what kind of volunteering is most helpful?

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A reader writes:

I know you’ve spoken extensively about how volunteer work is important and can lend a substantive note to your resume and work experience. But can you discuss a little what kinds of volunteer work are more “important,” skills-wise, for employers? Is ten years of driving for Meals on Wheels going to be taken the same as five years of being a volunteer front-desk person at a hospital, or one year of volunteering with a political organization on their social media front? Is some volunteer experience “worth” more than others to employers, or does it depend totally on what the employer is looking for?

It really varies, depending on the types of roles you’re applying for. In general, volunteer work that’s related to the job you’re applying for is best, which for most jobs means that office work is better than something like driving for Meals on Wheels. But there are exceptions to that; if you were applying for a job working with the elderly or disabled, for instance, that Meals on Wheels experience might be more useful.

In general, the more your volunteer work relates in some way to the jobs you’re applying to, the better. Generally that’s through the specific skills you use (like your example of social media work), but sometimes it can be through the commitment you demonstrate to a particular issue or area (for example, volunteering on campaigns can be useful when applying for advocacy work).

There are also hiring managers who simply like to see community involvement, and in those cases what you did matters less than the fact that you did it — but the majority of the time, volunteering has the most impact on your job prospects when it demonstrates skills that you are key to the work you’re applying for.

Of course, there’s also a totally different way that volunteering can help in a job search: by  building your network. It’s still ideal if the work you’re doing relates to your field in some way (since building contacts in your field is generally more helpful than building them outside your field), but having a network that isn’t field-specific can still end up being enormously helpful when it comes to connecting you with others.

open thread – October 24, 2014

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It’s the Friday open thread!

The comment section on this post is open for discussion with other readers on anything work-related that you want to talk about. If you want an answer from me, emailing me is still your best bet, but this is a chance to talk to other readers.

reference quandary for an employee I don’t want to keep, banning jalapeños, and more

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It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. I can’t give my employee a good reference, but I don’t want her to stay in her job

I have an employee who has not been doing a good job for a while. This person has clearly been unhappy (grumpy at work, calls in sick all the time and may very well be ill) and is looking for another position within the same company. I would be happy to be rid of them. I cannot give them a good review (ethically) and have been avoiding the calls/emails of their potential new manager. Any advice?

If you’d be glad to get rid of this person, then you need to start the process of making that happen — or, in this case, talking to the person about what’s going on with them and what your expectations are for their performance (including attendance and demeanor). In general, when you’re not happy with someone’s performance, you should be giving them clear feedback about the problems, and then if things don’t improve, giving her clear and direct warnings about their performance and eventually letting them go if they don’t resolve the issues. In this case, however, you have a possibly sick employee, and the illness could certainly be causing the attendance and grumpiness problems. So step one here is to talk to her, tell her what you’ve noticed and that you’re concerned, find out what’s going on, and see what can be worked out.

As for the reference — which seems like the smallest of the issues you — you need to get back to the manager. It’s one thing to avoid reference calls from outside your company when you can’t give someone a good reference. But this other manager is a colleague from within your company; you really need to get back to them. But before you do that, you need to find out what’s up with your employee; it wouldn’t be fair to give a bad reference to someone for being sick if her work was good before this. (If her work wasn’t good before the health issues, then of course you can explain that.) In any case, it means you need to talk to the employee today, because continuing to put off your colleague will reflect badly on you.

2. Encouraging rejected candidates to apply again in the future

I’m in the process of hiring for an entry-level assistant to serve two departments here. I’ve come across a number of applicants who are wrong for this position but who might be strong candidates for a position or two we expect to open in other departments in the next 6-12 months. I do normally send all rejected candidates a “thanks but no” email, but is there any reason not to send these particular applicants an emails encouraging them to keep an eye out for those other possible openings or just other openings here in general? A colleague is suggesting that this may encourage unrealistic expectations, especially since I will not be the hiring manager for those other positions, but that strikes me as overly cautious. Thoughts?

It’s overly cautious. It’s fine to send that kind of email; there’s nothing in it that sounds remotely like a promise of employment.

