I cried at work when I was sick, alerting job candidates to errors in their applications, and more

It’s five short answers to five short questions. Here we go…

1. Should I tell job applicants about errors on their resumes and cover letters?

As I’m reviewing resumes, I frequently see errors on resumes and cover letters (spelling mistakes, grammar errors, things like that). Should I let a candidate know, in the interest of helping them out? I’m more inclined to want to mention it when it’s just one rather than when there are several.

Nah, not your job. I’m all for giving job candidates feedback once they’ve interviewed, but for simple spelling or grammatical mistakes and for people who aren’t going to be asked to interview, I think that’s something you need to leave them to manage on your own. (Plus, I’m doubting that you really have time for it or that it would be a good use of your time to do.)

2. I cried in front of our director when I was sick

The other day I was sick and ended up needing to leave early because I made a (last minute) doctor appointment. My team lead asked that I ask our director (my boss’s boss) if it was ok since my boss was on vacation and she didn’t feel comfortable giving me the go-ahead. When I went to the director’s office. I told her I wasn’t feeling well (headache and dizziness) and had made an appointment at my doctor but would need to leave right then. As I was telling her this, I started crying (I’m a crier when sick). I apologized and explained that I tend to cry when not feeling well. She told me to go ahead and asked if I would be ok to drive.

Now that I’m feeling better, should I apologize to her again? I don’t think I necessarily need to pop into her office but if I run into her in the hall or something should I bring it up or wait and see if she does? This is the second embarrassing interaction I’ve had with her and don’t want to come off as someone who is inept or awkward.

Side note: the first interaction was shortly after I started and we were on the elevator she made a comment about being tired and yawned…normal reaction might have been to say something about how it was almost the end of the day blah blah…my reaction “oh yeah, my cat likes to jump on me in the middle of the night blah blah…” pretty sure I came across as the creepy cat lady that day.

I don’t think you need to apologize in the sense of owing her an apology, but I think you’re right to acknowledge “hey, that was a slightly unusual moment between us” — especially since you’re feeling weird about it. I’d just pop your head in her door and say, “Thank you for being so kind to me last week when I was sick. Apologies for the emotion — that happens sometimes when I’m sick.” That’s it; don’t make it a bigger deal than that (and you can frame it more as a thank-you than an apology).

As for the elevator conversation, you’re overthinking it, I promise. That conversation doesn’t sound like anything to worry about.

3. My manager is delaying my performance review

It is that time of the year when my company does annual performance reviews that are typically followed with a raise and bonus. (These are usually done in October, so we are already a little late.) My boss had me fill out the evaluation over a month ago and then scheduled the review over two weeks ago. He’s not a morning person but scheduled my review for 9am and then came in at 9:30 saying, “Oh s***, we were supposed to do your review today!” In his defense, he has been very busy, but there hasn’t been much time to re-schedule, and he hasn’t mentioned re-scheduling my review since then.

The holidays are approaching quickly, and I’m starting to get concerned about if/when this is going to happen. We both have PTO coming up and will be in and out of the office at different times. I’d like to bring this up in an appropriate way, but I feel uncomfortable because we all sit in cubicles and several co-workers sit within ear shot. I don’t really want them to hear me bringing this up. What would you recommend?

“I’m eager to reschedule my evaluation. Could we do it on Monday?” If he doesn’t commit to a new date, then point out that you’re entering a period where you’ll both be in and out for the holidays. Basically, approach this as you would anything else you needed to get him to meet with you for; don’t make it more emotionally charged just because it’s a performance review.

Email this to him if you don’t want to be overheard (although the fact that you are getting a review like everyone else isn’t terribly sensitive information).

4. I missed an interview request that a company sent to me 14 days ago

I recently missed an email request (14 days ago) for a 30-minute discussion about a job application I submitted. How should I respond for being late?

“I was mortified to discover that I missed this email when it went to my spam folder. I realize you’ve probably moved forward in your hiring process, but if you’re still interviewing and I’m not too late, I’d love to talk with you.”

5. Were my college career center’s resume recommendations correct?

I’m planning to do a co-op/internship next semester for college credit. I went to my college career center to talk about my options. They way it works is, I tell them what I’m looking for, and they send my resume to companies aligning with my interests. Those companies will then (hopefully) contact me for an interview and if they like me, I will be hired on as their intern for next semester.

Now, because I have to send my resume through my college so they in turn can send it to those companies, I gave my resume to the lady for critique. My resume has 4 inches of white space at the bottom. To avoid having so much white space, she suggested I put down relevant coursework, my GPA, and a reference section. From what I’ve read about your advice on resume writing, they seem unnecessary to put down on a resume. So, my question is, do the same rules apply for internships as do “real world” jobs? I don’t have much experience, I’ve only held minimum wage jobs (server, retail cashier, childcare provider, hotel front desk, etc.). She said that by putting coursework (such as accounting, management, marketing, etc.) it will show companies that I am not at all clueless in those areas. My classmates have done co-ops/internships through the school before, and obviously they were able to find an internship with what I assume is the same resume advice I’m being given. So should I put down my GPA, coursework, and a reference section? These internships are supposed to be a learning opportunity, and perhaps companies would like to see what I’ve learned in school and such so they can better find out if I would be a great intern for them. Still, I would greatly appreciate your input!

