It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…
1. We get comp time that we can’t really take
In my company, most employees are required to work much more than a standard 40-hour work week (for the sake of this example, we’re all exempt). We have many weekend and evening events, and employees work the traditional 9-5 in addition to that. Most employees voluntarily put in 2-3 extra hours of work a day on days without events, just because that’s what it takes to get the job done – no biggie.
For weekend events and engagements, we get half a day of comp time if we work a full weekend day, and one full day of comp time if we work two full weekend days in the same weekend (if we work a few hours on a weekend…if the event doesn’t last 8 hours…we don’t get any comp time). We are supposed to use the comp time the following week, or we lose it. Personally, I think this is a terrible practice, but that’s an argument for another thread. This has resulted in many employees working 14, 21, 28, even 30+ days straight, without using any comp time, since many of our weekend events happen back to back and there’s simply no way to take comp time and still get the job done (especially when it comes to events; they are happening on a certain day and time no matter what). The number of hours that this equates to is pretty crazy.
We are a nonprofit, so salaries are not very high at all (above the minimum threshold for exempt, but not by much for some people). We’ll never make a lot of money, but that’s not why we do what we do. However, I’m curious to know if we took our salaries, and converted them to hourly, if we wouldn’t even be making minimum wage. Are there any protections for exempt, salaried employees when it comes to an hourly wage? Or are exempt, salaried employees just expected to do whatever work is necessary to get the job done, no matter how many hours it takes?
Yeah, that’s a horrible practice, and you all should band together as a group and argue for it being changed, pointing out what you pointed out here.
If you’re truly exempt, the only salary test is that you must be paid at least $23,600 a year. Even if you’re working so many hours that your salary ends up paying you less than minimum wage per hour, that’s legal — if you’re truly exempt. (Exempt means “exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act,” which includes minimum wage.) I keep saying “if you’re truly exempt” because lots of people are incorrectly categorized that way, and if your company has everyone classified like that, there’s a good chance they got it wrong with at least some of you.
Regardless though, deal with this as a group and insist on the comp time policy being changed.
2. Do I really have to say hello and goodbye to my horrible coworker?
Where I work, there is one particular coworker who always seems to go off and scream/throw a tantrum at me if I don’t respond in the way she wants me to. I’ve never neglected to give her the information she needs to do her job and I do mine to the best of my ability. However, I’d just prefer to leave her alone due to her hot-headedness. To this end, I really don’t speak to her at all. I don’t snub her, I just really have nothing to say to her. She, though, sees it differently and is trying to say there is an issue with shift change (I always give her any information she needs via email or instant messaging) and has begun making sure she ALWAYS says goodbye to me.
Why is it so important that I acknowledge her? Is it wrong that I don’t respond? I feel like I’m dealing with a ticking time bomb; I don’t know if or when it will go off! A couple of my friends and my family keep saying it’s “unwritten policy” and you should always “be polite” and greet/acknowledge people — they say she will use it against me and get me terminated via a loophole of “not doing my job/creating a hostile work environment.” I feel she’s the one creating the uncomfortable workplace. Where do I draw the line or get help? Is it ok for me to ignore her, I guess is my bottom line?
No. You don’t need to have long conversations with her, but you do need to acknowledge her. Otherwise, you’ll be seen as the problem, when people notice that you’re refusing to say hello or goodbye to her. (Your friends are wrong that this is a hostile workplace issue; that requires discrimination based on something like race, religion, sex, etc., not just pure hostility. But they’re right that you’ll look bad if you’re freezing out a coworker.)
3. I’m getting interview questions that seem overly advanced
I have been on several interviews (phone and in-person) for entry-level email marketing roles. I understand that email marketing is a specialization, but given these are entry-level roles (0-2 years of relevant experience), the questions they’ve asked do not seem entry-level. I don’t want to lie and say I’ve worked on projects, but I’m getting stuck on the interviews.