3. What does it mean when job postings say “women and minorities encouraged to apply”?

What does it mean when job postings say things like “women and minorities encouraged to apply,” or when online applications request information about race and gender? Why would companies ask questions that could potentially introduce new biases so early in the application process? I’m a female minority in engineering and I have a gender and race neutral name. I suspect that many hiring managers reading my resume probably think I’m a white male, and that disclosing any information about my race and gender could only hurt my chances at getting an interview. Do companies that claim they are “affirmative action” actually use the answers to these questions, or do companies just ask for this information in case a disgruntled applicant complains about discrimination later on?

Statements like “women and minorities encouraged to apply” are there because either it’s true and they want you to know it, or they want to look like it’s true. Either way, U.S. employers can’t legally consider race in hiring (but they can make an effort to recruit a diverse pool).

As for applications that ask for that information, it’s generally separated from the information that hiring managers see and use to report in the aggregate on the composition of candidates and hires. (Companies with more than 100 employees or government contracts over a certain dollar amount have to report the aggregate demographic makeup of their applicants and employees to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.)

4. Should I get two bachelors degrees or one masters?

Is it better to get two bachelors degrees or one masters?

Two bachelors degrees is weird in most cases (with some limited exceptions). But that doesn’t mean you should get a masters either. Figure out what the career you want requires — which may be experience rather than degrees, particularly if you already have one bachelors — and then make decisions from there.

If the point here is to make yourself more marketable to employers, figure out what actually does that before making any plans. Too often people just assume that more education will do that, when in fact in many circumstances it won’t (and can even make your job search harder).

5. Can my employer ban jalapeños?

Is it legal to ban employees from eating anything containing jalapeños in the building due to one employee being allergic to them?

Yes, that is legal. A terrible tragedy were it to need to happen, as jalapeños are my favorite food, but legal nonetheless.

sorry, no calls

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OMG, I love this:

Dear Friend: Sorry. My heart says yes, but my schedule says no.

and this:

Sorry, no calls

(When I originally posted this, I assumed the author of the second piece had gotten permission to use the large amounts of Oatmeal content included there. Reading the comments on the piece over there, it appears he didn’t, which violates copyright law. Sigh. Here’s the original Oatmeal piece that a lot of that content came from.)

 

how should we handle holiday vacation requests when we need to ensure coverage in the office?

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A reader writes:

I manage a team of 22 that is responsible for supporting clients by phone and email. The company is closed on Christmas, the day after Christmas, New Years Eve, and New Year’s Day, so nobody is expected to work those days. However, of our 22 people, we’d want at least 12 in the office the rest of Christmas week and 16 during the rest of New Year’s week.

In the past, it has always been first come, first serve. This year, we are approaching critical mass and it’s still relatively early. Do we:

A. Announce that any holiday time off requests should be submitted by the end of October, then review them against each other and give preference to the more senior team members?

B. Mention that we could potentially hit our limit, but still approve them in the order them come in?

C. Not say anything and risk upset employees that have never heard “no” before – especially regarding the holidays they spend with family?

D. Another strategy?

I’d tell people ASAP what you said here — that you need to have at least 12 people in the office December 22-24 and 16 in the office Dec. 29-30 and Jan. 2. Ask people to submit their vacation requests to you ASAP so that you can determine if you’ll be able to grant incoming time-off requests and still have sufficient coverage, or whether you’ll need to modify some of them. Explain that if you’re not able to get enough coverage, you might need to deny some requests, but that you’ll do your best to avoid that happening.

If you do need to deny some, it’s perfectly reasonable to do it based on seniority. You can also ask people to submit their first and second choices for time away, and use seniority to bump people to their second choice if needed. And if you can, try make sure that everyone gets at least one of those weeks off if they want it; it’s going to breed resentment if some people get two weeks off while others get none.

A caution about using seniority as your system: If you have low turnover among your most senior people, this can lead to a situation where no one else can ever get the time they want, year after year. If that’s the case, you might instead use a rotation system so that newer people still have a chance to get holiday time off sometimes. Or you might do other sorts of rotations, such as putting people on a schedule that rotates time off between Thanksgiving week and the December holidays.

