wee answer Wednesday: 7 short answers to 7 seven short questions

It’s wee answer Wednesday — seven short answers to seven short questions. Today, you broke some equipment, you want to interview by Skype, you were told not to use your cell phone on your break, and more. Here we go…

1. Who should pay when you break something at work?

Last week, I broke a piece of glassware on a neighboring lab’s sink. I had used their lab to wash my hands because the joint communal lab never has soap. The piece of glassware isn’t expensive (about $30) and I immediately ordered a replacement using my own money. Because I had been in a lab that I wasn’t supposed to be in and had broken the piece myself (not in the course of my duties), I felt that I should pay for it. My friend thinks I should ask to be reimbursed for the cost of the piece. My boss and I have a good relationship but I am a little embarrassed to ask her about this. The broken glass lab knows I broke the piece and have ordered a replacement. Should I ask to be reimbursed?

Stuff like this is a normal cost of doing business; you shouldn’t expect to pay for it yourself (and any employer who does expect you to is sketchy). However, ideally you would have talked to your boss about it before ordering the replacement, because many employers want you to get approval before incurring an expense, not afterwards. It’s not too late though — tell your boss what happened and say you realized you should have asked for approval before placing the order.

2. Asking for an interview by Skype

I’m planning to relocate to California from Tennessee. I’ve around secured housing and have been applying for employment in the area. A potential employer has contacted me about an in-person interview but would like to do it next week. I’m very interested in the job, but because of my current job, I won’t be able to fly out there in that time frame. Could I request a Skype interview instead? What is the protocol in this type of situation?

Well, first see if they’re flexible on the timing. Explain that you have commitments to your current employer next week and ask if the following week is possible. And if it’s not, it’s fine to suggest talking by phone or Skype instead.

However, be aware that with some employers, subbing Skype for an in-person meeting may put you at a disadvantage — lots of people don’t build the same rapport over Skype that they will in person. If you’re applying for jobs long-distance, keep in mind that with so many employers refusing to consider out-of-state candidates at all, you might need to be more flexible than you’d normally need to be if you want to get an out-of-state offer.

3. Following up when an employer misses their deadline for making a hiring decision

I interviewed for a job with a small department within a private university. When my interview ended, I felt great and the hiring director told me he would let me know his decision before the end of the next week. When that Friday came around and there was no word, I sent the standard follow-up email thanking him for the interview and asked him if there was anything else he needed from me. I quickly got a reply that said he was sorry everything was taking so long and that I would know by Monday or Tuesday of the next week. Well, it’s been a week since then and everyone around me is telling me and pushing me to call and email the director again until I get an answer. However, I feel very uncomfortable doing so and feel as if contacting him again would be pushy and aggressive. Should I contact him again or just wait/move on to other plans?

Well, you certainly don’t want to “call and email until you get an answer.” You can’t force someone to answer you, and trying to is a good way to take yourself out of the running. You can, however, send him an email asking if he can give you an updated sense of their timeline for next steps.

And in general, because hiring so often takes longer than people think it will, it’s always smart to wait until the employer’s response is at least a few days “late” before doing that (as it sounds like it is here).

4. Should you only include relevant work experience on your resume?

When showcasing relevant work experience on your resume, is it tactful to only list the positions that directly relate to the position you’re applying for, even if it creates gaps in between each because they didn’t occur one after another? Or would it be better to include all your recent experience keeping chronological order, and put into bullets how each position, even if not at a company operating directly in the field you’re applying, has given you some applicable and valuable experience? For example, I’d like to apply to a marketing firm, and I have experience interning at marketing firms, but I’ve had other jobs in between those positions (such as reception work and an administration/finance role) in the meantime of getting hired to the succeeding marketing position.

Include everything so that you don’t have gaps. It’s usually better to have something unrelated than to have a gap.

5. Can my employer restrict my cell phone use on my break?

In Indiana, can a manager/supervisor at Subway tell you that you can’t use your phone on your break?

