terse answer Tuesday: bad manager edition

It’s terse answer Tuesday — seven short answers to seven short questions. And we have two particularly bad horror stories about managers today — including one threatening a former employee’s life. Here we go…

1. Listing volunteer work without any proof

I used to work as the Executive Editor (volunteer) for a website. Although it was volunteer, I did begin at entry level and was promoted through a couple of positions to Exec Ed. I have wanted to use this experience on my resume, but when I quit, the website pulled all articles I wrote/edited off of their website. Looking at their website now, there is no way to tell that I was once a part of it. Is there any way I can legitimately include the volunteer job on my resume even though it seems like I don’t have any hard proof?

Absolutely you should include it. If asked, you can explain that they removed the articles once you stopped working there. If they did it in an acrimonious way, you might have a professional-sounding friend call to check the reference and make sure they’re not denying that you ever worked there; if they do, you might need to educate them about the law. (And if the reference itself is bad, follow my usual advice about problematic references.) In the future, save screen shots or other copies of your published material, since there’s no guarantee that it will stay available.

2. Do I need new thank-you cards?

I’ve gone through the second round of interviews after a phone screen (yippee!), and am wondering about sending another thank-you card. Is it OK to send the same type of card (as in the same design), or do I need to buy new thank-you cards? Also, there were a couple people on the phone call this time around, one who I’ve spoken to three times now and two who I’ve “met” for the first time. Do I send cards to all three, or is it OK to send a card to the main contact, mentioning the two others? (For context, one person was someone I’d be supervising, another was someone who’d be a peer and the third would be my boss).

I wouldn’t care if a candidate sent me the same card, as long as the content inside was substantively different — that’s the key. Alternately, it’s fine to send your follow-up note in an email; you don’t even need to use cards at all.

Whatever you send, though, send a note to each person you met with. It’ll take you 10 minutes longer and make a good impression. You’d be surprised how nice a gesture many people will find that, especially because two of them probably aren’t decision-makers but you took the time to be gracious anyway.

3. My company is being really sketchy about non-exempt employees and overtime pay

I work for a company in the entertainment industry. It is common practice to work long hours, varying from 45 to 60 hours a week. I recently went to my boss and expressed concern that I was a salaried non-exempt employee and that others that I work with also fell into this category. I was told that I probably did not understand what I was reading and was asked to look into it further. I continued researching and was sure that we had been mis-categorized. He then asked his lawyers (cc’d me on the email) and they confirmed that there were concerns, but stated that these matters are usually not traceable and that employers are rarely caught, unless an employee wants to “make trouble.”

I was then asked to drop the matter altogether but not before sending my boss an email that stated that I did not personally feel I was owed overtime, which I have not done yet. Instead I wrote that I worked a typical 45 hours per week and that in some instances I worked more than that though always with his knowledge. He did not respond to the letter but does not seem happy about it…. I do not want to lose my job, but I am pretty sure that things are wrong in this situation.

Wow. I’ve never encountered an employment lawyer who didn’t take seriously concerns about paying non-exempt employees overtime (although it’s true that employers aren’t usually caught unless someone complains). And even if you wrote the email your boss stupidly asked for, it wouldn’t prevent the company from owing you overtime if a labor agency got involved; you can’t waive your legal rights to overtime pay, even voluntarily.

I’d strongly recommend contacting a lawyer for advice about navigating the rest of this, especially since you’re concerned about retaliation. But if you’re absolutely not interested in pursuing this legally, then I’d tell your boss that your primary concern is protecting the company from legal problems if someone else complained since employers have to pay back pay and penalties when they misclassify people (with recent cases costing companies millions of dollars), plus criminal charges for willful violators. And hell, maybe even write the letter he wants, since you know it’s not going to be legally binding anyway.

4. Former employer is threatening my life

Recently, I quit my job due to not being paid for hours worked and not being paid overtime that I put in. My store managers were also verbally and emotionally abusive, where they would threaten future jobs (mind you, this is a mom and pop tourist shop). I won my case against them for money they owed me, but recently from other girls who still work there, I found out they’re threatening to kill me or run me over while walking my dog (they live near me). I’m terrified! Also I’m filing for unemployment against them, and they’ve forced the girls who still work there to sign a form saying they never witnessed abuse, though both girls have. They were forced to sign it or they’d be suspended without pay for a week. Help!

Tell the unemployment office what you’re said here — all of it. And if you take their threats against your safety even remotely seriously, contact the police.

5. Juggling a new job offer while waiting to hear about a raise at my current job

I’ve recently asked for a raise at my current job. My manager seemed open to this, but explained she would like to meet in a month’s time to see how our new project goes. After asking for this raise, I was offered another job from a similar company. Should I tell this potential employer that I’m waiting on a raise, and need some time to get back to him? Or, should I be vague (yet professional), and tell him I will get back to him soon?

