tiny answer Tuesday: 6 short answers to 6 short questions

It’s tiny answer Tuesday — six short answers to six short questions.

Before we launch in, my good news this week is that I don’t have to have surgery on my broken foot, just a cast. And I can stop giving myself shots in the stomach. (This will be my last injury update until I hopefully announce in early January that I’m walking again!)

Okay, here we go…

1. Asking a manager to accommodate someone’s surprise party

What should a manager do when an employee’s family member calls saying there is a surprise party/reunion for their employee and the family member asks if the manager can make sure the employee isn’t working at the time of the reunion? They don’t want the surprise to be given away, and they know that their significant other normally works on these days. Would the manager decline the employee the hours upon the request of the family member for the reunion to go through?

I’m sure this varies from manager to manager, and I don’t know that there’s one right answer. Assuming this is a job where there’s generally some variation in the scheduling (i.e., not just 9-5, Monday through Friday), it would be nice for the manager to try to accommodate it if possible. On the other hand, if it would result in the person getting fewer hours (and thus less pay) than they’d normally get, a manager might not be comfortable letting someone make that choice for the employee. Ideally the family would schedule this event for a time when the person isn’t usually working, and then ask the manager to simply ensure that it stays that way.

2. When your references have moved on.

I am wondering if it reflects poorly upon me if my references are no longer working at the places where they were my supervisors. They are references from the past two years, but jobs were eliminated, people moved on, etc.

No. This is normal.

3. Is it legal, #453

Is it legal for my manager to tell a fellow employee of mine that I received a promotion and a small raise?

Yes. Why don’t you guys ever ask “is it reasonable” or “is it fair”?  Those would be much more interesting answers.

4. Is my resume too wordy?

My CV format involves a banner headline — a single sentence very quickly describing a little about me and my career aspirations, this is followed by my work and education history. For each job, I spend a sentence describing what the job was and then another few sentences describing my main responsibilities/achievements in that post, for my degree I list some relevant modules and describe a little about my thesis. Does this all sound too wordy?

Yes. You don’t want full sentences or paragraphs on your resume. You want bullet points — easier to scan than big blocks of text. Also, no one cares at this stage about your career aspirations — they care what you can do for them. That single sentence at the top sounds suspiciously like an objective; get rid of it and replace it with a summary or profile.

5. Employment when you were arrested for a political protest

What is your perspective as a hiring manager on “criminal” records, as in, “I got arrested during the Occupy Wall Street protests” (or any protest, this is a convenient example). I’ve always wondered this — and I heard a NPR interview with a young woman OWS protester just this morning who is unemployed, and just released from jail. Am I worrying about these folks unnecessarily? My employer does background checks, but it is my understanding that only certain offences are considered prejudicial to employment.

I got arrested at a couple of political protests in my 20s, and it’s never haunted me in any way. I’m sure there’s some ridiculous employer out there who would care, but for most, simply explaining that it was a political protest turns it into a non-issue.

Oh wait, once I was turned down as a volunteer tutor at my local jail because they said it made me a security risk. But that doesn’t make me any less glad that I stood up for what I believed in anyway, and I assume that’s true for most others doing civil disobedience.

6. Can your resume include future things that you haven’t done yet but will?

I’m graduating in May. The hiring process for most of the positions I’m applying is a long process — I’ve sent in applications due in November for jobs that start in June 2012. In the meantime, I’m doing a lot of meaningful, relevant things that would provide valuable experience for positions I’m applying for — going to conferences, doing a practicum, etc. My question is, should these items be on my resume/CV? Technically I haven’t done them yet, but It’s certain I will do them (the practicum, specifically). How do I account for experiences I will have prior to a position’s starting date when I have an 8 month window in which to be hired?

No, you can’t put stuff on your resume that you haven’t done yet. But you can talk about it in your cover letter.

{ 44 comments… read them below }

  1. Anonymous

    You say it is legal for a manaer yo share the caft that you got a raise with other fellow employees but is it fair?

    1. That HR Girl

      Legal? – yes
      Fair? – If they shared specific $$ numbers, no
      In good taste? – no.

      And for the love of god… spellcheck.

      1. Long Time Admin

        Spellcheck – no kidding! I had to read that several time to figure out what the poster was trying to say.

        I don’t think “fairness” is the right word for this. Was it wise, or good management? Maybe. The manager might have meant it as motivation.

    2. That HR Girl

      You also have to consider the circumstances here… It could have very easily been a conversation that went like this:

      Jill: Excuse me, Ms. Boss, but I heard that Amy is going to be taking on new responsibilities, why is that?
      Boss: Oh yes! She was promoted to a Sr. Specialist position.
      Jill: Oh really? Does that kind of promotion typically come with a pay increase?
      Boss: Why yes it does come with a small pay increase.
      Jill: Ok cool.

      See? Harmless.

