short answer Sunday: 7 short answers to 7 short questions

It’s short answer Sunday! Here we go…

1. How to prepare for bereavement leave

I’ve recently found out that one of my parents, who has had cancer for 4 years , has suddenly reached Stage 4 after being stable for a long time. I’m relatively ok about it emotionally and it isn’t affecting my work currently and neither do I expect it to until they are really sick – I think I knew this was coming eventually and have somewhat prepared myself.

Obviously at that time I’m going to need to be with family and supporting the other parent on very short notice – let alone the funeral and any personal down time necessary. I have no idea whether it is likely to be weeks or months – or even next year! I’ve told my boss, as we do get on very well and he’s given me great support which I am thankful for. We are pre-preparing as much work as we can to make the disruption as little as possible when the time comes. However, I know I would have hesitated to tell previous bosses – and probably wouldn’t have! What would you say is the right thing to do in this situation? I’d feel guilty suddenly having to take time off without notice if I hadn’t told them.

I think you’re handling it exactly right. This is what I did when my dad was in the late stages of cancer and we knew he had only months at the most. I let my boss know what was going on and explained that we didn’t know the timing, but that at some point in the next few months, possibly without any notice, I was going to need some time off because of it. That’s about all you can do. Work will find a way to deal with the disruption (after all, if you suddenly had a health crisis of your own and were out for a couple of weeks, they’d find a way to accommodate it), so don’t worry too much about that. Most people are extremely understanding in this situation (and if they aren’t, that says something about the people you’re working for).

I’m sorry you’re dealing with this, and I hope things go as well as they can for your family in the coming months.

2. Being recruited when you’re happy in your current job

I am so flattered because I am being courted by a company. My challenge is that I know one of the people in the company well and want to maintain a good personal and professional relationship. But the truth of the matter is that I might be interested in leaving my current job, but only if the opportunity is extremely interesting, offers more pathways for advancement than my current job, and, frankly, has a better title and salary than my current (pretty great) gig.

What is the best strategy for approaching this so that I can find out more but not burn my friendship (and professional contact)? I know you will say to be honest, and you are right, but how can I do that without sounding like a really arrogant jerk? (e.g. “Hey, I’m only willing to come over for really interesting and high paying stuff, so show me what you’ve got!”)

Yep, just be honest. This is normal, and they’re not going to think it’s arrogant or otherwise weird Just say something like this: “I’m definitely interested in learning more. I want to be up-front with you though that I am happy where I am, and they pay me pretty well. I’m open to leaving for the right opportunity, but I’d want it to really be the right fit.”

3. Conveying that my foreign “internship” is not like a U.S. internship

I come from a country where I think the word “internship” garners more respect than it does here in the U.S.. They are generally well-paid entry-level jobs and, at the right place, interns can have a great deal of responsibility. Invariably, the interns will be asked to stay on at the company or organisation. My first job (five years ago) was such an internship and, in addition to the traditional “intern” duties, I was responsible for one large project, presented my work to national media and senior government officials and was asked to stay at the company, on a contract basis. How should I be communicating this?

Is there a word you can use other than intern that will better convey the nature of the work you did?  “X Coordinator” or something like that? Normally I don’t advocate misrepresenting your title, but it’s different when foreign customs will otherwise result in your conveying something totally different than what you intend. How have others who have dealt with this handled it?

4. Work gap versus listing a string of temp positions

I graduated with my MBA in December (undergrad Finance) and like many people, am having a difficult time finding a job even though I have experience. I had a 3-month temporary position that ended about a month ago, and I was going to try to hold out for a “real” job this time, but despite all of my applying and trying, nothing seems to be coming through. So now I am faced with accepting another temporary administrative assistant position in the meantime.

My question is: which looks worse on a resume, a string of administrative assistant-type positions unrelated to my career choice/industry, or a dead period? Should I leave them off completely and maybe just mention them in the cover letter, or include them with the “temporary” note?

I’d include them so that it’s clear you’ve been working, but lump them all together under one listing of temporary work, rather than listing them each separately.