Don’t tell the prospective employer that you’re waiting to hear about a raise from your current job — that’s like saying that you’ll just go to the highest bidder, which is a turn-off to an employer who wants to think you’re genuinely excited about the job. Decide if you want the job or not, and take it based on that. Don’t try to postpone your decision for a month; most employers are willing to give you about a week to make a decision, and asking for a month (or taking a month without asking for it) is a good way to signal disinterest or that you’re waiting for a better offer.

6. Putting a summary section at the top of your resume

I know you don’t like objectives on resumes but what about a summary? I was told by a professional who read my resume that I should have an introduction that goes into what my skills are and to not just go straight into my education and experience. But I don’t know how I feel about putting one since I could just put my skills section at the top and it would be the same thing. I also feel that all it does is repeat everything I said in the cover letter.

I really like short summary sections at the top of a resume — if they’re done well, they can frame your candidacy in a way that sets the employer up to see the rest of your resume through that lens. The idea isn’t just to list your skills; it’s to really frame what you’re all about professionally and the strongest evidence that you’re good at it. However, it’s far from essential, so don’t feel obligated to do it if it doesn’t seem to fit naturally for you. (Keep in mind, though, that if you’re feeling like it would just repeat what you have in your cover letter, then your cover letter probably needs to be improved.)

7. Following up with an employer as a decision deadline approaches

A month and a half ago, I interviewed for a position at a company that decided to put me on hold because they were still interviewing other candidates. They would let me know about the decision on May 30. Since it has been a month and a half since I’ve interacted with them, I want to send them an email to remind them of my interest in the position and why I’m a great fit. My fear is that they would forget about my qualifications. Is this a good idea or would it seem annoying?

Go ahead and do it. I’m not a huge fan of follow-up emails, but in situations like that — where it’s been a while since your interview — I think it’s reasonable to do. Reiterate your interest and let them know you’re looking forward to hearing from them.

{ 86 comments… read them below }

    1. Anonymous*

      It looks like the website has a script that disallows the wayback machine to cache the page. It’s a fantastic suggestion though. I’m going to try looking into some alternatives.

  1. K.*

    #4: you might look into a restraining order if they make contact with you, and I wonder if it’s possible to report them to the Better Business Bureau or something about the unpaid hours and abuse. My God, what is wrong with people?

    1. Tamsin*

      It really saddens me that there are people out there who think they can treat others this way. I hope the OP gets the police involved and that the other girls stay safe.

      1. Jocelyn*

        The other girls are terrified so they just do what they’re told in hopes they won’t get put in the red chair of death and stood over and yelled at for an hour. It sucks cause they’re good girls. Most of them their first job it’s sad really it took a lot for them to get me to the point I was at. Now with me doing what I have to for me and the comments they hear from them about me…they’re even more scared.

    2. Jocelyn*

      The only real contact they make with me is they call my phone and they used to leave a dozen messages a day it’s gon down longer from my quit date. The bad thing is none of the girls will admit to threats because they’re scared for themselves and their jobs. They believe they can do this to us “because they’re a small business and the law doesn’t apply to them” they think the laws for business like Walmart

      1. Adam V*

        If you still have any of the messages on your phone, that would definitely help the police with their investigation. Alternately, you can pull up copies of your phone bill and show how many times they’ve called since you left, and that should be enough to get a restraining order in place.

        (Is it bad that part of me hopes that you do these things, they make the mom & pop so mad they go apoplectic, break the restraining order or make even worse threats, and the cops end up throwing them in jail?)

        1. Jocelyn*

          Okay I’ll have to get my mom to pull my phone record. I changed phones cause my old cell broke and messages got deleted. Could I also then use my grandfather as part of evidence too.? Since they called his place of business (he’s kind of a popular barber near where theyre shop and seen my car there on more then one occasion so they asked why I was always there and I told them it was my grandfathers shop) to talk about me to him? As for now I just walk my dog at a park and not near my house anymore. Sad cause she has tons of friends who go on that walk it’s sad going somewhere with few dogs.

          Oh when I filed with the state to get my wages back they sent the state letters talking crap about me all which was forwarded to me. When I won they were instructed to get a cashiers check and pay me though them. They found my grandparents address and mailed it to them. With a nasty note all I had to give to the state to copy. (they also sent a check not cashiers) so I’m sure they’d do the same thing if I did restraining order.

          1. fposte*

            If you have a restraining order and they try to send you messages through somebody else, that’s quite likely to put them in contempt of the order (though you have to report their breach for that to happen). They don’t get to just work around it. Be sure to request as part of the order that they be restrained from contacting your grandparents, too, just so it’s in black and white.

            These people actually sound like they’re in a category where such an order would be useful–they’ve gone above and beyond mere disgruntled-employer territory, but they’re unlikely to be ex-lover obsessed with you. A restraining order that gives genuine consequences for their contacting you might well be enough to curb them.

