It’s wee answer Wednesday — seven short answers to seven short questions. Here we go…
1. Coworker keeps pitching in on my tasks when I don’t want her to
I’m in somewhat of a delicate situation. I work under a general boss, as well as a project manager. I do more of the day-to-day technical tasks, whereas my project manager handles budgets and dealing with vendors/stakeholders, etc. However, she is either super-effective, or there is not enough project-management requirements to keep her busy all of the time, so she helps on things that I would normally do. This troubles me in a few different ways — I have a decent amount of work to do at this point, but not to the point where I feel like I need help. It’s somewhat disconcerting to open a query that goes to our general email two minutes after it’s arrived to find that she’s already on it. Also, I either have to spend time walking her through performing the technical nitty-gritty stuff, or I have to spend time correcting things, when altogether, it would have been more efficient for me to just do it. I just wish I could do my own thing.
Am I not being a team player here, or is this non-standard? If it is unusual, how do I go about addressing it? It’s especially hard because she’s a lovely person and somewhat insecure about learning new things, so I definitely like to help. I just feel territorial over my “turf.” She is also friends with the general boss, so I don’t really know how addressing this with her would go. And if I do sound like a territorial jerk, please let me know so I can do my best to get over it.
No, it’s not typical, not unless she’s really supposed to be doing this stuff, but it sounds like she’s not. So talk to her. Say, “Jane, I so appreciate your helping out when you can, but when you jump in and help even when I don’t need it, I feel like I’m not performing my job well. I wonder if we can come up with a system for me letting you know when I need help, but let me take the lead on things like X, Y, and Z the rest of the time.”
Also, when she asks you for instruction on technical things that really should be yours anyway, try saying something like, “Oh, I really love doing that, so I’ll handle it. Thanks for offering though.”
2. My abusive boss is making me miserable
I am writing you about a dilemma I have been facing since my previous boss retired. My previous boss was a true mentor and, although I wasn’t always happy at work, I grew so much under her and I really respected her. But since she left last April, I have been feeling less empowered, depressed, anxious, and less willing to do my best and it has a lot to do with how I’ve been treated at work. I work at a small nonprofit; there is only a head director and an associate director beneath her (she is my boss). This boss has shown time and time again angry outbursts where she yells at me or other employees. She rarely keeps calm and her behavior is extremely stressful, so I often become anxious. She rarely gives positive feedback but instead gives criticism and complaints. She uses manipulation on employees, as well. She stresses that we not gossip but just recently at a staff meeting she was incredibly inappropriate and spent about an hour of the meeting talking about previous employees and clients.
No one ever does anything about her behavior, and those that have tried haven’t seen any results. I feel this may have to do with how she is best friends with the head director. I am unhappy working there and I am working on finding another job. In the meantime, though, I feel miserable and I wonder if I should just quit right now? I also feel that something needs to be done about this director who is abusing her power. What do you suggest I do without burning bridges since I need a good reference for my next job?
Don’t quit without another job lined up, because it will make it harder for you to find a new job and it might take a lot longer than you think to find one (a year or more). It doesn’t sound like there’s anything you can do about this director; your best bet is to focus on leaving with your own reputation intact and finding a job where you’ll be happier than this one. (And yes, I know that’s not the answer you want, but there’s no magic “fix an abusive boss” formula to give. Your best bet is to simply find a new job.)
3. How can I get promoted out of my internship?
I was recently hired as an intern (paid, full-time) at an organization where a lot of people, although more than qualified for more (myself included), start out like that. I’ve been looking at the Linkedin pages of the salaried, full-time staff and have noticed that for those who started out as interns, they were in that position for 3-6 months and then promoted. Plus, opportunities to move up was something that was mentioned/stressed at during my interview. One of my supervisors was promoted from my position some time ago, and I was thinking of breaching the subject with her at some point.
But my question is, how soon after working here should I be trying to move up? And how overtly should do this? Or should I be overtly trying at all? (Should I wait for them to do so?). For example, I saw a job announcement for a higher position put up, as I was interviewing for the internship, but I didn’t apply as I thought it would make me look weird, but should I apply?
Well, if it seems to be the norm that people get promoted out of internships after 3-6 months, then that’s what you should assume is feasible. (But make sure it’s really the norm — not just one or two people, and not just unusually impressive people … unless you too are truly unusually impressive). I’d wait until you’ve been there three months and then tell your manager that you’d love to move up in the organization and ask for her advice.