Because Indiana doesn’t require that employers provide breaks at all (as long as you’re 18 or older), employers who choose to provide breaks can implement restrictions like this … as long as they’re still paying you for that time. However, if they’re making you clock out and take the break unpaid, they can’t prevent you from using your phone outside of the store.

6. When a job is listed on two sites, should you apply through both?

If I see a job posting on two different sites, should I apply on both sites or only pick one? One of the sites was LinkedIn and the other was a more specialized site. I applied on the more specialized site, with the assumption that since it was specialized they would be more inclined to see it. However, I am now wondering if I should “cover all of my bases” and also apply on LinkedIn. What do you think?

No, just apply on one of the sites. Otherwise you risk looking like you’re applying for so many jobs that you don’t even remember when you’ve already applied for one. And by the way, I’d always pick the site that isn’t LinkedIn, if I’m correct in thinking that LinkedIn just sends them your LinkedIn profile (which is different and generally less effective than a resume and cover letter).

7. Being asked about salary when the job ad already listed a salary range

I was at an interview today where I received the same question I have received at other interviews and am never sure how to respond to. In each job posting, a salary range was listed. During the interview, they asked what my salary range was. I have always restated the salary that was listed in the ad, even if I wanted to go higher. I am wondering if there is something I am missing. Why are they asking if it is already listed? Did they forget, which then leads me to believe they did not prepare for the interview, or is this some sort of weird test?

They’re verifying that you’re on the same page. Even when salary is listed in a job ad, candidates sometimes miss it entirely, or see it but apply thinking that they can negotiate for more anyway.

Read an update to letters #6 and #7 here.

{ 61 comments… read them below }

  1. Unmana (@Unmana)*

    “If I’m correct in thinking that LinkedIn just sends them your LinkedIn profile (which is different and generally less effective than a resume and cover letter):” actually, LinkedIn lets you add a cover letter and resume (at least it used to, unless it’s changed recently). Though this is probably up to the employer to include in the job post (whether they want a resume, cover letter etc.)

    I agree with the rest of your advice though.

    1. K.*

      That’s still SOP for LinkedIn; it’ll ask you if you want to attach documents. And sometimes a listing on LinkedIn will link out (no pun intended) to the employer’s website anyway and tell you to apply there, and sometimes the instructions on the posting will tell you to email your application directly to a contact (this was the case with the job I applied for yesterday that I found on LinkedIn).

  2. EngineerGirl*

    #2 – It might be a red flag to an Employer if you don’t do an on-site interview. People that come out to Caifornia from low cost areas like Tennessee generally go into sticker shock. They also go into crowd shock (California has 1 out of every 8 people in the US). They may also not understand traffic (it can take me 1-1/2 hours to drive 20 miles to work on a normal day). A California employer may want you to come out so that you can see what you are getting into. Otherwise they are worried that you’ll bolt at the soonest opportunity.

    1. Vicki*

      Coming out for an interview isn’t going to give you much perspective on prices, population, or commute times. You’ll stay in a hotel near the company, have an interview, and go back. I think it’s more that companies like in-person interviews.

      p.s to EngineerGirl: 1.5 hours for 20 miles. Where do you live/work? Can you change your hours? I live in the SF Bay Area and it would never take me that long to get somewhere.

  3. Tokyo*

    #4 — My impression was that this OP might be a new grad/college student. In that case, I would prefer to see truly irrelevant part-time jobs filtered out (assuming that the main job was “student” the whole time and that there are other professional experiences to write about). I think part of the reason I have to deal with 3 page resumes from 22-year-olds is because they heard somewhere that they should list every job they ever had. It really distracts from the relevant stuff.

    1. Kate*

      Perhaps it’s a matter of including an appropriate level of detail for each position, rather than leaving things out of a resume entirely. As well as creating suspicion about gaps in your career history, leaving stuff out might deprive you of the opportunity to identify abilities that are transferrable across industries.

      With respect to recent grads, I’m always interested to know what else they do with their time at college, as it can be a good indicator of transferrable professional skills. Things like their reliability and organisational skills in handling multiple and competing priorities.

