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”).