short answer Sunday: 6 short answers to 6 short questions

It’s short answer Sunday (barely; I’m 90 minutes away from midnight, but hey, I got it done). Here we go…

Changing out of snow shoes before an interview

I was wondering your thoughts on wearing snow shoes to an interview, changing to dress shoes right before and maybe placing them in the coat closet?  Ideally I would only do this if I already had the job, but I don’t want to look like a moron by wearing dress shoes in sleet/snow. The interview is in New York so walking 20ft from the car to the door is not an option.

I think that’s totally fine, although I wouldn’t count on there being an easily accessible coat closet so you’d be safer having a tote or something to put them in.

How do I tell my manager I’m applying for another position internally?

I just heard about a job opening for a director position with another department at my company.  I feel that I am qualified but I admit I may not have as much experience as they might like.  However I still want to throw my name in the ring for this. I assume I should tell my current boss prior to applying.  But what is the best way to do so??  Should I ask his permission or just tell him my plan?  Do I phrase it as “i want to take on more responsibility’ or do i phrase it as ‘i’m not happy and want to try something new.’  I do not want my boss to hold a grudge or have me be the first one fired if I do not get this job but do think this position would be a great step for my career.   Overall, I like my employer and the role that I have but am just looking for something more.

Yes, you should tell your boss. Explain that you’re happy with your current position but excited by the challenges of the new one. Also, read this.

Who do I address my cover letters to?

I’ve been job hunting for awhile now, and I absolutely loathe sending my cover letters “To Whom It May Concern”; however, most job postings don’t tell you who you should be addressing. For example, I went to the website of the company I am applying to and looked up the art director (the job post says that the graphic designer will report to this person). So should I address that person? Or perhaps the HR Generalist?

Yeah, I’d address it to the name of the manager for the position. If you can’t find that out, “Dear Hiring Manager” is totally fine.  Guessing wrong about this is not in any way make-or-break, so don’t stress out about it.

What to expect in an internal interview

In your experience, are internal interviews that much different from “first hire” interviews? I have my first internal interview coming up and I am getting worried about it. I felt as though I had a handle on the “get the job interview,” but having never had done an internal interview, I’m nervous. And I should mention this is more of a lateral move and not a promotion. Any thoughts would help!

If your company is huge and you don’t know the people you’re interviewing with, there may not be that much different. But if it’s smaller and/or you do know them, it’s likely to be less formal and — ideally — more of a conversation than a one-way interrogation. Also, you may be asked for your thoughts about internal matters that you know about first-hand (related the company’s operations, challenges, etc.), so you should definitely come prepared to talk knowledgeably (to the extent possible) about those sorts of things.  You also presumably will be able to have more nuanced questions of your own than an external candidate could. Good luck!

Is the job market improving?

I was wondering if you think the job market is improving? I keep hearing people say that it’s improving, but I haven’t seen any evidence of that in my own search; bear in mind, I might absolutely suck and that’s why, but I’d like to know what you think.

I’ve been so frustrated in trying to find a job. When I was laid off in March, I never thought it would be February and nothing more than a few interviews with nothing even close to a job being offered. I get very down about it, especially after what I went through yesterday (which left me crying in an ice and slush covered street with my feet wet- yes, I’m harping about feet being wet!) but then I like to browse your various sections and some of the outlandish questions and situations make me feel better. My main question remains- do you think it will be easier to find work in 6 months time or do you think this is still a really down period?

This is way out of my area of expertise; I’m no economist. However, based purely on what I’m seeing when I’m hiring and also on gut feeling, my sense is that it’s improving … but pretty damn slowly. There’s also huge variation across industries and in different geographic regions, of course.

And please don’t conclude that you suck; consider that the math (more job-seekers than jobs) is still a huge challenge.

How can my resume reflect that my job is really two jobs?

I am redoing my resume and want it to stand out.  I have 5 years of experience at a large advertising agency.  The agency was hit hard by the recession and I have always done the work of an assistant account executive (AAE) and my current position, an Account Executive (AE).  If we were doing well, we could have hired an assistant.

I have always done administrative and intermediate work – but haven’t had the managerial experience.  How can I write this in my resume without sounding bitter at doing two employees’ work?  (This is one area I am hoping not to have in my next job.)  It’s not that I am bitter but want it to stand out as a positive/unique portion of my resume.

If you’ve been doing the work of a more junior position and a more senior position, and you have the title of the more senior one, I’d just list that one. No need to get into the junior-level stuff. But yeah, you really, really don’t want to sound bitter in a resume. Resumes should be emotionless, like Spock.

{ 14 comments… read them below }

  1. Slaten*

    If you do decide to wear “snowshoes” to your interview please take a pic and post it somewhere so we can all see. A snapshot of the hiring managers reaction would also be GREAT. :)

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  3. Anonymous*

    Addressing letters to ‘To Whom It May Concern’ always sounded to me like it was a ransom note.

