short answer Sunday: 7 short answers to 7 short questions

It’s short answer Sunday — seven short answers to seven short questions. Here we go…

1. Bringing a gift of food to an interview

I have been in the veterinary field for the past 10 years. We have many sales reps who stop by and bring small snacks. So when I went on my first interview for an administrative assistant position for a company that sells replacement windows, I took a small box of scones. They were thrilled by the gesture. Now I have a second interview. Good, I know, but now what do I take? Another box of pastry or something else or nothing at all?

Nothing at all. Don’t bring food or gifts to interviews, since you risk looking like you’re attempting to curry favor based on things that aren’t related to your ability to do the job.

2. New job isn’t giving me any training

I’m a new employee for a huge corporation that has recently gobbled up a couple of other rather large corporations. I was hired two months ago as an analyst. It is very specialized work and involves a “large learning curve,” as I have been told. Since there, I have received very little to no training, and have been given random assignments to work on. When I invariably “mess up,” I get angry responses from other workers at the company who don’t seem to understand that a) I am new and b) I have had completely inadequate training.

I’ve been told that this is how you learn the system — “through trial and error,” but this is not how I learn. I would like more training and more supervision. I’ve told my boss this, but she just said don’t worry, that it takes a long time to learn the system and to not take things personally. Since then, I’ve gotten only basic assignments, no new training, and have not been assigned anything challenging. I’m thinking about looking for another job. Is this the right time or should I stick it out?

Talk to your boss again. Say that you’d like to be making faster progress, and ask her how long she normally expects it to take for someone to learn their system, and how she thinks you’re doing overall. You can also ask if there are any training resources you could use or even if you could be paired with a more experienced employee for some help. And you should also try talking to your coworkers and ask for their advice about how they learned when they were new to the job. Even if none of that works, it’s going to give you clearer thinking on whether or not you’re a good fit for this particular set-up.

Read an update to this letter here.

3. Employer rejected me, then mentioned a more junior position

I am trying to find a position in another state to follow my husband who moved there for a job. I scored a phone interview with a company for a position that aligned well with the skills sets/responsibilities of my current role. Long story short, I never got past the phone interview and a few weeks later I got this email:

“I am writing to notify you that we have filled the position and will be adding a junior administrative position, but you appear to be overqualified for that role. I will keep your resume on file and reach out to you if our needs change and a more suitable position becomes available – unless you would be interested in the opportunity attached. Until then, I wish you all the best in your career.”

This junior position is something that would have been a good fit about 5-6 years ago and nothing I would truly be interested in. In fact I would most likely grow bored and leave eventually. I don’t know whether I should be flattered that they want me to be on their team or insulted that they didn’t want me enough for a position that I wasn’t “overqualified” for. It kind of feels like a “sloppy seconds” offer, for lack of a better term. What is your opinion on this scenario?

It’s not an insult to not be offered a job. Great candidates get rejected all the time, simply because there are more great candidates than there are open spots. I wouldn’t be insulted by the mention of the junior position either. People complain all the time that no one will consider them for positions they’re overqualified for, and that employers decide for them that they wouldn’t be interested, when in fact they might be. (And this is often especially true when someone is trying to move out-of-state and is more flexible on what they’re willing to do.) I’d consider it a courtesy, not an insult, that they mentioned it to you. (Plus, from their wording, they seem to be assuming you wouldn’t be interested in it anyway, no?)

4. How to list your nickname, which is also your middle name, on a resume

I have a short question about names. My full name is Anna Leticia Stark (actual name changed for purpose of asking the question publicly). I have always been called Tisha and never used Anna at all.

When applying for jobs, should I be using Tisha Stark or go by my full name, Anna Leticia Stark? I currently use the latter on my résumé then later on, tell them that I actually go by Tisha. (One thing I was concerned with was when they check references for Anna Leticia Stark and don’t get a response.)

Just put Tisha Stark on your resume (or A. Tisha Stark if you prefer). Lots of people go by their middle names, and there’s no obligation to note that as long it’s not a legal document. And it’s fine to use the shortened version of your name that you go by.

On a formal job application (different than a resume), you should note your full name — either Anna Leticia Stark or A. Leticia Stark. But on a resume, put what people call you.

5. How to ask about a candidate’s job-hopping

This week, I’ll be conducting interviews for the first time ever. The candidates are being pre-screened by another person in my office, and so far she has forwarded me a few resumes of those she has passed on to the next round of interviews. One of the candidates’ resumes has a string of short-term jobs, most only a couple of months and the longest only 7 months, with long periods of unemployment in between. The candidate was not in school at this time, she did not have contract jobs, and I can see no other explanations for the gaps.

I have serious concerns about this person’s work history, specifically regarding how long they might stick around, but they may have good reasons for the gaps, so I want to stay open-minded. I know I need to ask about this, but I’m not sure how to approach it without coming across as rude or having already drawn a conclusion. I can ask, “Why are you leaving your previous position?”, “Where do you see yourself in a year/2 years/5 years?”, etc., but is there a more direct way I can address my concerns without seeming confrontational?

It’s not rude to ask about this; it’s normal! If you worry about this kind of thing being rude, you risk not being as rigorous of an interviewer as you need to be, so I’d focus on really getting comfortable with the fact that your role is to probe and probe and probe some more, to make sure you hire the right person.

For this particular question, say it directly: “You’ve had a lot of short-term jobs and a lot of time off in between. What was going on there?”  And if you get a vague answer that doesn’t leave you feeling like you know enough, follow up with another question about it — “why did you leave job X?” “why did you leave job Y?” etc. This is very, very normal.

