short answer Sunday: 7 short answers to 7 short questions

It’s short answer Sunday: seven short answers to seven short questions.

Company asking me to fly myself out for informational interview

I recently applied for a position at a big time company that’s out of state. I emailed them my resume and stated in the cover letter what position I was interested in at the company and that I’m willing to relocate. The job is an entry level job. I’m east coast. This company is west coast. To my surprise, they actually called me back and asked to set up an INFORMATIONAL interview. I agreed to it. I don’t mind at all. But is it weird to call a person in from across the country for an informational interview? I am also paying for travel. Which again, I don’t mind doing. I’ve already asked for a job so why did they offer me an informational interview? They also told me to bring plenty of resumes. I’m so confused. (And I’m sure they know I live out of state because I used my real address and mentioned where I was currently working in the cover letter.)

Yes, this is weird — if in fact they really meant an informational interview. I’m wondering if they didn’t and that was somehow a miscommunication by someone who doesn’t understand that “informational interviews” are different from job interviews — because generally an employer doesn’t have any incentive to set up informational interviews; those are typically in the interest of (and suggested by) a job-seeker, not an employer. I would bet money that they’re just misusing the term, and what they really mean is that this will be a fairly typical first interview.

However, ideally, you would have asked for clarification before agreeing. When an employer does something that seems mystifying, there’s no reason you can’t politely inquire for more context — particularly before you spend your own money on travel.

I’m angry about a pay disparity; can I walk off the job?

I found out today that someone who is about to come on board with us is going to be offered $25k more than I make a year. We have a similar educational and work background, similar experience and he’s going to be doing a similar job but far, far less work than I do. He’ll have essentially one job (and get to telecommute) while I have many additional jobs. I found this out because we’re a small company and my boss said it in a meeting, so he knows I know. We’re pretty open here.

I am sick over this. I feel that I have done great work here and have always had great performance reviews and I have a thick file of praise I’ve received internally and externally. My work has attracted some of our biggest clients. Here’s the twist: I haven’t been happy here in a long time and I’ve been offered another much, much better job, but since I’m still going through the background check process, I haven’t put in my notice (just to be safe). I was going to give two weeks, but knowing now just how very little they value me, is that still a good idea? Would I be in the right to leave immediately? I’m finding it hard to even face my boss and supervisor, I’m so upset. I know I need to pull it together, but I feel like they just gave me the middle finger.

No, you would not be in the right to leave immediately, and by doing so you might even screw yourself with your new job if they find out about it in the background check process — burning a bridge by leaving without notice isn’t the kind of thing that gets you a good reference or makes future employers want to hire you.

There are all kinds of reasons a coworker might earn more than you, fair and unfair. But ultimately you are responsible for the financial arrangements you negotiate with your employer. If you don’t like those arrangements, it’s your prerogative to leave that job — but that doesn’t mean you can do so in an unprofessional way and expect it not to reflect poorly on you. You’re also free to tell your boss that you were stunned to hear about the disparity in your salaries (since it was announced right in front of you) — and, if you weren’t already leaving, to make the case that you deserve a higher salary — but you really need to take some of the emotion out of this before you do or say anything, or you won’t help yourself.

Should I follow up to correct a mistake in my resume?

I’m a college sophomore in the midst of the summer internship application rush. Over the past month, I’ve applied to about 15 internships at various government agencies and think tanks, and just today happened to notice one minor typo on my resume (I wrote “senor executive” instead of “senior”). Of course, I’m kicking myself for not finding a second pair of eyes to review my resume before I sent it, and it’s not a mistake I’ll make again. Here’s my question: is this a big enough mistake that I should re-submit my corrected resume to all of the places at which I’ve already applied? When I make a mistake, my instinct is usually to correct it rather than cross my fingers and hope for the best; however, most of my applications were submitted weeks or even months ago, so I’m wondering if correcting them at this point would just make things worse. I have a good amount of experience for someone my age, so I’m hoping that that will outweigh the one mistake, but I’m not sure.

