It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…
1. Is it normal to ask for a 2-3 year commitment to a job?
I recently interviewed for a marketing coordinator position. The manager noted that she would want the next person in the role to stay at least 2 years and hopefully 3. I ultimately bowed out of the process after finding out the role had a lot more administrative duties than I was looking for. However, I’ve never been on an interview where the person has mentioned how long I was expected to stay in the role. While I am obviously not hoping to run out of my next job, and 2 or 3 years is not forever, I can never predict when I will feel ready to move on and I wouldn’t feel right promising that to an employer.
Is it normal for interviewer’s to give you an amount of time they expect you to stay on? And is it bad if you leave a position before your boss expects you to? Would it burn bridges?
“We’re looking for someone to invest in the role and stay for a couple of years” isn’t weird to say or to expect. In fact, hiring someone without expecting they’d plan to stay that long would be pretty unusual for many roles, and it pretty normal for a marketing coordinator job.
That said, when you make that kind of commitment, it’s not written in stone. Managers understand that it might turn out to be the wrong fit, or you might move, or an opportunity you can’t turn down might fall in your lap. The point is that they don’t want you taking the job if you’re thinking that you’ll only stay for a year before moving on, or when you’re planning to go to grad school in the fall, or so forth.
2. Should I let my staff constantly change desks?
I work as a manager for a relaxed company. We put a lot of emphasis on making our employees happy and being flexible. Most of reports are under 30 and this is their first office job. I had 8 direct reports who sat across two long desks without dividers and a open seat in between. We recently moved some people around and hired on some people as full-ttime, so I now have 13 direct reports with 15 seats. There are three people at one desk, with the rest on the same long desk as myself. The three people feel left out and want to move to the larger desk. The people on the larger desk feel cramped and not happy with the people they are sitting next to.
I try to be accommodating in other aspects and have a good rapport with the direct reports who have been with me longer, but I have a hard time accommodating these requests. It all feels very childish to me and I don’t want people to keep playing musical chairs because someone is upsetting them one day. Am I being a control freak or is it reasonable to deny this request?
It’s reasonable to not want to deal with people moving around constantly, but doing it occasionally shouldn’t be a problem. Why not offer to do a one-time move now, taking people’s preferences into account, but making it clear that you won’t be changing things up for some time after that? Then you could revisit it quarterly or twice a year.
That said, I think your two larger problems are (a) making sure that your staff, who are new to the working world, understand that their seating arrangements aren’t about being social, and (b) figuring out if there’s some way to get people more space, since the set-up you’re working with now sounds really unconducive to focus and productivity.
3. A skills assessment marked my shortcuts as incorrect
I took an employment assessment test today. I know Microsoft Excel very well, but am used to using shortcuts. On this test, trying to use a shortcut was marked as an incorrect answer. I missed 8 questions that I know like the back of my hand. Is there any way to save myself from being viewed as a poor Excel user? Is it o.k. to contact the company ordering the test to explain my situation?
Yeah, this is one of the huge problems with many of those sorts of skills assessment tests — advanced users end up getting marked down for exactly the reason you described. It’s absurd. I’d point it out to the employer, saying something like, “I noticed that the test wouldn’t accept keyboard shortcuts; for instance, it marked my answers as incorrect when I used shortcuts for italicizing, inserting, and changing column labels. As a result, it might be inadvertently screening out more advanced Excel users who use these shortcuts.”
How they respond will tell you a lot about the common sense of whoever you’re dealing with.
4. Blue hair and accounting
I am a first-year business student thinking of pursuing a career in accounting. A couple months ago, I decided to experiment with my hair a little and got blonde peekaboo highlights; my hair is naturally black. I talked with one of my professors and she said it’s fine since they’re not very blatant.
Anyway, my highlights have started to fade and I’ve been thinking of dying my highlights blue. I’m concerned about whether or not I should do so because I would like to get a summer job or internship in a professional setting. Should I dye my highlights blue, or should I just keep them blonde?
Accounting is a conservative field. It’s one of the few fields where this would be absolute no-go at many firms, in fact. Change it during the school year when you won’t be working if you want, but when you’re applying for jobs, I’d keep it a natural color.
5. Verb tense on resumes
I have a question about the proper verb tense for resumes. For past jobs, I would presumably use the past tense. But for my current position, should I use the past tense so that the whole document is in the same tense, or should I use the present tense because it is happening right now?
Present tense for your current job — because these are things you’re currently doing — and past tense for your previous ones. But for your present job, where you’re talking about specific accomplishments that you’ve already achieved and are not still doing, those would be in the past tense too. (For instance, if you’re talking about the amount of tickets you sold to an event last year, you wouldn’t put that in present tense or it would sound odd.)