short answer Saturday: 7 short questions, 7 short answers

It’s short answer Saturday! Here we go…

1. Why do they ask for masters degrees if they really want PhDs?

I am a happily employed professional who went to graduate school for an degree in a field unrelated to my industry that I am personally passionate about. I graduated with my master’s degree several years ago and find that I really miss the university setting and engaging with others in this field. I would have gone on for my PhD, but I love my job and my schedule wouldn’t accommodate such a demanding program. The community college where I received my associate’s degree is hiring adjunct faculty in the field in which I received my master’s degree. The posting lists a master’s degree as a minimum requirement, but states that a PhD is preferred. I spoke with a faculty member with whom I have remained friends and he said that the department chair *only* hires people with PhDs, but encouraged me to apply since I was very well regarded while a student there (I even received the department’s Student of the Year award).

Why would a listing state that a master’s degree is required when only PhD candidates are actually considered? Wouldn’t it be more honest to just list the minimum requirement as a PhD? Being an optimist, I do plan on applying nonetheless. Do you have any suggestions on how I can attempt to compensate for my lack of educational pedigree?

Could be that they have an HR department that controls the wording of the job posting, and the HR people are insistent on listing the master’s degree, even though in practice the person doing the actual hiring won’t consider them? That would be my guess.

2. My office’s landlord is rude and sexist

The landlord of the the building where the nonprofit I work for is housed is incredibly chauvinistic, sexist and rude. He uses a rather derogatory mnemonic device of a popular weight loss guru to remember my name and calls me it to my face, in front of my co-workers and my boss. I am the only woman in the office. I call him out on it but it doesn’t seem to do any good. I have the support of one coworker, but I’ve never talked about it to my boss.  We are a minuscule non-profit (<5 employees) and my boss and the landlord get along great, I guess you could call them buddies, but they don’t hang out outside of work, as far as I know. I currently completely ignore the landlord when he comes into the office, unless he addresses me in some way.  So, how long should I continue to call him out on his rudeness before I talk to my boss, and what can he do?  And if the landlord kicks us out because my boss stands up to him for me as well, is that legal?

I’m no expert in real estate law, but I’m pretty sure that kicking your employer out once the lease is up would be legal — but it’s unlikely to happen and, more importantly, it’s not your problem. So please talk to your boss and tell her that the landlord is making you uncomfortable and you’d like it to stop.

By the way, if the landlord’s behavior crossed over into harassment in the legal sense — and it doesn’t sound like it does, but I’m saying this in case there are additional details we don’t know here — your employer would need to act on that. Employers are required to prevent harassment of their employees from clients, vendors, landlords, etc. — not just from other employees. (Caveat:  In your case though, it would depend on what state you’re in. At the federal level, this protection only applies to employers with 15 or more employees, but many states have enacted similar laws that apply to smaller employers too.)

Read an update to this letter here.

3. I messed up when a recruiter asked about salary expectations

I totally screwed up on a phone call with a recruiter today. I made your #1 mistake and was not prepared when the salary question came up. As it was an “exploratory call,” I naively assumed we were only going to talk about my background and potential opportunities like I’d been told, so when the recruiter point-blank asked what I make now, I answered with instinctive honesty, mentally cursing the moment the number left my mouth, because I am underpaid by about $10K. Worse, when he next asked what I hope to make in the new role (that he’d just described to me), I threw out a number that was embarrassingly low. He almost laughed and immediately said there would be “no problem” with that.

I knew instantly I had erred, and, having read plenty of your advice, am aware of what I could/should have said instead. However, what’s done is done, and I am now wondering if there anything I can say in further conversations to repair the damage. What do you think? Is there any way to say, “Actually, when I told you $60K, I meant $80K?” Or have I irrevocably marked myself as a cheap hire with zero savvy?

You can try, but it’s out there and it’s unlikely to be reversed. People very rarely make a $20,000 mistake in the amount of money they want, so he’s going to know that you’d actually be fine with the first number. I’m sorry.

