It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…
1. I can’t get added to our office email list for work parties
I feel like this is a strange dilemma, and I believe 100% that it’s happening out of oversight and not maliciousness but…
I’ve been at my current position about two years now. As an office we celebrate birthdays, baby showers, wedding showers, retirements, etc. These parties take place during work hours and are open to the entire staff, often even former staff. These parties are announced via email a few days in advance.
Mostly I find out about these parties five minutes before they happen when a coworker will stop by my desk and say “Hey, want to head down to Bertha’s party?” One office friend has started forwarding me all event emails because I’ve so consistently been left off the email list.
I am on the email list for meetings and other general announcements, apparently just not parties. I’ve spoken to those in charge of sending out the emails a few times, as has my direct supervisor, and been assured that I will be added to the list. Initially I wrote it off as being a new employee and updating the party list being a low priority, buy we’ve hired several new people since me who have had no problem getting on the list. I also find myself left out of the office birthday card tradition, despite my name appearing on the birthday calendar.
In the grand scheme of things this is a small blip in an otherwise great job, but it is annoying. I’m not sure if I should keep pursuing the fact that I’ve been left off the event list or just let it slide.
You shouldn’t have to ask for this multiple times, and the fact that it still hasn’t happened is annoying. You’re entitled to be irritated by it, and I don’t think you should let it slide — you’re being left out of events that are part of the bonding of your team, and that’s crappy.
Go talk in person to whoever is in charge of that list. Say this: “Hey, I know you’d said in the past that you’d add me to the list for birthdays and other celebrations. I’m still not getting those emails. Do you have a minute to troubleshoot this so that we can figure out what’s going on?” If the person says they’ll take care of it, say this: “Great. Do you have a minute to check right now while I’m here, so we can make sure it’s fixed?”
In other words, make them deal with it right then and there while you’re standing there. If they say it’s not a good time, then ask when you should come back.
That should fix it, but if it doesn’t, then you should go to that person’s manager, point out that you’ve asked for something simple multiple times, and ask what you need to do to get it taken care of.
2. Should I email with questions after a company indicated they received my application?
I recently applied for a job via email. The person emailed me back thanking me for my interest, confirming the receipt of my documents, and provided me with some additional information about the institution. I feel that I should respond, but my sister thinks I should only respond if I have questions rather than just clogging the person’s inbox. What are your thoughts on the matter? And if I do respond, would a quick “thank you for the update/information” suffice?
A quick “thank you” is fine, but you shouldn’t write back with questions. The time for questions is an interview, if you’re invited to one. Otherwise, you’re asking them to spend time answering questions when they may not have determined that you’re a strong candidate yet.
3. I don’t have the five manager references a company is asking for
For an upcoming interview, I have been asked to provide five references from previous supervisors. The only problem is that I was only able to come up with four. Is it a bad idea to ask the HR contact from the hiring company about this, or do I have to come up with five no matter what?
References from five previous managers — plenty of people haven’t even HAD five previous managers, particularly earlier in their careers. I’d say this to your contact: “I don’t have five previous managers to connect you with because of ___, but here are four and I’d be glad to offer up coworker or client references too, if that would be helpful.”
(Also, what they’re asking for is really overkill. Around three is reasonable in most cases.)
4. I haven’t stayed in touch with my past managers and now need their help
I am a current undergraduate student and have been following your advice column for a while now. You have helped me out tremendously in getting a lot of really great internships!
Unfortunately, I have not behaved as professionally as I should after completing them. I have neglected staying in touch with my previous supervisors and have essentially not spoken to them after leaving the organizations. I am particularly disappointed in not having kept contact with my supervisor from an internship I had almost a year and a half ago. I think my problem was not knowing what to say after leaving and after a while feeling like too much time had passed for me to casually reach out without some sort of explanation, which only worsened the longer I avoided it. For what it’s worth, I was also dealing with some major family issues the semester after leaving and then spent the last fall studying abroad. Ultimately though, those are not valid enough excuses for dropping the ball on what I felt was a very good mentoring relationship.
To make matters worse, I am about to graduate (a year early, thus even more in need of a professional support system) and while it would obviously be great if she could help me with finding a job within or outside the organization we worked at, I don’t want her to think that this is the only reason I am reaching out to her. Is there any way I can still salvage the situation or should I just let it go?
This is actually pretty normal! Lots of people don’t do much to stay in touch with past managers but still reach out when they need a reference; in fact, I’d say that’s more common than the other way around.
So don’t give this another moment of worry. It’s totally fine for you to reach out now, update on what’s going on with you, and ask for whatever specific help you’re hoping for.
5. Avoiding work travel during IVF
My husband and I are very excited to start an IVF cycle in about six weeks. I already have a handful of appointments set up at our clinic starting in a few weeks that I absolutely can’t move due to the timing of the cycle.
I don’t travel regularly for my job but I do occasionally, often on not much notice. There are some rumblings now about a trip next month…and I’m already worried how I’m going to navigate this travel around the appointments I already have on the calendar. And of course, I’m the only person who does what I do in my company, so finding someone to go in my place is not an option.
While I have a good relationship with my boss, I don’t love the idea of telling him that I’m going through IVF, both because it’s really personal and I don’t want to be forced into announcing a pregnancy (or lack thereof) before I’m ready.
Can you help me with some suggestions as to how to draw a line in the sand around certain dates, without giving away why, and also without making people think something much more serious is going on? Saying something like “I have a medical procedure” makes me think people are going to worry I’m really ill. Or am I overthinking it?
Probably overthinking it a bit. “I have a a medical procedure that week that I can’t move” is really all you need to say. People are not likely to assume you’re seriously ill just based on that.
Good luck with the IVF!