It’s short answer Saturday — seven short answers to seven short questions. Here we go…
1. Can coworker stop me from using a heat rub for a sports injury?
I seriously hurt my thigh muscles after a workout and was struggling to walk at times, so I was applying Deep Heat to the muscles to ease the pain. I also took it to work with me to continue the relief it gave.
I have been asked by a colleague to stop using it as it is bothering her chest. Now, I sit in my own office and she is in a communal area outside and sits around 30 feet away. Her sister is the boss, and she has told me that her sister (the boss) has asked me to stop using it. This woman smokes 60 cigarettes a day, has emphysema, and finds my pain relief offensive. Where do I stand with this?
Those heat rubs really do stink — often more than you might realize if your nose has adjusted to it from frequent use. And I say this as someone who came close to having an Icy Hot addiction at one point.
Anyway, if your boss tells you to stop using it, you need to stop using it. But your boss should tell you that directly, not through her sister.
2. Interviewer asked what benefits I’m looking for
I started reading your blog in the middle of my job hunt, and the advice offered by you and your readers has been very helpful so far. I was able to use some of your tips today in an interview with a small consulting firm; the interview went very well until the end, when I was questioned about my expectations concerning salary and benefits. Having read several of your posts about salary discussions, I think I handled that like a pro. However, the interviewer next asked what benefits I would expect. I was caught off guard and stammered something about expecting vacation time of some sort and the usual package (health, vision, 401k, etc.).
What sort of benefits are usually included in a negotiation? I’ve mainly worked for government agencies, so I was at a loss for what to include. Thankfully, I don’t think it marred my performance too badly, so there’s a chance that I get called back for a second interview or, even better, receive an offer. Do you have any advice on the subject in case it comes up?
That’s an odd question for him to have asked, and it’s one interviewers don’t ask very often, since typically their benefits are what they are — asking what you expect for benefits implies that they have flexibility on them. And I mean, you might be able to negotiate some more vacation time here or there, but in general, a benefits package isn’t very changeable. So I wouldn’t expect to run into this question very much — but if you hear it again, turn it back around and ask, “What kind of package do you offer?”
3. Negotiating a job offer when a workplace is unionized
I was recently offered a job and in the process of negotiating. However, the job that I would like to negotiate for is a unionized position at a university. I am unsure how to proceed in this situation.
The salary of the position was advertised (not a range, just a salary figure.) I would like it to be a bit higher, but do not know if I have a leg to stand on because it was advertised as such. If salary is non-negotiable, I would like to negotiate for more vacation time. However, I am simply unsure if it is even possible to negotiate when positions are overseen by a union. Can this be done? What would your recommendations be?
Ask! There’s no harm in asking, and if the union prevents it, they’ll tell you that.
4. Should I mention I’m leaving a job after two months?
Having been at a job for less than 2 months, I would not put it on my résumé because, as you have stated, I have not accomplished anything. However, I did apply for a job and have an interview. I assume they will bring up the question of what am I currently doing. Do I say I recently started a position but this position I am interviewing for is more in line with my goals? Or do I omit talking about this recent position all together since it is not on my resume and I could still talk about the part-time job I am currently at? My fear is that mentioning the recent position will make the interviewer think I am flippant about jobs, which my résumé proves I am not.
Don’t mention the job you’ve only been at for two months; instead just mention your part-time position. Whatever good mentioning the two-month job could possibly do (which is probably none) is outweighed by the questions it would raise.
5. Noting an out-of-business employee on a resume
How do I specify on my résumé that I am no longer at a retail position because the store closed? Can I say October 2010-July 2012 (store closed)?
Yes, that’s perfect.
6. Ridiculous performance evaluations
I know all companies do things differently, but I have to say that I’m a bit jealous of all the letter-writers that mention “stellar” performance reviews. At my company, managers intentionally low-ball an employee’s ratings. In fact, in digging out my notes from last year’s review my boss specifically told me I can *never* achieve anything higher than “Met Expectations” on specific categories, like Job Focus and Company Values, so I shouldn’t even try to self-rate higher than that. Also, there were several categories last year where I clearly was “Above Expectations” and rated myself so, but my boss’ rating was “Met Expectations.” When we met, the only explanation he could give me was that I couldn’t be rated “above” in every category, even if I performed that way. Therefore,his official ratings of my performance seems completely arbitrary.
Is this common? What’s the point of doing this? I realize if the reviews are tied directly to raises, and everyone has “stellar” reviews, that they can’t give everyone a raise or promotion. Even with my lackluster review last year, I received a significant (~12%) raise, so that can’t be it. I guess I can take solace in the fact that my comments/assessment clearly show I performed above average, but it’s really a bummer to be told officially you were just average.
Your manager sucks. Handling evaluations that way isn’t uncommon, but it’s ridiculous. Performance evaluations can be valuable when they’re done well, but unfortunately way too many companies horribly mishandle them, leading everyone to hate them for the most part — when in fact it’s possible to make them really useful.
7. When your relevant experience is several jobs back
What do we do if our most relevant experience for a posting is also several jobs back on our work history?
I was laid off from my last job just over two years ago. It was in a new-to-me field, and as I was only on staff for a little over a year, I have neither enough experience nor certifications to be competitive for another position in the same field. I have recently decided to expand my search to include applying for retail positions. I do have four years of prior retail experience — however, it’s twelve years old, and the none of the jobs I’ve had since are even remotely relevant. Is there any good way to handle this kind of situation? If so, what do you suggest?
It’s not ideal, but you could put the relevant experience at the top in a section called Relevant Experience and put everything else below that in an Other Experience section. Also, it’s going to be even more important than normal to write a really good cover letter to try to combat the fact that the experience isn’t very recent. Good luck.