4. My boss expects way too much from me

I recently took up a position as a part-time Events Assistant. While I vastly underestimated the level of work my position entails (though I don’t feel as though that was fairly communicated to me during the interview process), I’m having trouble meeting the excess demands of the job. My job responsibilities are listed at 2 pages long and while I’ve received plenty of praise for working really hard, because I have such a short amount of time to do dozens of tasks in, I’m making slight mistakes every once in a while and I’m worried that my employer is questioning my know-how and skills.

I’ve communicated to her several times now that, while I’m trying my very best, the work can be overwhelming for only one person in such a short amount of time. Even my coworkers acknowledge my position as a 3-person job, despite the fact that I’m only part-time. I don’t know how to communicate with her in a more clear way that I can’t get done what I need to get done without complaining or de-valuing my skills as a hard-working employee.

Tell her what you can get done in the amount of time you have, and tell her what that means will not be getting done (and one of those things might be mistake-proof work). Also, if you get the sense she doesn’t understand how long things take, explain how long you’re spending on a few specific things. One of three things will happen:
1. She’ll tell you she wants it all done anyway (especially likely if someone else has done the work in the same number of hours previously), in which case you can either accept that or start planning to leave.
2. She’ll tell you that there corners that can be cut or tasks that aren’t as important as others, in which case you should believe her.
3. She’ll find someone else to help with the work, in which case, yay.

But you do need to lay the problem out for her and get clarity on her stance, so that you know how to proceed. (Also, has the work been successfully done by a part-time person previously? If not, point this out. If so, find out how they handled it.)

5. Job applicants who use two different spellings of their names

What do you think of a job applicant who puts one name on the online application and a similar but different name on their resume? For example, if they put “Jinyi” on their application and “Jennie” on their resume and in their cover letter even take the time and introduce themselves as “Jennie” not “Jinyi.”

If it’s not because one is their given name from a country other than the U.S. and the other is the Americanized version that they often go by, then I would conclude that they are a 13-year-old girl, as that’s the only group I know that tends to spell their name differently on different days.

6. Explaining unemployment to an employer

I am one of the many recent grads who hasn’t been able to get a solid job since leaving school. If questioned about this by a prospective employer, how can you frame this without sounding A) incompetent and undesirable or B) like you’re making excuses for yourself?

This is normal. Employers are well aware of what the job market has been like. Say something like, “Despite graduating into a difficult market, I’ve been doing XYZ since leaving school.” (XYZ = something productive that makes you a stronger candidate.)

7. How can you effectively interview internal candidates?

I am interviewing two internal candidates for a new job that is fairly similar to the work they do now. The biggest change will be that creating reports would be the primary focus and the reports would be going directly to the leadership without my review first, so there is more autonomy. How do you construct questions for an interview for candidates where you are already familiar with their work?

Lots of “tell me about a time when…” questions followed by probing follow-ups, questions that probe any areas of concern that you have about the work you’ve seen from them or their ability to do the new job, questions about what they see that could be done more effectively, and — most importantly — a simulation of the work they’d be doing in the new job. In this case, have them create a report like what they’d be doing in the new position. This should give you quite a bit of insight into how they’d perform.

{ 69 comments… read them below }

  1. majigail*

    #4- Events are no joke. Especially in a non-profit setting (you don’t say that that’s your field, but I’m guessing.) Based on what I’ve seen, if you stay in events, you can expect this to continue. Keep you head down, work hard, and delegate if you can. Good luck.

  2. Anon1*

    #5. I’m not sure what the problem is. If this is a true application, I always recall they asked you for your legal name- Jinyi in this case. If you put down Jennie, you’d be lying.
    Most people put their “use” name on their resume – Randy (could be legally Randolph), etc… I’d suggest reading your company’s application carefully – if it asks people for their legal name, then the different names are normal as a resume should give people your preferred name.

    1. Jamie*

      That’s what I thought, too. I put my full legal name on the application and what I go by on the resume.

