my part-time job wants me to work more days — am I being unreasonable in saying no?

A reader writes:

I work two part-time jobs. I have been at Job #1 almost a year, and I work Tuesdays/Thursdays. At Job #2, where I’ve been for a month, I am a floating admin between a few of their centers. I was explicitly told this job was three days a week, and my schedule there so far has been Wednesday/Friday/Saturday.

Recently, my boss at Job #2 asked me if I could work Mondays as well. This is not ideal for me, because then my only day off would be Sunday. So I told her that, unfortunately, I could not work Mondays. She seemed upset and stressed, and said, “But you don’t work Mondays at your other job, right? You’re free on Mondays!” I answered that because I work Saturdays, I’d prefer to not work Mondays as well, since it is important to me to have a weekend. Maybe that was a faux pas, I don’t know.

Since then my boss has asked, multiple times, “You sure you’re planning to stay at Job #1?” in kind of a snide tone, or told me “Let me know if you quit that other job.” She makes these comments when trying to schedule things.

I just got an email from a higher-up manager asking to confirm my schedule and asking specifically about my Monday availability. I told them that I was unavailable Mondays.

Am I being unreasonable in wanting to keep my Mondays free? I like camping, so having two days off is important to me. I know that because I am part-time I can’t expect them to prioritize my days off or anything. But I’m also surprised they want to add a fourth day. I was told (verbally) that the job was three days a week. They didn’t mention weekend work when I was hired so I assumed it would be weekdays.

Another concern is that my role was described to me as very admin/secretarial, but I am being asked now to go “marketing,” which means going to shopping centers and give out flyers for our business, and getting interested people’s contact info to call them to set up informational meetings. My boss showed me how she does this and it is very pushy and demanding. They gave me a Meyers Briggs personality test and because of that test, they believe I could be good at sales/marketing if I wanted to be. This is very stressful because, personality tests aside, I do feel I genuinely struggle with this. I do not like pushing people to buy a service they are clearly uninterested in. But my boss is under a lot of pressure to increase sales since her center is not doing well.

That being said, I am good at other parts of my job! I have made the center more organized since I started there. I wish I could focus on the administrative side of things. Is it reasonable of me to ask her to let me off the hook from marketing?

The company is very intense; it is sales-focused and growing. The center directors frequently work six days a week for 12 hours a day. My not wanting to work Mondays and being uncomfortable with marketing is not in line with the company culture. Am I actually unreasonable in these requests?

Nope.

But that doesn’t mean that they can’t decide that their needs have changed and that they need part of your job to be working Sundays and/or “marketing.” It’s possible that either or both of those things could be the case.

However, it’s perfectly reasonable for you to decide you’re not interested in either of those things and say that clearly and politely.

On the scheduling, I’d say this: “I know you’ve asked me a few times about working on Mondays. It’s really not something that’s possible for me, and I want to make sure that won’t be a problem. Can we stick with the three days a week we agreed to originally?”

If she says no, that at this point they really need the person in your role to add a fourth day, then you can decide at that point whether you’re willing to do it or not, if the job depends on it. But I bet that it doesn’t and that she’s just hoping you’ll agree if she asks enough — and that telling her clearly and firmly that this is not something you’re up for will stop it.

On the expansion of your role to include passing out flyers and calling people to set up informational meetings, I’d address that head-on too. Say something like this: “My understanding when I took the job was that it was heavily administrative and didn’t include marketing work. To be honest, marketing isn’t work that I’d like to do, and I wouldn’t have taken a position that included much of it. Is is possible for me to continue focusing solely on the admin work, like we originally talked about?”

You might hear that no, your role does need to include this stuff. But even that will be helpful, since it will give you more information and at that point you can decide if you want the job under those conditions or not.

For what it’s worth, using your Myers Briggs results to push you into this is silly. It doesn’t really matter if you could be good at the work if you wanted to; the relevant question is whether you want to or not. If you don’t, that’s your prerogative, just as it’s theirs to decide that they do need that.

In any case, start by talking about all of this forthrightly. Often this conversation will lead to them realizing that they’d like you to do something but it’s not a requirement if you clearly state that you’re not interested. Other times, it may not. But this type of conversation is always a reasonable one to have — and it’s much easier when you approach it as “here are my needs and interests; tell me yours, and we can collaboratively figure out hwhether they line up well enough.”

how can employees move up if they don’t want to manage people?