6. Why do employers interview me if I don’t have enough experience?

Ever since graduation, I’ve been applying to jobs by going on career websites, companies’ career pages, and even utilizing recruiting agencies. Among numerous applications I’ve filled within the last 6 months, I’ve been called for a mere total of 7 interviews, all of which I’ve advanced to the final stages. Even when I clearly know I’m the only candidate left, I’ve been rejected for all. I’ve learned how to deal with rejections even at times of highest anticipation. I understand that other candidates may be a better fit than I am. But what I cannot simply understand is the common trend I’ve found during all my interviews. Why do companies call candidates for an interview, then call back for second, third, and fourth interview just to tell me that I don’t have enough experience? I’ve obviously made it transparent on my resume that I am fresh (well, used to be) out of college and that I’ve only had internships, not full-time jobs. Why squander so much of their and my time if they know from the start that I do not have what they’re seeking for? So perplexed.

Because hiring is more fluid than you’re thinking. It’s often not a case of “we’ll only talk to candidates who have X, Y, and Z.” Sometimes it’s a case of you having X, and a decent but not great amount of Y, and not much Z but seeming promising enough anyway that they’re interested in talking to you. They’re giving you a chance to see if you end up blowing them away — a chance that most candidates say they wish they could get. And other times, they’re just not clear on precisely how much X, Y, and Z you have until they talk to you and can probe into the details of how you’ve used it and how that would fit into what they’re looking for. In other words, it’s not likely they’re wasting your time — they’re interested and they want to know more. Which is basically what the interview process is for everyone.

7. Will my company credit card be impacted by my credit?

I filed chapter 7 bankruptcy (Kentucky) in 2008 due to medical bills and some other unfortunate reasons. I have done my best to pay everything on time for the last three years. My credit score average is currently about 690. My company has recently asked me to start traveling and are requesting a corporate credit card in my name. Will my credit be run, and will this affect whether I will be denied a company credit card? 

It totally depends on your company. It’s completely fine to ask HR or whoever handles this process whether it will be linked to your own personal credit or if it will be the company’s credit with a card issued in your name.

{ 83 comments… read them below }

  1. Anonymous*

    Hi, I’m the one who asked about needing more training for my new job. Thanks for your answer. I’ll try talking to my boss on Monday and let you know how it goes.
    I should’ve mentioned that my boss did assign me to someone to work with, but she’s remote (as are many others at this job- an aspect I don’t like). This person is the one who has been so hard on me and is not giving me anything to do.
    It sucks to be “trained” by someone who is remote, sarcastic, and doesn’t want to explain things to you.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      You might mention to your boss that you haven’t been able to get much guidance from that person and ask if there’s someone else who’s open to training people.

      1. mh_76*

        Agreed. I’ve had that work for me…the downside was that the replacement trainer was just as inaccessible and just as bad…and both worked on-site. I wound up figuring out a lot of it on my own by looking at what little had been done correctly in the past.

        1. Anonymous_J*

          This is pretty much what I went through where I am, and it blows.

          I think it’s terrible that companies are not training people any more!

    2. Jamie*

      Training by remote is tough, even with the most accommodating trainer…yikes.

      I don’t understand why businesses settle for frustrated employees and lower productivity when people would hit their value apex so much faster with appropriate training.

      Alison suggested talking to your co-workers about how they did it, and that is such a good idea. You might even be able to scare up an unofficial mentor to guide you out of the weeds.

      Personally, I’ve gone out of my way to work with people who were genuinely interested in learning and helped hook them up with other people when they needed training outside of my wheelhouse. I think it sucks that you should have to finesse your own training, and it’s a lousy way to manage, but if you like the job otherwise and think you could be happy there once you’re over the big learning curve it could be worth a shot.

    3. Scott M*

      I completely understand how frustrating it is to work with someone who is supposed to be training you, but it not. I see this as a fault of management, although your ‘trainer’ could probably act much better.

      To see this from her perspective, she probably is not good at training people. I doubt she was given any instruction on how to train people. She probably doesn’t have anything written down, no manuals, no instructions, no training structure to follow. This is probably because she was trained the same way. As a result, her job is probably a bunch of disconnected IF-THEN-ELSE decisions every day, which is really hard to explain to someone new.

      On top of this, I bet she wasn’t told until the day you were hired that she was going to have to ‘train’ you. And she probably has to keep up her daily workload too.

      I’ve had to train people before. I’m not the best at it, but I tried to put some thought into it. However, it is NOT easy. I’m not excusing her actions, but I bet she was thrown into this situation too.

    4. ARM2008*

      Now that you’ve been there a while, it’s time to outline what your training should be. I’ve worked at several places with complex systems and negligible training for newcomers. Seems like everybody is overworked and have no time, and once they figure it out they think it’s obvious.

      You know what systems you work with, you know where you have gaps in your knowledge – if you put this into a training outline you can start asking specific questions and checking off what you know and have learned. This provides some positive reinforcement for yourself and a way to frame it in a positive way with your boss/manager/team lead – “I have learned how to do A, B, C, but D is really throwing me. Can you suggest a good resource to guide me through this?”

      If you can learn how to create your own training program in this manner it will help you at this job and others in the future!

  2. ruby*

    #6 reminds me of a company in my area that several people I know have had the same experience as me with – none of us have Ivy League degrees, we all have gone for in-person interviews (after phone screens) at various times over the years, none of us got past the first round and all have gotten feedback that the company likes to hire people with Ivy degrees. And we all had the same reaction: Then why the hell did you interview me in the first place? (reactions in our heads and to each other, not to the company!). And I think it’s how AAM described it – they were giving us a chance to blow them away because we had the right experience but we didn’t blow them away sufficiently. And it’s easy to say to someone “Sorry, you don’t have the right degree” than it is to say “Eh, we weren’t impressed”.