      I also wondered if it could be a autocorrect issue on the online application. Of course one should check before hitting submit, so points off for attention to detail…but my married name gets autocorrected to a similar name so I need to be careful of this.

      1. AdAgencyChick*

        +1. Especially since the example given sounds very much like a foreign name that Americans have difficulty pronouncing correctly, so the applicant has chosen to go by a similar-sounding common English name so as to avoid correcting everyone she meets. Nearly everyone in my family (my mother emigrated to this country, and so did a large number of her relatives) has a legal name that’s Chinese, and an American name that they go by.

        1. Jojo*

          +1. I know my company online application form listed name, and then nick name (I think they listed it as ‘prefered name’ or similar to that). I myself is using similar thing. My name as known at work and daily life is different than my legal name.

    2. Anonymous*

      This was my first reaction as well. I’ve done a lot of these applications recently and a great portion of them specify that it should be your legal name. When your legal name is something that is very unusual in the country you live in or something that just culturally sounds strange (as mine is) you’re are inclined to change it to make it easier for people.

      This one is straightforward, though– they sound similar, and considering the context I’d say it’s pretty clear that she gave the name asked for on the application and the name she actually uses on her resume. Which is smart, I think, because once you’ve been introduced as something at work it’s REALLY hard to get people to change it, even if you start trying on your first day. I have learned this the hard way. Aside from the people who just don’t want to re-learn a name and the people who honestly forget, I swear some insist on trying to say your “ethnic” name just because. Even if you tell them repeatedly to call you Sarah, they insist on using your given name at you every time. There are a lot more of these people that you would think.

      1. Mary Sue*

        It happens with people who have nonstandard names, also. Legally I have two first names, four middle names, and one surname. Trying to fit that into a confounded web form where the designer said, “Oh, they only need 15 characters each for tbl.FirstName and tbl.LastName just doesn’t work.

        And yes, my first names shorten to Mary Sue. Which is absolutely hilarious if you’re a nerd

        1. Anonymous*

          Yep, I have two last names and you would be amazed how that just blows peoples minds completely. I’ve even had people I barely knew ask me about it and then insult my parents. My favorite, though, is when I fly and my boarding pass has SARAH LASTNAMELAS, which gets me the side eye from security when showing my ID. It’s totally worth it though to hear when they call me over the PA and try to make my two smooshed together, truncated names into one pronounceable word.

          Hey, at least only one branch of fandom will think your name is funny, and they can’t even make fun of you at work without outing their hobby to all the normals ;) Though despite being into fanfic I actually didn’t think about it until you pointed it out.

      2. Andrew*

        Some people insist on calling someone else by their “ethnic” name even when asked not to do so because it makes them feel:

        –smugly proud that they can pronounce a “foreign” name correctly

        –politically righteous, as if to say “I care about your country and your people”

        –psychologically discerning, because they know that, deep down in your heart of hearts, you don’t really mean what you request.

        People should be called what they want to be called. Period.

        1. Anonymous*

          This is also my feeling about it, but I refrained from making those allegations in my original comment lest someone who does it was offended ;) But yeah, exactly this. “Oh look at how progressive and welcoming I am! I’m sure you only tell us to call you Sarah because all these other knuckle-draggers can’t say your REAL name and don’t care about you and your people, but *I* do!”

      3. Laura L*

        Yeah, I had this issue as an RA in college by senior year. I had to make door decorations with everyone’s name before new student orientation started, so I just went with what was in the student directory.

        One student had a name in his native language and went by an American name. He went to school in the states a while, so was used to going by his American name. Unfortunately, I didn’t know this, so everyone on the floor (except his roommate, who was a friend) called him by his Asian name.

        When I figured it out I asked him if he wanted me to change his door decoration and start calling him by his American name, but he said he didn’t care. I took him at his word, but I still kind of felt weird about it.

        However, now I know: Always ask people for their preferred name!

        1. Anonymous*

          I totally feel you on ths! By my second year as an RA I learned to make very easy to edit door tags because of name changes.

