It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…
1. My boss said I could have time off as long as it wasn’t for an interview
The company I work for has had a lot of changes recently. We changed corporate companies, and the new company lacks vision and leadership. Furthermore, the general manager, assistant general manager, and even my boss have left the company. I work in HR and I am the only line-level associate in that position. Since my boss left, I have taken on a great deal more work and have worked 10 Saturdays since October.
We finally got a new supervisor into my old boss’s position, but my new boss is very technology challenged. Everything we do is through the computer, and I’m very, very worried. I now struggle to get my work done more than ever because I have to help my boss learn what Google Chrome is, and to explain that you cannot refresh an Excel document in order to update the report we downloaded.
I managed to get an interview at a great company that is willing to pay me $2.50 more an hour. It has great benefits and is even closer to home. However, when I asked my boss if I could have a few hours off one morning this coming week, he said it was okay as long as long as it wasn’t for an interview. I’m very conflicted. I straight-up lied to my boss and said it wasn’t, and now I feel very guilty. I’m worried they’ll figure it and won’t let me have the time off. What can I do in this situation?
Don’t feel guilty. Your boss put you in an unfair position when he said that to you. You risk jeopardizing your job if you say “yes, it’s for an interview.”
You’re not obligated to tell your employer what your time off request is for. It’s fine to simply say that you have an appointment or need to take care of some personal business (both of which are true). But in a case where your boss forces you lie by asking a question that he’s not entitled to know the answer to, that’s on him, not on you.
2. Coworker won’t stop interrupting me with questions
My coworker is becoming a right pain. When her manager resigned, I stepped in to support her as she was new. There are several more experienced colleagues on her team who can answer her questions, but she always comes to me. I have made things crystal clear before but she only seems to be able to get on with her work when she has heard the answer from them and from me. Some are repeat questions. The constant questions eat into my clinical time. I have a job to do too, and I am not her direct manager. I joked with her last week that she had reached her quota of questions for the week, and she got really upset. It is getting to the point where I have had to take a laptop and hide, as my office is hardly safe. I work from different locations to limit my contact with her. Her “quick questions” take at least two hours of my week. The other day, she asked I had time for questions and I said, “No, my schedule is back to back.” She followed up with an email: “Maybe Monday?”
I want her to back off. She has a new manager now as it is, and we are from two completely different reporting lines. Any advice?
Rather than dealing with it instance by instance, I’d address the big picture with her and say something like, “Jane, I was happy to help out when your manager resigned, but now that Lucinda has started, you should go to her with questions. I’m in a busy period and don’t have time to help anymore. Thanks for understanding!”
If she keeps coming to you after that, just cheerfully say, “Sorry, like I said, I can’t keep helping — you should talk to Lucinda.” And really, at that point, you should tell her boss what’s going on, and ask her boss to intervene. You shouldn’t have to be hiding to avoid this.
3. Boss won’t tell me the salary range for my job
I am certain that my current salary is below the minimum range for my position. I cannot verify this because my boss refuses to tell me the range for my position per the salary study recently conducted with a local firm. Can my boss withhold this information? What options do I have for obtaining the new salary range?
Yes, your boss can withhold that information; your company isn’t obligated to share their internal salary bands. Since your boss doesn’t want to share that with you, I’d drop that angle and instead put together a case for why you deserve a raise, based on the market range for your work and your contributions to your company.
4. Cold-emailing for jobs
I am in a bit of a bind in terms of applying for jobs. I know that I will be relocating to a completely new area this summer, because both my husband and I got accepted to transfer to a great university! Needless to say, grants and scholarships won’t come close to covering all of our expenses, and we would like to minimize our loan burden, so I am trying to find a part-time job in my current field. I have my associate’s degree as a paralegal and had been working as such for the last two years; we currently live in a decent sized town that had enough of a legal market to support paralegals. The college we are going to is in a more rural setting in the far-north of California, with a much smaller population. Their local government does not employ paralegals (I had been in government service since graduation). Most of the law firms in the area are small practices – a solo attorney, maybe a partnership of 2-3 lawyers.
I know it’s generally ill-advised to try and apply without any job postings, but… It really appears like most attorneys there have just never had any experience working with a paralegal. Most of my job as such is to free up attorney time, allowing them to take on more clients, or focus better on their client relationships, while I get the “grunt work” (research, writing, keeping opposing counsel in check, etc.) done. There are savings to be passed on to clients (paralegals bill at a rate less than half of their attorneys’ hourly rate), and they can increase their productivity by not having to do everything themselves. Still, I feel uneasy about sending attorneys cover letters essentially telling them how they should run their firm.
Do you think it’s a terrible idea? If not, what cautions should I take with the cover letter, so that I don’t come across as a know-it-all who wants to reinvent the firm?
I’d love to hear lawyers weigh in on this, but speaking as someone outside the field, it sounds like you might have actually identified one of the few times when doing this could make sense. In most cases, for most fields, it doesn’t make sense to invest a lot of time in doing this, but in your particular circumstances — sole proprietors or small partnerships, area where jobs in your field are scarce, services to offer that truly could be valuable — maybe? (But again, lawyers, tell me if I’m way off-base.)
Also, you wouldn’t be telling them how to run their firms; you’d be telling them about what you could offer, and suggesting that you meet to talk further if they’re interested.
5. How to explain a recent promotion on my resume
I’m getting ready to start looking for a new job and wonder how to explain a recent promotion. The promotion came about because I realized that for some time (years, perhaps!), I’ve been taking on more and more additional tasks outside the official scope of my job. Luckily, my boss agreed, but it took six months for the change to go through officially. So my new job is basically my old job plus all the other stuff I was taking on anyway on an ad hoc basis, except now it’s a formal part of my job description.
I’m not sure whether and how to explain this on my resume, because frankly, my “new” job, which just became official on January 1, is what I’ve been doing for a year or more. It’s just that now I have a very slightly better title and a better salary. I guess my question is where to list certain accomplishments–because some things would seem to pertain more to my official new job, but it would look strange to say “Streamlined the quality control process for X over the past year” under a position that I’ve technically had for only a month.
I’d list it this way:
New title, January 2016 – present
Old title, May 2014 – December 2015
In other words, don’t separate out your accomplishments by old title versus new. Since it’s been basically the same job for a while, lump it all in together, and just note the two titles and corresponding dates at the top.