It’s not that including those things will get you rejected; it’s just that they don’t really strengthen your resume. Ideally, you should try to figure out if there’s more you can play up about the kind of worker you were at the jobs you’ve had, even if they don’t seem like they’d lend themselves to accomplishments (the resume linked from this post is a great example of how to do that). But ultimately, if you want to pad some of that empty space with coursework, no one is going to be outraged or disgusted or anything.

That said, only include your GPA is it’s high or it could hurt more than it helps, and don’t include references at all, as they do not belong on a resume and that would be like including a haiku just to use up space.

To answer your first question, internships have the same resume rules as other jobs, but often when you’re applying for internships you have less work experience to flesh out the resume with.

{ 119 comments… read them below }

  1. Sarah

    #3: If your company is structured in such a way that things like bonuses or raises rest on the review, then be extra assertive. My boss “didn’t have time” one year to give annual reviews to two managers, so they were ineligible for more than the cost-of-living raise, despite being high performers.

    They were, incidentally, also the only two black managers. I have no idea if it was simply coincidence, but from the outside it looked like she used the excuse of not having time to give a review to avoid giving two excellent managers raises.

    1. Victoria Nonprofit

      Um, wow. Over on the “favorites” thread we have a clear cut example of gender discrimination and here we have a clear cut example of racial discrimination. Yikes. I hope someone reported this!

  2. PEBCAK

    Having hired a lot of interns…there are two times I find coursework interesting: 1) If the course involved some sort of real-world project that is relevant to the position or 2) if the course is something unexpected, given your major, but somehow related to the position. For example, if I was hiring for someone to work as a marketing intern for a nursing home, and you are a marketing major, but happen to have coursework in gerontology, that would be impressive.

    1. J

      When I was applying for internships/co-ops through my school, the school made it standard to attach to your application, a third (or second, depending on your résumé) page with your grades. My friends doing internships or co-ops through other schools report the same. I think it is something employers expect when they are soliciting students for temporary positions. The retail stuff is nice to let them know that you can show up on time and handle some responsibility, but your grades indicate your technical skills.

      1. J

        Come to think of it, grades are probably more important for more technical fields. The CS person below reinforces that idea.

        1. badger_doc

          Similar to an internship only lasting over a summer + semester. In engineering, our co-ops were well paid and usually in a different city/state. The company puts you up in an apartment and pays you to work about 7 months on a project for them.

        2. Zahra

          In my area, a coop program consists in an alternance between paid internships semesters and school semesters. You may have 2-3 school semesters to get basic knowledge, but then you go internship-classes-internship-classes, and so on until you’ve finished your coursework. During your internship semester, you remain registered as a student and pay a nominal fee. It takes about a year more to finish your bachelor’s degree, but you have 3-4 semesters of work experience (plus some count useful professional contacts).

      2. Ex-Mrs Addams

        Are the grades expected by the employers, or are the schools just supplying them regardless? Having been in contact with a couple of university careers offices, I can easily imagine it’s the latter and that final page on the resume is a lot less important to the hiring managers than the school thinks.

        (Although as noted by J, some technical fields may be more stringent about grades.)

        1. Cat

          Law is another exception. Employers expect to see grades (actually, full transcripts – not just GPAs or lists made by the applicant) even for candidates that have been out of school for sometime. The reasonableness of this is questionable, but it is the expectation.

          1. Judy

            In engineering, many positions require you prove your degree. You can either give them a transcript, or bring in your degree to photocopy.

          2. Elysian

            I’ve also had to amend my full transcript to reflect what professors taught my courses. Oh, law.

            I’ve also seen “Applicants from schools outside the top-14 need not apply.” for positions that require 20+ years of work experience. Yup, law can be a dumb field sometimes.

    1. businesslady

      haha, but why not step it up a bit? :)

      Enthusiastic
      Thoughtful and dedicated
      With the skills you need

      (…now that I think about it, this could be a good exercise for people who have a hard time paring down their résumé profile/bullet points or cover letters.)

      1. Elysian

        This is fun (can you tell I graduated in this horrible economy?).

        I have all these loans
        If you do not hire me
        I’ll move in with you.

  3. Elise

    #2 – I’m the same. I tend to even let people know at the moment that it’s because I feel ill and people are generally understanding. They just want to know that you aren’t going to fall apart over something.

