mini answer Monday — 7 short answers to 7 short questions

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

1. Do I have to disclose my relationship with a student?

I recently started a new job at my alma mater, working in a business school (part of a large university) after having graduated 1 year ago and worked a first job elsewhere.

Before applying for the job (but after graduating), I was involved intimately with an undergrad student who started the program a couple years behind me and whom I originally met while I was still enrolled as an undergrad. I have continued to be involved with her since. I am now fully in my role working for the school, and the undergrad student and I are dating.

My role is in a business development capacity with graduate level programs, meaning I am not a professor, instructor, grader, or even working with the program in which she is enrolled. I am still involved in unofficial and informal capacities with undergrad aspects as an alumnus (coaching, mentorship, informal advice to those involved in the programs which I was involved in – this includes working with the student in question). I am curious if I have any obligations to report this relationship to HR or the union which represents me. Or even worse, if this could get me in trouble.

Normally I’d say to ask your manager or HR, but since you have a union, ask them. Universities are notoriously squicky about relationships with students. In your role, it may not be an issue, but given that you’re in a university setting, you’re far better off disclosing it up-front than being confronted about it later on.

2. Does this mean I didn’t get the job?

I went on an interview today, and I thought it went well. I got a business card at the end and felt very comfortable with the interviewer. However, when I asked what the timeline was for hiring, she mentioned that the interview process is going to take a while because she wanted to give all the great candidates a chance, but that she would be in contact with me. Does this mean I didn’t get the job?

Nope. It means that they have other candidates who they’re interviewing and it’s going to take a while. Take it at face value. Take all of it at face value — the feeling comfortable and getting the business card doesn’t mean anything either.

3. Are these application directions non-negotiable?

I generally send my resume as a PDF, because I’ve found that some computers and/or versions of Word tend to screw up my formatting. Generally, this isn’t a problem, but I found a job posting that I am very interested in, and they mention that they want a “Word resume.” From an HR perspective, would that be non-negotiable? Would this be one of those “applicant can’t follow directions” things, and should I rework my entire formatting to make sure that it works no matter what?

Yes. If they’re asking for it in Word, you give it to them in Word. Or you get discarded for not following directions.

4. Should I give my company feedback about their management?

For the last 4-5 years, I’ve received a .2% average raise (accounting for inflation). After benefits, I’m actually making less than I did in 2008. Last year I was written up for offering some constructive criticism of leadership’s vision and given no raise. I have tenaciously studied leadership for the last few years while accomplishing all my normal duties (and doing an awesome job at it). I’ve applied elsewhere, but the competition for leadership positions seems to be very high. I am not willing to risk my income to offer feedback that is perceived as unwarranted, unnecessary, and “won’t be tolerated.” I could write a lot more, but it is enough to say that the culture where I work is quite toxic and I honestly wish I could work to change this. Do I dare bring up more conflict or should I continue sticking my head in the sand?

They’ve made it very clear that they’re not interested in hearing it, and that they’re willing to penalize you for offering it. There’s no upside to going out on a limb on this (other than that it might feel good on principle, but it will feel less good if it jeopardizes your job).

For what it’s worth, studying leadership (by which I’m guessing you mean, at least in part, management) is no substitute for actually leading and managing, and in general companies aren’t thrilled to be told that they’re doing it wrong by people without experience running companies themselves. That’s in no way intended to defend your company’s actions, because it’s ridiculous to respond to feedback the way they did, but it’s worth factoring into the way you’re looking at this, overall.

5. Coworker is rude and dismissive when she reviews my work

I have a colleague who used to be my supervising manager and is no longer. Her role still dictates that she review my work and provide feedback, but I am now directly supervised by her supervisor (the president/owner of our small company).

When I present my work, ask questions, explain how I came to solutions,etc., she is often extremely disrespectful — texting or talking on her phone, yawning, looking at the clock, interrupting me and/or answering me as though my questions/comments/etc. were poorly conceived or downright stupid. After almost two years of this, I have lost confidence in my work, in my ability to articulate information and in my respectability as a professional and as a human. My supervisor’s solution is for me to “toughen up” and ignore her, but I’m not sure I can continue doing that. Should I try to have a conversation with her about how disrespectful and hurtful her actions are? Is there another possible solution?

Keep hurt feelings out of it. Instead, you could say, “I get the sense that you’re frustrated when we speak, especially when I ask questions. You often seem in a rush to end our meetings. Is there something you’d like me to be doing differently?”

She might tell you something you didn’t know (like “you take an hour with this stuff when I can only allot 15 minutes for it” or “you don’t seem to pay attention to feedback I gave you in the past, requiring me to repeat it again”), or she might be jolted into realizing she needs to behave differently. Or not — she might continue totally unchanged. She might just be a jerk.