            1. Jess*

              I would highly suggest reading the “Gift of Fear” by Gavin de Becker. It’s very helpful in distinguishing what threats are serious and when to take action. Also talks about some of the different types of action to take (preview: restraining orders can escalate situations, so you should learn more about this before you get one). In the meantime, if you see them near you I would call the police ASAP.

              1. Another Emily*

                Hopefully the police would be able to give you advice about the situation and if a restraining order would help or harm.

                Best of luck to you in dealing with these jerks. You don’t deserve this! I hope everything works out for you.

          2. K.*

            OK, now I absolutely think you should get a restraining order. Nasty notes, harassing you with phone calls, sending nasty letters to your GRANDFATHER’S place of business? Get the law involved and show them it DOES apply to them. They sound … unwell to me. And if the other girls are reading this: quit. Yes, I know all about the economy. Quit. No job is worth tolerating abuse.

          3. Anonymous*

            OP – just a quick question – are you a minor? I only ask because you make references to your parents pulling records for you rather then doing them yourself. (Nothing wrong with that, just raised the question in my head of how old you are)

            If you are a minor, I still would recommend contacting your local police department (as many commentors have already suggested) but also keep in mind to ask about additional resources that may be available to you. At least in my area, there are officers trained specifically in walking youth through legal processes and providing additional support that you may not receive as an adult.

      2. Anonymous_J*

        Personally, I think you should talk to the police. I think you should tell them everything about your own situation, and I think you should INCLUDE the information about the girls who are still there being scared.

        This is pretty serious!

      3. anon-2*


        If what you’re reporting is factual ….

        Forget about the unemployment office.
        Forget about the BBB.

        CALL THE @#$%^&! POLICE! NOW!

        You can also put a trace on your phone. However, the way it used to work, once they put the trace on your phone, it became a police matter, and you had to agree to cooperate in prosecution.

        If someone is harrassing you as you report —

        – they don’t belong in business or commerce
        – at worst, they belong in jail; at best, the funny farm.

        A few months in the county jail or mental hospital will do them, and the rest of society some good — but be prepared to testify to all this under oath.

        1. Jocelyn*

          I’m not a minor I’m 23 but I still have a lot of stuff under my parents because they own my cell phone bill ect. My brother who worked there too was a minor when it started with him he quit before I did he became a manager and they did worse things to him. He’s even scared to go out and eat he went with my uncle and cousins and they “clawed his shoulder like a hawk” while he was eating and talked real nice but the other stood behind the other manager with her arm crossed far back in a threatening stance.

          I have my voice mails and stuff. I’m worried about the unempoyment though if I do this they’ll make it worse on me. They wrote me up for things like handwriting and such. They wrote another girl up for coughing. It’s bad yes but I’m trying to fight them without getting them more and more pissed.

          Right now I don’t go anywhere alone or drive alone. If I file for a restraining order can I still do unemployment?

          Also they stopped calling me. They just send “hate” mail to my grandparents house for me.

          I’m also worried if I talk to the cops about the other girls … What they’d do to them.

          They already got their claws into my others brothers friend who got a job there. Thry’re trying to pin stealing from the register on her. The girl I know there who is a team lead got info to me to tell my brother to inform the girl so shed watch her back. Theyre doing it because she’s my youngest brothers girlfriend. Well ex now but still they took money from her register doing the exchange amounting to 200 dollars apparently and pinning it on her they are building a case. But the team leader she over heard them talking about it and what they did.

          1. anonymous*

            I’m sorry that this comment has nothing to do with your issue, but your writing makes it a struggle to get through your comment.

          2. K.*

            You can’t worry about the other girls. That sounds harsh, I know, but you have to worry about yourself and your safety. Gather up all your phone records, all the hate mail, anything else that is documented proof of their abuse and harassment, and take it to the cops. Do it today. Also, The Gift of Fear is a wonderful book that everyone, especially women, should read. It’s in paperback on Amazon; I highly co-sign the other commenter’s recommendation.

          3. Mishsmom*

            here’s the thing… if one person tells you to look behind you – that you have a tail – don’t bother looking. if 2 people tell you, look back and have a glance. so many people here (including me!) are saying to call the police. this is the only right thing to do. people like this do what they do because they know they can intimidate others to a pulp. it’s not easy, it’s not painless necessarily, but sometimes doing the right thing is more important than anything else. fact is you are still suffering from these people – stand up, go to the police and make it stop. you will never regret doing the right thing.

    1. SaraK*

      So my phone is murdering me on commenting. Anyway, thank you for answering my question. From what I gather, that exec ed pulled my work on a personal grudge basis. She no longer works there but she had told me after I left that she had been trying to get me fired so that she could have the position.

      I’m definitely going to keep basck-ups of everything from now on.

      1. fposte*

        You can also check to see if there are trackbacks to your posts elsewhere on the web; even if you have the original texts, it’s helpful to have external documentation that they were published.

      2. KayDay*

        Do you have a good relationship with anyone else who is still there? If so, could you ask to use them as your contact at the company (at least to verify your work)? Also, perhaps they might still have drafts of your worked saved in their files that they could send you? Also, you might want to ask for a “reference” letter verifying your volunteer work and what you did.

