fast answer Friday

It’s fast answer Friday! Here we go…

1. How to tell a colleague she has an annoying voice

I work with a young woman lawyer with a really annoying voice. She’s smart, friendly, and a good lawyer, but it is really irritating to listen to her talk—it’s nasal, grating, and has funny pauses. It is hard to sit through a deposition or a hearing with her, because I find myself cringing at her voice, rather than focusing on what she is saying, which is definitely worth listening to. I would like to suggest that she talk to a speech therapist, but I am not her supervisor and we are not close enough that I could offer her that kind of advice and be confident she would hear it as being offered in a loving manner. Any ideas?

Resist the impulse. That’s the kind of unsolicited advice that needs to be delivered by a close friend (or maybe a manager, if it’s truly holding her back professionally), if at all. There’s no appropriate opening for you to tell her this. (Also, it’s possible that others don’t find her voice as annoying as you do.)

2. Directed to clean the bathroom

I’m doing my internship for medical assistant in order to receive a certificate of completion and work in the field. While doing my internship, the manager told me to clean the bathroom. Is that part of the duties as a medical assistant?

I doubt it. If wherever you’re interning doesn’t have cleaning staff, it’s possible that cleaning duties rotate among the staff. You should be getting paid if you’re doing this though; it shouldn’t be part of an unpaid internship.

3. Ethics of sharing resumes with others on my staff

I’m hiring for a part-time position at the moment, and there are currently 4 hourly workers already hired in the same position. These workers have a lot of responsibility and, though only part-time, are very well trusted and extremely important to our team. It is critical that our team work together and be extremely tight-knit.

As I am hiring, is it unethical to share resumes and cover letters with these already-hired hourly workers (with 1+ year already on the job) in order to get their opinions and help advise on who might be the best fit for the team? I don’t think it is unethical and could be very helpful to make sure we get the right person who could mesh the best with the group. What expectation of privacy do (or should) people expect when submitting a resume? There’s a line somewhere, obviously, but is sharing resumes with potential future co-workers crossing that line?

There’s nothing wrong with sharing the resumes of candidates with others on your team. It’s very common, in fact, to get input from others in your organization about particular candidates.

4. Phone call from prospective employer was disconnected

I applied for a job online a few months ago. The office called yesterday, but our call was disconnected after a split second. I wasn’t not sure if my phone failed or if they hung up or what, so I called back and got their voicemail. I left a message explaining what happened, but the problem is, the person checking that voicemail most likely has no idea who I am since it was a general phone number for the company. I suppose I should have mentioned that I applied for a job and supposed the call was related to that — that could have helped — but I didn’t. I’m anxious now because no one has called back, and I really want to work for this company! Should I call back and explain again, or should I wait it out? I don’t want to hound them!

Your first message probably won’t produce any results, since you didn’t explain the job connection, so call back and explain that you were called about a job and the call was disconnected. (That said, it’s odd that they didn’t just call you back right after getting disconnected.)

5. Listing current manager as a reference

I was informed two weeks ago that my position is being eliminated, but I’m lucky enough to be able to stay until the end of the year. So, now I’m job-hunting. In the past you’ve said that hiring managers/HR do not expect to be able to contact a candidate’s current supervisor. My question is this: My current supervisor obviously knows I’m looking for a new job. Is it odd to ask her to be a reference? Will hiring managers see that I’m okay with them contacting my current boss and find that fishy?

No, it won’t look fishy. Some people do job search with their manager’s blessing, in cases like yours or when the manager is just particularly sane.

6. How valuable are certificate programs?

I have gotten mixed information about the value of certificate programs at my community college. Most people I talk to say that they really don’t mean anything and that I should just skip the certificate programs and move on to an advanced degree. I have a BA in psychology, but I want to show on my resume that I also have education in accounting and business. Because the Cal State school system is impacted right now, I can’t even apply for a second BA program, and I’m not sure I’m ready for a masters program. I’ve taken (and am currently taking) accounting and business classes at my community college, really for the purpose of learning new things that will help me be more marketable. But how do I put that on my resume in a way that makes sense? I could fill out the forms for the certificates and then say I have my “entry level accounting certificate,” but should I even bother if most people think it doesn’t matter? Is there another way to convey that I have that education, or am I completely over-thinking it? Should I just stick to making it known in my cover letter? I’m so confused!

If you’re just looking for a way to mention your classes in these areas, just mention in the education part of your resume that you’re taking classes in accounting and business. It’s true that certificates generally don’t count for much, in most fields (although they’re worth mentioning if you have them).

7. Company travel with credit problems

I found out today that my job wants me to fly to their location soon for a week, as I am an out-of-state employee. Which is fine, but I have a dilemma. When I was first hired in March, I was up-front about my credit situation and told them it was in bad shape. They said that was fine. About a month later, an affiliate company had to run a credit check on me and denied me. My company cut off their business relationship with them and went another avenue, in which I have been approved.

The last time I flew up there, my company rented me a car in which I used my debit card to place the hold. When they ran the card, they asked if I authorized them to do a required credit check in which the minimum credit score to pass was a 580. It was fine at that time. This was back in March. Since then, my husband lost his job, a car was repo’ed and I have a number of accounts in collections. I am super embarrassed by my situation but I know my credit score has dropped signficantly. Do I tell the VP of my situation? I think it’s going to look even worse since my credit has gone down hill since April. I knew I had to go back up there and was going to get a secured credit card (for the purposes of car/hotel rental only) but didn’t expect the trip on such short notice. With a credit card, the car rental company won’t run a credit check. Either way that isn’t an option because I won’t get one in time.