First come, first served, it can work, but it can end up not being fair if it means that some people turns in their holiday requests very early each year and thus reserve all the prime vacation slots months in advance and never have to share the burden of coverage with others.

Whatever system you end up with, if you do end up needing to deny some vacation requests, make sure you do the following:

1. Tell people as soon as possible so that they can plan accordingly.
2. Be apologetic about it and openly appreciative that people are willing to pitch in to make it work. That doesn’t mean that people will be thrilled about it, but seeming callous and unconcerned will make it go over worse.
3. Do what you can to make being in the office during the holidays more pleasant for people — bring in food and find other ways to show appreciation that they’re there.

job application wants me to list contact info for my friends, ads that target “recent college grads,” and more

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It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. Are ads that target “recent college grads” age discrimination?

I am job-searching and keep seeing some really great jobs that I qualify for, posted by this same staffing company on job boards. ALL of the positions require a 4-year degree and most specify the applicant must be a recent college grad. I have actually seen this company go as far as to specify “must have had great grades in high school” or they sometimes ask for a specific college GPA. The ads will emphasize 2-3 times within the description that you must be a recent college grad. I actually applied for a position anyway, leaving off college dates on my resume and was contacted by a recruiter. She wrapped up the phone screen quickly when she learned that I had completed college 20 years ago. The fact I had strong experience in the industry for which she was recruiting seemed a moot point.

It’s is obvious to me they want 22-24-year-old applicants only. Isn’t this age discrimination? And if this is not age discrimination, can it really be considered a good hiring practice?

There’s nothing illegal about requiring a particular GPA since that doesn’t screen out people over a certain age, but a preference (or requirement) for recent college grads does violate federal laws against age discrimination.

In fact, the EEOC says clearly: “It is illegal for an employer to publish a job advertisement that shows a preference for or discourages someone from applying for a job because of his or her race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information. For example, a help-wanted ad that seeks ‘females’ or ‘recent college graduates’ may discourage men and people over 40 from applying and may violate the law.” More here.

2. Job application wants me to list contact info for friends who can verify my activities

Currently I am searching for jobs in the air travel industry as a flight attendant. While in the process of filling out an application for one company, in the Employment Gap Explanation section while listing my job history, it asked that I explain any employment gaps of one month or more. That’s all fine and good. But the fine print went on that I must list the name, address and phone number of the person(s) that can verify my activities during those times of unemployment. The kicker is they can’t be relatives!

I can understand their reasoning for asking that, as they have to be concerned about terrorism, but I can’t be the only one who thinks it’s just plain ridiculous! How can I explain a 6 month period of unemployment after I graduated college and I lived at home with my family during that time, while friends were still in school or out of town? I also don’t feel comfortable offering such personal information about my friends and acquaintances to the company, either. Am I overreacting?

That’s weird as hell. If it’s a security requirement and you want the job, I suppose you have to comply, just as you’d be giving similar information about family and friends for a security clearance. But yes, it’s bizarre.

3. Can I ask my old company about the results of a project I did?

I just left the company where I was working without a job in my field because the work environment was not healthy. I currently have a part-time job that pays well, so I’m not worried about the bills for a couple months at least. Before leaving, a person from another department told me about a challenge that they were having in their day-to-day work. Before I left, I finished implementing the solution to that challenge. I was the owner of that project and my manager knows that I worked really hard on it. However, I was not able to witness firsthand the results that the solution generated.

I now want to send an email asking if the results were positive or negative to the person who initially had the challenge. Even though it would be better for me to have numbers to evaluate the possible success rate, I understand that this person as a current member of the organization might need to keep the numbers confidential and might only be able to give me a general sense of the success rate. Do you think that I should send this email? I am also not sure how my former manager might take this if the person forwards the email to my manager? Should I cc my former manager on the email?

I don’t see anything wrong with reaching out and saying that you’ve been thinking about the project you did and wondering how it turned out for them. It’s unlikely that they’re going to respond to a casual inquiry like that with hard numbers though, so if that’s what you really want (for resume purposes), I think you’ll need to ask directly if it’s something they’d be willing to share and explain why you’re asking. I’d do that in a second email, though, once you hear back about how it went generally. No need to put them on the spot with that question if the first answer is “it hasn’t made a difference yet,” “it’s too early to tell,” or “it caused our network server to catch fire.”

