It’s short answer Sunday — seven short answers to seven short questions! Here we go…
1. Convincing my sister her job search plan is doomed
My sister recently completed a master’s degree in London and went over to the UK with the intention of remaining there permanently on a work visa after graduating. Things have not panned out quite as she hoped, however, and now she is jobless (aside from some babysitting work) and her visa is due to expire at the end of January. She is now planning on leaving the country and returning to the UK on a tourist visa to look for work.
I know you do not work in immigration, but how can my family convince my sister that she will have much better chances of getting a job in the U.S. as she will not need a visa? We are afraid she is going to return to the UK and either be deported or wind up completely broke. She refuses to listen to any sound advice and has convinced herself that with enough determination on her part, she can get a job and a work permit. I should also add that she has hardly any work experience but claims her resume and work history is immaculate, despite only scoring 2 interviews after the past year and a half of looking for both part and full-time work. She is also $100K in student loan debt, and Sallie Mae calls our home almost daily looking for her. Please let me know if you have any advice to give to a stubborn job seeker with completely unrealistic expectations!
Well, you may not be able to convince her. If you’ve explained your concerns and pointed out how bad the job market is (something she should know, given her two interviews in a year and a half of looking for work) and she’s not swayed, there might not be anything you can do. Sometimes you have to let people make mistakes and learn lessons on their own, as frustrating and even painful as it can be to watch.
That said, how is she supporting herself? If she’s not working, how is she paying for all this travel, let alone living expenses? If your family is helping to support her, there’s no reason they need to agree to fund this particular endeavor.
2. Grad school vs. experience
My fellowship is for a year, of which we’re at the 7-month point. The company has started asking me about my future plans. They’ve given me more responsibility than they had anticipated, and would like to significantly increase them further (relatively changing my designation and salary). I’m going to turn 25 in a month and my family is worried about it already being too late for me to go back to school for my masters. The plan was to do this fellowship for a year and go back to school for the next two. However, I’ve really enjoyed this position and the company has really let me get my hands deep learning so much more than I would have anywhere else. My manager (also a mentor) spoke to me saying I don’t need the masters and I’ve already gone beyond what someone with those qualifications would be doing. But I think that degrees do have face value and a couple of years down the line my personal market value would decrease for its absence.
I’m tempted to add a year onto this fellowship, gain more experience, and then go on to grad school. Is there a too-late period for grad school to employers? Can you really go on in the corporate world without a specific masters or an MBA (how much do employers care)? I do wish to be successful and would not like to disappoint myself a few years from now because of whatever decision I take now.
Only some fields require masters degrees — many don’t. In fact, more fields don’t require or even care about them than do require or care about them. The question for you is whether you’re in or want to be in a field that does require them. If you’re not, you’ll generally find that most good hiring managers value experience far, far more than they value degrees (again, assuming your field doesn’t happen to require one). Of those of us in that cateogry, we seriously don’t care a rat’s ass about a masters degree — we care about a track record of excelling at the type of work we need done.
Don’t let your family pressure you into getting a masters that you may not need; talk to people in your field — especially people who have the types of jobs you’d like — and find out what they think. [And keep in mind that the ranks of the unemployed and underemployed are littered with people who got graduate degrees and regret it, partly because in many cases it can actually make your job search more difficult, not less (read the comments on this post).] This is really a decision you want to make because it’s necessary for your career, not because of a vague feeling that you need it to advance in corporate America, because you don’t.
3. Should I be compensated for being a key-holder?
Should I be compensated for holding keys and occasionally locking up/opening the building I work in? This also entails having a security code for the alarm system. It is a warehouse; I am not in any position of authority, and my position is forklift operator. When my company gives someone a key, they never really officially ask you or offer any compensation, they just kind of give it to you. Sometimes 1 or 2 people have to stay for overtime, so they want only certain people they think they can trust to have a key/code. The people without this do not always have to work overtime (overtime being a negative mostly). I actually had a manager insult my intelligence several years ago by saying my compensation was the overtime. Why do I keep the key then? Simply, I feel that any company is capable of unfair reprisals even to a long-time employee like myself. If I’ve had a key for many years, how can I now tactfully tell them I don’t want it, especially when I’m not being compensated?
Because you’re non-exempt, you should be compensated for the time you spend using the key (locking up and opening up), including overtime if that puts you over 40 hours in any given week. However, if you’re asking if you should earn more simply because you’re a keyholder, aside from pay for the extra time that entails, I don’t really see a tremendously strong argument for that. However, if you no longer want to work the overtime, then tell them that you’re no longer able to work overtime due to family commitments (or whatever); that may get you out of it. (Or it may not, but it’s certainly worth a try.)