    BTW, I actually have had a recruiter tell me “eh they weren’t that impressed” – what she actually said to me was “They thought you had the right experience but they didn’t think you were anything special”. This is a woman who is considered an HR expert, to the point that she writes an HR column in a pretty big newspaper.

    I’m not especially fragile and looked at it more like a “can you believe it?” job hunting horror story I could share, but aside from being unconstructive feedback, I doubt the company paying her expected she would represent them to a candidate like that. I’m pretty sure they would have expected her to pretty it up a bit, i.e. “not the right fit”.

    1. Henning Makholm*

      Um, why? “Not the right fit” is information-empty mumbo-jumbo — it is probably true (vacuously so, because if you were the right fit you’d had been hired), but tells you nothing you don’t already know due to the fact the you weren’t hired.

      In contrast “had the right experience but was not anything special” give you actual information — it excludes many other reasons there might be for not being hired. It’s not the easiest kind of information to translate into action, but at least you’ll know not to spend your energy worrying whether you committed some dealbreaking faux pas during the interview or that your idea of which kind of jobs you’re qualified for is totally off. That lets you allocate more effort into figuring out a way to blow the next employer away.

      Most jobseekers would dearly love to get that kind of feedback instead of the sterile “not the right fit”/”hired somebody else”. But you want the recruiter to keep that information from you?

      1. Jamie*

        I agree with Charles below, in that the way it was said was rude – but ITA with Henning that it’s actual information.

        It rules out skills, experience, etc being the issue. Then you can do with this information what you will. You can ignore it, as it may be specific to them, or you could hone your interview answers to highlight what sets you apart from others and what unique value you bring to the table.

        It’s not the most detailed of info to go on, but it’s better than nothing.

    2. Charles*

      “They thought you had the right experience but they didn’t think you were anything special”

      I’m with you on this Ruby – I’ll bet the company has no idea that the recruiter is representing them this way – that is rather rude.

  3. bob*

    Re: #3 – I’m absolutely stunned that you actually got a personal reply from the company.

  4. EM*

    #4, I go by a nickname that is a not very common diminutive of my relatively-common first name. I never go by my given name and have always gone by my nickname. I’ve settled on the following format for my resume: Firstname “Nickname” Lastname. I figure if a man in his 50s can sign his emails : William “Nibbles” Smith, I (a woman in my 30s) can do something similar on my resume. (I totally made up the male example, but I do know professional men who go by Bobby, etc.) I sign emails and have my business cards with my nickname.

    1. op #4*

      Thank you so much for sharing! When you fill out an online job application, do you use the same First Name “nickname” Last Name format?

    2. Tamara*

      I was going to make this comment as well – I have seen the Firstname “Nickname” Lastname format a number of times, in addition to the F. Middlename Lastname format. Both were pretty clear. I will say that I’ve also had some candidates simply say that they go by a nickname at the first interview upon introductions, and that’s never been a problem either.

    3. Charlie*

      Hello. I’m Charlie. Always been Charlie but on official documents I’m Charlotte. Has caused some issues in the past. But… seeing as my parents have always called me Charlie, I like Charlie and it’s only my birth certificate that says Charlotte I use Charlie (Charlotte) on application, resumes etc. Also helps to prevent that awkward ‘Oh, we thought you’d be a man’ conversations.
      Recently I had a situation come up where I had to clarify it to tally with bank accounts etc and it was no big deal. I just said: “Please note I’m Charlotte on bank statements, passport etc, hence why my ID says Charlotte. But I’m known as Charlie to everyone.” Turned out it was so common that on a form I had to fill it it asked me my ‘preferred name’ for email etc. It must come up a lot!

      1. Jamie*

        It does come up a lot. There are a lot of people who go by their middle names, it’s actually pretty common.

        There are also a lot of women who keep their maiden name in their official name – some use it in conjunction with their married name and some don’t for public facing things.

        1. ChristineH*

          I sometimes use the first letter of my maiden name as my middle initial. There is still one service that I use where I’m listed with both the full maiden and married names. Been wanting to change that, but never got around to it.

      2. op #4*

        Thank you so much for all your suggestions! Thank you, AAM for answering my question! I just updated my resume using my nickname! Thank you so much!

  5. Steve G*

    Someone who had told me #2 type complaints (besides the getting the easier assigments after raising the issue) left my company a few weeks ago because he couldn’t take it. We are analysis/operations people –

    To preface what happened, I want to lay out the 3 levels of analysis I believe exist via example:

    Level 1 – basic reporting, and “analysis” present sales by xx type of customer in xx categories for xxx dates. This may require upper intermediate – advanced excel at some companies.
    Level 2 – does-a-problem-exist analysis: for example, evaluate the impact of granting special pricing increases sales and/or margins? Data will come from many sources, the spreadsheet and logic behind it will be quite sophisticated given sales volumes at larger companies.
    Level 3 – Full service – from problem identification to solution implementation: To piggy back the above, you then meet with product managers and sales directors to decide how they would like to address the issues, and will be redoing what-if analysis based on suggestions made in meetings. One will satisfy all parties, and you will be involved implementing the new pricing policies, probably doing the analysis that sets new thresholds.

    You can get-by, i.e., keep your job, doing level-2 type work, but they really want level 3.

    The “#2” coworker that we had for about a year was good at level 1 and level 2. But he didn’t seem to comprehend level 3. He’d complain at lunch that such tasks should either be getting done by a manager, or simply that there was some missing link across all departments to get these projects done, maybe a project manager.

    I believe he was damaged by being dubbed a “Sr Analyst” in his mid-20s at a competitor, where he only did up to level 2. I think that made him think that doing the “level 3” analyst type work was something someone higher up does.

