short answer Sunday: 7 short answers to 7 short questions

It’s time for short answer Sunday — seven short answers to seven short questions. Here we go:

Asking for a quick decision when you have another offer

I was offered a job on Friday, but I have second interview with a company I like on Monday.  At the end of the second interview, how do I tell them I have been made an offer and need a decision on this job in a day?

Just be straightforward: “I’m very interested in this job. I do have another offer that I need to make a decision on quickly. What is your timeline for moving forward?” However, be aware that a lot of companies aren’t going to be ready to make you an offer within a day of interviewing you. If you really only have a day to make up your mind on the first job, make sure they know that’s your timeline. And read this post on what to do when you get an offer while you’re waiting to hear from a company you like better.

Can your manager ignore your scheduling request?

I asked my manager to have a day off on New Years Day. Can he schedule me anyways?

Yes. A good manager will try to accommodate scheduling requests, but it’s not always possible (particularly on days like New Year’s when a lot of people want it off). The only real exception to this, from a legal standpoint, is a request for days off for bona fide religious reasons. In that case, an employer must accommodate the request unless it causes “undue hardship” on the employer (or unless the employer has fewer than 15 employees).

Reapplying for a job you were fired from

Do you think I should reapply for a job I was unfairly terminated from? I got a call this morning to let me know that I was fired. They decided to turn me out because I supposedly emailed them so much that, in their words, it became an annoyance. There were a lot of things that I didn’t know about and needed help with and I feel I was let go unfairly. I was a rookie and didn’t know about everything but had a willingness to work and learn. I did things I was assigned to, I never got drunk, never showed up late and always thought safety first. I still do! I feel I was treated unfairly and wish to be let back in, if you will. How do I let this company know my side of the story?

I’m sorry you were fired! That sucks. But I don’t think you have much to gain by trying to reverse their decision. Unfortunately, they fired you because they weren’t satisfied with your performance. There are lots of reasons that could be that don’t have anything to do with showing up drunk or being late; sometimes it’s simply not the right fit. Willingness to learn is a good thing but not always enough, and ultimately, an employer needs to judge your performance based on whether they’re getting the best results they could be getting.

It’s unlikely you’d be able to convince them to re-hire you. I would say to see what you can learn from it and move on to something new.

How long to keep paperwork

In the spirit of the New Year I am cleaning out old records.  I am a (very organized) pack rat and have files for everything.  I have 10 years of paystubs and timesheets and am wondering if I really need records going that far back. What’s a good rule of thumb for keeping documents?  Will I ever be asked for them? (Reference check? IRS?)  Will a W-2 be sufficient if someone wants proof I worked there?  Also, if it makes a difference, these documents are from two jobs I previously held – one with a small company where everyone remembers me and the other with a large company that has people constantly moving in and out.

Here’s a good chart that tells you how long to keep various types of documents. I’d keep W2s pretty much forever though, in case you run into a situation where you need to prove employment. But timesheets? I’d trash those.

How far back to list jobs on your resume

If a person has numerous job positions held over the course of 20-30 years, how far back is it necessary to list those positions on a resume? If I had a job position back in 1975, for example, and it might be related to a current position I am apply for (work experience) is it important to list that position?

I wouldn’t go more than 20 years back, and I might go less than that if you had a lot of jobs during that time. Remember, a resume isn’t meant to be an exhaustive accounting of everything you’ve ever done; it’s meant to present your candidacy in the strongest possible light. Except in very, very rare circumstances, it’s unlikely that a job you held 35 years ago is going to add much to your candidacy.

If you do have reason to include older jobs, I’d just list employer, title, and dates held — nothing more descriptive than that, again because it’s too long ago to hold much sway.

