tiny answer Tuesday: 6 short answers to 6 short questions

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

1. Is this hiring practice normal?

My question is about online job hunting. When I apply to a posted job online through Indeed or Monster or wherever, I sometimes get back a response that ends with “The next step in the process would be to contact our office to discuss the potential of an interview. You can respond back by calling between the hours of 9:00 am and 3:00 pm to speak with myself or one of my associates.”

Is that normal practice? Seems to me they should call me. Or am I setting my expectations too high?

Doesn’t seem like a big deal to me. I assume it’s because they’d rather you call when it’s a good time for you, rather than having to play phone tag. Just call them. (That said, I’d bet these are employment agencies, if you can speak with just anyone there.)

2. As a new intern, can I apply for a full-time opening with my company?

I graduated in 2009 from a top university and have spent the last year living abroad on a research grant. Since moving back to the US, I’ve sent out a ton of resumes and interviewed for several positions, but nothing has worked out yet. Trying to be proactive, I recently accepted a part-time, unpaid internship at my dream company that will start in January. While I’m excited about the work I’ll be doing, the main reason I took the internship was with the hope of being offered a full-time position at the end of the internship. Honestly, sustaining the internship and a full-time job (in food service) is a stretch. I’ve still been looking at job listings, and today I saw that the company I’m interning for is hiring, in my department, for an entry-level position. I fit all of the qualifications that they’re looking for, and I’m obviously passionate about the work. How can I broach this subject? Is it appropriate to ask to be considered for the position even though I’ve accepted the internship or have I lost all leverage by committing to work for free? The job starts in February and my internship starts in January, so I’m tempted to suggest that I could intern for the month of January and basically step into the position well-trained. Or does the fact that no one suggested this initially signal that they’re not interested?

Ask about it. It’s easy to think “they would have approached me if they thought I was the right fit,” but what’s far more common on the hiring manager’s side is that she’s filled the internship slot and it’s now out of her mind and she’s on to the next role she has to fill … without stopping to think about whether you might be a good candidate for the latter. You’ve got to be your own advocate here, so if it interests you, speak up: “I saw you were hiring for an X, and while I’m incredibly excited about my internship in January, I’d love to be considered for the X job if you think it might be a good fit.”

3. Can my employer make me stay longer after initially telling me my shift was over?

I worked my 9-hour shift for the day and my boss told me I was no longer needed and could go home. While I was getting ready to leave and waiting for a coworker to give me a lift home, the boss comes and tells me that they have changed their mind and decided that they need me to stay longer. 20 minutes had passed between the time that they had initially told me I am done. Once you are dismissed for the day, are they allowed to tell you that they have changed their mind?

Sure. And if you don’t want to stay, you can always say that you can’t — that you have to be somewhere or whatever, since you were told your shift was ending at __. But keep in mind that in general people who are flexible are more prized than those who aren’t.

4. Should I re-submit an improved resume to a job I’ve already applied for?

I’ve just finished a complete remodel of my resume which expands on details of my previous work positions. Should I re-apply or contact company HR departments for positions I’ve already applied for so I can give them this improved resume? Or, would that be an annoyance and add confusion? In both cases, I have contact info for the HR contacts directly.

An annoyance. You should only apply once.

5. My resume is too long for LinkedIn

I just redid my resume from scratch to have more examples and specifics rather than job description bullet points. It’s now 2 pages, and I’m wondering what might be acceptable to post on my LinkedIn profile. I think if I put it all out there, it would be one long scroll. Do you think it’s best just to simply list your job titles, or should some level of description and detail be with each one?

LinkedIn is different than a resume — in tone, in format, and in use — so you don’t want to just copy and paste your resume into your profile. If you Google “LinkedIn resume difference,” you’ll find a ton of advice on how to use them differently. Which will let me stop typing here and still fit this into a short-answer post.

6. How can we convince our company to release the product we developed?

I work for a small business that does software development, among other things. A few of us have taken initiative on a project in our slower work time that took a few months to produce, and that we think is a great product that fits with our plan for growth. We’ve asked the owners of our company to meet about a product release plan, but they have ignored the request for six or seven months! It seems other client projects are always a higher priority. As a general trend, if the owners or outside clients didn’t initiate a project, it seems to be ignored. This project may be good enough to start a company based on it — but since we made this during work hours we don’t really own the IP.

The momentum for the project is not coming from the people who can make product release decisions. For the good of the company, I don’t want to see a potential revenue generating product disappear — how can we approach our managers with the request to release the product when they have ignored several such requests already? Should we just give up?

