tiny answer Tuesday: 7 short answers to 7 short questions

It’s tiny answer Tuesday!  We’ve got a reader whose boss wants her to write fake online reviews of their product, recruiters who want to know if you’re considering other offers, and more. Here we go…

1. Boss wants me to start cold calling and I don’t want to

My boss wants me to start doing cold calls. This wasn’t in the job description. I am not comfortable doing this this, and not only that but I work for a gold buying company and he won’t let us tell the people we’re calling or who call us what our prices are! What should I do or how can I get out of it?

Well, it depends on how much of a deal-breaker this is for you. You can tell your boss that you’re not comfortable with cold calls and weren’t told it would be part of the job, but ultimately, if your boss is determined to have this be part of the role, you may need to decide if you’re willing to walk away from the job over this.

2. When a recruiter asks if you’re considering other job offers

When a recruiter ask you if you are considering other job offers after you have interviewed with the hiring panel, is this a good sign they are seriously considering hiring you and how should you approach answering the question?

If you have another offer that you’re considering, say so. They may need to expedite their timeline in order to meet the time constraints you have with your other offer. If you don’t have other offers, it’s fine to just say something like, “I’m talking to a few different companies, but we haven’t reached the offer stage yet.”

3. My company wants me to write fake online reviews of our product

My company has recently requested that employees go online and review our product (favorably of course). We don’t disclose who we are and we’re supposed to pretend we’re a satisfied customer. Now, I know it’s probably a legal request since employers can seemingly do just about anything, but it seems like there might be some sort of consumer protection violation. Can my company legally fire me for refusing to write fake reviews online? We’re a niche form of online dating and rely on SEO marketing to get traffic so that is their justification. I haven’t personally received this assignment but I expect to soon.

Interesting. Yes, I think they can probably fire you for this, since I don’t think it’s illegal to write fake online reviews. (If that were illegal, then you’d have some protection.) This is probably a long shot, but is it possible for you to suggest other ways of marketing that would be as or more effective?

4. Thank-you notes after phone interviews

I subscribe to the belief that you should always, always, no matter what, write a thank-you note after an interview — phone, face to face, or otherwise. However, I’m faced with a slightly different situation. If you’ve had a phone interview with a hiring manager, who indicates that you’ll subsequently be called for a face-to-face interview, when and how do you thank him/her? Is it overkill to send a note after the phone interview as well as the eventual in-person meeting? Should one or the other take priority? Hope you can shed some light on this.

I’m slightly confused, because you say you believe you should always send a thank-you note after an interview, including phone interviews. Your situation is no different just because the hiring manager indicated that there will eventually be an in-person interview. Send the note — and think of it as more of a follow-up note than a thank-you note, following up on your conversation.

5. Does hobby experience count?

I am applying for a document delivery position at a large university library. I meet all the minimum requirements for the position from my current places of employment except one: the “ability to identify information in one or more foreign languages.” I do satisfy this requirement in my personal life. I’m a knitter. On occasion I find patterns in other languages that I want to knit. Using Google translate, language dictionaries and other resource guides I’m able to successfully translate the patterns with enough understanding to knit the pattern. Does this experience count?

Yes! Experience is experience; it doesn’t have to be something you made money from. (It helps, because it shows that you were able to do it a high enough level that someone was willing to pay you for it, and with some accountability built in. But it’s not essential in a situation like this.) Of course, using online translators may not meet the bar they’re looking for here — but there’s no reason not to mention it just because it’s hobby-related.

6. Can I get a retroactive pay raise when I’m leaving my job?

I resigned from my present position last Friday and am currently in my last two weeks. My new position is in a field I’ve been anxious to break into so I’m very excited!

I’m writing because I was due for a performance review last August. I’ve been told verbally by my direct supervisor that this review was stellar and included a promotion and pay raise. However, I have not seen this in writing since all pay increases/promotions must go through HR, a department known in my company for being very slow in processes.

A couple of my colleagues who know about this suggest I ask for my retroactive pay before I leave. I don’t think it makes much sense to ask for it since I am leaving. What do you think?