5. Rejecting someone based on lack of enthusiasm

I have interviewed a person who is very qualified for a job. However, based on the interview, I don’t think he is interested in the job. Are there legal issues if I don’t extend him an offer and if I tell him the reason is because I didn’t think he was interested in the job?

It’s perfectly legal not to hire someone because they don’t seem enthusiastic about the job. It’s legal to not hire someone for pretty much any reason, as long as it’s not about their race, religion, gender, national origin, disability, or other protected class. “Unenthusiastic” is not a protected class.

(That said, you don’t give many details here so it’s hard to know what your conclusion about him was based on, but it’s worth considering that some people are shy. Any chance you were seeing shyness rather than lack of interest? One option is to just ask questions designed to get at the person’s interest level and motivation, while you’re still in the interview, so that you’re getting more data before deciding for sure. Hell, you can even say point-blank: “I’m getting the sense that you’re not especially enthusiastic about this job.” Most people would rather have the chance to hear that and respond than to have it decided for them when it may not be true.)

6. Job application website is down

I found an excellent job on an online job board, but when I clicked the website that I needed to go to apply for the job, the web page stated “The web address you entered could not be found.” So should I just fax my resume directly to the company and let them know that the web page is down? I have the name of the hiring manager as well.

First go to the company’s website and go to their careers page, and see if you can find the correct link that way. If not, I’d call and let them know the link isn’t working, and ask if they’d prefer that you fax or email your application. (They probably prefer email.)

7. Cover letters for internal positions

I have the opportunity for a possible promotion within my current company. The job is only open to in-house applicants which, I feel, changes the dynamic of how my resume and cover letter should read. I am very familiar with each member of the hiring committee, as are they with me. They know my work history, my successes and failures, what I’ve accomplished, etc. So how do I show myself off in my cover letter and resume without being redundant? I’ve already been promoted within the company just two years ago and it’s the same hiring committee.

Talk about why you’re interested in the position and why you’d excel at it — same things as in any cover letter, really, just with the benefit of already knowing each other.

{ 55 comments… read them below }

  1. Anonymous*

    Hello. I’m the one the posted the question “Job application website down”. The actual organization does not have a career section (non profit organization), but after doing some thorough internet searching, I came across the job on another website along with ALL the information I needed. Wish me luck!!! and Thank you

  2. EngineerGirl*

    Bereavement: Glad to hear you have an understanding boss. There are 2 things you will need to deal with: 1) Inefficiency on your part because of what is going on. 2) Work continuity.

    Inefficiency: You will be surprised just how much energy grief takes, and how it affects you. Expect and plan for the fact that you will be working at a lower level. You may be working at a lower level and may not even detect it, BTW. Check in with your boss. Take FMLA if needed. FMLA can be taken in big blocks or in little bits. And don’t be surprised at what happens after you get back. Grief manifests itself by foggy thinking, anger, intolerance, exhaustion. I remember after my Mom died I had a horrible time creating anyting. I was terrified that I had lost the edge and couldn’t be an engineer any more. I found that it took almost a year for me to get fully back to speed. Plan for that. Do NOT take on new assignments. Just deal with what you currently have. That will be plenty.

    Work flow: See if you can get telecommute priveleges on your computer, and maybe a work cell where you can get e-mails. Decide with your boss what you will/won’t handle. Have a bunch of off ramps in case you won’t be able to handle what you thought you could. Arrage for days when you will be fully disconnected from work (no e-mails, no phone calls). This will train others, and give you a much needed break from responsiblities so you can focus on your family.

    If your family is cross country I’m going to make other recommendations
    3) Get all your bills on auto-pay if they already aren’t there. One less thing to worry about.
    4) Learn to one-bag it (carry on only) and keep your one bag pre-packed. This includes a pre-packed toilet kit, pre-packed undies and shoes, etc. When “the call” comes (and there may be more than one), you’ll be ready. BTW, it is OK to pack dirty clothes and do the laundry at your parents house after you arrive if that is what you must do.
    An awesome site is
    I also have a far less useful site for women:

    1. fposte*

      This is all excellent advice. If you travel a lot, in fact, having a pre-packed toiletry bag will save you time in general.