It’s hard to say without knowing the internal dynamics and players at your company. You can try to put together a business case for releasing the product, showing expected costs, revenues, etc. … and you can ask them what it would take to convince them that the idea is worth pursuing … but ultimately if it’s not a priority to them and you aren’t able to persuade them otherwise, that’s probably that.

{ 20 comments… read them below }

  1. Anonymous*

    Please note that what I’m about to write is from a few years of personal experience working shift hours. With that in mind…

    #3: While I do agree that being flexible is prized in an employee, it can also get you into trouble. I’m not talking about the written up sort of trouble, but rather I am talking about the potential of becoming a doormat. I was unsmart enough to realize that there should be a healthy balance of flexibility – help out when you can but say a firm no when you honestly can’t. 99% of the time I was saying yes for taking shifts or extending mine since the next person could come in. Sure my paychecks looked healthy, but it has worn me down. As for becoming a doormat, it started to be assumed I could help out at anytime, and I was put on the schedule without being consulted. Then, when someone did ask me and I would need to swap, they didn’t want to swap to help me out. It became a one way street. Then, when I definitely needed a day and noted it on the calendar, the boss was very hesitant in giving it to me because he didn’t know if anyone else would be flexible enought to spare that day (some days are only covered by one of us employees) to work.

    Some people blame me for it – that I was too flexible and consequently spoiled them (boss and coworkers). I know for myself I needed a stronger voice, and that’s what I’m working on now. So, just keep that in the back of your mind.

  2. Harry*

    2. My understanding is that an unpaid internship is illegal if the intern brings any benefit to the employer. Please check with that.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      The Dept of Labor rule is that the *net* benefit has to be the worker, not the company. So the worker has to be getting *more* out of it than the company does, but the company can still derive benefit from it. Some of their criteria are:

      * The internship is similar to training which would be given in an educational environment.
      * The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern
      * The intern does not displace regular employees but instead works under close supervision of existing staff
      * The employer providing the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern; and on occasion, its operations may actually be impeded.

      However, in reality, companies violate this law all constantly; unpaid internships are very common, and most people don’t even know about this law.

      (There’s also one huge exception to the law — nonprofits, which can have all the unpaid workers they want.)

      1. Harry*

        Right but we call those volunteers and not unpaid internships. It always raises alarms and it upsets me when I hear of unpaid internships because most likely it involves cheap companies that want to take advantage of the unemployed.

          1. Anonymous*

            Nonprofits are now unofficially following that law as well. I want to work in what is, in this area (DC), an almost completely nonprofit field (historical parks and museums), and have applied to many internships, only to be declined just because I’m not a Master’s degree-seeking student and/or not getting academic credit for them (I couldn’t afford the $800/credit-3 credit internship for my school financially, and the one I did have during the school year wasn’t supposed to be an internship (but they said it was) and it was for a class that required 30 hrs of volunteer work). In essence, I was declined because I was in school and was not getting credits for the internship, or because I graduated and was not getting credits for the internship (which is why I now volunteer instead). I’ve heard that this law only pertains to the under-21 folks (which I was when I was applying). Is this true?

            One of the leaders of our employment support group at church actually suggests volunteering for the company you want to work in, even if it is for a day. I think this OP’s situation may actually help in the long run, because they are showing that they actually want to work there, and are willing to do what it takes to do the job (since unpaid internships can often be synonymous with volunteer work). Good luck, OP!

        1. Liz T*

          I’ve had three unpaid theatre internships (as I said in another comment) of varying quality. I can’t speak for other fields, but American theaters are almost universally strapped for cash, and give their interns as much as they can afford. One paid me hourly minimum wage (in Texas, where a young single person can live off that), and one paid me nothing but cared about me and gave me as many perks as they could, plus put me up someplace fun for the summer. One paid me nothing and abused me–but they were really just two people trying to do something huge, and had probably never had interns before. My current one is unpaid but part-time, and everyone is lovely and extremely flexible. They are financially solvent but don’t have a lot of money to throw around (as evidenced by the computers we have to work with). Part of my job (reading scripts) is something that people sometimes get paid to do, but those paid positions are for larger theatres, and get you none of the experience/connection perks. It’s just a little extra cash, whereas this unpaid position is a genuine boost to my career. So it’s not a red flag, it’s a mutually beneficial arrangement.

          1. Liz T*

            Oh, and “volunteer” usually means someone who comes in to stuff envelopes or answer phones, and has very little involvement in the actual workings of the institution. Little-to-no career benefit.