There’s no point in asking because they’re not going to give it to you. They’re not obligated to give you a raise that was never formalized, and now they have no incentive to. Raises are retention strategies, but you’re already leaving. (Plus it sounds like this raise was tied to a promotion that never happened.) Asking will make you look like you don’t understand how this stuff works and may cause a tension that will impact your relationship with this manager in the future (which will matter for networking and reference purposes).

7. Recent grad with lots of short-term jobs

As a winter graduate I’ve got an unanswered question: I have significant experience from internships, volunteering and summer jobs while in university, but all in 4-month (or 8-month) intervals, what can I do in my resume to assure employers that I am steadfast?

I took hold of many opportunities, but at the time it felt impossible to carry on commitments for more than two semesters at a time due to changing schedules, opportunities and locations. I did return to one job for two summers, volunteer as a mentor/editor with the same organization for most of 2005-2009 and renewed an internship contract for a total of eight months (which was very flattering as my manager had never offered this to any of his previous 5 interns). How can I show in my resume that I am not flighty? I want to squash this red flag before it ever sees daylight! There is a stereotype that recent grads are non-committal, and to an extent I will admit it is true – I have a sense of adventure, curiosity, and a craving to learn that often encourages me to “just try it.” How can I build confidence with my interviewers?

Well, if you just graduated, it’s normal that you’ve had a bunch of short-term jobs. Most people do, while they’re in school. So it’s going to be clear from your graduation date that this is what was going on.

However, now that you’ve graduated, your “sense of adventure and curiosity” is going to need to be channeled differently if you want to build a stable job history. You need to start building stays of several years.

{ 61 comments… read them below }

  1. Anonymous*

    Regarding question 3: Writing fake reviews of your own company is likely a violation of the terms of service you agree to when joining these types of sites. If this is discovered, your reviews and account will likely be deleted.

      1. Under Stand*

        Ah, but if the company does this, she just says she gave that glowing review there (when in fact she gave the review that stated that she would not buy this product again if the company paid her to take it). Since they have no problem with her lying, they should not have a problem with that, correct? (this last sentence was sarcasm)

      2. Anonymous*

        Under some interpretations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, it *is* a crime to violate a site’s TOS. This is a minority opinion (and currently debated), but it is the view espoused by the Department of Justice and has been used in criminal prosecution before. See, for instance, the Lori Drew case – where such a conviction was eventually overturned.

    1. Jaime*

      I’m confused, isn’t her company the site in question? Doesn’t the company/site decide what is included in the TOS and make the final decision on whether someone is in violation? So if they’re asking their employees to write fake reviews, why would it even come up?

      1. fposte*

        I think it’s more like writing reviews of a widget on Amazon or Epinions, not testimonials on the site itself. Or, even creepier, “spontaneous” astroturf comments about TigerBloodDating.com or whatever on blogs and webboards (I hope I’m not just giving additional ideas here).

        I don’t know about legality, but the OP might want to point out that fake reviews are generally pretty detectable and harm a business’s reputation. I think any organization that handles people’s personal information should be particularly averse to actions that will identify them as unethical. Honestly, this seems pretty self-destructive in a business that completely requires its users’ trust to work.

        1. Jaime*

          Ah, I see. Since it’s a dating site, I didn’t make the connection to the possibility of a third party site where reviews could be posted but it’s certainly possible. Thanks!

    2. Gene*

      Since their marketing depends on Search Engine Optimization, and the 800-pound gorilla in that field is Google, and Google takes draconian action when they discover a company gaming the system, this could backfire spectacularly on the company.

      I’m one for direct action; so my response would be to tell my employer that I’m uncomfortable with unethical actions like this. If she blows me off and tells me to do it anyway, I would. Then with a one time email address I’d let Google know what’s going on with as much detail as I know and the site will disappear from the first pages of search results. Heck, I might do this anyway after voicing my concerns over the ethics of this.

      1. Under Stand*

        Heck, google even demoted themselves after the way they handled Chrome. Google does not mess around.

    3. Rick*

      Fake online reviews are a huge mistake. The FTC is cracking down on companies that are writing/paying for these reviews online. I know several internet companies have had large fines levied against them for it.

      Legacy Learning Systems received a $250,000 FTC fine as an example.

