It’s tiny answer Tuesday — seven short answers to seven short questions. Here we go…
1. When should I follow up with this internal recruiter?
I had submitted my résumé for an open position with a company that I’m very interested in working for. A few days later, I was contacted by an internal recruiter to set up an initial phone screening. We set up the screening, which went well, and the recruiter asked for my availability to set up a phone interview with the department manager and a few days later I had the phone interview. I heard back from the recruiter a few hours after the phone interview, saying that he got great feedback and that the next step was to bring me in for an on-site interview and asking what my availability was. I responded to his email early the following morning with my availability but haven’t yet heard back. The recruiter and I have done all of the scheduling to this point via email and he has been very prompt, replying to my emails within a few hours. I’m getting a little bit antsy waiting to hear back, so my question is, how long should I wait before I follow up with the recruiter? I don’t want to seem over anxious but I also want to make sure my email didn’t get lost in cyberspace.
I’d give him three full business days before you follow-up. If you still hear nothing, try again in another three full business days.
If you don’t hear anything after that, unfortunately I’d move on. Sometimes recruiters stop responding when the hiring manager is moving forward with other candidates and looking likely to hire one of them. It’s rude, but it’s common. Hopefully that won’t happen here.
2. “Dear Sir or Ma’am”
I’m very confused about the advice you give in a recent article you wrote about cover letters. Since when is the “Dear Sir/Ma’am,” salutation such a faux pas? I’m 34 and feel that “Dear Ma’am” sounds much better than “Dear Hiring Manager.” Does that make me antiquated? So if I’m not supposed to write “Dear Sir” and don’t feel comfortable writing “Dear Robot”, could you provide a third alternative?
Actually, I wrote about “Dear Sir or Madam,” but my answer is the same here. Yes, it makes you sound antiquated. In what other part of your life would you open a letter with “Dear Ma’am”? You should talk to hiring managers the same way you’d talk to colleagues, which for most people in most industries is going to mean that “sir” or “ma’am” is way too formal. “Dear hiring manager” or “Dear (hiring manager’s name, if you know it)” is just fine.
3. Recruiter removed my contact information from my resume
I recently was contacted by a recruiter about a position at a company I’d really love to work for. I sent her my resume, and she lined up an interview, which I am very excited about! However, the recruiter changed my resume just slightly. She removed my contact information! I’m guessing this is so the corporation will have to go through her to hire me for any positions, but I’m worried it might hurt my chances of being hired for other spots if I don’t get this job. Should I put my contact information back on my resume, or just go with the flow? I don’t want to undermine my recruiter at all, but I don’t want to be overlooked for missing contact information.
This is very normal for recruiters to do, and yes, it’s because they don’t want the company to contact you directly, because they earn their living by placing candidates. They’re not in the business of connecting candidates and employers for free. If you want to work with recruiters, you have to play by those rules.
4. Which of these references would be best?
I know the reference checker can call whoever they want from my resume, but of the references that I provide who would be better: a recent manager (Sep-Nov 2012) from an internship in a similar industry, where the work I did was the same as I would be doing in the role I’ve interviewed for, or a current manager (with only 1.5 years work experience) from a non-related industry, but where I’ve been a full-time temp for 2.5 years?
And would you frown over including a professor from a recently (Dec 2012) completed graduate program, if the graduate studies are applicable to the role and the interviewers made a point of asking me to explain how I would use these in the role?
Of the two proposed references, use the one who will speak about you most glowingly and most specifically. (Although you probably need to provide more than one, so this is probably a moot point.) Don’t include the professor unless an employer specifically says that academic references are fine; most hiring managers want to talk to your managers, not professors. (And their interview question about your studies doesn’t change that.)
5. Is it illegal to ask for free work samples during the hiring process?
I am currently trying to land an entry level job in the surface design field. Some positions I’ve applied to as an intern, and some were entry level. My question is: Is it legal for companies to have me submit designs to them as a sort of test? Several times I’ve done this and each of the times after checking on my submission I’ve been told they’re still making a decision, and then I hear nothing. I have no way of knowing if my design was used for their benefit, but it still seems fishy.
Yes, it’s legal and very common. It would be illegal if they were fraudulently misrepresenting their request for your work — such as not really hiring and only asking to see your work so that they could steal it. And while some of that certainly does happen, it’s far outnumbered by legitimate instances where companies really are hiring and really do want to see your work.
That said, plenty of designers don’t do work on spec, and instead offer existing work from their portfolios as examples of their work. You might want to consider doing that if a company seems at all sketchy.
6. Shoes for interviews that aren’t high heels
What are other acceptable options for interview shoes besides heels? I’m 5’10 with bad ankles, and I need shoes that are solid, preferably
with some ankle support. Most flats make me feel like I’m barefoot, and even trying to walk in heels terrifies me because I constantly worry I’m going to fall and break an ankle… again. Internet is telling me far too many conflicting things!
What about flat or close-to-flat loafers? They’re sturdier than a lot of other flats, and they come in lots of professional options. You can also try shoes with a low, chunky heel, many of which don’t feel like you’re walking in heels at all (because they provide close to the same support as flats).
7. I can hear my dad’s receptionist complaining about her job
I know you have touched upon loud coworkers, but I have a situation that is a little different. I work at my dad’s company (half of the time for him, half of time just using the office for my other job). My dad’s receptionist is a nice gal but on the louder side. My office is right next to her desk and I can hear her sighing, talking, and joking around with other employees in her loud voice. The real problem isn’t tuning her out, but rather, recently I’ve noticed her enthusiasm and productivity dwindling and she continually complains she has nothing to do but when my dad or her manager give her projects to work on, I hear her huffing puffing about how it isn’t her job, etc. Another example was my dad forgot to reimburse her for something and she was moaning and groaning about that and then I heard her whisper to a coworker that they have to be careful what they talk about since I’m here.
Do I mention any of this to my dad? Without a doubt, she will know I told him and I have a feeling she will have no problem confronting me. Do I just tell her that I’m looking out for my dad and his company or do I just let it go? I should mention this office is physically very small, so I haven’t encountered any of this by eavesdropping.
Would your dad want to know? I sure would, if I were him. Assuming you think he’d feel the same, tell him that you’re in awkward situation because you feel you need to tell him what you’ve heard, but that you’re concerned about how the receptionist will handle it if she knows that you said something to him. Let him decide how he wants to handle it from there.