my manager doesn’t respect my personal space, telling applicants that a job is volunteer, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. How can I ask my manager to respect my personal space?

I started a new job as a trainee a few weeks ago. The room I’m in is me, two managers, and one of the partners in the firm. This is great because at least one person is always available for questions, and I work closely with all three of them.

My problem is, one of the managers has no concept of personal space. She’s not reaching out and touching me, and it’s not done in a skeevy way at all – she just seems to want to be in the exact space I’m in when she’s talking to me. If I have a question about some accounts, she’ll come over and basically stand on top of me to look at my papers. This means that about 2-3 times a day, I’m sitting in my desk chair, and she’s standing over me with maybe an inch between her arm and my head, her leg brushing my seat, and so on. She isn’t very concise with her explanations, so it’s not just a couple seconds; it’s 5-10 minutes. And she’s the most enthusiastic about answering my questions!

It makes me extremely uncomfortable. Also, I’m distracted by trying not to let her touch me when I should be listening to her explanations, and I think it makes me seem slow on the uptake. I’ve tried scooching away from her, but she just moves closer again. I’ve pointedly brushed her out of the way to reach the documents – totally unnoticed. I’ve said “I can’t actually see what you’re talking about, could you move over” multiple times, but it doesn’t sink in. I don’t want to say “Sorry but I’m weird about this,” because I don’t think it’s a weird request and I don’t want to pretend it is. Also, while it’s happening I’m kind of upset (nearly in tears today, I don’t know why it bothers me so much) and so I don’t trust myself not to be abrupt about it, which would be really bad right in front of the other manager and partner.

I think a lot of people would hate this, so I agree it’s not a weird request — although unfortunately it may take her aback because most people wimp out of saying anything in these situations, so she may never have heard it before. Nevertheless, if you want it to stop, you’re going to have to say something. I’d say it this way: “I have a big personal space bubble — sorry! Can I move you over here?” I hear you on not wanting to pretend that it’s weird or anything that you should have to apologize for, but that kind of framing lets her save face and will probably minimize the awkwardness.

Alternately, you could try just moving back. when she’s standing over you, move your chair or even get up if you need to. But it doesn’t sound like she’s taking hints, so you probably do need to be more direct.

2. Is it worth getting Microsoft Office certifications?

I am currently job searching and am considering completing the Microsoft Office Specialist Certification program to add to the skills section of my resume. Instead of saying the generic “proficient in Microsoft Office,” I’d be able to provide some validity. Is such a certification worth my time and money? How do hiring managers view such certifications? I am college educated with a few years of professional office experience under my belt, so I would say I am familiar with many of the Microsoft applications but I wouldn’t consider myself to be an expert.

I’d skip it unless you’re in a field where this is specifically a thing (and I’m not aware of any fields where that’s true, but it’s possible that there are some; to find out if yours is one, you could look at ads for jobs you’re interested in). With a few exceptions, hiring managers aren’t generally that impressed by certifications at all and would much rather see what you have done with the skill. So for example, you might talk about specific things you’ve achieved using Excel or how you’ve applied your PowerPoint knowledge.

If you already happened to have the certifications, it wouldn’t hurt to include them, and if you want to get them because you want the actual knowledge they’ll bring, that could be worth it — but I wouldn’t get them if you primarily intend it to be a resume booster.

3. How to tell candidates that the position they’re applying for is volunteer

I work as a volunteer coordinator for a small, regional nonprofit. On our website, we advertise leadership positions, but those positions are all volunteer – as are all of our positions. Lately, I’ve been receiving professional resumes and CVs, and many of these people seem to be looking for professional work (despite that there is no indication of salary or employment on the website). Is there 1) a good way to show this on our site, and 2) a good way to let people know that it’s volunteering when they contact us?

I’ve been sending out emails like this: “I appreciate you reaching out to NonProfit Teapots. While I’d love to talk to you further about the position, I did want to let you know that NonProfit Teapots is a volunteer-run organization, and our teapot design leaders are unpaid (but greatly appreciated) positions. Is this something that would still interest you, or are you looking exclusively for paid work?”

Is that the right way to approach it when I find a resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile sitting in my inbox?

Oh gosh, please say it right up-front in the ad! Put it either in the job title — like “Fundraiser (Volunteer)” or in the very first line of the ad itself. The vast, vast majority of people applying are going to assume that it’s paid if you don’t say otherwise, and they’re going to put time into creating a cover letter when they wouldn’t be applying at all if they understood the full picture. (Plus, you’re then wasting your own time fielding these applicants.)

There’s no reason not to say it up-front.

4. I accepted an offer for the wrong job title

Thanks to your excellent advice, I just received a great job offer. I formally accepted it on Friday, but over the weekend I realized that the title in the offer letter isn’t the same as the title I interviewed for. The offer letter states “program coordinator” and I interviewed for a “program manager” position. When I was given the verbal offer, the recruiter didn’t mention anything about the title being different from the job ad or what I interviewed for. Obviously this is on me that I didn’t bring it up *before* formally accepting, but I had already discussed the offer extensively with the recruiter and the formal acceptance seemed just that–a formality.

I’ve emailed the recruiter on Monday morning and asked if it was an intentional change or an oversight and whether the title could be changed back to “program manager”…but did I really mess up here? I feel like it was a bit of a bait-and-switch, and I really should be at the “program manager” level rather than “coordinator.” I will be moving from a small 30 person company to a Fortune 500, and I’m a little intimidated by the HR bureaucracy at the new company. Is there anything I should/can do beyond emailing the recruiter?

That’s the right first step — and I’d be matter-of-fact about it, like, “I just noticed that the offer letter has a different job title than the one I applied for and we’ve been discussing (it says program coordinator rather than program manager). I’m assuming it’s just a mistake, but can you confirm that the job is indeed the program manager job that was advertised?” If it turns out that it’s deliberate, (a) that’s really crappy of them to just slip that into the offer letter without explaining it to you, and (b) at that point you can try to negotiate the title and role, and/or get a better understanding of the differences in the roles, and/or retract your acceptance since it’s the wrong position.

But start by assuming it was an oversight and see what happens.

5. Can I push an employer to move more quickly in a hiring process?

I was unexpectedly laid off in October and am still looking. I am a 40-something social worker with a master’s degree and good experience. I applied for a director job a year ago and ended up coming in second place. Now the job is open again. The board director contacted me and asked me if I was interested, and implied that if I was, they would push the hire through quickly.

Fast forward: some of the other board members want to make do a full hiring process, so now I have resubmitted my resume and am in a small pool of candidates. One of the current staff members is keeping me updated and rooting for me. All signs point to my still getting the offer, but I need a job yesterday and have a few more irons in the fire. Should I have to interview again? Should I just wait or try to push things forward by contacting the board president and explaining my situation (laid off and need a job, and feel that they already know my qualifications from last year’s interview and having talked with colleagues from a partner organization as references)?

Nope, don’t try to push them to move more quickly. They’ve decided to do a full hiring process, and that’s not unreasonable; it’s actually smart of them to make sure that they’re hiring the best person they can find. It makes sense to have you interview again so that you’re fresh in their minds and they can accurately assess you versus other candidates; they may generally know that they liked you a year ago, but not remember a ton of specifics beyond that.

The fact that you need a job quickly doesn’t really change what makes sense for them; the only time you can really push an employer to speed up their process is when you have another offer that you need to respond to (and then you need to be okay with them saying “take the other offer because we won’t have an answer in time”).

{ 295 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. Artemesia

    #5 No matter what you do, don’t tell them you are desperate for a job; you will diminish your desirability and chances especially since they are doing a full search and will even if you are the successful candidate, have forfeited any possible leverage in negotiating the terms. You talk as if this is a done deal and it so completely is not. Full speed ahead with all other job search leads.

    Reply
    1. Blerp

      I couldn’t agree with this more. I understand wanting to push things as I am three interviews deep into a really promising role and the process started 6 months ago. Unfortunately no matter how much we will things things don’t always operate on our own timeline. Best of luck!

      Reply
    2. MK

      I think the basic error the OP makes is not realising that “some of the other board members want to make do a full hiring process” canceled out “if I was interested, they would push the hire through quickly”. It sounds as if some board members thought that, since the OP was a known quantity as a great candidate, they could just give her the job and they conveyed that she was a shoe-in. But that course of action was apparently turned down by other board members, so it no longer applies; it’s an hiring process like any other and the OP might still not get the job.

      Reply
      1. Random Lurker

        So much this. OP is still being evaluated for the job. It’s important to keep that in mind, since anything she does to push this through is going to be used to form an opinion about her.

        OP asks “Should I have to interview again?” The answer to that question in this and basically every other scenario I can think of is YES. Until you have an offer in your hand, it is never a done deal. If they want to continue to evaluate you against other candidates, an interview, even multiple ones, need to be an expected part of the process.

        Reply
      2. Doriana Gray

        Yup, I was going to say the same thing. OP doesn’t have this one locked up at all and should focus on giving the best interviews she can instead of trying to force their hand.

        Reply
        1. Shayna

          Thanks for the comments. I am realizing that they are also cautious about finding themselves having to hire again in a year. The Chair of the hiring committee called me and asked that I let her know if I have any other firm offers so that makes me feel good. I appreciate everyone’s comments and perspectives!

          Reply
    3. KH

      In my experience, slowing down the hiring process has meant that the main hiring manager likes you but higher ups want to see more candidates before making a decision. In my experience, that has sometimes meant the original favorite got the job and sometimes it means it went to someone else.

      In other words, don’t read much into it and don’t count your paychecks before they hatch.

      Reply
  2. Tyrannosaurus Regina

    And if their board is anything like the board at my last employer, there may be one or more new members who weren’t even around last year. If I were in their position, I’d appreciate a candidate re-interviewing so when it came time to make a hiring decision I wasn’t at a disadvantage compared to the board members who were there last time you were a candidate.

    Reply
  3. Sara

    #1 if your question is directed at her, you could try going to her desk to ask her the question and see if that helps? Hopefully, you’ll be the one standing and can control your personal space a bit more rather than when she approaches your desk and talks over you/crowding you.

    Reply
    1. OP1

      Usually I direct my questions to the room at large, and whoever has a minute will answer me. 75% of the time, it’s her, and unfortunately we work with so many paper files that it really does make more sense for her to come over. :(

      Reply
      1. Newbie

        I was also going to suggest going to her desk instead, but it sounds like that isn’t always possible. Is there a way you can stand up or position yourself in a way that’s comfortable for you while she’s on her way to your desk? If you have a flat monitor, could you turn it in a way that she would need to remain on the other side of your desk? Or let her sit in your chair so you control where you stand and how much room there is between you?

        Reply
        1. misspiggy

          Yes. I do exactly this if I’m feeling crowded at my desk. I stand up, move away, and say, ‘Why don’t you sit in my chair and show me on the computer?’

          If that’s not necessary, we don’t need to be at the desk, so I get up, move my chair and another one together into a kind of meeting space. I might say, ‘Great, I can give you my full attention now. Where were we….?’

          I think people do this space crowding thing through simple lack of coordination or completely unconscious power-grabbing. I am quite comfortable physically taking back my space, because otherwise the person is not going to get good performance out of me.

          Reply
        2. The Artist Formally Known As UKAnon

          I think offering her your chair could be a good idea OP. Please forgive me if I’ve misunderstood, but it sounds like you are both working with papers while talking. I don’t want to try and excuse her behaviour – it’s definitely a little, well, personal and even if something fairly commonplace makes you awkward you should (almost) always speak up – so you do need to find a way to align her with your comfort, but it sounds like possibly she is struggling to see the paperwork. For example, for a long while (think months) I couldn’t afford to get glasses, so I had to have paperwork pretty much at my nose to read it. Even a slight eyesight problem combined with a bit of social gauchery could lead to something like this, and offering your chair whilst you stand a comfortable distance away to read the papers would be a good way of regaining control of your space and letting her comfortably work with you.

          Reply
      2. Ms. Anne Thrope

        I’m sorry, can you stand back a step? I’m feeling crowded. Thanks.

        Or, you could start wearing goth bracelets w/ spikes and flailing around clumsily when she’s crowding you. ;)

        Reply
        1. Leeza

          “I’m sorry, can you stand back a step? I’m feeling crowded. Thanks.”

          I like this a lot. It makes it about you asking her for a favor to deal with your issues rather than insulting her. (of course, I don’t think you have “issues” – I don’t think most people would want to be crowded like that. But this way she THINKS it’s your issue and won’t feel insulted.)

          You could also mention that you get claustrophobic when people are too close. “I know it’s weird, sorry!”, etc.

          Reply
          1. Winter is Coming

            I like the claustrophobic approach. For some reason I get claustrophobic with people, but not objects (i.e. no problem in an MRI whatsoever, but put me in a crowd of people who are packed closely together, and I panic.)

            Reply
            1. Vicki

              My sister invented a word for this. She calls it “Maldermaphobia” (the fear of touching other peoples’ (bad) skin).

