mini answer Monday: 6 short answers to 6 short questions

It’s mini answer Monday — six short answers to six short questions. Here we go…

1. Why is my employer of three years requesting my resume?

Recently I was asked by my manager to provide my resume. As I have been in the position for several years, I informed her that I didn’t have a current resume as i had not applied for any other positions. She said that it didn’t matter and to just hand in what I had. I gave her my resume that had not been updated for 3 years. Does my employer have a right to request my resume when I have been permanenly placed in my position for several years and am not applying for any other positions?

Yes. She should have explained why she was asking though, as this is a good way to make employees really nervous that something about their job status is about to change, even though it could be something as simple as updating employee files. Why not ask her what it’s being used for?

2. Should I take a promotion working for a jerk?

I’m a manager in a department within a large corporation. I expressed interest in increasing my responsibilities and my upper management has taken my request to heart and offered me a position in another department that will certainly expand my business knowledge. Unfortunately, the position reports to a manager with a reputation of being a micro-manager, bully, and blow-hard. Great opportunity, lousy boss. The person who offered me the position is the jerk-boss’s boss and is aware of his failings.

My knee-jerk reaction is to turn down the job, stating “thanks for the chance to shine but I can’t work for someone I don’t respect.” A small part of me is doesn’t want to turn down the opportunity. I wonder if I’m making a mistake but do I dare run the risk of working for someone who will add significant stress to my life and possibly negatively impact my bottom line through future bad evaluations? I can’t really ask his other direct reports about his most recent behavior to see if their previous run-ins with him were a one-time issue or not.

Well, I had an answer ready for you until I read your last sentence, which implies that you don’t really know for sure what this boss is like. If you’re confident that this boss is the jerk you paint him as, I’d seriously consider turning it down. Your quality of life at work is hugely dependent on your relationship with your boss. But tough bosses aren’t necessarily bad bosses, so I’d urge you to learn more about what this guy is really like before you decide.

If you do decide to turn it down, stay away from the “I can’t work for someone I don’t respect” line, which guarantees you’ll have trouble getting other promotions in the future.

3. What was up with this heavily scripted interview?

I recently got back from my first on-site interview at a large corporation. My meeting with the HR rep and department demos went swimmingly, but the panel interview was . . . odd. My three interviewers were reading straight from a packet of questions and spent most of the interview writing down my answers. When it was my turn to ask questions, they all gave extremely similar answers to multiple questions. Are most corporate interviews so scripted? How do you write individualized thank-you letters to people who never differentiated themselves?

No, although there are some employers who operate this way, out of a misguided belief that the only way to evaluate candidates objectively is to ask them all the same questions and never deviate from the script. This is absurd, because one of the most useful parts of interviews is asking follow-up questions (“that must have been challenging; how did you handle X?” and so forth). An environment like this is unlikely to value individualized thank-you’s, so don’t stress too much about that.

4. I was told I’d be having three interviews in one day but only had two

I had a phone interview where at the end the hiring manager told me that he was going to continue the interviewing process. I was surprised to get an email a week later inviting me to a face-to-face interview with others on the team, but they were not the hiring manager. When I arrived, I was told by the HR person that I was going to meet with 3 people. After meeting with the second person, I was told that I was done, and that they would be in touch. When I asked about not meeting the third person, he said that was something that can be done later over the phone. Is that a sign that they are going to take a pass on me?

Maybe, or maybe not. It could indicate that they’d decided by the second meeting that the fit wasn’t right so they chose not to continue. Or it could be that the third person was out sick or busy with something else. There’s no real way to say for sure. I recommend following up by email and asking what the timeline is for next steps and expressing your willingness to meet with the third person whenever it’s convenient, if that’s something they’d still like to do.

5. A degree in filing

I was recently working with a young woman who was completing her MS, Finance degree. She had moved to the U.S. from China, where she had already completed a Masters degree and had what seemed to be a very responsible position in provincial government. The problem was that her Chinese masters was a Masters in Filing. Yes, filing. Categorizing records, sorting them, etc. As I write this now, it sounds like a library science degree (thanks to AnonMouse from an earlier post for helping to make that connection). However, at the time, I could not see this as any more than a 1960s, Mad Men-era, secretarial school certificate.

This was a very capable young woman. How can she overcome cultural differences to present her degree in a way that will be attractive to potential employers?

I’m normally never a fan of changing titles or degree names on resumes, because of the discrepancies that may be raised during the reference check process. However, in this case, we have a translation issue. Yes, the word itself may directly translate to “filing,” but the concept doesn’t. I think she’d be safe writing “library science” if that’s really what the degree is comparable to in the U.S., or whatever it’s closest to.