It may not make a difference, but I don’t think it would make things worse so you have nothing to lose by trying. Don’t just resubmit your resume without comment though — that’ll look weird. Submit it with a note saying that you were mortified to notice a typo in the first version. Make sure you truly sound mortified and stress that this isn’t typical of your attention to detail.

Job ads with spelling errors

Is it possible you could address the lack of spelling skills that seem to be so prevalent in job ads? I understand that a lot of people can’t spell, but it really irks me when I see occupations and other obvious words misspelled in job ads. I find myself wondering if the company is even worth working for or if the hiring manager is placing a sort of test in the ad to see who will mention the misspellings.

Yep. I think it tells you something about the standards to which the company holds itself and its employers. It’s not a good sign.

Listing consulting work on a resume

How should I list my company and job title if I’m a consultant? For example, say I’m a consultant with Acme Technology and they place me at General Hospital for a year. Technically, my paycheck is from Acme and the hospital has no record of me at HR because I’m not an employee. But General Hospital is a very prestigious employer in my town so I definitely want it prominently displayed on my resume. Likewise, my official title is consultant but the contracted position is for database administrator. While I want my resume to be accurate, I think it’s important to let future employers know I’ve held the dba position. I currently list both companies and positions (with the GH position as sort of a sub-job of Acme) but it looks a little busy on my resume.

I would list it this way:

Database Administrator
General Hospital (via Acme Technology)

(It’s fine to use the title of the contracted position.)

Listing consulting work on a resume, part 2

How do you list contract work on a resume when it’s a direct hire? I am currently working for a single company and paid as a contractor, not an employee. This work was not found through a temp agency or anything of the sort; it was a direct hire. Sometimes the work is paid on an hourly basis, sometimes it’s project-based. I work at their location. To give you an idea of what I’m doing for this company: I do all sorts of web work including web design as well as working with APIs to develop web applications for this company, so I’m putting my title as a Web Specialist since Web Designer feels limiting, but I’m not sure if I’m accurately reflecting the position by having it in the same format as my previous forms of employment.

So right now, it’s listed as:
Web Specialist, Company X ……………………… Starting Date – present
Location of Job

And then two bullet points about the position. I have a chronological resume as I’m still early in my career.

Yep, that’s exactly how I’d list it, and if you don’t have a title, it’s fine to come up with something that accurately reflects what you do there. (The litmus test: Would they dispute the title in a reference check?) The details of your pay arrangement (the fact that you’re a contractor rather than an employee) aren’t particularly relevant for your resume.

Also, regarding your note about having a chronological resume because you’re early in your career — you should have a chronological resume no matter where you are in your career. Don’t switch that when you’re older, or I will personally hunt you down and change it back.

Following up after a phone interview
Subtitle: use the search box!

Four weeks ago, I had a phone interview for a job. The person who interviewed me told me that they were going to take a couple of weeks to deliberate over who they wanted to contact for in-person interviews. This is a job that I’m very excited about, so I’ve been very anxious for them to make a decision. Last week, I got tired of waiting so I sent an e-mail to my interviewer reiterating my interest in the position, and, if possible, to alert me of any updates. It is going on eight days now and I have not received a reply. It’s frustrating, because I have no clue why I haven’t gotten feedback. They could have missed the e-mail. Unfortunately, I sent the e-mail though Gmail, so I couldn’t attach a receipt to see if it had been opened. Or worse, they could have seen my e-mail as being pushy and demanding. Should I retry sending the same e-mail, and if so how long should I wait?

The exact same email? No, that would be weird. A version of it, asking directly for their timeline this time? Yes. And for what it’s worth, there are almost a dozen posts on this site that answer this same question, and there’s a very effective search box to the right that will let you find those posts, and even a category about how to follow up in the category listing to the right. I have organized the site this way not for my own pleasure, but to help you find stuff.

Grumpily yours,

{ 20 comments… read them below }

  1. OP #6*

    Thanks for your answer, Alison! Regarding my note about a chronological resume and then thinking about changing it later in my career, I was actually going to go with a combination (you call it in your link “chronological plus”), not a straight functional resume. I would still list dates. When certain jobs have overlapping duties, I thought a combination eliminate some repetition.