      I do have one cavil, though; FMLA doesn’t generally cover the kind of leave you’re talking about, unless the employee has received a consequent diagnosis of a serious illness him/herself. It’s certainly possible for grief to result in an illness, but FMLA doesn’t cover grief/bereavement per se. Here’s a page that talks about it a little more:

      1. EngineerGirl*

        FMLA doesn’t cover grief, but it kicks in if the OP needs to take on caregiver responsibilities due to the magnified medical issue. Some companies also have a form of sick leave for critical illness.

        1. fposte*

          If she has to take care of her sick parent, yes, it does indeed cover it and she should definitely take it, I agree. I just wanted to make sure it was clear that it’s not applicable for bereavement absences.

        2. Joey*

          I say apply for fmla and let the company decide if it qualifies. You should qualify if a doctor determines that your psychological comfort or reassurance to your dad is beneficial. That’s a pretty low bar considering your circumstances.

          1. fposte*

            Depends who you’re talking about (the OP hasn’t identified which parent is ill, so I’m not clear whether you’re thinking of Dad as the ill parent or the spouse). That’s an FMLA level of caretaking for a parent with a serious illness, but if we’re talking for the surviving parent, that’s not likely to rise to the standard.

            However, I’m inclined to agree generally with your “what the heck, apply” approach, or just plain ask for time whether it’s FMLA or not. Since FMLA doesn’t give you any more paid leave than you already have anyway and the company’s apparently prepared to be supportive, it’s quite possible that they’d be willing to let the OP off for bereavement support.

            1. fposte*

              Whoops, looks like it’s a moot point for our UK poster, but maybe it’ll be valuable for somebody else reading.

              1. OP#1*

                I’d be looking after and supporting the ‘well’ parent. but yes, FMLA is irrelevant for me. Thank you anyway.

    2. EngineerGirl*

      One more thing. You may need some sort of quiet place to do your work that is away from the family. If chaos is going on a home then think about getting a hotel room with wi-fi. It will give you a “time out” and a chance to focus on work without feeling guilty. A cheaper alternative is to set up in a coffee shop. I found it hard to focus on work while staying with family.

  3. ChristineH*

    AAM – I have a somewhat similar quandary as OP #4. Since being laid off a few years ago, I’ve had a hodge-podge of gigs off and on, most of them on a volunteer basis. Last year was especially rough with two so-called internships that fell apart. So should I follow the same advice you offered, since these are volunteer projects/positions, as opposed to paid temp work?

    I know I could’ve been temping all this time, but my situation is complicated (not ready to disclose publicly, though).

    1. Kimberlee*

      Honestly, I kinda think I’d prefer seeing people list out the jobs individually. It might end up being a longer resume, but if it’s layed out well, with some white space and bullet points and all that, it becomes a much more useful guide to the candidate’s qualifications.

      I don’t know about ChristineH’s case, but for OP #4, I think 3 months is definitely long enough to be its own item in any case. A week, a month, maybe lump those together. But definitely not 3 month gigs. :)

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Except that she’ll end up looking like a job hopper, which lots of people will disqualify her over. It’s also unlikely that she had enough significant achievements in 3-month stints to justify making them all their own listings.

        1. Chinook in Calgary*

          Unless you cover it in your cover letter and spin it as having a good work ethic and willing to do anything to pay bills and are looking for something more permanent/challenging. It can also show how you can adapt to new work environments easily. That’s what I did to explain than one interviewer said made it look like I was on the run from the law (3 provinces, 5 jobs ranging from fast food to teacher and one military husband)

        2. AG*

          My question is, if you’re temping too long at what point does that make you unemployable in your chosen field?

          1. simple simon*

            I did this after I graduated for a bit, but each of my short stints were short research contracts for various professors. 5 different positions each of 3 months – 4 months. When I am not applying for a research position I lump them together under “Independent Contracts – Research” and list the type of research I was doing under that. When I am applying for research positions I give them each their own line.