              Reply
            2. Witty Nickname

              I’m that way too. In my case, it’s because I’m rather short and when there are a bunch of people crowded around me, I can’t see past them.

              Reply
            1. Anna

              Right, but Alison did point out that the OP wants to make it about HER and not the person she’s talking to. It’s not weird, but this may be one of those things where the OP has to take the fall (so to speak) so she doesn’t make the other person feel like an ass. Social negotiation and all that.

              Reply
      3. Stranger than fiction

        Op, I’m dying to know if this is just her personal style, or if she’s attracted to you or something. Does she stand that close to the other managers?

        Reply
      4. BenAdminGeek

        OP1- I’m a huge offender on this one, so I can speak from my perspective here. What I’ve found is that when I’m doing this, it’s because I need to “drive” while thinking it through. My team has learned to just say “here, would you like drive?” if I’m doing it- we know each other well enough that it’s a joke now. There’s just something in the physical muscle memory of sitting down and looking over the paperwork/program that helps me understand and then explain the issue to the team.

        I’d try offering your seat for her to drive while you watch/take notes. No guarantees, but it’s worked wonders for my team.

        Reply
        1. Joline

          I would agree with this. If I don’t consciously sit in a chair when I go to help someone with something then I also have a tendency to inch ever closer. And I’m not a touchy person – I don’t want to touch the person – I just want to get at their paperwork and computer. If I don’t concentrate I suddenly realize that I’ve taken over the mouse.

          I realize that this is an issue that I have and I am working on it (and apologize and back off when I notice). But if the person doesn’t notice they’re doing it and don’t take hints just ceding the space to them might be really helpful unless you’re the type that needs to do the clicking yourself to learn.

          Reply
      5. Analyst

        OP, the second you come down with a nasty winter cold, milk that for all it’s worth. Lots of sneezing and snarfling, please.

        Reply
      6. Older not yet wiser

        Is there any chance she has a vision or hearing issue? I got a new prescription for my lenses last year and that really made it easier for me to keep a comfortable distance when assisting new employees looking over their shoulders at their monitor. If it is a vision problem you should offer to let her sit at your station and you can look over *her* shoulders, not so close.

        Reply
  4. Chocolate Teapot

    3. I was thinking that most of the job sites I visit do not give a salary, so it is understandable applicants believe the roles are paid. That aside, I would certainly appreciate knowing there is no wage up front!

    Reply
    1. NutellaNutterson

      Adding a line about expected hours (3-4 hours weekly? 2 hours each weekday?) should help cement the no-salary idea alongside a clear “seeking volunteers” language change.

      Reply
    2. snuck

      I would be seriously annoyed if I couldn’t tell it was unpaid from the outset. And certainly wouldn’t volunteer my time afterwards – I’d assume that the whole organisation is a bit crappy about how they treat people… It’s too bait and switch-ie….

      It’d taint the whole view of that organisation for me…. Fix this please! You are using the expected social norms (of not disclosing that it’s an unpaid position) to lie. You mightn’t have meant it, but you really are going against the grain of job advertising norms.

      Reply
      1. ReadItWithSpanishAccent

        Yeah I agree with snuck, I would consider it a red flag for the organization as a whole, it would also feel bait-and-switch to me. Adding a line like “2 hours a week” is not enough, people might think it is a paid job anyway, just not a full-time contract.
        You can have 2 different sites, like “vacancies” and “be a volunteer”, or simply write “Fundraiser (volunteer)” as suggested.

        Reply
      2. I'm a Little Teapot

        Oh, so much this. If I were job hunting and found out only after I’d applied that a position was volunteer, I’d be so angry. And no one is going to apply for a paid job, find out it’s unpaid, and take it anyway. I’d see the organization as seriously out of touch with reality (as in the reality that most people need to pay the bills) as well as dishonest.

        Reply
        1. Not me

          +1

          No matter how worthwhile the organization’s work is, please keep some perspective… People apply for jobs because they have bills to pay.

          Reply
          1. Ted Mosby

            “are you looking exclusively for paid work”

            that made me choke on my coffee. Yes, everyones looking for freaking paid work. People assume it’s a job because it’s a freaking job listing. Most job listings don’t offer a salary these days.

            Reply
        2. Mine was #3

          I’d LOVE to pay someone for the leadership roles we have listed. Unfortunately, our current operating budget is on the very small 5 digits. We’re working toward it, but slowly.

          Reply
      3. MsM

        And it really shouldn’t be that hard to throw “100% volunteer-run and staffed” into the copy at the top of the website or ad. Make it a strength! Your funders will appreciate the clarification, too.

        Reply
      4. Shannon

        To me, it’d be a communication issue. That they weren’t able to clearly communicate that a job is a volunteer job would make me wonder how bad the rest of their communication skills are.

        Reply
    3. The Cosmic Avenger

      Do a lot of volunteer positions advertise on job sites? I would think that people would volunteer based on the mission of the organization more that the job…er, volunteer requirements.

      But the word “Volunteer” absolutely should appear in the position title, full stop.

      Reply
      1. Cupcake

        Yes. Especially on Idealist, which is a non-profit job board. A lot of the positions there are volunteer, though they tell you there are AND you can filter them out of your search.

        Reply
      2. Not the Droid You Are Looking For

        This is why I stopped even looking at the “Jobs you may be interested in” emails or section of LinkedIn.

        The entire job board is flooded with volunteer positions, last time I looked there were two paid positions in the first three pages of results.

        Reply
        1. OwnedByTheCat

          +1,000,000. I’m a fundraiser and searching for jobs on LinkedIn is an exercise in futility. For every 100 jobs, 95 are volunteer opportunities. I’m going to be gearing up my job search in the next few months and I’m already scratching my head trying to figure out how to avoid the many unpaid positions that are posted in the nonprofit world.

          Reply
          1. Jerzy

            It’s not dishonest as long as you clearly state it’s a volunteer position, and it’s no worse than listing “jobs” on your organizations own site without specifying that they are volunteer positions. While you said you are working on being able to pay people for these positions, they are not jobs unless someone is receiving a salary. They are volunteer positions, and there’s no reason to not clearly say so. While you may find you receive fewer applicants, the ones you do get ought not be confused about what they’re getting into. Also, while I don’t think putting down time expected to be worked per week/month to be enough to show that it is a volunteer position, that would also go a long way in helping you make sure you’re getting only people who are truly interested in the type of position you are offering.

            Reply
          2. Anxa

            It’s frustrating, but I don’t think it’s dishonest. Filtering options make it nearly a non-issue. I know that I would take another (ugh…not again) unpaid job if I felt there were better opportunities to contribute something or accomplish something and hopefully get closer to the more elusive, paid opportunities.

            I don’t know if advertising the job is dishonest, but my acceptance of it as normal is probably an indication of a broken system, where people are willing to intern and volunteer for years on end in hopes of one day breaking into their field or away from more contingent work.

            While I think (maybe hope) that prestige is falling out of favor as a currency, there is still something to the fact that a good fellowship or volunteer position can work out better in the long-run than retail and food service. If you’re in a field where it’s easier to come across paid entry-level work, it’s probably less common.

            Reply
            1. addiez

              If I saw a job posting that didn’t list hours or salary, I’d assume it was a full-time, paid job. I think that’s the general assumption unless otherwise made clear. By not making it clear, you’re getting the wrong kind of people most likely – because the people who would want a not full time, unpaid gig aren’t applying.

              Reply
          3. Velociraptor Attack

            A lot of nonprofit type job boards allow you to indicate something is a volunteer position. Among my other duties at my nonprofit, I run the volunteer program. When I post something I always mark it as a volunteer position (or an internship if that’s what I’m recruiting) AND make it part of the “job” title – Development Intern, Front Desk Volunteer, Data Entry Volunteer, Volunteer Planning Committee, etc.

            Not indicating this seems incredibly dishonest and would make me question the entire organization, especially since these are leadership positions. This needs to be made very clear.

            Reply
      3. Anna

        I’ve been seeing this on LinkedIn a lot recently and for some reason it really offends me. One particular organization has been advertising for multiple positions that sound fairly involved and high level just from the title, but say “volunteer-marketing coordinator.” That is a lot of work for a volunteer to take on and inevitably leads to more hours than they think they need.

        Either way, since it says volunteer in the title, I know I don’t want to explore any of their ads because I’m not interested in doing it for free. So yes, put “volunteer” very clearly in the ad.

        Reply
      4. Anxa

        In my experience, yes.

        It probably is field dependent. I look for a lot of jobs in science, and many of them are volunteer positions, or are listed with a possible award as the compensation.

        Reply
    4. Artemesia

      There is a huge difference between not giving a salary and not letting people know there is no salary. We never posted the salary but had some gibble about ‘competitive salary’ (which it certainly was not). I don’t get advertising a volunteer job as if it were a job and not mentioning it is volunteer and would be really angry to have wasted a couple of hours tailoring a cover letter and resume if I were job searching. Job searching is bad enough without this kind of mousetrap planted in the ads.

      Reply
        1. Artemesia

          LOL. Yeah we needed a PhD in a social science, experience at C-suite level in a business and assorted other experiences and talents and the most we could pay was 65K. I always had my eye out for early retirees looking to do something different and rewarding but for whom money was not the big motivator.

          Reply
          1. Ted Mosby

            I read this thinking it was a joke (one year out of college with 20 years experience and a noble prize) and had to reread it. I made fairly close to that as a social science researcher with no grad degree or other experience. At least who ever you brought on was dedicated!

            Reply
      1. Mine was #3

        Thankfully, as soon as I realized there was a trend, I did exactly that – there’s now a line on the listing page emphasizing (again) that we are a volunteer-run organization.

        The thing that was getting me is that we’re not heavily advertising – definitely no listing on job boards, just a one page listing on the nonprofit’s website. The website itself talks about being volunteer-run, but that specific page didn’t. Thats fixed now (or will be, when the board secretary gets the page updated.)

        Reply
        1. Billy Mumphrey

          Please put a line bolded up top-“This is an unpaid volunteer position.”. If you just say “volunteer run”, I would take that to mean run by a volunteer Board of Directors.

          Reply
          1. Jerzy

            Agreed. OP needs to be as clear as possible. It’ll save you time and the time of jobseekers who actually really need a paycheck.

            Reply
          2. addiez

            Yeah, just because it’s volunteer-run doesn’t mean that the job is unpaid. If that’s the only way you’re saying it’s unpaid, you’re still not saying it.

            Reply
        2. LQ

          I think emphasizing that you are a volunteer-run organization is not the same as saying this position is unpaid. To you it might be the same but to me (having worked at and been on boards of non-profits) I don’t see them as the same thing. It is important to say that the position you are advertising is volunteer or unpaid.

          If you are getting people applying like it is a paid position then you are getting feedback from people that they don’t understand the ad you’re putting out.

          Reply
        3. Agile Phalanges

          I’m not sure just saying “volunteer-run” would be enough of a clue for potential applicants. After all, you could have a volunteer board running the place, but be hiring paid employees to staff it. You should make it VERY clear in the heading and within the posting itself that this position is volunteer (and maybe even use the word “unpaid” as well).

          Reply
          1. Ultraviolet

            I agree that “volunteer-run” isn’t really clear enough. I can see why you (OP) think that it implies the position is volunteer. But I anticipate people will see “volunteer-run” and think, “This position itself must be a paying job though, or otherwise they’d just say ‘This is a volunteer position.’ But they’ve gone out of their way not to say that, so it must not be the case.”

            Reply
        4. Oryx

          You need to specify that this position is un-paid. I have volunteered at plenty of non-profit orgs that are, indeed, volunteer run. One in particular has a good 600+ volunteers versus less than 10 paid staff. That’s different than offering only unpaid positions.

          Reply
          1. Mine was #3

            Whoops – wasn’t clear. Yes, it states (clearly) that the positions themselves are volunteer positions. My reply didn’t indicate that, sorry.

            Reply
        5. CMT

          I don’t understand your reluctance to come right out and say that the position is volunteer. You seem to be skirting around the issue. I agree with all of the other comments here. Not stating clearly that the position is unpaid is really deceptive.

          Reply
    5. Jimbo

      Agreed. OP acts like not listing a salary should be a red flag when in fact few job listings have a salary listed. It seems common these days to not list a salary and then the very first thing they ask when you apply is is your salary requirements. And “there is no indication of salary or employment”? How about the fact that you are listing a position on your website in the first place? The positions being volunteer wouldn’t even cross my mind as an option, yet alone be obvious.

      Reply
  5. Apollo Warbucks

    #2 It looks like it would be a waste of time and money to me, you already have the knowledge from using the software, the certification wouldn’t change that.

    In all the professional environments I’ve worked in I’ve never even heard of MS office certification, let alone met anyone who has completed it so I do not think you’ll be missing out or be at any disadvantage by not having the certificate.

    If anything read the course outline and look for some online tutorials if there’s any area you want to brush up on.

    Reply
    1. Not the Droid You Are Looking For

      I agree. The “proficient/expert” expectations for most offices is pretty much standard usage.