Talk to whoever handles travel and/or reimbursements at your company and ask to have the hotel and rental car put on a company credit card ahead of time. You don’t need to get into details; simply saying that you’re not able to use your own credit for it right now should be sufficient. If this doesn’t work, however, then talk to your boss and ask her to intervene.

{ 117 comments… read them below }

  1. CatB (Europe)

    #7 is a bit baffling to me. In my country it is highly unusual to ask an employee to pay for company trips, supplies or whatever (beside some petty office / kitchen supplies that get reimbursed on the spot) and get reimbursed later. Fuel, plane, hotel, car rental and whatnot are always paid for (in advance, if necessary) by the company. Even for out-of-office staff the company always issues advance money (either cash or a company card) that gets sorted regularly. Is it customary in the USofA to ask employees to put personal money on the line for the company?

    1. Mike C.

      Which nation are you speaking of if I might ask? Or are the practices generally the same around the European Union?

      1. CatB (Europe)

        I’m a Romanian. I don’t know about EU as a whole, it’s unusual (at least) where I live.

        1. Jen

          The explanation that makes most sense, I think, it’s that it simply couldn’t happen in Romania. Credit cards are super rare here, and most people would be stretching their budget a lot to book hotels and rent cars on their debit cards (personally, I simply could not afford to do that and keep buying food til the end of the month). As far as I know, in my company the only thing paid by employees out of their own money and reimbursed at the end of the month is the rent for the volleyball/football fields, and that comes up to 50 dollars at most.

            1. Neeta

              I’m also from Romania, and can confirm CatB’s and Jen’s experiences.

              I had an out-of-country company delegation in California, and got a certain amount of money deposited in my personal account. These were for daily expenses, though.
              Hotel and plane tickets were paid for by the company in advance.

              My dad also goes on a lot of business trips and he always gets money from the company to pay for them.

              People would pretty much revolt here if they had to pay for company trips out of their own pocket.

            2. Jen

              Well, I guess we both read AAM before work! (Or at work, if CatB is a better employee than me and actually gets to work at 9.)

          1. CatB (Europe)

            Credit cards are super rare here” – if you mean company cards I agree. People do have personal credit cards (or at least debit cards with overdraft facility, where they get their salary), it is just that mixing company and personal money is never-ever a good idea. And I agree about budget stretching. In a land where makind ends meet on a regular basis is the main occupation of the workforce, covering hotel expenses would be a bit too much to ask.

      2. Nev

        It is the same practice in Bulgaria as well as in most EU countries (to the best of my knowledge). Truth to be told – these are the practices of the good employers, not every company.

      3. Henning Makholm

        It’s not EU in general. Based in Denmark, I have been on work trips where my employer paid everything directly (plane tickets, hotels, etcetera) and on ones where I paid out of my own pocket and was reimbursed later. Neither option in itself is viewed as particularly out of the ordinary here.

        However, it would be viewed as unusually petty (actually illegal, now that I check) for an employer here to refuse to lay out advance money before a trip if the employee requests it.

        1. Chocolate Teapot

          Another EU resident here. Business credit cards are only available above a certain grade, but flights are covered by the company. I had to give my personal credit card to pay for the hotel, but it was reimbursed.

    2. Sdhr

      I may have misread OP but I thought it was that she couldn’t get the company card due to her credit problems.

      1. Deena

        That’s what I read it as too. Although it’s a company credit card, to be eligible for it, an employee’s own personal credit score has to qualify. The company reimburses but if the employee uses the money from your expense report for Louboutins instead, the employee still has to pay the bill regardless. The card is a company card but in the employee’s name and thus the personal credit score factors in.

    3. Tel

      I’m not from the US and plane, hotel and car are arranged by the office admin person and put on a company credit card. The only thing we might pay out of our pocket and get reimbursed for might be tuition money, but even then I usually ask for the company card.

    4. Anon2

      I’m from the US and I thought this was highly unusual too; though, I’m not someone who travels much for work.

      I once spent a few months in the UK for work and it was a mix. All flights, hotel, trains, apartment and car rentals were paid directly by my company. All meals, taxies (to and from the airport only) and whatnot were out of pocket, but reimbursed after.

      When personal friends of mine travel between offices, the company pays for everything. If you want to spend some extra days on your dime, you tell the person making the arrangements and they still schedule the flights/hotels. One of my best friends has a husband who travels almost 80% of the time and his company pays for his hotels and provides a company car, but then meals are expensed. I would find it highly irregular and massively negative if flights, hotels and cars were expensed as well. I would have to rethink that job even. Not because I can’t afford to float those on my credit cards, but because I strongly believe I shouldn’t have to.

  2. Mike C.

    Regarding #7, why isn’t it simply accepted practice to have everything reserved on the company card all the time anyway? That way there isn’t the whole reimbursement mess and additional paperwork and the company can directly monitor odd charges, etc.

    I mean, it just seems odd to have employees loan their employers money given the vast amount of resources most businesses have compared to their employees. What’s the reasoning behind this common practice anyway? Maybe I’m just missing something here.