        I would still mention it–if you were writing “news” types of items, it’s reasonable that these were taken down after a period of time once they became less relevant (even though that’s not the case, that’s am assumption that future employers might make).

      3. lauren*

        use archive.org for the wayback machine. The cached version from 2 years ago may have some of your articles, that you can copy and give as examples to employers

  2. Greg*

    Not only is a summary a good thing to have on your resume, it’s also a good exercise in general to write one, and you can use it in many other situations. When you get the inevitable “Tell me about yourself” question in an interview, you should start with a quick summary, then dive in to something a little more chronological. Your summary can also be your elevator pitch at conferences, networking events, etc.

    In other words, people will appreciate your ability to summarize your overall experience and, as AAM says, apply that frame to the rest of your discussion.

    1. Anonymous_J*

      Ah! Thank you! You have just made this whole concept click for me, and I will be adding a summary to my resume!

      To me, before now, it just sounded like a different version of the “objective,” and I was not inclined to include one.

  3. KayDay*

    #4 – employer threatening your life: File a police report. Now. Talk to the police to see if you should pursue further action regarding the threats. Once you have done that, then talk to the unemployment office.

  4. Anon*

    #6 – Please, please, please make the summary relevant to the job for which you are applying. I had a resume for an executive position that listed in the opening summary things that were not at all relevant to the position (volunteer work, low-level jobs outside of the industry, etc.). They might have been appropriate at the end of the resume under other experience, but should not have been the first thing I read!

  5. ChristineH*

    #1 – Volunteer work w/o proof:

    “If they did it in an acrimonious way, you might have a professional-sounding friend call to check the reference and make sure they’re not denying that you ever worked there; if they do, you might need to educate them about the law.”

    What law are you referencing here?

    #3 – Employer being sketchy about non-exempt employees:

    I always thought salaried employees were exempt. My husband is salaried and exempt…no matter how many extra or overnight/weekend hours he puts in, he doesn’t get paid any overtime. Either way, I agree that your employer isn’t handling this properly.

    *sigh* I’ve never understood these employment classifications.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      1. Employers must be truthful in giving references. They can’t lie and say you never worked there if you did.

      2. Nope, exempt and non-exempt has nothing to do if you’re paid as salary or hourly. It’s all about the type of work you do, and it’s not up to the employer — the government sets out what type of work qualifies as exempt (not legally entitled to overtime) and non-exempt (must be paid overtime). Non-exempt employees aren’t allowed to waive their right to be paid overtime; even if they do, it won’t be legally binding, since the law recognizes that otherwise an employer could unfairly pressure them to do so.

    2. Jamie*

      “*sigh* I’ve never understood these employment classifications.”

      You aren’t the only one. In my experience salary = exempt is right up there with ‘it’s illegal to give a reference other than employment dates, salary, and title’ for the most pervasive urban myths that professionals believe and state as fact.

      A lot of places will keep non-exempt people hourly, because it’s easier to delineate the two in payroll, so I think a lot of confusion stems from that.

      FWIW I think a lot of entry-mid level IT and office admins are misclassified as exempt.

      1. Student*

        I always assumed I was exempt because I was salaried. I just read your post and it inspired me to check the FSLA web site. Lo and behold, my salary is too low to qualify as exempt. Even so, after spending a half-hour with their documentation, I’m still not positive there isn’t some rule that I’ve missed that makes me exempt anyhow.

        Not that I’m going to be able to do anything about it and still have a career, of course. It does make me regret the occasional 70-hour week with no extra pay that I’ve put in, though.

      2. fposte*

        The clearest way I heard it explained is that “salary is merely a method of pay, not a job status.” Some jobs pay salary for non-exempt employees hoping that that makes them exempt, but that’s not something the law finds remotely convincing.

    3. Anonymous*

      I’ve never heard of a volunteer system with promotions (in that field) It also strikes me as odd that she wanted you out to take your “job”. Could you explain more on how that works? I’m genuinely curious as to how you fell under the volunteer category. It must have been a non-profit, but still, how strange!

      1. SaraK*

        It was an entertainment news website. Occasionally readers were asked to submit articles, if you were skilled enough, you became a regular writer. Then I was asked to become an editor as well from the Operations Manager; after a while the executive editor asked me to become her assistant and when she moved on, I moved into her position (I’m skipping a few move-ups in the hierarchy of writes/editors etc, but the general idea is there). There was always a lingering promise of “one day you’ll be paid”. but we didn’t pay too much attention to that, haha.

      2. Anonymous_J*

        There are many, many volunteer organizations out there that operate as if they were businesses. There may or may not be a few paid staff.

        I work for one, myself. No one is paid, but there is VERY much a structure in place. (I believe we are working toward non-profit status, but I’m not 100% sure.)

