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. Is this creepy?

I recently applied for a position at a nonprofit under a person whose work I greatly admire. Is it creepy to expose how much I know about this person and their work during an interview?

If it’s professional accomplishments, no, it’s flattering. If it’s stuff about their personal life, that’s potentially creepy.

2. Interviewing candidates before an application deadline is up

What is the proper protocol for employers when they post open positions and how long they should keep them open? My employer posts open positions and begins interviewing right away without waiting until all applications have been received. Recently someone submitted their resume for an open position to find out the hiring manager had narrowed her search down to finalists and the position was still open!

There’s nothing wrong with doing that. Lots of employers review applications and interview candidates on a rolling basis as they come in. As long as the position remains open, they should be willing to consider new candidates (otherwise there’s no point in keeping it open) — but toward the end of the process, the bar might be higher for new candidates, since they’d have to be competitive with people who might already be finalists.

Now, sometimes doing this is more efficient — you get to start the process rolling earlier so you can finish it faster, which is especially useful when you have a vacant position that you need to get filled, and it gives you a lower risk of losing an excellent candidate to another offer by making them wait. But sometimes it’s less efficient, since you may end up interviewing candidates early on who wouldn’t have made it to an interview if they were judged against the full pool later. But really, either way is fine.

3. Does my manager think I’m a wimp for not negotiating?

I recently received a job offer with a salary that was more than I was expecting. I was very pleased with the amount offered and decided not to negotiate for more. Now I’m in my second week on the job and I’m paranoid that my supervisor thinks I’m (1) dumb and/or (2) a wimp for not negotiating a higher salary. No one has made any comments to that effect, so it might just be in my head, but still, did I make a mistake?

Well, it’s possible that you left money on the table, but I can pretty much guarantee you that your manager doesn’t think you’re dumb or a wimp. If anything, she might have been momentarily relieved you didn’t push for more money, but if she’s like most managers, she stopped thinking about your salary discussion within hours. While this is looming large in your head — it’s your salary, after all — she’s almost certainly not thinking about it. Relax and enjoy your new job!

4. My coworker’s husband is lying about working with us

I work at a mid-sized hotel with a small restaurant. I work part-time, and my desk is sometimes used by others. I recently came across a strange document on my computer. It was a resume for my colleague’s husband (who is in the process becoming her ex-husband). She goes by a different last name so the connection wasn’t immediate, but the most recent “job” caught my attention. It states that he (the husband) worked at our restaurant for a length of time in a supervisor/server position and it had made-up duties on it, although he has NEVER been employed at our hotel in any capacity.

Should I share this information with our manager? As far as I can tell, this resume was last updated about 8 months ago. While it doesn’t directly hurt our business, it does speak volumes about my colleague’s character and I wonder if it is something important our manager should be aware of. Maybe I am wrong and it does hurt our business in a way I hadn’t thought of? Should I tell or keep it to myself? What would you suggest?

If anything, I’d say something to your coworker: “Hey, Sue, did you know that your husband is claiming on his resume that he worked here? Somehow a copy ended up on my computer. What’s up with that?”

Or you can ignore it. If he’s lying about having been employed there, it’s going to come out pretty quickly in a reference check.

5. Not seeming snooty when you’re job searching with an advanced degree

I just finished my Master’s degree in English and I’m job hunting, but I’m not walking into the market without experience. I have ten years in admin and customer service, web editing, and a host of other skills that I’ve picked up over the years. Going back to school was part of a greater plan to get off my ass and do what I loved, so I’ve been applying for jobs with organizations that I’d ideally like to work for with credentials that fit their job specifications. However, some of those jobs are ranked as junior positions, and I’m concerned that my experience and education may dissuade them from considering me. I’m not averse to entering a new discipline on a lower rung (rites of passage and so on), so how can I convey that to employers without sounding snooty, or worse, desperate?

And what’s the general impression outside the Ivory Tower of graduate degrees?

I think it’s less about what you say and more about your attitude. You want to come across as open, humble, and not convinced that your masters gives you special qualifications — and I know the latter might be counterintuitive, but in fields that don’t require a masters, employers generally value work experience over the degree and bristle at candidates who appear to over-value it.

There’s a larger discussion on graduate degrees here. The upshot: in fields that don’t require them, they’re often neutral, but sometimes harmful. Fairly or unfairly, if you’ve recently obtained a masters and you’re applying for jobs that aren’t in that field, some employers will worry that you don’t really want the job … and with a PhD, you have to fight that, plus deal with employers who worry that you’re not equipped for the world outside research and academia. (This can be overcome, of course — my sister, for example, is a history Ph.D. who now manages a nonprofit marketing program — but it’s sometimes a challenge.)

6. Feeling left out at work

I recently started in an incredible job on a buying team, for a well-known high-end department store. I work on a team of buyers, which includes 2 other assistants besides me. The other assistants are in similar roles to me, but theirs are the closest in similarity. They both started about 3 months ago, while I started about a month and a half ago. We are all the same age, around 25, and we are all fairly similar. They are both kind, friendly, and helpful to me, but extremely “partner-y” with each other. They have inside jokes, are always looking at each other and laughing about things, and always getting each other’s opinion about work stuff (and non-work stuff), while I often feel left out. I know they aren’t doing this purposely, but nonetheless, it leads to me feeling left out. They even call each other “partner….”

I don’t know if I am overreacting. Even though it’d be nice to fit in perfectly, should I just let it go? Or should I keep trying to shape a partnership between the three of us? One friend recommended throwing some kind of a social thing at my house, and inviting everyone and their significant others. What do you think?

Sometimes people just click better with some people than with others. You’ve probably found the same thing yourself — you get along really well with certain people, and while you like others just fine, might not have as close of a friendship with them. So try really hard not to take this personally. In fact, their relationship with you — kind, friendly, but not BFF — is the more normal work relationship. Their friendship with each other is more unusual for the workplace. It might help to remind yourself of that when you’re feeling left out.

That said, you could certainly try inviting them out to lunch or for drinks after work. Throwing a social thing at your house is an option too, although probably more work than is needed.

7. Taking a job that I previously turned down

I recently turned down a job that would have been an $8,000 pay cut from what I am currently making, which they knew. I explained that unfortunately, with our bills, I would not be able to take the salary unless we were able to downsize. I accepted a different job, but it’s not stable and there are already issues with financial stability. I think I need to take the pay cut with the other job and work my way up. We have paid off some debt, so I am able to take the cut. The only problem is, will they take me or even have a position open. How do I go about asking?

Maybe, maybe not. They might have already filled the job, they might have concerns about putting you in a position where you’re going to be unhappy with the salary, or they might be thrilled to get you. The only way you’ll find out is by asking them. Send your contact there an email and say that after a lot of thought, you don’t want to pass the opportunity up, and ask if the job is still open.

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