Missed phone interview when employer called the wrong number

I applied for a sales rep position at a very big gym. I interviewed with their GM, Sales Manager and their assistant Sales Manager. My last part of the interviewing process was to phone interview with someone in corporate. I emailed the sales manager and also let him know over the phone that the phone call should come to my cell instead of the home phone number that was on my resume. However, for some reason they called my home phone and I missed it and ended up receiving the message 2 days later (today). I plan on calling them tomorrow since they are out of the office by now, but am I still in good shape for the position? They were interviewing about 6 other people for the same position, and I was told in my interview with the sales manager that I was the only one out of the 7 that will be receiving a phone interview. So I thought I was in good shape, but now that I’ve missed the phone interview and it’s been two days, will they look into other people?

All you can do is try. I do wonder why it took you two days to receive the message they left though. When the call didn’t come on your cell phone at the scheduled time, ideally you would have checked your home messages to see if they’d tried you there instead. The fact that you didn’t do that for two days isn’t fantastic — but not necessarily a death knell either. Contact them now, ASAP, and explain what happened:  “We seem to have had a miscommunication about the phone interview! I’ve just seen that the call came to my home number rather than my cell, as we’d arranged. Because I’ve been out of town, I didn’t see until now that they’d called me there. I’m still extremely interested and hope that it’s possible to reschedule.”

Why did employer say they’d check references when they didn’t?

I recently had two interviews for a position and after the second interview with the hiring manager’s manager he told me the next step would be for them to check references.   NONE of my references were contacted and I just received a “thank you for applying” email.   I’m curious….what is typical for large companies?  Would they check a previous employer’s HR dept before personal references (I was asked to leave that position and I’m not sure what the HR dept would say about me) or do you think the manager simply lied to me about checking my references?

I don’t think they lied at all; I think you’re reading too much into this. It sounds like they just never checked your references because they either decided you weren’t quite right and/or had another candidate accept their offer. However, if you’re not sure what your old employer would say about you, and you have reason to worry, you need to address that now, before you’re in another situation where your references might be checked; see this post for information.

{ 11 comments… read them below }

  1. Robyn*

    I was just looking at your ‘how long to hold onto records’ link and I am wondering how valid it still is. I mean, how many banks actually return cheques these days? I’m in the UK, but I’ve only lived here for 7 years and I can’t remember getting cheques back from my US bank before I left the country for at least a year or more.

    Also, credit card receipts. How many times is something ordered online? Do I need to print all those receipts or is electronic good enough?

    Any thoughts on this?

  2. Anonymous*

    RE: not getting drunk. The only things I can think of are either a bar job or a long term on-site job. (IE Forest Ranger)

  3. Dawn*

    RE: missed phone interview
    I have to agree with your comment, AAM, that if this person had a scheduled interview and didn’t hear from the interviewer at the scheduled time, he/she should have been checking messages, email, etc. I know several people who “didn’t get the message until this morning” that I called three days ago. And guess what? Those are the same people who are not punctual, don’t return calls, and generally don’t have a fire lit under them, whether it’s their personal life or professional life.

    RE: wanting to be rehired
    There are several different things that could have happened here: employee was hired because he appeared to possess the necessary skills and it was later determined that he didn’t posses those skills; employee was hired without all the necessary skills and employer agreed to train, employer then decided he needed too much training and wasn’t the right fit; or the employers are idiots who don’t want to train anyone.

    He should have asked for a meeting with his supervisor so they could talk about his progress and then create some sort of training plan. But, maybe that happened and we just didn’t hear about it. Either way, it sounds like he wasn’t the right fit.

    On a side note, why would someone want to be rehired at a place they were FIRED from anyway? If I’m being fired, it means they don’t want me. Why would I want to work somewhere where I’m not wanted?

  4. Anonymous*

    One comment on the “waiting for feedback from another company when you have an offer in hand” query: there’s one time in your career where you might well have some additional leverage, and that’s when you’re coming out of university (or completing some professional certification which operates according to some regular schedule). In these cases, the university may well forbid all companies attending its job fairs from requiring answers before a certain date, in order to give students the ability to balance multiple offers.