As for the higher level position you saw advertised, are you truly qualified for it (on paper, not just in the “I could do that job” sense)? If so, there’s no harm in asking your manager if you’d be a strong candidate for it.
4. Putting your LinkedIn profile on your resume
I’ve been job hunting for a while and have put a fair amount of time into a LinkedIn profile. I was wondering if it is acceptable to put my profile link on my resume and if so, how would you suggest doing that?
Sure. Just put it under your contact information. Make sure there’s something there that will supplement your resume though. If there’s nothing there that isn’t on your resume, there’s no point in directing employers there.
5. Should I share my ideas with a coworker who will steal them?
I started out volunteering for a nonprofit a year ago and created an art therapy program with two other individuals. The promise was that finally it would turn into a full-time position. Eventually, one person dropped out because she felt it was never going to turn into a paid position, and she was diagnosed with a illness that would affect her for life. In the meantime, the nonprofit got funding to create a national art therapy program. Once this started to occur, the person who had dropped out wanted to come back to work for the program and eventually did. She was not pulling her weight in the program and learned how to take tasks on to make it appear that she was doing a lot of work. Eventually, we both applied for a position to coordinate the program and she obtained it.
I am passionate about this program and want to see it succeed, and want to obtain a full-time position. I want them to realize that I am the best fit for the position and that they have made the wrong decision. Am I wasting my time? Do you have any suggestions as to how I can do this? What tips do you have for playing the game? I also have all of these ideas for expansion. However, I don’t know if I should share them or not at this point. I don’t want this other employee to take my ideas and steal them again or take credit for them.
Is it likely that the program is going to expand to two positions? If not, well, the position is already filled. You can certainly stay involved and make sure that your involvement and your ideas are visible to decision-makers other than your coworker, but you can’t really go to them and suggest that they fire her and hire you instead.
If you do decide to share your ideas, don’t share them just with your coworker; share them with others so that it’s clear that you initiated them.
6. How can I tell employers why I’m leaving my job so soon?
My first job out of college has been with a large multinational bank, in a highly complex role. At first I really enjoyed both the work and the company atmosphere, but things have gotten out of hand. In my first four months on the job (I have now been there 6 months), every other coworker on my team has left for employment elsewhere, making me the senior most person on a team of 7. I am now training new employees with only a few months experience myself.
The work amount/level has become completely unmanageable, and I have very few resources to get the proper training on new issues as they arise (which is frequently, as my department is a “problem fixing” department). I work closely with my boss, and he is very aware of the level of issues I am having with the job, but he seems either unable or unwilling to rectify the situation. He assures me, however, that I’m doing very well.
My personal stress level is something I am no longer comfortable with, and I am not sure how much longer I can manage the 12+ hour days currently needed to keep up with my work. My question: If I start a new job search now, how do I explain my short time at my current role? Is it even going to be possible to be hired somewhere else? And should I address it in my cover letter?
I wouldn’t address it in your cover letter, since your cover letter should focus on why you’d be a great fit for the new job you’re applying for. When you’re asked about it in an interview, though, you have a pretty convenient answer: “It’s been a difficult environment; in the six months I’ve been there, all six other people on my team have left.” When a whole team is looking for other jobs in a six-month period, most interviewers assume that whatever the specifics of the reasons, the reason is probably legitimate.
However, consider that you might actually have a huge opportunity to stay and stand out as the most senior member of your now all-new team. And if you can get through this period, you’ll have a great story to tell future interviewers about overcoming and thriving in challenging situations. Before you make up your mind to leave, I’d talk to your boss — tell him that you can’t keep working 12-hour days and ask him to help you prioritize your work, so that you’re working more normal hours.
7. Asked for feedback, got job
I wrote to you a few weeks back to ask if I should remind the interviewer about the feedback promised to me. Well, I have something good to share.
The interviewer called me back a few weeks later and said that she appreciates that I asked her for feedback. She said that she found me to be suitable for the role, but the salary that they could offer was below my expected salary. She added that she found me to be very professional and felt that suggesting a salary below my expectations might not be appropriate. I said that this is my dream company and my dream role and I did not want to let go off it just because of salary. They called me back for an interview. And, I was offered the job.
Honestly, I cannot help wondering that if I would not have ever asked them for a feedback I would have never got this job! Also, I am just a year out of college so them finding me professional is purely because of my regularly reading your blog and ebook.
That’s great to hear. Congratulations!