6. Can I supply more info about my qualifications after being rejected for a job?

I went through the interview process for a project manager at a small digital marketing agency. Although they recognized “my enthusiasm and passion for this business,” they decided to pursue candidates with “a bit more project management experience.” I know it’s certainly their prerogative not to hire me; however, their reasoning is not accurate, in my opinion. I have a great background managing all sorts of projects at a very, very large firm. The only difference was that it was on the accounts side instead of the creative — but the skill sets are similar, the work was similar, and I’m more suited to creative, anyway. Is it okay if I send them an email outlining this experience? Maybe I didn’t communicate this well enough during the interview. I don’t want to be a nag or to be self-congratulatory, but I really like this company and I feel strongly that I could do good work here.

Yes. However, you must be really, really clear in your own mind that you are not arguing their decision; you’re simply providing them with additional information in case it’s useful to them. Otherwise, you risk coming across as challenging their decision, which is pretty much a way to automatically blacklist yourself. You want to say something like, “I absolutely respect your decision, but it occurred to me that you might not realize that I actually have this experience from X, Y, and Z. If that changes anything, I’d love to talk further, but I of course understand that you might be moving forward with other candidates.”

{ 38 comments… read them below }

  1. JT*

    I just wrapped up a library and information science degree during which I took a course in records management. And my wife is Chinese. My wife says the library science degree exists in China, but she’s not sure about “filing” or records management. My gut feeling is the term “records management” is closer to being accurate than “library science” but I’m not sure. Though in the US we don’t generally have advanced degrees in RM. Without knowing more I’d guess that “MLIS with focus on records management” is most accurate.

    1. Laurie*

      One idea might be for this person to get her records evaluated in the U.S. – that way she will be able to show a letter or certificate from an American institution, with the American equivalent of her degree.

      1. Carrie*

        From a post I wrote on my personal blog a couple of years ago:

        When I explained to one of the archivists at the place where I have been volunteering my very expensive archiving skills (my graduate degree is my financial albatross) that I had been at this career exploration thing ‘lo those few weeks, he responded with:

        “Career exploration? You don’t need a new career, you just need a job.”

        Followed by:

        “Nobody knows what archivists do anyway!” (And something about there being no jobs. Oh good. It’s not just me. How comforting.)

        Then I learned that there isn’t even a direct translation of “archivist” in the Chinese languages. Which is just plain bizarre, because China was an archive keeping country long before the western world caught up — they had moveable type before Gutenberg ever got busy. Still, no word for “archives” or “archivist”. At least I’m not alone in facing blank stares every time I try to explain to someone what I do…… or, uh, what I’m capable of doing.

        I bet that Filing degree is some sort of archives/records management hybrid. Some key words and phrases that might be helpful to boost up the resume/cover letter: records management, knowledge management, cataloging, arrangement and description of archival records, retention schedules, archiving, responding to reference/information requests…… and possibly providing the name of her degree with a supplemental explanation, similar to what Laurie suggested

        1. Emily*

          Great advice and those are great keywords.

          I just want to add that San Jose State University in California offers a Masters in Archives and Records Administration, and the school actually also has a few professors from China, so that might be a good place to look for advice on translating her education and experience into American terms.

    2. Samantha*

      I agree. It’s record management. Library science is different. I worked at a company once that had a huge record management department. It exists.

    3. OP5*

      WOW! Thanks for pointing me in the right direction and for all your great suggestions! There is a lot to think about in all your posts – both about this specific situation, and also how to approach that unusual degree or experience in the future.

      I’ll follow up with her with the specific options provided by Laurie, Carrie, Ashley, Emily and Nicole.

      1. AnonMouse*

        I’m glad you’re going to bat for this person! That’s really helpful of you, since yes — I’m sure people would look poorly upon a degree titled “Masters in Filing”. I totally support this sort of name tweak, since the English translation doesn’t quite fit. Records management is totally vital here, especially with how much we’re producing. You rock. :D

        But yeah, more records management, -possibly- archiving, but not so much library science. I agree with the others though — I’d be hesitant to specifically put library science unless she (or someone else) can figure out if it equates with an ALA-accredited program. We’re sticklers about some things, and not others. ;)

  2. Ashley*

    Like some other degrees you may need to be careful of claiming a degree in Library Science if you are not sure thats what it was. In the US there are lots of accreditation procedures for LS schools and it could get sticky. I would call it records management and then be prepared to explain what that is.

    1. Nicole*

      Agreed – and records management degrees are much more common at Chinese graduate schools. I would recommend giving the name of the degree with an explanatory note in parentheses after it rather than changing it (unless it’s obviously a translation error); lots of library science grads have degrees that don’t indicate the library part at all, and this seems to be a common clarifying device.