    1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

      Yeah, I don’t think twice about people crying in private spaces. It’s not uncommon. It only gives me pause if it is crying over something work related or if they are bursting into tears in the middle of the office.

      I think apologizing again would extend the awkwardness for you but thanking the director for her understanding is nice. I doubt she has thought twice about it, but everybody likes to be thought of as the understanding boss.

    2. anonn

      I’ve done this. And I do tend to say, “Ignore the tears, my head and my body don’t agree about when they are appropriate..” but only with people I know well I can pass it off jokily.

      When I have cried when I was ill I went up to the two co workers in question and said “Thanks for understanding the other day”. They were fine about it and went to to say they were glad I was feeling better.

  4. olives

    #5: I mostly agree with AAM’s advice here, except that in my field (computer science), it’s actually considered strange if you DON’T include your coursework and GPA information. This isn’t true throughout your life, but at least for internships and your first non-intern job out of school, it’s really important to
    them what you’ve learned so far. When I was applying for my first job, thinking I had plenty of intern work experience and projects to show my chops, nearly every company I spoke to at one of the career fairs I went to wanted to know my GPA, despite the fact that it seemed irrelevant.

    So check the requirements of jobs in your field, and figure out what the norms are there – hiring managers in different fields scan for importance differently.

    1. olives

      This is also because the content of a CS degree can vary so highly – one person might come out of school with a lot of operating systems knowledge, another one might be really good at networking, or software design, or statistical programming. The coursework helps differentiate where your particular skillset lies beyond the basic courses expected of all majors.

      1. Tina

        It’s also true that for many universities with a structured internship or co-op program, the advisors and the employers have already agreed upon a particular resume format for student applications, and that the employers like seeing that information.

    2. CAA

      Just because people ask for your GPA in an interview or at a career fair does not mean it belongs on your resume. When I read a CS student’s or new grad’s resume, here’s what I expect to see in this order:

      Name
      Address / Phone # / Email Address (don’t leave any of these out)

      Experience
      – put it at the top if you have even one volunteer job of at least 4 weeks that has anything to do with computers
      – don’t explain what you did at all your fast-food and waitress jobs. Do list roles like shift supervisor or night manager.

      Education (put it above experience if the only experience you have is not technology related)
      – (Expected) Graduation Date, honors level if you have one
      – Related Coursework (Only list what will keep the resume on a single page. List one or two projects that you did in your most relevant classes.)

      Languages
      – only if you’re fully bilingual and could definitely pass a fluency test

      Other
      If you still have space on the single page, this is the one and only time you can put your Girl Scout Gold Award project, your National Merit Scholar status, or the captaincy of your college rowing team on your resume. Each one gets one line, no explanations or details, and no more than 3 items.

      1. Elysian

        I understand that you’re probably not interested in a lot of the stuff young grads put on their resumes, but honestly when I was in that place I was just trying to fill up a page. You would get to know that I waitressed for 3 years in high school, etc, because it’s pretty much the only work experience I had and otherwise my resume would pretty much take up a line.

        Do you see a lot of college student resumes with experience listed before education? The information I always got was that if you were still in school (or a very recent grad) that education should go first, largely because it is the most recent event. It’s interesting that that isn’t where you would expect to see it go.

        1. Anonymous

          There are waitresses that …waitress only

          And there are waitress that …
          waitress
          train others
          make schedules
          help with inventory
          host
          contribute to social media pages
          in charge of bus-persons
          in charge of annual cleaning (massive 2- 4 week undertaking for those unaware)
          etc
          etc
          etc

          Same with school work, give the details

        2. CAA

          Oh I do want to know if you were a waitress for 3 years; that shows you can be responsible for your own schedule, work with people, handle money — all good things to know even if I’m not hiring you to do them. I don’t need to know that you filled the salt & pepper shakers and delivered food to tables (those are commonly understood if you say “waitress”), and I especially don’t need those same activities listed as bullets under 5 different jobs. Activities you should list are the ones that are not usually part of being a waitress — redesigned the menus, organized other people’s work or schedules, handled phone reservations.

          I like to hire students as part-time QA testers. It’s not a formal internship, in that they’re not getting college credit, it’s just a part-time job they can do while in school. When applying for these types of jobs, students almost always list education first on their resumes. (At least for the ones who send a resume; a surprisingly large percentage seem to think that the instructions in the job posting don’t apply to them.)

          When I’m hiring new grads for full-time entry level developer positions, it’s about 50-50 whether they put education or experience first. Almost every entry level resume I see would be stronger and make a better impression if the experience were listed first.

    3. College Career Counselor

      I would advise the student not to put references on the resume, EVER. I’m okay with GPA and relevant courses (again, if they’re truly relevant to the potential internship/co-op). As others have said, sometimes the course content of a particular academic program varies from school to school, or you want to show that you’ve had a particular course already (that most people don’t take until senior year).