            I have been considering leaving them each as their own position all the time as each was very demanding and I had to produce a lot in a little time. I would then write beside each something like: “Principal Researcher, Contract”; “Assistant Research, Contract.” What do you all think of this?

          2. Kat*

            I don’t think temping ever makes you unemployable. You can always spin your experiences to your chosen field. For example, if you’ve temped at a few different companies, you can emphasize your ability to quickly grasp new software or document systems, and/or your ease at being thrown into new situations with different personalities. If it’s an administrative temping job but your chosen field is sales, or management, etc., you could stress your attention to detail and understanding of corporate process from all levels. I’m currently working as a contract legal proofreader and have been here for over a year. My chosen field is paralegal so of course I can totally use this experience when applying to both legal and non-legal jobs. I’ve recently interviewed for two non-law firm jobs with a small legal emphasis, but I was able to show how this experience transfers to both positions.

      2. BuckeyeHoosier*

        I like the idea of grouping the temporary jobs rather than listing them individually based on my personal experience. I worked at a part part time and a temporary “survival” job for 6 or 7 months ( left home at 7 am returned home at 10pm — yes, it was very difficult) while searching for a job. I applied for an inside sales role at a local company while I was temping there. The feedback I received from the hiring manager after being consistently moved forward in the interview process and getting to the final round was that my background indicated that I belonged in a customer service/call center position. (Coincidentally, those were the 2 most recent survival jobs listed on my resume.)

        Are you kidding me? MBA plus 3.5 years of (demonstrated) pharma sales success plus years of account management (where I exceeded quota and earned 2 trips to Hawaii) added up to customer service/call center rep? I’m still angry about that feedback from early 2011, but now I do NOT list those positions on my resume because I feel they detract from from the overall picture of sales/account management professional I’m trying to present. In interviews I explain that I did indeed work during the employment gap but those positions were not in line with my career goals.

        The 6 or 7 months of survival jobs I described are a tiny percentage of my total work history which began around 1993. However, if I didn’t have much work experience on my resume I’d definitely list the temporary positions… in a group. Don’t give a hiring manager the chance to fixate on a job you took just to keep a roof over your head and gas in the tank.

  4. Anonymous*

    I’m struggling with the same problem as the international internship. Mine was in the states, but I received far more responsibility than most interns. I received my own clients and projects to manage, I wrote proposals… I pretty much did everything that a regular employee of the company would do and I was just as responsible for my screw ups. I just wasn’t there as often and I didn’t get paid.

    I’ve been explaining this in my cover letter. I don’t know if that’s the best method, but it’s all I knew how to do.

    1. Kimberlee*

      I think it belongs in the resume instead. Even if you are forced to write the dreaded Intern, if you just show how much you kicked that job’s butt in your resume, they’ll see that you had more responsibilities and judge accordingly. If there’s another title that you can honestly use, then go for it, but I feel like unless its the fabric of your narrative in your cover letter, I would keep it to the resume. Personally.

      1. Amy*

        For the two internships I had that were relevant and also where I did a lot of work, I add it in, add my little highlights of the time there and write position: something something Intern. For the job under that, write it all for that one and then again, position: something something. If it felt like a job, go ahead and include it in the “work experience” section or whatever. If they read intern, they do and see what you accomplished, if they fail to see that word, then good for you, you might get an interview with that extra exp. It happened to me. :)

        1. Anonymous*

          I’m anonymous from up there..

          I pretty much have used my supervisor’s title and instead of “specialist” or “analyst” or whatever, I use Intern. Then I still list all of my responsibilities. So I guess I have been including it on my resume. I just go more in depth in my cover letter to explain (usually) why I’m qualified for a job with more experience than I have.

    2. M-C*

      Specifically for the cross-cultural aspect, I’d go with a cultural translation rather than a literal one. Just because one country calls something by the same term as another country, you should not devalue your experience by insisting on using that term. Just like you wouldn’t insist on saying ‘baccalaureat’ on a French application (high school) because it’s the litteral translation of ‘BA’ in the US (university). You find equivalents for degrees, do it for job titles too.