    If a company tries bouncing someone into an early decision in such a case, I’d strongly recommend turning the position down, regardless of whether said someone has other offers – behavior like that says a lot about the company.

  5. Cassie*

    Regarding wanting to be rehired after being fired – is this for the same position? With the same supervisor(s)? Because that might be unlikely, given that the supervisors were probably the ones who initiated the termination?

    But if you just mean could you be hired by the same company, but by another dept or supervisor, there’s a possibility. Depends on how big the company or department is, I guess, and how willing a different supervisor is to take a “risk” on hiring someone who didn’t work out before.

  6. JC*

    Re: Reapplying for a job you were fired from

    I sympathize with the OP – I am currently working at a job where I had minimum training and background to do the job. My boss says I am doing a great job, but I feel like I’m struggling to keep up with everything. I was promised 2-3 weeks of training, and a lot of support from my co-workers, but I only got 3 days of training and people quickly acted as if they had “washed their hands of me” and I have been left on my own to figure things out ever since. Within a week of working there, my boss actually went into a tirade about how the transition wasn’t going smoothly enough for her when only 1 tiny little thing went wrong (and it was easily fixed). I found that my boss takes a lot of her personal stresses and frustrations out on me as well. I feel as if questions I ask and problems I face are treated with annoyance and impatience. I am waiting for the day my boss complains to me about my slowness, though as I said she tells me all the time I am doing a great job (when she’s not overwhelmed about her own busy life anyway), and I am WELL prepared to explain to her the situation of my training and what was initially promised to me if an issue does come up. But enough about me ;)

    I think either 2 things happened – 1) You really were a rookie, and despite doing the best job you could do, you didn’t meet their expectations and they showed you the door OR 2) Your employers were too disorganized to give you formal training and support, and in their complete disorganization and busy schedules, they couldn’t handle it and terminated you.

    I think with #1 take it as a learning experience and move on. Don’t try to rework for the company – just swallow your pride and leave. This may have just been a bad fit for you and your skills. That’s OK – it happens. It’s frustrating and it stinks, but it happens. Even if they knew you were a rookie, and promised you the time and training, and still decided to fire you regardless, try to move on to something else.

    With #2, same thing, it stinks and it reflects poorly on them and not on you. Some organizations (like mine) promise big but can’t deliver when it actually gets to the time to do so. They were too busy and probably secretly looking for the “miracle worker” to come in and make everything better for them. They just didn’t think it through enough. Which is a big red flag for me to again, not reapply for your position there.

    Good luck to your future endeavors!

  7. JC*

    Also I was promised a “9 Month Learning Curve” in the interview, but on my first day, my boss gave me a 15 minute lecture about how I needed to learn everything ASAP because she needed someone to be “2 steps ahead of her” and for 3 weeks she constantly reminded me that she had informed me how stressful this job would be in the interview (a total lie). But seriously, not bitter or anything! :P

    I wish managers and employers would be more straight-up about training and new hire support – is it really because of disorganization, I wonder, or because they need the job filled as soon as possible? Sort of like a “we’ll deal with it later” or “hopefully it work itself out” type of situation?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      JC, I think it’s mainly that they’re not thinking that deeply/rigorously/realistically about how to train people effectively, what the realities of the job are, what’s reasonable, etc. In other words, they’re lazy/weak in this piece of managing, and it sucks.

      1. JC*

        That’s how I think it is at my job then. My training was wishy-washy at best, with my boss complaining to me that I didn’t learn what I needed to learn. But she’s so busy that she tossed me around to different people for a month to learn random essentials that didn’t really put the whole job together. I think they are just so busy and overwhelmed that effective training and transitioning falls through. I’ve been there for 2 months now and I’m slowly putting together the “big picture” of my job on my own. With a little more thought and planning on their end, I think that a more structured training would have been better for everyone in the long run.

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