It’s short answer Saturday — seven short answers to seven short questions. Here we go…
1. When your interviewers are stiff and not conversational
I have a friend who had an interview this morning for an assistant position (she’s been out of college for a year). I had her read your blog to prepare and I helped her as well. After her interview, she called me and told me that she thought it went ok. Her biggest concern was that the two men interviewing her did not give much feedback or really attempt to make the conversation conversational, if that makes sense. My gut instinct told me it is a sign of an inexperienced interviewer because I have only had 1 interview out of dozens like that. I guess I’m wondering if it’s more a reflection on them or does the interviewee need to try harder to keep the conversation flowing? And how do you handle an interview when it feels like you’re talking to the wall?
It could be inexperienced interviewers, but it could also just be their personal style. Some people are fairly formal in interview situations, and not everyone gives feedback on the spot (or ever). If you’re a candidate in that situation, the best thing to do is not to take it personally; if you start feeling it’s a reflection on you, you can get anxious and lose focus. Just treat it like a normal interview, since for them, it may be.
2. Pre-planned vacation when interviewing with a tiny office
I have read through your archives regarding interviews and waiting until an offer has been made to mention a pre-planned vacation. I agree with this approach as it doesn’t seem appropriate to bring up days I’d want off during an interview.
I recently interviewed for a position with a large company with offices nationwide. However, I’d be working in a very small satellite office that covers a small part of the country. When I say small satellite office, I mean the smallest you can get: my potential future boss and whomever is hired to be his assistant.
I have a vacation planned in about 6.5 weeks that will require me to miss 6 days of work. I already have plane tickets and have paid deposits on rentals. This vacation cannot be rescheduled because its purpose is for me to run a marathon for which I’ve been training for months. I don’t want to shorten the vacation because of my non-refundable plane tickets and rental deposits. Should I email my potential employer and let him know of these plans, or wait until I am offered the position? Normally I would wait until an offer has been made but I feel this situation is different due to the size of the office. I’m afraid if I wait he will feel duped and I don’t want to tick off my one-and-only coworker before I even start working. My interview was Monday and he said he hopes to make a decision by the end of this week.
Nope, just like always, wait until you have an offer and then negotiate it then as part of your overall negotiation. Employers don’t want to get into the specifics of what days candidates will need off; they want to wait until they’ve determined who they’d like to hire, and deal with it then.
3. Should I leave if I get demoted?
My company is going through an organizational change which will result in the elimination of my job. The company has been very vocal about wanting to keep all employees, and has offered three alternatives: a promotion with enough positions for 10% of the people with my job title, a demotion with loss of some PTO benefits and salary, or a lateral transfer to an entirely different job type. Although there is no formal interview process, I sent a cover letter style email to my bosses regarding my interest in the promotion, and have since met with all three of them to discuss the changes in the company. Although they’ve assured me that they like my work and my attitude, they’ve also emphasized that I’m competing against 100 other people. I’ve been in this industry for 5 years, but in this particular company for less than 2. Many of my colleagues have more than 10+ years of experience and are 5+ years older than I am. I’m confident in my abilities, but not confident that I’ll be chosen.
My question is whether or not I should stay with this company if I don’t receive the promotion. I would likely be placed in the lower paying job with less PTO and incentives, and would also lose my job title and many of my responsibilities. I’m worried that I will be stuck in a position I find unfulfilling and if I do choose to leave in the future, this demotion will impact my resume. I could take a severance package, but I’m also worried that I would be placing a time limit on myself to find a new career. I’ve never been in this position before, and I would appreciate any advice you may have!
It’s easier to find a new job when you’re still employed, so if you don’t want to stay in the position you end up in, you can always stay in it while embarking on a job search and leave when you find something else. (In fact, you should probably start looking now so that you get a head start on your search. You can always curtail it if you get the promotion or otherwise decide not to leave.) If you leave quickly enough after the demotion, if indeed it happens, you can simply leave it off your resume.