    Long story short, maybe your company expects the full-service “level 3” type work. Then the long learning curve would make sense. You probably walked in with advanced excel, at least some macros, and learned their computer systems in a month. Now they may want you to grow into the person that can solve level 3 type work. Your asking for more supervision may have done some damage, because you usually need to be an independent worker to succeed as a full-fledged analyst. But I think it can be salveaged if you go back to your boss and find out what level of Analyst work they expect, for example:

    1) if I see a problem stemming from another department, may I schedule a meeting with them to discuss? Or go through you?
    2) If I don’t know the source of an issue, and I free to call around the company to ask for help?
    3) How do you like info presented? Excel only, ppt, or even word? Just the #s, or graphs?
    4) Am I only supposed to be pulling together the relevant analysis, or am I supposed to be more proactive in the life of projects? Is this more of a transactional job, where when I send off the spreadsheet, my part is done, or do I follow up, and attend meetings on the topic?

  6. Alisha*

    Alison has awesome answers, as always. (Ah, alliteration!)

    @#2: I just wanted to say that I am all too familiar with the sinking feeling in the gut that you get when you worry that you’re behind. I think it’s fair to give a new employee 6-8 weeks to get superficially settled in, and between 6 months to one year to really get the hang of the job (“mastery”). I lost a brand-new job at the start of the 2011 holiday season, and some of the major red flags were inadequate training coupled with absurdly unrealistic expectations. It looked like this:

    • For the four weeks I was there, I’d ask my subordinates and even the managers of different departments for advice re: how things were done around there, and they’d feign ignorance or blow me off. Except the one woman, who, after learning I was 15 months younger than her, called me “just a baby” and tried to tell me how to do my job in a way that was totally inaccurate.

    • My boss, one of the executives, was gracious with his time in reviewing my higher-level work, but got short with me when I asked about SOP for more basic things like benefits and team meetings.

    (In the end, it turned out that he wasn’t bothering with me because he knew that he went behind another executive’s back to hire me. And he knew that the other executive was going to demand I be gotten rid of sooner rather than later. But obv. I didn’t know that yet, so his behavior puzzled me.)

    • Throughout my 3rd and my last week, the executive who was opposed to me began calling me first thing in the morning, on my office line, and barking orders at me that I didn’t have the staff or budget to fulfill, while simultaneously expressing his disgust over the fact that I’d failed to become intimately acquainted with 40, yes FORTY, clients in just three weeks. (FYI, if anyone is ever in the same boat, GET OUT. This is not a normal or a realistic expectation.)

    • Finally, in a meeting of directors and executives during which I was expected to present a long-range plan for expanding the business, executive who hated me suddenly stunned me with a barrage of verbal attacks. Evidently, I’d been doing my job completely wrong for 3 1/2 weeks (according to him), and the business development plan that the other executive, my actual boss, had just praised and signed off on the night before was a total piece of crap less than 24 hrs. later.

    Three days after that meeting, I was cleaning out my desk, fighting back tears, and calling my husband to come to the office to help me move my things without betraying the reason in earshot of others.

    I am sincerely hoping for you, OP, that your lack of training is just standard operating procedure – no one deserves what I went through. I’ve spent a lot of time wondering if there is something about me that makes me an appealing target for bullies, and I’ve also seriously considered leaving the working world altogether for the poverty of SSDI.

    I don’t admit this to many people, but by the end of 2011, I’d accumulated enough negative work experiences that I reached a tipping point – and I now honestly hate and fear the idea of working in a way that I’m not sure is reversible.

    1. Steve G*

      ……………woooww…..people in such positions take MONTHS to be trully productive…..wwwwwoooowww

      1. Alisha*

        Exactly. Which is why, after reviewing the circumstances of my departure with my husband, we determined that I’d been used as a pawn in a power play, and was being forced out. Ironically, one reason my actual boss there hired me was because I developed a series of short-term and long-term plans outlining how my position would be profitable for the business within six months.

        Before hiring me, the open slot had been filled by a very, very junior manager whose tactics were merely keeping the company afloat and nothing more. I was brought on to bring the company accounts ranging between $50K and several million dollars, as I’d done at my old job. Anyone with common sense knows you don’t start bringing in business like that in two weeks. My actual boss specifically said that he expected to lose money on my for 6 months at minimum. But the executive who got rid of me preferred a business model that was pure hustle – lots of little accounts and no long-term relationship building. I guess it was for the best. I don’t work with people who view their clients as disposable slot machines.

    2. Just Me*

      Wow….. I feel for where you were there. My company is so bad at training ( amoungst other issues) no less than 50 people have left in the past 6 months. Guesstimate of more than 150 have left in the past 1.5 years. Employee list sits at approx 157. The company firing people is another story. Dozens.

      Newer people are going home one day and never showing up again. Some leaving in less then a couple of months.

      We do medcial billing which is very intricate, has so many rules, regualtions and so many ” and, if’s, buts and maybes” that it is impossble to train it all. However what is needed is base training, system training and the connection of start to finish, as well as effective trainers. Which they have none of.

      It is like training someone who has never baked cookies before… ” well you need some ingredients… turn on the oven at some point…… mix it together……… and bake it. ” Then when your cookies burn or half done, or don’t have the chocolate chips in them, they come back and say.. ” oh… the oven temp should be…. and oh.. we were making chocolate chip cookies ” and so forth. There is no basic groundwork to even make educated guesses.

      One ” trainer” actually told me they DO NOT train people fully on ” task A ” as it is too much to learn. So these poor people do half of it right, the rest wrong and they have no clue they are doing it wrong because the trainer gives the paperwork to someone else to complete. Honest, that is what they do.

      They also think that if you can get a claim paid, you must be able to train someone. Wrong thnking. Training someone is a whole skill in itself. The training documents are long paragraphs as opposed to processes using A to B to C..( like PowerPoint ) and so forth. No why’s, no connections, no examples.