The thing is, though, you don’t have any control over her; you only have control over how you respond to her. Do you really want to give random jerks the power to make you feel this horrible? That brings us back to your boss’s advice, which I think is meant to tell you that you’re taking her behavior way, way too personally. I know it’s unpleasant to deal with someone like this, but it’s about her, not you. Because someone professional and not-a-jerk wouldn’t treat you that way, no matter what you were doing to provoke it. Therefore, it’s not about you.

Sometimes we end up working with jerks; you’re giving this one too much power over how you feel about yourself.

6. When a company keeps interviewing but not hiring

What is happening when companies go all the way through first and second stage interviews but then change recruiters and start the process all over again? I have gone through the second stages and twice now there has been silence, then the job has been re-advertised with new recruiters (with no changes). I am then always the first to get a call for the role from the new recruiter as I have some fairly niche skills that are an exact match.

All second stage candidates are being rejected, so I am not losing out to someone with a better fit, and while racking my brains what I could have got so badly wrong, I just can’t see it — and due to the silence there is no feedback to go on. I know that some interviews do turn out just to be fishing expeditions, or the jobs get pulled, but that doesn’t feel like the case here.

Is it possible I am unknowingly doing something at the second stage that is so awful I am wiped off the map? I am not new to the interview process, and this is the first time I have come across this. It seems perversely picky, as the jobs remain unfilled, with all candidates rejected.

Sure, it’s possibly that you’re not interviewing well, but it’s also possible that the company simply doesn’t think any of the candidates that have been presented to them are quite what they’re looking for. Some positions are hard to fill for various reasons — either the job requires some tricky combination of skills, or they really care about culture fit and are going to be picky for that reason, or the manager is hard to work for and they’re looking for a personality match … or sometimes they’re just very picky. There’s no real benefit to speculating since you can’t know for sure. You’re better off just moving on.

7. Turning down a coworker

One of my colleagues asked me out on Facebook via a private message, and I avoided the question. What makes this problem worse is I secretly like another one of the coworkers! And I am not attracted to the one that has asked me out. The workplace is a very close family-like environment. My normal comeback is “sorry, I’m taken,” but on this occasion it won’t work, as I like the other guy. How do I let the one that has asked me out down without making it uncomfortable to return to work with him? And if I let the one I like know, what can I say to the one that has asked me out without making work become awkward?

First of all, “avoiding the question” is unkind. You need to straightforwardly say no to this guy. And”sorry, I’m taken” isn’t ever a good response because it implies that you’d be open to dating the person if you weren’t committed elsewhere. “No, thank you” is the response I’m looking for … following by “I’m sorry, but I’m not interested in dating you” if he persists.

But I’d reconsider whether you should be dating anyone you work with if it’s a “close, family-like environment,” because that will be uncomfortable if things don’t go well.

{ 86 comments… read them below }

  1. Kay

    Are PDFs the way to go now? I’ve seen that advice a couple of times, but I always thought they were more awkward. Does it depend on the formatting you are using for the resume?

    1. K

      Personally, I like getting things that are meant to be final/not edited in PDF because it marks them as such in my mind, but I think that might be an idiosyncratic preference.

      1. Anonicorn

        I’m the same. I have a general Word resume that I edit based on the position I’m applying for. I then save the tailored resume as PDF so that I know it’s both finished and for a specific job.

    2. Anonymous

      “I always thought they were more awkward.”

      Why?

      PDFs, in general, have better fidelity of appearance in different computer systems. So, in general, if you’re sending a document out to be read but not edited, by people who may or may not have the same computer set-up as you do, use PDF.

    3. Ellie H.

      I’ve always used Word and only recently realized from other comments on this blog that PDF is “standard.”

      However, I don’t really understand whose formatting is so complex that it gets screwed up by being in Word, or why.

      1. Verde

        PDFs are way better. Easier to read, look better, can’t accidentally screw it up (yourself or the person reading it), no competing Mac/PC issues, and so on. I’ve gotten so many resumes sent in Word that have goofy things going on with them, such as all the format/editing tracking is still turned on, the person used a font that my computer didn’t have so it converted it and mucked up the formatting, and so on. Also, it shows that me that someone is savvy in basic tech stuff and knows how to figure out things like how to make their resume a PDF.

        There are many free PDF converters out there (i.e. CutePDF) that will let you print a Word doc to PDF. Always send it to someone you know and ask them to check it to make sure it works properly on another computer. Then you’re all set.

        1. TychaBrahe

          I write documentation on a PC that shows up on our software that runs on iPads and Android tablets.