      Besides, internship is usually more a term to describe a salary level than one for job responsibility. And job description is what you want on your resume, leave the salary for later in the negotiations, after the interview.

  5. Kelly O*

    Poster #1 –
    I just wanted to say that I’ve been where you are; having lost my dad to cancer almost eight years ago. I was also very fortunate to have a very understanding boss who worked with me throughout his illness and gave me the time I needed (in a lot of ways) to figure out my life after that.

    There isn’t a way to explain how you can mentally prepare for it, although I understand what you mean. I lived in the same town as my folks (actually worked for the university where he was being treated) so the physical distance was not an issue, but I was allowed to ease my way back into work, and if I needed time, it was not an issue. If you can ease back in – either using your phone or email from home, or working partial days – it can really help.

    Just remember that you’re going to have days that are tough, and those may be the times you need a little grace and leeway more than all the “stuff” that you’re at least tangentially aware of. (Hell, it’s been eight years and I’m crying while I type this.)

    I am so, so sorry you have to deal with this, and I hope that things go as smoothly as they can for you when need be.

    1. Jamie*

      “Just remember that you’re going to have days that are tough, and those may be the times you need a little grace and leeway more than all the “stuff” that you’re at least tangentially aware of. (Hell, it’s been eight years and I’m crying while I type this.)”

      I lost both of my parents within four months of each other almost 16 years ago and I am deliberately focusing on only the logistics as I type this so I don’t cry. You do learn to cope, but unlike some wounds, time can only heal so much.

      I echo everything Kelly and Engineer Girl said – it can be a roller coaster for a while. When I had my first kind of good day I thought I was fine, but unfortunately grief takes a while to process. It just means you’re human – the greatest gift you can give yourself is the permission to grieve.

      I know what you mean about preparing – I really do – I was as prepared as I could be for my mom as she lost her bought with cancer – much like your situation. My dad was a shock – 12 hours from notice to the end. So I’ve gone through this both ways and can honestly say, for me, no matter how prepared I was it was still a shock. I know that sounds illogical – but like having a baby. You can be intellectually prepared, and practically prepared – but you can’t really prepare for the emotions for the first time. It’s the flip side of that – there’s nothing logical about grief and it knocks you on your ass at the least opportune times.

      I am so sorry you’re going through this – my heart goes out to you and your family. I am so glad your boss is understanding and it’s one less drama to worry about at a difficult time.

      Work will always be there – you have every right to focus on taking care of yourself and your family.

      1. Kelly O*

        I totally agree with what you said about there is no logic involved in grief, even when you mentally understand what’s going on.

        There were days I would sit and think “okay there is absolutely no reason for this today – no triggers, no logical reason this ought to be happening” and try to reason myself out of whatever it was. When I accepted it and started talking to someone about how to work through it, that’s when it started to improve.

        1. Jamie*

          I did the exact same thing, and I just feel so lost when there isn’t a logical reason or solution to something. I don’t function well absent logic.

          It’s funny, I used to think there was something wrong with me because I would still have these waves of grief wash over me years after the fact. It didn’t interfere with my life, but I would just get hit with these aftershocks that I didn’t know anyone else expereinced.

          Then I thought about it – why wouldn’t that happen from time to time? I didn’t stop loving them when they died, so since I still love them it stands to reason that I will still miss them. It’s only logical.

          For the OPs benefit, that isn’t to say it doesn’t get easier. It does. And you learn to cope and you find a way to, for lack of better phrasing, build a relationship with the memories so you can hold on without hurting so much all the time. Then one day you tell a funny story about your parent and it makes you smile without crying. That’s a good day.

          Bill Gates gave a speech once where he referenced how small the world has become due to the internet. It’s really true, because I teared up this morning thinking, not about my own problems, but about someone in the UK who I only know as OP – because my heart is breaking for you and your family.

          Labor laws aside, no matter where we live when it comes to the big stuff people have a lot more in common than they have differences.