      At my old job, we had a project manager who took an excel class at the community college (they offered 4 session continuing education classes for a variety of things) because she was frustrated that “excel could do all sorts of things that she couldn’t make it do.” She learned some amazing things with link long across workbooks and v look-ups that made her job easier. But I think that was much more job specific, and really about personal satisfaction than marketability.

      Reply
    2. Jinx

      I actually received the Microsoft Office Specialist certification in December, for SharePoint 2013. So now you’ve heard of it. :P My situation is a little different than OP’s, though. I am a college hire, working on a SharePoint development team. Getting certified in SharePoint is a goal specifically passed down to my team from my direct manager, and we get reimbursed for passed exams (which run about $100 – $150 each).

      Also, my office in particular puts emphasis on certifications (it looks good if a manager of a SharePoint team has certified SharePoint reports, which is why we’re doing it). But for job searching, I agree with the hiring managers here that framing your knowledge as experience is probably more beneficial (and cheaper).

      Reply
      1. Natalie

        I think that is a little different, though, because Sharepoint is a comparatively new program. 20-30 years ago a certification in a word processing program would have potentially been helpful, too, and 60 years ago knowing how to type was a specifically marketable skill. If Sharepoint development ever becomes bog-standard office work, a certification will become similarly meaningless.

        Reply
        1. Jinx

          You’re totally right, but OP specifically mentioned the Microsoft Office Specialist. The MOS is a little weird because you can get it for pretty much any Office product, from Word to SharePoint (if I remember correctly). So one might be more useful than another, depending on your industry and circumstances.

          Reply
      2. Apollo Warbucks

        I mean the office certification isn’t something heard of before.

        I’ve seen SQL server, sharepoint and C# certification before and that makes some sense to me as they are more difficult programs to use well and are more technical based than the office skills covered in the certification.

        Reply
        1. Jinx

          The MOS (the one that OP mentioned) can be taken to become certified in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Access, OneNote, or SharePoint. So it’s not one-size-fits-all, for sure.

          However, I’ll readily admit that I wouldn’t have taken the MOS if my company didn’t pay for it. $140 isn’t really worth it to say “I can use SharePoint” – I can prove that without the piece of paper.

          Reply
      3. Elizabeth West

        I think my new boss will want me to do something like this especially with Word and PowerPoint, but it’s not going to be resume -worthy unless it ends up as a bullet point. I don’t really care that much about PPT, but I’d love to delve more into what Word can do (and how I can make it not do stuff).

        Reply
    3. JGray

      I actually just had to do this for a job opening in local government that I applied for but I went to my local job service office and took Microsoft Office and Excel Prove It tests. These tests aren’t a certification but they do actually prove that I know the programs and test on basic, intermediate, and advanced levels. The tests were free and the job service certified the results that the program gave once I completed them. Not sure this would work for everyone in every situation. But for me I actually think that it may have helped me get an interview for another job that stressed Excel skills and I submitted my results and so was able to show that I had the skills. I am not sure what other Prove It tests my local job service office has but I found this to be a quick and easy way to back up saying that I am proficient with the programs.

      Reply
      1. Winter is Coming

        We have used Prove It for shop math tests, it worked out very well for us too. It’s very convenient, and reasonably priced.

        Reply
      2. Sunshine on cloudy day

        FYI – Prove It tests are really not a great way to test for Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc. There are tons of YouTube videos up of people going through each version of those tests showing you exactly what to do. All you have to do is watch one of those videos, write down the step-by instructions for each question and voila – 100% on you Excel Prove It test.

        I admit, I totally did that when I had to take those tests to prove my skills to staffing agencies. I’m actually a very solid moderate-advanced MOS user, but I could not, for the life of me, do well on those tests because they are so finicky (eg: you get marked wrong for using Ctrl-C to copy, rather than clicking the copy icon up top). I knew how to do everything on those tests, I just would do them in a slightly different (imho quicker/better) way.

        Reply
    4. finman

      I think my discussion of Excel skills is one of two things that got me my job vs. the next best candidate. My boss needed someone who was highly skilled in Excel, and I was able to discuss a few techniques I knew that he didn’t and explained how I’ve used them in the past. I followed up via email as a thank you for the second interview and included 2 excel spreadsheets that showed how to use the formulas. Once I got here and we started working together, we have both taught each other a few different techniques/formulas the other didn’t know.

      TLDR summary: Being able to prove your skills and how you’ve applied them means more than having passed a test to get certified.

      Reply
      1. Stranger than fiction

        Same here. They really needed an Admin that was proficient in Excel and that’s what I do about 80% of my day. But, the funny things is, during the test they tried to give me before my first interview, something went wrong and the laptop they set up for me wasn’t working right, so we just moved forward to the interview. Thank goodness my resume showed accomplishments using Excel and through the interviewing process (and I’m sure checking my references) they trusted their gut and hired me.

        Reply
    5. Tara

      I’ve kind of been wondering about the same thing. There are free certifications you can get online, and I am applying to reception/administration entry level jobs, and basically all of the job listings say “Proficiency in Microsoft Office”. The things is, I *do* know Microsoft Office, I’ve used it in school for a number of things, and had specific classes for it in my college course. But, I haven’t really ever accomplished anything with it, since I’ve never worked in an environment that used it, so its all been personal/academic use.

      Reply
    6. Op of #2

      Thanks for the insight. I guess at the end of the day your experience is what really counts. Job searching can be such a daunting process and I was looking for anything to give me an edge. However, I definitely don’t want to do something that will waste my time and money with little to no return on investment. Good thing I followed the advice from this blog and put my time and energy into writing a great cover letter, which helped me land a job!

      Reply
  6. Mookie

    LW 1, I’ve got a pinched nerve in my neck that limits mobility and can cause a kind of numbness followed by an electrifying, death grip-y pain if I’m at the wrong angle or weighted down or stretching oddly or for half a dozen other irritating reasons, so I’ve had to to repeatedly ask people who don’t generally acknowledge personal bubbles to back up when addressing me so that I can see and speak to them without wanting to keel over in misery. I don’t advocate faking an illness, but you can make this a prerequisite to all conversations: your interlocutor must be x-number of feet away from you, and frame this requirement not as a personal quirk of yours but as something common, uninteresting (no real explanations required), and non-negotiable. State it firmly, loudly repeat it if possible, stop the conversation mid-sentence to stand up and achieve the required distance, and make no bones about it. You can say it in a nice, casual tone of voice, you can shrug or hand wave, you can communicate it clearly without it seeming aggressive or odd. It’s not rude of you to need space, and it would be rude if this manager were to react with anything other than obedience to a perfectly normal request. That doesn’t mean she won’t — people are odd birds for all sorts of reasons — but sometimes you have to fake it ’til you make it, and it’s less difficult to work yourself up to a confrontation (or what you imagine might result in a confrontation), if you convince yourself that your reasonable needs are valid, uncontroversial, and won’t be questioned. Being casual about this (but firm) will probably elicit a casual response, and you may have to reinforce it now and again, but it should work for you however you decide to tackle it without worrying about appearing dramatic or fussy, which you are not.

    Reply
  7. Random Lurker

    #2 -‘I’m in a field where certifications for products are extremely common. So common, I’ve become weary of them when I see them on a resume. I know other hiring managers feel the same way. When I see a cert and no supporting experience, I ignore the cert 100%. Just happened in an interview I had yesterday in fact. Candidate had a cert but no hands on experience, and couldn’t answer a basic 10- question about the thing he was certified in. Pass.

    For Office, you can state you are proficient in it under skills or other area of your resume. I see this all the time.

    Reply
  8. Merry and Bright

    People like the manager in #1 puzzle me a bit. I mean, I know some people are more naturally touchy-feely or have maybe done some kind of bonding/body language training even. But it strikes me they can’t value their own personal space all that much to crowd people like this.

    It isn’t easy to push back against a manager like this but Alison’s advice makes sense.

    Reply
    1. Delyssia

      Based on my own experience with someone at work who wanted to stand too close, I read #1 as socially awkward/oblivious, not touchy-feely. I suppose someone could be touchy-feely and still socially awkward, but touchy-feely implies trying to make some sort of human connection that was absolutely not in the emotional vocabulary of the person I’m thinking of.

      Reply
      1. OP1

        Yeah, I think it’s social obliviousness. She’s not the kind of person who will touch you on the arm when she talks to you, for example (well, unless she’s basically standing in the spot where your arm should be) or hug anyone, put her other hand on top of a handshake, any of that kind of thing. She’s just… not taking account of where I am? It’s like my physical presence is irrelevant to the equation for her.

        Reply
        1. yasmara

          The good news is that if she’s really this socially oblivious she probably won’t take any offense if you have to be more assertive/clear about your need for personal space.

          Reply
      2. Leslie Knope's Waffle

        All of this. I used to have a close friend who I worked with who was like this. When she would talk to you, she would get very, very close to you. There was not a hint of skeevyness – she was just “in her own head” and had no concept of personal space. She had a good dose of social awkwardness too. Our other co-workers noticed it as well and would ask me for advice about it. I would take a (not obvious) step back or to the side, to give some space between this. Sometimes I would have to do this a couple of times, but it seemed to work.

        Reply
    2. Dani X

      It’s also a cultural thing. Some cultures have smaller personal bubbles then others – and when people from the two meet it can cause this kind of awkwardness. She probably isn’t even aware she is doing it.

      Reply
      1. Cautionary tail

        Yes! I did a research paper a few years and determined that Brits have a very large sense of personal space (think an arm’s length away) whilst people from India have a very small need for personal space (a few centimeters). As a generality, when you put the two together, the Brit is always backing up and the Indian is always closing the gap just created.

        Reply
        1. JB (not in Houston)

          Yes! I’ve heard this called “the diplomatic dance” before, since people from two different cultures can end up basically chasing each other around the room.

          Reply
          1. MashaKasha

            I’ve been chased around my cubicle by many an Indian contractor. They would walk in to ask me something and stand super close, I’d roll my chair away, they’d step closer, I’d roll back again, and we’d travel all around the cubicle in this manner. Never knew there was a name for it; that’s hilarious!

            Reply
        2. sunny-dee

          Yep, northern European cultures (England, Germany, and Caucasian Americans) have a personal-space radius of around 2 feet. For a lot of tropical cultures (Indian, Middle Eastern, Central American, Spanish) that radius is only about a foot. People can seem reeeeeeeeally uncomfortably close sometimes. :)

          Reply
          1. Elizabeth West

            This doesn’t bother me much–what I hate is when people start jabbing their fingers all over my monitor. Stand as close to me as you like; just keep your nasty finger off my screen!

            Reply
    3. College Career Counselor

      Be aware that backing away may not work–the person may just “follow” you and keep moving closer, if the personal space bubble for that person is calibrated to be one foot vs. two feet (or whatever). When I was in middle school, the gym teacher was a close-talker like that. She literally stood close enough to me that MY EYES CROSSED while looking at her. I tried backing up, and she just kept moving in.

      Sometimes the personal space bubble differences can be cultural–might that be at play here?

      Reply
      1. OP1

        Yeah, I’ve actually tried moving away from her and she just takes up the space again.

        It could be cultural, but I don’t think so.

        Reply
    4. Artemesia

      There are huge cultural differences here. I have worked in countries where this drove me nuts as everyone stands way way too close — you can get backed up against a wall if you keep stepping back to get more space and they keep closing in to their comfort level.

      Reply
      1. Windchime

        Once at work, we were all crowded into the cubicle of our coworker who was from Turkey. I was standing uncomfortably close (for me) to his chair, and said, “I’m sorry, I know I’m in your space.” He shrugged and replied, “I’m Mediterranean!”. So apparently his space bubble was not being invaded at all, but I felt like I was seriously crowding him.

        Reply
    5. Agile Phalanges

      I knew a female manager like this. It was bad enough for us women when she’d leeeeeeeean over us when helping us with something, her breasts grazing our arm or whatever. Ew. But she was seen doing the same to men, and even put her hand on the upper thigh of a man once. I don’t know whether anyone ever spoke to her and she just didn’t stop, or if no one ever spoke to her about it. But ick. In her case, I don’t think she was trying to make it sexual, and she was either oblivious or just liked making people uncomfortable as a sort of power play thing. But yeah, not good.

      Reply
      1. wellywell

        “and even put her hand on the upper thigh of a man once”

        Whaaaaaaat? Or to be more specific, whaaaaaaat the [deleted]?

        Reply
    6. KH

      Maybe there is an underlying reason?
      We recently had a new joinee to my team who is basically legally blind. I don’t remember the condition but he can’t see anything more than 6 inches in front of his face. He zooms the text on his computer so big that maybe 3 words fit on the screen.

      When talking with him, he always leans in really close like he’s from Italy or something. Everyone on the team knows he’s doing it so that he can read our expressions. It was strange at first but we are all cool with it now. BTW he’s a super nice older guy with lots of experience who is a welcome addition, an excellent contributor.