    4. sabowin*

      My company has Salary Non-Exempt as a status. The Salary vs. Hourly portion of the description just means whether your rate is quoted and calculated as dollars per year or dollars per hour. The system, of course, still calculates even yearly salaries as hourly dollar amounts in order to pay overtime. (In fact, I think even Salary Exempt people see their number of hours worked and their hourly wage on their pay stubs, though of course the number of hours is the same each pay period regardless of the actual number of hours.)

      Another difference is that we are paid semi-monthly, and Salary Non-Exempt people are paid for the same number of hours each pay period, even though the actual number of hours worked does vary. PTO and OT are still based on actual hours, however, just added or subtracted to/from the same base numbe of hours each pay period.

      Another “perk” of Salary over Hourly, at least at our company and for non-Californian employees, is that they are allowed flexible hours within the workweek (as allowed by the position and supervisor, of course), and only must take PTO or get paid overtime if they are under/over 40 hours in the week, regardless of their day-to-day hours. (California law is such that any work over 8 hours in a day counts as OT.)

      By the way, if you’re sitting there doing the math, yes this IS a logistical nightmare for payroll–work week is Sunday to Saturday regardless, but pay periods vary not only in number of days, but where they begin/end in a week. I’ve helped in Payroll before, and basically you have to manually determine whether any claimed OT is valid, possibly having to pull their prior timecard to check. So fun!

      The Exempt vs. Non-Exempt piece is as Alison and others have described–there are very strict regulations (if not laws) about what does and doesn’t count, and the company doesn’t really have wiggle room to classify people differently than prescribed by those regulations/laws.

      So in my company, anyway, Salary Non-Exempt means your wage is discussed in terms of annual salary figures, and that there is some flexibility within the workweek if you’re not in California, but you still get paid overtime for hours worked over 40 in the workweek. Salary Exempt means that however many hours you work, you will be paid the same every pay period.

  6. ChristineH*

    #4 – Employer threatening life:

    Yikes! I agree with the others…file a police report. ASAP. If it turns out that he’s just trying to intimidate you and the girls, it’s much better to be safe than sorry.

  7. Heather*

    Re: #2 I swear I’ve gotten the edge on jobs simply because I’ve sent thank you cards. I can’t tell you how many times people have said to me that they were really impressed that I sent them. I usually do the actual thank you card as opposed to email. If it’s a job that I really want I bring the thank you cards, stamps etc and write them in the car after the interview (plus everything is fresh in my mind!) and then mail them immediately after. That way they go out in the mail that day and the employer gets them the next day or the day after.

    1. Andrea*

      Me, too! I use email for follow-up or if I had a second interview or something, but I always get great feedback from my snail-mail thank-you notes. It makes sense to me: I love getting stuff in the mail that is actually for me–not a bill, not junk, not a magazine/catalog–and yet it is kind of rare. I guess other people like it, too.

    2. #2 OP*

      I do that too! I keep thank you notes with me and mail them after the interview. While I always do handwritten thank you notes after the first interview, the second interview + having talked 3 times with the same person was throwing me off. Thanks for your insights!

      1. Heather*

        I would probably do email for a second interview if it was the same people. But I would still send it. If there was a new person in the second interview I would send them a thank you card.

  8. danr*

    #1 Were the articles actually pulled off the server or were the links removed? In both cases the items will appear to be gone, but if the links were removed without removing the items from the server, they’re still there. Did you try a google (or your favorite search engine) search for the title or content of the article? I’ve done this before for known items that appeared to be gone, and it works about half the time. Plus, if you did any editing at home, you may still have backup copies on your computer. In modern Windows, backup copies can be found in the oddest places. Try temp folders first.

      1. SaraK*

        I have looked and some of the articles were completely pulled. Things they did not pulled no longer feature credit to me in the article. Instead of listing author or editor it lists nothing.

        1. KellyK*

          Wow, that’s really unprofessional of them. At least those that are still up, if you don’t have your own copies of them, you can copy them from the website, save them, and include them in any portfolios, etc.

  9. Student*

    So what should this “Summary” section on a resume convey? I’m applying for jobs, and I hadn’t seen any information on this kind of thing at all. What is it meant to tell the employer? How long is it supposed to be? How is it different than the cover letter content and the rest of the resume? Am I telling them who I am, or what my wonderful skills are, or addressing points in the job posting, or expressing interest in the job?

    While I really want a job, the idea of summarizing a 2-page resume is terribly frustrating. I understand no one really wants to read a resume, but I don’t understand why people ask for the thing if they really just want a paragraph-per-candidate or a candidate checklist to skim over instead.

    Could someone maybe show me a good summary for the iconic chocolate teapot maker? I’m officially lost.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Keep in mind no one is requiring them (that I know of). You’d just do it if you felt it strengthened your resume overall. Some people don’t call it a Summary; they’ll call it a Profile or whatever instead.