  2. GoOctopus Job Search*

    Learn a lot from your post, Alison. So true on the pay disparity, if you cannot just walk off the job in a unprofessional way, that’s not a high EQ behavior and of course harm to your future job search.

  3. Anonymous*

    As for the very last question, the person was told “a couple of weeks” and s/he starts bugging the company in less time. I would think that a thank you note would suffice for reiterating interest, and it puts the ball back in the company’s court. If it had been 2 weeks, then I would begin to follow up, but I think two emails seeking the same answer is a bit much, especially in a short time.

    And AAM, I’ve seen some duplicates, and maybe your writer thought it was something different; it sounded like it when s/he was asking if it’s okay to send the exact same email. I believe many of your readers understand the lay-out and functions of your blog. You had done a post about the top searches, after all.

    1. ThomasT*

      Actually, it looks like he waited for around 3 weeks after being told “a couple of weeks.” Phone interview was “four weeks ago,” and he sent the email “last week,” and “it’s going on 8 days now.” Arguably still a little overeager, but

      Alison – your Contact link is much more prominent than the search box or category links, and the page declares that you “like email.” If you want less redundant email, you should change that page to encourage people to search and/or peruse the category listings for useful information before emailing.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        That is a good point! I may change it. Because of the mail quantity, I’m only able to answer about 10% of the questions I get, which I feel guilty about, and that might be a good way to address that.

        1. Anonymous*

          You should have a little notice such as the following:

          For the past few years, I have answered various questions which I have divided into categories. Please research these to see if I have already answered a question similar to yours. If you not have found one, please feel free to contact me at _______.

  4. Michelle*

    Here’s how I list my consulting work on my resume:

    My Actual Title
    Big Consulting Company (2000- Present)

    Then, the bullet first point on my resume is:

    Consultant at the following companies: Company X, Company Y, Large Hospital Z, Small Pharma Company ABC, etc.

    This works for me because I’ve worked at over a dozen different companies so if I listed them all with bullet points for each, my resume would be too long. Plus all of my experience is not necessarily relevant to the positions I’m applying for. The rest of my resume consists of bullets that aren’t linked to any particular company. So instead of saying “Trained X people on Y, which increased profits by Z% at Company ABC”, I usually say “Trained X people on Y, which increased a customer’s profits by Z%”…or similar, you get the idea.

    1. Jamie*

      This is a great format – and as I had temping and consulting work on my resume it works for both situations.

      I specifically listed all the companies where my responsibilities were relevant to the job for which I was applying. I also listed the other major ones, even if less relevant, where I worked long enough that they were on my reference list.

  5. Charles*

    Two thoughts:

    1 – Not all job ads are placed by those involved in filling the job. Keep in mind that it isn’t just poor spelling; but also poor job descriptions written by someone who isn’t directly linked to the job. i.e., a temp agent with a dozen or more positions to fill, an overworked HR rep, or the person being replaced. Poor spelling is the least of the problems. Wrong job descriptions are a bigger problem.

    2 – Quitting on the spot. Here’s a relevant story. Several years ago I knew someone who did this. He up and quit just as his shift was to start in the wake of some very “choice” words. As everyone was working on tight deadlines his “hissy fit” left all his co-workers scrambling to get their work and HIS work done that night. Managers didn’t like what he did; but his co-workers hated him for it. They took it as a personal insult; especially those choice words.

    Go ahead, ask anyone of them for a reference about him. Unlike management, they have no fear from HR’s directive to NOT say anything about him.

    And I’m sure that things that went wrong in the department for the next few weeks were, justifiably or not, blamed on him. He became everybody’s scapegoat when they screwed up.

    The best joke of all is that if he had said something I would have told him to wait. Until that act I truly liked the guy and would have shared the “secret” information that I knew – the company was planning on layoffs and were going to ask for volunteers. The severance package was 2 weeks basic plus 2 additional weeks for each year one worked there. That hissy fit cost him 8 weeks of pay!

    Lastly, he wasn’t remembered for all the work (and it was good!) that he had done in the previous 3 years. He was remembered for that one last act – throwing a hissy fit.