      1. LL

        My former employer used the following reasoning: employees would be more inclined to limit spending and find the cheapest option when they were required to front the cash and then go through a lengthy, tedious reimbursement process. Unfortunately for employees, the system did work as intended and stayed in place.

        1. bob

          What a bunch of cheap m@$#%^#$^%^%*&*s!! They can always exercise veto authority if something is too expensive.

          1. V

            yeah, wow, seriously? they could even dictate where you stay, if they really want to. or compile a list of “economical” choices for you to pick from. wow wow wow.

    1. Rana

      I think it’s because they can make the employees carry the interest instead of bearing it themselves. For a really large company, that interest can add up.

      That said, it strikes me as one of those penny-wise, pound-foolish sorts of calculations.

      1. Jamie

        But if they are reimbursing employees in a timely manner they have the money to pay off the company card on time.

        This is a horrible practice, IMO. I know it happens, but ive only read of it here. Everywhere I’ve worked if things are charged they are charged to the company cards, period.

        The nice thing is when you have such heavy usage o. The company cards the miles and incentives really add up and help defray some of the travel costs.

        1. JT

          It’s not horrible if it’s not a burden for the employees and the business let’s it be know if the are happy to front the money in any case an employee wants.

          I don’t want to run around with more stuff in my wallet and I’m happy to have one less thing to deal with. My organization wants to pay things quickly and I’ll be reimbursed very fast if I ask.

          1. Anonymous

            Also: credit card rewards! they can add up when you’re running business expenses through your personal cards. (of course, this assumes that you won’t be paying any interest, because your company reimburses you promptly)

            1. Anon

              Yes, rewards. At my company, people fight over who gets to pay large bills for company dinners, events, etc. The points add up fast!

            2. Jojo

              Yes, I love those rewards! I used use my personal credit whenever I could in the previous company I worked for. I got free airtix, free hotel, and all kinds of things from my credit card points.
              With my current employer, we have to use company/corporate credit card for everything.

      2. Steve

        Again, I can only speak for my own personal organization, however with modern corporate card processing it is normal for the reimbursement to be paid in two or three days at most – well before the employee needs to pay the bill. There is no interest savings involved for the company.

      3. Dom

        I was on the hook for some large trips to be reimbursed afterwards, for several years while doing research. We traveled a lot, from days to up to a few months at a time! So the bills added up quick, and as a student it was VERY hard to keep enough side cash to cover airfare/hotels/taxis/food/other expenses (renting business rooms, etc)…think many thousands of dollars….

        Management refused to get a company card on the basis that someone would have to be accountable for it, and they didn’t want to held legally accountable for something that wasn’t approved before hand. So long as we used our money “appropriately” then it would be approved after. But if I went on a spending spree on their card, they didn’t want to be legally responsible. Or that’s what they said. I have always found it strange. Not sure if its because it was a group under an academic umbrella, dunno… regardless, even those of us with great credit can have troubles floating the bill until the reimbursment can be processed…

    2. Steve

      I can answer that, at least from my organization. Corporate credit cards are still issued to individuals and not the company as a whole. That is one of the issues the OP is dealing with. So if another person uses their Company card to reserve things for another employee they are personally responsible for the legitimacy of the charges. But they have no control over the charges, the traveler does.

    3. KayDay

      Everywhere that I have worked (all non-profits that are generally sensitive to the fact that our traveling employees aren’t making mucho $$$) does this. Employees do end up paying for many miscellaneous expenses upfront (meals, taxis, random things like gifts for hosts), but major expenses like flights, hotels, and rental cars are all either put on a company card (that the company pays directly) or are pre-paid by the company.

      1. Original poster

        Hey guys, okay, original poster here. My company did pay for my flight, hotel and car upfront. But as those who have less than pristine credit probably know, in order to pick up a rental car, you must present a card that matches the name of the person who is taking the car. Nope, I don’t have a personal or company credit card (I am not really required to travel much, maybe a couple of times a year). So. If you use your debit card for the deposit on a rental card, they do a debit card screening through a credit agency who in turn tells the rental place whether or not to rent to a person.

        My problem lies with the rental car agency, not with my employer.

        The only expenses that I have to be reimbursed for are food and gas for the rental. I can’t complain, being that I love my job and the state of my current financial situation.

        1. KayDay

          That’s for clarifying. I’ve never tried this with a rental car company, but I’ve never had a problem guaranteeing hotel rooms using a corporate card (that wasn’t in the name of the guest), so I had assumed you could do the same with rental cars.

        2. EngineerGirl

          Unfortunately, using a debit card for a rental car lowers your credit score. The rental company does a credit check on you. Too many of these impact your score. I hope you know that.

          Rental car companies in the US are really designed to work off of credit cards.

        3. Rana

          Can you get one of those debit cards that masquerades as a credit card? I mean, mine has the option of being handled as either debit or credit, so I use it in situations where they need a credit card but I don’t want to add to my balance.

          Conversely, it might be worth seeing if there are other ways to identify yourself to the rental car company. You can’t be the only person picking up cars pre-paid for by a company credit card, so their insistence on your showing that card specifically makes little sense to me. (Not that it has to make sense, but if it’s a silly policy, you might have more leverage challenging it.)