I don’t think there’s any need to cc your former manager on the email, unless she’s in a particular position to answer the question too.

4. Will a job offer come from HR or from the hiring manager?

Will the hiring manager set up a meeting to offer me the job or will HR make the offer? I’m asking because the hiring manager sent an email to set up a meeting later in the week to talk about the job interview… but I thought HR would call or email me?

It totally depends on the employer. There’s no one playbook that every employer uses for this stuff. That said, in most cases, job offers are made over the phone, not in face-to-face meetings. That doesn’t mean that absolutely no one sets up a face-to-face meeting for it, but that’s a fairly unusual approach.

As for who makes job offers, smart managers make their own, because they want the chance to sell the candidate on the job and to have a personal connection. But plenty of managers let HR do it for them.

5. What does it mean when an employer takes down a job posting and hasn’t called my references?

What does it mean when a prospective employer takes down a job posting?

A hiring manager asked for my references but my references never got a phone call. Is this bad news?

Taking down a job posting can mean all sorts of things: They filled the job, they’re no longer accepting new applications but are still interviewing, they’re about to make an offer, they’re confident that they’ll hire someone from the current pool of candidates, the job ad expired from the site and no one noticed, they wanted to make a change to the job posting so took down the old one and haven’t put the new one up yet, or loads of other possibilities. You can’t know from the outside, and it’s pointless to try to read into it.

On the references issue, it’s possible that the manager hasn’t called your references yet but still plans to, or that she’s one of those managers who asks for references because she knows she’s supposed to but doesn’t always call them, or that they plan to make an offer to someone else (but might call your references if that falls through). Again, no way to know, and your best bet is to just move on and focus on other jobs until/unless you hear something from this employer.

my manager said I’m emasculating an employee (or how to respond to gendered feedback)

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A reader writes:

I am a first-time manager, but have been with my current organization for four years. I am the only person at my level with a direct report (who started in January) and I have significant concerns about my direct report’s ability to fulfill the requirements of the job. I have raised these concerns with my direct report and with my director (who has worked in our organization for less than two years and comes from a very different background). My director agrees that the direct report isn’t performing up to par. However, he is concerned that because I am very good at my job, I may be emasculating my direct report (I am a female manager, with a male director and male direct report).

We’ve all read about how women are more likely than men to be told they are “abrasive” and also told to talk less, step back, and let others shine. I am a vocal person and not afraid to make suggestions or give feedback. But so are my male peers, who don’t receive the same feedback to be more quiet.

How do I respond to gendered feedback? Do I push back and point out the feedback is gendered/sexist? I’ve done that once to my director via a former female manager who then called him out on it. Now, when he gives me advice to talk less or step back, he says that me and my male peer both need to address this issue (likely to appear not sexist). But he’s never given that feedback directly to my male peer.

He’s called me emasculating twice now in the last month. We think it may be a projection of the fact that he is currently being minimized in his role by our senior leadership and therefore feeling emasculated himself. But if it happens again, do I say something?

Also, how do I know whether I truly am disempowering others and not just receiving gendered feedback? So far, I’ve asked for honest feedback from peers and external mentors who have told me they disagree with my director. Is that sufficient? What should I look out for?

Wow.

Emasculating?

I mean, unless you’re telling your employee things like “you’re not a real man,” calling workplace feedback “emasculating” is pretty weird.

I’d ask your boss this: “When you say ‘emasculating,’ what specifically do you mean?” And depending on how clear his answer is, I’d have this statement ready to go, too: “‘Emasculating’ seems like fairly gendered feedback to me. Is there a way for us to talk about this without linking it to gender? If he were a woman, is there a different way you’d frame it?”

I’d also be ready to say something like this: “I’m concerned that gender is playing a role here when it shouldn’t be. You know, there’s been a lot of cultural attention paid lately to how women are given different types of feedback than men — like being described as ‘abrasive’ when the same behavior in men is described as ‘strong’ or ‘assertive.’ I have the sense that gender might be playing out in this situation too.”