  2. Anonymous*

    Hi Alison, OP on the thank-you note question here! Thanks so much for your answer. In hindsight, I didn’t phrase my question that well – what I was really getting at is, would it be overkill to send two handwritten follow-up notes to the same person, one after the phone interview, the next after the face-to-face? Should one or the other be an e-mail? I get the sense that this company prefers the handwritten form, but I don’t want to drive the hiring manager crazy with correspondence.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Ah, I see. Yes, do both, but cover different things in each. This is why it’s so important not just to write some perfunctory “thank you for your time” note, but a more substantive note based on your conversation. If you do that, it won’t be overkill to send two.

      I’m a big fan of using email for these, but if you’re getting the sense they’d prefer postal mail, I’d use that for at least one of them.

      1. A Current College Student*

        What sort of things would you say in a thank-you note? I can only think of “thank you for your time; I enjoyed answering the questions you had,” et cetera – which would amount to five or so sentences. (Plus, I don’t know my interviewers’ individual contacts; all I have is the company recruiter’s email address.) What would you recommend?

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Ask for their cards at the end of the interview so you have their contact info. And see the “thank you notes” category in the archives for content of the notes.

          1. A Current College Student*

            I looked through that category and found some good advice about when and why to send it, but I couldn’t find anything about what to send beyond something that makes clear I’ve “thought about what we talked about, digested it all, and concluded that [I’m] still enthusiastic about the position.”

            (And I’m afraid asking for business cards won’t really work after a phone interview.)

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Ah, I thought I’d written about this but maybe I haven’t! Basically, you want to thank them for talking with you, refer to something about the conversation that made you even more interested, and/or build on something you discussed (“thought you’d find this article interesting since it relates to our discussion about X”). Note: if you do the latter, make sure it’s a really good article to send; if it’s generic or crappy, that’s going to reflect on you.

              With phone interviews, at the end of the call, you can just say, “I realized I don’t have your email address. Could I get it?”

            2. just another hiring manager...*

              A Current College Student, you might be over-thinking the follow-up note. Keep it simple, but tailored.

              This is what my last follow-up note said something like “It was a pleasure meeting with you to discuss the (position) with (company). While learning more about (department), I recognized myself in our discussion of (2-3 examples from interview) working with (type of clients). Our conversation made me even more exited about the possibility of joining the (department) team.”

              I interviewed with 4 different people and each one of them got some variation of this with the examples from the interview tied to their individual interactions with the position I was interviewing for.

              Also, at the end of a phone interview, it is appropriate to ask for contact information in case you have any follow up.

  3. Mlhd*

    Go ahead and write the reviews. Then go home and flag or report all the fake reviews. Let them know that the company is paying fake reviewers and the reviews will likely disappear. Then hopefully the company will realize their jig is up and stop making their employees do it altogether.

      1. StoneColdLoveMachine*

        Keep in mind that at some point in your career, you will be asked the question “Describe a time you were asked to do something unethical.” It’s in your best interest to see if you can convince your employer that this is a bad, bad idea.

        However, ethics aside, if you are forced into it, do the fun thing and write terribly obtuse reviews “I met a great man who pays his babies mommas child supports always on time. We are having our second date at Sheetz on Friday and I can already tell it’s love!!!” “Looking for sexy naked ladies over 60? I love them too, and I found them here.”

    1. Susan*

      Clever strategy, and an interesting way to let the company know that fake reviews won’t do any good (unless the company thinks you should write better, more convincing fake reviews next time…).

  4. Z*

    For #5, I’m wondering exactly what the requirement to “identify information in one or more foreign languages” means. They’re not asking you to read or speak a foreign language, apparently. It sounds more like they want you to be able to look at a document, say, “Hey, that’s written in Russian,” and carry it over to the Russian department. (That seems like a strange job requirement, but if they want you to be able to speak or read the language, they should state that more clearly.)
    If this is indeed what they’re asking, then it sounds like the OP would be fine, since s/he can presumably tell whether the knitting patterns are in French, Spanish, etc. If I’m misinterpreting the job requirement and they *do* want someone who’s actually proficient in a foreign language, though, then I’d say the ability to get by with a whole lot of translation aids might not be sufficient. (It’s weird to me that they don’t specify what language(s) they’re looking for.)