      The GPA is an indicator of your level of understanding of the content in those courses. Alison is correct that unless it’s “high” (again, that will vary by industry), it can work against you. Also, some companies (consulting/finance) require you to list your GPA on your resume as a condition of being considered.

        1. College Career Counselor

          I’d make it part of your Education section:

          Vampire College, Bontemps, LA Expected 2014
          BS in Human Physiology Cum. GPA: 4.0
          Relevant Courses: Gross Human Anatomy, Phlebotomy in the Field, Advanced Skulking

        2. Evan

          Honestly, I’d say it varies based on the field and college. In engineering, I’ve heard that anything over a 3.2 (or 3.0, according to other sources) should be listed. In pre-law, according to what I’ve read, anything under 3.5 means you might as well leave it off. I don’t know about other fields.

          1. College Career Counselor

            Sorry–read too fast there! I agree with Evan–it depends on the industry. For finance and consulting, they want it on (and sometimes they’ll give you a cut-off point). I’ve seen anything from 3.5-3.8 in the finance/consulting asks. For some research orgs, 3.0-3.4 is the cut-off. In non-industry specific circumstances, I have advised students that if it’s below 3.3, leave it off unless they ask for it.

            Frankly, if you have lots of good, relevant internship/industry experience (and present it well on your resume), that should trump a less than stellar GPA. It’s often used as a weed-out tool for industries/companies with a lot of applicants. And as has been said elsewhere, once you have your first job nobody* cares what your GPA was in college.

            *unless you’re going on to grad/professional school–they’re likely to care. Although reading this blog has taught me that there are very few absolutes. For example, there is probably a knucklehead employer out there grilling some poor applicant with 10 years of demonstrated relevant industry experience about her GPA in Calc I.

            1. Marcy

              My employer still requires full transcripts no matter how long you have been working. My boss actually questioned me about mine when I interviewed, so he obviously cared. When I hire, I have to ask for them but I don’t look at them. I let HR just put them in the file.

    4. Zillah

      Ditto. I’m applying for internships right now, and most tell me to list my completed coursework. I think the reasoning is that 1) like your field, mine can be quite varied depending on your specialty and 2) if you don’t even have a theoretical understanding of the skills and knowledge they need (which you pretty much have to get through class or work), they don’t want to waste their time.

  5. Anonymous

    I only put coursework on my resume when I’m applying to jobs outside my field. I went to school for hospitality (stupid, oops) and hotel managers obviously know I took accounting, marketing, business type stuff.

    But other types of businesses? “Did you major in drinking? ha ha ha ha!” makes for an awkward start to an interview.

  6. josh

    I’ve seen lots of people cry at work – men and women. A one off instance is no big deal. We are human, we should treat each other as such. Histrionics on a regular basis, different story.

    1. Jen

      Agreed. I’ve seen co-workers cry from time to to time over a vareity of things (being sick, being stressed, in a divorce, parent died, frustrated, etc). I once cried because right after returning to the office from maternity leave, my job told me they wanted me to travel for a week out of the country and the hormones and everything got to me and my eyes welled up and I had to excuse myself but everyone in the meeting knew what was up. I felt like an ass but no one ever mentioned it again.

      However, I also once worked with someone who was going through a break-up and would have very loud sobbing fits and phone conversations with her ex followed up by very loud hysterical sobbing conversations with her mother. THAT was a bit much. It went on for more than a week.

    2. COT

      Yep, and even those high-level execs are human, too, and get sick, and cry, and do all of those things the rest of us do. Just because they’re often the ones who seem to have it all together at work doesn’t mean that they can’t understand what it’s like to be sick and miserable. Your director probably felt nothing but empathy, and if they’ve thought about it since, it’s only to hope that you’re feeling better.

    3. SevenSixOne

      Yeah, I’d probably do my best to act like an isolated incident of unusual behavior never happened, because that’s what I’d want someone to do for me.

  7. Anon

    #2-I can understand why you might feel like something needs to be said but I don’t know if it’s necessary. You were sick. We all have that happen. And if you are really sick, even to warrant the “are you able to drive” question, then at least it seems like they care about you and tears aren’t going to negatively impact you. The human body does weird things when we are sick. If you really feel compelled to say something, go with what AAM says.

    #4-I had this happen to me a few months ago. In that I was the hiring manager and I emailed one candidate for an interview who never responded. Since I usually have one or two who never respond, I didn’t think anything of it. Candidate called the day after all the interviews were complete with her SPAM email story. We’d made our decision by that point. Candidate did not endear themselves to me by having a hissy fit about it at that point. Or drawing in the family contact that told her to apply and works in my department. Do what AAM says and remember to check your spam folder in the future. Lesson learned.

