It’s four answers to four questions. Here we go…
1. Can I explain in job interviews that our social media presence isn’t reflective of my work?
I work in communications and am currently searching for a new job. I anticipate that as part of its due diligence, any organization considering me will review the websites, media center, blogs, and social media channels of my current company to get a sense of the quality of my work. I’m proud of my work and accomplishments, and I have a lot of successes and great metrics to show for my career. However, our social media presence is not a good reflection of my skills. The reason is that I do not have complete control over what gets posted. The president of my company posts whatever he wants, whenever he wants (I have presented evidence, reasoned, requested, begged, pleaded, and attempted to compromise, but that’s advice I’ll seek another day). Some of his content is excellent, but a lot of his posts aren’t consistent with best practices or my evidence-based strategy.
Is there a delicate way to bring this up in an interview without seeming too negative about my current employer and without making me look incompetent for being unable to manage the situation? For what it’s worth, my boss is known for his unusual leadership style and in the only interview I’ve had so far, my interviewer actually brought up his reputation. I pivoted away from the topic because it’s not the reason I’m seeking new opportunities.
I would say: “I don’t have full control over our social media presence, and there are things I’d change about it if we did. Our president likes to have direct access to post on his own, but I’d be glad to email you a portfolio of some of the pieces I’ve done, so that you can see the elements that are my work.”
You might also look for ways to work it into answers to questions where it’s relevant. For instance, if you’re asked to talk about social media strategy overall, you might include a mention of how important it is to have a unified, cohesive strategy with buy-in from above, and you could add that that’s something your current organization is still grappling with.
2. I’ll be out of town during the only week of interviews for a job I’m interested in
I’m applying for a position with a start-up for which my skills and past experience are an excellent fit. In the job description, there is an application deadline as well as a date range for the week that interviews will be conducted. I will be out of town during the entire week they’ll be interviewing (the trip is both expensive and important to my career and I can’t imagine canceling it now).
Should I disclose that I will be unavailable during their interview week in my cover letter/application? Or will this disqualify me immediately? If I leave it out and they do call me in for an interview, will they resent that I wasn’t upfront about my travel plans earlier? The position is likely to receive a large volume of applications and I am worried that if I am upfront about my absence they won’t think twice about throwing out my whole application without giving it a second thought. What do you think?
This is tricky, because if they listed those dates in the ad, they’re probably pretty committed to them. However, it’s also possible that if you’re a strong enough candidate, they’d be willing to talk with you outside of those dates. (It’s also possible that they won’t be, but you can’t know for sure from the outside.)
So it really comes down to how annoyed they’ll be if you don’t disclose it up-front. I could argue this either way, but ultimately I’d say that in the interest of operating in good faith, you should mention it in your cover letter. That does come with the risk that they’ll reject you immediately when they might not have if you waited, but I prefer that risk to the risk of you looking like you’re deliberating withholding relevant information in the hope that it will benefit you.
However, if it looks like applications are going to HR, you might try to reach out to the hiring manager directly to say “I’ll be away during the week you’re interviewing, but I wanted to connect because I’d love to talk with you about this type of role in the future.” Attach your resume. You never know. I don’t normally recommend going around clearly-stated application processes, but in this case you’d be doing it in the framework of “I can’t apply this time but maybe you’d be interested in connecting in the future.” And maybe the person would be, or maybe they’ll think you look strong enough that they’ll want you in their process for this round. Or maybe nothing, who knows. But it’s worth a shot.
3. How to thank a current manager when leaving a job
What is your take on thank-you notes to current (soon to be past) managers? I am moving on from my current position to another one within the same building in a different group. My current manager has only been my boss for about a year but has been very supportive. He came in after I had been in my current job for five years and was getting pretty antsy. He is my fourth boss while in this position, and I can honestly say the best boss that I have ever had. I have tried to make it clear that he has not contributed to me leaving, but I wanted to let him know how much I appreciated working with him. Is that weird? I don’t want to seem like I am sucking up, but I genuinely enjoyed working with him and respect his leadership and knowledge. I hate that most of the time I worked with him I basically had my foot out the door. Thoughts?
Yes, yes, yes, write him a note about how much you’ve appreciated working with him and why. Managers, even good ones, don’t hear this nearly enough, and it makes a huge impression when someone takes the time to say it, especially in writing. I have notes like that from years ago that I still hang on to. Send it!
4. My thank-you emails were full of weird, extraneous line spaces
I just had an interview with my dream company, and I feel like I did a great job. I followed up the next day with a short thank-you email to each of the people on the interview panel. I followed your advice of building on the conversation from the actual interview. I drafted them in Word first and sent them from my Gmail account. I was feeling great.
Then I realized, after reading another thread you did on a similar question, that the formatting might come out odd going from Gmail to their Outlook inbox. I tested it, and it does look different in Outlook, but it’s not awful – it just looks like I put multiple spaces between paragraphs and the greeting and closing. This is still something I would never intentionally do, and I think it does look strange. I’m afraid it may look like I don’t know how to properly format an email correspondence.
Am I overthinking this or should I reply and explain why the spacing is odd? Also, I sent the emails yesterday, so I’m wondering if following up now wouldn’t help my case because it’s too long of a lag in catching my mistake.
You are over-thinking it. Most people are used to seeing weird spacing in emails occasionally, and most know that it comes from a weird formatting conversion rather than that you intentionally left four line spaces between every paragraph. You don’t need to follow up to explain (and would risk coming across as a little neurotic if you did, not that there’s anything wrong with neurotic).
That said, if you want to avoid it in the future, it’s smart to use the “convert to plain text” option in Gmail if you paste text in from another program, and that should prevent it from happening.