  6. littlemoose*

    For question #3 – the OP said that almost all such interns are hired on at the companies after their internships are up. What job titles are they hired as after they’re no longer interns? Could you use that job title instead? That might communicate the type of tasks and level of responsibility better than the “intern” title.

  7. Anonymous*

    For #3, I come from a programme where several internships are required, and one of them can be a year-long internship, paid, with entry-level duties. Another is a compulsory 6-month internship at the end of the programme, as a last step before graduation. Basically it’s like a first job, and it’s almost always followed by a job offer.

    In my case I just put the title (or anything that could be close to the title you might have had if it was a contract and not an internship, like So-and-So assistant or Junior something), followed by “intern”. The sheer length of the internship and the projects/responsibilities listed in bullet points underneath the title are generally enough to convey the idea that it was actual relevant work experience.

    I don’t know if it would work everywhere. In particular I have not had much success in my applications for a job in the US , but managed to find a job in another overseas country with this emphasis on past experience. The interviewers were surprised and a bit puzzled, but did acknowledge the value of the work experience.

  8. sr*

    Also, as I happen to have a string of (impressive) internships on my CV, for the time being I’ve made it so that the name of the company is first and in bold, while my title is second and not in bold. All the info is still there but it de-emphasizes my official title.
    Coincidentally, this method also happens to work nicely to downplay the offical title at old job that has virtually nothing to do with what I’m doing YET still deserves space on my CV because of the other aspects of my job why are applicable and that nobody else at the company was doing.

  9. Charles*

    “I’m getting the sense that you’re not especially enthusiastic about this job.”

    um, please don’t. This sounds too much like a judgement about the job seeker’s personality as if they need to be jumping through barrel hoops or something. “yea! I get to shovel shit all day, yippee! Let me do a cartwheel!”.

    Let’s face it, the hiring manager has just met the person and really can’t know if they are a “reserved” person or if they are unenthusiastic because of something else; maybe they had to park illegally in order to arrive on time for the interview and are now worried about a parking ticket (or maybe the job seeker is going through a tough personal time like the OP in question #1 – if this is the case AAM’s suggested phrasing could some across as especially harsh)

    So, I would suggest that this be phrased better by asking something more like “Is there anything about this job that excites you?”or “what about this job excites you?” The OP will have to listen much more carefully to the answer; but, I think it will be better as it is less of a judgement.

    1. fposte*

      I dunno; I think it’s a fair warning and it gives the interviewee a chance to repair the problem, and the proposed alternatives don’t offer that chance. Sure, it includes a judgment, but the applicant is there to be judged. Think of it as analogous to asking the employee directly about an apparent deficit in a technical skill.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yeah, that’s what I’m getting at — candidates often complain that employers made an assumption about them without ever giving them the chance to address it head-on, so I like just saying it: “here’s what I’m thinking; tell me if I’m off-base.”

        1. Charles*

          Agreed – the “here’s what I am thinking, tell me if I’m off base . . .” is okay.

          The reason I take issue with your first wording is that I did have someone say that to me once. I was totally shocked! I felt like I had been slapped in the face after having demostrated how much I bring to the job, how I would excel at it; how I would be a great fit; how much, at least I felt, that I had connected with the other members on the team; and, lastly, after asking several questions that I thought showed that I was interested in the job – and she had an issue with me not “showing” enthusiasm! I did ask her why, on earth, she would think that – her answer was “I just feel that way.”

          BTW, when she did offer me the job a couple of weeks later she said, “against my better judgement, the team has decided to offer you the position . . .” I turned her down – no need to start a job in a room of negativity.

          As others have noted below, some of us don’t wear our emotions on our sleeves for everyone to see. That is what is wrong, to me, about the first wording of that question and the “snap” judgement that it indicates. Yes, job seekers are there to be judged; but, such a snap judgement, especially one that can be about someone’s personality is just wrong to me. (I know AAM, that you and I will disagree on that issue)

          Directness is often needed; but I think directness can sometimes be very blunt and, unneccessarily, rude. AAM, your last idea here of saying “I get the sense that . . . ” helps to soften that bluntness and make it not so rude.

