It’s terse answer Thursday — seven short answers to seven short questions. Here we go…
1. What will my company share with a reference-checker?
I currently work for a company and am on really good terms with them. I am looking for a new job and am wondering what my current HR person will have to divulge to the new company. I would like them to of course verify employment, speak to my character and that they receive good feedback from my superiors, but keep other things like salary, performance reviews, and other things like that confidential. If I ask for this to be kept confidential, they are not legally obligated to give the information to the new company, correct?
No, they’re not legally obligated to provide anything, although most will. But the info they give out will depend on whether the reference-checker calls HR or your manager. Generally, if a reference-checker calls HR, they’re not looking for a reference; they’re looking for employment verification: dates of employment, title, and whether you’re eligible for re-hire, as well as sometimes salary and whether you left in good standing. HR doesn’t typically speak about the details of your performance; that’s something that a reference-checker would call your manager for, since your manager is the one who could speak to that with nuance. (And no one typically shares actual performance evaluations, as in the formal documents, although a manager will generally speak about your performance.)
As for salary, you can certainly ask your current employer not to divulge your salary. However, if it’s their normal policy to share that information (and many employers do, irritatingly), they may then say to the reference-checker that you asked them not to share it — which may or may not cause you hassles with the new employer.
By the way, this may be a non-issue, since it’s very typical to ask that your current employer not be contacted at all, since telling them that you’re job-searching often doesn’t go well, and most reference-checkers understand that.
2. Bolding key phrases on your resume
In grant writing, my thesis adviser recommends bold or underline formatting for key phrases or sentences that should “jump out at reviewers.” His thinking is that you don’t want a key point to get lost in a block of text, so you should draw the reader’s eye toward it. I was wondering if this would be a useful thing to do to my resume as a way to draw the hiring manager’s attention to accomplishments that specifically match those in the job posting. Obviously, I would use it sparingly or that would defeat the purpose. Would this be helpful for a hiring manager in the approximately 20 seconds (on average) that they spend looking at a resume? Or would it come across as gimmick-y and unprofessional?
It depends on how you do it. I’ve seen resumes that do this really well; the stuff they highlight is impressive and exactly what I want my eye to land on. But I’ve also seen resumes that highlight things that just aren’t that impressive, which actually harms the applicant more than if they hadn’t used bolding at all, because it signals that they don’t know what is and isn’t impressive. So it can work, but you want to make sure you’re using it appropriately.
(That said, I hope you don’t have blocks of text on your resume at all, and that you have bullet points instead.)
3. Troublesome ex-employee keeps eating lunch with current employee
I recently had to let go of a troublesome employee. She was let go because she always late for work or would not show up at all and was not following up with our customers. Ultimately, she cost our company a considerable account. When she applied for unemployment, she also lodged an informal complaint with us about another employee who she had worked with, claiming that he would not tell her the deadlines of projects and was vague about was expected from her in her position. We have documentation showing that this was not the case. We also have a three strike policy, so she was given warnings before we ultimately let her go.
That was about 2 or 3 months ago. It has recently come to my attention that she has been meeting one of our current employees for lunch almost every day. While I certainly do not want to tell my current employee (who is a good worker) who she can or can’t have lunch with, I am concerned. I want to make it clear to my current employee that she can not disclose information about our business, but I am not sure how to have that conversation or if I even should have that conversation.
Leave it alone. You’ll do more harm than good by appearing to try to tell your employee who she can and can’t socialize with. And if the former employee has badmouthed your company, you’ll give credence to her stories by making this type of unreasonable request.
It’s pretty unlikely that your current employee is disclosing anything that will be used to harm you, and without specific evidence that that’s happening, you really need to just ignore it.
4. Standing out after a second interview
Yesterday I had a second interview for a position. It’s down to three people, and I’m one of them. I’m looking to find a way to stand out. I’ve already sent thank you e-mails, which the first time I followed up with handwritten thank-you cards. too. Can I send those again? Should I just wait it out?
Send follow-up emails if you haven’t already done so this round. Make sure they say something different than you said before (especially since last time you did emails and cards, which was a bit of overkill!). And make sure that they’re not just thank-yous; they should add something to your candidacy, not just a thanks.