      One thing that I always tell people who are trying to figure out what they might write there: Imagine what you’d say if you were explaining to a friend what you’re all about as a professional and what makes you great at it, and then write that down. Is there something there that gets close to the heart of how you want an employer to view you, how you’d want them to sum you up in 20 seconds if they were talking to a colleague and said, “I’m really excited about this candidate who _____”?

      You can also try thinking about what you’d want a contact to say if they had 20 seconds to sum you up to someone who was hiring for the work you do, and see if that leads you anywhere.

    2. Eric*

      The one summary that I saw work really well was for an entry level job, for a just-out-of-undergrad candidate. At the top of the resume were 3 or 4 bullet points that listed those aspects of previous experience that were most relevant to the job. Not only did it make it easier to see how he was qualified, it also made it clear that he understood what he would be required to do while on the job.
      What this did was clearly answer the questions of 1) What makes you different from every other candidate and 2) What are your strongest qualifications.

    3. Greg*

      I think the main point is not that you need to come up with something for your resume, it’s that you should be able to summarize your candidacy in any context. Of course, once you’re able to do that, putting it at the top of your resume is a no-brainer.

    4. J*

      Here’s the rule of thumb when writing summaries: if you can’t read the section out loud without the word “DUHHHHHH” trying to crawl out of your vocal cords and explode from your mouth, it needs to go.

      90% of the summaries I see are nothing but fluffy yapping about being a “team player” or having “strong written and oral communication skills.” Yes, yes, yes, of course you’re a team player. No one ever says, “I have terrible and/or adequate strong and written oral communication skills; please hire me for this position.”

      Bad summary:
      -Team Player
      -Effective Communicator
      -Motivated Self-Starter

      Better summary:*
      -10+ years of experience designing and creating chocolate teapots
      -Experience managing chocolate teapot program budgets ranging in size from $400 to $4,000,000
      -Recipient of “Best Chocolate Teapot Designer Award” at international Best Chocolate Teapot Designer conference 3 years in a row
      -Additional of expertise include chocolate teapot design, chocolate teapot building, and chocolate teapot marketing

      *It’s hard to write a summary without knowing what you are specifically trying to leverage. Summaries are meant to draw attention to something you are trying to push: it could be your experience, your range of experience, your climb from the bottom to the top, your vast knowledge of multiple kinds of software, your managerial qualifications, etc. etc.

  10. CatB (Europe)*

    On a side note: for many years I’ve been confounded by this whole resume vs. CV thing. I kept reading about resumes (in American sources), but here, in Romania, it’s all CV. Each and every job, post and gig, no matter how short, has to be there. You may get away with leaving out a 1-month gig, but a 6-month gap usually raises a flag so red , a bull would be balking. I’ve been in interviews where only the color of the milk I sucked as a baby wasn’t asked.

    Nothing useful for Student, I’m afraid, just some information…

    1. JT*

      Is there a purpose of wanting to know every job someone ever had, or is this just done by tradition?

      1. CatB (Europe)*

        Hard to know. Mostly it’s about tradition, and a sense that hiding a job is related to hiding the truth. As a recruiter I looked sometimes at the whole professional past mainly to get a sense of what the candidate is about, but I know many recruiters that go religiously over each and every job in a CV but are unable to explain why they do that.

        The overall culture here is much more “inclusive”, if I may say so, as in “it includes many more things” (than what I gather the American culture does). Extended family is knitted together much tighter (even when compared to France or Italy, who are also Latin countries); when assessing someoane many more details are considered and so on. But, as I said, I got no logic reason when I asked why that is.

  11. class factotum*

    Wait! I’m supposed to send a thank-you note for a phone screen?

    I had a phone interview on Friday. Is it too late to send a note? I haven’t gotten a “Go to heck” email from them yet, so maybe it’s not too late?

  12. Anonymous*

    Re: #3 – Entertainment companies can really be unfair (sometimes willfully) about salary. I interviewed at a company a few months ago who wanted to pay $500 a week for a position that required a six day week at 12 hours a day. Less than minimum wage! A recent class action lawsuit against a major media company regarding unpaid overtime also resulted in a settlement payment to hundreds of former employees. California is starting to crack down on these practices, starting with a new law this year penalizing companies for willful misclassification of 1099 employees (another all too common practice by entertainment companies that don’t want to pay the required taxes).

    I’m assuming that the writer works for a relatively small company (rather than a large agency or studio) in which her boss has some stake where paying out OT would affect HIS take-home, otherwise he would be following the law, rather than stressing over some assistants rightfully earning an extra $75 a week.

    1. AP*

      Welcome to the entertainment industry…this is all completely standard practice. The boss is probably thrown off because so many people do this, it doesn’t even cross their minds that it’s illegal.

      Sadly, the only way to rectify this is for someone to lead a labor revolution with a lawsuit (similar to the Black Swan intern guy), or…work in a different field. In both situations, the problem is the amount of competition – there are so many people who will do anything to get into this type of field that people will do almost anything – including working 60 hours a week and being paid for 40 with no insurance or benefits. And there still aren’t enough spots for anyone who wants them.