    1. fposte*

      I think it’s more like “Can you tell that this is the Spanish article about clams for this class and this is the German article about reunification for that seminar? Can you tell that this is the particular article by this author that the professor couldn’t find the French title of?” (I’m guessing based on what those services tend to do.) And I would definitely include the knitting info, and note which languages you’ve worked across. Try to quantify it as much as you can–if you’ve been doing it for a reasonable number of years or have an idea of how many patterns you’ve successfully completed and it’s a solid number, use it. If you can say that you’ve been working from French, Swedish, and German patterns for over 5 years and have completed over 100 sweaters (or whatever), that’ll clearly establish it wasn’t a one-off piece of luck but an ongoing facility.

    2. Anonymous*

      It’s more than just saying, “Ah, this is in Russian.” While it’s not asking for fluency, the OP should be able to pick out words within the document and determine the basic principle of the document. Is it something from the Kremlin? Or is it Spanish discussing Columbus’s journey? etc. etc.

  5. Joey*

    1. If you do decide to quit depending on what state you live in you may qualify for benefits.

    2. Stop trying to read anything into it. Some recruiters ask this of everyone they talk to.

    4. Two thank you’s to the same person feels really old fashioned and redundant.

  6. Wilton Businessman*

    1. Is “sales” not in the job description or “cold calling” not in the job description. This may be a way of them telling you you’re not meeting your sales quota.

    2. agree. If you have an offer in hand, say so. They may want to put you on the back burner until they see everybody. If they know you’re ready to boil, that may make things go quicker (or cut you off completely, so it’s a double edged sword).

    3. This is where business ethics and legality blur. Tough call, glad I don’t have to make it.

    4. Yes, quick thank you note after every face-to-face. Use it to clarify a point from your conversation.

    5. Absolutely. Don’t know if it will be enough to get the job, but you have the experience.

    6. Seriously?

    7. We’re expecting you to have multiple internships (or at least hoping you will).

  7. Kimberlee*

    For the online reviews of the product, it’s probably worth noting that several companies have been caught doing this and it’s REALLY embarrassing when the interwebs pick it up and everyone associates your brand with fraud. I’d bring that up.

    1. Jaime*

      It’s especially easy to spot if the site in question tells people how long you’ve been a member. “oh look, HotLips43 has been a member for 12 hours and already met their soul mate. Wow, this must be an awesome site.” O_o

      Or when you’re buying a coupon on a deals site and all the positive reviews for the merchant all came in the day before the coupon went live.

  8. M*

    Regarding number 7, I’m a 2010 grad in city that has only a couple of major job markets. Since graduating, I’ve been temping steadily while trying to find something permanent, but the longest stint has been 6 months. Will this deter possible employers? If it makes a difference, I’ve only been working for one agency (who is technically my employer).

    1. Jamie*

      If this is a deterrent for an employer, they are crazy.

      I temped for a couple of years when I first hit the job market. The economy was in a good place, the money was okay, and I looked at it as job shopping. I turned down several offers for a direct hire from temp gigs until I got the one I wanted.

      Different time now, unfortunately, but I was lucky in that it never occurred to me that there would be a stigma to temping. I just listed my agency on my resume and assignments in a subsection. I’ve never experienced any negative reactions to this, to my knowledge.

      That said, if I didn’t get put in the to call pile when I was looking because of this, I will never know. But I don’t see how it’s any different than any other service providing job. My employer (the agency) sent me out to clients to provide a service, I fulfilled the contract, and they sent me out to another client.

      And if a job threatened to suck the very essence of your soul, you just fulfill your contract and instruct your agent to decline any offers to return (or for a permanent position – I don’t know why the more I hated a job the more they wanted to hire me, but there was a distinct correlation.) Your agent tells them they are so sorry, but you’re unavailable and you haven’t burned any bridges.

      There are SO many upsides to temping both for the employee and the employer looking to hire. Your agency has your track record. To be a good temp you need to be adaptable, have a quick learning curve, and the soft skills to succeed outside of your comfort zone…since you have no comfort zone. You have to be dependable and live up to your press. You are exposed to a plethora of business and management styles (good and bad), and get hands on with lots of different software and business processes.