      They give you back wrong paperwork sometimes months later with nothing more than a sticky note saying what is wrong. Sometimes it merely saying.. ” Something is not right about this” So you have most likely been doing something wrong for months and hadn’t a clue.

      I am in training again for some new tasks and I put my foot down and said NO to the rotten training. I was asked to re-do some work that was very obviously not wrong and would have been very time consuming to do again. My manager and supervisor looked at it, said to send to on and we discussed new training for me.

      Although I am on the job hunt for various reason to get out of that place, at least I want to play the game right, and do the work right the first time .

      This place doesn’t even allow you to ask your co-workers for help. They say if you get wrong answer you will get an error mark on your work. That doesn’t say much for their confidence in the employee that has been there awhile. Or the training if you think about it.
      Anyone who starts a job and see the training as a problem please look twice at it. It could be a major sign of things to come and how the company culture is and how they treat people.

      I totally hear ya Alisha….

      1. Suzanne*

        Oh, my, Alisha. I am with you on this one. I have had 3 similar jobs in the past 5 years, so now I am terrified of finding a new position even though I desparately want one. I’ve had friends say I’m too picky, but I have often used a similar analogy as “Just Me” to attempt to explain that in these positions, there is no basic framework to even ask questions. At each position, at some point, I gave up asking anyone anything, because when I did ask, I would often get 2 or 3 conflicting answers (one memorable time, 2 completely conflicting answers in the span of 20 minutes). At one position, I finally sat down with the director of the organization and explained to him that I was struggling with understanding exactly what was expected of me and how I was to accomplish tasks. His response? “I don’t know what you want me to do.”
        I got out of there, but have not since been able to land a full-time job with benefits. Just lower paying, equally chaotic, no training included part-time positions. Honestly, I don’t think companies train anymore and I don’t think most managers care if you know what your doing. They can fire you and then blame poor performance on the people that are no longer there. Finding your replacement won’t be hard with unemployment numbers high, and, heck, they won’t have to worry about losing money on training time because they just don’t bother to do it.

    3. K Too*

      Wow Alisha…This is just…horrible!!

      Hopefully you will be able to collect unemployment until at least you find something better. An experiencing like that can be a blow to the self-esteem. And from your post, it sounds like you’ve been through something like this more than a few times.

      Suzanne, I think you are on to something. It seems like many companies have become very lazy in regards to training. Unfortunately, lack of training is a corporation’s excuse to save money.

      1. Alisha*

        Thanks everyone. Yes, I’m on unemployment, just started my second round at the end of May. Fortunately it can keep us afloat for a while. I think you’re right about training. It’s not something companies want to do anymore. In fact, I’ve been noticing that for many companies, their ideal hire is someone whose current duties are a clone of the description for the vacant position, and ideally, will be plucked from a competitor.

        @K Too: While this experience was the first of its kind, I’ve been the target of workplace bullying at several previous jobs. I keep reading that in an office setting, bullies target people who are well-liked and highly skilled, whereas in the high-school setting that most people think of when they think of bullies, the well-liked and skilled ARE the bullies. (Back then, I wasn’t popular but I wasn’t bullied either – I hung out with the stoner art kids and we were pretty invisible!) It’s been weird to accept/deal with/move past, especially since most advice concerning workplace bullying usually begins and ends with “Get a new job.” If it were 2006, or 1998, I’d be doing just that, but alas…

        1. Anonymous*

          I think you’re onto something Alisha! Regarding what you said about well-liked and well-skilled people being the target of workplace bullying! At my last job that was definitely the case and it felt like those that weren’t good at their jobs were left completely alone when they should have been written up and/or fired! At my current job I think whether you’re doing poorly or well, you’re a target.

          Seriously, how can one find a job without micromanaging and unrealistic expectations???

    4. Anonymous*

      I’m so sorry that this happened to you.

      I can honestly tell you, though, that you are not alone: I feel the exact same way, and I don’t know what to do about it, because I can’t afford to just walk away.

      I’m currently looking for another job, in the hopes that I’ve just had bad luck, but I also wonder if I’m a “bully magnet.”

      All of the best to you going forward! Everyone deserves better!

  7. Rana*

    #3 – I read it as them saying “We have a junior job we know you’re overqualified for, but if you really want it, please feel free to apply.” Rather than them insulting the OP, it seems to me like they didn’t want to insult her by suggesting that the junior position was a better fit, but also thought that it would be a courtesy to mention it in case, in this bad economy, she was willing to see if it could work.

    Honestly, I would be incredibly grateful if a company that rejected my application for Amazing Position took the time to mention that Less Amazing Position was an option and trusted me to make my own decision on the matter instead of just assuming that of course I wouldn’t want it.

    1. Charles*

      I was thinking the same thing – it seemed like a polite way of mentioning a lesser position on the off chance that the out-of-towner might be interested.

      To me it would be a positive thing. Much better than simply stating well here’s another position that you can apply for.

    2. MaryTerry*

      #3 – other thoughts – they liked you, they let you know they’d review your application for a Less Amazing Position knowing you wanted Amazing Position – maybe they have Another Amazing Position opening up in the short to mid-term that they can’t advertise yet. If you don’t find anything in the new city in your range, it might be worth talking to them to see if this could be a temporary move for you.

      1. Anonymous*

        Or they want to see if they can get you in house for when another Amazing Position opens up as they don’t want to lose you for when it does.

    3. ChristineH*

      You guys are so good at looking at things on the bright side. I’d love to apply to Less Than Amazing positions, but tend to avoid it out of fear of being confronted with the “overqualified” label. I think that was a genuinely courteous gesture made; OP, you might want to reframe your thinking on that.

