It’s seven short answers to seven short questions. Here we go…
1. I’ve been ordered to draft an email praising myself
I recently started a position (it’s been a little over a month) as a facilities coordinator on contract for 3 months and was thrown into the deep end of it all! That’s fine; I put on my game face and got a project that was lagging for almost 9 months completed in 3 weeks. Everyone is quite impressed by me and they keep telling me that I’ve done a wonderful job, and I’ve graciously thanked them for the support and compliments.
Recently, one of the heads approached me and asked me to draft an email that he would like to send to the director praising my efforts on the project. I’m completely baffled — I’ve never had to do that and I don’t even know where to begin. The head is a pretty straightforward gentleman. He isn’t fond of being over the top or flowery and his instructions were the same — don’t make it too flowery and emotional.
I’ve tried to back out of it, saying that it is unncessary for him to do this (again very graciously) but he’s quite insistent. Any ideas on how to either a) ask him to not ask me to do this; b) ask him to not do it at all; or c) provide him with a simple draft email that he can customize?
That’s pretty bizarre — it’s not uncommon to be asked to draft your own recommendation letter, but a simple internal email praising you? But in any case, you already tried to beg off and he was insistent, so you should go ahead and do it or you could end up turning a nice thing (he wants to praise you) into a problematic thing (you won’t do what he’s told you repeatedly he wants from you).
I’d just keep it very factual, just reporting the facts of what you did: Project X had lagged for nine months, you did A, B, and C to complete it in three weeks, and the results of that work will be ___. Let him add in any specific praise he wants beyond that.
2. When should I call references?
I am a relatively new manager working at a public agency and am now looking to hire a new person to assist me. My question is about hiring practices and how to avoid opening your agency up to liability while also getting the information you need to make a good choice. Specifically, when is the right time to call references? Can this be done when you still have a large pool of applicants or does this have to wait until after you have narrowed the field and held interviews? If you call one person’s references, do you have to call every person’s references? What if they list a company they worked for and you know someone there that is not listed as a reference, is it ok to call your contact and ask their impression of the applicant?
Wait to call references until you’ve finished your interview process. At that point, you should have one or two candidates you think you’d like to hire, and that’s when you call references. You can call them just for your one top finalist, or if you have a couple of people you’re having trouble deciding among then you can call references for each of them to help you make your decision. But there’s no point in calling references before that point — it would be a waste of your time, and a waste of the references’ time (and thus rude to your candidates, who are having their references called prematurely).
And it’s fine to call people they’ve worked with who aren’t on their official reference list, but you should never do that if the contact is at their current employer, since that could jeopardize their current job.
3. Bolding job titles in your cover letter
My co-worker recently told me about a trend in cover letters that a career counselor told her about: bolded job titles throughout your cover letter. I think the reasoning behind this is to draw attention to your qualifications and work experience so they don’t get lost in the letter’s paragraphs. Do you recommended this or should this be avoided?
There’s nothing wrong with judicious use of bolding in a cover letter, but I have a different concern with this advice: If the idea is to bold your job titles, then you’re probably doing too much summarizing of your job history in your cover letter, and that’s not what your cover letter is for. It shouldn’t summarize your resume — there’s no point in that because the hiring manager will also be receiving your resume and doesn’t need a summary of it. The cover letter should be focused on information that isn’t on your resume, and I have a hunch that this “career counselor” (something anyone can call themselves, by the way) is way off-base on what she considers effective cover letters in general.
4. Paying internal hires less than external hires
I am a hiring manager who has recently had a bit of trouble with our HR department about the compensation rate for a role. I think the role should be compensated at the rate that we compensate other in roles of the same responsibility / experience.
The going rate for this role is higher than the internal rate. If I promote someone internally, HR will want to compensate the person at the internal rate, but they seem to be fine with paying an external person more — a lot more for the same experience. In my mind, I think that is a disservice to my staff. Is this a normal practice or is it fair that I bring it up and push for the market rate for this person?
It’s not uncommon at all, but it’s a horrible practice and you should push back against it as strongly as you can. Point out that this practice will only encourage your best staff — the ones who are getting promoted — to leave the organization in order to earn a fair market rate for their work, and that’s exactly the opposite of what you want to achieve. If you want to retain your best people, you can’t offer them salaries that penalize them for already working for you.
5. I’m being required to attend a 10 p.m. meeting
I am working a part-time job at a hockey store while I am in graduate school. I am a sales associate there making minimum wage. What I am curious about is if it is acceptable for an employer to expect its employees to come into a meeting at 10 p.m. on a Monday night? I feel like it is a ridiculous request to ask part-time employees to attend a meeting late at night when some of them have other jobs and are either working all day at another job/school and some working another job at that time. The manager has made this meeting mandatory and is threatening to write up anyone who doesn’t show.
Yes, that’s ridiculous. Not illegal, but ridiculous and inconsiderate. Have you tried explaining that while you’re glad to attend any meetings at work, you’re normally in bed by 10 p.m. (whether or not you really are) and it will be difficult to attend something so late at night? That may or may not work — but I’d certainly try that before getting angry.
6. Should I leave my Bible major and church experience off my resume?
I have a B.S. with two majors, one of which is a Bible major. I will also soon have a second graduate degree, with one in business and one in theology. If I’m interested in working in a secular environment in the near-term, should I leave information about my Bible/theology degrees off of my resume? Similarly, I have leadership experience in the church, but is that appropriate to mention when applying for a secular job? The education and experience says valuable things about me in terms of achievement, growth, and leadership experience, but I’m not sure if they also could hurt my chances at getting an interview for jobs outside of ministry. What are your thoughts on this?
There’s no reason to leave any of that off your resume. You want to make sure that you’re demonstrating that you’re not someone who will inappropriately inject religion into the workplace, of course, but simply having those two things on your resume are unlikely to cause those sorts of worries in an employer. (The sorts of things that would cause those worries would be any sign of proselytizing in professional contexts or showing that you don’t have a boundary between religion and professional things — for instance, if you had a religious email signature. But your education and leadership experience don’t indicate those things.)
7. Finding time to interview while temping
I am currently living in a new city after having graduated from college in May. To make ends meet in this new city, I have been doing temporary work. Assignments can last between one day and a month. However, I have also been seeking full-time employment. My question is about what to do if I am asked to interview for a position while working on a temp assignment. I would of course turn down a day-long assignment if I had a pre-scheduled interview that day, but if I had previously accepted a long term or even shorter term assignment and then was offered an interview, what should I do?
It’s hard to take time off for a position where you are filling in for someone’s time off, and I’m not a situation where I can turn down longer-term work, but I also need to interview in order to find a full time position. Should I explain the situation for the hiring manager and ask to interview outside of normal business hours? Or hope that the place I am temping at understands? Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
Start by asking for an interview outside of normal business hours. If you can’t get that, then talk to your temp company about how they want you to handle this.