4. Listing seasonal work on your resume
I saw you say that it’s bad form to leave months off resumes because it looks like you’re trying to hide rapid job-hopping. Does that apply to jobs that are very specifically seasonal? I’m in the education/youth org sphere and I have a few jobs on my resume listed as “Summer ____” because they were positions akin to a summer camp counselor that didn’t say so in the title. My thinking is that it provides a more accurate impression of my time there, it looks neater, and people in schools or other youth organizations are familiar with that type of job since many teachers and other professionals spend their summers that way. Someone who works in recruiting told me he liked that way of phrasing it, but I wanted a second opinion, or thoughts on whether it should be altered for certain jobs (maybe it’s more appropriate, for example, for my upcoming search for a summer job, since it signifies I’m experienced with the kind of position I’m applying for, than if I were to apply for an office-based position in a youth org that does similar work year-round).
Yes, “summer 2012” or whatever is totally fine and normal.
5. Negotiating with a J.D. but not much experience
I graduated in May of 2012 with a J.D., and have been searching for jobs since then. I am applying to jobs that are J.D. required/preferred, but not necessarily “traditional” law firm jobs. A lot of these jobs ask for so many years of experience (which I don’t have as a new grad) or will substitute having a J.D. for the required number of years. They list the salary as either a range or as negotiable.
I am wondering how, as a new grad, I can negotiate for a salary and come across as deserving of that salary, especially as a new graduate with minimal years of experience.
You’d negotiate the same way anyone else does, by making a case for why you deserve more than what they’re offering. That said, without much work experience, you don’t have a lot of negotiating power / standing to justify more, so you want to be aware of that so that you don’t come across as out of touch about your current market value. Good luck!
6. Getting a job with a vendor my company just rejected
I would appreciate your advice on how to get a job with a vendor my company just rejected. Currently I work in sourcing for a large manufacturing company and have responsibility for vetting potential vendors. Recently I came across a really exciting startup company who could really provide a boost to our business. I spent several months reviewing their company, analyzing their business model, and realized this was a truly remarkable company with a great management team. I also presented my recommendation to several senior leaders and received very positive feedback about this partnership. Right before closing terms on the contract, we got a huge surprise, though. My company was no longer interested in the deal due to a sudden strategy shift.
The problem is I like the vendor more than my current company. How do I approach them to let them know I would be interested in joining them even though my company turned them down? I know I have a lot to offer them from my background and experience, plus I know their business and industry very well. Should I just ask them to keep me in mind for future openings? Or offer to do some moonlighting? I am worried about a potential conflict of interest with my current employer. I only know a few people at the company, including the founder. Any advice you can offer would be greatly appreciated.
Tell the founder you’re interested. Say something like, “I got to know so much about your company over the last few months and am impressed. If you’re ever looking for someone to do X, I’d love to talk with you.”
7. Convincing my manager that I need to quit due to health issues
I started working at a salon as a receptionist (part-time) to have a little extra spending money. My husband makes enough to cover our living expenses, but my extra income allows us to travel occasionally and not worry about money. Overall, I’m alright with my job; it’s not the best job I’ve ever had, but it’s not the worst either. However, in the six months I’ve worked at the salon I have had severe bronchitis four times. After an extreme lifestyle search with my doctor (I’m a nonsmoker, and have never had bronchitis before six months ago), he believes working at the hair salon could be what is causing my bronchitis. He said he would be more than happy to speak with my boss about it and has strongly encouraged me to resign.
How do I quit without burning the bridge at the salon? How do you professionally explain that you have to quit because the environment is making you ill? I’ve broached the topic with the owner several times before and she laughed and thought I was joking because “that doesn’t happen to anybody.” I’ve tried being direct and she has just blown me off. This sounds horrible, but she really has been a good boss to me other than this issue. Basically, as long as I go with her flow, I am golden in her eyes. Should I just write this off as a bridge that must be burned?
You don’t need to justify quitting for health reasons, and you definitely don’t need your doctor to talk to them. Just say something like, “My doctor has believes something about the salon is causing bronchitis in me, and has strongly urged me to resign. I feel I need to take his advice, so X will be my last day.”
If your manager mocks you or tells you you’re wrong, it doesn’t matter. Just stay pleasant and say, “This is the decision I’ve made. I really appreciate the chance to work here, and I’m sorry I couldn’t stay longer.”
No sane manager would consider this a bridge burned. If she does, then she’s irrational enough that something else was likely to burn it anyway. But by staying pleasant but firm, you might be able to avoid that.