    4. EW*

      I am the person who submitted question #3. I just replied back this morning that “although I am flattered I cannot take a pay cut at this time”. This is true, I cannot take much a of a pay cut right now. However, it may have been a bit presumptuous for me to assume that they wouldn’t be willing to negotiate on the salary or that the salary wold be too low and now I am regretting my e-mail back to the company. For the original job I applied for (mid-level position), my current salary was in the salary range they posted. I can only assume that junior position would be less but, you never know. After reading everyone’s great comments this afternoon I feel like an idiot for not pursuing this opportunity further. Unfortunately, since I already declined the position there is no way I can ask to be reconsidered, it will only make me look like an indecisive flake and then they really won’t want me.

      Again, thanks everyone for all the great comments, it really put things into perspective. If this happens in the future I will be able to make a better decision regarding my reply to a prospective employer.

  8. Alisha*

    Sorry for the length. I guess the question was triggering for me. And hopefully my sharing this story will help other people avoid my fate. I’d never wish that experience on anyone, even my worst enemy.

  9. Alisha*

    #3: I got a LinkedIn message from an attorney in my network alerting me about a website manager job at his firm. It looked to be about mid-level. He worded his note in a way implying that he didn’t think it’d be a fit, i.e. “This might not be a fit for you, but if you know anyone…” I wrote back and told him I’d apply anyway – why not. He told me how to apply. And two hours later, HR e-mailed me a rejection letter stating that my salary range exceeded the maximum for the position by 30K.

    It never hurts to apply for something as I see it. I’ve also interviewed for positions that were a couple steps back. I could tell by the language used in the interview that they weren’t going to hire me (i.e. asking repeatedly why I’d leave the management level to return to being a line worker), but heck, it’s good practice, you know?

  10. Dena*

    Thanks I am #1 I never wanted any special treatment. I just thought that since it is something salesmans do, being their assistant they might see me showing some insight to there business. I have never done this before and will not do it again. Thanks for the advice.

  11. Charles*

    #1 – “bringing food” and “curry” favor – are you trying to make a pun there AAM?

    1. Alisha*

      Hey, I wouldn’t hire someone JUST because they brought me curry, but I would think more highly of them. MMM, curry!

  12. Nameless*

    2. New job isn’t giving me any training

    Out of college I was offered a tax accounting position at a small CPA firm. There was no training and they threw these big returns at me to work on, each time I tried to ask for help they ignored me. But when I spent 60 hours on a return that was supposed to take 30 hours managers came out screaming at me. I didn’t last long and took a one year vacation before I went back to work

    1. Long Time Admin*

      Treatment like that just knocks the stuffing out of you. I completely get why you wouldn’t feel up to even looking for work for a while after that. Not all employers are like that, but when you’ve work for one or two or three, it sure seems like they all are.

      I hope you have a more fulfilling job now.

    2. Tax Nerd*

      Yikes! Nameless, I’m sorry that happened to you. So many smaller firms poach talent from larger firms that they forget that those larger firms had the ability to do some luxurious training at the early levels.

      It’s often a given that a new staff will spend twice as long at a tax return, but the idea is to deal with the write-off, go over the return with the staff so that they can learn, and the next one is done closer to the budget. Screaming is not a training technique I advocate.

      1. Nameless*

        That’s exactly what happened, unfortunately I wasn’t poached from big firms but straight out of college. All the senior associates didn’t want to train me, I was posed to fail from get go. I tried to hang on but I was pushed out. Yes indeed I found true passion at another CPA firm and everyone here is helpful. I have learnt that the early years can either burn you or make you – almost left tax accounting.

  13. Rana*

    #2 – Heh. This is giving me flashbacks to this one temp job (I’ve mentioned it before, here) where I was hired for what I and the temp agency thought was a support position for a rather important technical position (for which I had no experience at all). Guess what happened when I showed up? Yep, I found myself having full responsibility for the senior position, with NO experience and the only people around to “help” me were the ones who’d been filling in (and making mistakes left and right that later ended up taking several months to correct), also with no experience. Talk about a steep learning curve…

    I did manage to hold things together long enough for them to realize they needed a trained, experienced professional to do that job after all; the reward was that when said person was hired, she and the person in charge of the office that coordinated with hers insisted that they hire me full-time as well. So that was a positive outcome, but unfortunately those early fumbling days made an indelible impression on several of my coworkers, who refused to see me as competent in any way the remainder of my time there.

  14. AD*

    I’m noticing a lot of people mentioning that they got poor/no training in a position and therefore really struggled. THIS IS SOMETHING YOU SHOULD ASK ABOUT DURING THE INTERVIEW! Don’t set yourself up to fail like this; it’s not good for anyone involved.

    1. Jamie*

      Just as candidates present themselves in the best possible light in interviews, so do employers.

      Very few hiring managers will answer a question about training by telling you it’s non-existent and you’ll be on your own marinating in stress.

      There may be ways to look for clues to their methods, but bad training practices aren’t going to be something most willingly admit.

      1. AD*

        Just as a hiring manager asks a candidate for objective examples to back up their statements, so should a candidate ask the hiring manager to discuss specifics of the job. If there is a formal training program, they will be able to talk about it in no uncertain terms. Other hiring managers will say things like “we really expect new employees to hit the ground running”, and you can read between the lines (and maybe you have the experience that will let you do that, so it isn’t a real problem).

        1. Anonymous*

          At my job, the way my boss thought the training worked (and thus presented it in the interview) and the way the training actually worked were two entirely different things. Luckily, I ended up getting much more detailed training a few months in, when it became a problem (instead of being fired). But, yeah, asking questions and covering it extensively in the interview isn’t necessarily a failsafe.