        4. Cassie

          Hmmm, that is a pickle. For our office, hotel and rental cars are usually paid for 1st by the traveler, and then reimbursed afterwards (we have an on-site travel dept that can book plane tickets and prepay them). In the past, travel advances could be requested for travelers who didn’t have credit cards (they get a company check that they can cash at the bank) but since hotels and rental agencies usually require credit cards, how would that work?

          Is it possible for the company to issue a purchase order to the hotel or rental company? Some of the hotels near our campus will accept purchase orders – I bet if I tried a hotel near a university, they’d probably do the same…

    4. MaryTerry

      My guess is from an auditing point of view – this way the employee has to reconcile the account and present receipts to get reimbursed… no receipt? you don’t get reimbursed. In addition, it frees up Finance staff from doing credit card payments & reconciliations.

  3. Chocolate Teapot

    Question 1 and irritating voices. I don’t think you can do much about complaining, however it is possible for speech patterns and accents to change when in a different situation. (e.g. “Phone Voices”)

    1. Blinx

      Agreed. No way to approach this one. Only thing OP can do is switch her thinking. Maybe pretend that the woman is a character in a sitcom with a really irritating voice (The Nanny), and has been doing a really good job! Might make them more amused than annoyed.

      BTW, I do empathize about voices. There are some actresses I like, but find their voices so irritating that I just can’t watch the show!

    2. Anonymous

      Given this is in a law firm, the only people who could give this advice are the partners. Whether or not they’d bother depends on the firm – some have partners who mentor and improve staff but all too many don’t due to what can be very mercenary firm cultures.

  4. Neeta

    3)Resume sharing

    Our team leader frequently does this, and no one finds it odd. In our company for example, we don’t exactly have a set few people who do interviews. It can vary depending on who’s available during a certain amount of time etc etc. So sharing information seems pretty normal, especially since some colleagues also recommend candidates.

    They even go as far as checking Facebook profiles, but this is mostly so that they can put a face to the candidate. As far as I’m aware this was not really held against any candidate. Even though we once had an exotic dancer apply for a computer programmer position. OK, granted we laughed at that and were quite skeptical about her abilities (and rightly so).

    1. Jen

      A coworker and I were involved in the hiring process for a new person on our team, and we did share the resumes with the other team members, to get their input. We also checked FB, LinkedIn and so on, because we’re nosy like that and we wanted to get a feel of the person before meeting him/her in person.

        1. Neeta

          The vast majority of exotic dancers in my country, did not even finish high school. You need an BSc in Computer Science (or prove that you’re about to get one in a year/two).

          I never said that was a very mature reaction.
          But let’s face it, how seriously are you going to take a candidate who puts a very revealing picture of herself in a bathing suit… and features her most prominent achievement as having been an exotic dancer.

          I’m all for changing your profession, but… when you apply for a job in IT, be aware of your online persona. It’s common sense.

          What I meant with “rightly so” was that she completely failed the technical assessment, which is ultimately what counts when deciding to hire a person or not.

      1. Neeta

        Programming is so much more than knowing a language or two.

        I’ve met plenty of people know knew their way around a few programming languages, but they got stuck when having to work on an issue they had never encountered before.

      2. V

        I think if it was apparent that she was an exotic dancer from her facebook photos I’d be concerned about her judgment, but it’s not a reason to be skeptical of her abilities.

  5. CatB (Europe)

    Alison, maybe it’s time you went international. I, for one, would love to read about similarities / differences in various areas of the workplace / work relationships. I was fascinated, for example, by the American habit of home-made food sharing; or by the entire “at-will employement” concept. I bet there are tons of such information nuggets that we can compare, examine, learn from. I’m positive you’ll find many commenters here happy to chip in with info.

    1. Brightwanderer

      I suspect there’s two problems with that. One is that AAM is working from her own expertise here, which doesn’t extend beyond the US (which she’s reminded us of before when international questions have come up.) The other is that, frankly, I can’t see it not descending into one-upmanship and arguments about whose labour laws are better. I frequently see things on this blog that make me want to say something totally unhelpful like “I am so glad I live and work in the UK” – which adds nothing to the conversation except unwarranted smugness/condescension. I’m just envisioning whole posts full of that… which wouldn’t serve any purpose than to get people riled up.

      1. Neeta

        If I recall correctly, we had a few posts about the OP moving to a different country. For such cases, I can totally see the use of the such posts for international interests.

      2. CatB (Europe)

        Brightwanderer – that *is*, indeed, one of the traps. Maybe I should rephrase my idea. I don’t expect Alison to be knowledgeable about things outside her expertise, of course. But this site (that turned into so much more than a simple blog) could host, in different pages than the actual blog, such comparisons based on the specific knowledge of her international readers. She doesn’t have to intervene, other than offering the space (a reader-moderated forum, perhaps?).

        Then again, this is *her* space, so she calls the shots. Alison, I beg forgiveness if I crossed any kind of line.

        1. Tiff

          Well, how about I skip past boring labor laws and get to the good stuff. Do you not have pot lucks in Romania? That’s what we call home-made food sharing at my organization. There’s usually one around Thanksgiving (complete with turkey and ham from the senior leaders), and some sort of warm weather team builder that involves barbeque food. It’s usually very good, but there’s always one sad little dish that sits with just a few spoonfuls removed at the end.