      I wish I had better ideas for fixing this, but right now it seems that anyone who complains is much easier to replace than to keep on. A better job market might be the only real thing that can have an effect here, long-term.

      1. AP*

        I should also say here that AAM’s answer is excellent. My thought was more about how you can rectify this while still working in the same industry – especially because it’s so ingrained/accepted and such a small, nosy community. It’s impossible to say that a significant lawsuit wouldn’t end up on Indiewire and DHD (with your google-able name on it.)

        I’m trying to think about why it seems more accepted in the film/tv/etc world than, say, the mom & pop souvenir shop from question #4. I think it’s because in film, if you don’t want to work those extra 20 hours of work for free, it’s almost like you’re questioning the art or dedication of whatever it is you’re working on. This is sort of the intersection of art and commerce, so the thought process (and your bosses’ expectations) are that if you really cared about the ART of it all, you would be happy to be there working on it no matter what the paycheck is. (Of course, they’ll turn back into businesspeople as soon as it’s convenient for them.) People get gut-level offended that you think you should be paid for every hour you work.

        This is not to say you shouldn’t go ahead and contact a lawyer – just trying to think through why this is such a fraught issue and why the expectations are so different in this one particular part of the world than they are for everyone else. But you should also be aware that the expectations being what they are, whoever goes through with a lawsuit like this will have a lot of fallout to handle as well.

        1. Lexy*

          I think also the entertainment industry gets confused that the “creative” exemption doesn’t apply to EVERYONE involved in a creative product.

          I say “gets confused” but I mean “is deliberately thick”.

          1. AP*

            So true – it’s one thing if a director or stylist agrees to work for free for their reel/portfolio, but then they want the PA’s and craft services to work free too! Ridiculous.

        2. Jocelyn*

          If the op is concerned she can go to the labor and wage department for her city like I did and talk to them. They should be able to tell you if it’s legal or not. In my case it was illigal and they handed me a form to fill out. Now you need proof, pay checks of what they actually paid you and your clock in and out times.

          If it goes down like mine. They can either deny or claim they owe you this money. In my case the business denied which we got a hearing. I had a witness with me and my mother in the room witness has to stay outside. You state your claim and prove it. The judge will make a choice of if you should win or not if you were told you were in right to file and have evidence most likely you’ll win. Now they have a choice to file an appeal and go to real court in which then they’d owe you 3.5 times what they originally owed you plus intrest. My case didn’t go this far but the judge said he’d be there to defend his choice and your money becomes the states and they’re fighting for it for you.

          Hope that helps. If your scared of the person there it helps to stare at the judge…

        3. Natalie*

          I’m not in the entertainment industry so perhaps this is way offbase, but I wonder if the possibility of becoming a BFD in that industry leads some people to put up with things they would never tolerate at, say, a grocery store. The idea that you, yes you!, could become the next Wes Anderson or whatever is a pretty powerful motivator, even if it’s an infinitesimally tiny chance.

          1. Mike C.*

            The lotto effect certainly plays into this. Many folks put up with more than they should because they believe that one day soon they’ll be rich beyond their wildest dreams or whatever.

            I also find that many people either don’t know what is owed them under the law or refuse to advocate on their own behalf. Maybe they’re afraid of sticking their neck out or don’t know what (or how) to advocate for, it’s a tough thing.

            Take something simple like the common request for salary histories. It’s only there to lowball applicants, but how do you go about fighting such a practice effectively without jeopardizing your chances for work?

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Totally agree. People also worry that they’ll appear litigious to future employers, which is a very real possibility. It sucks that there’s not a better way for people to stand up for themselves in the ways the law allows without having to worry that it’ll negatively affect them in the future.

              1. Anonymous*

                OP on #4
                ” People also worry that they’ll appear litigious to future employers, which is a very real possibility. ”
                This is the issue exactly.
                I am not being used in a creative way, and so I am non-exempt. I would like to have a creative role in this industry in the future, so I do not want to burn bridges.

          2. AP*

            Totally to all of this. Sometimes even if you don’t think you’re going to become Wes Anderson, you know whoever your creative hero is is up there calling some shots and you want them to liiiike you and noootiiccceee you and ugh. But this all goes a long way towards explaining why I was thinking “you go girl, get paid!” for #4 and “oh yeah I’ve been there” for #3.

            Also, as Jamie and others pointed out above, if you’ve never worked in a formal corporation-type company or studied HR or business, the differences between exempt, nonexempt, etc. don’t come up very often and I don’t think they’re very well understood.

            1. NicoleW*

              “Oh yeah I’ve been there” as well. Still there actually.

              I’ve been working in the entertainment industry for 12 years: 50-60 hour weeks, no flexibility, no OT. On the other side of the scale, when I’m on site or working on a great creative project, it’s really rewarding and I love my job.