Traditionally, to move up professionally, people eventually need to move into a management role. But what should companies do with top performers who want to grow but who aren’t interested in managing people?

When companies don’t provide career paths for people who don’t want to manage, they’re more likely to lose good employees — and plus, when you force people to manage others in order to grow professionally, you end up with poorly managed teams being led by people who were better at doing something else.

At Intuit QuickBase’s Fast Track blog today, I talk about how and why you should create a career path for people who aren’t interested in managing others. You can read it here.

how to explain to interviewers why I quit my job without another one lined up

A reader writes:

I recently resigned from my position at my previous employer due to its toxic environment and unsupportive senior management. I was constantly being thrown under the bus. The position didn’t align with my career goals anyway, and I could no longer reconcile the fact that I was in a stressful, low-paying job I didn’t even want.

Now that I’m doing interviews, potential employers are asking me why left, and I don’t want to necessarily badmouth my previous employer. I typically say that it didn’t align with my career goals, but interviewers have been following up with questions like “Well, why didn’t you stay in your position until you found another job?”

Should I be honest? How can I answer the question without saying bad things about my previous employer, but give an answer they’ll accept?

Yeah, this is the problem with quitting with nothing else lined up: because it’s relatively unusual to do, it makes employers think there’s a story there, and it worries them. Were you fired? Forced to leave? Did you leave in a huff because you’re a prima donna? Or did you reasonably choose to get out of a situation that any reasonable person would find horrible? They don’t know. They realize that it could be that last one, but they also realize that it could be one of the others and that makes them nervous.

You can try an answer like “I wanted to to take some time and really focus on finding the right fit for my next move,” but even then most interviewers are going to assume there’s more to it. If you tack on “and I wanted to take a bit of time to help with some family issues” or something like that, it’s likely to resonate more with many people, so that’s another option.

But basically, yeah, this is one of the problems with quitting without another job. It’s not totally logical that people react that way (after all, if you’re able to afford potentially lengthy time off in between jobs, why shouldn’t you?) but it’s definitely A Thing that comes up in interviewing if you do it.

food gift etiquette, do interviewers decide whether to hire you in 90 seconds, and more

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

1. Do interviewers really decide whether to hire you within the first 90 seconds of meeting you?

My friend and I got into a friendly disagreement, and I hope you can speak to this issue. Friend thinks that a hiring manager will decide whether to hire you or not within the first 90 seconds of meeting you. I think that is complete nonsense and if a hiring manager makes decisions like that, I do not want to work for them.

Sure, in 90 seconds you can decide whether you find a person pleasant and approachable (not to mention notice sex, race, age, and their hair), but I would be mortified to find out those were the most important things. After 6 months of remote job search, that’s not at all what my experience has proven to me. I’ve had many interviews with in-depth questions and skills testings. I certainly hope all that played a role in the hiring manager’s decision to extend an offer.

Your friend is wrong. I’m sure there’s a small handful of hiring managers out there who operate like that, but they’re in a tiny minority. Most interviewers are, you know, interviewing and making their decisions based on the entirety of your interview, background, experience, and references.

It sounds like your friend has a sort of fatalism about interviewing, which some people find comforting (since it allows them to think that it’s basically out of their hands), but it’s really not how it works.

2. Should we return the leftovers from a food gift?

We had a patient bring lunch to our dental office staff. Should the leftovers be returned to the patient or kept by the office? I think it would be rude to return the leftovers. What do you think?

Keep them. They were given to you as a kindness, not on the condition or with the expectation that you’d return anything remaining. And yes, you risk making the patient feel bad, especially if there’s a lot left.

Thank her, eat what you want, and put the rest in the kitchen for anyone who wants more later (or let someone take them home if there’s no office kitchen).

3. My boss lowered my pay after I gave notice

Can my boss change my title and lower my pay because I’m giving three weeks notice?

Your employer can’t change your pay retroactively, but can change it going forward. That means that they can say “from tomorrow onward, your new pay is X,” but they can’t say, “We’re going to lower your pay for last week.”

You can in turn decline to work at the new rate, so you could say to your boss, “I’m not able to work for that rate or that title. Given that, should today be my last day or would you like me to work out the notice period at my normal rate and with no change in title?”