            1. cf

              I worked in Chile for two years. We did not have potlucks in the office, but in my first week at work, they slaughtered a sheep in the back yard of the office, butchered it, hung the meat on the bannister for two days, then had a BBQ.

              1. Blinx

                For real??? Oh my word! I think I’d be at my desk crying if this happened (and I’m a carnivore).

                1. cf

                  I was in the initial stages of culture shock, so it was just one more thing to add to the list.

                  A month later, the postman showed up drunk at the house I rented with another American and a Scottish woman. He demanded a tip for each letter he had delivered, showing me the hash marks on the door frame, one for each letter. He informed me that in Chile, the stamp covers the cost of getting the letter from PO to PO but not to the houses after that, because all the houses are a different distance away from the PO and how do you calculate THAT?

          1. CatB (Europe)

            Tiff, no potlucks here, as far as I know (there may be some, in a few mom-and-pop shops, but nothing more). Rarely someone comes with some speciality just discovered in a shop, or with something similar. Even birthdays and name days (quite a thing here) are celebrated by bringing in crackers and sweets and some sodas / juices (rarely non-alcoholic beer, sometimes champagne – as a symbol). Never-ever will you see, for example, a tray of leftovers from yesterday’s party – it’s considered rude.

            Some small companies do have a BBQ or company outing once or twice a year, but these tend to dissapear as companies grow.

          2. Jen

            I haven’t heard of anything like this in Romania, but then again, before my current job I was a freelancer (working at home). It *is* common for people to bring candy/cake/pastries when they’re celebrating a birthday, marriage, new baby. We celebrate “name days” here (i.e. my name – translated to English – is Jane, so my name day is January 7th, Saint John in the Orthodox calendar), so when there’s a particularly big saint we get a TON of candy :D

            (What’s even more fascinating to me is when you get people like me and CatB from the same country and our experiences are completely different… so I hope he answers this too!)

        2. Sdhr

          I work in international HR and it is fascinating how different the laws (and customs) are. My career until two years ago was US-focused but then my role expanded. Wow! So eye-opening. My new mantra is that everyone in HR in a US-based MNC should do some international work, even if it’s just one small project.

          By the way, from everything I have seen its a mixed bag. There are pluses and minuses everywhere. It would be fun if Alison just posed a series of questions, such as: in your country… How do you ask for time off? How do you resign? How are conflicts with managers handles? How do you celebrate birthdays in the office? Etc

          1. Catherine

            I think open-ended posts like that would be good idea. I would LOVE to read about workplace culture in other countries. I enjoy those comments anyway and an open thread dedicated to that would be fascinating.

      3. Sdhr

        From an HR perspective, it would be “whose labor laws are worse”! (and whether you spell labor with the ‘u’…:) )

        1. Sandrine

          I spell that “travail” around here lol.

          And I can say that some of ours are better, so there ;) .

          I’m joking of course, I know no country is perfect after all ;) .

          1. Another Emily

            I have heard that France (you’re in France right?) has great labour laws. I don’t know all the much about them though.

  6. Pamela G

    #4. Phone call disconnected

    I’m surprised no-one else has read this as an accidental call (as in, the hiring manager suddenly realised they were calling the wrong candidate or needed to do A or B before making the phone call and quickly hung up). If they meant to call you, they would have tried again or at least left you a message. No hiring manager in their right mind (or at least one you want to work for) will let the phone ring once, hang up, and assume you’ll call them back if you’re keen.

    1. B

      +1 Sounds as if they might have mixed up the call back and not call back piles. The person probably looked down, realized what happened, and hoped to have ended the call before being noticed.

      As for question 1: Leave it alone. That could just be the person’s voice. It would be very rude for you to say something to her and it is none of your business. Go about your work appropriately.

    2. Your Mileage May Vary

      This is what I thought as well. However, it doesn’t mean OP is out of the running, After all, their resume must have been on the desk at the same time as the other person. If OP was no longer being considered at all, the hiring manager would have likely already filed their resume away.

    3. Camellia

      On the other side of the “phone” however, is that the number of rings the caller hears are not necessarily the number of rings the recipient hears on their phone. This actually happened to me while I was reading this post! My desk phone rang and I picked it up before it rang the second time. But the caller said, “Well, I was beginning to think you weren’t going to answer!” She had heard six rings before I picked it up.

      Disheartening since we can’t do anything about it, but if you are the caller, please keep this in mind and don’t hang up too quickly!

  7. Liz in a Library

    3. I think it’s a very good practice to involve the staff who would be working most closely with the new hire in the selection process from the beginning.

    We regularly have our entire department read resumes and select people for the phone screen. We’ve even had trusted student workers do this in the past, particularly for front-lines positions where they would work with the person every day.

    The final decision tends to be higher up, but extra opinions on people tend to always be helpful, IMO. This is also why we introduce candidates who seem promising to everyone on staff and give them time to chat with staffers who weren’t involved with their interviews.

  8. Anonymous

    #1- I’ve found that people with annoying voices generally know they have an annoying voice (hello middle school and high school). I don’t think your pointing out will do much except make them more insecure about something I’m sure they already are insecure about.

    1. Rana

      Agreed. Especially since while it may seem like something easy to fix, it’s actually not. So telling her about it is similar to saying something like “Did you know that you’re fat and it really looks unprofessional?” or “Maybe you should do something about those teeth of yours.”