      Reply
  9. Jeanne

    Do not apologize or say it’s “weird” that you want personal space. This is one of those things that you end up looking worse by trying to be too nice about it. “Excuse me Jane. I am uncomfortable when people stand that close to me. Please do not stand against me. I can get you a chair if you like.” Then when she moves, add Thank you. Directness has value.

    Reply
    1. Not So NewReader

      This. I try to match the person I am talking with, so I start out low key. But if low key does not work and the person persists, then I figure “gloves are off”. Alison gets a lot of questions that seem to involve hinting, which is fine if people can read the cues. If they can’t then we have to bump up a level until we find something they do catch on to.

      It sounds like this manager has been around awhile, probably your request to ask her to step back will not be that big a deal to her. She has had candid conversations before and will have more in the future. In other words, the thought of the conversation bothers you waaay more than it will ever bother her. She might just say, “whoops, sorry” and go right back to her main train of thought.

      Which brings me to my next point. I would fully expect to have to tell her more than once. If you can set yourself up so you can just say a couple words that would be ideal. I picture something like, “Remember? Space bubble!” Use gentle persistence to get your point across.

      Reply
    2. The Expendable Redshirt

      One strategy I’ve used when people overcrowd me (like while standing in line) is to lean into them. Sometimes intruding into their personal space, or even light physical brushing if they’re particularly oblivious. People tend to give me more space after that, and everyone settles into proper space bubbles.

      Reply
      1. OP1

        Often we’re talking about documents that are about eight inches in front of me (since they’re on my desk and I’m still sitting in my desk chair) and she manages to get in the way of me seeing them. I’ve tried basically reaching “through” her to pick up papers multiple times, in a way that I myself would read as “You are in the way”, but no luck.

        Reply
        1. sunny-dee

          Maybe you can mention that? “Jane, I can’t see the papers when you’re this close.” (friendly tone) And then visibly shift. That’s not apologetic but it’s a reason that gives her some cover.

          Reply
        2. Ama

          I think that’s probably your opening right there — “Jane, I can’t see what you’re talking about when you are standing right there, can you back up a bit?”

          Reply
          1. OP1

            The thing is, as I mentioned in my letter to Alison, I’ve actually tried that. No luck. She’ll move slightly at the time but it’s not a lasting thing, ten minutes later she’s basically sitting on my shoulder again.

            Reply
            1. fposte

              But that’s how it’s going to be. This is a lifelong habit for her–you’re not going to find a way to make her change for once and for all. What you need is a thing that you’re willing to return to when she encroaches again.

              Reply
        3. Mpls

          Does she need glasses? Like she’s overcompensating for near-sightedness by getting really close to things and that’s translating into invading personal space? And it’s crept up on her slowly enough that she’s eroded her own personal bubble in order to know what’s going on?

          Reply
          1. KH

            My thought exactly. I have a coworker whose vision is so poor he is unable to drive. He tends to get close to people, I think to read their facial expressions. We’re all used to it, no big deal. (I am anyway)

            So that’s another point. If it’s really not hurting anything, why not be a little flexible and not get so offended if someone’s in your bubble? I worked overseas for most of my career and – it’s hard initially but you get used to it pretty fast.

            Reply
        4. JMegan

          My ex husband is really bad at reading non-verbal cues like that. I assumed that (in the context of a close personal relationship) if you put your hand on someone’s back and apply a little bit of pressure as you’re walking by, it was a universal signal for “I need a bit more space here, please move in the direction my hand is pushing you.” But he didn’t have that same assumption. So I ended up having to say “excuse me” every time, rather than relying on the non-verbal approach.

          I think you’ll be fine just explaining it to her, without apologizing or sounding too aggressive. Good luck!

          Reply
          1. fposte

            Huh, I see the verbal statement as the default there; one of my exes would do the hand-on-the-back thing instead of saying something, and it made me absolutely livid.

            Reply
            1. DMented Kitty

              I grew up in the Philippines, and I have known some people behind me who’d lightly press their knuckles or backs of their hands between my shoulder blades when I’m standing in a line that is slowly moving, as if it makes the line go faster. Something like a nudge but not like a push or a shove. It drove me nuts.

              WE ARE MOVING – NO NEED TO PUSH, SO GET YOUR HAND OFF MY BACK, PLEASE.

              Reply
      2. Daisy Steiner

        Slightly off-topic, but this works really well if you’re trying to avoid touters/charity collectors on the street. Instead of giving them a wide birth, walk right through their personal space. They find it really hard to establish eye contact at that close range, and they often end up backing up to let you go by.

        Reply
        1. anonymouse

          I’ve tried doing this, but it just means they’ll grab my arm or shoulder instead of making eye contact, and that’s so much worse.

          Reply
          1. Daisy Steiner

            Ugh, that’s horrible! No one’s ever tried that with me. I can’t believe they would use physical contact! (as in, “that’s unbelievable!”, not “I don’t believe you!”)

            Reply
        2. B.

          Even more off-topic, but I always just pretend to get a phone call every time I walk by one! Because only the most aggressive quota fillers would interrupt when someone has their cell pressed to their ear and then if they do, I have an easy out of, “Excuse me, I’m on the PHONE.” :D

          Reply
          1. KH

            I look right at them, just long enough to say “no thanks,” while holding up one hand, then look away quickly and walk by without slowing down and without any further eye contact. I may adjust my path well before I get to them to be on the other side of the sidewalk for example, but I don’t make any obvious effort to avoid them.

            It is a strong, confident (not avoiding) body language. They never, ever try to stop me.

            Reply
    3. OP1

      Thanks Jeanne, I’m going to try your wording. I appreciate Alison’s answer but I really don’t want to apologize for this in any way.

      Reply
      1. The Expendable Redshirt

        You really have my sympathies OP1.

        Maybe tape a giant X to the floor and instruct her to stand there?

        Reply
        1. Dr. Johnny Fever

          I’ve mentioned this before but it worked for Les Nessman – duct tape your own office walls on the floor.

          Reply
    4. Poohbear McGriddles

      You could always play “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” by The Police on your phone whenever she is headed over.

      Reply
    5. irritable vowel

      I would add to Jeanne’s advice the suggestion that you have the chair already there–keep it there at all times, where she normally stands. That way you can say something like, “I put this chair here because it’s better for me if you sit,” rather than risking having her say, “Oh, no need to get a chair, I’m fine,” and then you have to be more pushy about it. If she refuses to sit after you’ve said, basically, “Here, I want you to sit in this chair because you’re in my space and that’s what I prefer,” then she’s actively being a jerk, rather than passively causing you distress through cluenessness. I hear you about not wanting to apologize for your normal response to her weirdness!

      Reply
    6. azvlr

      Adding on the the “Thank you” part of the strategy:
      When she maintains the space to your liking, without prompting, point that out as well. This subtle psychology works on me every time, even when I know what’s going on.

      Example: You can say, “Since you moved over there, I feel so much more at ease! I didn’t even realize that I felt uncomfortable. Thank you for that!”

      Example from my life: “I really like this complicated meal you put together. Can you make this more often. It’s soooo good!” Me, instead of groaning about the extra effort involved, I’m suddenly eager to please. It’s nice to be complimented instead of chastised (which is where I was at before), so I’m a sucker for this. lol

      Reply
  10. Ruth (UK)

    1. The average distance people feel most comfortable to have between them and others when communicating varies in different cultures and countries, as well as by personal preference. I wondered while reading the letter if the OP’s manager has a different cultural background to the OP? The last time I looked this up properly was more than a year ago so I could be wrong, but I remember that, for example, Italian and Spanish people typically have a smaller preferred difference between them and other speakers, with Germans and Scandinavian people preferring to stand further apart, and so on. (America’s a big place and had more variation within it but I believe white Americans as a group were one of those who liked to be quite far apart). Obviously there’s also some personal variation for different people.

    In interesting thing happens if you get 2 people who have a different preferred distance and I’ve seen this happen: One person unconsciously takes a step towards the other (imagine if you’re speaking to someone and they’re simply too far away, you want to move closer). The other person suddenly feels too close and takes a step back. A manager at one of my previous jobs was a Spanish lady who I used to watch literally back people into walls in this way (without realising it I think). She also had a tendency to do a little more touching than most English people would find comfortable.

    Anyway, I think it’s easily possible that your manager doesn’t realise they’re in your personal space, as they may feel that the distance they are from you is a natural distance to be when talking to someone. If they don’t realise that their behaviour is different from your norm, or other people’s norm, they won’t pick up any hints you drop so you probably need to explain directly that you prefer to have more space between the two of you when you’re communicating.

    Reply
    1. OP1

      It’s possible – I’m American by birth, and I live in the UK. But I’ve lived here for about ten years and all I’ve noticed is that people walk a bit closer on the sidewalks. (Excuse me, “pavements”!) I’ve never had this problem before.

      The thing is, there isn’t a distance between us for her to be thinking is a normal distance. There is no distance. She’s brushed my nose with a paper when turning a page, before. It’s abnormal by the standards of all other British people I’ve encountered.

      Reply
      1. Myrin

        Yeah, I was just thinking from reading your letter that this doesn’t even sound like she leaves less-than-you’d-like-but-still-reasonable space between the two of you but just that there’s basically no space, period. Which is super weird. Definitely say something, Alison provides great wording in my opinion!

        Reply
      2. Ruth (UK)

        Yeah in that case it sounds like she’s got a bit of a personal misunderstanding about personal space. She still may not realise this about herself though which would explain not responding to hints, making it needful to be more direct (which I realise can feel difficult or awkward)

        Reply
      3. Anon scientist

        I used to work with someone who culturally and mentally had no personal bubble. I was super polite sat first, but he’d always forget and get close again. I would just say “I need you to be THIS far away” (back up, arms extended). And then I’d repeat as necessary. If I got crowded toward something solid, I’d tell him to back up in a friendly but non-joking way.

        Reply
        1. KR

          I had someone who used to crowd me and finally one day I told him (a little shortly) that I needed him to stand at that end of the room and I would stand at this end of the room but we didn’t need to be supervising from the same place. It was a little tense for a week or two and now he understands not to overcrowd me.

          Reply
      4. Ms. Anne Thrope

        When this happens, say something! ‘Ow, that was close, I almost lost an eye!’ ‘Whoa, Jane, that hurt!’ etc.

        She would have probably gotten a sharp elbow from me by now. I like my space.

        Reply
        1. Stranger than fiction

          Maybe she could rub her feet on the floor a bunch when this manager is on her way over, so as to give her a little shock when she brushes against the Op.

          Reply
      5. Elizabeth West

        If you’re in London or another big city, people just have to deal with it. There are so many people on the pavement, the bus, the tube, the train, etc. that no matter where you go, you’re sitting uncomfortably close to someone most of the time. I touch more strangers in London than I do at home, and we’re uncommonly friendly here! I find that after a couple of days, I stop thinking about it.

        But it could be just her, too. I know someone who lives here and he is from up around Watford and he is the huggiest person I ever met.

        Reply
        1. DMented Kitty

          I lived in a crowded country, so to me I have certain expectations of personal spaces depending on where I am. If I’m in a crowded train at rush hour, I can tolerate touching a stranger (or multiple strangers), but I would not want a stranger standing too close to me if there is a huge amount of space around us that he can loiter about. In an office I would not like someone standing five inches from my face. Most of the time I don’t like brushing against someone else if I can help it, but I can reasonably accommodate exceptions.

          That said, this is why I really don’t care much being on the floor area of a concert (I did – once). Yes, that’s where all the action is, but I really don’t like the appeal of being pushed and shoved around.

          Reply
  11. Racheon

    OP1 – I’m exactly the same! I hate when people stand too close (specially when they have coffee breath etc!), and i can get really rattled by it, too. I hope you find a way to tell her. Maybe accisentally roll over her foot with your desk chair..? (I’m joking, obviously, it probably wouldn’t go down well!)

    Reply
  12. Fellow Volunteer Coordinator (UK)

    OP3 As a volunteer coordinator I always include it in the title, as Alison suggests.

    Some other things I find work though as occasionally people will scan over the title:
    -Repeat it at least once during the role description usually something like ‘as this is a volunteer position the time commitment is flexible’ or wherever it fits best
    -On our own websites having separate ‘volunteer opportunities’ and ‘job opportunities’ pages, you say all your roles are voluntary so making sure the page states that not just the role may help
    -If you use external sites to advertise making sure the roles go in the volunteer section of job sites or use sites specifically for recruiting volunteers, two advantages of this you get people looking who are actively seeking volunteer roles and you don’t end up with someone very short term if they take it on while still actively job hunting, (as I’m currently job hunting it also drives me mad when all the volunteer roles on job sites come up when I look for (paid) volunteer coordinator roles so it helps everyone out!). I could suggest sites I find useful but as I’m UK based that may not help.
    -If there is a salary field typing in ‘Unpaid Voluntary position’ rather than leaving it blank
    -If at all possible have separate people handling volunteer inquires and job applications (that has never worked out for me I always end up with both but if you can do it it’s great)
    -To follow UK laws/guidance about not creating contracts accidentally I also have wording phrases/phrases ways of describing things so it doesn’t sound as much like a job posting, for example I avoid using phrases like ‘required skills’ this tends to be very specific to the sector I’m working with so I won’t give other examples.