      I can see how it might be a real plus for an applicant to show that they have held a steady job to pay the bills, in addition to completing internships, getting decent grades and participating in extra curriculars or community activities. I am actually somewhat wary of graduates who only have “plum” internships and great grades, without any crappy jobs or anything else suggesting that they are grounded!

      But again, it’s a question of detail and judgment. I don’t need an encyclopaedia of every last thing someone did in every single role!

      1. KellyK*

        I think you’re right here. An unrelated job shouldn’t take more than a couple lines, but it does show your work ethic and ability to be responsible.

      2. KayDay*

        Yep, I agree with the other K’s here that it’s the level of detail that needs tweaking. Particularly with recent grads, it’s the seemingly unrelated jobs that set each candidate apart. (That said, the unrelated jobs should not take up 3 pages).

    2. TheSnarkyB*

      I agree that that would be frustrating, but if you stick to the rule of a 1 page resume, that doesn’t happen.

  4. Ade*

    #1- Having worked in labs for over 10 years now, I can tell you there is no way you should pay for that glassware. First of all, it was “in the course of your duties” if you were washing your hands… safety is part of lab protocol and that includes washing your hands with soap. Secondly, nobody ever, ever, pays for things in lab out of pocket, down to the notebooks and pens that are used to take notes. Absolutely everything comes out of lab funds and comes through the receiving department. It sounds like you might be younger… maybe an undergraduate or technician? Accidents happen in lab all the time. Things break and need to be replaced. I can not imagine for one second that your boss would want you to pay for the glassware yourself. I’m really surprised that no one else in your lab stopped you from paying for it.

    Please approach your boss and tell her what happened, and that you weren’t sure what to do and wanted to supply the other lab with a replacement as soon as possible, but realize that the order should have gone through the lab. Then have all the payment info ready and ask her what the reimbursement process is. It’s not coming out of her pocket, it’s coming out of her lab fund, and that’s what that money is for. Don’t feel bad about it- mistakes happen- and now you know for the future.

  5. Anonymous*

    #3-Please remember that hiring in universities often takes much longer than the regular business world. If you’ve worked in higher ed, you know this. Sometimes there are hoops that must be jumped even though budget gave permission to post the job and there is money available. It could be waiting on someone’s signature.

    1. fposte*

      And it’s summer, so people are out more often, and things operate even more at a snail’s pace as a result.

      1. ThomasT*

        All of which factors the hiring manager should have taken into account when giving the applicant an estimated time frame. This isn’t a “boy, this seems like a long time” inquiry, this is “the hiring manager didn’t meet the deadlines that he gave me, unprompted.” I think you might open with a slightly apologetic, “I know hiring timelines often shift, but I’d like to have an idea of when you expect to make your decision.”

        1. fposte*

          The hiring manager probably didn’t know at that time–it’s usually the vacation of somebody whose plans you’re not familiar with that has this effect–but I agree that applicants should have been notified when it became clear that the process was taking longer than expected. However, I still think it’s useful information for the OP in putting the silence into context.

  6. OP #6*

    So good to hear. That was one of my concerns, especially after seeing it listed in a 3rd posting, so I stepped away from the computer hoping you would answer a yay or nay :).
    LinkedIn does let you add a cover letter and resume still.

  7. Work It*

    I was surprised by the answer to #4. I always thought employers wanted to see relevant experience only. Do they really care that I worked at an unrelated temp job or part-time at a ghost tour company (I did)? Also, because I like to grumble, what’s s terrible about a gap? Why is it so important to work every day, without fail, until you drop dead or retire? Grumble, grumble.

    1. Kate2*

      Agreed. I wonder, would a gap or two be enough to get an otherwise stellar resume tossed in the trash? Or would it just be brought up in an interview? I can see leaving the ghost tour company off of your resume as long as you are prepared to mention your part time work in an interview, but that’s just me!

