It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…
1. Can I stay in my boyfriend’s hotel room during his team-building trip?
My boyfriend has a team-building trip coming up where they provide him with a hotel room for four days. He wants me to stay with him in the hotel room. Would his boss care if I stayed in the hotel room while my boyfriend was out training?
This isn’t a trip you should go on. If it were a regular business trip, where he was traveling to do work at a client site or something like that, it might be fine to do. But this is a team-building trip, which means that there are probably going to be activities in the evening and the whole point in him being there is to bond with his coworkers. Taking someone else along is going to look tone-deaf and inappropriate and will probably harm his standing with his manager and maybe the rest of his team.
The exception to this is if he’s absolutely sure that there are no activities in the evening and that he won’t be expected to be hanging out with coworkers then. That would be unusual for a team-building trip though, so he’d want to be 100% positive that it was the case.
2. I picked my own goals for the year and didn’t meet them
My boss was on medical leave at the beginning of last year and then did not return. I was never given specific goals. At my mid-year review, my new boss ask me to set goals. I chose some that I felt were reasonable. However, as it turned out, my client volume tripled and I severely underestimated the impact of a new software upgrade. I did my best to salvage the objectives, but they are going to appear last-minute and weak. I have the sinking feeling that he is going to point out the obvious, that it was I who picked these goals. What is done is done. But looking forward, what can you advise people when asked to set their own goals? I want to avoid trying my own noose next year.
Well, the problem here isn’t that you picked your own goals. It’s that when it became clear that you weren’t going to meet them — for reasons that might be quite legitimate — you didn’t speak up to your manager at that point. If goals are going to be real — something that really shapes your work and defines success in your job — you can’t wait until the end of the year to think about them; they need to be a core part of what you’re doing throughout the year. If circumstances change to the point that the goals no longer make sense, then you need to bring that up proactively to figure out how to adjust them. Or even if they end up not being adjusted, you want to make sure that your boss is in the loop about the fact that you’re proceeding differently. Because you didn’t do that, your boss might have reasonably been assuming that the last plan you two discussed — those goals you created — was still in effect.
So the lesson for the future is: Keep your boss in the loop when there are major changes to what you’ll be accomplishing in a given period.
3. The person I referred for a job has alienated his whole team
I recently referred an associate to join my team at work. It is a small team located at HQ for our organization – with that said, news….gossip travels fast. I didn’t know the associate really well; he happened to take a training class I attended and was very engaging, and I felt an immediate fit/gut feel that we needed him on our team. He was not trying to “schmooze” for a job, because I never mentioned we were looking during the class.
Now, after 90 days, the associate has alienated the entire team; he’s very critical, pissed off several, threw several team members under the bus, etc. Needless to say, the team doesn’t trust him, there’s subtle exclusion from emails/meetings, and he is truly feeling the effects of his wrath. He now has feelings of guilt and wants to make it right – but to some degree it appears to be too late.
What do you think? Is there any hope for him to “win friends and influence others”? What, if anything, more can I do? I tried to offer guidance upfront but it just didn’t work. Are there potentially other underlying issues going on? Is there a silver lining or tunnel light? Please help.
I don’t know. It’s possible that he could execute a major turnaround, but I think that’s going to be up to him and whatever caused him to behave that way to begin with. I don’t think you should get more invested in trying to fix it; it’s really his to handle, and you’re in danger of being overly involved already.
I would take it as a lesson not to recommend people whose work you don’t know first-hand; it’s just too easy to get the wrong impression about someone when you only know them or their work superficially. I’d also acknowledge to the people involved that you misjudged his fit; everyone makes mistakes, but if you appear not to recognize yours here, that won’t reflect terribly well on you.
4. How important is font style and size in a cover letter?
How important is font style, size, and uniformity in a cover letter or resume? I found an example of a good cover letter on another website but noticed it had four different font styles and sizes, including some bolding. I actually found it distracting to read, so I’m wondering your thoughts.
Ick, yeah, that’s not a good idea. A small amount of bolding — fine. But a jumble of fonts styles and sizes will make it look like an obnoxious marketing flyer, rather than a serious business letter. You want hiring managers to view you as a prospective colleague — and you don’t write to colleagues that way. Stick with one font and font size, and rely on the content of your letter to stand out, not the formatting. (That also means that you should probably not even use the content of that letter as a model, because its author is lacking a fundamental understanding of what a good cover letter is.)
5. The best time to use a letter of recommendation
During a job search, when is a good time to give a prospective employer a letter of recommendation from a previous employer?
Usually never. Letters of recommendation don’t really carry much weight because (a) no one puts critical information in those letters, since the person they’re written about will read them, (b) when hiring managers get to the point that we want to talk to your references, we want to talk to them on the phone, where we can hear their tone, hear where they hesitate before answering, and hear what happens when we dig around about potential problem areas.
When an employer is ready for references, they’ll ask you for their contact info. Until then, hold your fire.
(Exceptions are fields like academia and law, which inexplicably continue to use recommendation letters, but they’ll ask for them as part of their application process.)