bad ideas #3: persistent presumption

If you are applying for a job and tell me that you can do TWO jobs that I’m hiring for, combining them into one, and I tell you that’s really not possible because the workload of each is a full-time job on its own, you should believe me.

I know that job-seekers are often told that they should propose new and innovative solutions to employers’ problems, and that’s great — but if the employer assures you that you’re off-base about something internal like workload, they probably know what they’re talking about. Unless you’ve seen reason to believe them incompetent, you should believe what they say.

It’s irritating when a candidate keeps insisting that they can do two jobs as one person, after I’ve already explained that won’t work. Here’s why: I am competent. I hire competent, efficient people who produce at very high levels. We don’t have slackers sitting around with little to do. We have the opposite problem: too much work. I know this because I manage the organization, for the love of god. I monitor workload levels like teen girls monitor Robert Pattinson.

By all means, make the suggestion originally if you want to. After all, many places are mismanaged and maybe do have three people doing a job that could be done by one person. But I’m not that manager, and I don’t operate that way — so please don’t persist when I explain to you why it’s unworkable. When you insist that you are a better of judge of something very hard to perceive from the outside like workload, despite what I tell you, it’s hard to think you’re not being a naive and/or presumptuous d-bag. Cut it out.

{ 13 comments… read them below }

  1. Chris M.*

    I am loving this series :-). You are doing a public service for candidates out there. Couldn't agree more…

  2. Anonymous*

    AAM – I note this series is coinciding with high unemployment. Are applicants getting worse with fewer job openings?

    — sorry, that wasn't supposed to go under my real name. – nuqotw

  3. Kerry*

    Even if you were an idiot manager, what are the odds that you're going to say, "Hey, you know what? You're right. I'm an idiot. I don't know how to plan workloads at all, and thank goodness you came along and corrected me. I'm so grateful, and I look forward to being corrected some more. Can you start Monday?"

    I will never understand this strategy that says you act like you know more than the people who actually work at the company. Whether you do or you don't doesn't matter, because either way, it's not going to get you a job.

  4. Sabrina*

    Especially since so many companies expect employees to do the work of 2-3 people already, that would be like him doing the work of 4-6 people, and that's just ridiculous. ;) Not that your company does that to it's employees, but it seems pretty commonplace.

  5. Anonymous*

    Aww, are people getting scared 'cause AAM is using mean words?

    I love it. Keep calling a spade a spade (or a d-bag a d-bag), AAM.

  6. Susan*

    Sabrina said exactly what I was thinking. I have more work than I have time to do it right now, so I couldn't imagine trying to fill two positions.

    I also agree that the applicant couldn't possibly insist that they can handle two positions before actually working for you. Even if they could get through all of the work, it might not be at the level of quality the manager is looking for. I've never heard of such nonsense.

  7. Catherine Earl*

    To Sabrina. Good thing you have a job. The applicant said that he/she could do the work of two jobs because at that point, he/she didn't HAVE a job and NO income. Employers are asking their employees to do 2-3 jobs at once all the time. You guys need to get a grip on reality.

  8. Ask a Manager*

    Right, but I explained why that's not feasible or desirable in this situation, and a candidate isn't going to get good results by continuing to push.

  9. Jamie*

    I loved this post – and I think it's point goes far beyond hiring issues.

    Persistent presumption can be very irritating internally as well. I think this is especially true IT, engineering, etc. where most of your co-workers really have no idea what you do or what's involved in doing it.

    If I am not intimately familiar with a co-worker's job function and responsibilities I take them at their work as far as their availability and scheduling.

    It's a pet peeve of mine, and I try to find the humor in it when I can – but as IT if I am doing anything with hardware people take a hands off approach because I look so "busy." Yet these same people have no problem launching into a litany of requests when I'm in my office staring at a screen.

    In reality? Feel free to talk to me when I'm swapping out a computer or networking a printer – I'm happy to chat. When I can't look up from my monitors when you walk in my office because I'm completely engrossed? Walk away and send me an email unless you're currently on fire (and unless it's a computer related fire that's not really an IT issue anyway).

    Sometimes silent staring is what busy looks like.

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