      1. anon*

        Work it–I thought that as well. I’m a recent grad and my resume has several “gaps”–I include my internships and my time as an R.A., but I’ve left off the 7 retail/food service jobs I held throughout my time in college (usually 2-4 jobs at any given time) to pay for tuition/expenses. In reality, I was constantly working, but my resume only includes positions with relevant/transferable skills. I hope potential employers realize that resumes are not all-inclusive (if mine was, it would easily be 4+pages and I’m only 23…), but now I’m worried that I may be missing out on jobs because of this….

        1. KellyK*

          If you’re doing your resume in reverse chronological order, can you include the retail/food service jobs together at the appropriate spot?

          Something like:

          Retail and Food Service (Part Time) 2000-2004
          * Job 1, Position & Location, Manager, Dates
          *Job 2, Position & Location, Manager, Dates

          Any noteworthy accomplishments could go under the relevant position, but otherwise they could get just a line each. You might be able to get it in without wasting space.

          I think working 2 or 3 part-time jobs in college, in addition to internships and extracurriculars, shows an awesome work ethic and the ability to juggle a lot of different things at once. Similarly, keeping the same job throughout college shows that you’re dependable and they liked you enough to keep you around.

        2. photodiplo*

          I deal with this by having an “Other Jobs, 1999-2009” listed at the bottom of all of my jobs, and just listing off the types of roles I’ve had in that time. Helps to show I’m grounded, gives a flavor of the kinds of skills I’ve picked up, but doesn’t waste space.

          1. anon*

            Thanks, KellyK and photodiplo! I’ll see if I can work one of those in (my resume is dangerously close to hitting 2 pages, which I know is a no-no for people in their 20s)!

          2. Charles*

            Yep, I have something like that on my resume. Two years while recovering from a car accident – several temp jobs not related at all to my career – listed as “various office temp assignments while recovering from an auto accident, 2006 – 2008.”

            This has worked very well for me. With this short one liner on my resume it is usually not mentioned at all by the interviewer (or just casually mentioned with a quick “sorry to hear about that”) and we spend more time talking about what I have done and what I can do for them.

            When I used to send out my resume without this gap explained it seemed like most of the interview was spent trying to figure out this gap in my experience. (grilled like I was trying to hide something! “Really, Ms. Interviewer those jobs were not anything but a part-time income, my physical therapy and health recovery were more of a priority, honest”)

            I guess so many interviewers are “programmed” to look for something the candidate is hiding and simply have a hard time shutting that mode off.

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Kate2, no, an otherwise stellar resume wouldn’t be tossed in the trash over a gap. You might be asked about the gap in the interview, so you’d just want to be prepared to explain it.

    2. Dulcinea*

      I totally share your frustration with the anti-gap issue. There are dozens of perfectly good reasons why a person would be out of work for a period of time (or working in some kind of job not related to their profession) and if there really is a strong bias against gaps, I think it’s really short-sighted and unfair. I have about a 2 year period on my resume where I did not have consistent work (did a couple very short term consulting gigs and worked part time as a bartender; the bartending gig is not on my resume), and it was because I was caring for not one but two family members with terminal illnesses.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      In theory, I agree that there’s nothing wrong with having time off from work. Hell, it’s a good thing. But in practice, many (maybe most?) employers wonder about gaps and sometimes get concerned about them — it raises questions about why you weren’t working: Could you not find work because you were terrible? Did you decide you didn’t like working and try to find ways to avoid it? Were you hoping to be a lady who lunched and that didn’t work out? Etc.

      There are many reasonable ways to answer these questions — caring for a sick relative and dealing with a health issue of your own are two of the best. But other answers do raise red flags — like “just felt like taking time away” (it shouldn’t, but it often does) or pursuing a line of work totally different than the one you’re pursuing now (raises questions about your real interests). All of these can be gotten around, but these are the types of questions gaps raise. It’s often better to simply avoid it in the first place.

      That said, like everything on a resume, it’s a judgment call. Your situation may be one where it makes more sense to have a gap. It just depends on the totality of the picture you’re presenting.

      1. Anonymous*

        I’ve also known people to be told to “prove they weren’t in prison” for gaps on CV’s!