      Just don’t.

    2. Vicki

      The issue here is that she’s a lawyer.
      If anyone else is like the OP and finds the voice distracts from what the woman is saying, she’s going to be a failure as a lawyer. She needs to be making arguments that people listen to , not worrying about her voice.

      She can try a speech coach, she can try toastmasters.

      But if her job requires speaking, she needs to learn to speak.

      1. Tel

        It’s her business, not the co-worker’s. I’m sure she has noticed about her voice! I’m sure my boss wouldn’t want people pointing out his stutter.

      2. Your Mileage May Vary

        I’m sure she spoke to the people who hired her. They were aware of any issues with her voice at that time and chose to hire her anyway.

        It’s very possible that this lawyer’s voice only bothers the OP. I went to a conference once and one of the speaker’s had a voice that grated on me so badly I had to grit my teeth and concentrate on other things. Then when we left, I mentioned to my co-worker that I was glad it was over. She asked why and I told her. I was flabbergasted she didn’t hear the same thing in his voice that I heard.

        1. Jamie

          Yes, it’s weird what will bother someone. My ex couldn’t stand the sound of Candace Bergen’s voice. Back when Murphy Brown was on the air I had to tape it to watch when he wasnt home…nails on a chalkboard to him.

          Was the weirdest thing.

  9. Catherine

    #3 – For the last 5 hires on my team, my manager has shared the resumes and applications with me and my coworkers, and we are considered part of the “search committee.” I don’t think there is any issue with this. We participate in the interviews, so we get to see the resumes anyway. I found it to be really helpful in selecting good candidates. Before we were involved, my manager didn’t quite understand the skills that were valuable for our job (soft skills as opposed to hard experience), so the candidates were not very good. Now that we have input, we have hired some really great people. Like the OP, we are a tight-knit group that needs to fit well together, and being involved in the hiring process from start to finish enables us to get people that work really well with our team. We’ve hired some people that have had a little less experience than what my manager was looking for, but their personalities were a much better fit and we all benefit from that.

    1. fposte

      That’s how we do it as well. Not only does it help with the workplace cohesion, the people who are actually doing the job often have insight into possible strengths or weaknesses that I don’t.

    1. Rana

      You know, in the eight years I’ve owned a cell phone, I think I’ve dropped two calls, period. I’ve been cut off far more times when my parents’ cordless landline phone pooped out because of battery troubles. I think the idea that cell phones are inherently unreliable (“Can you hear me now”) is something that needs to be let go.

      1. Jojo

        +1000. I don’t understand this big deal about using cellphone. I don’t even have a land line at home – that’s old. When I did a few years ago, I mostly got telemarketers call that woke me up from my nap. At work, I forwarded all calls from my landline to my cell so it’s easier for me to take the calls anywhere, even when I’m out.

      2. Anon2

        I work for a teleconference company – cell phones are unreliable. Feedback, echo, dropped calls, static, low volume … sometimes the cell line is fine, but something on the line causes the lines on speakerphones to have feedback. And using the speakerphone on your cell? Just don’t. Please.

        If I could, I’d make everyone use the handset of their landline for every conference call they make. VOIP, speakerphones, headsets – they all have their issues as well. Of course, when you use your handset, then there’s the heavy breathing, the nose breathing, rasping as people shift the phone mic & rubs against their face/collar, the creaking as the person adjusts their grip & it sounds like they’re strangling their phone. Ok, so maybe there’s no 100% great option but landline handsets win hands down over cell phones.

  10. Ivy

    #1. To me, telling your coworker her voice is too annoying to listen to and that she should see a speech pathologist is akin to telling her her face is too ugly to look at and she should see a plastic surgeon. This is something beyond her control, and OP, it is up to you to get over the sound of her voice because this is not something she should have to change. I’m a little surprised that people are even thinking telling her would be helpful and would help to “improve” her professionally. We would never consider telling someone to lose weight to be more successful, but for some reason we’re considering this?

    1. fposte

      I’m in agreement that you don’t say anything unsolicited to a co-worker, but I disagree with its being the same thing as telling someone they’re overweight. For one thing, they know they’re overweight; for another, it’s a lot easier to modulate your voice than to shed some pounds on the spot.

      This example sounds too subjective to really be worth going into, but I’ve worked with a young colleague who spoke inappropriately loudly all the time and another who rattled on too much, both of whom modulated their speech patterns after being advised to.

      1. Natalie

        Speech patterns are different than the actual sound of one’s voice, which is what the letter writer appears to be talking about. Like a lot of people, I have a slightly different voice on the phone. While I can call it up “phone voice” at will, I didn’t consciously choose that particular sound and I’m not even sure how I would go about changing it. Whereas you were able to give your two colleagues specific advice – lower the volume and being more succinct.

        1. fposte

          I agree that this example is a greyer area. However, “unconscious” doesn’t mean “immutable”–your phone voice is a good example of something that’s not deliberate but is nonetheless changeable, and there are even professionals who’d help you do it. (Though I should be clear it doesn’t sound like it’s a problem.) People aren’t born to any single speech pattern, and we’re actually pretty retrainable in most vocalizations we make.