But beyond that, at this point you need to just wait for them to make a decision. The time to stand out has already passed (you hopefully did that with your resume, cover letter, and interviews). Use this time to figure out how much you want the job and what salary you’ll ask for. Good luck.
5. Did I blow this phone interview?
I had a phone interview for a position I was really excited about this morning. I feel that I am exceptionally qualified for the position, and it is the kind of job I have been looking for for a good while. Unfortunately, I think I psyched myself out because I am so excited about the position. When I received the call to start the interview, I found that I started getting really short of breath! I had prepared well and had some great answers to her questions, but I couldn’t even breathe and I didn’t get to answer them well. This lasted for the first two or three minutes, and I found that I wasn’t able to get out the answers I wanted to. At one point, I even had to pause and tell her that I was sorry and a bit nervous.
Fortunately, after taking a deep breath I calmed down and was able to give the answers I had wanted to give. The last 20 minutes of the interview went well, and I was able to go back and fill my interviewer in on some of things I had skimmed over because of my nervousness. She asked if I had any questions for her, and I asked if she would hold it against me that I was nervous and stumbled out of the gate. She said that I finished strong, and she wouldn’t.
Do you think I blew this phone interview because of my slight panic attack and nervousness at the beginning?? The goal is to get an in person interview if I did well enough on this interview, and I just am afraid I blew my chance because I stumbled out of the gate.
Nervousness in interviews is pretty normal; I wouldn’t worry too much about it. Interviewers are used to nervous candidates, and you eventually recovered, which is good. But I hope you didn’t really ask if she’d hold it against you (as opposed to just saying that you hoped she wouldn’t); phrasing that as a question puts her on the spot in a way that isn’t really appropriate. (I hope I’m not adding to your nervousness by saying that!)
6. Email font when applying for jobs
What style, size, and font do you suggest when placing a cover letter in an email? Sans Serif? Georgia? Garamond? Tahoma? Normal? Large?
Use the default text that comes with the mail program; don’t mess with it. Plain old normal default text is what you want.
7. Being required to care for patients 32 hours straight
I am an RN case manager in Pennsylvania for a hospice agency who travels to our patients’ homes to provide care and symptom management. My company is a nonprofit organization. The people I work with are very caring.
However, as case managers, we are salaried employees. When I was hired, there was no mention that the case managers were to take be on-call for all the after-hours staff when they want a day off or if one leaves (and until they rehire and orient another nurse, which can take up to three months); when that happens, we work to cover that spot and still have to cover our shifts. What this means is if my normal shift is 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., we will work this shift, then we continue to stay and work 4 p.m. to 8 a.m. At 8 a.m., we continue to stay and work our normal 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. shift before we are free to go home, which is a total of 32 hours. When our weekend nurse is off, we will work from 8 a.m. on Friday until 4 p.m. Monday evening — a total of 80 hours. According to the company, they can do this because we are just on call after 4 p.m. and may not be called out, but my experience over the last two years is that I only had one night that I was not called out.
I do not feel it is a safe to be operating a motor vehicle on the road when I am so tired that I am falling asleep while I am driving. I have had to call home on many occasions to ask my family to talk to me and make sure that I am answering them so I don’t have an accident and hurt other people while trying to get home. I feel that I can do a 24-hour shift and go home tired, but to continue to do my shift beyond that makes me too tired to make good decisions on behalf of my patients. I have also been scheduled meetings with families by the social workers on my days off. I have been to those meetings and been told that I would be given comp time, but something always comes up during that time and so I have yet to be awarded that time and have not gotten paid for the two hours of the meeting on my day off. How would you advise me to proceed and not risk my employment?
What the hell? That’s absolutely ridiculous, and I can’t imagine that your patients or their families would be comfortable knowing about it. Unfortunately, Pennsylvania doesn’t appear to have any law requiring time off in between shifts, so your employer can do this if they want to… Although perhaps there might be regulations within your industry that you could point to? It certainly seems like there should be, although “should” is no guarantee that there is.
If not, perhaps you and your coworkers could band together and speak to whoever sets this policy, making the case for changing it. Point out that you’re risking compromising patient care and that the fall-out will be terrible if something happens because of an over-tired nurse.