        1. Dan*

          If someone asked me to prove I wasn’t in prison I would take it as an indication that I would always be under suspicion and I’m not interested in that kind of work environment. I could just see it in 6 months. “Dan, why are you using so many pens and post-it notes? Are you taking them home?”

          That’s an interviewer fail. I would thank them for their time though.

      2. Anonymous*

        Thank you Alison for this comment. I am in a situation at the moment of needing to help my mother that is a widow. She has some health concerns and I will not be able to concentrate totally on job looking for a couple of months. My biggest fear is I do not have this amazing resume because I was a stay-at-home mom for quite awhile. I did work part-time some and did go back to school for a year. I know my last place of employment will say good things about me, but marketing myself is a challenge.

      3. Elizabeth West*

        My last period of unemployment (before this one) was more than a year and a half. I temped off and on throughout the last year, so I just put the temp agency as a job and the dates– 1/2005 through 12/2005. I put a general statement of what I did for them “Clerical and light manufacturing” and included that I filled in for their receptionist sometimes. It’s related to the clerical work I do, and showed them I didn’t just do nothing.

        I don’t know what to do about this gap. I just hope it’s over soon. I guess I could say I was finishing a book, which I am. (Writing, not reading.)

    4. AP*

      Just a thought – for this OP, she wants to work in marketing but has experience in admin and finance positions. For me (as the person doing the hiring) I wouldn’t consider those positions to be completely unrelated! Admin experience is really helpful in almost any business setting, and they show organization, responsibility, possibly the ability to work with a budget. Those might not be my #1 priorities for a marketing position, but they’re all helpful bonuses and I would rather hire someone with those qualities than no job history at all.

      I agree that a lot of detail isn’t really warranted, but a lot of the skills do transfer and she should take advantage of that.

      1. Karl*

        Agreed — yes, address the gaps! The work may be more relevant than the OP thinks.

        At my last job, an applicant showed up with a resume that looked good ’til I realized he had a 2+ year gap in employment. It made me wonder, “What was he doing then? Was he in prison?”

        I asked him about this when he reappeared a few months later. Turns out he had worked at a couple jobs that he didn’t think were relevant. Thing was, the job doing customer service at the car rental place actually was very relevant for doing marketing agency client service.

        Handling a customer who’s angry that your coworker gave away the last car when they’d had a reservation is helpful preparation for dealing with a marketing client who’s angry their website’s down.

  8. irena*

    Seems like situations similar to #3 are becoming the new “is it legal” and more common. Seriously, employers take their sweet time when they don’t “need” immediate help. It took my dept 6mts to finally get someone in and take a load off my shoulders. Totally normal.

  9. kac*

    re: salary, if you are asked salary and you don’t already know the range.

    I generally have good luck politely turning that question back on the interviewer, saying something like “Oh, I’m sure there are often different ranges in play for different companies. What is your range for this position?” This prevents you from low-balling yourself. The last time I did this, I was quotes $10K more than I would have asked for myself! I’m starting there next week.

  10. Anonymous*


    I once broke some tools at work in a very spectacular accident. It was my first “grownup” job as an undergrad, and I didn’t really understand how these things worked, so I was genuinely worried that I was going to get arrested or fired or kicked out of school.

    I told my boss what had happened and offered to pay for replacements. One piece of equipment (which later turned out to be okay, thank goodness) was far too expensive for me to replace, and I told him I couldn’t replace it but I’d do whatever I could to make amends.

    The boss looked at me like I was a bit crazy, and told me this:
    “Tools are meant to be broken. If your tools never break, that means you aren’t working hard enough. It’s okay, we’ll fix it. I’m just glad you weren’t injured.”

    1. Jamie*

      In my first job I made an accounting error which caused us to lose the vendor discount for the month. I went to the CFO and asked if I could pay for it that day or if she wanted to take it out of my next check. She looked at me like I was out of my mind and explained that some errors will happen from time to time and it’s the cost of doing business.

      My face still gets red when I think of how naive and unprofessional I sounded…but a lot of us have similar stories. I wouldn’t worry too much about it.