          I think the OP needs to stay out of it, and the woman’s seniors shouldn’t be bringing it up unless they know her pretty well and they know that it’s holding her back (which I don’t think the OP does know–being irritated isn’t the same thing, and in a lawyer the ability to irritate may be an advantage). In such a situation I think it’s actually okay to say “I think you’d be more effective if you could cultivate a more authoritative manner of speaking. The firm has used a speech coach in the past, so here’s her number if you’d like to explore the possibility.”

          1. Vicki

            She’s not just “irritated” She specifically says “It is hard to sit through a deposition or a hearing with her, because I find myself cringing at her voice, rather than focusing on what she is saying, which is definitely worth listening to.”

            The colleague is someone who needs to talk for her job. If her speaking voice has ANY chance of getting in the way of that, she needs help.

            1. Ask a Manager Post author

              Yes, but it might just be the OP who finds her voice irritating. I’ve known people with voices I couldn’t stand, but no one else seemed that bothered by it. Regardless, it’s not the OP’s place to raise it.

            2. fposte

              That *is* just irritated. It’s hyperbolic irritation, but it’s irritation. It’s not a professional consequence.

      2. Ivy

        I second what Natalie said. I would think losing weight is easier than changing the sound of your voice… to be honest even speech patterns can be pretty hard to change (though not impossible like the sound of your voice). What can someone say to her? You’re voice is annoying and you need to change it? I’m sure she would just reply, I can’t because I was born this way.

  11. Verde

    #6 – I’m curious about the reasoning for the lack of value of educational certificates. I would think that stating that you have a certificate would convey that you have completed a standardized level of education in a specific field, and were able to pass the tests needed to get the certification. I know a lot of people who have “taken some accounting classes”, and they don’t know a debit from a credit to save their lives. A certificate would imply to me – if I were reviewing a resume – that you might actually understand the classes that you took, were able to pass the tests, and you took enough classes to count for something.

    If you already have a bachelor’s in another field, then you’ve completed all the related classes plus taken all the unrelated classes to get your BA. If you’re adding a certificate in another field on top of that, wouldn’t that tell your potential employers that you have completed the same level of education in that second field, just without all the unrelated classes?

    In my case, I don’t have a degree, I didn’t even graduate high school (GED), and have worked a formal job since I was 15. I have taken classes on and off in accounting over the years, but not completed a formal accounting program; I do have my PHR credentials. I’m 43, and I have been thinking about going back and getting my accounting certificate first, then maybe working on enough credits in the unrelated stuff to complete a BA. It will take me forever as I work a lot and taking more than one class a quarter doesn’t sound fun. What I really want is a master’s certificate for accounting, but I can’t do that program unless I have a BA.

    I’m in a good place in my job (Administrative & Financial Manager at an awesome non-profit) and I have no intentions of leaving it. I just want to continue my education in order to keep up with the growing sophistication of our organization, and to cover my butt in case anything changes. In the past, no matter what level of experience I have had on my resume and how much I know and can convey in an interview, I’ve been glossed over due to the lack of documented and formal education.

    It seems that certificates, especially for those of us well past the standard college age, should still be beneficial. If I looked at someone’s resume and saw that while working 60 hours a week and trying to wrangle their already established personal life (whatever it is – kids, family issues, etc.) – or while they were unemployed and job searching – they managed to get back in to school and earn a certificate and further their education, I view that as an important accomplishment, not something to say ‘meh’ about.

    I also say this as someone who has interviewed applicants for administrative/bookkeeping assistance and they all have bachelor’s degrees in communications because they never made up their minds as to what to focus on. I would take an accounting certificate over that any day. Anyhow – there’s my two bits, and I would love to hear more about the reasoning for certificates being not valuable, as I have some decisions to make.

    1. OP #6

      I think the reasoning behind he certificates not being “valuable” is what entails getting them. For example, the “Entry Level Accounting Certificate” at my CC is literally four 100 level classes. The reason I even started taking classes again was three-fold, and I hadn’t even considered getting certificates, but I just really haven’t found the best way to list this stuff on me resume!

      First, I was thinking of applying to a masters program, but needed some prerequisites, second if I wanted to explore other options and thirdly, taking 6 or more units a semester defers my student loan interest. Win-win, right? :)

      Anyhow, I am learning a ton from my classes, even though I find them to be really easy in comparison to my previous undergrad work. But I guess I just don’t know what direction to go in now, as I’m impatient about some sort of career movement, and I guess I just want to try to make the most of what I’ve already done.

      My goodness, I’m also really sorry if this sounds scattered! I’m home sick today and afraid I might sound a little loopy!

  12. Another Job Seeker

    I think it depends on the certificate and the industry. I see quite a few job postings looking for PMPs (Project Management Professionals), but not as many seeking employees who have technical certificates (Adobe, Web, etc). I think that one reason that the PMP may be more respected than others is that those who hold it must pass an exam and have project management experience. I think that employers probably respect the experience as much as (if not more than) the knowledge required to pass the exam. One of my long-term goals is to earn my PMP. HTH.

    1. KayDay

      good point–I think national professional certifications, e.g. PMP, CPA, CMP, etc. can be really helpful in some fields. On the other hand, certificate programs based out of an individual college that aren’t standardized are less valuable (maybe?).

  13. Anonymous

    I’m from the Midwest, and when I moved to California, I started hearing comments about my accent and references to “Fargo.” So I toned it down, with some success, but whenever I get really interested in something or tensions rise in a conversation, my accent gets broad again. My family back in the Midwest also talks really loud and fast, and I’ve tried to adjust that too.