      2. Charles*

        Ditto to all those who say that the employer might think that their training is good when in fact it sucks!

    2. Anonymous*

      That assumes they don’t LIE or misunderstand and believe their training program is good. The manager might well not realise that the employees struggle to train others or get snappy/unhelpful responses if prior employees in the role have managed or have appeared that its their fault they are struggling.

      1. Anonymous*

        Exactly. This has been my situation. My predecessor was unhelpful and just showed me where things were, not how they worked. Not only that, but one day I intercepted an email from her to another coworker talking about what an airhead I was (mind you, I’d only been here a week.)

        When I’ve gone to my supervisors, including my boss, I get snapped at, told to “just figure it out”, told I “should know this by now…” all kinds of unhelpful stuff. They even put me on a PIP a while back and then opted to keep me! (I was disappointed. LOL!)

        (Yes, I’m looking for another job. I have been for a long time.)

          1. Anonymous*

            I didn’t use the right term. I didn’t know how else to word it.

            My coworker sent ME an email she had meant to go to a different person instead. When I questioned her about it, she backpedaled and said, “Oops! That was meant for so-and-so!” I played dumb and just said “Oh. I see.”

            Then I printed it out for my files.

            1. Jamie*

              Yikes! And this is why snarky emails on company networks are such a bad idea.

              Hope you find a better situation soon.

    3. Just Me*

      If any candidates asked my company about training, why positions are opened, managment styles, work enviroment and so on, my company would have to flat out lie.
      As I said in an above post somewhere aroound 50 have left the company just in 6 months. How do you as a company explain that if asked?
      Many times when they start getting the ” training ” and hear the policies of the company and see the atmosphere they are out the door !
      As some posters have said, companies really do believe their company is great or just want to stick their head in the sand.

      Heck, in some area’s you can’t even ask a question if it is not ” your day and time”. Really? So if you are confused about an account and have a question on a tuesday you have to wait until Thursday to ask it… IF you get an answer. Or you have to put your question on a spreadsheet and send it on…. and then… crossing your fingers get help, that is hopefully useful. I hardly doubt the inerviewer is going to taut that as a selling point to a prospective employee.

      1. Alisha*

        It’s good practice to ask about training, I agree. I’ve been asking interview questions like, “What does the training process look like for this position?”, and “What performance metrics must a manager at [Company] meet to be considered a top performer?” consistently. My last “real” job previous to last year’s disaster offered me a management and a subject-matter mentor, plentiful documentation for managers, and free classes with a local trainer in the high-tech industry.

        But in the case of the disaster job, I was completely fooled. I interviewed extensively with the executive panel, particularly the exec to whom I’d be reporting. He went over my short-term and long-term plans with me in the first 3 interview rounds and discussed expectations, performance metrics, and training in detail. Unfortunately, the dissident executive, who likely hadn’t approved the position, was left out of our talks until the 4th interview round, which was merely a formality – but I’d been assured that he was excited to bring me on board. Looking back at the 4th round interview, that guy had emphasized several times what a good value I was – but it was only when I was about to be booted that I realized in horror what he thought he was getting: a senior employee willing to work for the salary of someone with three years’ experience.

        It’s no wonder I fear working now – or even accepting an offer. My faith in employers has been completely eviscerated. I can ask all the questions in the world, but I may still not learn the ugly truth until I begin working there. It doesn’t help, either, that my husband’s most recent experience, working as a software tester on contract, also turned ugly when his recruiter ended his contract herself, and then attempted to deny him unemployment by falsely claiming that he’d quit. (He won after a nail-biting round of appeals.)

  15. KellyK*

    I did have a job like #2, a summer job as a waitress. I was fired after all of three days. Little mistakes, like not getting appetizers out fast enough or not offering separate checks. I’d done a fair bit of food service, but never waited tables. When the owner told me I was fired (in the main area of the restaurant, not back in her office or anything), she said she “wanted someone with waitressing experience.” I replied (probably more defensively than I should have, but politely) that I’d filled out an application that showed I’d never waitressed before. Her response? “Oh, I don’t have time to read those.”

    Being left to sink or swim is probably not a good sign.

  16. Anonymous*

    I’d love to hear other jobseekers’ responses to #3. I’m in that position right now, on the other side of the situation (I’m hiring two positions, very similar, one more senior than the other). How would you feel to get a rejection letter that suggests you apply for a more junior position? What if the position had a substantially lower salary?

    1. Jamie*

      I’m not a job seeker – but for me it would depend on how it was phrased.

      In the OPs case, I wouldn’t be offended because the wording was such that they weren’t implying that they saw her qualifications at that level – they were just offering in case she was interested in working at a lower level due to circumstances. That’s nice, actually.

      If I applied for Director of IT and was rejected, but offered a position as tier II tech support without the above qualifier…that would bother me. It’s all in the wording.

      1. Anonymous*

        The specific situation I have is that the technical qualifications for the two positions are quite similar, but the salaries are quite different (one is a regular salaried position, one is more of a fellowship).

        The people who would receive an email inviting them to apply for the more junior/lower pay position are folks who are totally legitimate candidates for the more senior/better pay position AND aren’t outrageously overqualified for the junior/lower pay position.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          It’s very normal to do that. Just be straightforward and explain the differences, and acknowledge that it might not be what they’re looking for, but that you’d love to have them apply if they’re interested. Happens all the time and people shouldn’t take offense.

        2. Student*

          You should probably be prepared to explain the difference between “fellowship” and full-time position to try to defuse any tension if one of these people actually gets the more junior job. If you have a good one or two sentence explanation of the difference, then you might include that in your letter.