Depending on your relationship with him and on his relationships with others in the organization, you might also suggest bringing in other perspectives on it, pointing out that it can be hard to spot this kind of thing in ourselves. (Obviously, in order to say this, you need to have a decent relationship with him and he needs to be reasonably open to hearing feedback. If that’s not the case, skip this part.)

In addition, I’d seriously consider talking to someone above him in your organization about the overall pattern you’re seeing — particularly if there’s a woman who you have good rapport with and who’s positioned to do something about this. It’s absolutely reasonable to point out that you’re getting gendered feedback and that the adjustment he made after the first time it was pointed out didn’t fix it. (Also, when you have this conversation, you should address the need to ensure that raising this doesn’t adversely affect your relationship with him or your standing in the organization — because whoever addresses this with him needs to be clear with him that that can’t happen.)

As for the question of how you can get objective feedback on your own management practices since your boss’s feedback is suspect, your instinct to get input from others (both in and outside of your organization) is a good one. In doing that, be sure that you’re not inadvertently biasing people toward your viewpoint (since often people will be predisposed to agree with you — the person they know and the person seeking advice). That means that you should present as objective a picture as you can, as well as make a good faith effort to explain how you think your employee is experiencing things. (If you’re willing to, you might even role-play some of the interactions with a mentor, so that they can see exactly how you’re approaching the employee.) Also, in doing this, it’s key to make it safe for people to tell you they think you’re in the wrong; if people think you’ll be irritated if you don’t like their input, you’re less likely to get useful information.

Frustratingly, it’s possible that your manager actually has something legitimate and valuable to point out about your approach, but his approaching work life through such a gendered lens is making it pretty damn hard to know. So it’s good that you’re seeking out input from other sources.

how to get along with a disgruntled coworker who dislikes our boss

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A reader writes:

I work for a mid-sized commercial design and production company. I believe our manager, “Jane,” is competent/manages well, but I’ve had some issues that have definitely affected my performance and attitude, which I have now owned and I’ve resolved to work on being an excellent employee. Since recovering from a health condition and addressing my personal issues, I have volunteered for more projects, brought forward more ideas, and communicated more positively with Jane, and it’s really improved my work life. I generally deal with frustrations directly with the person involved, or outside of work (exercise, therapy).

Some last-minute executive decisions by Jane and her “‘favorite” have put my workmate “Dave” offside. The decisions had consequences for Dave, and I supported him emotionally during this time. Dave was badly burnt by this and is now very negative about anything from Jane. He is steadily case-building against her, and describes her in very unflattering terms. He feels that he is being deliberately excluded from projects, his skills not being recognised or utilised, etc. This may be accurate, and he has a particular affect that does appear to affect his assignments. However, he has a truly remarkable and deep range of skills that ARE underutilised. Possibly Jane is intimidated by both this and his manner, and she also appears to err on the side of involving people who volunteer themselves cheerily and proactively, and are more enjoyable to deal with, i.e. she has a “type.”

I suspect Dave thinks I have “changed teams,” and it’s making our working relationship difficult. He frequently comments when he sees me talking to Jane, and I’m struggling to get input from him on projects or ideas. Our team has a strong pitch-in culture, and although he has capacity and is often the only person with the necessary expertise, he either doesn’t follow through or uses the opening to complain about how something is done. I see his hurt and frustration, but I think he is shooting himself in the foot by not moving on (having been there myself) and I don’t really know how to address this without damaging the relationship. In a way I AM changing teams, in that I’m not willing to get stuck in old issues and want to do the best job I can, including fostering positive relationships with people I would not necessarily have a personal relationship with outside work.

Is there a way to salvage my relationship with Dave while also moving forward with my own professional goals? Dave and Jane are both intelligent, skilled, good people. Is there any way to help them repair their relationship? Is there any way I can mention the tension to Jane without dropping myself or my workmate in it?

I think you need to separate emotionally from Dave a bit.