    I don’t mind toning it down, since I don’t consider shouting around the office in a nasal voice a vital expression of my personal identity, but it is difficult to do. Now when I talk to my relatives back in the Midwest, I have to hold the phone away from my ear because they’re so grating now!

    But if a regional accent isn’t the issue regarding this woman lawyer’s voice, and she just speaks nasally, I don’t think there’s much the OP can do about it.

  14. Natalie

    #6, if you are not going to pursue a bachelors just yet, what about an associates? From what I can tell, it is more valuable than a certificate in the job market (I’ve seen job posting requiring an AA in accounting, but none requiring a certificate) and in many community college systems the credits would transfer to a bachelors program.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      I’d be interested to hear if others feel differently, but I’ve never put a very high value on associates degrees. It might be that the jobs I hire for tend to be ones where that would raise eyebrows though, so what do others think?

    2. Malissa

      I would pick a person with an AA in accounting over a certificate any day. The problem with certificates in accounting is that there is no real regulation to them, with the exception of the Quickbooks one. An AA says that you’ve had at least 12 hours of accounting and should know how to work the basics of a spreadsheet. A certificate says you’ve passed a test of contents unknown.

  15. Anonymous

    I have a bachelor’s in a non-business field. When I considered accounting, I was encouraged by an academic advisor to pursue a master’s in accounting. There are foundational level courses for those who do not have a background in the field that I would take first. The counselor said these classes move at a quicker pace and are designed for a post-bachelor’s student. Starting at the associate’s level would be too basic. I don’t know if all this is true yet – I start class next week.

  16. Brenda

    I’m in almost the same position as #6. The only difference is that my BA is in Literature and I’m pursuing an AA in Accounting and not the certificate. I also live in California and am frustrated that I don’t have the option to attend a public school for a second degree. Some schools do accept second baccalaureate applications but they are done on a case by case basis and with funding being so impacted, the option to do so may not exist in the future.

    Anyway, while job hunting I have come across several positions that require an AA in Accounting but never the certificate. If the LW has the option to do so, I would put in the extra effort to obtain the AA and not just the certificate. In my case the difference is only in two courses although they have math requirements that I will need several additional coursese to fulfill.

    1. OP #6

      If the LW has the option to do so, I would put in the extra effort to obtain the AA and not just the certificate.

      I THINK the counselor there that I talked to said that if I got the certificate it would change my AA (that I got at that school like 10 years ago!) to an AS? I don’t know if that sounds right or not (or what difference it would make!) Does that just mean that the Associates degree has a specialized area? Either way I have SO MUCH coursework under my belt, its just a matter of filling out paperwork for some of this stuff. I somehow managed to take 7 years to get my BA and changed my major four times.

      AAM would you recommend applying for an MBA program without specific career goal? Or should I have a specific career goal first? And if a job candidate tells you they are pursuing an MBA, what does that tell you and how would you handle that, for say like an Admin position?

    2. Cassie

      If the job posting doesn’t specifically require a degree in accounting, just the courses, you could sign up for UC extension courses. Many of these are transferable for degree credit, so it’s like a “real” college course but not as expensive. Plus, there are online accounting courses if you don’t live close to a UC. (Oh, I guess CSU schools might have the same thing too).

      My sister has a BA in a non-accounting field – to move up the ladder in accounting at her gov’t agency, you need to have accounting courses. She went the UC extension route (online); many of her coworkers go to community colleges.

  17. Culture Shocked

    #2: At my mother’s nursing home, they implemented something they called “culture change,” and started requiring the nurses & aides to mop floors, cook meals, etc. on top of their patient-care duties. Supposedly it gave everyone responsibility and ownership and made the work climate more equitable or something.

    I don’t know how common this is in the world of healthcare, but I made the mistake in one of the “family meetings” of saying that if I were an RN or an LPN, I would feel demeaned by having to mop floors and clean bathrooms. I got dressed down by an RN who declared that she wasn’t above mopping floors and she was happy to do whatever they told her to do.

    Maybe she was saying that because her boss was leading the meeting, or maybe she really is just that dedicated; I don’t know. I think I’d be pretty annoyed if I were in that position, and I’d probably be looking for another job, but that’s neither here nor there.

    Is it possible that the OP is interning in a place with a similar culture? If that’s the case, it might not be an unusual request, and it might be wise to at least ask the manager (or the internship coordinator) to clarify the reasoning behind assigning that particular duty. But when looking for a full-time job as a medical assistant, it might also be a good idea to ask specifically if cleaning the bathrooms will be part of the job. (File under: Things You Never Thought You’d Have To Ask In An Interview.)

    1. Nodumbunny

      I’m surprised that they have the budget to pay RNs to mop floors. And as a family member, I think it would be more important to me that my $$ is being spent on things that make my loved one’s care/life better rather than on changes that seem motivated by making some sort of point to the staff.

    2. EngineerGirl

      I have to agree with NoDumbBunny. It is an exceedingly poor use of resources. Hire someone near minimum wage to mop floors and clean toilets. RN/LPN are skilled fields and you are paying them wages for that. It isn’t a matter of being above mopping floors. It is a matter of paying someone $$$ per hour to mop floors when you can have it done for $ per hour.

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