It’s wee answer Wednesday — seven short answers to seven short questions. We’ve got a know-it-all business partner, a boss who won’t let employees ask customers how they are, and more. Here we go…
1. Manager won’t let us say “how are you?” to customers
I work at Boston Market. As a human, it’s natural instinct to greet a guest, then follow up with a “how are you” or “how are you doing today.” But my GM (not corporate) sent an email to all crew members regarding not saying “how are you” and such to customers (because he doesn’t like it). Now, I can understand that he personally might not like the phrase, but 90% percent of the time, the customer replies to “Welcome to Boston Market” with “thanks, how are you?” And I’m not supposed to reply back? This wouldn’t be an issue for me (or the rest of my coworkers) if he didn’t make it clear that there would be disciplinary actions and possibly being fired. Can you honestly get fired for asking a customer “how are you”? Please help. I feel like this goes against everything we are as human beings.
Yep, if wants to make that a fireable offense, he can. But let’s be clear: He is absolutely ridiculous (and so would be the resulting PR if a fired employee chose to publicize it). But he’s your boss, so he’s allowed to implement ridiculous rules if he wants to. I’d ask your manager how you should respond to customers who ask how you are. Are you just supposed to say “fine,” and not ask how they are in return? Ask and see what you’re told.
2. Should I leave dates off my resume?
I’m getting back into the job hunt after 30 years, all with one company. We were acquired by a rival and most of the folks were let go. I was part of the transition group, and my time is rapidly ending too.
My resume is a combination of chronological and functional. Except for my first positions, the bulk of my experience has been evolutionary. That is, one position evolved into another one. The job titles changed along the way, but that was the company trying to describe what I did. They liked it, since I got good raises with each review and job title change. I called them “stealth promotions” since they were never announced in a public notice. My big question is… do I use dates or not? Current advice that I’m getting is not to use dates, but everything that I’ve read here indicates that dates should be used.
Yes, you must use dates. Otherwise you look like you’re hiding something. Whoever is telling you not to use them is not to be trusted on anything job-search-related.
3. My boss wants a report on my project — what do I write?
I am in my first proper job. My boss wants me to write up a report on how my project is going (I’ve been here 5 months). I don’t know how to do that. Can you point me to resources online on how to write such a report?
It sounds like she wants you to write an update on your progress toward meeting the goals of the project — what’s been accomplished so far, any significant milestones you’ve met, obstacles that might have become issues (if any), what remains to be done and by when, and so forth. Keep it concise — don’t go on for pages and pages.
But in general, get into the habit of asking your boss to explain further when you’re not sure what she means about something. If you nod and pretend you know what she means, you’ll get yourself into trouble. And if you realize later that you thought you knew but actually didn’t, it’s fine to go back and ask. In this case, you could say, “I’m going to send you a short memo on what I’ve done so far, what remains to be done, timeline for the remaining steps, and so forth — is that in line with what you want?” (Or in the original conversation, when you had no idea what she wanted, you could have said, “Since I’ve never done one of these before and want to make sure I’m on the same page as you, how much detail should I go into and what do you want me to make sure to cover?”)
4. When a company demands references up-front
What is your opinion on filling out job applications pre-interview? I’ve noticed that most employers I have interviewed with requested an application to be filled out and submitted during the interview. Recently, I was turned off by an employer because of their application process. When it comes to the reference section, I like to put “available upon request.” When the assistant saw that I left it blank, she told me that I could not do that and that I must fill it out. I explained that I like to give my references a heads-up. According to her, this was not allowed and so I proceeded to give two names. Later that day, I withdrew my application because I was not interested in the company. What are some ways job seekers can handle this?
You can try writing “I’ll be glad to provide references once we’re at that stage, but I prefer to give them a heads-up in advance.” But if you’re told that’s not acceptable, you may need to decide how strongly you feel about it. However, I’d try to have this conversation with someone more authoritative than the assistant if at all possible.
5. Listing student leadership positions in the “Experience” section of your resume
I am a nursing student set to graduate in about 2 months. I have prior professional experience in my original field (computer science) but no work experience in the healthcare field. except my clinical work that is part of my education. This year I was elected president of my school’s chapter of the Student Nurse’s Association and have done a lot of work there. Some days, it honestly feels like my full-time job, with the lovely bonus of not getting paid. So of course I want to make sure I get the full benefit of this experience when job-hunting comes around. On sample resumes I’ve looked at, most student organizations are included as line items under “Activities and Certifications,” but given the amount of time I’ve spent and the varied duties/responsibilities I have had with this position, I was wondering if I could/should include it under “Positions” instead, so I can flesh out my experiences more.
Sure, go for it. If it’s a significant amount of work, there’s no reason it can’t go there. Totally unrelated to this, though, call that section “Experience,” not “Positions.”
6. New business partner is a know-it-all
I am starting a small business with a smart and talented individual who has been working under a mentor for a handful of years. We are partnering up because I have the skills and experience to handle a side of business she has little experience and skills in. We are the only two partners in this business and have a few employees. The problem is she subtly talks to me like I-know-better-than-you and I-can-explain-better-than-you. For example, when I am explaining an idea to help the business to the others, she usually cuts me off after my first sentence, says I “suck at explaining” and interjects with explaining her own way. When she and I collaborate, she tends to shoot down my suggestions with that’s-not-going-to-work answer with a reason why and instead what we need to do. Half the time she cuts me off, she says exactly what I was going to say. When we differ I offer another solution but she still gives me the same type of answer. She’s not very tactful and I can definitely see where she needs to improve (in the way she actually does business-it’s inefficient). I get the impression that she learned several great tips from her mentor but thinks she knows more than she actually does.
I see a lot of potential in her ideas and think we can definitely do very well. This hasn’t really annoyed me yet but I can definitely see it causing problems in the future. How can I prevent any future problems with her tactlessness while doing everything I can to make sure this is a successful business (including changing her inefficiencies)?
Are you absolutely sure that you want to go into business with this person? If you do, you need to have a serious, candid conversation with her before things go any further. Talk to her about the issues that you’ve noticed, explain why you think they’re problematic, and ask if these are things she’s open on working on. But be realistic — if she’s not receptive during this conversation or if you don’t see a real effort to change, you might be saddling yourself with a partnership that’s going to make you miserable.
7. Following up with an employer on LinkedIn
I read somewhere that it’s a good idea to try to connect with the hiring manager via LinkedIn. I had an interview about two weeks ago and sent a thank you email a couple of days after the interview, but haven’t heard anything. I’m not sure how to follow up with them and ask if they’ve made a hiring decision. Do you think I should follow up via LinkedIn? Do you think it’s a good idea, even if I don’t get the job?
Follow up via email. There’s no reason to use LinkedIn for business correspondence when you have the person’s email address.