It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…
1. Do I owe my employer an apology for interviewing elsewhere?
I was laid off a couple of months ago and took another job to help pay the bills. I have had my eyes open for another position, and went to interviews. I work at night, and recently a card with a time, date, and a request for references fell out of my pocket while I was working, and it was very obvious that I was going to be interviewing.
Somehow that card made its way to the general manager’s desk. My direct boss took a photo of it, sent it to me, and told me that the GM is practically blowing a head gasket over it. I told my direct boss that I had no idea it was there, but that I had simply been looking for a part-time position. His response was “Well, you should apologize to her better.”
I am having a very hard time with this, because this place I applied to offered me a position (it’s not on paper yet), and I really want to take it. I was going to work with my current position to be either part-time or on-call, but now I’m not sure I want to do this.
I don’t know if I’m supposed to apologize for something being on her desk, or for looking for jobs. Do I really owe my GM an apology?
In general, you don’t owe an employer an apology for talking with other employers or seriously considering moving on.
That said, it’s not outrageous that your GM might be upset that you just started at this job and are already talking with other employers; it’s pretty frustrating as an employer to invest time in training someone and then have them leave within a few months (or even ask to go part-time, if the position is intended to be full-time). In that situation, it’s usually good to acknowledge that inconvenience.
But demanding an apology is pretty ridiculous and meaningless (in any situation, including this one). And the fact that someone photographed that info card is weird.
As for what to do now, it would be nice if you were able to honestly say, “I was looking for work that wouldn’t interfere with this job, and I’m taken aback by this reaction” … but it seems like that’s not really true, so in this case I think I’d just wait for your written offer from the new place and then decide if you still want to offer to continue any sort of work for the old place. (Be prepared, though, for the possibility that may not want to, because they could very reasonably feel burned by you moving on soon after they hired you — although that depends in part on the nature of the job.)
2. An interview at “5ish”
What do you think about a general manager who schedules an interview “on the ish”? I have an confirmed interview next Wednesday with the GM, HR, and operations manager at “5ish.” Is this a red flag? Should I run? Bring a book? Does it mean he’s always late, or if I get there 4:50, am I late? I don’t understand a loose time to start a scheduled interview. It seems unprofessional and informal.
It’s weird, and I’d assume it means he might be late, but you should be there at 5. I don’t think it’s something to run away over, but I’d pay attention to what other signs you get about their culture.
3. How far back should your resume go?
How far back should my experience on my resume go?
Currently, I have my work history staring from 2006. I could go further back, but I purposely started there because my most recent job prior to that was only for three months as a receptionist. The company (in investment banking) was sold shortly after I started and due to a non-compete agreement, I was not allowed to move into another position in the private banking part of the company that remained. Also, my job before the receptionist position was only for 8 months because it was a seriously tedious entry-level admin job. Both jobs would of course add another year of experience, but were relatively entry-level. Earlier positions were your average “I’m fresh out of high school” retail jobs that I don’t think employers would really care about.
Am I doing more harm than good by leaving off this early career history? Would it help show that I’m a mid-level career candidate vs. an entry level employee if I share my full work history, or will it just cause more questions and make me look flaky for such short stints early in my career?
Nope, keep it the way you have it. In general, resumes are usually strongest if they go back 10-15 years. It’s rare that anything from before that will strengthen your credentials at this point, particularly versus more recent experience — and that sounds like it’s indeed the case with the pre-2006 jobs you describe.
And you don’t need to worry about appearing like an entry-level candidate if you start it at 2006; that’s 10 years of work experience!
4. My sister has a horrible desk
My sister is an intern in an HR department. One day, she sent me a picture of her desk, complaining that she has no place to put her wallet, phone, or pocketbook. Well, the desk had no drawers. I asked her if there was a closet or filing cabinet nearby, and she said no. Upon further investigation of the picture, I noticed that her desk is facing a white wall. I said, “Why are you facing a wall?” She said, “I have no idea.” So I asked if there was anyone else facing the wall and she said no. I decided not to make a big deal about it.
Now, two weeks later, her boss told her she is going to go with the rest of the HR office employees to another HR location upstate. When the meeting and tour was over, she and all the other visiting HR employees were told they could pick any office to sit and do their work. My sister chose an office, and as soon as she sat down she was told to leave the office because they were going to have a meeting. She was directed to a conference room with a desk facing a white wall, away from all the other employees and closed off. I thing there is something wrong with this whole situation. Do you?
No. It’s pretty normal for interns to get the worst desks/office areas, because they’re short-term employees and the lowest on the food chain. And there’s nothing particularly outrageous about sitting at a desk that faces a white wall; plenty of employees at levels well above her do that.
5. I keep getting final interviews but no offers
I’m an avid reader of your blog and make sure to follow all the protocols for applying to jobs. I’ve been job searching for over a year and have been on over 20 interviews. Many times I’ve made it to the final round of interviews where they’ve even told me it was between me and one or two other people. But I never get the job. I follow up for feedback and it’s always positive. One of them even forwarded my resume to another manager for a new position. I made it to the final round in that one too only to be told that they decided to “go in another direction.” I came to find out later that they hired someone who already worked there. This has happened several times as well where the company just decided to hire internally, but insisted that I was a great candidate. How can I even compete? With so much positive feedback and final round interviews I don’t know what else to do. I’m just getting exhausted, losing valuable time, and getting depressed. What do I do now? How can I stand out?
If you’re routinely getting to the rounds of interviews, you’re probably doing everything right. There’s not really anything you can to avoid being beaten out by internal candidates, and clearly your cover letter, resume, and interviewing skills are good if you’re making it as far in the process as you are. Assuming that you’re confident that your references are enthusiastically recommending you (and that’s something to check if you haven’t already), I think this is really just a waiting game — eventually you’re going to be the finalist who gets the offer.