          This doesn’t just happen with foreign names either, some people go by a middle name or nick name that is completely different from their given name (for example, I had a student named Mary who went by Maggie because of a family joke that stuck).

          A lot of students with non-English names will go with another name because it’s easier for English speakers pronounce, but some go by another name because they’ve never used their traditional name. I have a good friend who was born in the US and was always called by a traditional “English name”, although the name on his birth certificate (which therefore has to be used on legal documents) is his Asian name.

          1. Laura L*

            Yeah. In my case, it would have been very easy to change the name since I’d printed them on separate paper, cut them out, and glued them to the door tags. I could have stuck one right over it.

            But I asked him multiple times and he said he didn’t care, so I left it as is.

            You’re right though, about all the nicknames people go by!

  3. Jamie*

    Asking of people have alerted their boss to the problem seems to be the equivalent of IT asking if you’ve rebooted before going further.

    It’s usually the first step of troubleshooting.

      1. Anonymous*

        Yeah, I agree, that’s putting way too much faith in the users.

        #1 is asking whether the device is powered/charged/plugged in. Rebooting is #2.

        1. Laura L*

          Ha! I get so annoyed with IT people ask me those questions. Yes, I rebooted and yes it’s plugged in or else I couldn’t have rebooted.

          But I know I’m not everyone.

          1. Jamie*

            You are very much not everyone. Because everyone doesn’t do those things before calling IT.

            Everyone doesn’t even know that the monitor is not your computer.

  4. Kerry*

    #5 – I also know several non-Western businesspeople who have a Western “business name” they use, which may be related to their name (as with Jinyi/Jennie) or which may be totally different (I work with a Jing Wei who goes by “Alex”).

    1. Anonymous*

      Also, the ‘latinised’ spelling of their “true” name may vary, since conversions from a non-latin script are not uniquely defined. One might hope that they’d keep it consistent, but I can easily see minor variations slipping through.

    2. EngineerGirl*

      Yes, we have that a lot on the west coast. It is espcecially common in Asian names, where english speakers have a hard time getting the sounds of the real name right. So many people have a work name and a home name. If you think about it, many english speakers do that too – they may use their middle name instead of their first name etc. Quite common.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Yep, I use my middle name. I repeatedly have to tell people to call me Liz because if they say my first name, I often don’t even hear it. Then there’s that whole awkward “Oh, were you talking to me?” thing. Bleah.

  5. Anony Mouse*

    #1 — The regional accreditation boards like to see that most of the faculty hold doctorate degrees. However, sometimes, it is good for the school to have working professionals who can help their students to find full-time jobs. If you have a master’s degree, but are very well-connected in your field, they may hire you, but they probably only want to make so many exceptions like this.

    1. fposte*

      Exactly my thought. They’re leaving themselves a loophole in case there’s a individual they want who only has the master’s because that person is famous, well-connected, experientially more awesome than the PhDs, etc.

      1. Jen*

        My company does this allllllll the time. And yes, the job descriptions are controlled by HR. We’re told that we can’t change the min quals of a job without a big meeting, etc, but we’re free to tinker with the “preferred” quals.

        1. JT*

          Is that one big meeting (say an hour with five or six people) and a little follow-up? You should have that meeting as opposed to having many people waste time applying to a job they will never get.

          1. Jen*

            It’s several meetings with HR’s compensation department, who likes to hem and haw and discuss the job descriptions to death. In the meantime, we have openings to fill. Postings will say “Bachelors required, Masters preferred.” And we do prefer a candidate with a Masters, though we won’t overlook a candidate with great experience and a Bachelors.

            Some hiring managers go through the candidates with the Masters first, and then circle back to the candidates with Bachelors degrees if they don’t find the ideal candidate.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        My alma mater has a very well-respected writing / English professor who only has a Masters. He’s one of the best teachers there, however. Otherwise, excepting adjunct faculty who actually have real-world experience, like some of the criminology instructors who were police officers for many years, they mostly have doctorates. A lot more than degrees were being considered there.

