short answer Sunday: 8 short answers to 8 short questions

It’s short answer Sunday — eight short answers to eight short questions. Here we go:

Interviewing with the person you’d be replacing

I’m pretty good at interviews, however this week I have an unusual situation. I will be interviewing for the head of HR. It’s a group interview which includes the supervisor of the position, another person, and dun dun dun the person who’s currently in the position. I’m assuming she’s retiring since it is a small organization. Having her interview with the others makes me uncomfortable. I can adjust to one or the other but it feels awkward to talk about what I could bring and potential changes when there is an ego in the room. And it ruins my questions for them, like your favorite magic interview question. Do you have any suggestions for handling a group interview that includes the incumbent?

Ooooh, good question. But don’t feel too weird about it because I think this might be one of those situations where you’re going to feel more weird about it than she does.

I’d approach it from the mental positioning of “any new person is going to bring different strengths and new ideas, and that doesn’t inherently reflect poorly on the last person in the job.”  You don’t want to openly criticize her work, of course, but you can diplomatically phrase things as “one alternative to consider would be…” and so forth. If you’re working from the assumption that she’s done a good job but there’s always room for improvement, that’ll come across. (I’d also assume that she’s a reasonable person who gets this concept until/unless proven otherwise. Imagining how you’d be in her shoes — presumably reasonable — might help too.)

I agree that you can’t use the magic interview question though, which sucks. But hopefully later in the process you’ll get the chance to talk to the position’s manager without the incumbent there, and you can ask it then.

Didn’t hear back after recruiter referred me for a job

I recently applied for a job at a firm where one of the main recruiters was my contact. The position was very similar to my current job and even though I was referred by her, I still did not get contacted for the job, which I thought was strange. Does this happen?

It does. What’s rude here isn’t that she referred you and then you didn’t get an interview; it’s reasonable to assume that they simply had other candidates who ended up being stronger matches with the job. What’s rude is that no one bothered to follow up with you to let you know that you weren’t being moved forward in the process. This is infuriatingly common though.

Manager saw I had posted my resume online

I am currently employed. However, just recently I found out my pay will change. Therefore, I started seeking for employment elsewhere. I was not planning to let my current manager know until I found something, but my manager somehow came across my resume and came up to me asking me if there was something I needed to tell him? What am I supposed to say to my manager after my resume was in his hands? Is my current employment in danger?

Maybe, although it’s impossible to say without knowing more about how your manager operates. This is one of the many reasons that I don’t recommend posting your resume online. The main reason, though, is that posting a resume and waiting to be contacted isn’t a very effective job-searching strategy, particularly in a tight job market like this one.

How to list an employer on your resume if they’ve changed their name

I have a quick resume question for you. After I moved on, one organzation that I previously worked for changed its name. Do I continue to put the old name on my resume or update it just as the organization did? I’m worried that people may be confused if they try to google it or research the organization and it isn’t the same name. I want to make sure I am legit and credible!  I am a huge fan and have been reading your blog for years.

Aw, thank you. This one is easy. List it like this:

Program Analyst – Philip Morris (now Altria)

(I stole that example from this list, where you can learn that Pepsi used to be called Brad’s Drink. Really.)

How do I ask for a title change?

I am currently satisfied with my position and salary and have no intention of leaving my current job.  However, I desire a more accurate title.  My current title is Warehouse Manager.  I manage all operations from receipt of product, inspection, assembly and production, packaging, order fulfillment and shipping.  Depending on the document I am signing at the time, I am Warehouse Manager, QC Manager or Shipping Manager.  I would like the title of Operations Manager, which I feel encompasses all my duties and responsibilities accurately. So, how do I go about asking for it?

Explain your reasoning and ask. It can sometimes be easier to do this in the context of a formal performance review, but there’s no reason you have to wait for that. If you have a good case for the change and a reasonable manager, it might be as simple as just making your case. (A legitimate reason for saying no, however, would be if the new title would imply authority over an area you don’t actually have authority over. I can’t tell if that’s the case or not, but factor that into your thinking too.)

How can I avoid looking like a job-hopper?

In the first 10 years out of college I have worked at 5 different companies.  Each time I left a job it was due to either a lay-off or a better opportunity. How can I explain to future employers that I am ready to settle down to a new company for a few years without looking “jumpy” from my past?

Address it head-on in your cover letter. I’d be wary too though — not of your lay-offs, but of the fast voluntary departures, depending on how many there have been — so you’re going to have really convey that you mean it.

Current employer wants a timeline for my job search

I am currently in a job of 4 years in New England that I love, with job security and satisfaction.  My wife wants to relocate to North Carolina, and I have agreed to pursue another job down there.  I have told my employer of my intentions and am actively looking for a position.  However, my employer has asked me for a deadline when my search will no longer be “active” and they can again “count on me being around.” Is this proper etiquette and if so, how can I know how long it will take?  My search is confined to a specific area within a specific state, so the opportunities will be limited.