    1. Elizabeth West

      I can see her calling to check back on it, because you never know. Having the hissy fit definitely wasn’t good. The spam thing might not have been a deal-breaker for me, especially if she reapplied for something else and responded right away (I would think lesson learned). But the fit definitely would.

      1. Anonymous

        what complicates things is that interviewee only called because family connection asked about it and i said I’d never heard back. Odds are any other person never would have called. I’ve lost track of the number of people I’ve emailed for an interview that never responded.

        1. Anonymous

          and let me add that the reason family connection knows all the details is because they are the HR liasion/admin coordinator for our department. So not outside the realm of knowing what’s going on with hiring.

        2. Sadsack

          This makes me curious why you would only send an email to the candidate to set up an interview without calling them first to discuss their interest. Do you think that the high number of people who never responded to emails is any indication that a first notice might be better by phone than by email?

          I’m not singling you out — this is something I have been curious about in general for a while, and you are the first person I’ve seen bring it up from the employer side. I have been job searching for almost a year and I always scan my spam folder just in case.

          1. Emma

            Had this experience today where I received a call for an interview, which referenced an e-mail sent on Tuesday. When I spoke with the HR representative, I asked her to clarify which e-mail address she sent it to, and to spell it. Sure enough, she spelled my name wrong (happens all the time!) and did apologize. If she’d never called me, she could have assumed I ignored her. Though I’m surprised she didn’t get a bounced e-mail.

            +1 for calling!

            1. Sadsack

              maybe the email address she used is a real one and someone out there is puzzled because they don’t recall applying for the job!

  8. Crystal

    #1 – When interviewing for a job that involves constant criticism I mark the resume errors and end the interview reviewing them with the candidate. I have never had an applicant that didn’t have something I could mark. The candidates’ response is to my criticism is relevant to the job duties and work environment.

    Aside from that, no.

    1. Elysian

      I can see why you might find this a useful indicator, but gosh I can only imagine how nerve-wracking that is as an applicant. I couldn’t stop myself from thinking “Did she really ding me because I used 5 spaces instead of tab?” It would probably torture me. I admit this is probably because I am an insufferable perfectionist.

      1. Anonymous

        That’s the point, though. It would torture me, too, but this process would weed us out. (And I’d be pretty relieved to find out about the constant criticism in the interview stage and not after I started the job).

        1. Elysian

          That’s true enough (and I expect I would be horrible in a job requiring taking a lot of criticism – it is certainly a weak point for me). But there’s a huge difference between “Elysian, you really need to work on passive voice in your writing. It would be a lot stronger in an active voice.” and “Look – this resume you just sent to 100 employers is covered in red pen! No wonder you’re still on the job market!” No matter how nice a person words their unsolicited criticism of my resume, I’m probably going only going to hear failure.

          Which is probably why its better for OP #1 not to go out of his/her way in this regard. I fully admit I probably wouldn’t take it well. I wouldn’t berate the person giving the criticism, but I would definitely lose sleep over it for a while.

          1. Sourire

            I would lose sleep too, but I would rather lose sleep for a few days and have a heads up on my resume than continue to send it out into the world with errors. I may curse at the interviewer in my head, badmouth “that witch” to my friends or whatever else. But you can sure as heck bet my resume would be updated, and when I did land a job and my head and perspective become more clear, I would like to think I would be thankful (and truly hope I’d remember to send that person a thank you note).

            Note: I do actually agree with the advice given that OP#1 shouldn’t be giving out criticism. Not all people, and probably not even the majority, are like me. Too many people lash out, become argumentative, think it’s an opening for negotiations as opposed to a rejection (we’ve seen examples of all on this blog), and it’s just not an effective use of a hiring manager’s time.

    2. Ask a Manager Post author

      One problem with that approach is that good candidates will be evaluating you right back. They might be great at taking criticism but still decide that “reviewing resume errors” at the end of their interview is strange enough that they don’t want the job. (Especially since plenty of resumes don’t have real errors at all, so you’d have to mark up more subjective stuff, which then would really be a red flag to a candidate.)

      That said, I’m all for testing how candidates take honest feedback if that’s important to succeed in the job. I’m just not sure this is going to be the best way to do it.

      1. Crystal

        I was interviewing to fill an internal audit-type job that requires the employee to go around telling departments what they’ve done wrong in a particular process. No department enjoys this process so it is not filled with hugs and puppies. I spend a big part of the interview talking about the need to deal with unhappy people arguing with you and critiquing your work. Then we go over resume errors so I can see how they handle being critiqued. I’m open to suggestions of another way to see how candidates handle this. Simply asking them is not going to cut it and this is an entry-level job so the candidates are unlikely to have held a similar position in the past.

        I do not need to find any subjective items as sadly there is plenty of opportunity to point out misused industry terms, misspelled words, subject/verb agreement, and other problems. I think it is entirely fair for the candidate to evaluate me right back and decide this is not the right job.

