It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…
1. Should HR let a manager know an employee is probably job-searching?
I am the HR department at my company. I post jobs, verify employment, etc. Recently two things happened: When I was posting a job on an internet job site, one of my current employees came up as a possible candidate, and I received an employment verification call on this employee. I am assuming they are looking for another job. Should I share this with their supervisor? I am not sure what to do. We may be raising the salary for this position in a couple of months. I do believe that pay is one issue for the job search.
Do you trust this manager to handle the information appropriately — i.e., not to push the person out earlier or otherwise penalize them (which would demonstrate to other employees that they should never be up-front if they’re thinking of leaving)? If you do, then sure — after all, part of your job is to work with managers to help them get the best outcomes possible. But if don’t, then I’d proceed with real caution (and would also do some remedial training for your managers about how to handle this kind of information, totally aside from this incident).
2. How can I use telecommuting as an asset in my cover letter or resume?
I have been in my position for 15 years, with over nine of those years being a telecommuter. My telecommuting set-up is definitely an exception to the rule at my company (and in my line of work).
Quick background: I moved back to my hometown, about four hours away from the office. Instead of quitting, I asked for a temporary telecommuting arrangement, which was agreed to. Nine plus years later, I have survived a major restructuring of the company, during which my boss and biggest advocate was laid off. Since then, I have been given more responsibility and now manage a team who work in the office.
Now I am searching for a new job, not necessarily telecommuting. I feel that my telecommuting situation is an asset to be discussed in either the cover letter and/or resume. It shows a) my company thinks I am valuable b) I am a self-starter and I get the job done without a lot of guidance c) I have been very valuable during times when the office has closed for days for snow, hurricanes, etc. d) when applying for a telecommuting position, I have extensive expertise in this area. How can I best present this without coming across as a weirdo or someone who will demand a telecommuting policy?
Eh, I wouldn’t put a huge amount of emphasis on it. I don’t think employers are likely to read (a) or (b) into it, and your availability during extreme weather isn’t a huge selling point — definitely not something important enough to put in a cover letter. And there’s a downside to putting too much emphasis on the telecommuting: some people think that full-time telecommuters don’t work as hard or aren’t as accountable, and there’s no reason to raise that specter at this point. Focus on the things you’d focus on if telecommuting were off the table: why you’d excel at the job you’re applying for.
The one exception to this is if you’re applying for another telecommuting job. There, it’s useful to note that you have a track record of doing it successfully for nine years. But that’s like one line in your cover letter — from there, move on to the rest of your qualifications, which are going to matter much more.
3. Working for a fandom organization
I noticed you had a question last week about including fanfiction on a resume, and while I agree with you there, I was wondering if you had advice regarding working in fandom in a professional context.
I’ve been working at a nonprofit for over a year whose explicit, stated mission is the protection and preservation of fanworks and fan cultures. I do media outreach, posting, and drafting of press releases and other articles. I’ve been interviewed twice, once for a podcast and once for an academic paper. I’ve also written and published articles on a related website. However, we really don’t make any money, so our entire staff is unpaid. Which means I need I need paid work. Which turned out to be in a super conservative field.
I try to keep the two separate, but it’s sort of impossible at this point, and getting harder. Furthermore, I’m only about two years out of college, so it’s not like I have a bunch of professional work – everything I have done needs to be used just to show I’ve done something. Do you have any advice?
That’s really quite different! That’s not about putting fanfiction itself on your resume, but about doing work to support an organization, and work that highlights skills and accomplishments that are much more transferable to other employers. Plus, although you’re not being paid for it, you’re presumably accountable for the work in ways that you wouldn’t be just as an author. It’s like how you wouldn’t put, say, your weekend rice sculpting hobby on your resume, but it would be perfectly appropriate to include your job doing PR for the Rice Sculptors Union.
4. Recruiters who text
I was communicating via email and phone calls with a recruiter for two months and went through the interview process. After the last interview, I emailed her a thank-you, my thoughts, etc. and she responded back via email that she would “be in touch shortly.” Fast forward to about a week later, and she sends me a text message asking to schedule a phone call with me. Now, texting a recruiter or anyone in a hiring process seems strange to me, but at this point, I’m just excited because I think I may have landed the job or at least gotten to the next round. So we text back and forth and agree to chat Friday, but then I never get a response for a particular time on Friday. Friday comes, I still have no time scheduled, so I send her a follow-up text to which she doesn’t respond to until 8 p.m. that night. I text her back right away and she doesn’t respond again until the next day, which is Saturday at 9 p.m.
At that point, we agree via text to speak on Monday at some point in the afternoon and she said she will “text me a time later.” I wait to hear back and never do. I start to realize she probably has no intention calling me because I didn’t get the job. I finally found out by checking their job portal on my own that they did go with someone else and still never heard back from her via text or email or phone. Is there a reason why she was texting me and then just never followed through when she could have just as easily sent me a quick email saying they went with someone else? Do you think it’s unprofessional for a recruiter to use texting as a form of communication with a potential candidate?
I have no idea why she chose to do things that way rather than send an email explaining they’d hired someone else. It’s possible that she actually did have something else she wanted to talk with you about — another role, or maybe they hadn’t hired the other person at that point but did on Monday, or who knows.
As for texting from a recruiter in general, I’m Not A Fan. I’m not really a fan of texting in any business context, although I know that some people are — but particularly with something like hiring, it’s an incredibly informal medium (and limiting too, given the impracticality of sending anything more than short messages), and I just can’t see why someone would choose that over email, unless there’s a really urgent message to deliver like “I know your interview is in 30 minutes, but our parking lot is on fire so please park in the back.”
5. I was pressured into round-the-clock child care that I didn’t want to do
I work for a family that has four children, one with special needs. The mom is very demanding and expects me to do just about everything. But my job is to care for the special needs child. Just recently, she told me she was taking a vacation wth her husband, who was away for a numerous amount of months (deployment), and she needed me to stay with the kids a few days. She didn’t give me an option, just told me to clear my schedule and that she really need this time alone. She even told her husband that I would do this and they quickly made reservations. I was not happy.
Now the time has come for this trip, and she rattled off a list of things that needed to be done while they are away. I am stressed and overwhelmed. How do I tell her that I don’t appreciate her backing me into a situation I wanted no part of?
It sounds like it’s too late this time, but if it happens again, you need to give a clear “no” when she first suggests it. Even if you feel like she’s telling you to do it, not asking you, you still get to speak up and say, “I won’t be able to do that.”
If you feel like you need to head it off now before she brings it up again, you could say something like, “I was able to help out this time, but it’s not something I’ll be able to do again, so I want to make sure you know and can line up other help if you have a trip come up again.”
But the big thing is to speak up — not to let yourself feel like you’re being pushed into doing something you don’t want to do.