  2. Christopher Allen-Poole

    Most of those arrests are misdemeanors and small fines if they are anything at all. While it is possible that they will cause long-term harm, it generally isn’t worse than, say, a speeding ticket, only without the points ;-)

  3. Wilton Businessman

    #1. Huh?
    #2. Your potential employer is hiring you, not your reference. They want to know what your reference can tell them about you.
    #3. Legal, yes. Tacky, yes (the raise part, at least).
    #4. Yes
    #5. Some people will care. Financial companies and Governments do extensive background checks and can deny you based on your criminal record. If the application asks for that information, put it down and explain the situation.
    #6. I plan on being the leader of the free world, should I put that on my resume?

    1. Esra

      Well this is just going to be awkward if we apply for the same job. I ALSO have my plan to be leader of the free world on my resume.

        1. Phideaux

          Is it legal to fire me as Leader of the Free World if the world wants to hire either Esra or Wilton and they have no experience?

  4. Ask an Advisor

    Re: 4. Is my resume too wordy?

    If the OP is talking about a traditional CV used in academia (a thorough and detailed account of your academic history), what the OP is describing is not necessarily too wordy. A traditional academic CV is 3-5 pages minimum! An old school academic doesn’t mind the full sentences either. Want the low down on a traditional CV? Have a professor or other academic review it to figure out if it is “too long”.

    If the OP is using CV interchangeably with resume (a concise marketing document focused on getting a job), then AAM is spot on.

  5. Anonymous

    Regarding #3 (manager telling employee that another got a raise and promotion)

    We have a manager that told an employee from a different department that hadn’t received raises that his “whole dept got raises”. I think he did it to A) make himself look good and B) try to get the other dept. employee fired up. I really found it to be poor form on his part because there wasn’t anything positive that could have come from that. He is also the same manager who told the two people in his dept that didn’t get raises that the owner “didn’t think they were important enough”, another poor choice as far as I’m concerned.

    Now the promotion part, I think its normal/accepted to announce that someone has been promoted. Why wouldn’t you want others to be aware of a promotion? Once they hear you received a promotion most are going to assume a raise was included anyway.

  6. Anonymous

    Thanks for answering my question about political protest arrests! I’m in education, and as you might expect with folks who get to work with all your little miracles, we must pass extensive background checks (done by the FBI) before we get hired. Something like that would certainly come up.

    1. Anonymous

      I got a deferred sentence from my participation in a very politically contentious protest that was heavily monitored by the FBI. It didn’t stop me from getting a job at a federal agency less than a year later, while the arrest was still on my record.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        Often I think the key with this stuff is to just be up-front about it. It’s when you lie about it that it becomes a problem. (And I think that’s especially true when it comes to federal government background checks.)

    2. Anonymous

      I worked somewhere where we did background checks on employees and volunteers who worked with children. We only took into account criminal convictions that were relevant to the safety of children. If someone had a conviction involving children, or violence, they would be disqualified for employment or volunteer service. But if there was a misdemeanor for Disorderly Conduct, or other nonviolent offenses, we would either disregard them, or ask the candidate for an explanation of the circumstances, in which case an arrest for a nonviolent protest would not be a problem, and they would still get the job. It was not a blanket policy that covered any kind of conviction. The organization would have considered that uneccessarily punitive and possibly a violation of people’s rights to deny them a job for an unrelated criminal conviction or violation.

      So, it depends on the place of employment and their policies, but as someone who also has misdemeanor convictions on my record, i have never been prevented from being hired because of my record. And most activists I know who put themselves in arrest situations understand the possible consequences, take the decision very seriously, and know that standing up for our beliefs might very well limit some of our choices for employment or other activities in the future.

  7. Anonymous

    Re:3. Is it legal, #453

    I think letting others know of your promotion is fine, since at my company, it’s actually posted publically on the internal site. But the mention of “a raise” does seem a bit unneccessary, but even if your mgr didn’t mention the raise, it would be pretty obvious that you did receive one anyway. I would just keep this to yourself and not make a big fuss of it.

    Congrats on the promotion and raise, btw!

  8. Anonymous

    As much as I’d like to think an Occupy Wall Street arrest is “no big deal” I think it will come back to haunt people. Sadly, participation in a social movement can be seen as a deal breaker I think.

    I worked in labor advocacy groups for 10 years. I was in the research department and had progressively increasing responsibilities. Eventually I got to negotiating major labor contracts. But my expertise is in industry and corporate research with a sub-specialty in finance and modeling. I can do investigative due diligence and rock accretion/dilution models like no one’s business. Still in every single interview people look at my previous employer’s names and ask me some variant of “so, do you hate the man or something?” Sigh…

    Some days I wish I could just lie and say I worked with little kids or cancer survivors or something that everyone views as “okay” advocacy work. As the saying goes, “When I give food to the poor they call me a saint, when I ask why the poor have no food they call me a Communist.”

    In the eyes of 99% of HR idiots in the this world, costing and comping group health benefit plans and doing a Porter’s Five Forces model on an industry makes me a “Communist.”

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      In your case, you might be running into a dynamic specific to the labor movement: you’re interviewing with people who by the nature of their jobs are more likely than the average person to view organized labor as something to be avoided and/or a huge pain in their ass.

