It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…
1. I overheard a possibly abused coworker my first week at a new job
I started a new job this week. On the first day, I was introduced to all the staff. My initial impression of one specific colleague was that she seemed a bit “off” (overly isolated, etc.), but I didn’t think about it very much. However, yesterday while I was in the restroom, I overheard her on a personal call. My colleague was confronting the person on the call – it was very clear that she was on the phone with a family member – about what sounded like physical and verbal abuse (“that thing you did to x body part cannot happen again” and similar language). She made references to past events (including date identifiers) and seemed rather upset.
I am concerned, but also know that I only heard a small piece of a story. Additionally, given that it is my first week and that I do not know this person at all, I am unsure of how I should respond. Should I talk to my colleague? Or should I hold off on bringing it up and wait to see if notice additional red flags? I don’t want to overstep my bounds, but I also don’t want to ignore someone in need.
It’s understandable that you’re concerned and want to help, but I don’t think you’re in a position where you can, in this case. If you knew her better, yes — but at this point you’re basically a stranger. I do think you could make a particular effort to be kind to her and perhaps establish the sort of standing where you could eventually reach out, though. I’m curious to know if others feel differently, though.
2. How to tell an employee I’m moving him to a less desirable office
We need to move an employee in my department to another area where they will be away from me and most of the other people in their area. The work they do is independent so they don’t need to be with the other people in my department (that’s why he was chosen) but I feel they will see it as a slap in the face, and the offices available are not as nice as the one they has now. I’ve worked very hard to avoid this happening for the last year but ultimately we have to do it because of space crunch and this is the solution that makes the most sense (I’ve lobbied for a new office to be created in my area by converting a storage room, and that even made it to the plans but I was also told it would take probably at least a year until they could do it, so it does not solve the immediate problem).
Do you have good language so I can present this in the most emphatic but boundaried way I can? I want them to know that even though this happened I did have their back and I do appreciate them. This is a really good employee and I don’t want to lose their enthusiasm. Because of our proximity, we now talk often, so I am planning on scheduling meetings regularly so they don’t fee neglected but I’d appreciate any other suggestions.
Be straightforward, explain the reason, explain the other options you considered and why this ultimately made the most sense, and acknowledge that it’s not ideal. But at the same time, don’t treat it like it’s going to be devastating news either; that risks making the employee think it’s a bigger deal than it actually is.
So, for example: “As you probably know, we’re having a space crunch here and I’m having to move things around to fit everyone in. I’ve tried to keep our whole department together, but now it’s at the point where we need to start using other space too. I’ve considered a bunch of options, like A and B, but (reasons those won’t work), so the upshot is that I’m going to need to move where you sit over to C. I know it’s not ideal. I settled on this because (reasons), and we’ll do (actions) to make sure that we keep the impact on you as minimal as we can. You are awesome and an important part of our team, and I don’t want you to read this as anything other than us needing to figure out this space crunch.”
3. If I get an offer, can I ask if was the first choice?
I am a finalist for a position that I would like to get at another company, but I can take my time to look a bit more as my current job is satisfactory.
The recruiter was supposed to call me Friday, a week after the interviews, to let me know the outcome of the finalist interviews and if they would be making me a job offer. She called, but said some of the interviewers were traveling over the past week and so they could not all come together on their decision. She said she would let me know by Wednesday of the following week, if not by Monday. I believe this means they made an offer to the other candidate, who asked for more time to provide a response/acceptance. I would not say anything now, but if she calls and offers me the role, can I ask if I was the first offer? It matters to me in terms of fit with the hiring team.
No, I wouldn’t ask that; it will come across oddly. And I also wouldn’t let yourself believe it will matter in terms of fit; if they end up offering you the position, it’s because they’d be happy to hire you. There are often multiple great candidates who an employer would be happy to hire; just because someone else was the first choice doesn’t mean there will be fit issues if they ultimately end up hiring you.
Also, I wouldn’t interpret the recruiter’s statement as indicating they’re actually waiting on another candidate; I’d take it at face value. What she said — that she needed longer to coordinate people’s schedules for decision-making — happens all the time, especially at this time of year. Believe her, and know that you’re falling into some over-thinking traps here.
4. Listing academic honors on a resume
Does it help or hurt to include academic honors on the education section of your resume? (I’m thinking about more universally recognized honors such as Phi Beta Kappa and summa cum laude, not honors that are particular to the school.)
If you’re a recent graduate (last few years): Yes, include academic honors.
If you’re not a recent graduate, I think it’s still fine to include Phi Beta Kappa and summa cum laude but not any others — but only if you can list them on the same line as your degree. I wouldn’t use an extra line on them, because you don’t want to take away real estate for other, more recent accomplishments.
5. Do I need to send 15 thank-you notes?
I had a day-long interview with a large company and spoke with 15 people, 30 minutes each (sometimes two people interviewed me together), plus three people at lunch. Some of the people who interviewed me are my hiring manager’s peers and wouldn’t be directly supervising me, some would be my team members, and some are on other teams. The last one was the hiring manager’s boss. Not all the interviewers asked informative questions. Some didn’t prepare any questions and just had some casual conversations with me.
Should I write 15+ thank you letters? They were very nice to me during the interview, and I had a better than expected experience, and I want to say thank you, but it seems that the whole point of thank-you letter is not to just say thank you for being so nice. I am afraid writing a letter just to say thank you will make me look less than professional. Plus, it seems to be a daunting task to write 15 tailored letters; at least, I couldn’t finish in a day or two.
No, in a situation like that you don’t need to write 15 separate letters. I’d send them to the key people you talked with — the ones who did the most substantive interviews and any who you had particular rapport with. Then, in your note to the hiring manager, you can ask her to express your appreciation to the others who took time to meet with you as well. (You could say something like “I’ve sent follow-up notes to Jane and Percival separately, but I’d be grateful if you’d pass along my thanks to everyone who took time to talk with me. Meeting so many people really gave me a good feel for your culture and the people I’d be working with in this role.”)