Also, your boss is an ass.

4. My boss told me to take the week off and come in at the end for a meeting

Is my boss legally allowed to tell me to take the week off and come in at the end of the week for a meeting? No mention of why he is telling me to not come in or if I’ll be paid or not. I have made no request for vacation time either.

Yes. However, if you’re exempt, you need to be paid for that time. (Exempt employees must be paid their full salary for weeks in which they do any work, and that meeting at the end of the week counts as work.) If you’re non-exempt, you don’t.

I’m not sure what the context is here, but this is the kind of thing that sometimes happens when someone has committed some sort of serious offense where firing is a possible consequence, and the employer is trying to decide how to deal with it.

5. Required to turn over raffle prize

If an employee won a raffle at a trade show on a business trip, can a company legally force that employee to give the prize they won to the company?

I can’t think of any law that would violate, although it’s an awfully short-sighted, stingy policy that’s going to alienate employees. That’s not really the way to build morale or encourage employees to go above and beyond the bare minimum.

my manager told me I can’t list this job on my resume

A reader writes:

I recently resigned from my first job, which was a seasonal sales position. Upon quitting, my manager told me I cannot put this work experience down on my resume, nor can she be my reference since I did not work for 3 months (seasonal positions are for 2 months). I was also forbidden from asking my coworkers for references as well. The real reason I quit was because she was would verbally abuse me even when I was excelling in my role (I told her it was because I had to start school so I couldn’t continue working, which was half true at the time). It was pretty clear she hates me but she still acted “friendly” during my time there so others wouldn’t suspect anything.

I understand I don’t have to list every job on my resume, but what concerns me is the job application employers gives out during interview sessions (where they have the part about write down X years of work history or every job you ever had). To my understanding, you have to write down all your past jobs on the form or else if the company finds out you can get terminated. But I worry that if I leave out this job on my resume and write on the application form, then the hiring manager would still contact my previous manager (and she will most likely say something to sabotage my chance). If I don’t write this job on the application form, can the company still find out about this? I’m planning on applying to an airline company as a flight attendant (and they check background, security clearance..etc).

This woman has zero control over what you put down on your resume. Zero. She doesn’t get to see or approve your resume. You can absolutely list this position if you want to, as long as you list it accurately (dates, title, accomplishments, etc.), and it would be reasonable to do that.

The only way she could possibly intervene in this is if an employer called her for a reference or to verify your employment, and she refused to verify that you worked there. It’s possible that she could do that — no federal law requires employers to provide references or verify employment. However, she couldn’t actually lie and say you never worked there (because she’s not allowed to give factually false information); she could only say that she won’t provide verification.

I’d make sure to save pay stubs and/or your W2s since you can use those to confirm your employment there. Then, if questioned, you can explain to prospective future employers that it’s this company’s policy not to provide employment verifications for anyone who worked less than three months (and that your position was a seasonal, two-month job), but that you can offer this other documentation.

If you think she will give out actually false information about you in an attempt to sabotage your chances, you should contact the company’s HR department if it has one. Explain that you believe your boss is likely to give an inaccurate reference for you and that you are concerned she’ll stand in the way of you obtaining employment. HR people will be familiar with the potential for legal problems and will probably speak to your old boss and put a stop to it. (If it’s a small company and there’s no HR department, consider having a lawyer write a letter to them addressing the situation on your behalf.)

Also, your old boss has no way of prohibiting you from asking coworkers for references. She can prohibit her current employees from giving you those references, but she can’t stop you from asking — you don’t work for her anymore and she has no control over what you do! She also can’t stop former employees from giving you references either (assuming they don’t sign an agreement promising not to, and that kind of agreement would be highly unusual in sales, so I doubt you have to worry about it).

Congratulations on getting out, and may your second job be for someone more reasonable than this person.

my boss is consulting my peer about my work

A reader writes:

I work in an 8-person field office of a major national nonprofit. Our office is currently in the midst of a major collaborative initiative which has placed increasing demands on our Executive Director’s (my boss) time. My boss is so busy cultivating relationships with volunteers and funders that he spends less time on the day-to-day management of the organization. Morale is low, as people are feeling spread too thin.