        The writing / English guy and the cops were my FAVORITE teachers there. One of the retired cops was also one of the best teachers I ever had, hands-down, anywhere. I took every class he taught, whether I needed it or not (I was a crim major for a while so I kind of did at the time). He also helped me later with my police novel. :)

    2. Rana*

      Or there may be a few long-term adjuncts with only a masters that they’d like to keep around, and re-setting the bar higher would mean they could no longer work for the school.

      Unfortunately, you’d have to be pretty spectacular to be hired with a masters these days, or have a personal “in” with the people making the hiring decision, or in a fairly rare yet popular field, because there is such a glut of PhDs out there, desperate for work. (She says, speaking from personal experience…)

      1. Rana*

        Also, on that note, should they offer you work, don’t quit your day job; only a very few of the adjunct positions I’ve ever seen or held were anything other than temporary, part-time gigs with no benefits.

    3. Anonymous*

      I’m interviewing for an adjunct position at a CC on Monday. I have a Master’s. I went to a CC where the only instructors in the dept had MA’s. I think it depends…and if a MA can teach and shows promise over a PhD who couldn’t explain a concept to save their life or doesn’t care about student learning, the MA will look better. They’re ultimately looking for the best fit.

      1. Al*

        I am an adjunct professor with a two masters in two different fields (teaching and kiniesiology) but I got hired because of my connections in the latter and the fact that I’m two national boards helped. They do prefer PhDs but will take others depending on qualifications.

    4. Anonymous*

      It’s totally an HR thing. I’ve seen lots of jobs with the “masters required, PhD preferred” where only a mad person would put someone with only a master’s degree in the position. I think part of the problem is many HR professionals don’t really understand the difference, and I’m sure it’s a problem with many similar credentials.

      You have to realize that this isn’t about qualifications, necessarily. It’s about appearances. For a college, it’s about stats in PR literature and accreditation, not about how well you teach your subject. It’s about appealing to students (and their tuition-paying parents) with meaningless “credentials.”

      I’ve seen jobs for non-teaching positions that are the same way – some jobs in my field involve working with international counterparts. They can only hire PhDs for the position purely for diplomatic reasons – our Japanese counterparts in my field are notorious for refusing to talk to anyone without a PhD (and other countries pull this same stunt too).

  6. Anony Mouse*

    #3 — Is the recruiter in-house or third-party? If it’s third-party, you may have an easier time going back on it, but you should say something ASAP.

    1. Jamie*

      You’ll know because it will be Ashley on the resume, Ashlee on the application, and Ashli (i dotted w/ heart) on the cover letter.

      And then you hire her for her exceptional Facebook skills.

      1. Andrew*

        When I was that age all the girls in my class named “Sue” changed the spelling to “Sioux.”. Hearts over the i were optional.

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        When I was about that age, I was variously Alison, Allison, or Alyson, depending on my whims that day. And at one point I randomly changed my middle initial to C.

        Teenage girls.

  7. Kimberley*

    RE: #3
    If this was an agency recruiter that you spoke with remember this: Their pay is directly related to your pay. The more you earn, the more they will earn. We do ask the salary question during exploratory calls because we don’t want to waste your time (or ours) by approaching you for opportunities that are outside your salary expectations. I wouldn’t call the recruiter back and say that you are only interested in opportunities that pay $20k more. However, if you are called about an opportunity you have the right to ask what their salary range is (they may or may not tell you), and you should do research into what the fair market value for those roles are. So if a company tries to low ball you with a sad offer you can say “according to the research that I’ve done on similar positions in our city, the median salary for this role is $___. I’m sorry but I know that my competency levels far exceed the minimum and I am not able to consider offers that do not pay fair market value”. It’s possible that you may lose out on an opportunity, but if it won’t pay you what you’re worth, then who cares?