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          The problem, I think, is that a resume review in particular is going to come across pretty strangely to good applicants. I’m all for you seeing their feedback-taking skills in action; I just wouldn’t do it this way. I like Ex-Mrs Addams’ idea below about giving them a short assignment (related to the work they’d be doing) and giving them feedback on that.

          1. Victoria Nonprofit

            Yeah, I agree with Alison. Unless you set this up very clearly* as an example of what they would be dealing with, I would just think that you were weird and it would absolutely affect my thinking about the job. I’m a person who takes criticism very well; it isn’t the critique itself that would turn me off but the strangeness of you doing it at all.

            *Very clearly as in: “Ok, as an example of the kind of work you will be doing, I’m going to walk you through the problems I found in your resume, so you can experience this process from the side of someone receiving audit notes.”

    3. Ex-Mrs Addams

      Critiquing a resume seems overly harsh to me. I understand you need candidates who can take constant criticism, but doing this after an interview? Red flags for me as a candidate, particularly if you did this with no warning. Do you list “responds well to criticism” on your job advert, or otherwise make it clear to candidates this is part of the job and interview process?

      It might be a better idea to have interview candidates prepare a piece of writing – either prepared and submitted before the interview, or at the interview itself. Make it clear this piece will be criticized to the same level as the job, and then at least the candidate is forewarned that this is a vital part of the job and allows them to potentially tailor some of their interview responses towards that.

      1. fposte

        I’m not sure that I understand the need for candidates who can take constant criticism. Who is doing that, what purpose is it serving, and is that the highest purpose that the criticizer’s time could serve?

        1. Ex-Mrs Addams

          It could be very particular and exacting clients, or maybe an overly critiquing higher manager. It could be an industry/position where precise communication is paramount and everything is scrutinised before being released. There may not be a reasonable need for the constant criticism, but the organisation obviously believes that there is a need for it. At least they’re being up front about it before a candidate is hired – I’d rather that than have a candidate start the job and quit within 3 months as the criticism is too much.

          1. fposte

            I agree that candidates should be prepared (though I’m with you in thinking this isn’t the way to do it), but I also think the organization may be spackling a problem rather than dealing with it. This could be a “need” that translates to “nobody bothers to tell Criticoid to knock it off.”

    4. Anonymous

      That seems a little pointless- to interview someone then tell them about all of the red flags you noticed before they interviewed. Id wonder why the hell you called and interviewed me in the first place.

    5. FiveNine

      Really? You’ve never had an applicant that didn’t have something you could mark? I have to think you’re turning off more great candidates than you possibly could know. It’s not just that you have almost got to be subjectively nitpicking things that aren’t objectively “wrong.” It’s that you’re almost certainly on occasion also incorrectly correcting “errors.”

      1. IronMaiden

        I used to take critiquing very well but a job where I got constant (mostly unwarranted) crtiticism has made me defensive and not amenable to it unless it is handled particularly constructively.

  9. John

    #1 — Your heart is in a good place but, not only is this not your job, I think you’d be surprised by how many people wouldn’t appreciate your feedback.

    AAM has posted examples of times she gave honest feedback to a candidate and they got snarly with her. I suspect you’d get some responses along the lines of, “Oh, so you’re not going to give me a shot at an interview because of a couple dumb mistakes?”

    Sadly, those open to constructive feedback are in a minority, which is why managers tend to make performance evaluations much less helpful than they could be — because instead of being thankful for feedback that could aid their careers, people get angry.

    1. the gold digger

      Yes. I evaluate and select international partners for my company. One guy approached us. I turned him down because he was way too woo-woo-ey, but also because when I requested very detailed information, he did not send it. So in my rejection note (this is my fault), I said that his organization did not meet our requirements.

      He has written back twice, once to tell me that if I had wanted more information, I should have asked for it and do I always make decisions with so little information, and once to give me additional general information that would not have helped me.

      So yeah – giving a specific reason just gives the person something to argue about.

  10. Ann Furthermore

    #3: I think just a quick thank-you for the kindness is all that’s necessary. People tend to over-analyze their own actions, things they said or did not say, and just magnify them way more than necessary. I’m terrible about doing this. So even though you’re thinking that you came off weirdly in the elevator conversation, chances are you didn’t. It’s easy to forget that people at the director/VP level are human too. And I will say that being intimidated by higher ups is something that tends to fade with age, no matter what level you’re at. I’m much more comfortable around them now that I’m in my 40’s, because as I’ve gotten older, I’ve stopped caring about that kind of thing more and more.

    A few years ago I was working late one night, as was my boss and one of my direct reports, who was an AP person (she was in her early 60’s). The CFO came walking around, stopped to ask how things were going, and we chatted for a bit. My AP person put the CFO on the spot and grilled him about why he refused to appropriately staff her area. This guy was a notorious cheapskate and always wanted to be able to say that his team was a bunch of rock stars who could work miracles and do huge amounts of work with minimal people and limited resources. He hemmed and hawed and said a few things about there not being money in the budget, and so on.