    Hope some of that may be helpful and good luck! (also yeah something I felt I could help with so breaking my reading only habit of years)

    Reply
  13. Nelly

    #1. I’m not sure if this will help, but when I’ve had that, I’ve put a hand on someone’s shoulders and either pushed them back very gently or stood back some space myself, and said “I haven’t got my glasses on, so you’re all blurry if you stand too close!” with a big smile.

    That way I’m not being rude, but I’m gently putting them into a place I am more comfortable, and they become rude if they get closer, plus you can keep repeating it as often as you want. “Just got to get you back into focus!” big smile. “Ah, you’re all blurry again!” big smile.

    Close talkers NEVER learn, but at least you have an excuse to move them gently to where you’re comfortable every time. And no, you don’t need to need glasses for that to work, and if you do, just say “I’m not wearing my close up glasses” instead. Big smile.

    Reply
    1. ginger ale for all

      I think this will only work if you do actually need close up glasses and use them. People are going to expect to see them if you mention needing them so much. It also leaves the door open to them crowding you again if they see you in glasses. This is a circumstance where a polite and truthful heads up about your personal space needs is a good way to go.

      Reply
  14. NJ Anon

    #1 I had this issue when training at a new job once. I told the person they were making me nervous and it was hard to concentrate. They didn’t realize it, apologized and never did it again. It is not a weird request at all.

    Reply
    1. Shayna

      As a Volunteer Coordinator, I have not had this problem as all of our posting are clearly listed under the heading of “Volunteer Opportunities”. Make it clear from the get go and you shouldn’t have a problem.

      Reply
      1. Velociraptor Attack

        Bingo. I run our volunteer and intern program. I have “Internship Opportunities” and “Volunteer Opportunities”. When we have open paid positions I also add “Employment Opportunities” but it’s not even listed all the time so there’s no need for an organization without employment opportunities to have that header.

        This is a very simple workaround and as someone upthread mentioned, it seems like they’re going out of their way to not indicate that this is a volunteer position and that seems odd.

        Reply
  15. Doriana Gray

    OP #4 – I just started a new job last Monday at a Fortune 500 company I’ve been working at for two years, but when I got my offer letter for this new position in December, it had someone else’s name on it. I contacted the HR rep who sent it to me (I’d already given my verbal acceptance before catching the mistake in the letter I was holding, I was that excited), explained what happened, and she immediately corrected it and sent me a new letter to sign.

    What happened was, because the company is massive with over thousands of employees spread out across the country (and even internationally), HR uses form letters where they just plug in the position titles, job grade, and candidate names/contact info. It’s possible your new employer did the same thing and just didn’t notice. Talk to HR before making the assumption that the title change was something shady.

    Reply
    1. irritable vowel

      At large organizations, too, sometimes the job titles that HR uses are rigidly determined (I guess in order to make sure that people in similar positions are classified correctly) and aren’t always how individual departments choose to title their positions. “Coordinator” might be HR-speak for your position level, but “manager” is what you actually are in the department.

      Reply
      1. sunny-dee

        I was going to say this same thing. My company has a “business card title” which is your public / real title, and then an “internal job title” which is what it is in their HR database. For the last two years, my public title is “senior content strategist” and my internal title is “senior project manager,” which isn’t even remotely the same, but it’s the job category they had available.

        Reply
        1. Stranger than fiction

          That is really interesting, I’ve never heard of this. I wonder what happens when you leave your job and someone is checking your references and then the title on your resume doesn’t match what HR has on record for you? (or perhaps then you switch to the internal title for your resume?)

          Reply
          1. HRish Dude

            Lots of places do this. When you’re a Teapot Resolution Central Specialist IV – they’ll refer to the position as a Teapot Coordinator or something like that.

            Reply
          2. periwinkle

            Pretty much every non-manager in my division has the same HR job title (Teapot Development Specialist). We differentiate by internal job title – Teapot Instructor, Strategic Teapot Liaison, Teapot Solutions Analysts, and so on. At a previous job it was even worse – almost everyone at the same level was an Administrative Assistant but had different functional duties. For each job my resume has the official HR title plus the functional job title.

            Reply
        2. OP #4

          I’m worried that’s not the case here. The title on the ad and the interview was a bit more extensive, e.g. “Spout Features Program Manager Specialist” vs. “Spout Features Program Coordinator Specialist” – -which seems, to me at least, very much just a difference in rank rather than internal vs. external naming. It really does seem like a “manager” position though–it reports to the Director level.

          Reply
          1. Artemesia

            “coordinator” is one of those words used in business to mollify AAs who want advancement and which means absolutely nothing. It is nowhere near as useful on your resume as anything with ‘manager’ in the title. Director or manager are on a different planet from ‘coordinator’ or ‘associate’. I would insist on the title or pass on the job unless you have no choice. I would hope it could be done as fixing a typo — but if not it is a very bad sign about the company and the way it treats employees. Bait and switch is an ugly thing to do. Accepting shouldn’t matter — you discussed this all along as the other title — overlooking this in the letter is a small thing — switching the title is a big thing.

            Reply
          2. KH

            I made a move from a small company to a Fortune 500 company recently. At the small company I was considered an IT director. At the Fortune 500 company I’m only a project manager. I’m more challenged in the project manager role than I ever was in the IT director role.

            And I now realize that it will be at least 10-15 years before I could even see myself even being ready for a director position, let alone being selected for one. On the plus side, I have more real-world experience than most of the other PMs I work with.

            The hard truth is, sometimes you are not what you think you are.

            Reply
      2. finman

        At one job (100,000+ employees) I had, the official title in the HR system was Analyst when everything about me was a Sr. Analyst (job grade, salary, etc), and it took them 2 years to finally change me to Sr. Analyst in their system. Big company HR teams are not always the best at this type of detail.

        Reply
        1. Witty Nickname

          Yep – this happened to me too. My title in the system was Project Manager, but my job grade, salary, duties, etc. was Sr. Project Manager. My boss told me to just go ahead and use the Sr. in my email signature, and after about a year, they finally got the title changed in the system as well.

          Reply
    2. OP #4

      Thank you! This is reassuring. I’m having trouble getting in touch with the recruiter now…so I’m hoping she’s not just dodging my calls/emails.

      Reply
        1. OP #4

          Yep. That’s what I’m thinking as well. (I just don’t want to give my new manager the impression that I’m overly concerned with titles, and inattentive to detail–since I didn’t notice until after I had accepted, so I’m thinking carefully about how to word that email!) ..but I do want to know if it is a simple mistake or if it was deliberate!

          Reply
          1. Artemesia

            Expecting to have the title you interviewed for is not ‘being overly concerned with titles’ and this is frankly one of those girly fears; men rarely yield on something like this and are not expected to do anything but stand up for themselves. Don’t take what they hand you or they will keep handing it to you.

            Reply
  16. TL17

    #2 – I’ve never seen MS Office certification on a resume. But, I guess depending on the industry, maybe it can’t hurt. If you’re just out of school, I think people will assume a level of proficiency, but you may know the really neat stuff you can do with the Office suite that goes beyond basic proficiency.

    I work for a small professional office. We needed to hire an assistant a couple years ago. We got lots of applicants who included “MS proficient” and who had office experience. We hired a lady who considered herself proficient, had been an assistant before, and for heavens sake – it was 2014. Turns out her idea of “proficient” didn’t include things like knowing how to save a document, print an envelope, or do a ctrl+f find. I wish I was kidding. Not saying she needed an extra certification, but we certainly would’ve had a better idea of what she could do.

    Reply
    1. Apollo Warbucks

      People are terrible at assessing their own skills.

      I asked my old supervisor how good their excel I was told “very good” then they asked how to add a new sheet to the workbook :(

      Reply
      1. Florida

        I think sometimes people overestimate their skills because they don’t know what the program is capable of. Someone might be very good at using Excel for whatever reason they use it. That reason does not include adding additional worksheets, so they didn’t even know it was possible. That’s one issue.
        The other issue is that 90% of the people are above average. In a job interview, it increases to 98%.

        Reply
        1. Vee

          Agreed. I thought I was good in Excel… until I actually got reasonably good at Excel!

          I’ve used it in different capacities in 3 different jobs and taken a couple advanced classes and I am finally to a point where I probably know more than 95% of people who use Excel in some capacity. Even then, now I know I have only scratched the surface.

          Excel is so advanced that many people have no idea how much it can do until they need something specific or watch an advanced person at work.

          Reply
          1. Drink the Juice Shelby

            I’m reasonably competent in Excel, but I’m constantly learning new functions to utilize. The jobs I apply for want people that can do specific stuff – vlookups, pivots, data functions, charts, etc. I just mention those specific items on my resume under skills and adjust based on what the req is asking for (if I know it!).

            There’s a younger engineer that I’m training and we constantly point out things to each other. Today it was using the match function, the other day I pointed out how he could add stuff to the quick access toolbar. :)

            Reply
        2. Shell

          Amen. I don’t consider myself a power user of Office; I know basic Excel, I’m decent at Word, and if I honestly ranked myself I’d say I was pretty mediocre or average. Some people look at me like I’m magic when I use conditional formatting (the default options, not even anything I whipped up), but I’ve never needed to use references between sheets/documents nor have I ever touched a pivot table in my life. I don’t even know all the things Office is capable of.

          But you can’t sell yourself as “mediocre” or “average” for a job application. This is why self-assessments are so useless. I’d much rather have a ranking system based on quantifiable measures: do you know pivot tables, can you do a statistical analysis with Excel, can you do mail merge and apply styles in Word, do you know how to code a macro, etc.

          Reply
          1. CADMonkey007

            This is true, which is why simply *having* certification or claiming to be proficient is not very useful. How well can you apply your software knowledge to the tasks of the job you’re applying for? Perhaps list projects you did *as part of* a certification course to demonstrate your ability to execute tasks. There’s a difference between saying “i took a class on databases” vs “As part of this class, I created a database that does X, Y, & Z.”

            That said, some companies might be wooed by said certification. Personally, I’m tired of my management hiring people who “know AutoCAD and Revit” who really just took an intro course and can draw some lines.

            Reply
      2. Natalie

        Dunning-Kreuger effect! The less knowledgeable you are about topic X, the more likely you are to overestimate your knowledge about topic X.

        Reply
        1. Florida

          I didn’t know there was a name for it. The part about how 90% of the people think they are above average is called the Lake Wobegon Effect.

          Reply
    2. LQ

      Testing can be so helpful. (And not like restricted testing where you have to do things the stupid/slow/hard way of clicking through the menus at the top and never using keybinds.)

      When I started at the place I’m at now I said I was a beginner in Office. The people I work with would tell you I’m an expert, I know enough to know the vast expanses of what I don’t know, but they don’t so I look like a magician some days.

      Give tasks and ask if people can do those tasks, then test them on the basics of those tasks. (I despise the whole proficiency idea, what do you mean? What do you actually need me to do? Print, safe, find? That’s not what I’d say proficiency is, ack!)

      Reply
      1. Master Bean Counter

        I once had a temp agency say they were going to have me do an assessment on office. Then they told me it was three versions ago and I wasn’t allowed to use keyboard short cuts or right click. They really didn’t like me when I asked if they were really going to test my proficiency on an outdated version of the software using the least efficient method?
        Needless to say I picked my implication packet back up and left.
        Now my current employer is looked at this same staffing agency to fill a position and they were extremely unimpressed with the candidates they sent over.

        Reply
        1. LQ

          Yeah I did an assessment like that at an agency once and it was painful. They were using current version, but no keyboard shortcuts, no right click, only doing things their way and the slow way. During the interview portion I kind of exploded with a gentle, “Hey you know you can use CTRL+C and CTRL+V rather than going up to copy and paste” when I watched the interviewer copy and paste my results into a spreadsheet. She was stunned and they got me a good job, so I guess it wasn’t that bad, but I know in general criticizing the way people work while you are in an interview is not a good thing. It was so painful I couldn’t watch it!

          Reply
          1. Xarcady

            My temp agency has tests that say in the instructions that you can use keyboard shortcuts, but when you take the darned test, you can’t. No right-mouse-clicks either. Just the menus. Incredibly frustrating.

            In spite of that, I’m considered “advanced” in Word (I completely guessed at the Mail Merge questions), and intermediate in Excel (I can format cells like anything, but can’t do the equations at all). It helps that most places I’ve worked have used Excel as a database and not a spreadsheet–I can cope with that.

            Reply
          2. Anonymous Educator

            This isn’t the first time I’ve read about tests involving the forbidding of keyboard shortcuts. Can someone explain what the (twisted) logic involved here is? It’s not like keyboard shortcuts are cheating—you’re doing the exact same thing, just more quickly.