Over the past few months, my boss has increasingly leaned on one of my colleagues to handle the day-to-day management responsibilities. In many ways, my colleague has become a de facto deputy director. I respect my colleague, but I was angered to learn that my boss gave her a draft of my annual work plan for feedback without telling me first. I was particularly upset that my boss gave me additional responsibilities based on my colleague’s feedback with involving me in the discussion. Work plan development has always been an employee-manager activity in the past. Am I out of line for feeling upset that he shared my work plan with her without first telling me? I don’t mind her input, but I’m upset at the lack of communication and now have questions about about how my performance will be monitored and by whom.

You can read my answer to this question over at Inc. today, where I’m revisiting letters that have been buried in the archives here from years ago (and often updating/expanding my answers to them).

my new office is full of dogs — and I’m allergic

A reader writes:

Thanks to your amazing advice, I was able to land a fantastic job with a big raise after years of stagnant dead-end work. My first day I walked into the office…and it was full of dogs. They have a dog-friendly office, which was never advertised or communicated during the hiring process.

I’m allergic to dogs, VERY allergic. Within ten minutes of arriving at work, my eyes are red, itchy and watering, my nose stuffs up and I get a headache from my swollen sinuses. This is what happens when I’m on medication! If I skip the meds, I break out in hives, start to wheeze and I run the risk of my throat swelling closed. I went to my doctor who referred me to a specialist. I’m already on the strongest meds they give out, and they said as long as I “expose myself” to allergens, this will keep happening and might get worse over time.

I tried to work with my company to fix this: they put me in the far corner away from the majority of the pooches where I’m near a door I can prop open, they have a company that cleans bi-weekly and they let me work from home one day a week. The nature of my job demands that I be in the office at least four days a week, I really have no wiggle room. Even working from home one day a week has been a stretch and caused some negative feelings on my team, even though they hear me sneezing every 20 minutes when I’m there!

It’s been 2 months and while I love the work, love the company and love my coworkers…I’m miserable. I’ve considered looking for a new job, but every job I’ve seen in my field has a “dog-friendly” office. I’m at a loss – their dog-friendly office isn’t ME-friendly. What can I do?!

Ugh, yes, this is the other side of benefits that some people love.

Lots of people are thrilled at the idea of a pet-friendly office, and lots of pet-friendly offices operate successfully. But they really only work in the long-term if there are effective plans for accommodating people with allergies, as well as people who are afraid of dogs (or other animals) or just not comfortable around them.

In a larger workspace, that can mean having pet-free floors. In a small office, that might not be feasible. (And as you can see from this story about someone with allergies who worked in Amazon’s dog-friendly offices, being on a pet-free floor didn’t quite work as smoothly as it was supposed to.)

Working from home can be a solution, but as in your case, that’s not feasible with every job.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) does require employers to make “reasonable accommodations” for employees with qualifying disability if doing so won’t impose an “undue hardship” on the operation of the employer’s business. But what’s reasonable to ask, and what’s an undue hardship?

To get an answer, I consulted two awesome employment attorneys: Donna Ballman, author of the awesome Stand Up For Yourself Without Getting Firedand Bryan Cavanaugh.

Donna and Bryan both agreed that based on your description, the allergy is likely to be covered as a disability under the ADA (which covers “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities”).

So if the law covers you, what does your employer have to do in response? Bryan says: “To its credit, the employer has already been interacting with this employee to see if there is anything reasonable the employer can do to help the employee overcome the limitations and allow her to do her job. The efforts the employer has offered so far – moving the employee’s desk by door, allowing the employee to work from home one day a week, cleaning the office bi-weekly – are nice but they have not solved the problem. Therefore, technically, neither the employee nor the employer has identified an ‘accommodation’ yet. An accommodation is a modification that allows the employee to perform all of the essential functions of his or her job. That is not happening yet, since none of the ideas mentioned has worked.”

So realistically, what else might you try?

Donna suggests working with your doctor to see what she suggests:

“If there are allergy shots or other medical solutions, great. But they may also be able to suggest some reasonable accommodations you haven’t thought of. Questions I’d ask the doctor are things like:

1. Is there a spray or something that can be put on the dogs that would keep them from spreading allergens?
2. How far away do you need to be for you to be safe from the dogs?
3. Would any kind of filter or mask work for you?