    So my AP person looked right at him and said, “Well everyone says that I shouldn’t complain because I get paid for overtime. Pardon my French, but “F*** that!” My boss and I were shocked, but the CFO laughed, we talked a bit more, and he went on his way. The AP person asked me later if I thought she should apologize for her language, and I told her that I was sure he’d heard that word before, and probably even used it a few times, but if she wanted to say something to him not to make too big a deal of it. Keeping it light with something like, “Hey, sorry I dropped the F bomb the other night!” and that would probably be fine.

    Then I told her that that since turning 40, I’d noticed that I’d kind of stopped caring what other people thought, and that the amount of crap I was willing to put up with was much less than what it had been before. I asked if this was a trend that continued/amplified the older you got, and she said, “Yep. Pretty much!”

    1. KJR

      Ah yes, to your last sentence Ann Furthermore! The more time goes on, the less I care what people think too. When I was in my twenties a friend told me this would happen, and I am so relieved it turned out to be true.

      1. Ann Furthermore

        The other night I was at a ladies’ Bunco game in my neighborhood. It’s a group of moms whose kids all go to my daughter’s school (she’s 4). Since I was 41 when I had my kid, I’m the “old mom” in the crowd.

        One woman’s husband just turned 40, and she was laughing about how he was referring to himself now as being old. I told them all that even though I had dreaded turning 40, I actually found it to be somewhat liberating and freeing in some respects, for this very reason.

  11. Not So NewReader

    #2. Alison has the best advice- making a big deal out of a few tears is going to be odder than the tears themselves. Picture a reverse situation- a coworker is explaining to you that she is sick and going home. You see tears in her eyes. You try to think of something supportive to say. You say something. You hope you said the right thing but you aren’t sure.
    The next day the coworker comes over to you and says she is doing much better and thanks you for your kind words. You feel relieved, right? And in your mind the situation is over and forgotten. Your director will probably think along these lines.

    As far as tears when sick- we all have varying tolerances for pain/discomfort. Certain types of discomfort brings up the tears faster in some people than others. Personally, I get a little concerned about people who judge others for crying when sick or in pain. I think that says more about them than it does about the person crying.
    I can work up a case over an ear infection. That is because I had so.many.@#$.ear.infections. as a kid. Of course, all my coworker knows is that I have an ear infection that I seem to be crying over. On the surface, I seem like a whimp. But there is more to the story- that I usually do not mention.

    1. KAS

      I think the crying-at-work issue depends a lot on your corporate culture. At my place of employment (which is notorious for being rather harsh) it would be remembered and noted upon. It is unfortunate, but it can give the impression that “you can’t take it”—and you’ll crumble under the slightest job pressure.

  12. Lily in NYC

    #1 – the only time I reach out to candidates is if there’s a glitch and their resume doesn’t download properly into our crappy Taleo system. Which is a good reason to make sure you also have your contact details on your cover letter – that’s the only way I was able to reach a few people when it happened. At first I wondered if I should bother, but we ended up hiring one of the guys I emailed after a glitch and he is fantastic.

      1. Anonymous

        Ha me too! It’s sad that 8 months after getting my job, I still remember which ATS’s are awful and which are decent!

  13. Cruciatus

    Though I’m 9 years out of grad school and probably out of the running for putting my colleges/GPAs on my resume (at least at the top), I am curious about what is considered a high enough GPA to put on a resume (if one were going to do it?) Obviously 4.0., but what’s the lowest you can go?

    1. Elysian

      For undergrad, I was always told to omit if it was lower than 3.5. I think once someone told me 3.0, but I felt like that was too low, so went with the 3.5 advice I got from other sources.

      I do think it is field-specific though. I would be interested in hearing what people who do hiring think is “high enough” to keep on.

      1. AmyNYC

        Some schools have wacky grading policies, so if you can simplify it to a phrase like “Graduated with (distinction/Dean’s list/cum laude/magna cum laude)” there’s a little less gray area.

        1. TL

          Some schools also grade inflate and others have policies that don’t allow more than one person/class in a given major graduate with a 4.0.

          (Sorry, GPA grump.)

  14. Anonymous

    #3 – I hope any raises are retroactive. Delaying on purpose could be a tactic. Yes, I have one of those bosses.

  15. BostonKate

    #2…I’m so glad I’m not the only sick crier. I never cry, but something about not feeling good just does me in haha

  16. Anonymous

    What do the gpa numbers mean? (Not American, and confused!) Does a 4.0 gpa mean you got 100% in everything?

    1. fposte

      Most American universities don’t do percents–they do letter grades. 4.0 = straight As. (Or managing to get an A+ somewhere if you had an A-, but straight As is more common.)