          The screen aspect ratio between these different devices means that you cannot trust that words end up where you put them. What looks nice in Word on a PC can look like crap on an iPad. Graphics are especially problematic, as they are often placed with respect to margins, only the text that was supposed to be next to them is no longer there.

          We advise all of our clients to publish in .pdf.

      2. Anonymous

        “I don’t really understand whose formatting is so complex that it gets screwed up by being in Word, or why.”

        Because not everyone has the same version of Word, or even has Word at all, or has the same fonts on their computer, so things can change.

        PDF is an output – like a printout on paper, so it tends to hold onto appearance better.

        And PDF is literally a “standard” from the International Organization for Standardization and usable by many companies. Word is a proprietary software from a single company so is conceptually less universal (though very common in corporate environments).

        1. Jamie

          Yes, but that’s why people should stick to common fonts for resumes and not try to get creative. I’ve personally never seen a problem in formatting from one version to the other – so if you stick to standard templates and avoid getting too clever you should be okay.

          What ISO standard references use of PDFs specifically? Because I’ve been through more than my share of ISO audits and even took a company through initial registration as a Management Rep and there has never been an issue with my use of Word documents. Unless a company specifies use of pdf only in their Document/Record Control procedures (ISO 9001-2008 clauses 4.2.3 and 4.2.4) then pdf is no more standardized than any other file format. Unless this is a TS 16949 or AS9100 thing?

            1. Jamie

              Oh – that’s the standard for developers of the PDF software itself. I misunderstood and thought you meant use of the format was part of ISO standards.

              My mistake.

          1. ThursdaysGeek

            But I don’t have Word, I have Open Office, and I can save as Word, but I wonder how it will actually look. I don’t do anything more than basic formatting in the resume, so it will probably be ok, but I don’t know that for sure. I get Word files from others, and it can sometimes look a bit funky in OO.

            1. K

              Yeah, I have found the Word/Open Office transition to be funky. But it should be reasonably consistent so if you can find a computer with Word to test your resume on, it should be okay on other Word computers.

              1. Jamie

                I haven’t done extensive testing, but anecdotal I’ve dealt with quite a few users with Open Office and there are generally more problems going from Word to OO than OO to Word.

                Again – just my experience so it could be coincidental.

            2. Yvi

              I don’t even use OpenOffice. I use LaTeX for my resume. If one single application required me to send in a Word resume, I wouldn’t even bother – I’d have to retype the whole thing.

              1. xerotope

                As a fellow TeX user, when someone asks for a copy of my resume in Word or whatever, they get a copy of my pdf as a single large image. (pro tip: make the resolution > 300 dpi)

        2. Ellie H.

          I know what a PDF is and what Word is – I just don’t really get why people want to persist in using non-standard fonts and symbols when it’s easy enough to circumvent the problem entirely.

          1. Anonymous

            ” just don’t really get why people want to persist in using non-standard fonts and symbols when it’s easy enough to circumvent the problem entirely.”

            I don’t understand why people believe that what Microsoft decides it wants to sell should be taken as the standard, where there is an actual cross-platform standard out there so that it’s easy enough to circumvent the problem entirely.

            1. Ellie H.

              I could be wrong, but it’s my impression that at least a plurality of workplaces, and probably people, do use Microsoft Office, so why not work according to what is most frequently done, as opposed to according to an ideal which may be better, but is not practiced.

              1. Anonymous

                But a certainly at least a plurality of workplaces can read PDFs, so I don’t understand the point of your comment regarding office receiving PDFs.

                On the reading side, PDF is an “ideal” that works fine. It is practiced – people in offices receive and read PDFs all the time.

                “and probably people”

                I’m not sure of the installation base of MS Office outside of the workplace, but am doubtful it is as widespread as PDF readers. There is a reason that so many organizations that put many documents online do it as PDF, not MS Word. The readers are free, extremely common, and available for many many different computer systems.

              2. Jamie

                As of 2010 MS Office had a 94% market share in the workplace (per technet). I can’t imagine they’ve lost enough of their market to where they are not still far and away the office productivity suite of choice.

                Every company would decide they are the standard, if they could, but Microsoft due to timing of entering the market and other forces got consumers to decide they are the standard.

                Perhaps not the best (depending on your POV), certainly not the cheapest…but absolutely without question the most pervasive.

                That’s not to say you wouldn’t be hard pressed to find an office pc without some type of pdf reader – also pervasive – but if they want it in Word that’s not unreasonable.

                1. Anonymous

                  “if they want it in Word that’s not unreasonable.”

                  I’m sorry, other than the OP has any commenter suggested sending PDFs to a place that asks for something in Word? Perhaps I missed that.

