It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…
1. Manager makes us say how we would do better than our coworkers
I used to do tech support for an IT company and we would have “peer review” meetings every 2 or 3 weeks where the boss would get a work order that somebody made a mistake on, such as taking too long to complete or not fully fixing the problem, then go over the whole thing in front of the group, then make us go around the table and tell how we would have handled things differently (with the benefit of hindsight, of course).
I always hated these meetings and brought it up in my exit interview, when asked if there was anything they could do to improve things. To me, all it did was single out one person and then let the whole group try to one-up them by telling how much better of a job they would have done. During the exit interview, my supervisor actually started to argue with me that it was a great teaching tool so I let it go.
Have you ever heard of such a thing? Do you think it actually helped? I know all of us techs resented it every time we had those meetings. It seems to go directly against the adage of public praise and private criticism.
I suppose it could be possible to do this in a way that was truly helpful and didn’t feel like public criticism, but it would take a very healthy culture and a manager who was great at facilitating that kind of conversation. That clearly wasn’t the case here. And “explain how you would have performed better than your coworker” is really, really not likely to go over well.
Even if your manager had different intentions for how these meetings would go, once he saw how they were actually playing out, he should have revamped them or called them off.
2. I have a job offer but still have tons of questions
I have a job offer, and on paper it’s a good offer. The salary is actually higher than I expected, the benefits are solid, and the job itself is exactly the kind of new challenge I was looking for. But I’m not sure the organization is the right fit, and I can’t believe they already made an offer! So far I’ve spoken to an HR rep for 10 minutes (phone), the department director for for about 20 (phone) and the two other senior folks on the team for just over an hour (in person). They’ve seen a couple of writing samples as well. That’s it!
I haven’t had any time to talk to the director in person. I haven’t done any work samples for them, which is typical for my field. I haven’t met any of the people my work would intersect with outside of my team, or even the entire team. And I really don’t have a sense of some pretty important things, like how we’ll measure my success, or what the director’s management style is like, or what kind of funding is available for professional development. I’m a pretty junior person (been in the workforce full-time for under four years) but I take these things pretty seriously.
I asked for a couple days to think about it, and I’ve been pulling together a long list of things I need to ask about, partially by digging through your archives for help. How do I approach these questions? Some of them I could just email about, but is it unreasonable of me to want to sit down and talk to the director in person before I accept?
Nope, it’s not unreasonable. But reach out ASAP; don’t wait for the end of the few days you asked for. Say something like this: “I’m really excited about this offer and very, very interested. Since you and I only had a chance to talk briefly earlier, would it be possible to set up a time to talk a bit more? I have some questions I hoped we could discuss to help me learn more about the role. I’d love to meet in person, but I’m sensitive to your need to get an answer quickly, so if talking by phone makes more sense, that would be fine too.”
3. I need to let employers know I’m an adult
Reading your advice, you have come down firmly on the side of not putting your age anywhere on your job application. So I am wondering how to address a dilemma I’m having in my current job hunt – prospective employers think I’m very young. I’m a 28-year-old man, but thanks to illness and genetics I look a decade younger. (Maybe more, I was recently asked if my 16 year old nephew was my older brother.) I have light hair, can’t grow a beard, and am built like a jockey. My life would be much easier if I could ride a horse.
I didn’t think this was a big deal, until I was turned down for a job partly because the HR person thought their clients would relate better to someone a little older. I scoped out on Linkedin as to who actually got the job, and it turns out she’s two years younger than me.
I attend interviews in a suit, but I don’t know how to hide the fact it was bought in the childrens’ department of a (fancy) department store then tailored.
Putting my date of birth on my resume seems an easy way to broadcast the fact I was born in the 80’s – but I’m unsure of the legalities around this and I’m wondering if there’s another way?
(You’d think the fact I have a bachelors degree, a graduate diploma, and three years working all on my resume would indicate I’m over 21, but my face seems to override that with “child prodigy” or something.)
I was going to say to put the date of your college graduation on your resume, which should signal age — but yeah, if that’s just making them think child prodigy, that’s not working.
I worry that putting your birth date on your resume will look pretty strange. When I see stuff that definitely doesn’t belong on a resume — age, names and ages of children (yes, some people really do that), health status (yes, that too), Social Security number — it tends to be a flag the person is out of touch with professional norms in a way that often manifests in other, more problematic ways too.
So I was going to suggest that you just address it head-on when you’re schedule an interview, saying something like this: “By the way, I’ve found it’s better for me to mention up-front that I look incredibly young. It sounds silly, but it’s the kind of thing that can throw off job interviewers. I’m actually 28 — and figured I’d head it off before you start wondering!” … but that wording isn’t great and I can’t come up with anything better.
What do others think?
4. Should I leave my degree off my resume?
I was wondering about listing education for a government job. It has been 15 years or more years since I went to college and I am don’t have a transcript to support the time in college. I was going through some crazy things, so I did not do well at school and have a very low GPA. So I am wondering if I should list it or not on my applications, and if I was lucky enough to get called in, would a background check pick it up?
You should absolutely list it. Looking like you have no degree at all will hurt you more than having one with a low GPA. Also, it’s quite likely that you won’t even be asked for your GPA at this point in your career (and you certainly don’t need to and shouldn’t proactively list your GPA on your resume). It doesn’t matter if you don’t have transcripts; you’re unlikely to need them, and if for some reason you do, you’d request them directly from the school at that point anyway.
5. Laid off, but now job status is in question
I work for an organization that has announced its intention to close. Shortly after the announcement, my husband accepted a new job in another state. He moved to the new location two weeks ago and I remained here to sort out our affairs and possibly work until my layoff date. However, I’ve been applying for jobs in the other state and would quit before my layoff date if I got a new job.
Here’s the problem: There is now a slim, but very well publicized, chance that my organization won’t close. Several hiring managers have said I’m a very strong candidate but since the organization might not close they don’t want to pull me away. How do I address this? I know you aren’t supposed to mention your marital status but bringing up my husband would allay that concern. Saying “my family has already made the move” makes me feel like I’m saying I still live with my parents, and saying that I’ve already bought a house seems fiscally irresponsible if I can’t mention my husband’s employment. How can I address this professionally?
You’re not prohibited from mentioning a spouse. You don’t want to mention your marital status on your resume or anything like that, but there’s no reason that you can’t acknowledge the existence of a spouse when it’s relevant, and in this case it’s highly relevant. It’s fine to explain that you’ll be moving regardless of what happens with your current organization because your husband has accepted a job in (city).