact our ability to find jobs, or (as my grandma insists) our legal employment status? My grandma’s known for her sometimes bizarre opinions, but she was so absolutely dogmatic about this it’s got me wondering.

Your grandmother is wrong. There are certainly some jobs that require in-state residency or an in-state driver’s license (some government jobs, for example), but they’re not the majority, and they’ll make it clear if they require that. In general, you can assume you don’t need it.

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