                  If you’re sending a document to someone and are not sure what computer system they have, and the appearance matters, send PDF if you can. It’s a safer. Most of the time Word will be fine. But PDF is a tiny bit safer. It is a standard in practice, and standard in the letter of standards too.

                  Oh – there are even fidelity issues between different version of MS Office. Even between 2007 and 2010 on Windows with certain fonts (the appearance of numbers). Not enough to mess up the layout since the characters are the same width, but they won’t look the same. To say nothing of Office on Windows versus on Mac.

          2. KayDay

            I’ve reviewed tons of resumes in Word, and rarely (if ever) have had a noticeable problem with the formatting. Of course, there’s a chance that I just didn’t realize that what I had was different from what was intended.

            I don’t think there’s a problem with using word to send your resume, but I do think PDFs are slightly better for the reasons mentioned throughout this thread. But of course, if the application instructions say to send Word (or as a text file, or as a Paint file) follow the directions!

      3. Jamie

        I wonder, too, how the formatting is getting screwed up since I rarely see that…I’m wondering if this is an overly complicated homemade template?

        And while I do like PDF for the reasons noted – for every PDF resume I’ve seen in the last several years I’ve seen way more in word. It could be close to a 100 to 1 – so at least in my corner of the world Word is still standard.

        1. Chinook

          I am glad to hear that. I still use Word but am very aware to keep it basic and saved as a .doc so that there are limited issues. Could I make it fancier and PDF it? Sure, I am a power user after all. But part of having these skills is knowing when to use them. I am sure we have all seen PowerPoint presentations that show great technical skills but are lousy presentations.

        2. Kristi

          Not to further muddy the waters but when we say Word, is that .doc or .docx? I remember this came up in the last few weeks and how complicated it can be based on what version you have and are sending to. PDFs just seem much more low-maintenance in that sense, given a choice.

          1. Jamie

            Microsoft has a free Office converter which takes less than a couple of minutes to download and install – anyone receiving files from the public should have this installed making the version a non-issue.

              1. Jamie

                I didn’t say it was bad. I like pdfs – as I said in a comment above. I was just saying that the version issue is one of the most easily solved problems so there’s no reason not to install a converter.

                People can like pdfs all they want and I think they are fine for resumes, but right now Word has a big portion of the resume market and so they should install a converter so they don’t have to worry about it.

              2. Chinook

                Sometimes it is because they are importing the resume into a program. PDFs sometimes save the words as an image so there are no characters to be read by OCR. Also, PDFs can also be secured so you can not extract the content. True, you can do this in Word, but most people haven’t created the security certificate to do this.

        3. tcookson

          I wonder why the job posting wanted the resumes specifically in Word?

          I’ve done the admin work for a couple of large job searches by my university department (pre-2008 we would receive perhaps a dozen responses to a job posting; post-2008 we will get over 100 resumes), and it never mattered to us whether the resumes were in Word or PDF.

          I haven’t even noticed that one format has been prevalent; it’s common to get resumes in either format. I do tend to think of the PDF-senders as more technologically savvy, because leaving a final document in Word seems less secure from somebody making changes to it.

          When I ask our faculty to submit documents (syllabi, annual evaluation materials, etc.) I will save it as a PDF if they send it in Word, just because to me, PDF means that this is the final copy.

          The only time I ask specifically for them to submit in Word is when we are compiling all their individual resumes, syllabi, etc. into a single report. Then I want them all in Word, because they are always tempted to use at least one of their own individual formatting quirks (they are designers, so they each have a particular preferred font, ink color, philosophy of formatting, etc. that they are passionately attached to). So if a report specifies formatting, I make them submit in Word so I can standardize all their individual submissions.

    4. danr

      I use a PDF whenever possible since it can viewed on any system. However, if a job ad specifies Word, then they get that, as a DOC, not a DOCX. I also have a text version ready in case I need it to pasted into an application system.

      1. Verde

        That’s a great point – having all three (PDF, Word, Text) in ready to go formats is a great plan. A simple, clean Word .doc using standard fonts and formatting that are available on all versions; a PDF of the same; and a text version that is formatted for text only uploads. That’s the way to go.

  2. Wilton Businessman

    #1: Universities are weird.
    #2: It means they can’t make up their mind and are going to waste a lot of people’s time.
    #3: If opening you’re resume in Word messes up the format, the format is too complex. Clean it up.
    #4: When I see a problem, I don’t point it out, I jump in and fix it.
    #5: I would approach her and ask how I can make our meetings more productive.
    #6: You’ve got to accept that this might not be the position for you. These things have a way of working out for the best for both sides.
    #7: Don’t mix business with pleasure.