If the doctor can come up with some reasonable accommodations you can ask for that would address your allergy, the employer has to either grant the accommodation, engage in the interactive process with your doctor and you to come up with an alternative accommodation, or demonstrate an undue hardship.

If there is no accommodation that would allow you to work in the presence of dogs, then the other question to ask is of your employer, namely, whether the dogs are an accommodation for anyone else’s disability. (The ADA also covers emotional support dogs and service dogs, so you have a real pickle if the dogs are there due to disabilities of coworkers.) If not, then a reasonable accommodation might be to ask that the dogs be kept at home or in a doggy day care. It won’t make you popular with your dog-loving coworkers, but an accommodation like that is probably reasonable under the law.”

Bryan agrees:

“One accommodation that would work would be banning all the dogs (except service dogs) from the office. That is something the employer needs to consider seriously. An accommodation is not reasonable and does not need to be offered if it would create an ‘undue hardship’ for the employer. Usually that means an unreasonable expense to the employer. But here, there would not be a direct expense of banning dogs from the office. Rather the employer should consider ‘the impact of the accommodation upon the operation of the facility, including the impact on the ability of other employees to perform their duties and the impact on the facility’s ability to conduct business.’ Banning the dogs would lower morale, but it would not appear to harm the business itself or the business’ operations. This is not a veterinary clinic where it is necessary to have dogs in the workplace. Although we do not know what the business does, the business can presumably operate without animals in the workplace. So while banning dogs may be a drastic change and hurt morale, the employer must consider doing this in order to comply with the ADA.

Whether an accommodation is reasonable and whether an accommodation would present an undue hardship are fact-intensive inquiries. We do not know enough facts to say definitely one way or another whether the employer is required to ban all dogs (besides service dogs).”

But I suspect you really don’t want to be the person who causes your coworkers to lose a benefit that most of them probably love. That comes with its own set of issues.

Bryan also suggests:

“From an HR perspective, the employer should continue to interact with the employee to see if some other modification would solve this problem. For instance, the employer should consider moving the employee to another remote location within the office, moving the employee or his or her own personal office, purchasing a special air purifier, and re-arranging the office such that only employees with low-dander dogs are near this employee. If none of those work, they this employee and employee could very well be facing the choice of (1) banning dogs from the office, or (2) telling the employee to deal with the situation as is, which sounds like it would effectively make the employee resign due to health concerns.

If the employer faced that choice and chose option #2, the employee could file an EEOC charge and then take the employer to court and litigate the issue the whether option #1 would have constituted a reasonable accommodation that the employer was required to implement.”

So again, ugh.

If I were in your shoes I’d go back to your manager and HR and say this: “I appreciate you working with me on moving my desk and setting up telecommuting one day a week. However, I’m finding that I’m still suffering severe allergy symptoms and my doctor tells me that they may worsen with increased exposure to the dogs here. So I need a different medical accommodation to be able to do my job and want to talk with you about what’s possible.”

But if none of the lighter-touch accommodations work, this may come down to a philosophical decision on your part about whether you want to push for the dogs to be removed, or whether you’d rather look for a job that either doesn’t come with dogs or which is set up to allow you to avoid them more easily (by telecommuting or finding a company large enough to give you an office far away from the dander).

This isn’t an easy one.

What do others think?

my new employer lied to me about salary, do we need team meetings, and more

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

1. My new employer lied to me about salary

I recently started a new job, which pays me pretty laughable amount but I accepted it because I was told it was at the mid-range point for the position, and I was offered a mid-range wage because of my experience. Well, today I was finally able to access financial documents for my institution that outline salaries for all positions, and lo-and-behold I discover that I am NOT being paid mid-range, but am in fact paid pennies above the bottom 25th percentile. What can I do?? I am extremely upset by this – what I’m being paid now barely covers rent/utilities/health insurance/and other living necessities. The mid-range salary would help so much it’s insane.

What angers me the most about this is that I’m basically being paid as if I came in with NO experience, which is not true in the slightest. They explicitly offered me the position because I had so much relevant experience. Please help me – is there a way I can approach my supervisor/HR and talk to them about this?