      I cannot emphasize enough what an amazing opportunity not just to increase your knowledge base, but to learn for yourself what you’re really looking for. Temping showed me what was out there and helped me hone my own idea about what kind of culture I would be happiest, and most likely to succeed.

      Sorry to ramble, but I feel so strongly about this topic and it bothers me if anyone out there would hold it against someone for temping. I temped for a little over two years and in all that time there were only 3 days I was without an assignment. Unfortunately, the market has slowed, but if you can temp steadily I heartily recommend it.

      I’d even go so far to say that if I had two candidates identical except that one had steady temping experience (successful) and one at one company I might give a slight edge to the temp for the reasons outlined above.

      1. Joey*

        I’m glad you had a good experience but the reality is most employers would prefer to see full time employment. And temping is not without it’s downside. Put someone with fortune 500 experience next to a person with the same experience at a staffing company and there are a lot of employers who will wonder why the temp couldn’t get hired full time and let that influence their decision. Not saying its smart just saying it happens more than you realize.

        1. Jamie*

          I have no doubt it happens. I was just lucky in that it never occurred to me that it was anything to be nervous about.

          It also worked for me when I was just entering the market, so it allowed me to come in at my first “permanent” job higher than entry level.

          Thinking about it now, it’s possible that because I’m IT it was less of an issue. A lot of IT people have consulting or working for a consultant on their resumes – so it’s not strange for us to have a lot of “projects” with different clients. That’s how I saw temping.

          Point taken that it isn’t as advantageous in every situation.

      2. J_Mo*

        I so agree with you. I temped for about four-five years before I got my current job, and I was happiest as a temp. (It helps if you are with good agencies who have your back or are at least understanding.)

        I’m considering going back to it, because this job is going nowhere, but I’m waiting a bit, because I hear/read that temping is not a robust field right now (people are not getting a lot of/enough work.)

  9. Jaime*

    #3 – Fake reviews – are they requiring employees to submit copies of the reviews to prove that they’ve been done? If not, then how would they even know if you did or did not do it? Are they asking you to do one per employee or asking you to set up multiple accounts and write a review for both?

    If it makes you feel better, I always assume the testimonials for dating sites are fake. If I were being generous, I might say that 10% or less are probably real but the rest are fake. Still, I think it’s skeevy to ask your employees to do this. If you want to put a fake testimonial up there, then do it yourself. Don’t ask your employees to commit even this kind of “harmless” fraud.

    1. fposte*

      If it’s really low profile, there might not be enough reviews for cover. But otherwise, I love that idea–“Yes, of course I did this–see where I’m WellEndowedMickey25 here, and xxunicornlovrxx here?” Maybe the OP can get additional cred for how much the voice varies.

  10. Mike C.*

    Regarding fake reviews: I know that it’s illegal for bloggers to write reviews for products when they have been compensated and don’t reveal this fact. How is the situation of an employee any different?

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        In light of this, I’d say that the OP does have some protection if she refuses to do this … although I wouldn’t trust a company unscrupulous enough to engage in this practice to avoid illegally retaliating against her.

        1. Anonymous*

          AAM, can you elaborate on how the OP should handle this, then? Because it sounds like you’re saying OP should break the law out of fear that their employer will illegally retaliate. Which I can’t imagine is what you meant to advise…?

  11. Anonymous*

    re: fake review – it’s definitely unethical, but you might be risking your job if you refuse to do it. That said, you may have a good unemployment case if you refused and were fired.

    re: thank yous. I just had an phone interview and sent a thank you (via email). I think the advice to send thank you notes is so ubiquitous that not sending a thank you might hurt you. At work I get tons of emails thanking me for various small things, and I do NOT think it’s weird if I get two from the same person (Thanks for sending that report over! Thanks for meeting with me to discuss the draft report! Thanks for finalizing the report!) It’s not like you’re baking them a cake or sending a $2,000 bottle of wine–it’s just a short email!

    1. Jamie*

      I never realized how important some people find the thank you note in interviewing situations until I started reading this blog.