  3. Steve*

    Re number 3 “most useful parts of interviews is asking follow-up questions ” Amen. You rock. This is why I read your site, you agree with me most of the time, which makes you almost always correct!

    When I interview most questions are setups for the followup question which is the one intended to uncover if the candidate posses the requisite skill.

  4. Anonymous*

    Thanks for your response to my question. I did my due diligence and did query his direct reports as well as those who worked with him on projects. It was a consensus- My knee jerk reaction was 100% accurate. I feel much better about turning down the opportunity but still wonder if that has hurt my career. If it does, oh well. I’ve been in this business long enough to know how important it is to have a decent boss. I didn’t tell my boss’s boss about not respecting the jerkboss but I simply said I wasn’t able to accept the position under the current leadership. I was queried in depth afterwards by upper mgt but I simply said my initial concerns were validated through conversations with his direct reports and other team members .

    1. Joy*

      GOOD DECISION! No matter how good a job seems, a horrible boss makes for a horrible job that will suck the life out of you.

      If upper management doesn’t see the horrible boss in the same light as you, your reasoning for not taking the job could still make it harder for you to get promoted in the future…but then again, if upper management doesn’t think the horrible boss is horrible you may want to steer clear anyway.
      majigail December 19, 201

    2. Anonymous*

      You made such a good decision. I went to work with a boss a few years ago who had the same kind of bad reputation. The pay was better but not worth it. I stuck it out for long enough for it not to be a black mark on my resume and then I bolted for a new company. A good work environment is so important.

  5. majigail*

    Oh, #6… remember, they may have told you they’re going with someone else for one easy vague reason, but the real reason may be something else like fit or that the other candidate came in with this great skill that the office needed but wasn’t in the job description. Chalk this one up, and be sure next time you share all the information you can in your interview. I’d personally get annoyed to get more information from a candidate after I made a decision, especially since by the time I’m letting people go, my first choice has already passed her drug test and is set up for her first day of work. I need all the relevant information for my decision WAY before that.
    Good luck in your search!

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Yeah, I should have mentioned this: Sometimes an employer will give an “easy” reason when it’s not exactly the reason, because the real reason is something harder to communicate. (I’m not defending this, but it happens.) That said, there’s no harm in giving them the extra info as long as you do it in a very polite, non-challenging way.

      1. Long Time Admin*

        Let’s face it – sometimes a job candidate and the hiring manager just “click”. That’s more difficult to communicate to other candidates, but it’s real. You can’t say “I just like the other person better than I like you”, so you say that their “qualifications more closely match the job duties”.

    2. Tara*

      That was my intial thought as well. Every job I have recently interviewed/applied for has come back with that EXACT SAME response…”Although your credentials are impressive, we have decided to pursue candidates whose qualifications more closely match that positon.” This is one of those things I think you should just accept and move on.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I’d absolutely agree with this if they hadn’t specified “project management experience.” Still could be the same thing, but it’s also possible it was a personal email.

  6. Jennifer*

    Regarding Number 3 (scripted interview): I had one of these for my current position, but it is a civil service government position and therefore the interview was most likely set up that way as more of a legal CYA (cover your behind) than anything else. However I think it’s important to note that the panel interview was just one very small portion of a very long and individualized hiring process. They also did ask many follow-up questions during the scripted process and did provide long and insightful answers to my own questions. So I think it’s important to point out that this isn’t necessarily a red flag (or indicative of the company atmosphere) in and of itself – the larger picture of the hiring process should be looked at.

    1. bob*

      I think you and I are thinking the same thing but it sounds like you might be across the pond by the slightly different terms than I would have used. Just a hunch anyway.

      If the author of #1 is in a technical field or part of a company that does outsourcing, support or anything like that then asking for an updated resume is pretty normal if they’re putting together a proposal so they can list the “key personnel” in the bid.

    2. Another Anon*

      We used to be asked now and again to write an internal resume for our internal IT positions in a Fortune 500 company. It was their way of identifying our skills for talent management. It may not be anything odder than that. Of course, as AAM says, there’s no harm in asking what it’s all about.

      1. JT*

        My organization occasionally includes resumes of staff with proposals we send out. In those situations, we ideally edit the resumes to suit the proposal, playing to our strengths. Or at least we try.

        In any case, it’s not good to send out a resume that hasn’t been updated for years without at least knowing what the purpose is.

    1. Anonymous*

      Thanks so much for answering my question, Alison! (I sent in #3.) I know that it’s not the biggest issue, but I really wanted to leave a positive impression with my interviewers.