      Some people have a really ingrained sense of personal accountability and it can take a little while to figure out how things like this work in the workplace.

      1. Anonymous*

        I think this is exacerbated by the fact that many (bad!) food or retail industry managers (i.e. common first jobs) threaten to or actually dock employee pay for mistakes.

        1. Kate*

          I am the OP. It seems obvious now that I should have mentioned this to my boss before paying! I have been working in labs for 5 or 6 years or so now but this is the first time I’ve randomly broken something that didn’t belong to my lab. I reacted on a misplaced sense of personal responsibility. Also a bit of guilt because I felt I’d “trespassed” into the neighboring lab. Maybe relatedly, I do have experience working as a waitress and being held responsible for unpaid tabs, etc. My next purchase is to buy some soap for the communal lab…on the company’s dime of course. Thank you for your comments.

      2. class factotum*

        I made a print error that cost $35,000 to fix, which was 75% more than my salary at the time. There is no way I could have paid it. I was sure I was going to be fired.

        I wasn’t. And I have never again included the original color sample from the client and then added the different color number after they changed their mind without removing the original. If you send both the original sample and the new color number, the printer will not call for clarification but will use the color sample.

  11. Suz*

    To OP #1 – If it makes you feel any better, I did the same thing when I was new in the lab. But the item I broke cost $5000. Oops.

    1. Dan*

      Similar story. Furtunately it wasn’t me.

      A coworker once misprogrammed a robot and tried to place two very complex glass structures in the same location. They cost $30,000 each. He wasn’t fired, but we called him “Crash” for a few years after that.

  12. Betty*

    #4- I had the exact same situation as a recent grad and dealt with it by separating my resume into a section for relevant experience (for me it was “Editorial Experience,” you could call it “Marketing Experience”) and “Additional Experience.” That way they could quickly see my most important experience and could see that I’d had several relevant postions and focus on those, but my less relevant jobs were still there to show a consistent work history. Plus those jobs can be valuable too; some skills are always transferable. Just emphasize skills like customer service, administrative tasks, etc., that are always useful. And make sure that the dates are VERY clear and easy to compare so they can see there aren’t any huge gaps—I line them up on the right side of the page so they essentially make a list.

    1. Work It*

      This is a good idea. One of the reasons I have a big gap is because I moved back to the US from Japan and it took a couple of months to find a job and then that job was atrocious and I only lasted six months before I quit. I then worked a non-relevant temp job after that. I’ve had stable employment for the last three years or so, so the gap isn’t such a big deal now. I hope.

  13. millefolia*

    OP # 3:

    I once applied for a job at a public university (I already worked for the same university, but in a different college). From the day my application status changed from “Moved to department” (i.e. HR sent it to the hiring manager) to my first contact with the manager was 53 days.* The manager overshot every time estimate he gave me during the process (timeline to decisions on second interview, from second interview to offer). I truly wondered whether I wanted to work for someone who’d overshoot all their estimates like that, but I ended up accepting the job despite my reservations–and he turned out to be one of the best managers I’ve ever had. He just didn’t know how long to expect each step to take, particularly while the department was understaffed, but he was excellent at managing people and helping his employees grow in their fields.

    One thing that I think helped me get the job: A few days after each missed time estimate, I sent a short note asking if he had a new time estimate. (If he hadn’t replied the first time, I wouldn’t have sent the later notes, but he replied each time.) At the first interview he apologized for everything taking so long, and I was able to turn that around and say “hey, you gave me an opportunity to show you I can follow up on things!”

    * I made a spreadsheet later, to give me perspective on job search times.

  14. Anonymous*

    #1 – the hosting company unless it was malicious or due to clowning about/unsuitable actions from the employee (which would usually be in the region of a disciplinary/gross misconduct.

    Stuff happens – especially things like dropping/breaking containers.

  15. Karen*

    #6 Many employers post the same job in multiple locations. They are often casting a wide net – not all job seekers look at every job board out there and some of them might be the quality candidate the employer needs. Apply once.