          I would love to hear from the OP to know what exactly made her think that the job seeker wasn’t “enthusiastic.”

          1. Anonymous*

            The bad thing is that she probably took your rejection as proof that she was right about you in the first place.

            Sounds like you dodged a bullet.

  10. mh_76*

    #3 – What would a better title be for that position, one that accurately reflected what it is that you -actually- did? I don’t see anything wrong with using a “functional title” so long as it is accurate. You could also be up front and include a bullet point explaining that, while it was an internship, internships in that country are the equivalent of ___ and are held in much higher regard than in the USA.
    I have a couple of “functional titles” on my resume because the positions were technically temp. jobs and one of them involved coordinating a project and another was for a company that probably deliberately downplayed the position to the agency so that the worker would cost them less money for work that was more much advanced than simply “data entry clerk”.

    So long as you’re accurately relaying your accomplishments in that position, it’s OK to reword the title in line with what you did there.

    Some may disagree but if I can find a link to an article that I read a few years ago on that topic, I’ll post it.

    #4 – In this economy, job seekers often have gaps of more than just a few months. I agree with AAM’s suggestion of combining the positions. If you don’t want that job on your resume at all, did you volunteer during that time? Volunteer work is great for filling gaps because it shows that you didn’t stay home watching endless TV and sulking.

  11. LCL*

    #5-you can make whatever hiring choice you want, if done legally. But be careful about thinking someone is “not interested” in something because they have a cool demeanor. I have had problems in this area, because if I am very interested in something I strive to be calm and cool when dealing with it. Because to me, excessive enthusiasm is phony and will chase away whatever I am trying to get.

    The heart of a bad evaluation I once received was that, when presented with a technical problem, I stopped everything I was doing to think about my plan of action. What I considered the appropriate analytical course of action was perceived as me being disinterested, when I was acutely interested in solving the problem. Anyone else in the group would have had to think about the problem, but they would have made a big production about what they were going to do while they were solving it.

    Not saying my way is good or bad, just that there’s a lot of us out here. Rightly or wrongly, we see not getting too outwardly excited over something as appropriate professional behavior. Well, I’m sure there’s not too many of us in sales, but you get the idea.

    1. Jamie*

      This. I’m not a very demonstrative person with anyone except my kids, and unfortunately they are never in the position to hire me.

      My interest in a job could be hard to discern for people who equate enthusiasm with beaming smiles and overt animation. For me it looks a lot more like deep focus and fine tuned questions – neither of which I would care about if not interested.

      1. Britta*

        Right, but hiring isn’t a foolproof system. People are being hired by – you guessed it – other people. Individuals with their own perceptions of how you’re behaving in an interview. “Deeply focused” to you could be “too intense” to someone else. Just be yourself. If an interviewer thinks you’re not interested enough in the job, either explain the reasons why you are, or chalk it up to a potential poor fit.

        1. Jamie*

          Exactly – if a certain level of demonstrativeness was required for a job, that would definitely be the wrong fit for me and I’d just as soon find out early.

  12. Suzanne*

    #6 I applied for a job recently through an online application which is one of the worst I’ve encountered. There seemed to be no order to the pages and one did not flow to the next (no “next” or “continue” button). There was a section to upload documents–but not a resume, as that was another section. I uploaded a cover letter, but then there was no way to go to the next screen, so I thought I must be done. I went back to the site an hour or so later, found an FAQ button which stated that applicants would receive an email confirmation of their application, which I had not received. So, back I went, messed around a bit more and finally figured out that the cover letter could not be uploaded in the “upload documents” section, but had to be put in a different area and copied and pasted .

    Why do they make these things so difficult to navigate??

  13. OP#1*

    Thank you all for replying (and thank you Alison!).

    I’m definitely noticing that I’m feeling a bit ‘slower’ in general at the moment. That could be because I’m also trying to create a ‘desk manual’ for my job that someone could pick up and work from with only basic knowledge of our computers and an idea of the type of work.