      The panel’s responses (or really, their lack thereof) really freaked me out, as I found the recruiting manager and team leaders warm, friendly, and chatty. I guess I just saw two very different departmental attitudes and I’m taken aback as to which was more prevalent.

      1. Anonymous*

        URGH. meant to reply to the post and not your thread. My bad. :(

        On a related note, I was not interviewing at FedEx.

  7. Matski*

    Just last week, my manager asked me for my resume and told me to update it. My manager needed one because of an upcoming audit since HR had spelling mistakes on the comments they made when I was interviewed.

  8. Long Time Admin*

    #1 – You need to update your resume TODAY. Start by looking at the want ads. Even if you don’t want to look for another job, you will find out what employers are looking for in job candidates in your field. You can pull out job descriptions and keywords that apply to your job and use those on your new resume. When it’s completed, ask your manager if she would like an updated resume. If she says no, hang on to it anyway. HR might want to see it.

    And you never know when you’re going to use it to look for a new job. Things happen.

    1. Anonymous*

      This is great advice. It’s so wise to keep your resume up to date because you never know what will happen…

      1. X2*

        Its also a great idea because people are people and we forget some of the awesome stuff we’ve done that should be highlighted on our resumes.

        If you don’t update your resume every now and then, even when you’re not actively job-hunting, you are sure to miss some accomplishments and only paint broad strokes of duties and responsibilities rather than the more nuances-and standout-aspects of your job.

  9. Suz*

    Regarding #1: Depending on the field you are in, they may need it to meet a regulatory requirement. My employer has us give them an updated resume every couple of years. They do it because if the the FDA were to audit us, they require proof that staff working on clinical trials have the necessary qualifications to work on them.

  10. Anonymous*

    #1 I have been asked for a current resume when the department is applying for grants, so they can include descriptions of who will be doing various parts of the work.

    #5 I agree that “records management” sounds much closer. “MLIS” in the US tends to mean “MLIS from an ALA-accredited institution”, and suggests something specific (such as including reference, collection development, management, etc), so I wouldn’t just translate to that.

  11. Interviewer*

    #1, it could be as innocent as a personnel file audit, where they discovered your resume was not saved at hiring, and they are trying to fix it now. Or any number of requirements already mentioned above. Or they could be doing a full audit of skillsets and job duties while trying to figure out where to cut headcount. If there is an innocent explanation for needing this kind of thing, I *always* provide it. It does not sound like you got an explanation at all. If you ask for one and still get the runaround – fair warning: you might need an updated resume much sooner than you think.

  12. Joey*

    #6. Op, great is a very subjective word so be careful. I see lots of candidates that think they have a great background that dont. It sounds to me more like you would be trying to clarify how your skills transfer not giving them anything new. In your case it sounds like they went with someone with the exact creative project management skills they wanted, not someone with transferrable skills. Frankly, I’d think you were a little full of yourself if you tried to challenge a rejection based on that- and yes it most likely will be interpreted as a challenge even if you specifically say it’s not. Trying to clarify how your skills transfer so late in the game would make me wonder why it wasn’t on your cover letter, resume, or why you didn’t bring it up in the interview. Accept it and move on.

  13. Ellen M.*

    Re: the Library Science degree, you can’t just say that a degree or certificate from another country is equivalent to a degree in the U.S., whether it is library science or another field of study. As someone else pointed out, the thing to do is have the degree evaluated by one of the companies that do that sort of thing (WES is one n.b. I am not affiliated with WES).

    And, the Masters degree in library science requires knowledge of much more than just *filing*, fer cryin’ out loud! Same goes for archives and records management. Nearly all librarian positions in the U.S. REQUIRE a Masters degree in Library and Information Science from a school that is accredited by the American Library Association. It doesn’t matter what someone was doing in another country, what his/her title was there, or what his/her degree/certificate was called there. In the U.S., you either have the Masters degree from an accredited school, or you don’t. Period.

    Some library schools offer a certificate in Records Management in addition to the Masters degree, and it is sometimes combined with an Archives certificate.

    Not everyone who works in a hospital is a doctor, and not everyone who works in a library is a librarian.

    Signed, Ellen M. , Librarian
    Proud to have earned a Masters of Science in Library and Information Science (MSLIS), from an ALA-accredited school.

  14. Anonymous*

    #1 could be that you need to update your resume as a round of layoffs are on their way or they are trying to find reasons to fire people (maybe for lying on their resumes).

    It could also be that they are writing profiles on all of their employees for website/internal sites. A firm I worked for did that and requested resumes for that reason. They couldn’t use the ones in the personnel files as the person doing the profiles wasn’t high enough level to look at the files or see the comments noted on the resumes.

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