  16. T.*

    #2 – I was recently planning a move to a new city and job searching from my hometown. I had a phone interview and then a Skype interview with one company, who eventually turned me down but the owner of the company said I should contact her once I made the move and she might be able to introduce me to some people in her network that could lead to employment. I ended up moving just a few weeks later, contacted her, and she had me come into the office for a meeting. During our conversation she mentioned they have a policy of not hiring people based off Skype interviews due to bad experiences in the past and that the position I had applied on had become available again. The conversation turned into an informal job interview, and I was offered the job on the spot!

    So I guess some employers have reasons for not doing Skype interviews (and might even hold it against you even if they do allow it), but it’s worth a shot! That being said, I would try to arrange an in-person interview if you can, I was much more nervous for my Skype interview than other interviews because I’ve had issues using Skype for personal use and feared we might run into a problem in the middle of the interview!

    1. Elizabeth West*

      What kind of bad experiences would you have over Skype? All I can think of is someone interviewing in their bathrobe, making their buddy sit in for them, etc.

      I’m not trying to be snarky; I’m genuinely curious….

      1. Pamela G*

        Things like the picture freezing, or the audio quality being poor so you constantly have to ask them to repeat themselves or they lose part of your answers. And the ever-present dilemma of “do I look at the interviewer’s picture on the screen, or do I look right at the camera which will come across as looking them in the eye instead of looking down and ‘avoiding’ eye contact”… I would HATE to do an interview via Skype.

        1. T.*

          Yes, all these things were what made me so nervous to interview via Skype. On the employer’s end, she didn’t want to hire someone after only interviewing via Skype because she had done so once before and that employee didn’t work out (that was the bad experience). I don’t know more details about why, but I’d assume it would have to do with the layer of technology making it difficult to accurately determine fit for the role/company.

  17. Anonymous*

    Re: #1
    1st rule of the lab: DO NOT leave anything IN the sink
    2nd rule of the lab: DO NOT leave anything BY the sink
    3rd rule of the lab: RETURN things to where they belong (hint: it’s not the sink area).

    In a working “wet” lab or bio lab, this is a common occurence – people leaving things in/by the sink. I’m being a little over the top above, but it’s dangerous to leave things by/in the sink, either because someone will break something trying to wash their hands (I’ve done this multiple times), or someone will leave it there and the next person will wonder WTH is in that item. OP you act like this is your fault, but really it’s the other lab’s fault for not making sure stuff isn’t left by the sink. Unless you elbowed someone out of the way to use their sink, it’s not your problem.

  18. Jason Patteson*

    Hi, a bit late coming to this post but I have a question concerning #4. I run a weekly job lab where I help people with their resumes and cover letters at a Tulsa, OK library, and this issue of gaps comes up all of the time (many of my patrons are either returning to the workforce or have many short term jobs). I was told lately that gaps in the resume are not nearly as important as gaps in the application (most of my patron’s jobs ask for applications as well as resumes). Is this still the case or is this one of those “things change daily it seems in the resume world” situations? I coach them to put their relevent experience on the resume (and believe me, we try to massage their jobs for anything relevant available) and leave their non-relevent experience for the application, is this doing them a disservice? Thanks! I usually read your blog every monday for tips and updates before heading to my job lab.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      The resume should really be a marketing document, with the focus on relevant experience. However, it also often makes sense to have an “other experience” section where you might list other jobs, so it’s clear that there aren’t gaps (or aren’t as many gaps). I can’t really speak to the application as much, because they tend to be an HR thing more than a hiring manager thing.

      1. Jason P*

        Thanks for getting back to me!

        That’s kind of how I’ve been looking at it. I try to make sure gaps are filled if I can (and there is room, one issue my patrons have is a lot of short term work often, since they are unskilled mostly).

        I think most of my patrons deal more with HR directly than with hiring managers so I think I’m doing the right thing. Of the 3 or 4 dozen patrons I have helped in the last 6 months I’ve heard that at least 12 have gotten jobs, partly due to their resumes.

        I’ll keep devouring your blog and applying it to our program as I can, it’s really changing these people’s lives.

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