      I’ve never sent one when I was interviewing, and I’ve never received one when I was hiring. I guess I just never thought about it.

      I am religious about sending them in my personal life, but I think the only professional thank you note I’ve ever sent was to a former boss/mentor after I had moved on – to let him know how grateful I was for everything he taught me and basically thanking him for a promotion at my then new company…because it wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t learned from the best.

      Will definitely send them in the future though, when the situation arises.

  12. Becki*

    To the recent grad, I was in the same situation recently and it worked to my advantage. I had a lot of jobs throughout high school and college–everything from fast food to working in the dorms to a credit card company and professional internships. I had only been in my first full time post college job for 18 months but I had a compelling reason for looking. In my second interview, the VP asked what my first ever paying job was and what the major takeaway was for me. We did this all the way up to my position at the time. He was impressed that I had worked consistently in college even when internships weren’t available. Think about what you learned from a job even if it wasn’t related to your degree and be prepared to emphasize the fact that you work hard at any assignment. The department told me that my cover letter and the VPs impression of me were ultimately why they chose me over the other top candidate.

  13. Nichole*

    OP3- Throwing this out there: is there a way you can provide a true but ambiguous review? It’s still wrong of them to ask you to do this, but if you can’t get out of it and quitting isn’t an option, maybe try something like “the site is really easy to navigate, and with the new search engine it only took me five minutes to find three cat lovers/investment bankers/bi-winners” (thanks for TigerBloodDating.com, fposte). If you’re single and part of that niche, maybe even set up a profile (if it’s a paid site, guilt your unethical employer into making an honest man/woman out of you by sponsoring your membership).

    OP7- While I only had one such job, I struggled with how to show my one semester gig as a supplemental instruction leader on my resume. It was relevant to the jobs I was applying for, but I had been pregnant that semester, so I didn’t pick up another class when it ended. After writing it up like any other job, I added “*Selected by Professor X for this semester specific position.” That clarified that it was a job with an expiration date, as many internships are, and I was able to showcase my skills related to that job without raising questions about why I only did it for three months. I’ve been asked about the job, but never asked why it ended.

    1. Piper*

      When I still listed internships on my resume, I listed them by semester (ex: Fall semester 2011) instead of by months and under a heading called “internships” – that pretty much cleared up people’s confusion.

  14. Steve G*

    I cant believe no one is commenting on the cold calling question! I lived through that request at 2 former employers, and saw my current employer force it on one of my subordinates. When it was put on me, it was rediculous. I am outgoing and a good speaker, and good cold caller, but when a declining industry is in a recession, that doesn’t matter! Ironically, employees only ask for this when business is not doing well, exactly when employees have the least confidence in their business and product…

  15. Anonymous*

    Regarding the knitter:

    To be honest, and this is something the OP should not take offense at, but I don’t see how translating patterns to knit and being able to understand a few words here and there in other languages is considered experience. One thing for certain is that these online translators are far from perfect, and sometimes they can get the grammar completely wrong. I have picked up a third language, and while I would be able to distinguish it from its relatives in the language family, I cannot always determine the context of the content. Just because I see the word “city,” for example, within the text, it does not mean it will be talking about the government of a city. And my “experience” comes from studying it in textbooks, talking with friends who speak it as a first language, listening to its music, etc. There is no way I would put down that I know it.

    I think the job requirement, as I wrote above, is more than just identifying the language. That many people can do. But I think you have to know what it is talking about and be able to read enough to know, even if it’s just the title. Yes, that can be learned, but it needs more than just exposure the OP has.

    1. Jamie*

      “One thing for certain is that these online translators are far from perfect”

      This. From personal experience I know that it can translate the word “Foremen” to the Spanish word for cowboy.

      Once you’ve posted notices in all departments which inadvertently read “Attention Cowboys” you learn to never trust automated translation ever, ever again.

        1. Jamie*

          That’s a word for it! It was especially embarrassing because at the time I was in charge of arranging temporary personnel so the notice was about calling me any time, day or night, if the temps didn’t show.

          Posting my cell number to the cowboys with admonishments to call me anytime if they needed someone…it took a long time to live that down. Thank goodness for a sense of humor on all sides.