    I am however curtailing a lot of social interaction right now and barely did anything but TV, video games, sleep, housework and food this weekend! It was blissful!

    I’m in the UK so FMLA doesn’t apply but we do have a Bereavement Leave policy at work which clearly lays out what we will get paid for in each circumstance. Its nice knowing the expectation upfront but I know the boss will work with me to ensure I am OK to be back if I need extra time and need to take unpaid time.

    Mostly I wasn’t sure if bosses would usually want to know – I’ve known some bosses in the past who would think of it as a ‘burden’ and as setting up an ‘excuse’ for slower work etc. I feel luckily I have the boss I do now!

    Thanks again all. :)

    1. OP#1*

      One last clarification: Due to the responsive and fluid nature of the job it isn’t suitable for remote working. I need to be in the office at my desk and surrounded by paperwork that is the supporting documentation. Its not easy to scan it or make it someone else’s task to do the legwork unfortunately.

      1. Kelly O*

        I think most bosses are actually okay. It’s the vocal minority who screw it up for everyone else. And most people understand that something like this is one situation you absolutely cannot plan – it happens on its own timeline, and you have to at least be prepared to roll with whatever that means.

  14. Just Me*

    #5- -enthusiasm
    Ok everyone… I am going to a job interview tomorrow. It is in a place that deals with garbage. Office position. I highly doubt garbage is a field that one can have a lot of ” fun” with. I will talk of the positions needs and how I can fullfill them and all that just like any interview should regardless of the field.

    I will let you know how it goes and see if I can gauge the enthusiasm level in general.

    Rah rah !! lets hear it for recycling ! LOL.. just kidding…

    1. Just Me*

      Well… It was a screening interview. There were 2 people, HR gal and another guy. She was very up and fun and I felt very comfortable with her. He didn’t say much but I got good vibes in general from both. I based my ” enthusiasm” on them. They were up and fun and cool to talk to and I took that que and went with it. I wasn’t doing flip flops but as they responded with a nod and smile with my answers I responded the same.

      It was only about 15 mins. She wanted references and said if I got a second interview it would be Thursday. I said I couldnt get out that quick without getting an mark for attendance against me and they were very quick to say arranagments can be made.

      So we will see. But.. like I said… for the enthusiasm part I went with the atmosphere I was in. Hopefully it all will work out..

  15. Tela*

    Having been laid off and now contract working, boy do I have experience with #4 and #5.

    #4 – I’ve been doing IT contracting projects, so I now have a heading with my projects under one heading of “Independent Contractor.” That way it’s clear I’m working as a contractor on installation projects, along with listing out the client and specific responsibilities and technical skills for each project. I had been listing it as Consultant, but that led to people getting confused that I was a 1099 instead of a contractor.

    #5 – I had one HR guy tell me at the end of a phone interview that he felt I didn’t adequately express my enthusiasm enough for the position. I’m not a wallflower, but I have a really soft speaking voice (makes voice recognition automated phone systems a PITA to deal with) and tend to be straight forward in situations where I’m talking to somebody for the first time. I was more than qualified for the position, so it seemed ridiculous that he was making a snap decision about me just based on a 15 minute phone conversation. It was for another IT temp contracting job, so it wasn’t like he was even evaluating me for a FT hire into the company.

    1. Britta*

      Have you considered the possibility that maybe you *didn’t* sound that enthused about the position?

      And I ask that as a person who has also received that feedback. It’s worth considering.

    2. Just Me*

      I would think a phone interview would be harder to detect enthusiasm. Face to face you can see more. Phone you only hear tones. I would think you could hide more on a phone interview. But that is just my opinion

  16. International job-seeker*

    Dear Alison and commenters – it’s me, #3! Thanks for the great advice. I think I will go with the job title that I had immediately after the internship – associate. In this role, I did pretty much the same work as when I was an intern (getting paid more, of course!) This title seems to be an entry-level term in my field, no matter the country, so it’s more translatable than “intern”.

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