Dave’s assessment that you’ve “changed teams” is pretty out of sync with the nature of the workplace — or at least a healthy, high-functioning workplace. While there are certainly people like Dave, who see things as “us vs. them” when it comes to employees/managers, it’s rarely an attitude held by successful people. Successful people generally see themselves as on their managers’ teams, and don’t see that as being in conflict with getting along with coworkers. (And if you’re in a workplace that makes you choose, there’s a problem with either the employer or the coworkers. In this case, it’s Dave who wants you to choose, and Dave is the one in the wrong.)

While Dave may have legitimate grievances against your boss, his own problematic work habits trump that. Not giving you input on projects, not following through on assignments, and apparently nursing a grudge are all things that harm his credibility and make it impossible to have any real standing to complain about Jane not giving him the recognition he wants.

You speculate that Jane is “intimidated” by Dave — but it doesn’t sound like intimidation to me. Favoring people who are responsive and easy to work with is a pretty sound management call — and to the extent that it’s favoritism, it’s a perfectly reasonable favoritism shared by most managers (and most non-managers too).

In any case, Dave is not your problem to fix. You can certainly explain to him that you’ve found that you’ve gotten much better results at work since changing behaviors A and B and mindset C, and that those changes have made work more satisfying and productive for you. But beyond that, I’d pull back. (And definitely don’t mention the tension to Jane. Again, not your problem to solve.)

You’re entwining yourself with someone who sounds pretty clearly like a Problem, and to the extent that Jane and others see you as aligned with Dave, his reputation problems are likely to splatter on to you too. And that’s especially the case since it sounds like you had your own performance and attitude issues in the past that you actively want to counter now.

I’m not saying “abandon a friend for the good of your career.” But I’d think pretty deeply about how close you really want to be with Dave, whether you respect his stances and behavior, and what kind of boundaries you want to have in place at work.

my former boss is engaging in weird LinkedIn behavior, I feel guilty about leaving my job, and more

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It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. I feel guilty about making my boss’s life harder if I leave for a new job

I’ve been passively looking for a new job for about a year now, but really only half-heartedly. I don’t have any huge complaints with the day-to-day of my current job, but the company is a mess and I was always certain that I would be jumping ship immediately if my boss quit.

Cut to last week, when my boss informs me that he’s fairly certain he’ll be gone by the end of the year, or by next summer at the latest. A few days later, I was headhunted by a company, and it seems really likely that I’ll be offered a position, based on how the interviews have gone.

Now that I’m considering leaving BEFORE my much-admired boss leaves, I’m finding that I’m having real trouble with the idea. I made a list today of the things I do each day, and the thought of putting all these tasks back on him (we’re the only two people in our department) is causing me real distress.

This new job pays around 10%-15% more annually, is non-exempt (I currently work 50+ hour weeks, so this is a benefit to me), and is much closer to my house. Plus, it’s a specialist position, so I’d be focusing on around a quarter of the area that I currently deal with as an HR Generalist. I would be crazy to turn this down, right? I just don’t know how to accept the fact that I’ll be sticking my boss with 80+ hour workweeks for however long it takes for him to find a new job.

Your boss will deal with it. People leave jobs; this is a normal part of doing business. If the department will fall apart without you, then your boss has mismanaged things pretty badly. But it’s more likely that he’ll have a crunch time and then things will be fine.

You need to leave on a schedule that makes sense for you. (And there’s rarely an easy time to leave a job. In fact, it might be better for you to leave now, rather than waiting until your boss leaves and sticking your company with no one seasoned left in the department.) It’s good that you care — it shows you’re conscientious and care about things running smoothly, but really, this is a normal thing that businesses are set up to be able to handle. Your boss will not be working 80 hours a week; he’ll bring in new help, or push projects back, or bring in temps, or do any of the myriad things people do in this situation. It will be fine.

2. My interview included a random person who didn’t identify herself, even when I asked

Is it appropriate for an interview to include an interviewer who is not affiliated with the business you are interviewing with?

I just applied for a management position with a local humane society. I sent my solicited resume to the president of the board, who had contacted me, and scheduled an interview. Present during the interview were a manager, the president, a volunteer, and “an interested party.” When I asked if she was a board member or worked for the shelter, she said no and that she was just “an interested party.” It was strange. It made me very uncomfortable that she was given access to my resume and was included in my interview without my consent. Weird. Am I overreacting?