    1. Anonymous*

      Original poster here. Alas (and also in response to Anony Mouse), the recruiter is in-house. He told me we would be discussing my general background and several openings, but in reality he asked whether I was interested in one specific opportunity and then fired off the salary questions. He’ll get back to me if the hiring manager is interested at which point we’re supposed to have a more in-depth discussion. So if we speak again, I’m thinking I’ll tell him that after gaining a further understanding of the job’s responsibilities my salary expectations have shifted. I figure it’s better to clear that up sooner rather than later, but thanks to you, if I do end up receiving an offer that is below market value, I know what I can say. I appreciate the feedback!

      1. Elle*

        I made a very similar mistake in my job search recently. The day after submitting my resume, I received a phone call from a Recruiter who wanted to do a phone screen right then and there. I was free and in a quiet place so I didn’t object, but I was definitely taken aback by the early salary question. I majorly lowballed myself, to the point where I wouldn’t even apply to a job at that rate. At that point, I felt that I had nothing to lose by reaching back out the recruiter and admitting I hadn’t been prepared for the question. They were understanding, said that was fine, called me in for an interview, and ultimately offered me the job. Unfortunately, the offer was the original salary I’d requested – and they made sure to tell me it was non-negotiable. Totally regrettable on my end, but a good learning experience. I declined the position, and have since found a position making a salary I am thrilled with.

  8. Jess*

    Re #1: From what I have heard, that’s pretty common for community college faculty–where they will technically hire someone with a masters degree, but in practice they get plenty of PhDs applying and so may not in reality be open to hiring someone with a masters. I’m sure it does not help if the people doing the hiring have PhDs. Generally places tend to be more lenient with adjunct faculty, but if the job market for PhDs is bad enough that they have enough PhDs in the applicant pool it can tip the scales.

    I have a PhD and work outside of academia as a researcher. The last couple of jobs I have held were technically open to people with masters degrees, but in practice most of the people who worked there (especially newer/less experienced staff) had PhDs. I think they would have been open to a particularly experienced/impressive person with a masters, but since they had many PhD applicants to choose from, they didn’t bother–especially with people who were not very far removed from school.

  9. Community College Curmudgeon*

    a) Most job announcements for community college faculty require a master’s because that IS the standard in the industry and at the individual college.
    b) It’s likely tied to the faculty contract as well.
    c) An individual department chair might prefer a PhD, but that’s not her call alone. The hiring committee recommends candidates, while the final decision usually rests with the dean or academic vice president.
    d) College diversity initiatives and just good hiring practices are moving toward requiring the lowest common denominators to attract the most varied pools–so rather than requiring a PhD and five years of faculty experience, the job announcement will list the minimum needed to be effective and hope to find some awesome candidates who fit the culture, work well with others, can bring some new skills or perspectives, and are easy to work with for the next 30 years.

    1. Community College Curmudgeon*

      and e) the preference for PhDs is regional. In some parts of the country, like the Northwest, PhDs are regarded with suspicion because their focus is perceived to be research, and community colleges need people who love and excel at teaching–usually the perceived focus of a Master’s.

  10. Anonymous*

    #1: Could it have to do with salary range? If the listing is technically open to a lower education level, then the lower end of the salary range would be less. So even though they’re not going to hire someone at the masters level, they might get to offer a lower salary for a PhD who doesn’t negotiate well.

  11. Anonymous*

    Totally agree with most of the others above. It’s not that they would never hire someone with a masters, it’s that they have many many good applicants with Ph.D.’s who are willing to do the job for the ridiculously low pay offered. Also, it sounds like you have never taught before. Depending on the field, they may be willing to give you a chance, but if you’ve done no teaching you will be at a disadvantage.

    Re: the previous anonymous – Salary range for most adjunct positions is relatively fixed, often $X per credit hour. In unionized schools it’s even more rigid, and the Ph.D.’d employee will always receive more than a masters employee with the same experience.

    1. Al*

      Sometimes multiple masters pays more as well, in my case I get an extra $20 per credit hour (I can buy some of us a pizza on that).

