It’s fast answer Friday — seven short answers to seven short questions.
1. What to put on your resume when you have no job title
What do you list on your resume if you have no job title at your company? I work for a very small company and while some people have formal titles, many of us do not. I am more or less the only person in my department, so I manage the department but don’t manage any people. I can come up with a title that I think adequately describes my position, but is it deceitful to list an informal title on a resume? It’s not the type of place who would come up with a job title for me if I asked, either.
List whatever title you think is most accurate. The key thing is that it needs to be accurate enough that won’t be refuted if a reference checker calls your employer.
2. Can I work with my new boss?
I just started a new job (January 14), in a leadership position that requires me to supervise a small staff of 6. The previous person put a bad taste in my supervisor’s mouth, so I think I’m having to suffer. My boss, who is the CEO, has very high expectations for me and has come by my office on several occasions and subtly mentioned that I need to keep in mind that I need to make some sort of changes within my 90 days or I’m gone. He also mentioned this in my interview and I should have run then. But it’s only been a few days and now I’m starting to feel like if I can really do this. I’m walking into a mess and learning my job at the same time and having to deal with him, his high expectations and subtle threats, I’m seriously thinking about putting my résumé back out there. I like the job and I can see myself doing it, but I’m not sure if working with him is something I can do. Please advise.
It sounds like you and your boss need to get aligned about how you plan to proceed. He’s antsy because he feels changes need to be made in your department, and he wants to see signs that you agree and have a plan to do it. Sit down and talk with him and let him know what your plan is — for example, maybe you’re going to spend a few more weeks getting the lay of the land, and then you’ll begin developing a strategy for how to move forward, and you expect you’ll begin implementing that strategy in X amount of time, etc. In other words, communicate with the guy and see if that changes anything.
3. Have I been blacklisted?
I was laid off from my job 3 years ago. I’m in constant contact with headhunters who tell me that things are slow, yet I see their job postings that I’m very qualified for all the time. When I call them about these posted positions, they completely ignore my question of whether or not the job is still available. Is there a “blacklist” between headhunters? I can’t recall upsetting anyone. If there is, how do I get off of it? It is so frustrating seeing all these jobs pass me over, for reasons unknown.
It’s highly unlikely that you’ve been blacklisted. What’s more likely is that you’re not coming across as an especially strong candidate for the jobs you’re contacting them about. In a tight job market like this one, it’s not enough just to be qualified — in many fields, you need to be extremely strong to get much attention. It’s difficult to give nuanced advice without knowing a lot more, but this post may help.
4. My boss’s memory and detail-orientedness are making me feel insecure
I’ve worked in several different work environments and for many different bosses. In previous environments, I was always the “go-to gal” and the “overachiever.” I was usually the one who kept on top of my boss’s calendar, to-do lists, etc.
About a year ago, I started working a new job and came to find out that my boss has a wonderful knack for remembering tiny details, catching any type of error, and an amazing memory! Although she’s overwhelmed by work most of the time, anything she does is essentially flawless. You would think this would be a good thing … but it makes me feel inferior and a sub-standard employee. She’s not necessarily a micromanager in that she directs everything, but she is a devil in the details type of person. She also can recall important dates, times, numbers, etc. at the snap of fingers, while I’m still saying, “I don’t recall” or “I’ll have to check that report.” Perhaps she’s a robot?
I’m grateful to finally have a boss that doesn’t slack on their work, but find that myself and others in the office have this same issue — feeling less than. I don’t think my boss has ever blatantly said that she expects us to be the same as her. But there’s definitely a feeling of insecurity.
Why not sit down with her and ask for feedback about how you’re doing? You might find that she thinks you’re doing a great job, and that your fears are only based on your perceptions, not hers. Frankly, if you have a good rapport with her, you can tell her a little about what you’re feeling — she might be able to set your mind at ease.
(And I have to say, I’m someone who remembers things like a robot most of the time, but I don’t expect others to be the same. You probably have something that you’re great at but which you don’t look down on others for not having equivalent talent in themselves, right? Same thing here.)