    2. That HR Girl

      AAM is right… Imaging working in the labor advocacy arena and having someone interview with you who has extensive experience in union avoidance training or other pro-employer things…

  9. Anonymous

    Re: Putting things not completed on CV – if the activities in question have started, you can indicate that they are in progress, e.g. “Thesis Writing September 2011-June 2012. Expected completion date June 2012.” If you have submitted an abstract for a conference, or have a talk or poster accepted, you can say “XYZ Conference, Miami FL, May 2012, poster accepted for presentation” or some such

    1. Anonymous

      Agreed. You can also list something accepted for publication in a journal as “forthcoming in XXX, March 2012”.

  10. Natalie

    A couple of legal notes about background checks:

    Assuming a company is using a 3rd party to conduct their background check, the checking company can typically only include negative items (other than criminal convictions) that are less than 7 years old. There are some exceptions to this, of course. (Fair Credit Reporting Act, if anyone is curious.)

    Some states have also passed more stringent laws. In California, for example, you can only report an arrest if legal action is still pending or if the person was convicted.

    1. Nathan A.

      In the several hundred applications I’ve seen, there is the verbiage “convicted or pleaded guilty / no lo contendere to…” in the criminal records section. Traffic violations / misdemeanors are mentioned to not count in these applicatiosn (the applications say something like … “more severe than a misdemeanor” or something to that extent).

      1. That HR Girl

        This is mostly true. It depends on the job… some companies will exclude candidates that have misdemeanors, if the misdemeanor involved theft, drugs, minor children (like my company that is a children’s retailer).

        And believe me, I wish it only showed up with things that were less than 7 years old, or things that were more severe than tinted window violations, speeding tickets, underage drinking, and all of the other minor crap I don’t really care about when making a hiring decision. I have to sift through all of the records (when there are some), find out what is old/dismissed/etc and then find out if there’s anything disqualifying.

        What I’m trying to say (not so succinctly) is that protest arrests or things of that nature are rarely part of the categories employers are even looking for on criminal background checks.

  11. Elo

    I’ve always wondered… what exactly is a difference between a resume and a CV. Which one is more appropriate or preferred?

    1. Nathan A.

      I believe CV stands for “curriculum vitae” and appears to be more extensive than a resume.

      I’ve always ascribed a CV to be an account of the works of an expert and the resume to be an account of the works of a layman.

    2. EG

      In the US a resume is what most people use to get a job. It is a concise statement of what you have done, and what skills you have that are applicable to the new job. It generally uses bullet points, rather than sentences and paragraphs and isn’t longer than 1-2 pages.
      A CV is mostly used in academia. It is longer, listing all activities completed, service on committees, papers published, presentations given, classes taught ect. They can range from 3-15 pages depending on how far in your career you are, and often have paragraph long statements of philosophy.

      In the UK, what is called a resume in the US is usually referred to as a CV.

      1. ID

        EG is absolutely correct. However, I noticed that a lot of my American colleagues often call a resume a CV (even though it’s a resume). I work at an internationally focused non profit with a bit of an academic influence. Technically, EG is correct, and my colleagues are wrong, but the terms are sometimes mixed up.

  12. Anonymous

    In regards to the manager telling one employee about another’s promotion and raise – if employees are greatly discouraged in discussing page amongst themselves (perhaps a fire-able offense), then why would a manager be allowed to spread the news?

  13. Lexy

    As a person who’s pay is public record (government employee) I find it amusing how territorial people get about the whole issue. At my office there is a “level 4” (a project manager/technician, just below management) who’s total compensation is about 7% higher than his current manager’s, everyone knows it, or could, and we still go about our business doing our jobs. Weird.

  14. Ask a Manager Post author

    I’ve deleted all the discussion about my political protest arrest at 24. As I said early on in the conversation, I’m not going to host a debate on my personal life or politics (particularly my politics at 24). People had trouble staying away from it though, which I understand, so I’ve simply removed the discussion of it because it was clear that comments would lead to more comments, which would lead to my head exploding. Sorry about that (and in retrospect, I shouldn’t have opened the door to it). It’s just not my thing.

    (And I’m particularly weird on this topic.)

    1. A

      Damnit! I missed it and of course now Im that much more interested to see what all the commotion was about. But Im guessing at the very least its a sore subject to this day?

  15. Anonymous

    Re: #6 My friend once put ‘expected recipient of X award’ on her website advertising her art, before she even entered that year’s contest. True, she had placed very highly the past two years but I still found it really presumptuous and obnoxious.

    1. Anonymous

      That’s awesome! I’m going to start doing that. My dog, expected MACH title holder. That has a nice ring to it.

  16. JT

    AAM – just a comment on moderating a contentious and off-topic discussion. If there’s a topic you don’t want discussion about, that’s fine. But it’s not fair to present a fact or two to back up your side of the argument (even when you’re right), and then, in the same message, say “no discussion of this topic.” Just say “No discussion of this topic” and leave it at that.

    1. A. Nonymous

      Agreed. Perhaps you should add a note next to it within the post indicating there will be no discussion so that way someone just skips over the comments and “blah blah blah” about it. But I think you probably knew people were going to zero in on it – all opinions at that.

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