            Reply
    3. JGray

      The person who had my job back in 2011 refused to use Microsoft Word- she used Word Perfect. I still find old documents in Word Perfect. The accountant at my company told me that she refused to use Mircosoft Word so they just let her use Word Perfect. I agree that you just can’t really take people on their word because like your example proficient is a very subjective term.

      Reply
      1. Xarcady

        In her defense, Word Perfect does give the user access to the formatting info in a document better than Word does. The desk top publishing department at my last job clung to Word Perfect desperately, until it just became too difficult to meet client requests for Word docs. They loved the way WP showed the formatting, as it made it much easier for them to work in the document.

        So there is at least one good reason to choose WP over Word. Although I suspect that the person who had your position probably just didn’t want to learn new software.

        Reply
        1. sunny-dee

          I actually love love love Word Perfect. I used to do a lot of stuff in it, get it all perfect, then just save a client file as a DOCX doc and do a sanity check for the formatting.

          Some of it is for the flexibility — some of it is lingering resentment from my college days, when Word had this way of blue-screening and eating my research papers.

          Reply
    4. Stranger than fiction

      It seems to me this was a ‘thing’ about 10-15 year ago. I used to get adverts in the mail or by email for local places offering the certification and I’d see it on job ads, but haven’t seen it in a really long time…
      Ha, I have coworkers who are the same, and I have to bite my tongue almost daily at the very basic (to me) functions that they don’t know.

      Reply
    5. Mockingjay

      #2: I am not MS-certified, but I have considered it for Word, Access, and SharePoint. I have colleagues who are certified. I’m self-taught in most functions, and I have tons of wikis and blogs bookmarked for quick reference when I can’t figure something out.

      I certainly wouldn’t mind taking a test during an interview to demonstrate proficiency – word processing and document management skills are essential in my field (tech writing) – although I have never been asked to do so. It’s also important to state which particular Office version your experience is in, and to find out what the business uses.

      When I started current job, the lead technical writer on the team explained that that the customer was dissatisfied by inconsistent document formatting on the deliverables. I looked at the docs – they were done in Word 2013, but all the formatting was handjammed (extra paragraph returns instead adjusting points after, manually numbered headings and manually typed TOC, etc.). I created a few style codes and cleaned up the documents, and made some templates.

      She was amazed that I could format so quickly. I was puzzled. Turned out she had worked for a small company for 12 years, and they still used Word 2003. I had to teach her style codes and show her which functions were found on each ribbon tab. I also had to teach her SharePoint. Her old company had no data library so they emailed files around. So, she was proficient in Word – but Word 2003. I was also proficient in Word – Word 2013. Big difference.

      Reply
    6. Elizabeth West

      I typically don’t include it unless it’s in the job posting. If they put it in the job posting, I stick it in there so their software will see it. But I think the best way to illustrate it is to talk about ways you used it to achieve something, such as “Created master report template in Word for various departments” or whatever.

      Reply
    7. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2

      I think it’s a resume booster. If you can put together newsletters or powerpoints, it gives you an advantage. Spreadsheets, even Access Databases… yes. I’d include it. It cannot hurt.

      Reply
  17. Cupcake

    At this point, I feel like “Microsoft Offive proficient” means “I can go to Google, type in “How do I do a mail merge?” and learn how to do a thing in five minutes.

    Reply
    1. Mike C.

      I really have to agree here. F1 is help and Google/YouTube have answers and tutorials.

      If we’re talking a certification in something really complicated, it could be useful, but you’re going to learn this stuff by using it, not sitting through a class for it.

      Reply
        1. blackcat

          Oh, I’m not denying that at all! I am a skilled google-er for things from software issues to car repairs.

          It’s just that “certifications” often mean very little.

          Reply
      1. DMented Kitty

        There are some people who really can’t grasp the concept of search keywords. I have managed to pull up relevant searches efficiently and without difficulty by typing just a couple words compared to people who would type vague keywords (or a full sentence) and then end up with scattered results.

        Reply
    2. LQ

      Some people don’t have that skill so yes! I totally agree. Knowing enough to figure it out from google is proficient of a certain kind.

      Reply
    3. OfficePrincess

      Yes this. I would never claim to be an expert in Excel by any means, but I am good at thinking “I wish this could…wait, I bet it can” and heading off to Google.

      Reply
    4. Stranger than fiction

      So true! I look up Excel stuff sometimes when I get in a jam, can’t solve an issue or whatever, there’s so many you tube videos and other sites that will walk you through exactly how to solve something. I’ve probably doubled my proficiency in the last five years doing it this way.

      Reply
    5. get some perspective

      Some people are not even aware of the capacity of the software. They don’t even know mail merge or styles exist, and are not aware that the software can create automatic tables of contents, just to give a few examples.

      They don’t even know they are unskilled.

      Reply
      1. calonkat

        Thank you for posting that! I was just going to head to xkcd to look for that. I posted it on my cubicle wall AND gave it to my mother!

        Reply
  18. Tomato Frog

    Re: #1, personally I wouldn’t be comfortable invoking the concept of personal space to a manager (not that you shouldn’t be, just that I wouldn’t be) so I’d probably say something like this: “Could you step back a little? I keep worrying I’m going to bump into you.” I would just say it every time.

    You might also try standing up when she’s coming over so you’re beside her rather than being loomed over by her.

    Reply
    1. Stranger than fiction

      Me too. While I like some of the suggested phrases here, I’d just plain be too scared to do this with a new manager at a brand new job. I’d probably fake claustrophobia or something like that. (but, this may be partly due to the fact that I’ve had managers who’ve tried to edge me out before)

      Reply
  19. LOLwut

    Question on #2… What if the certification is for something a little less commonplace than MS Office? I’m trying to get a certification in Google AdWords to add to my resume. It’s fairly complicated, and not everybody can pick it up in five minutes. However, I don’t, nor will I, have a chance to use it at my current job. Is it a waste of time?

    Reply
    1. CAA

      It won’t hurt, but it may not help either. If it’s something you cannot gain hands-on experience in but want to work with, then it’s a way to show you have some grasp of the subject. It probably won’t get you an interview or a job if you’re going up against people who do have hands-on experience though.

      Reply
    2. CMT

      I’m guessing the usefulness of certifications is proportional to the complexity of the program and inversely proportional to how commonplace it is.

      Reply
    3. Witty Nickname

      That’s a…I don’t want to say valuable, but nice to have, maybe? certification in some companies/industries. I work in digital advertising, and all of our SEM specialists have the certification – most of them have gotten it while working for my company though. Some of our sales people have it too. I’ve taken the first exam for that certification, just to do it. I didn’t spend much time studying, because I was just doing it to do it, but it was hard (and I did not pass).

      Hands-on experience will be more important to break into this industry, but the certification isn’t going to hurt. If you don’t have to spend a lot of money on it, and are interested in doing it, it’s worth doing.

      I have a certification in project management. That requires several years of experience, education in project management, and a very difficult exam (plus ongoing education in order to maintain the certification). Even then, some companies find it valuable, and some don’t really care. My company paid for it, so I was happy to do it. It’s not going to hurt me to have it on my resume, and it may or may not help me.

      Reply
  20. Ann Furthermore

    #1: I think as long as you’re polite and friendly about it, you should be able to say something and it will be fine.

    About a year ago I was with my boss at another office while we were doing some software testing. When we wrapped thing up and got ready to leave, the person we worked with there came over to say goodbye. She hugged me, which was fine. My boss immediately stuck her hand out and shook this person’s hand, who said “What, no hug?” And my boss smiled and said, “I’m sorry, that would be an invasion of my personal space.” Everyone laughed and there was no weirdness at all.

    Reply
  21. Rowan

    OP#1: All of the advice I’ve seen so far is excellent but assumes you’ll have the wherewithal to address the situation calmly in the moment, and from your letter it sounds like that might be difficult. So my advice is to find a time when you can talk with her when it’s not immediately happening, so you’ll be calmer (of course, this is maybe a chicken-and-egg problem — as soon as you start talking to her, she moves in too close!). But if you can manage it, you can start off with, “I noticed that when you come over to help me, you like to stand quite close to me, and…(fill in one of the other excellent suggestions)”.

    Reply
    1. irritable vowel

      Yes, this! Like they say in counseling, wait for a neutral moment to bring up a behavior you want another person to change. Her being close to you clearly stresses you out and you might not present your needs as calmly as you want.

      Reply
  22. Kai

    #1: OP, when she comes to help you, why not get out of your seat and offer it to her? Then she can show you what you need up close, and you can control how much space you get.

    Reply
  23. Xarcady

    #3. Please make it crystal clear at the beginning of the ad/job description that the position is volunteer.

    Recently, I found an ad on a job board that seemed perfect. Non-profit with a mission I support, job that matched my skills almost exactly, short commute. The full-time job was to manage the largest part of the organization’s mission, coordinating volunteers, overseeing the entire budget for the project, volunteer recruitment, database management, training volunteers, writing and producing training and recruitment materials. I was just mentally checking everything off–I had the skills they needed. I could do this! It seemed too good to be true.

    It was. The very last paragraph was, “This is a volunteer position for the first 6 months. Full-time employment is a possibility after a probationary three months after the volunteer position has ended. ” I would have stopped reading the ad right away, if that had been the first line. I need a paying job, not a full-time volunteer position. It definitely felt like a bait and switch.

    Reply
    1. Elizabeth the Ginger

      Whoa, so their budget could have room for paying someone to do the job… but before they consider paying you, they want you to work for free for nine months?! Yeah, that feels exploitative to me, too. I understand that some non-profits can’t afford to pay for certain roles, but dangling the possibility of pay is what strikes me as not quite right here.

      Plus, they’re not going to get as strong a candidate pool this way as if they paid from day 1, since they’re filtering out anyone but people with no need to work, and people who are really desperate and not getting hired anywhere else.

      Reply
      1. I'm a Little Teapot

        Exploitative is exactly the right word. I’m cynical enough to bet that they’d either let you go after the 9 unpaid months (!) and find some other poor sucker to string along for another 9 months, or come up with some BS excuse why they can’t pay you yet after all “but it’ll be juuust another few weeks until we can, just hang in there” (repeat until you finally quit).

        Reply
        1. OwnedByTheCat

          And they’ll probably be moaning and groaning about the fact that they can’t find anyone qualified to fill this very complex and demanding position!

          Reply
          1. Artemesia

            I don’t think it is too cynical. Dangling possible employment while people continue living in their parents’ basement is pretty much the definition of exploitation. Make it volunteer, okay — pretend you are running up to a real job, not okay.

            Reply
            1. Florida

              I agree with you. There are definitely people in volunteer roles at nonprofits who are happy to do a full-time job, for which they should be paid decently, for free. There was a period in my life when I was able to do that, and was happy to do it. I have been a paid staffer at nonprofits that had full-time volunteers who were quite happy working for 20-40 hours a week for free. Yes, the nonprofit could no have survived without the volunteers.
              But to say that you have to be there for 9-months before it’s full-time, oh and by the way, you won’t get paid for the first 6-months, is exploitation. Just say straight up that it’s a volunteer job.
              Note to nonprofits: be sure that your volunteer roles are rewarding enough that you don’t need to dangle potential employment as a carrot to get people to volunteer.

              Reply
            2. Elizabeth the Ginger

              Agreed. Or if there is the chance for it to turn into paid work in six months or a year, that’s a bonus – but don’t put it in the job ad. Just keep it under your hat. Then it seems like they’re just trying to attract people with the promise of something that might or might not come to pass. I imagine it would be quite stressful to work for 6-9 months, thinking “boy, it would be great if I could get paid” – but not knowing if it would happen or not.

              On the other hand, this is only because it’s full-time. If they advertised asking for volunteers to spend a couple hours each week on something, and mentioned in the ad that sometimes they hire volunteers for full-time, paying roles – that I’d be okay with, because that doesn’t preclude the volunteer having other full-time employment while they’re still just a volunteer.

              Reply
      2. The Artist Formally Known As UKAnon

        That’s certainly possible, but it may also be genuinely linked to funding issues. Possibly “we’re trying to get funding for the role but we need to be able to show [donors] that the role will add XYZ, so they want to see someone do it before they’ll fund the role” or “funding is contingent on [donor] being satisfied with you in the role – the money becomes available in six months, but they want a three month probation first”.

        I once volunteered into a paid role, because they wanted the role but it took a while to get the funding to make it happen; volunteering in the meantime was what got me the job when it became available.

        Reply
        1. Observer

          Generally speaking, that’s TERRIBLE management and very poor fundraising. So, it’s either exploitative or just lousy management of the kind that keeps organizations from operating at a reasonable level.

          Reply
          1. The Artist Formally Known As UKAnon

            Unfortunately, there’s just generally not that much money out there, and what there is is often low amounts and only temporary. Organisations don’t just stop working because funding has disappeared down the plughole.

            Reply
            1. Observer

              I don’t buy it. I do totally understand program design that depends on volunteers. But what you are describing something very different. If you can’t make a case to reasonable funders to fund a necessary position and you can’t find the money elsewhere to pay for it, then something is the matter.

              I’ve been in this field for over 2 decades. Well run organizations don’t pull this kind of thing.