      1. Anonymous*

        Once you’ve posted notices in all departments which inadvertently read “Attention Cowboys” you learn to never trust automated translation ever, ever again.

        Always, always round trip (even when doing it manually with a dictionary).

    2. fposte*

      And I would disagree pretty strongly. It’s going to depend to some extent on the setup what the job is actually being asked to do, but in my experience it’s really not the same as translation and requires nowhere near that facility; even if the information turns out not to help, it’s not going to hurt so definitely should be (effectively) shared. (Most of the time you’re getting the materials via English-language databases with English-language keywords anyway, so you’ve gotten pretty close to the result without even dealing with the foreign language.) Sure, if the library gets a solid applicant who is actually reading fluent in several of the relevant languages, that person would have an advantage, but this is definitely something that would give the OP a boost over total monoglot applicants and demonstrate that s/he has experience problem-solving in a similar situation rather than blanking and panicking when faced with foreign titles. Then let the library decide if that’s enough to get her hired or not.

      1. Anonymous*

        I see your point, particularly if they are using English-databases that can translate in of themselves.

        Here’s my take – how much of these knitting jobs are just little slogans here and there. I did a pillow (not knitting, but cross-stitching) which read: “Actions speak louder than words.” It doesn’t give much in terms of words. Plus, there are the whole intricacies of languages in which we have one word that can play several roles whereas another language has a different word for each of the English’s uses.

        I just think that using knitting as a way to say I have this familiarity of being able to use translators and such is not really along the lines of what a company is looking for. If she had taken classes, albeit basic level courses, I think she would have a little more leg to stand on. I’m not saying she has to be fluent, but like you said, it’s up to the library to make the determination.

    3. KayDay*

      My initial thought was the same as yours. But when I re-read the OP’s post it said “ability to **identify information** in one or more foreign languages.” for a library–so in this case, I really do think it is about being able to get some sort of gist out of a foreign language without having to speak it fluently. Getting information in a library setting is very different than speaking or reading for true comprehension in a foreign language. For example, I occasionally need to get some basic informationfrom a foreign language website. I don’t need a perfect translation to do this, just some key words. For example, last week I was looking up information about a German foundation. I only know a couple of words in German, “Kaugummi” and you can guess the other. But I know that when written, some German words are very similar to English words with Germanic roots and I used translate for the rest. I was able to get the contact information, key staff members names, and a very basic list of foundation priorities.

      The ability to be comfortable doing the above is very different from the ability to call the foundation and ask for this information over the phone in German. If the job requires similar tasks in many different languages, it would be unrealistic to only hire applicants proficient in so many languages.

  16. Elizabeth*

    #5: So I work in HR at a large university library, and I think it is ok to think of your knitting experience here as relevant, but you might want to be careful about how you put it so it is taken seriously. I think someone gave some good advice earlier about considering how many patterns you have done in how many languages. Have you done document delivery before or any cataloging/technical services? I believe you need to know enough to be able to be sure you have the correct item that has been requested, not translate the whole thing or assign it a subject heading. It sounds like you’re resourceful enough to figure this out, which you’ve demonstrated through knitting patterns. At a large university library, there may be other people around who are language experts you can turn to if there is something tricky, so my guess is that language ability may not be their first priority for a job like this. For this type of job, I’m guessing they want technical skill, ability to work quickly, maybe manage other staff, etc. If they have candidates with the other kinds of experience/skill they need PLUS languages though, you might not make the cut. Good luck!

    1. the Knitter*

      Thanks for your advice! I’ve already turned in my application. For the knitting bit, I highlighted that I used my research skills learned in graduate school to find X, Y, Z resources which enabled me to successfully translate the patterns.

  17. Holly @ Carousel*

    #3: Fake reviews.

    It’s well known that some companies post fake reviews all over the web. I would recommend doing some research first: come up with more creative ways to promote the company on-line and in social media, using open and honest methods.

    I’d also be clear about the fact that you feel uncomfortable posting fake reviews, not only on a personal level, but that you feel there are other, more effective ways of promoting the company on-line, helping out with SEO in the process.

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