It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…
1. Should a receptionist tell callers when someone is out sick?
I’m a receptionist. If a salesperson is out sick, I tell the caller that the person is “out of the office” (and offer another salesperson, etc.), and that satisfies most callers. There are those occasional customers who then ask if the person will be back tomorrow, and I really don’t know; I don’t know if they will be all healed up overnight or not. In this case, I say I don’t know (and offer them another salesperson, etc., insert niceties here), but it seems weird sometimes based on the caller’s reaction, like they want an explanation. It just also seems weird to let customers know that an employee is sick; it seems like a private thing to me.
This is really context-specific. There are many offices where “she’s out today” would be the only information released, but there are plenty where “she’s out sick today” is a normal thing to say. In the second group, it can sometimes be in people’s interest to say it — because it explains why the absence might have been sudden (useful in cases where a clients would have otherwise expected to be notified someone would be unavailable) and it explains why you can’t say for sure if the person will be back tomorrow.
In any case, since you’re unsure, I’d ask your manager how she prefers you to do it — or ask the individual people whose calls you screen. Different people may have different preferences.
2. I’m an attorney who wants to be a paralegal
I am a barred attorney with bipolar disorder, which has deeply affected my life over the last few years. I am now stable, but no longer wish to practice law because the stress of appearing in court and constant arguing makes it difficult to handle my condition. I recently moved to another state and am looking for a job in the legal field, but not as an attorney. My license is in good standing and I have never had an ethics complaint or malpractice claim against me.
I have been applying for higher level paralegal positions, which I believe I have the skills for and in which people with a law degree often thrive when they do not want to do traditional attorney work. I have only gotten a few interviews, unfortunately, and I know it is because I am being viewed as overqualified. I do not expect attorney-level pay and understand that working as a paralegal is different from working as an attorney, although the jobs do overlap somewhat. I try to address this the best I can in my cover letter.
My question involves how to address why I am not applying by motion for the bar in the new state I am living in, which would allow me to practice here, both in interviews and when applying for jobs. The truth is, I do not apply because of my history of bipolar disorder, which I would have to disclose on my bar application and would most likely disqualify me from admission in the background check (I was grilled heavily about this in my home state when I applied there, years before I had an escalation of the condition).
I don’t want to get into my medical condition with any potential employer because there is still a stigma against mental illness when it comes to many employers, especially in the legal field. I know that chances are I would be automatically rejected by any potential employer who found out about it. However, I worry that I come across as shady when I try to answer vaguely about this (i.e. wanting a better quality of life,etc.) I still have the legal skills, endurance and creativity needed for the field, but am at a loss as how to address why it is I no longer practice.
So many lawyers have found after they started practicing law that they aren’t actually thrilled with the career choice they made that I think you could have a compelling answer that loads of lawyers would relate to. I’d identify the less pleasant aspects of being a lawyer that don’t overlap with paralegal work, and focus your answer on those. Maybe it’s the hours, or having to spend time on X, or so forth. Then your answer could sound like, “I love legal research and writing, but I realized I dislike __ and __, and I’ve figured out that being a paralegal work lets me do what I loved about being a lawyer and am good at, without the other parts.”
If you say it with confidence, I don’t think this answer is going to be an issue for people.
3. Explaining consulting work on a resume
I moved across the country several months ago (for my partner’s career). Since then, I have continued to work for my employer remotely to help transition my projects, but that arrangement will be ending soon. Meanwhile, through other contacts, I’ve been able to pick up a couple of contracts for various pieces of work (e.g. writing projects). Once I’m no longer an employee of my company, how should I reflect my work status on my resume? Could I list my current job as “independent consultant,” even though I’m not really set up as one and I’m searching for a full-time position? If so, should I limit the description to the type of work I’ve actually been doing, or is it okay to list other things I could potentially do as a consultant? I don’t want it to look like I’m unemployed, but I’m unsure how to reflect my situation in a clear and accurate manner.
It’s fine to list your current work as “consultant” (I’d leave off “independent”; it’s unnecessary). However, you should only list consulting work you’ve actually done, not things you could do — since employers will assume it’s the former and it’ll look a little deceptive if they find it talking to you that it’s the latter. In other words, treat it like any other job you list on your resume and stick to what you’ve actually done.
4. Is this interview a consolation prize?
I interviewed at a library for a position that was 11 hours a week. I did not get the job. They decided to go with someone who they had interviewed several times before. They did, however, grant me an interview for a job that I had previously applied for. This job has more hours and is actually the one I was more interested in. My question is, did they grant me the interview because they liked me or is this just a consolation prize? The fact that the interview is for a better position makes me nervous.
It’s pretty unlikely that they’re going to spend time interviewing you a second time just to soften the pain of rejecting you; employers reject people all the time and are used to having to do it. I’d assume it’s a legitimate interview.
5. Periods on resumes
I am revising my resume, and for the most part, I am using bullet points with no periods at the end of each line. There are three instances where I wrote a full sentence when describing my accomplishments under bullet points. From what I’ve been reading, you should go all or nothing on the punctuation, but it looks stupid to leave a full sentence dangling with no period. What are your thoughts?
I agree with you — full sentences need periods. But resumes look weird when some bullet points end with periods and some don’t. If you don’t have any full sentences, you can pick either way (periods or no periods), as long as you’re consistent. But in your case, you do have some full sentences, so the no-period option is taken away. Thus, you must use periods at the end of all the bullet points, to be both correct and consistent.