  12. EngineerGirl*

    #5 I see two problems here – executing without missing steps, and also having enough time to do the job. The fix will require some work on your part.

    a) Create a checklist that is very specific of things that need to be done. This should be a yes/no type of answer – Did I call the cake person and reimind them? Did I verify permit a, permit b, permit c?
    It is better if this is electronic so you can add tasks to it. When I create my checklists I even use conditional formatting, so if I have a “no” it shows up in obnoxious red.

    b) The tasking is harder. I suggest creating a gantt chart showing all the tasks, duration, and dependencies. If there are prblems with the flow, it will show up in the chart. For example, if a permit requires 5 days notice and you are only given 3, that is a set-up. When your gantt chart is complete take it to your boss with suggestions on how to optimize it.

    Both of the tools above can also be used for analysis and tracking. You can also optimize tasks and realign them for better flow. If you have a big project with lots of tasks/events flowing into each other this is the only way to go. I bet there might even be specialized event planning software out there.

    1. nodumbunny*

      Can I ask a dumb, tangential question? What software do you use to make Gantt charts? I’ve never found an easy way in any of the Office suite programs and have never had the budget (either at my last nonprofit job or now as a consultant) to buy a big project management software. Is there free or cheap easy-to-use software out there?

      1. Jamie*

        Tutorial for doing them in Open Office (free) and can be applied to Excel.

        I believe MS Project has the capability as well, but it’s been years since I’ve opened it so I’m not not 100% positive.

        If you’re running SBS server 2003-2008 it’s a built in feature on the company web. That’s what I use as its so accessible interdepartmentally and file sharing is fully integrated.

        1. EngineerGirl*

          I don’t see the ability to do dependencies. Absolutely critical for event planning. Am I missing it?

      2. EngineerGirl*

        MS Project. But there are other ones out there. And I’m really wondering if there aren’t specialized event planning packages available. I’m thinking that if it saves 2-3 expedited processing charges then it would be worth the purchase.

  13. Colette*

    #2 – To ask the obvious question, why are you answering the landlord when he’s calling you a derogatory name? I wonder if complete deafness until you’re addressed respectfully would be more productive than getting upset and asking him to stop. He sounds like a jerk, but you can’t control that part of it, so how about a different approach to the part you can control.

    You would, of course, answer if he were calling you by name, but if he’s not, I would suggest that you assume (and behave like) he’s talking to someone else.

    (I’m a little puzzled as to why your landlord is showing up often enough to cause this issue – that seems strange to me, but I’ll assume there’s a legitimate reason why he has to be there.)

    I agree that you should mention it to your boss, but there’s the possibility that that will make him more abrasive, so I’d be prepared for things to become worse before they become better.

    1. OP #2*

      I am not answering him when he calls me by that name. At first I said, “I don’t know who that is,” but now I just ignore him. Which has led him to ignore me, which is better, I think.

      The landlord is renovating the recently vacated office next to ours (both workers there were women, not surprised they left) and the one behind ours, so that’s why he’s here. He also has a small business that he runs out of one of the smaller offices in the building. So he’s here all the time.

      My boss is out for the week, and then I will be out next week. I will be mentioning it to him at our next one on one meeting when I return.

      Thanks for the feedback from both of you.

  14. Cassie*

    #5 – in my line of work, it’s not uncommon for people to have an “Americanized” name and “real” name. My parents have two names as well – the name on their non-US passport when they immigrated into the country (their names spelled phonetically), and the name on their naturalization certificate (my uncle, who immigrated to the US before us insisted it was essential to have “English” names).

    Their driver’s licenses bear their “real” names, it’s the name on their social security cards and this is the name that they use at work. But their US passports show the names from the naturalization papers (the English names) so it can get confusing.

    Nonetheless, people usually acknowledge their different names – like putting Jennie (Jinyi) or Jinyi (Jennie) on a resume or application. Maybe this Jennie uses both regularly and forgets that people may only know her by one name. So it is a little odd only in that it would be confusing if you didn’t know, but not to extent that you feel like she’s trying to deceive anyone (unless she is).

