It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…
1. My boss rewrote my resume — and it’s terrible
My boss is the type of person who is going to do his best to help you in your career; he’s not going to be annoyed or feel threatened that you want to leave. I know this about him, so I asked him if he felt I was ready to apply for a certain position that unfortunately we don’t have at our office but is available at one or two others in our area. He said I definitely was, and offered to help with my resume.
He gave it back to me today and while the formatting looks good, the grammar and spelling is terrible! Comma splices everywhere, inconsistent tenses, unnecessary quotation marks, and a myriad of other errors. In addition, he added an “objective” at the top of my resume (which I didn’t think was the thing to do anymore, if it ever was) as well as a “Characteristics” section, listing things like “enthusiastic” and “motivated,” when I feel like my interview and cover letter would explain those better by showing rather than telling.
However, he is also anti-cover letter, and says that if he gets 50 resumes for a position, he’s not also going to read 50 cover letters. I understand this, and I’m new to the industry so it’s possible that this is an industry norm that I am unfamiliar with, but I still think it’s weird to put “enthusiastic” as a bullet point on my resume.
I’m so torn. He knows the industry and he knows people where I’ll be applying. He fully supports my desire to apply for these jobs, particularly because the job I’m in now is a step down from what I was doing in previous positions in order to get a foot in the door at this company. Knowing all this, do I use the resume he “fixed” (once I remove the grammatical errors, of course)? Do I still send a cover letter? (I feel really great about the cover letter I wrote and am super bummed at the prospect that no one will see it!) I could use some perspective here.
Don’t use his version, and do write a cover letter (unless you know for a fact that they’re discouraged in your field — which is rare but possible). All of the concerns you listed here about the changes he made to your resume are 100% correct — you don’t want grammatical errors, inconsistent tenses, or extraneous quotation marks, and you definitely do not want an objective, or a “characteristics” section (!?!), and you very definitely do not want to list things like “enthusiastic” on your resume. Your instincts that you should be showing, not telling, that sort of thing are exactly right.
Some people who hire are still not going good at giving job search advice, unfortunately. Your boss might be good at loads of other things, but don’t use him as a guide on this.
2. My reference told a reference-checker that his own skills are better than mine
I used my coworker as a reference. When the recruiter called him, he said some nice things about me, but then he went on to tell the recruiter that he had more skills than me. Do you have any advice for how to handle when your coworker tries to poach your job opportunity?
Don’t use him as a reference again, and take comfort in the fact there’s no way that he didn’t come across as ridiculous to the reference-checker.
It’s not clear to me whether he was trying to suggest himself for the job instead (which would be a huge dick move to do on your actual reference call) or whether he was just comparing his skills to yours for the hell of it (which was also be a huge dick move).
Either way, now you know this guy is a tool and not to suggest him as a reference again.
3. How can I talk about achievements in management/leadership roles on my resume?
I’m a young manager searching for a job at a new company, and am struggling to articulate my achievements as a manager on my resume. I can articulate what I achieved in a more junior role more easily, and I can list what I was accountable for in my current role as a manger, but I’m struggling to describe specific achievements in my current role. What’s the appropriate way to describe things other people on your team accomplished with your coaching, leadership, and collaboration, but that you didn’t personally execute or exclusively own?
It feels wrong to claim “credit” for achievements where so many others did the bulk of the work to make them happen, but my entire job now is setting up structures where others can be successful, providing input at key stages that shapes the project but without micromanaging it, hiring and developing good talent, etc, and that leaves me feeling like there is nothing that I can rightly claim as my achievement. Yet I’m sure people in leadership roles still write resumes with their accomplishments!
How do managers articulate their contributions and achievements on their resumes? I’d love some examples of word choice, and some general advice on how to take an appropriate amount of credit as a leader without self-aggrandizing.
Your whole job as a manager is to get things done through other people, so when your team gets great results, you get to take some credit for that.
Of course, there are always managers whose teams get great results despite the manager rather than because of the manager, but when all is working the way it’s supposed to, the idea is that you’re helping them get those results via things like setting the right goals and strategy, giving feedback, staying engaged along the way as a resource, helping course-correct, and so forth.
That means that it’s generally legitimate to say things like “Led six-person team that achieved X.” It wouldn’t be reasonable to just say “achieved X” if you didn’t play a big role in the actual work of X — but rather that you “led,” “coordinated,” or “managed” a team that did.
4. Can I ask my interviewer why they reposted the job I’m interviewing for so soon?
I just got my first interview in a long, long time, and as you might imagine, I am really invested in making the best of my opportunity (I have already downloaded and am working through your interview guide).
I know this intership/trainee position was offered a couple months back. I applied for it, after all. The way it has popped up again (I sent a mail within 24 hours of the job being posted, got a call only hours after that, and have an interview in two days) makes me think that the previous intern either left or lost the position, and that HR is keen on hiring someone to fill the slot ASAP to make up for lost time.
Would it be a good idea to ask something along the lines of “I saw this position advertised a few months back, could you tell me anything about why it has been reposted so soon?” (hopefully followed up by asking what I could do to excel at the job) or would that be seen as prying? I had hoped it would indicate my interest in the company and the position, but I am not sure if it would seem out of line.
Well, it’s possible that the previous person is still there, and that this is an additional intern/trainee slot, so I’d word your question this way: “I noticed you posted a similar position a few months ago. Is this that same role, or do you have multiple intern/trainee positions?” If they say it’s the same one, they may give you some additional context (like that they had put the hiring on hold for some reason, or the previous hire ended up not starting), or they may not — if they don’t, I’d probably drop it at that point since it’s not clear that there’s a lot to gain by pressing for more.
It is reasonable, in general, to ask about what previous people in the position went on to do, or how long people typically stay in the position.
5. I’m in trouble for going into the women’s bathroom after-hours
I retrieved an item out of the women’s restroom after hours while no women were still working (I’m a man). I banged on the door first and had another employee stand at the door. I am bring written up for not getting a manger’s approval before entering the opposite sex’s restroom. I have never heard of such a thing to be written up for after hours. Is this a violation in any way?
It seems ridiculous to me; a single-sex bathroom is not some sacred place that’s violated by the presence of the opposite sex, when the person takes the precautions that you took (ensured no one was in there and had someone else stand at the door). If you had a reason for going in there, which it sounds like you did, I don’t see what the big deal is.
Ultimately, though, it’s really up to your employer. If they want to make this an iron-clad rule, they can. But there’s still no justification for them turning to formal discipline for a first offense, unless there’s some broader context here that I don’t know about (like that there’s been a series of complaints about you in the women’s bathroom or something). They should tell you not to do it again and leave it at that.