5. Rejected for a job in the office I do contract work in
I have an odd situation. I have been a long-time contractor (by choice) for a branch of the federal government. I am self-employed with years of experience and command a high hourly rate, so I’ve been happy doing contract work. However, some of the work that I had been doing, and which I enjoy the most, was bundled together into a full-time job, and I was invited to apply for it. I applied in October, interviewed in December, and one month later was getting a nagging feeling that if they wanted me, they would have notified me. As it turns out, they have offered the job to someone else. Needless to say, it is quite awkward around the office. We’re all trying to be professional, but I am embarrassed and feel somewhat betrayed, which is sort of irrational, but sort of not when you consider that I have been contracting with this organization for almost a decade, have never received anything but stellar reviews, and am the go-to person for many technical questions, even though I am not an employee. I have scheduled a follow-up with the person who did the hiring in hopes of getting some constructive feedback about why I was not chosen for the job. What specific questions should I ask?
Well, first, don’t be embarrassed. Great people end up not getting hired for jobs all the time, for reasons that really don’t reflect poorly on them — often someone else simply is a better fit in one way or another: They have more intriguing experience in X, or helpful connections in Y, or expertise in Z, which wasn’t even part of the job, but it’s going to be helpful to have it so that was the deciding factor, or all kinds of other things. Most hiring managers will tell you that they regularly end up with multiple candidates who they’d be glad to hire, but when they only have one slot, they have to reject all the others. So there’s no shame in this. But if you act like you feel awkward about it, others will feel awkward too, so be as matter-of-fact about it as you can.
When you meet with the hiring manager, avoid demanding to know why you weren’t hired. Simply ask if she has any advice for you for how you can make yourself a more competitive candidate for similar jobs in the future.
6. When your school changes its name
How important is it to keep up with name changes of schools attended years ago on your resume? Of the schools I’ve attended, one has grown from a college to a university (fine), the other from an institute to a college (fine). The second one mentioned here has also moved to a different state (okay) and as of this year has completely changed its name. Do I risk not appearing “current” if I don’t make this name change on my resume and LinkedIn profile? As it is, no one has “found” me or otherwise associated with me with the name as is. No one has directly asked about my education during interviews. Would something like this matter to a hiring manager, or could I leave things as they are and just mention during an interview “when I attended, it was ‘ABC Institute” in Mytown, NY, now it’s called ‘Best University Ever’ in Timbucktu, AZ”?
It’s not really a big deal either way, but I’d change it to its current name, because I like accuracy. That said, you’re not obligated to track its name changes proactively — but if it happens to come to your attention that the name has changed, I’d update it on your resume accordingly.
7. Toilet trauma, part 2
I work in a small, technical library in a private college. The office consists of me (the head librarian — female) and a part-time assistant librarian (male). There are two rooms in the library. The front room has the service counter, our collection of materials, copier, and desk for the assistant librarian. The back room has two work counters, a micro-fridge, my desk, and a small private bathroom.
The assistant librarian, with whom I have several managerial issues, is rather socially awkward, which brings me to my particular problem. The private bathroom is 4 feet from my desk and not terribly well insulated. Several times a week, he will retire to the bathroom for 10+ minutes to do his “business.” Now, I’m no delicate flower. I grew up with two older brothers and have two young boys and a husband at home. Everybody poops. The problem I have is that it feels like he is sitting right there in my office firing away. He has no qualms about this, but I feel very uncomfortable sitting there waiting for him to emerge. I will usually try to busy myself in the front room once he goes in there, but that is not always possible. On more than one occasion, I’ve had a faculty member, and even the Provost, come to speak with me in my office while he is in there (unbeknownst to them) only to have him come out mid-meeting, in a cloud of Lysol. On many mornings, after he has worked an evening event, I find reading materials from my reference collection on the shelf in the bathroom. I realize my discomfort is probably compounded by my other issues with him, which could fill up a whole other email.
Is there any way to deal with this without coming off as a prudish, bathroom fascist? (“You cannot use my bathroom for number 2. Ever.”) Should I just break the tension with humor? (“SO! How did that go in there?”) All I do now is vent to my husband, who finds this hilarious.
Gross. I hope this is the last bathroom-related question I receive FOR A VERY LONG TIME.
In any case, is there another bathroom he can use? If so, your choices are to (a) say something to him, knowing it’s going to be awkward no matter how you word it, or (b) say nothing and accept this is part of having a bathroom right by your office. Personally, if I was going to say something, it would sound like this: “Dude, sorry to be gross, but I sit right by this bathroom and am sensitive to Lysol. Maybe the other bathroom is better to use?” That’s seriously how I’d say it. Reword as needed to fit your comfort level.
But more importantly, if you have managerial issues with this guy, start dealing with them. That’s the more pressing issue here.