              Reply
        2. Elizabeth the Ginger

          If that’s the case, I think that could be information that could go in the job ad. Preferably at the top, so people like Xarcady who aren’t in a position to forego paid work will know this is not the job for them.

          Reply
    2. snuck

      The other thing that strikes me in this is the fact that it’s a Volunteer Coordinator job…

      Volunteer hours are vital to many organisations, and the role of coordinator shouldn’t be a random role, it’s a highly regarded role. The right person in that job filtering and sorting volunteers will mean higher retention, better fit and frankly… more volunteer hours available.

      It’s worth paying for it… up front, from the beginning. It’s a management position. With all that being a manager entails. The fact that the staff aren’t being paid doesn’t mean it won’t have HR issues, won’t have attendence issues, won’t have recruitment and retention issues – it could well have MORE of those things.

      Pay the manager folks, pay them well, and employ a good one. In return you’ll get a pool of solid volunteer employees who will stay and be worth more than the rate of pay for the Manager.

      Reply
  24. Seven If You Count Bad John

    OP#1 I’m curious if the crowder does this to anyone else? If so can it be addressed as part of a pattern? If not, what’s special about you?

    Reply
    1. OP1

      I’m curious about that as well! I don’t know, because I started a month ago and this manager started three weeks ago – so there’s not really anyone to compare notes with, she hasn’t had much of an opportunity to do it to anyone else.

      I’m on a client site today though, and they said they’d ask another trainee to sit at my desk while I was away – so I think I’ll ask them when I get back.

      Reply
      1. Not So NewReader

        Oh. Wait. She’s new. You’re new. Granted she’s one of your bosses, but I think that you both are new helps to level the playing field a tiny bit. You could say something like, “I know what it’s like to have new job jitters, I have them, too. So you probably do not realize how close you are when you are standing next to me. Would you please make an effort not to stand so close to me?”

        I do agree with others that you may never fix this because it might be her personal habit. However, you can pull the problem out in to the open and mention it from time to time. You could switch the reminders up with, “Oh gosh, I almost bumped you, could you just step back a little?”

        Reply
        1. Ultraviolet

          I really wouldn’t recommend connecting the close-talking to the boss being nervous about the new job. It’ll sound insulting. It also focuses the discussion on the boss doing something wrong rather than on the boss having different personal space preferences than the OP. (I mean, it sounds like boss’s preferences there are pretty unusual and she’s probably erring in not knowing and accounting for that. But there’s no benefit in framing it as the boss’s mistake.)

          Reply
      1. Windchime

        I’m glad someone else said it.

        I worked with a guy last year who was definitely giving me creepy vibes, and one way he was doing it was by constantly invading my personal space. He was practically like the “Close Talker” guy on Seinfeld, getting up to within nose-touching distance. He didn’t do it to the guys, only to 3 out of the 4 women in the group. (I think the 4th woman must have projected a better sense of “stay out of my space”). He finally quit when it was apparent that he would have to work for a woman manager who had refused to give him her home address, despite his repeated requests.

        Reply
      2. OP1

        Yeah, I guess I’m just kind of assuming she’s not a creeper because she’s an older woman who has been married to a man in the past. But then, when I’ve had “I don’t know why I’m so upset by this person being so close to me” reactions before, it’s often turned out that there was good reason.

        I’ll keep an eye out, thanks.

        Reply
        1. Hornswoggler

          Creepiness is not always sexual in nature. It can be an overdeveloped ‘parenting instinct’ which turns into boundary-crossing and treating the employee like their child. There was a case of that on here I think, where someone’s older co-worker was monitoring her health and her toilet breaks – that was a bit extreme though.

          Reply
  25. OriginalEmma

    OP1: Remind your manager of Pauli’s exclusion principle while playing The Police?

    But in seriousness, a cheerful “Please don’t stand so close to me, it distracts me from what you’re trying to help me with” complete with shifting your chair should be enough. You might also bring a chair over, or move your computer monitor and paperwork around so that she doesn’t need to hover. Rephrase and repeat as necessary.

    Reply
  26. Employment Lawyer

    2. Is it worth getting Microsoft Office certifications?
    Yes, in my opinion, but only if it doesn’t take too much time. It certainly won’t hurt and for smart folks it will help.

    As you correctly note, “proficient” is a relatively meaningless word, but in many offices, those uncharted ‘soft skills’
    can add huge value to an employee. The difference between a paralegal who “knows how to do ____” and one who “knows how to figure out anything in Office” is huge.

    Reply
    1. Dr. Johnny Fever

      Office skills are not soft skills. Those are hard skills for a specific application.

      And, no, as someone who hires today, an Office cert is meaningless at my F50, especially in the age of Google and Lifehacker, as mentioned above.

      It doesn’t help for many industries, such as mine, and is a waste of money and time.

      Reply
      1. snuck

        I’m with you.

        It depends on role and experience level for me… if it was a relatively junior admin role that had some specialty Office skills as part of the work tasks (that I was assuming I’d have to teach the person) then that’d be worth considering. But I wouldn’t make a decision based on that, I’d decide on soft people skills.

        I’ve learnt long ago that extensive experience working with the program, coupled with other strong skills is more important. It’s a nice idea to know that a person has X skills because they passed Y test, but the reality is that being able to pass a test doesn’t mean they actually have life application of those same skills, or know when to use them. I’d be looking for people who actually know where and when to use them, and have the ability to look up HOW to do it if they aren’t sure. That’s far more important. You can look up anything online, but what to put into the search string comes from experience.

        Reply
    2. Anonymous Educator

      How will it help smart folks, exactly? You seem to be equating passing a certification test with actually being proficient. Are the two really the same?

      Reply
    3. Kate M

      I actually wouldn’t way that it won’t hurt. I mean, I’m not going to throw someone’s application out over it at all. BUT, this sort of thing seems somewhat outdated to me. You used to see this advertised more a decade or so ago. So it almost seems like they’re behind the times, or putting weight on something that isn’t that impressive. I don’t even like seeing Microsoft Office proficiency listed on any resume. By now, everyone (at least who is applying for a job that uses it) should be proficient in Microsoft Office, or at least know how to find the answers (Google). And most people who don’t know how to use it still include it on their resume. So it doesn’t actually tell me anything at all. For most jobs (in an office at least), knowing how to use Office is akin to “knowing how to send an email.” It’s something that you should be able to do, so I’m not even going to question whether you can, because it’s so basic at this point.

      Reply
  27. Observer

    #3, To be very honest I find the question rather odd. Many, if not most, announcements of positions on organizational web sites don’t indicate anything about salary. On the other hand, even primarily volunteer run organizations frequently have a few paid positions, especially at the level of management that you are indicating. As for not having any indication of employment, why would anyone think that a “leadership position” in an organization is NOT employment?

    Don’t tap dance around this, and don’t “indicate” it. Be totally clear that any and all positions posted on your web site are volunteer. You’ll save everyone (including yourself) a lot of time. You’ll will also avoid damaging your reputation and destroying potential good will.

    Also, you may want to have an um-involved outsider look at your overall communications. If this issue is an indication f how you communicate with various constituencies, it looks like you have a tendency to oblique communications that depend way too much on people picking up hints that are visible only to yourself (as an organization, not personally.)

    Reply
    1. Sunflower

      Completely agree that I found this question very strange and I’m pretty confused by the org’s thinking. I could be totally off base here but it feels a bit to me like the org is purposely holding back the fact that they are all volunteer, unpaid positions. I am not sure what they would be hoping to accomplish here as I highly doubt people looking for paid work are going to change their mind and decide they are so into the idea of this position that they would like to do it for free.

      Why on earth is ‘Volunteer’ not included in the job posting or why is the page not listed as ‘Volunteer Opportunities’? At the very least, each posting should have an asterisked, bolded line of *Note this is an unpaid volunteer position.

      I also agree with the last part about having someone look at your overall communications. Frankly your response email was rather long-winded and while eventually it got to the point, I felt the response somewhat danced around the point as well. If vague language is common in your org, it’s possible your orgs mission and achievements among many other things is also not clear and that could be hurting you guys more than you think.

      Reply
      1. Mine was #3

        Excellent suggestion, but that would take a budget for such. And, in all honesty, I’d rather spend any of my budget I can actually employing people.

        Reply
        1. MsM

          This sounds like it could be a really good project for a local college or business school that does pro bono consulting.

          Reply
        2. Ultraviolet

          I don’t agree with Sunflower’s take on your email, but I’d like to point out that there was a post here last week where a lot of us were talking about wanting interesting but short-term volunteer opportunities! I think you could get some really helpful consulting free of charge if you can figure out how to reach those prospective volunteers.

          Reply
          1. Observer

            That’s true. And, depending on the city you are in (at least in the US) there are clearing houses for this kind of thing.

            Reply
        3. Observer

          That’s penny wise and dollar foolish. I’ve worked (directly and indirectly) with dozens of organizations over the years. Every one that took that attitude has either gone under or found itself facing serious issues – issues that did much more to impair their ability to employ people and / or serve their mission than the lack of the money that they spent on the original issue could have cost.

          You have a communications problem. Have you thought about the possibility that it’s part of the reason why you are having a hard time getting the right candidates AND that it may also be contributing to whatever difficulties you are having with fundraising, management and service provision whatever form that takes?

          You are looking for Teapot Design Leaders. But, if you cannot communicate clearly, you are going to negatively affect your designers and / or designs. The designers will get frustrated because they don’t get clarity on what you need from them and what you are trying to accomplish. And the best designer in the world, the greatest tolerance for frustration, is not going to create great designs if the parameters are not clear. If your designer thinks that these teapots are primarily ceremonial items for occasional use, and you really need highly sturdy, but beautiful teapots that can be used in ceremonies, you are almost certainly going to get a design that’s just not going to work for you.

          It doesn’t make a difference what it is that your organization is doing. Communications is one of those things that really need to work if your organization is going to function effectively.

          Reply
  28. Cucumberzucchini

    This isn’t very helpful for OP1 because it’s a work environment but I can’t stand when people in a checkout line get right on top of me. I’ve had a couple of instances where people were in an obvious rush but it wasn’t their turn and for some reason they thought breathing down my neck is somehow going to make the cashier move faster. I just turn around and tell them, “You’re way too close and need to back up.” And they do.

    I would just tell her flat out, calmly, and cheerfully “You’re too close for my comfort, would you please back up a few inches/feet/whatever?” and then when she does just say, “Thanks so much.” and move on with whatever you were doing.

    Reply
    1. Former Retail Manager

      My husband asks the person behind him if they’d like to go ahead and jump on his back. They usually just look at him with bewilderment.

      Reply
    2. Brandy in TN

      This happens to me in stores. its ridiculous. Im normally a fast walker, but can slow enjoy and let people pass. But I also realize that slow walkers have their right to be slow and I slow up if I come upon slow walkers. Ive felt the “hop on” urge many, many times.

      Reply
    3. Elizabeth West

      Gaaah I hate that. I’m also worried they’ll see my PIN as I tap it in. I always put my hand over it or something in front of the keypad, even if they’re right there. And I run my fingers over the pad when I’m done in case they have one of those heat-reading things on their phone. (That may be an urban legend but I’m not taking any chances.)

      Reply
    4. Kate M

      I’m the exact opposite in most cases. Maybe this is being in a city, but stores here are so small there isn’t a lot of room for a long line. At Starbucks in the morning, the line is often out the door. I just want to yell at people “IF EVERYONE WOULD TAKE ONE STEP CLOSER TO THE PERSON IN FRONT OF YOU, WE COULD CLOSE THE DOOR AND STAY WARM.” Sure, if you have room, feel free to spread out. But I think having a compact line in small spaces is important. Don’t take up more room than you have to so people can move.

      Reply
  29. Beti

    My current job doesn’t involve Excel at all (in fact I could conceivably do my job for years without touching a computer) and I’m going into a field in which I need to know it inside and out. What are some good ways to demonstrate proficiency on my resume or cover letter (once I learn it inside and out via class or self study)?

    Reply
    1. Anonymous Educator

      I don’t think you can really demonstrate on your cover letter (unless you start using it at your current job, even though you don’t have to; or unless you want to take up some volunteer spreadsheet work).

      I would recommend getting to know the program, though. Some simple things to learn:

      1. How to make a formula.
      2. How to do sums, averages, upper-case/lower-case/proper-case conversion, find unique values with formulas.
      3. Doing VLookups.
      4. Auto-sizing columns/rows.
      5. Creating pivot tables and pivot charts.
      6. Copying and pasting values instead of formulas.
      7. Learning what the $ means in cell references.
      8. Creating a macro.
      9. Highlighting to the end of a row or block of cells without using your mouse or just tapping the down and right arrows repeatedly.
      10. Finding duplicate values in a list.

      I was involved in hiring someone to replace me at an Excel-heavy job, and I didn’t give a damn what people put on their résumés. I brought them in for interviews and had them sit at the computer and do things to see how comfortable they were.