  4. Heather*

    I’m the OP regarding the internal interview. I’m handling it much like you said. Preparing my own questions & answers to “normal” interview questions, but knowing that the interviewer knows about me before the interview & I know him.

    In regards to the question regarding telling your current manager: In my company we greatly hire from within. So with this culture, I actually asked my current boss, and his boss whether they thought I would be good for the position before I even applied. They were very supportive. I think as long as you are honest that you are looking to expand your abilities/looking for challenge/whatever it may be, your manager will, hopefully, be supportive.

  5. Anonymous*

    After all the snow and slush (it’s impossible to cross some streets!) in NYC of late, I would actually think more negatively about NOT wearing snow shoes, wondering about your judgment and priorities. But I agree that one cannot expect coat closets, so bring a tote.

    1. Jamie*

      Absolutely – trying to brave the slush in dress shoes for an interview would raise an eyebrow about lack of preparation and forethought.

      I have a pair of Vans I wear to walk through the parking lot to the office where I change into a pair of dry pink Chuck Taylors…but then IT has a dress code unto itself.

      Definitely bring a tote though – being self-sufficient is a good thing and then if the interview doesn’t go well it makes for a quicker exit.

  6. Karl Sakas*

    Anecdotally, I’ve definitely noticed a pickup in hiring for marketing jobs here in N.C. A bunch of people who’ve been looking for a long time (one for 18+ months) have just gotten hired.

  7. Jamie*

    I haven’t seen a noticeable improvement in hiring in my field (IT in non-IT companies). The jobs that are listed still read like catch-alls for companies who are still running lean and incorporating a couple of positions into one.

    I have seen an increase in hiring of direct labor positions – so I’m hoping that’s a sign that business is improving and down the road it will trickle up to the indirect positions.

    Not moving as fast as I’d like, though.

    1. Anonymous*

      I’ve noticed the hiring of IT in IT companies picking up slightly as well. But those companies are still unbelievably lean. Most of the new positions are being created because they clearly cut too far last year. Having said that, my company just announced pay cuts this year following 2 years of no raises. To keep the doors open? Nope. To avoid more layoffs? Nope. Because the shareholders were promised a certain profit and we fell a little short (but were still very profitable)? Oh yeah.

      When the economy truly does turn around, I would certainly hope ethically challenged companies like mine find themselves with a major talent shortage.

  8. JessB*

    To “Is the job market improving?”, I just wanted to say hold on! There is hope, don’t give up. It took me a while to find a job three years ago when I was bullied out of a workplace, and that really beat me up. You just sounded a bit down, so I wanted to say that Alison is right (as always) and the math at the moment isn’t in your favour. There will be a day when it is.

    All the best.

    1. Anonymous*

      OP for ‘Is the job market improving?’ here- and yeah, I was pretty down when I wrote that! Thanks JessB for the kind words. I know it will take awhile, but it’s been almost a year with very little so when things go really badly (like they did that day) then I just want to throw up my hands and say I’m done. If you know what I mean. Appreciated Alison’s advice too!

      1. Diana*

        I feel your pain, OP. I have been out of work for almost 9 months now, and every mini-deadline I’d encouraged myself to beat (“I’ll have a job by end of summer… by my birthday [mid-Oct]… Thanksgiving… New Year’s?…” ) has passed with no further insight into when I really will get a full-time job. I want it badly; I have stretched waaaaay out of my comfort zone to network, outreach, volunteer, self-brand, innovate, and stay current within my industry.

        What is really hard is staying proud of myself, for making the leap out of the regular 9-5 to complete my master’s degree. I don’t succeed at that every day, but I will tell you that I am relearning how important it is to ask for help. Ask your friends and family for a quick pep talk. When I can’t bear to look at job postings or finish a cover letter, I send a quick gchat to my one completely tireless cheerleader of a friend and say, “Tell me I have to do [x chore] and that I haven’t failed at life.” I usually get much more than I have asked for.

        Lest I sound deceptively cheerful, I had to do this today. I have been short on motivation this week, but everyone is right, the math just isn’t in our favor. For these eight-plus months it hasn’t been that I can’t find jobs I want or “Where ARE all the jobs?,” it is just that there are so many people looking and in many cases job postings are deceptive. But we will succeed, because we can’t imagine NOT doing so. I have to do this. I will do this.
        So will you, and soon. Be sure to celebrate yourself and your pep squad when you get a job!

  9. bob*

    I have to agree with Jamie, I’m in CO in a niche part of IT and the job market is the worst it’s been since I was laid off in May of 2009. If you’re a software developer with experience you have some options but the jobs I see advertised are asking for experience or at least a whiff of a bunch of different technologies all piled on with 1 job. Frankly, I’m not seeing much improvement at all in IT.

  10. ab*

    I asked the original question about talking to your boss when you internally interview.

    Just had my annual review today, and while my review was great, there was no change in compensation and my boss was not at all helpful when I pressed for ways I can get more involved in our group. I opted to let him know I would be applying for this position and he said he understood, that he hopes I wont leave our dept but that it sounded like a great opportunity.

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