I don’t know that it’s a question of etiquette. Your employer, pretty reasonably, is trying to figure out what kind of plans they need to make on their own side. Since you felt comfortable being candid with your employer about your plans, do you feel comfortable talking through with them the possibilities for how this is likely to go and what makes the most sense for how each of you should be proceeding? That would be the most straightforward way of handling it.

Re-applying when a job is re-posted

A job I applied for a month ago has now been reposted on the same job site. I didn’t hear anything after I sent in my resume, but I’ve looked over the job posting and the qualifications are all the same, and I’ve gone through all of them again and really do believe I meet their requirements. As far as I can tell, the only difference in this new posting is under Required Experience it now says: “Minimum: Business Diploma and/or related business experience. Preferred: Business Degree and related business experience.”  I don’t have a business diploma or degree, but have a lot of business experience in this particular area. Since I didn’t hear anything, I’m guessing they figure I’m not qualified, so just to confirm – I shouldn’t apply again, right?

What do you have to lose?  You might as well try, because what’s the worst that will happen? You could get told no, which means you won’t be any worse off than you are right now. So, really, just give it a shot.

{ 8 comments… read them below }

  1. Suz*

    Re: Interview with replacement. Why not ask “What did you do that you think made you great, the things that went beyond the job description?” This is a great way for her to explain the unlisted job expectations, or offer areas that she would like to see grow/areas of change. I myself have often thought of a succession plan, as I hope to be involved in the process of hiring my replacement in the years to come. I have even expressed these ideas to my boss, as I think that some changes occur easier with a “new sheriff” in town.

    Many years ago I applied for a job in the same interview situation. I asked something akin to that, and was able to get a lot more information on the job and the working environment. I went into a high-stress position with open eyes, and knowing that I had the abilities to handle it successfully in my own fashion rather than the status quo.

    1. Susan*

      Suz, terrific reply and suggestion! I hadn’t thought of that as a way to weed out more of the corporate culture than what they’ll politely tell you. I agree with you on the point that some changes occur easier with a “new sheriff” in town, although usually that makes you the enemy at first ;)

  2. Jennifer*

    I had a similar question about how to schools that have changed names. The college I went to changed its name (as did my high school, but I don’t list that). Both the old and new name are quite long, so would occupy more real-estate on my resume if I were to write them both out than the diploma actually deserves.

    I have since completed both my BA and MLIS degrees, but I include the diploma because it shows I have formal education in an area that most people in my field lack. So, long story short, I want to include it, but don’t want it to take up too much space.


    1. Y*

      I agree with your comment! I would love to know what AskAManager thinks of this. This was my question and the organization’s new and old names are both quite long. Listing both could potentially take up two lines on my resume. Thanks for asking!

  3. Cristiona*

    With regards to the job title change, what do you do if you speak to your boss, she agrees, and then no action is taken? I’m in a similar situation where both my title and official job description no longer represent what I actually do.

    I spoke with my boss about this last spring, explaining that it wasn’t about a promotion or anything like that, simply wanting to update the official records both due to difficulties I’ve had performing my job (ex. people not giving me the information I need because my current title makes them think I’m not the right person in my dept to speak to) and on the macro level of making sure my career path reflects what my actual talents and responsibilities are.

    The latter especially worries me as there have been times of HR trying to give me new responsibilities based on my official title/description which bares little resemblance to what I do now. This has left me walking a fine political line of trying to be a “team player” yet also trying to keep from taking on things that are a step backwards in my career.

    My boss said that she agreed with all of my points and that my title and description should be updated. And then… nothing. I’ve followed up with her to remind her of our conversation, I’ve brought it up when we had department re-orgs which resulted in some of my coworkers’ titles/descriptions being changed, I’ve drafted a new job description so that she could simply mark it up instead of having to draft something from scratch, I even offered to start the conversation with HR for her, if she felt it would be helpful and politically correct for me to do so (she said no).

    Here we are in 2011 and still no change. Other than this frustration I like my job and my boss very much. But at the same time I’m starting to feel taken for granted, and certainly held back.

    Any advice/recommendations would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Cristiona, sit down with your boss and tell her that you want to hash out once and for all what steps need to be taken to get this done, and a plan for taking them. Also, tell her that if it’s not going to happen, you’d rather know that outright than keep waiting for it.

      1. Cristiona*

        Thank you. We’re currently in crunch time at the end of a huge project. Once that’s done (hopefully next week) I’ll schedule time for that conversation.

        Much appreciated!

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