I’m not normally a fan of trying to renegotiate salary soon after you start, because you agreed to a particular salary, presumably found it fair or at least acceptable, and need to stick to that agreement (just like you wouldn’t want the employer to come to you a few weeks after you started and say that they’d like to pay you less). However, in this particular situation, it sounds like they gave you wrong information — or at least that they conveyed something different than perhaps they intended to. (Who knows, maybe they consider “mid-range” to be everything between the 25th and 75th percentile. Or maybe the document you saw is wrong. Or some other explanation.)

It’s reasonable to seek clarification and find out what happened — not necessarily to renegotiate (which is very hard to do once you’ve accepted a salary and started the job), but to get some clarity on the situation. I’d say something like this: “My understanding was that you offered me a salary in the mid-range for this role, but document X makes it look like I’m actually in the bottom quarter of the range. Can you help me understand?”

2. Do I need to set up team meetings?

A year ago, I took a new job and find myself formally managing a small team for the first time. (In my last job, I ran project-based teams but this is my first permanent team).

Because I’m face-blind, I can come off as a bit cold – if your cat died, and you tell me that, I will be sad and sympathetic like anyone else; I’m just not likely to notice that you are upset unless you say something. So I’ve always asked a neutral colleague to check in with my team occasionally to remind them they have to articulate their feelings, and make sure I haven’t missed any emotional elephants.

At our last catch-up, my guide mentioned that several of my team are feeling disconnected from each other, like their work life happens in a little bubble and they never know what anyone else is doing. My guide suggested I start having team meetings to address this.

My instinct is that five people who sit within 10 feet of each other (with email and instant messaging, a shared trello board that maps all the team’s current and upcoming work and who’s responsible, and tons of local lunch spots for all budgets, including free) should be able to just talk to each other – which is what I would do – but clearly they’re not. Admittedly, this office in general is full of people with lousy social skills, but my team don’t seem to have trouble making friends at work outside our team.

I’m at a loss what to do – I’m not against the idea of team meetings, but I’ve never worked in a team that had them (I guess I’ve been raised professionally by wolves?) and I have no idea what to say or where to start. How do I help my team communicate better among themselves and feel more connected?

I wouldn’t assume that team meetings would solve it, at least not without actually talking to people and hearing first-hand how they’re feeling and what they think would help. So that’s where I’d start: Talk to the people on your team. It can be useful to have your colleague sharing her impressions of how people are feeling, but that’s really just a tip for you to alert you that there’s something you should be checking in with people about; it’s not the full information. Talk to people, ask how connected they feel with the rest of the team and how connected they’d like to feel (they may feel relatively unconnected but not really see it as a problem), and — if they do see a problem — ask for their input on ways to address it. You might find out there’s no real problem, or that it could be solved by something simpler and faster than team meetings (like “we need a better system for logging project updates”). Or maybe everyone would love meetings, who knows.

But ask.

(I will also add that the bit about having a colleague remind your team to articulate their feelings worries me a bit. I’d rather have you talking to people directly, inquiring how they’re feeling about things if you’re not sure and you think it’s relevant, and being up-front about the face-blindness and what you need them to do to accommodate it.)

3. Can I submit writing samples that were edited by others?

I’m currently applying for a few positions in writing/communications that ask for writing samples. The sort of job I have now does involve a ton of writing, and I generally write the first drafts of everything, but since I’m a lower-level person at my organization, the things I write are often edited by people higher up on the chain who make decisions about what is printed, mailed out, etc. The edits are often minor and mostly involve word choice changes and maybe a few additions, so the majority of the work is mine, but not all of it. Can I submit the final versions of these writing samples, or do they need to be the first drafts that weren’t touched by anybody? Or can I submit the final versions and indicate that edits were made by others? Several of the things I’m considering submitting were printed in magazines, so the PDFs of those pages just look more professional than the Word document drafts I have.

Well, it’s not really a sample of your writing if it’s been edited by others. Submit stuff that only you worked on.

With published clips, where some of the value of submitting them comes from the fact that they were published, it’s worth noting when you submit them that were “lightly edited” by someone else or whatever the case may be. They can ask you for unedited work at that point if they want to (or have you do a writing exercise, which they should do anyway).

Note: Everyone in the comments disagrees with me on this. I’m going to concede I’m the odd one out here, so you may prefer to follow the advice of everyone else on this, rather than me.