              Of course I wish the reality of this industry was more employee-friendly to those of us at the middle and the bottom – I just don’t think it’s going to happen. As others have said, there’s someone else who wants your job. No matter how indispensable I make myself, no matter how awesome my boss thinks I am, the decision-makers think everyone is replaceable.

              Bottom line, I enjoy the majority of my work and can pay my bills – so despite my sanity and life balance issues, I can’t bring myself to switch careers.

        4. VintageLydia*

          This is why my husband left the industry. He was a freelancer and did everything from teleprompting to camera work. He’d have no problem Being paid by more corporate or government clients (commercials, internal morale/update videos from CEOs to lower level employees, training videos, etc.) or SOME news networks (he happened to be in the area when a tornado whipped through town…they don’t need raw footage anymore since guys with cell phone cameras will send that in for free, but things like interviews with witnesses and officials he would have no problem getting paid.) But if it had anything to do with anything remotely creative, it was tough going. The only group worst was churches. He produced a weekly show for a church for over 10 years and getting paid on time for that was like getting water from a rock. They could understand why he wouldn’t want to do all of this out of Live for the Lord… Nevermind my husband is an atheist (the client obviously didn’t know that.)

          Now he works in IT and we can pay all our bills on time. He misses the work–got to do really cool things since they rarely put boring things on TV. But never again!

  13. V*

    AaM, It would be great if you could post a few examples of successful summaries for resumes.

    I’ve had one on and off my resume a few times; if it’s not there people say I need it. If I have it, they say it’s not necessary.

    isn’t a resume already something of a summary? we now need to summarize a summary? I mean I know HR people spend a whopping 15 seconds on each resume but now workers need to help them get it down to 5 seconds. That whole 15 seconds thing pisses me off too. If you can’t put more time than that into looking at a resume you must not want to find qualified employees all that badly.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      You don’t need to have it. But if it’s done well, it can strengthen your resume. I don’t have any great examples off-hand, but if I come across any, I’ll post them!

  14. eemusings*

    Been there, done that with stories disappearing off the net (and even the Wayback machine and Google caching doesn’t help). I definitely recommend screenshotting/printing off physical copies! (Luckily I’ve got enough experience that those early website stories aren’t really important anymore.) You just never know when a site will move to a new system and lose half its content, or go out of business entirely (no matter how big it is), whatever. At least with print products you always have a tangible copy.

    1. Anonymous*

      Its ironic & rather hilarious that after all this “no-paper, all electronic world” hoo-ha, its good ol’ paper that actually still rules in the end!

      1. JT*

        The problem the OP faces isn’t paper vs electronic. It’s that she was relying on copies on someone else’s server.

        I make PDFs of web pages that I want to preserve and possibly share in the future.

        1. Anonymous*

          Indeed. It’s as though she was counting on having her book available at the library, only to find that it had been withdrawn.

          1. SaraK*

            I wasn’t including these volunteer experiences before because they were not relevant to my current industry. I am trying to branch out and the volunteer job really fleshes out my resume. I guess from now on I’ll just have to become a paper pack-rat on everything. Lesson learned, believe me.

  15. Amina*

    What do you get your professional sounding friend to say when s/he calls about whether you worked there and to see what the old employer will say about you? What words should they use since they’re not calling about an actual position?

    Thanks in advance.

  16. Kt*

    Thank you for answering #5! I sent an email to the potential employer and let him know that I will be staying at my current job. I haven’t heard a response yet, but it seemed like any response would be better than none!

    Thanks again!

    1. Anonymouse*

      Keep in mind that “Let’s see how it goes in ,” is often just a way of saying no. A lot of managers will say exactly this to employees when they don’t know how to develop them, or tell them that are not qualified for a raise or promotion.

      Instead of saying “I haven’t seen you demonstrate the leadership skills we’re looking for in this position,” and laying out a path for success, they’ll say “Let’s see how it goes in “.

  17. Anonymous*

    A few years ago, I changed my resume from a chronological format to a functional one with a summary. To a job, I stopped getting no response and started getting rejections. So, success!

  18. Elizabeth West*

    3. My company is being really sketchy about non-exempt employees and overtime pay

    That reminds me of a job offer I got the last time I was unemployed. I interviewed at a drug screening business with two other employees who told me 1) the 40-ish hour a week job paid hourly, but then was also salaried with no overtime; 2) there were plenty of opportunities to make extra working extra hours; 3) the actual pay was $7.00 an hour. Ummmm….what???

    I asked the temp agency I was working for about it (the job wasn’t through them) and they said if the pay is that low, there is no exemption. They told me salaried positions have to be something like 50 hours a week and/or supervisory, or past a certain pay threshold. They advised me that the employer could NOT do that.

    The owner called a couple of days later to offer me the job. I politely asked him about it, but he never answered my question satisfactorily and said all their jobs are salaried and they were looking for someone to stay with the company, and that there were numerous opportunities to make more money. Needless to say, I turned the job down. The whole thing just felt seriously weird.

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