It’s wee answer Wednesday — seven short answers to seven short questions. Here we go…
1. I’m quitting, but my employer wants me to stay on to finish a project
I’ve been reading your blog for about two years. Your advice helped me land my current position, and guided me through finding a new position which I officially accepted last week. I turned in my two weeks notice on Wednesday, and on Thursday my boss asked me to stay on to finish my current project (through June 30). I spoke with my boss and HR in a meeting on Friday where they said they’d like to break down my current salaried pay into an hourly figure and pay me as an hourly, part-time employee. I told them I’d feel more comfortable terminating my employment and becoming a contractor, creating objectives and being paid a lump sum for finishing the project.
I should note that I’m leaving because my boss is a complete jerk. He became my boss midway through this project and I’ve been miserable ever since. He’s very much a “my way or the highway” and take credit for everyone else’s work-type of leader. I don’t want to continue to be under his constant control. I would love to see this project through — but how do I get my old employer to see that letting me become a contractor is the way to go? I can do everything I was doing from home, in the evenings or weekends. My new job is 4 10-hour days, so, yes, I could come in on Fridays but I don’t want to. My boss has already said how appreciative he is of me staying on board to wrap this up — I want to but not on their terms. Any advice?
Frankly, I’d urge you to seriously consider not doing it at all. You need to have all your focus on your new job, and not deal with the distractions (and apparently serious hassles) of the old. You’re finally getting away from your horrible boss — why drag out the relationship instead of having a clean break?
But if you still want to do it, then just lay out the terms that you’re willing to do it on: You’ll do it as a contractor, working from home. If they refuse, then walk away. They can’t make you do it, and whatever desire you have to see out your project is going to fade dramatically after a week or two at your new job, believe me.
2. Interviewer asked me to call her, but I can’t reach her
Two days ago, I had a phone interview that apparently went very well. The woman I interviewed with stated she would get back to me in about a week about the next steps in the hiring process. Later that day, I sent her a thank you email and expressed my continued interest in the position. She emailed back right away and stated she had a great time talking to me and wanting to schedule an in-person interview. Her instructions stated to call her when I had a moment to schedule an in-person interview. Instantly, I called her and had to leave a voicemail. I thought I would hear back from her in a business day, but I have not. I do not want to bug her with numerous phone calls and emails (especially, since her instructions ask that I call her). How long would you suggest I wait to contact her again and in what form?
Wait two business days from your last call and call again. It’s also fine to send a response to her email letting her know that you weren’t able to reach her and asking her to call whenever it’s most convenient for her (just as you’d probably do with any other business contact — no need to treat this one more gingerly just because it’s for an interview).
3. When you don’t know a candidate’s sex ahead of time
I have a issue that’s arisen a few times in the past few weeks. I’m working in HR/hiring right now, and the company I’m working for is going through a rapid expansion — tons of interviews and new hires happening. There have been a handful of candidates invited for interviews where we can’t tell the gender of the person beforehand through email/resume screens. It’s not a major problem — it’s just disconcerting to the interviewers when they were expecting a male voice and instead hear a female. This mostly has happened with gender-neutral or “unique” names. What are your thoughts on this? I don’t want to presume to assign a sex to a person, but I also want to prep my coworkers adequately!
I’d say to let your coworkers deal with it and not worry about prepping them. First, there’s really no way that you can (I mean, I suppose you could try Googling the person to see if there’s something out there that would tell you, but … is it really worth the trouble?), and second, it really shouldn’t matter. I suppose that if it’s a gender-neutral name, you could note for the interviewer that you’re not sure if the candidate is a man or a woman, but it raises the question of why people need to know. I do know that you’re not saying that it’s important info, but just that it can be a little weird to hear a very different voice than what you were expecting. But your colleagues should be able to take the mild surprise of realizing they got it wrong and should be able to recover immediately. (If they can’t, though, that’s a different issue.)
4. Taking time off to study for a professional exam
It’s been a month now since I was “let go” from a temp assignment. I went through my ups and downs and tried looking for work again. I started looking at the bigger picture of the career goals I want to achieve and have formulated a plan. The first step is taking a professional exam. I also finally feel like I’m in a position to relax and take the time off from the stress of looking for work.
I’ve learned the hard way that multitasking isn’t my strong suit. So I want ot take time off from working to study for the exam. I’m just wondering, how would this look to future employers? That while I wasn’t working I was studying for an exam? Is it something that’s not looked down upon?
It depends on how intensive studying for that particular exam is known to be. If it’s something like the CPA exam or the bar, then you can probably get away with saying that. If it’s less intensive, employers are more likely to wonder why you needed so much time off for something that most people do while they’re working.
5. Quoting from a job ad in your cover letter
In a cover letter, is it okay to quote from the posting of the position I’m applying to? I don’t want to come across as unoriginal or, worse, as plagiarizing, but if they use a particular wording that really does describe me or the work I do, can I go ahead and use it? Or is it going to be a big strike against me?
I’d do it only very sparingly, if at all. You’re generally better off describing yourself in your own words … at very clearly acknowledging that you’re quoting them (for instance, “you wrote that you’re looking for someone maniacally obsessed with clowns, and I’m exactly that”).
6. Asking for a raise when the company is being sold
I work at a very small company (about 20 people, including freelancers). The owner has been working in this industry for many many years and is well over retirement age. Myself and many of the coworkers have picked up on subtle clues from her (guiding people on “tours” of the office–we never have people from outside come here–and her introducing us to them but not them to us) and have found other information on the internet to confirm that the business is up for sale. People have found out that “due process” ends today, and the closing could be any time within the next month. The owner has not directly told anyone about this information.
My question is about when I should be asking for a raise. I am coming up on the 2-year anniversary of my start date (June). I believe the work I have done and the accomplishments I have achieved merit a raise. However, I don’t know when I should ask for it. Should I be asking for it now? I am hesitant to do it now because it may seem odd that I didn’t wait the 2.5 months until June. But I’m worried that if I don’t do it now, the new owners will see it as me trying to take advantage of the situation. or they could think “well if the old owner hasn’t given her a raise, why should we?” I also think that if I wait, they won’t know anything about my work and accomplishments and will say no because I have not proven myself to them yet. Is it customary for new owners to discuss previous work with the old owner to decide on issues like this?
Go ahead and ask now. The worst that can happen is that you’ll be told no.
Be prepared for the fact that she may be less inclined to give you a raise now because retaining good employees isn’t going to be her problem for much longer, but again, you lose nothing by asking.
Whether she’ll advise new owners on this kind of thing as part of the handover very much depends on the situation, but in general new owners like to make their own decisions on this type of thing.
7. Getting online marketing jobs without online marketing experience
In recent years, social and digital marketing has become a key component of many job requirements in public relations. My problem is that I have worked for organizations that actively refused to enhance their digital footprint. I kept up on trends by reading the books and attending the professional development sessions. I’m preparing to apply for a job that I’d be perfect for, but I don’t have any direct social or digital marketing experience they want. How do I address this in my resume and cover letter?
You might think you’d be perfect for these jobs, but — well, they’re less likely to think you’re perfect since you don’t have actual experience doing the work. And when you’re up against well-qualified candidates who do have the experience, employers won’t have much incentive to hire you. I’d try to get that experience first — volunteer for a few organizations who want help in this area and start building up a portfolio of work and accomplishments that you can point to.