4. When my older work history is more relevant, can I put it at the top of my resume?

I have a question about the order of my work history on a chronological resume. I’m currently a teacher, but used to be a journalist. I want to go back into the journalism profession.

My current position is as an ESL teacher/program coordinator at a school. I am also currently a freelance reporter. In 2012, I was a reporter for a small news organization in Massachusetts.

Currently, I’m applying for a journalism job. Naturally, I want to put my 2012 experience up at the top so that the hiring manager can see my relevant experience first. But, it’s in 2012, so technically it should be lower in the resume since it’s an old position. Right now, I have freelance reporter at the top (because it’s until the present), and I have my teaching position next (because it’s also in the present). Next, in a chronological order, would come my reporting position.

Can I put my 2012 reporter position right after my freelance position so that it comes nearer to the top? It’s not chronological, but it’s relevant. I don’t want to do a “functional resume” because I hear that’s bad for most cases. I don’t want people to think I’m “hiding” something.

Divide your experience into two sections: Relevant Experience (or you could just call it Journalism Experience) and Other Experience. Put the first at the top. That’s a really common way to do it and won’t raise any eyebrows.

5. Asking an employer if a position is still open

Can you ask HR if they are still hiring/if a position has been filled when you applied for the position two weeks ago and haven’t heard anything back? It did not say no inquiries.

I wouldn’t. You applied, they know you’re interested, and they’ll reach out if they want to interview you. If you’re antsy to know if they’re still hiring, it’s a sign that you’re thinking about this job too much; you should mentally move on after you apply, because you gain no advantage by waiting and agonizing and wondering and letting it take up space in your mind — over a job that you might never hear back about — when the part that you control (your application) is already done and over.

I’m getting a bunch of calls from recent grads asking to schedule job interviews

A reader writes:

Local grads, plus a few random people, are cold calling my small, newish accounting office to ask for work. Some have been very demanding about speaking directly to the hiring manager, owner, partner etc, but all the callers have worded their question in roughly the same way, along the lines of “I am a recent graduate who is looking for work in accounting and am interested in a full-time position. I would like to speak the hiring manager/owner/partner about scheduling an interview.”

I have never listed a job opening. It seems like they are going down a list to tick a box. When they are told that I’m not hiring, they quickly say thank you and hang up. They do sound local and are calling from local numbers. However, the interruptions and firm (I read it as pushy if they think they have not reached who they are asking for) tone leaves me thinking even if I were hiring, no way would it be someone who reached out with these tactics.

Should I reach out to the local college to ask them if they are behind this? Or try to grill the next caller? It’s only one or two a week so far, but it used to be one a month. Is this a “thing” now?

It’s not a thing. Or at least it shouldn’t be a thing.

What is a thing, to some extent, is the existence of crappy job search advice, and some of it recommends that people use their time in this remarkably ineffective way.

But it would be interesting to (a) let the callers know it’s not a useful strategy and (b) find out if it is something like a local college recommending this (in which case you could contact the college and tell them that real, actual employers do not like it).

So yes, I would totally ask the next caller about it! I’m a huge fan of just noting when something seems really out of whack with how you’d expect someone to behave and asking what’s going on. And you can even do it with strangers, particularly when a stranger is asking you for a favor.

With the next caller who does this, why not say this: “I’m not currently hiring, but I wonder if I can ask you a question. I’ve received a lot of these calls recently, and it’s not a job search tactic that I’d recommend. Most employers aren’t going to respond positively to it. I’m so curious — are you being encouraged to do this by your college, or is there someone else who’s pushing this idea? I’d love to understand what’s behind the sudden influx of calls that I’m getting.”

Say it nicely, of course — your tone should be kind and genuinely inquisitive, not lecturing.

Try this with a handful of these callers, and then come back and let us know what they tell us.

Meanwhile, anyone who is thinking that making these calls sounds like a good idea: If you want an employer to consider interviewing you, sending in your resume and a well-crafted cover letter is a far more effective strategy than calling random strangers who know nothing about you to set up interviews for jobs that may not exist.

napping at work, better office design, and more

Over at Intuit QuickBase’s Fast Track blog today, I take a look at several interesting work-related stories in the news right now: whether napping at work can improve your productivity, the best and worst office designs, and more. You can read it here.