    P.S. apologies if this posts for than once; I keep getting bumped out every time I click submit – darn dial-up modem!

    1. Jamie*

      I disagree with your first point – although I see the logic.

      Personally, I don’t care how overworked an HR rep may be – want ads should be proofed before posting. It does scream of a lack of attention to detail, and that’s a really bad sign in either a company or HR.

  6. Elaine*

    Charles wrote:

    “The best joke of all is that if he had said something I would have told him to wait. Until that act I truly liked the guy and would have shared the “secret” information that I knew – the company was planning on layoffs and were going to ask for volunteers. The severance package was 2 weeks basic plus 2 additional weeks for each year one worked there. That hissy fit cost him 8 weeks of pay!”

    Charles, if you had told this guy about the upcoming layoffs, there would have been one person fired who didn’t expect it – YOU! Breach of confidential information is a firing offense everywhere I’ve ever worked.

    1. Charles*


      You are absoltuely right. I’m glad that jerk didn’t say anything to me as I clearly misjudged his character.

      However, there was another guy who asked me to help him with his resignation letter. After I helpd him with it I suggested that he “wait a couple of weeks, something is going on. I cannot tell you what, but trust me.” He was true to his word, waited and didn’t tell a soul.

  7. Brian*

    I clearly remember many years ago whining to my Dad when I found out another guy on my stocking crew made a dollar more than me. He said you were happy with your pay yesterday, so what changed? You negotiated a pay rate and accepted it. Somebody else’s pay has no effect on your bank account. I still wasn’t happy about it but I let it drop. The most important lesson I learned was never discuss your pay with anyone.

    My grandmother gave me some great advice I’ve referred to many times over the years, mostly involving jobs and relationships. If you don’t like it, leave. If you knew her, you knew she actually meant take action or shut up. Anytime I found myself continuously complaining about a job or a girl I followed that advice. Although I should admit I’m still single and have had a lot of jobs:)

  8. Anonymous*

    Re: the the question about following up after sending an email, I would LOVE some input on this:

    I sent a follow up email last Wednesday asking for a timeline. I received a very nice response that they were “Now we are waiting for letters of references to come back” and they hope to make a decision by the end of this week.

    The problem, none of my references have received a letter!
    Would it be ok to send another email advising of this or asking if i’m still being considered or is that inappropriate?

    This is for a government job that has involved a face to face interview and a polygraph test, both went extremely well.

    Thank you!

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Anonymous, reading between the lines there, it sounds like they might be waiting for references on a different candidate, which is why yours haven’t been contacted! I’m sorry!

      I don’t see any advantage to your asking about this; they’re likely to just tell you that you’re still being considered (because if you’re a good candidate, you ARE still being considered even if someone else is the front-runner, until they finalize things with someone else). It sounds like they’re responsive to you, so I wouldn’t worry that you’ll never hear back again if you don’t reach out again now. It sounds like they’ve given you a timeline and now you need to sit tight and wait, which I know is frustrating.

      (I will also note that I could be wrong here, and YOU are the front-runner and they’re just slow.)

  9. Anonymous*

    Thank you AAM. That’s what I was thinking as well. I had multiple friends suggest I email them anyway, however, I couldn’t think of a polite way to phrase an email like that so thought I would check with the expert.

    Thank you as well for a great and extremely helpful blog!!

  10. Nate*

    This may be an internal bias on my part, but if I see a job posting with grammatical errors, I don’t even bother with it. A step towards the worse is when the posting is one giant blob of text. This seems to occur regularly on the big job search engines. Granted, my grammar or spelling isn’t perfect, but if they can’t manage to at least check their uploaded postings for how they may come across to potential applicants, what does that say for how the company is run?

  11. Anonymous*

    I am not immune from typos and grammatical errors, so I treat others as I myself would prefer to be treated. As for the “blob”, perhaps their formatted text was blobbified when converted to xml during the upload; again, how can you know? Cut them some slack, lest you have no slack yourself!

    1. Anonymous*

      Hmmm. That was supposed to be a reply to Nate….I suppose it popped back to top level when I didn’t fill out the new antispam challenge for the first submit attempt.

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