4. Asking for a full-time schedule as a freelancer
I am a freelancer currently working for a major online retailer as a stylist assistant. After years in sales, I finally found a job I love and that fits me. I had to start at the bottom but I don’t mind working hard (i.e. skipping lunch, staying late, working through a snow storm). I report to a producer, who schedules all the freelancers for the studios. I had been working full-time every week until mid-November when my scheduling changed. I would be off a week, then scheduled a couple of days the next, then off another week. I have emailed the producer with my availability, letting her know that I really enjoy my job and to schedule me full-time if possible. I also emailed to ask if there had been any issues that I should know about and she replied that “she hasn’t been informed of anything but she will definitely keep me informed if something does occur.”
How do I handle this situation professionally without emotion? Because the producer shares an office with 4 other people, it’s hard to grab a couple of minutes with her to talk about my schedule. I want to convey to her that I need to work every week, full-time. I’m watching people hired after me being scheduled for the week while I’m at home having a panic attack wondering what I’ve done to not get scheduled.
Stop emailing her and talk to her. Ask if there’s a place you could speak privately, and tell her that you’re concerned that your hours have dropped from full-time to part-time, and ask what the likelihood is of your resuming full-time hours in the near future. If she’s non-commital, then take that as a sign that you can no longer count on full-time hours from this employer. From there, you’ll need to decide whether you’re willing to continue there part-time or whether you want to look for a different full-time job. But you can’t make her give you the schedule you want; all you can do is state clearly what you’d like and ask for a realistic assessment of whether that’s likely.
5. How to decide which jobs to apply to
I have a question about how to choose which jobs to apply to. I know that you encourage readers to only apply for jobs that they really want, but what about in difficult situations? I have been unemployed for over a year now and I am having a hard time finding a position within my chosen field of work. I know it sounds bad, but because I have bills to pay, I am applying for any and everything that I think I meet the qualifications for. I have taken your advice somewhat and have stopped my resume bombing because it was tiring and I couldn’t remember who I actually had applied to. What are your thoughts? Can there be a happy medium?
There’s nothing wrong with applying to jobs that aren’t your first (or even second) choice, but you do need to be able to present a compelling case for why you’d be good at them. If you can’t do that, then you’re pretty much wasting time, because employers are going to have several hundred applicants, some of whom will have made that case for themselves. That means that resume-bombing doesn’t work; you need to write a tailored cover letter for each position you’re applying to. (And yes, that absolutely will take more time, but who cares how much time you save by sending the same generic cover letter to every job if you’re not getting interviews?)
6. Listing the same job at three companies
I am having a problem with my resume. I have been in my current position for more than four years. My problem is that I am now on the third company: same desk, same manager, same customer, but for three different companies. The first change was due to my company being purchased, but the second change was caused by employer B losing our contract due to a boneheaded contracts department. The customer wanted to keep several workers and myself, so another company hired us as a group. How should this be addressed on my resume? I don’t want to look like a job hopper. The first move is not a problem, as I know I can just say I worked for company B the whole time since they “inherited” all of company A’s employment records. But how do I handle being picked up by company C? Or do I just have to take the lumps?
How about listing it like this:
Chocolate Teapot Maker – Teapots R Us (previously Teapots Ltd and Teapots America)
7. Interview shoes when you have bad feet
I have bad feet. Specifically I have a condition that causes one leg and foot to swell. Even on good days when I’ve managed the swelling, I can’t wear dress shoes. They no longer fit right. Either they are too tight on that foot or they’ve stretched out and are now too loose. My feet unswollen are a women’s 11W to start with and going up a size does not work as they do not fit length wise. Basically I need something that can tie or velcro on to adjust to swelling throughout the day. Orthopedic dress shoes don’t work for me either, I’ve tried! I have a doctor’s note to wear athletic shoes at work, which they’ve accepted and everything is fine.
Problem is, I’m going back to school and will be graduating later this summer. In a few months I’m going to start looking for a new job again. So, what do I do? I can’t wear regular sneakers in to an interview, even if they were nicely kept black ones, they would likely look out of place, right? So, how do I handle this? Or am I imagining this to be a larger issue than it is. I’ve never been a shoe horse, so I don’t even notice what people are wearing, but I think most other people (especially women) do.
If at all possible, I’d avoid wearing sneakers to an interview, even black ones. If there are absolutely no other options and you must wear them, then you’ve got to accompany it with a quick explanation that you’re dealing with a foot condition (no details beyond that), but it would be ideal if there were other options that worked for you. Maybe some readers who have dealt with something similar can chime in with suggestions?