It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…
1. Asking an interviewer whether any employees bring guns to work
No really, this IS hypothetical! Maybe it’s a silly question, but it just occurred to me and I’m curious about your take.
A candidate, Jane, is contemplating a job offer at Firm “X”—just a standard office environment, nothing unusual or inherently dangerous. Firm X has no particular policy regarding weapons or firearms in the workplace, but is located in a place where concealed, permitted, firearms can be legally carried.
Jane wants the job but doesn’t want to work in a building where firearms may be present. It seems obvious that Jane can ASK if firearms are present in the workplace…and that, rational or not, she could take the response into account when considering whether to accept the offer. But should firms lacking a firearms or weapons policy have a ready answer to this question? If they don’t, should they find out the answer?
If I suddenly learned that coworkers down the hall were packing heat, I wonder how it would affect me.
I learned when answering a related question earlier this year that an employer might not even know the answer to this. In nearly all states that allow concealed gun carrying, if an employer wants to prohibit employees from bringing guns into the workplace, they have to post clear notices to that effect throughout their workplace (and in some cases, these notices must contain specific language defined by law). Beyond that, in a concealed carry state, they wouldn’t necessarily know if someone was bringing a gun to work.
You’ll probably find the comments on that post very interesting.
I’ll also repeat here the same request I made in that previous post: Because this issue is a heated one, I’m requesting that we refrain from a debate on gun laws in the comment section — where each side of the issue is highly unlikely to convince the other side — and instead stay focused on the question posed here by the letter-writer.
2. Will prospective employers contact my current employer without alerting me?
Although you say it is normal to say “no” when/if a potential future employer asks if they can contact your current employer, what do you say on your cover letter and/or resume, without being asked? Do I just assume that they would not contact my current employer until they meet me and ask me themselves?
Yes. Sane, reasonable employers don’t contact current employers, certainly not without permission. And even unreasonable employers don’t typically contact references before interviewing people (it would be a huge waste of time, since they don’t even know yet if they’re interested in hiring you; reference-checking normally takes place toward the end of the hiring process).
That said, there’s always some degree of risk that you’ll encounter a crazy employer who doesn’t abide by these practices and inadvertently outs you. It’s very, very rare, but the risk isn’t zero. It’s somewhere just above zero though.
3. Our Development department has fallen apart
Nearly a year ago, I started working at a large cultural institution, despite knowing that the institution has had a few years of serious financial trouble. While it truly does seem like the place is getting its finances in order in many ways, one thing has become increasingly daunting. Since I started (in a completely separate department), the Development department has dwindled from an already slim 6 people to just one person. While I do not work closely with the CEO, it does not seem like she has a sense of urgency in filling these positions. To the best of my knowledge, all five of these people resigned and took relevant jobs elsewhere. I believe that the HR department has been weakly recruiting these positions– some, for a few months– but none have been filled.
Needless to say, there is now no leadership in that department and I’m concerned that this does not bode well for an already struggling non-profit. Does this sound like a sinking ship? How long can a large non-profit go without a Development department? How would a pre-existing organization go about hiring a whole department at once, especially for something as critical as Development?
It depends on the organization’s funding model. If they’re funded primarily through a small number of large donors, and the CEO is the person who maintains the relationships with those funders, it might not be a problem at all to have a virtually non-existent Development department. On the other hand, if the Development department was responsible for bringing in significant funding (as opposed to merely supporting the CEO in doing it), then a decimated Development department would be a very big problem indeed.
Hiring a whole department all at once isn’t ideal, but it’s not impossible either — especially in an area like Development, where the CEO usually plays a big role and is going to have some at least some institutional knowledge.
4. Can I say I have a degree that I don’t quite have yet?
I’ve been working in a very competitive industry for the past three years, and am finishing an undergraduate degree at night. I’m writing the last exam next week and already know that I’m going to pass the final course, but I won’t have official confirmation of graduation for a while longer.
Due to my personal situation, I need to start looking for work and sending out resumes right away. I know that in this industry, applicants with a degree will stand a much better chance of being hired, and will make $5,000+ a year more than someone without one, regardless of experience. As well, there seems to be a big difference between “having a degree” and “almost having a degree,” at least in the minds of the hiring managers I’ve met. Is it still too premature to say I have a degree, seeing as how it’s more or less a done deal? If it is, how could I word my cover letter and resume in such a way that it isn’t instantly thrown on the trash heap?
Nope, you can’t say you have a degree that you don’t yet have. But you can make it clear that you’re about to have it, by putting something like this on your resume:
B.A., Dark Arts, Hogwarts (expected January 2015)
5. Thank-you notes when you haven’t applied for a particular job
I’ve just had a phone interview with a recruiter who put out a “cattle call” type job ad for job seekers in a specific industry. Your (awesome) advice says that thank you notes should be used to express your enthusiasm for the job — but I haven’t applied for a particular role so much as gone through my work history and strengths with a view to finding one. In this scenario, what is the best framing for a thank-you note to take?
Just adjust it slightly for this situation: Instead of talking about a particular job, talk about your enthusiasm for the work you do, and say that you’d love to work further with the recruiter. No need for anything long or fancy; just a few sentences in this context (phone interview, and recruiter rather than hiring manager) is fine.