  15. AG*

    #6 – are you *sure* employers are aware of the unemployment crisis? There seem to be an awful lot of people in this country who don’t. I still hear plenty of “companies never let go of their best people, ever. If your company went out of business, its because it was run by the kind of people who couldn’t tell you weren’t one of the best people” attitude.

    1. Anonymous*

      Yes, and they sometimes milk it. When the market is so tight that people struggle to find jobs when they are out of work it causes the people who want to move jobs but are still employed to have less options too.

      Therefore the employers have far more chance of getting someone cheaper than in a fluid and buoyant market. Result: They can restrict their candidate choices pretty much how they see fit whether that’s looking down on the unemployed or only employing someone working in the same industry currently.

      As long as there is no formal and provable appearance of discrimination then they will get away with it.

    2. Anonymous*

      I’m the one who originally asked as, yeah, while I can’t believe anyone can honestly be so dense, I hear this same thing all the time. I see employers on the news saying it’s not that there aren’t enough jobs, it’s that everyone in the city/state is just not GOOD enough for them. They say it’s a shortage of skilled workers, not of job openings.

      My uncle, in fact, who is one of the people in charge of hiring at his company, has thrown all of these at me. Whenever there’s a family gathering and people ask how it’s going, he is just SURE I’m doing something wrong because it’s not possible that the market is bad for job seekers. He also insists his company can’t find the talented people they need. I call BS, obviously, but it’s made me especially concerned about running into someone like him while interviewing.

      1. Jamie*

        It isn’t that black and white. Yes, the hiring market sucks for some positions and a lot of talented people are having a hard time finding work. But that doesn’t negate the fact that there are also vacant positions because of a shortage of qualified applicants.

        There can be a hundred great marketing execs on the market, but that doesn’t help a company who desperately needs a sys admin with Linux experience.

        So both scenarios can co-exist.

  16. Anonymous*

    Regarding the “name change,” I have one you “younguns” out there probably have not thought of, and that is to protect your privacy and combat age discrimination! Try Googling your name or submitting it into and watch what comes up: Your name, the city in which you live, you address and your AGE! I spent months wondering why I was not getting calls to interview, despite a good work record and an excellent resume. Then I submitted my name into BeenVerified, and nearly went postal. Sometimes a desperate situation requires desperate measures. My name is unusal to begin with, but I changed one letter in my first name on all documents that I submit to posts. I ran it through Google and BeenVerified, and came up empty. Well, what do ya know; I am now receiving calls for interviews. Ya don’t suppose anyone out there is engaging in age discrimination, do ya? They wouldn’t do that, would they!!? Even though I look about 15 years younger than I actually am (without the luxury of a face lift), I still deserve a chance to interview regardless of my age! I, of course, am far from being alone in this situation. A web search for “age discrimination” will confirm that. If you, like I, am a student of military strategy, you know that sometimes you have to find a way to out-think the enemy and even up the odds.

    1. Jamie*

      I’m curious as to how this helps. If a company is so dedicated to researching age while vetting applications, does that change once you slip by and get the interview?

      Personally, I wouldn’t lie about who I am to get an interview. If I’m going to be rejected for something I can’t control I’d just as soon that happen before I waste time preparing for an interview.

      How do you explain misspelling your name on the application?

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Yeah, I agree with Jamie. If a company is so committed to screening out older candidates that they’re searching for your age online (NOT typical practice, by the way), then they’re not going to suddenly stop being jerks about age when you arrive for the interview.

  17. Anon*


    I don’t know if this is at every community college but mines just want a doctorate in anything.

    For example, there is this professor who teaches Chemistry but only has his Master’s in Chemistry but has his PHD in Education.

    I think that’s a little backwards because if they hire you to teach Chemistry and they’re looking for PHDs in the subject you should have a PHD in Chemistry, not a master’s in Chemistry and a PHD in another field entirely.

    But it’s a loop hole I guess. So if you really want to teach and you’re having trouble getting in maybe you can do a PHD that’s a lot less rigorous then what’s in your field.

    I’m not sure if that will work for the campus you’re applying to and it sounds fishy to me but it worked for one person I know.

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