      Reply
      1. snuck

        Yup. Show me what you can do, don’t tell me you can. This is what I’ve done too. It takes 10 minutes to mock up a random data set and a few quick scenarios… and ten minutes per applicant of practical assessment. For analyst support roles etc… for admin roles that are Word heavy do the same thing, with merges, setting up style guides (and using them!) and so on.

        And watch them, via a screen duplication (so they don’t get nervous) and you’ll quickly work out who knows, who can find it, and who was flubbing.

        Reply
        1. Beti

          Thanks for the suggestions. I am more looking for a way to get the *opportunity* to show them – to make sure my resume isn’t binned for not looking like I have the requisite skills.

          Reply
          1. snuck

            I’d actually state the skills you have, if that’s appropriate.

            I feel (and I read here that others feel similarly) that if you are putting this on your resume it needs to be necessary – either you don’t have much else to put on, or they are asking for specific skills in the job package and you are answering those specific requests.

            If you are applying for analyst or mid level technical roles then you could just say something like “Advanced Office skills as required by the role, including extensive Excel, Access and Visual Basic skills”

            If you are applying for an admin role then I’d just state “Extensive experience using MS Office Suite, Lotus Notes, MYOB and *whatever else applies*”

            They can tell from your experience / work history what you’ve been touching.

            If they are specifically looking for “Excel Whizz and VB SuperStar” then a certification won’t count, you will need to step up and say “On Project X I built a self completing daily report that was accessible to PQR across the company after being uploaded to the internal intranet. We chose Excel because the users had access to the software, but took P and Z precautions to protect data integrity. The report used a combination of simple and complex lookups, hidden and visible tabs, formulae and calculations consistent with an advanced user of Excel which then would output a data file based on customer information entered.”

            Excel is an exceptionally powerful tool and a lot of people think they have “advanced skills” because they can do a v-lookup. Sure… many people can’t… but there’s a LOT more in excel.

            Reply
  30. ro

    #2

    I’m in the midst of considering getting my PMP (Project Management certification) and now you’ve got me spooked. Do all hiring managers really not put a lot of stock in certifications? FWIW- I’m already doing PM work and I’ve taken some classes, but never formally studied or taken the certification exam. It’s a costly endeavor so if hiring managers aren’t going to care it’s giving me pause. Also, I am not in a technical/engineering/software development field in case that makes a difference. I know in those fields it’s normal to expect a candidate to have their PMP. It’s not as common in my field, which is why I thought it might help.

    Reply
    1. Persephone Mulberry

      While I think a PMP is a horse of a different color than, say, an MS Office certification, I also think that if you’re in an industry where the PMP is uncommon, it’s going to be undervalued, and I’d weigh cost vs benefit very carefully. If you think it will make you better at your job, go for it – but if you’re doing it to impress potential employers, maybe not.

      Reply
    2. BenAdminGeek

      PMP is a ton of work, and shows you’ve done more than just manage projects, you also understand theories and methods for getting things done. It’s very different than just a certificate, often required in big firms, and something I wish I’d done years ago…

      Reply
    3. Winter is Coming

      Perhaps you could check some job postings to see if the PMP is required, recommended, or not mentioned at all. In my field of HR, certifications are often required or recommended, so I went out and got it. I only did it for that reason though…if I ever need to leave my current job, it’s helpful to have.

      Reply
    4. Dr. Johnny Fever

      In the technical field, PMP does not hold the value that it used to. If you are in finance, construction, or a tangible goods field, a PMP will add value and more closely match your processes. There’s a good deal of PMP that doesn’t apply in software development.

      If anyone is curious about technical certifications that carry weight today, hiring managers are looking for for Agile certs: PMI-ACP, PSM, CSM, CSPO, CSP. Those can be obtained through primarily through PMI and ScrumAlliance.

      Reply
      1. Witty Nickname

        Yes, this! I have my PMP, but I work in Marketing, and Agile just doesn’t work for the teams I work with. If I worked on the software/engineering side of my company, I’d pursue the Agile certs.

        I’m moving more into Program Management these days, and may end up pursing that certification (if my company will pay for it) in the next couple years, just because I want to.

        My old boss wanted her team to have their certifications, and was able to get our company to pay for it, but when we were looking for a new person last year, a lot of experience was more valuable than the certification. The PMP was a nice-to-have (and the person we ended up hiring did not have it, but brought a lot of experience with them).

        Reply
    5. Stranger than fiction

      I think this is of more value, IMO. It’s specific to your industry. Similarly, my BF is Product Management certified, but his old job paid for it.

      Reply
      1. Ro

        Thank you! These are all great advice! I was considering the PMP to both make me better in my job and more marketable. Especially because my current role isn’t 100% PM work (but I want to possibly move to a job that is). Often the jobs I see will have PM as the job title and ask for PM experience, but only sometimes will they specifically require PMP certification. I was hoping that pursuing this cert. would demonstrate I am serious about making this my new job focus (as opposed to just applying for anything that slightly matches my current role).

        Reply
        1. Witty Nickname

          If you look for a Jr. PM role (or a role that only asks for 1-3 years experience), that could be a good way to break into full time project management. PMI requires, I think, 3 years of experience to apply for the PMP, so companies looking for less experience shouldn’t require certification. If you look at whether higher-level PM roles in those same companies require certification, that might be an indication that the companies themselves will pay for you to get your certification.

          I will, hopefully, be hiring a Jr. PM soon, and will not be looking for someone with the certification. (I’m waiting for my new VP to finalize her org structure and let me know if I can still have the headcount).

          Reply
    6. Pointy Haired Boss

      The difference, sadly, is whether the certification is part of a “management fad”. The private sector has started to cool on PMPs (they are now all the rage in government work, which usually gets these things secondhand) in favor of Agile certifications. In both cases, the core skill-sets have value (so this isn’t related to learning project management or agile software development techniques), but the certs and their terminology are essentially senior executives paying extra for the latest fashions.

      Remember the Wikipedia definition, and you’ll always be able to spot one. :-)

      – New jargon for existing business processes.
      – External consultants who specialize in the implementation of the fad.
      – A certification or appraisal process performed by an external agency for a fee.
      – Amending the job titles of existing employees to include references to the fad.
      – Claims of a measurable business improvement via measurement of a metric (e.g. key performance indicator) that is defined by the fad itself.
      – An internal sponsoring department or individual that gains influence due to the fad’s implementation.

      Reply
  31. LuvzALaugh

    #1 aaahhh the close talker. Used to leave to leave a desk drawer open to create a barrier for this one. Didn’t work…close talker would just close it. Good luck!

    Reply
  32. Former Retail Manager

    OP#1…I sooooo feel for you. I, and probably 98% of the population, hate this. Many suggestions have been good, as was Alison’s, but my personal approach would be one-on-one privately and to the point. I can only assume that if she’s not getting it after what you’ve done so far, that she won’t get it unless you tell her point blank. Without knowing your personality/sense of humor or your boss’, I can’t say if it would work for you or not, but I’d be blunt. I would likely say “I really enjoy this job and I appreciate all of the help that you have given me and your willingness to do so, but we have to resolve the personal space issue. I don’t believe that you’re aware that you are always so physically close to me and I need you to stand at least 2 feet away from me at all times. I simply can’t focus on what you’re saying when you’re any closer than that.” This doesn’t apologize in any way and is factual, but the delivery would really depend upon the rapport you have with her, if she’s easily offended, and if you can make it quasi funny in a Kevin Hart sort of way. If you can’t make the delivery work, then this might not be a good option. And I would add specifics because this person sounds like she definitely has a hard time reading nonverbal cues and people like that tend to prefer measurable absolutes.

    Best of luck!

    Reply
    1. fposte

      The problem with the long statements is that it makes this a bigger deal than it is; all the nice stuff sounds like you’re cushioning a really horrible blow. This is just somebody standing on your toe and they don’t know it, and it’s not a big deal to say “Hey, can you get off my toe?”

      Reply
  33. Spiny

    #1 Just immediately stand up when she comes over. Having someone loaming over you is very uncomfortable, but standing beside her when she’s focused on the desk will allow you to space yourself. Standing with your body perpendicular to hers helps too.

    Reply
    1. Ultraviolet

      I was also thinking that standing up would really reduce the claustrophobic feeling. It sounds like the boss is so close that OP will collide with her when they stand–I suggest just saying, “Excuse me, I’m going to stand up” and trying to stand slowly enough that they don’t collide hard.

      She’ll probably just get really close again, so maybe OP could say one of these things:

      -“I need a little more space than this, can we stand farther apart?” [I like this one best]
      -“Can you please take a step back? This is a little too close for me.”
      -“Excuse me, I need to step back and get a little more space” [said while taking a step back]

      If you ever have a chance to talk privately with this manager, I think you could also say, “I wanted to mention this–sometimes when we’re talking we end up standing a little too close together for me. I need more personal space than that and when I don’t have it, I’m so uncomfortable that I have trouble focusing on what we’re doing. Can you please give me more personal space than you might give someone else?” I’m iffy on whether you should go out of your way to make a private meeting where you can say that happen. Probably depends on just how much it’s impacting your performance.

      I really hear OP on not wanting to apologize for this, and I don’t think it’s necessary.

      Reply
  34. Lindsey

    Something similar happened to me with job titles. I applied for “teapot specialist” but got offered “senior teapot analyst.” Hard to tell which is better, but I knew from the titles of people I interviewed with as well as employees’ LinkedIn profiles that “teapot specialist” was better (required more experience, had more job responsibility, managed the “senior teapot analysts,” presumably more pay). I’d applied for a job requiring a little more experience than I had, and I’d specifically been looking for a step up. When the HR rep called and made a verbal offer, there was no reference to a changed job title. She said something like “the teapot position you interviewed for.” The offer was kind of low though. I only saw the changed title in the written offer letter.

    Honestly, it just rubbed me the wrong way that they didn’t offer me the job I applied for if I was the most qualified candidate. It wasn’t a good fit anyway though, so I declined rather than try to push job title or salary.

    Reply
    1. OP #4

      That’s the thing that’s odd though. I wonder if they just offered the same job to me at a different job title, but didn’t *tell* me. If that’s the case, it kind of sends up a red flag for me. I’ve already put in my resignation at my current job and I’m pretty committed to taking the offer at this point, but I do kind of want to address it–though I don’t want to be seen as a prima donna around titles.

      The salary is in line with what I asked for for the “manager” position (and a huge pay raise from my current salary), but I admit that there are some aspects of the position that are a reach for me. e.g. the position asked for a masters in Theory of Tea OR a masters in Teapot Design, I have a Ph.D. in Theory of Tea (and its application), but no background in Teapot Design to speak of.

      But I feel like if they were going to hire me at a lower level, someone should have at least addressed it? And somehow I feel awkward bringing it up now, especially after I accepted.

      Reply
      1. Chameleon

        Um, if they are asking for a Master’s in Tea Theory and you have a PhD in the field, you are *not* a stretch candidate. Of they were asking for a MS in both, you might worry but as it is, I think you are selling yourself short.

        Reply
      2. A.J.

        I posted about this once before in an open thread, but I recently had a very similar bait-and-switch experience at a tech startup. I was offered a Solutions Engineer position, but in the offer letter it was distinctly called Customer Support Specialist. As a software engineer, I want absolutely nothing to do with customer support I asked their HR recruiter why I wasn’t made aware of the change, and she said the title doesn’t really matter to them, and this is what they called it internally. She also said that i didnt have enough experience for the original position, and that I was starting at the lowest level of that job ladder. She said that in a few years I could work my way up to the Solutions Engineer level. Okay fine, but why didn’t anyone tell me this?? Why just sneak it into the offer letter and hope I didn’t notice? I was so frustrated that I turned down the offer.

        Reply
        1. Elizabeth West

          See, now THAT is classic bait-and switch–the position was actually completely different from the one you applied for. OP needs to ask them to clarify because it might just be an issue of nomenclature.

          Reply
      3. Lindsey

        I agree that if they were going to hire at you at a lower level, someone should have addressed it, but I also would not be surprised at all if they didn’t, mainly based on my experience above. Of course, I never ended up asking the HR rep about it in my case since I decided against accepting for other reasons, but it was pretty clear that there was a job title hierarchy and I was put on a lower rung than the position I’d applied for.

        That said, if they asked for an MS and you have a PhD, you’re not underqualified. The reference to teapot design is after an “or” – presumably you’re not supposed to have two graduate degrees in different subjects.

        I’d ask about it – unfortunately, there might not be anything you can actually do about it if it does turn out they offered you a more junior position, but it will be good to discuss and at least figure out for sure whether or not that’s going on. “Coordinator” and “manager” are too similar to be able to tell unless you have extensive knowledge of the company’s specific job titles.

        Reply
    2. Dr. Johnny Fever

      You mentioned that you are moving from a small company into a much larger one. It may not be a case of bait and switch, but that your skills match a coordinator role more closely than a manager role in the larger organization. That can happen in the transition from one size to another.

      At any rate, this should have been explained. As Alison advises, ask and clarify.

      Reply

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