    2. TL

      Essentially, yes. 4.0=100%, 3.0=80%, 2.0=60%, anything less than that and you probably didn’t graduate.

      Although some (most?) colleges go off a letter grade system rather than a number-based system. So, you get an A, A-, B+, B, B-,ect.. and each of those translates to a specific number that is averaged: instead of having your 98, 76, and 83 averaged, you’d have an A, a C, and a B-, which would be (roughly) a 100%, a 70%, and a 82.5%, translated to a 4.0 scale (and then weighted by the hours per course).

      This now seems needlessly complicated to me….

      1. Loose Seal

        I was the first in my family to go to college. I had difficulty explaining to my mother after my first semester why I had a 4 instead of a 100 (which is how my high school graded). I think that she still doesn’t quite get that a 4.0 is just about the best it can be and you don’t need to quiz your daughter to find out what happened to the other 96 points.

        It’s not only needlessly complicated but pointlessly complicated as well.

    3. Anonymous

      It’s better to think of them as ranges. For example, a 4.0 (A+) might be a grade of 90%-100% (obviously this is dependent on school). The point is that a student didn’t necessarily get *perfect* on everything. Just very close to perfect.

      1. Anonymous

        Same anon. I didn’t see fposte’s post above – I’m confused, if a 4.0 is an A at the school you’re thinking of, does that mean an A+ is more than 4.0?

        1. Elysian

          Different schools do it differently, there isn’t an absolute standard. At my undergrad, the best you could do was 4.0 (A). At my law school, we could get A+’s (technically, lots of professors didn’t “believe” in A+ even though it was an option) and so our gpa was technically out of 4.33. Some schools will have the standard gpa be out of 4.0, but will allow professors to give out A+’s “in exceptional circumstances” and thus you could have a 4.13/4.0 (or something like that), which I agree doesn’t make sense.

          Most places I’ve seen try to explain their own iteration of the gpa system on the back of the transcript, so if you want to know the details you have to read the explaination.

          1. Mints

            Me too. I actually got a few A+ according to the teachers (like 95% in the class) but the official GPA wouldn’t record it. It actually depreciated my GPA slightly

      2. Cassie

        The way we did it in high school – an A (90%-100%) would get you a 4, a B (80%-89%) would get you a 3, etc. Then you find the mean/average for all your classes and your GPA would be out of 4.0. So a 4.0 doesn’t necessarily mean 100% – it could be all 90%, but there would be no way to tell.

        Of course, then you had honors/AP classes which were weighted, so an A would get you 5 points, B would get you 4 points, etc. So technically you could have higher than a 4.0.

        As far as the GPA, I seem to remember that we considered 3.5-4.0 equivalent to A, 3.0 to 3.4 equivalent to B, but then what about C, D and F? I mean, there’s a whole range from 0.0 to 2.9 to cover there…

        In college, both A+ and A got only 4 points, whereas all other plus or minus scores (A-, B+, B-, etc) had different points associated with them. (By that point, I stopped caring).

    4. Felicia

      My sister’s Canadian university does GPAs out of 9, which is weird to me. So she’s getting an 8.0 which is good, but confusing:D Every other Canadian university I’m familiar with gives you a percentage grade, and you get a cumulative average over 4 years. So my average when I graduated was 83, meaning I graduated with distinction. No employer has ever asked or cared though.

        1. Anonymous

          You have to remember that grades don’t scale linearly. 83 is above 3.7, give or take, not the 3.2 you’d get if you multiplied 83 by 4.0

  17. KJR

    #1: I had a resume submitted where the person’s last name was spelled differently on the cover letter and on the resume. A simple typo, yes, but having your name spelled correctly is kind of basic. I had another applicant who left his name entirely off the resume. I couldn’t find it anywhere.

  18. KC

    #5 — If you’re doing co-ops for technical jobs (software/web development), rather than listing relevant coursework, you should list the skills you’ve learned as a result of your coursework (AJAX, JavaScript, C#, ASP.Net, Python, HTML, CSS, etc, etc.) in a prominent location.

    1. Anonymous

      Irrelevant, but if those are the technologies someone learning in their coursework, they should probably transfer to a less vocational institution and learn some fundamentals instead. Technological fads come and go, but the fundamentals will hold value.

  19. HR Lou

    When we had a quality position open, an employee asked if a friend of hers who had just been laid off could submit a resume. He didn’t have the experience we were looking for but his resume was full of spelling and grammatical errors. When our hiring process was completed I suggested to our employee that if she wanted to help her friend, she should offer to help him with his resume. She thanked me and it was never mentioned again.

  20. tickledpink

    What’s the difference between an apprenticeship and internship anyway? I thought internships were the American equivalent of apprenticeships (I live in the UK) but I’ve seen internships posted over here. What’s up with all this?

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