          If all the job applicant knows is that the technical requirements are the same but the salary is lower, that makes the junior job sound like a lousy deal. I’m sure there are reasons the salary is lower, but I have no idea what you mean by calling it a “fellowship,” so spell out what you actually mean. It reduces any potential resentment from the candidates and might make the job sound less like “sloppy seconds” and more like a different opportunity with its own merits.

    2. AD*

      Here’s the thing: if they hadn’t mentioned it, and then she saw the junior position listed on their website and WAS interested, it’s just as likely that she’d then be writing in to AAM asking whether it was okay to apply.

      That said, you should obviously only mention it if you would seriously consider the candidate for the more junior role.

  17. Mike*

    #6 Why do employers interview me if I don’t have enough experience?

    I think on this one, the person should take a look at how they are interviewing. If they are truly the only one being interviewed and then not being selected, there is a good chance they are doing something to turn people off. They should try to find a person that is going to give them some honest feedback. Even with the economy as bad as it is and the tight job market, if you are the only one interviewing and still being rejected, there is a problem.

    1. OP #7*

      I’ve thought about that actually, if I’m doing something wrong to cross them. But I really don’t think it’s what I do in particular because I’ve made it to the final rounds based on how much they liked me as a person despite my lack of experience. I once went into an interview expecting it to be an hour that got extended to three because the company recruiter offered me to meet the managers and higher executives. Every time I get interviews, the interviewers all tell me that they think very highly of me. So when I have my hopes up high, they send me a curt rejection email. By the time I’m rejected, I don’t get any constructive feedback because they’re busy looking for other hires. The most I got was “you’re not a good fit” answer . I really wish they would tell me what went wrong but they don’t.

  18. Scott M*

    For #2, I can completely understand the OP’s frustration. Unfortunately, they are not going to get any additional training, because there probably isn’t any available. Management has never gone to the trouble to put together any kind of documentation or formal training.

    They just stick new employees with a more experienced employee, who probably is not good at training people (Just because you are good at your job does not mean you are good at training others). This employee then still needs to keep up with their work, while helping train the new employee. So often they are not as helpful as they could be.

    You will need to put together your own documentation and training. Write everything down. And document the lack of training you are being given. If you are questioned on your performance, you can refer to your records to show how little training you have been given.

    I’m sorry you have to go through this. But in today’s lean organizations, training often is ‘trial by fire’

  19. Katie*

    Even though my friends all call me Katie, I put my full name (Katherine) on my resume–it’s such a common nickname that people usually ask if I go by Katie or Kate, and even if they don’t, I have just let my employers know when I start working.

    Also, I once applied for a position that was eliminate before anyone was hired–when they notified me that they were no longer looking to fill that position, they also let me know that there was a similar level position, but that it was part time (less than 20 hours/week) and they assumed I was not interested in a part time position. I was not at all insulted by this–it’s a courtesy to let you know. I took it as a more succinct way of saying, “unfortunately we couldn’t hire you for this position. But we liked you, so we are letting you know about some other jobs–but you probably aren’t interested in them because of X, and we don’t want to insult you either, so we are stating that up front.”

  20. ChristineH*

    #2 – This is probably more common than people realize. Especially in this economy, employers may not have all the resources or time to provide any formal training.

    One other thing for me – Sometimes you don’t even KNOW that you’re getting less-than-adequate training. My last job was providing information and resources via phone and email; they gave me roughly 2.5 weeks before taking live calls. At the time, it seemed adequate, but it was mostly self-directed training (reading over resource materials, looking at call logs, visiting facilities, etc). When it came time to start taking calls, I was nervous but thought I could handle it. Wow, was I wrong! Many of our callers felt I was helpful, but about a month and a half after starting, I was told I was asking way too many questions of my supervisor rather than showing a willingness to provide information independently. In hindsight, I think they took me and my experience at face value, which is understandable. Also, I wish they’d allow me to listen to actual calls and/or listen to me take calls (my husband was a CSR years ago, and that’s how he was trained).

    So for future reference, how do I ask about training in future interviewers without looking like I have zero experience to speak of?

    1. C*

      I worked at a call center in the past. We had about two weeks of training. We still made lots of mistakes and had to ask lots of questions, but I felt like they did a very good job in laying the foundation. The person in charge of training us was very hands-on. We got to listen to pre-recorded calls and role play with other people getting trained. She continued training us after we started and would go over calls with us and give us specific areas to improve on. There are some companies who take training seriously. Just to give you a bit more hope!

      1. C*

        Just thought of another thing! In our training, we even called our competitors and our class listened on mute to the conversation on speaker phone. After the call, we analyzed what they could have done differently and what we would do better. It was great. Anyways, it’s not all doom and gloom.

  21. Anonymous*

    1) I agree with AAM. I wouldn’t bring anything.
    2) I’m so sorry. I think being in that situation is incredibly frustrating. You want to do a great job but are not given the tools to accomplish that. Again, I agree with AAM here, I would talk to my boss first and ask for other training resources and ask other co-workers. I’m somewhat in the same boat. I received training but it was I’d say a bit inadequate. Also, some of the things taught in training are done differently once you’re out of training. I started receiving QCs for things these things and it was really frustrating. I basically had to explain that it was not taught that way in training. I also started checking with my other co-workers how they do things.
    Best of luck!

  22. Ruby*

    Hi all – I’m the one who posted the #2 question about job training last year. Now that I know a great deal about the products I support, learned the viciously hard way, I actually did receive a special award for performance.
    However, I should have stuck with my first impressions about how awful this company is. There is a lot of lying and backstabbing, and only a very thing “guise” of teamwork. My boss turned out to be the worst of all, and despite my being her highest performing employee, she has recently “slammed” me for saying too much. It’s too much to go into here, but this job turned out to be awful. At least I learned a great deal from it.

Comments are closed.