            1. Cannuck*

              I disagree. I “volunteered” at a non-profit and pretty much filled the role of a project manager. I developed baseline surveys for research studies, proofread articles for publication, edited reports submitted by consultants, and traveled to other countries on behalf of the organizations. Certainly not an envelope stuffer.

      2. Anonymous*

        I interned at a museum, and the museum said I could either take it as paid or as credit. My university said I could take both, and the school wouldn’t consider it double dipping. But I didn’t know that, and I took the credit because I was getting a grade and 3 credits for it. And then the museum wouldn’t have known about it; I know that in hindsight because my professor supervising it didn’t care about what I did at the museum as he was more interested in the assignments he assigned beyond the museum work.

        Figure that one out!

    2. Under Stand*

      From DOL website:

      In general, the more an internship program is structured around a classroom or academic experience as opposed to the employer’s actual operations, the more likely the internship will be viewed as an extension of the individual’s educational experience (this often occurs where a college or university exercises oversight over the internship program and provides educational credit). The more the internship provides the individual with skills that can be used in multiple employment settings, as opposed to skills particular to one employer’s operation, the more likely the intern would be viewed as receiving training. Under these circumstances the intern does not perform the routine work of the business on a regular and recurring basis, and the business is not dependent upon the work of the intern. On the other hand, if the interns are engaged in the operations of the employer or are performing productive work (for example, filing, performing other clerical work, or assisting customers), then the fact that they may be receiving some benefits in the form of a new skill or improved work habits will not exclude them from the FLSA’s minimum wage and overtime requirements because the employer benefits from the interns’ work.If an employer uses interns as substitutes for regular workers or to augment its existing workforce during specific time periods, these interns should be paid at least the minimum wage and overtime compensation for hours worked over forty in a workweek. If the employer would have hired additional employees or required existing staff to work additional hours had the interns not performed the work, then the interns will be viewed as employees and entitled compensation under the FLSA.

      This is, as AAM stated, for profit organizations. IF they are doing the same job as the one being hired for, then it most likely violates the FLSA. But there are plenty of companies out there that will try their darnedest to break the law and get away with it.

  3. Karthik*

    #6: sounds like the company isn’t interested or doesn’t see the potential. Try and see (after consulting with a lawyer specializing in startups) if you can have the IP transferred to you and your team. I’ve seen this happen before where a great product just didn’t fit into a company’s existing lineup and was spun out of the company by a small team of employees.

    1. Mike C.*

      Agreed. Unless they are being spiteful they should be willing to sell you the IP and let you do with it as you will.

  4. Jennifer*

    @Alison – I think there’s an omission in your last sentence. Should it read “…and you are unable to persuade them…”?

  5. Piper*

    #6 – Having worked in an agency setting where client projects dominate and company projects (no matter how needed they are and how much potential benefit they have to the company and its clients) are brushed aside, I understand this frustration. The best you can do is create business cases and ROI projections for this product. If they still don’t listen, well….there’s not much you can do.

    When I was in a situation similar to this, I ended up finding another job after the company brushed aside all of the projects I was working on (which they specifically hired me for) and wouldn’t give me the tools I needed to complete them (i.e., access to the programmers and graphic designers to build websites and campaigns), and then blamed me when projects weren’t completed.

  6. Grey*

    #6 – Ask them about buying the rights because you think it’s worth publishing yourself. It might get their attention if they see that you’re willing to put your own money into it.

  7. Liz T*

    And, of course, the best internship I ever had, the one that conformed most to the laws, was paid! I’ve always had internships with non-profits, so this isn’t a legal point, but it’s crazy how much these things vary. The people who’re suing a movie production company got mocked a little, but have a really valid point–a lot of times we’re just replacing paid production assistants, and no one gives a sou who you are. You’re getting some benefits, in that experience is required in order to snag a paid position, but that’s very different from an actual PROGRAM. At my first, unpaid, internship, their idea of perks was letting me LISTEN to a rehearsal, once. Other than that they mostly used me as a free courier, expecting me to be constantly on call. That being said, this internship directly got me my next internship–the woman who interviewed me said as much. (This too was unpaid, but a great, warm experience, they put us all up for free for the summer, I genuinely learned a ton, and I just got an internship at another amazing theater where two people from that summer now work! Connections connections.)

    So, that is my treatise on how some internships suck so hard they break the straw, and should probably be illegal, yet inevitably forward your career.

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