For example: “Give me an example of an email campaign that you’ve worked on the past. What types of metrics did you look at? What would you have done differently? What are some of the biggest trends in the industry? If I gave you a campaign to run with the idea of ‘summer,’ what are some initial subject lines you would use? Give me 3 or 4 examples. Can you explain A/B testing? What’s an example of A/B testing that you could use at our company?”
For some background information, I’ve had approximately 2 years of nonprofit work experience in recruiting/internal communications with limited email marketing experience (intern-level projects). I’m looking to make a career transition to email marketing, but I’m getting frustrated by the level of detail these questions are targeting. Again, I don’t want to lie and say I’ve more experience than I actually do, but I’m getting stuck on the interviews. Please advise!
I think what you’re hearing in these questions is that they’re looking for someone who has at least some exposure to email marketing (so it’s not truly entry-level in the sense that it would be a first job) and some familiarity with basic email marketing concepts. But the questions you’re listing here actually aren’t outrageously advanced; they do assume that you’ve worked on email campaigns in some capacity — which you have, even if only as intern — but they’re just asking you to talk about the basics. Given the role, I don’t think it’s crazy that they’d want you to be able to demonstrate ideas for email campaigns or an A/B test and to talk with some familiarity about metrics like open rates and click-throughs. If you don’t feel prepared to do that yet, then I think the message is that you’ve got to read up on the field you’re trying to move into — and doing that should equip you to better answer these kinds of questions.
4. Applying for a job at a company where I used to intern
Several years ago, I interned for a summer at a company and had a good relationship with my manager at the time. I went back to school and reached out to her as a reference the following year, and she provided one and I thanked her and then… I haven’t reached out to her since. Until now, when I am going to apply for a job at the place where I interned and where she still works. I would feel weird applying without telling her, but I can’t figure out a way to email that sounds normal and not like I am trying to get extra points or go around the system, and it is particularly awkward because I was terrible at networking and didn’t contact her for years until now. So, do you have any advice for how to reach out to her?
This isn’t a big deal — don’t beat yourself up or feel weird about reaching out to her now just because you haven’t been in contact previously. This happens all the time. Apply (and mention right at the start in your cover letter that you used to intern there — you don’t want them to miss that), and then send your old manager an email being straightforward about it. As in: “Hi, Jane! I wanted to let you know that I’m applying for the __ position at XYZ. I have the experience in ___ that it sounds like they’re looking for, and I’d be so excited to have the chance to work there again, as I was so impressed with everyone when I interned. I’m sure the position will attract loads of great applicants, but I’d be thrilled to be considered if I might be what the ABC department is looking for. In any case, I hope you’re well, and I would love to catch up sometime!”
(Note this is written as if the job isn’t on her team; if it is, then adjust the wording accordingly.)
5. How should I fit two internships on my resume?
I am going through a yearly resume update and I need your help. I’ve worked for my current employer for 5 years. In that time, I’ve had 4 different jobs. Needless to say, this takes up a lot of real estate on my resume. I was lucky enough to be selected to do two management internships in my organization, one for a month and one for three months. I have no idea how to list them without taking up way too much space. Right now my basic format is:
Short job description (1-2 sentences)
I’ve used this format for all of the individual jobs I’ve held with them. As you can see, it takes up a lot of space. How should I list my internships? As bullet accomplishments in my current job? Is it ok to list them in bullet points but mention accomplishments in a cover letter? I’m sure you’re thinking there isn’t much to accomplish in one or three months, but I feel there are things worth including if possible.
You don’t even need a separate area for the short job description before you get into accomplishments; you can do it all as bullet points in the same list. (And you might not need an overall description at all, aside from the accomplishments — hard to say for sure without seeing it, but that’s often the case.) But as for those internships, at one month and three months, I am indeed skeptical that you had enough accomplishments to warrant more than 1-2 lines for each position. If you disagree, let’s talk specifics in the comment section — write in with what you’d like to include and we can figure out what makes sense.