It’s wee answer Wednesday — seven short answers to seven short questions. Here we go…
1. Could this rejection email be a mistake?
I have had two interviews for a position at a very large health services nonprofit organization. Both interviews went very well, and ended with meeting the team and the supervisor. After the second interview, which was on a Friday, the interviewer instructed me to call her towards the end of the next week for an update. When I finally got in touch with her, she said that the organization was undergoing a surprise audit the following week and that I should, once again, call her towards the end of that next week. Today, which is the Monday following that phone call, I received an automated, form rejection email from the organization.
I have read much of your archives section and I understand that one does not have a job until an offer is in hand, but it seems strange to me that an interviewer would encourage me to continue to follow up, only to have HR send me a rejection 2 business days later. Is it worth trying to follow up with the interviewer? I know this sounds ridiculous, but are form rejection emails ever sent out by mistake (say, to the entire list of applicants for the position, without removing the pool of candidates who have been interviewed and are still being considered)?
Occasionally, sure. But it’s more likely the the email was correct — it’s entirely plausible that you were given a genuine, sincere “we’re still deciding” on Friday, only to receive a rejection on Monday. It doesn’t usually take days to decide; the delay is generally about finishing interviews or making the time to sit down and compare candidates. Once you do that, you can make a decision very quickly, which is why it’s perfectly reasonable that she could have no answer for you one day and a rejection the next.
That said, if you want to be certain, you can email her to let her know that you received the rejection but want to thank her for the time she spent talking with you and that you wish her the best in the search. If for some reason the email was a mistake, that will alert her.
2. Should I point out typos on a company’s website when applying for a job with them?
I’m interviewing with a company soon and I was just looking at their website. I found quite a few typos. Should I tell them? Of course not on the first interview, but should I mention something, or is that too risky? I think they could be losing business if there are errors on their page; it makes them look unprofessional.
Also, recently I interviewed with a company whose address was marked at the wrong spot on Google Maps. It took me a while to find it (good thing I left home early), and when I got there, the interviewer told me that people always have trouble finding the place because of the error on Google Maps. After the interview, along with my thank you note, I sent a printout of how to fix that, with a quick note saying: “Not sure you’ve tried this, but if the Google error bothers you, this is how to fix it, it should be pretty simple.” On a side note, I’ve worked for Google and we discussed that in the interview, so I didn’t think it would be too obnoxious. But since I never heard back from them, I wonder if that hurt my chances.
I don’t want to sound like a “know-it-all,” which I’m not, I’m actually pretty quiet and more on the reserved side, but I catch on these little details that are an easy fix and it drives me crazy not to say anything.
It depends on how you do it. There’s a longer discussion of this here, but basically, it can go over well or it can go over poorly, depending on your framing. If you don’t get the tone right, it can backfire on you. I would think your tip on fixing Google Maps would have been really appreciated though, at least at the right company.
3. Explaining why I’m not using my last and best job as a reference
I was hired on a short-term contract of 6 months. For various reasons including being requested to engage in fraud by my supervisor, un-stimulating work, and low pay, I was not interested in extending my contract, nor had I received an offer to extend it by my employer.
A week before my last day my supervisor scheduled me to attend a meeting a month later. When I pointed out that my contract was to terminate in a few days and that I was not going to extend it, she called me into a meeting with HR staff, who tried to threaten me into extending the contract by saying that they would ruin my professional reputation if I did not extend my contract (amongst other nasty threats and accusations). Basically, I cannot ask them for a reference.
The problem is that they are by far my most relevant work experience and a major gem on my CV for the jobs I am currently applying for. I learned a lot of useful skills that I want to point out in future applications. However, how do I explain to potential employees why I am not using them as a reference? How do I explain the situation I had with them without coming across as trash-talking my past employer? I asume that I was doing a good job at my previous work place since they were so eager to keep me (only they tried making me stay by using a whip rather than carrots), so how would you suggest I try to bring that forward?
“They became angry when I declined their offer to extend my contract, and unfortunately it soured the relationship.”
You might also follow the advice here on what to do when a previous employer will give you a bad reference, in case a prospective employer calls them anyway.
4. When a job is posted by multiple recruiting agencies
I applied for a job a while back at a major employer through their website. I am now seeing the same job posted by a decent amount of agencies. Do the agencies have an agreement with this company or are they hoping to find a candidate and present that person to the company hoping to get a contract with them?
Could be either — no real way of knowing unless you talk to the agency, at which point you can ask whether they’re working on contract with the company.
5. Changing my desired salary range after learning more about a job
I recently found a job posting on Craigslist. It was pretty vague, and didn’t even really give a title, but it sounded like something I could do, so I applied. They also asked for salary history. Instead of that, I followed your advice and sent them the range I was looking for. They called me and talked to me a bit more about the position, and when I learned the details and title, I really feel like I low-balled myself (it’s a director level position). If I were to get an offer, is there anyway I could negotiate a higher salary than I stated? I don’t want to look like I wasn’t being honest, but I really think the responsibilities deserve more money than I originally stated.
You can certainly say something like, “After learning more about the job’s responsibilities, I think a salary of $X is fair and in keeping with the market.” You’re at somewhat of a disadvantage because employers tend to think of salary numbers as what you’re willing to live on, rather than what you’d need to perform a specific job at a specific level, and they already have your “what I’m willing to live on” number. But you can absolutely try, and might be able to get more.
6. Asking for a raise when my company isn’t giving them this year
I have an annual performance review coming up this week after a year at my company. About nine months ago, there was a large round of layoffs, and my role was expanded to cover two campuses, effectively doubling my area of responsibility. All the other employees with my job description manage one campus. Each of my quarterly reviews has been glowing, and I’ve implemented several new programs that have been incredibly successful.
That being said, it’s widely known that any sort of substantial raise will be off the table for this year no matter how good an employee’s performance has been due to the company’s position. We’ve received emails asking us what sort of thing incentives us, with options ranging from company merchandise to professional development opportunities.
Knowing all this, should I ask for a raise? If there’s no chance for a raise at all, is it reasonable to ask for the company to fund a trip to an industry conference or something similar? I love my work, but I do feel like over the last year my position has changed enough to justify something in terms of compensation.
If you can make the case that you’ve made significant contributions and performed at a significantly higher level than what’s generally expected in your role (and it sounds like you can), then yes, ask for a raise. You may or may not get it, but exceptions are sometimes made to across-the-board raise policies for exceptional employees, and it’s absolutely reasonable to argue that your work deserves it.
And yes, if you can’t get it, then certainly ask for the conference trip.
7. Explaining why my summer job is ending due to political unrest
My question is how to deal with the fact that my summer job in a foreign country (running the summer season of an artist residency) has been dramatically effected and by course basically ended due to political unrest in the country. I am in Istanbul, and with the protests earlier this summer, several resident artists slated to come for the summer have changed their plans. With few artists coming to the residency there is not the same need for a residency coordinator (me) to be here. I need to find another job ASAP (preferably one in a country with less civil unrest).
I am now starting to look for jobs earlier than anticipated, and I will not have a chance to fulfill some of the other projects affliated with this position (such as creating a guide book, and assisting in the production of several small exhibitions). Should I mention this in my cover letter, and on my resume (position terminated due to political unrest sounds a bit dramatic) or should I refrain from putting the job on my resume. if so how do I explain why I am currently in Istanbul and only contactable thru email or skype?
Yes, include it, and briefly explain why you’re leaving early in your cover letter. People will find it interesting, and it will give them something to talk about with you.