There are cases where it would be reasonable to include an outside in an interview process — if she were a consultant, for instance, or coaching the board president on hiring, or who knows what else. But her role should be explained to you — and it would have been perfectly appropriate for you to say, “Can you tell me more about your role with the organization and in the hiring process?”

I don’t think I’d bristle at her having access to your resume. The universe of people who might see your resume when you apply for a job is pretty large (volunteers, admins helping with hiring, board members if it’s a very small organization, someone the hiring manager checks with to see if you’re the same Jane Smith who used to work for her, and lots of other possibilities). But it’s certainly reasonable to want to understand who you’re meeting with and why.

3. My former boss’s boss is carrying out a weirdly slow trickle of LinkedIn endorsements

I left a job nearly six years ago and completely changed fields. Now my boss’s boss from that job, who I don’t keep in touch with, is endorsing me on LinkedIn for skills that she has no way of knowing about. She doesn’t do this all at one time; she endorses about one skill a week. It’s making me feel a little odd – an equivalent on Facebook would be a person I once got to know at summer camp “liking” every single one of the pictures I’ve ever posted. Should I do anything about this? At the very least I feel like it waters down the endorsement’s I’ve received, but I don’t know how much they really matter.

That’s bizarre behavior, but I would just ignore it. No one else will notice or care.

That said, totally aside from this, I’d turn off LinkedIn’s skills endorsements altogether. They don’t carry any weight at all and have zero credibility since anyone can endorse you for anything, whether they know you and have worked with you or not. They’re an inexplicably ridiculous feature of the site.

4. Should I leave my new job for another one?

I started a new job in December with a great company, in the top 10 of the Fortune 500. I really like my job and see great potential for my future. This week I got a call from an outside recruiter with a firm asking if I would be interested in another opportunity. I checked her out and she’s legit. I’ve spoken to her a few times and the position is similar to my current position. She thinks I’m a good candidate and wants to present me for it. I’m really torn. While I’m very happy with my new job, I hate to pass on something that could be even better. She said my current salary and bonus was in line with what this company would offer. What are your thoughts on this?

Why would you leave a job that you just started less than a year ago and that you’re happy at, without a really compelling reason?

You can get away with one short-term stay, but it’ll pretty much lock you into having to stay at the next one for a good long while so you don’t look like a job hopper. Why do that without a lot more incentive than it sounds like you have here?

5. Salary negotiation when moving from non-exempt to exempt

I am in a salaried non-exempt position at a large non-profit, and recently applied for a role in another department which better suits my skillset (with the support and blessing of my current manager and the new role’s supervisor). I know that this new role would be offered at the same salary that I am currently on, but it would be an exempt position.

If I were to get this job, could I negotiate the starting salary up based on the fact that I would be “losing” overtime? I don’t work overtime every pay period, but during particularly busy times for the organization I do clock up a fair amount, about an extra $2,500 over the course of a year. This new role would be just as much work, so I feel like I’d be taking a pay cut of that extra $2-3K…but maybe that’s just the trade-off for the added responsibility and authority of the new role. The company is responsive to salary negotiation (I did it when I started my current job), so I’m not afraid of asking, I just have no idea if this is a normal basis for negotiation or if I’ll be laughed out of the office.

Well, ideally, you’d negotiate the salary totally independent of what you’ve been making; you should negotiate based on the market rate for the new role. But if you get the sense that that their salary offer is going to be based on your current salary, then yes, it’s totally reasonable to say, “While my salary in this role has been $X, I typically earned an additional $Y each year in overtime, bringing the total pay to $Z. I want to be sure I’m not taking a pay cut at the same time that I’m taking on additional responsibility.”

Also, about this: “maybe that’s just the trade-off for the added responsibility and authority of the new role.” Added responsibility and authority is supposed to bring additional compensation, not less. If you’re taking on more responsibility, make sure you’re being paid appropriately for it. That means an increase, not a lateral move, and definitely not a cut.