    1. Anonymous

      I only get resumes from intern applicants and in that community it’s more than half in PDF, though not a much more – Word is still common.

      “I’m wondering if this is an overly complicated homemade template?”

      It can be. But it’s also when people have different computer systems. If you work in a business environment where most people have Word 2007 or 2010 on Windows with default fonts, even the applicants to your jobs, then you won’t see differences much.

      #3: If opening you’re resume in Word messes up the format, the format is too complex. Clean it up.”

      Oh BS. Sure, overly complex formatting might be the cause but there are perfectly legitimate reasons as well. What if the only version of Word you have home is on old version on Mac? Or what if you don’t even have Word at home at all?

      This is particularly an issue in terms of the lengths of lines – even with a plain vanilla layout and fonts in Word, if the recipient doesn’t the same fonts and you haven’t embedded the fonts in the resume, then a font substitution by the receiving computer will keep things looking fine……except the lines might be a tiny bit longer or shorter, resulting in an odd page break.

      Or what if you’re using a perfectly “normal” looking font that is not ubiquitous. My resume is in Chapparal. It is not a “strange” font at all, and looks very nice. Jobs I apply to have a small design component, so something a little more nice than Times New Roman is a good thing, even if most viewers won’t consciously recognize the difference.

      The resistance to sending out PDFs I’m sensing here is bizarre. There is a reason that fact sheets, government documents, etc etc put online for diverse audiences are typically done in PDFs nowadays – the readers are free and ubiquitous, and look good on screen and in print.

      Heck, if you were sending out a proposal to another company and they didn’t specify the format to receive, would you stick with Word or use PDF, which is more reliable?

      1. Kristi

        I spent some time in a small company that always sent out proposals in Word, and had no real insight or understanding of desktop publishing or working with PDFs. I had, and always preferred to send PDFs, just looked so much more professional.

        1. Kristi

          And this isn’t meant to sound as snarky as its reads. I saw too many poorly formatted proposals go out the door and that was ultimately the issue. Otherwise, purely personal preference for me.

    2. VictoriaHR

      I agree about #3. And really, stop obsessing about the formatting of your resume. It’s probably too fussy if it can’t be viewed the same in different formats.

      I get Word resumes, I get PDF resumes. Either is fine with me, but if my applicant tracking system will handle Word docs better than PDF’s, and I ask for Word doc resumes from candidates, then I want to see Word doc resumes.

      1. Rana

        Agreed. All of this is reminding me of the “font games” students play with margins and fonts in order to meet assignment parameters, instead of focusing on the contents. Unless you’re submitting it in Comic Sans or some other silly font, no one really cares whether it’s Ariel or Times New Roman.

  3. Runon

    #7. You need to learn to say no. Dodging the question isn’t saying no. Being direct can be difficult but the good news is he did it online so you can respond online, take the time you need to write it out. Not I’m not interested in dating right now, not I just got out of a relationship. Just I’m not interested. Anything short of that or anything with caveats isn’t being direct, and will likely only lead to frustration.

  4. Anon

    #5: “She used to be my supervising manager, but is no longer.” Sounds like everyone knows she is a jerk that shouldn’t be managing PEOPLE – that sniffs of a demotion. I could be wrong, but it sure sounds like it. She knows it. The person she reports to knows it. She assumes everyone else knows it. She is embarrassed, bitter and angry.

    Ignore her. It is her and not you. I know it’s easier said than done, but think about what is going on here. Be thankful she only has to look at your work and she isn’t doing your annual review, etc.

    It would be interesting to know if the behavior got worse after she no longer managed the OP.

    1. Jamie

      Not necessarily – could just be a restructure of positions which happens in small companies for a lot of reasons – not necessarily a demotion.

      I am also curious, though, as to if this is new behavior after she’s no longer managing you or if it has always been like this.

      Whatever the explanation I agree with Alison that the OP is letting this person have far too much emotional power over them. If you feel you are being treated unfairly I think it’s normal to be angry and irritated – but if it’s affecting how you see yourself and your own self-esteem that needs to be addressed. People you don’t love enough to take a bullet for should never have that kind of hold over you, IMO.

      I also agree that while no one should be rude regardless, I would look to see if there is a more efficient way of conducting these meetings/getting feedback. I don’t know what kind of work you do, but assuming it doesn’t need to be reviewed in front of you can that part of it be done ahead of time – so the meetings are about her giving feedback and your response to that which would be shorter.

      1. Anon

        I would love for the OP to just be able to send this person work via email and get the feedback the same way – just limiting contact as much as possible. Or like you said, dropping it off and just getting feedback when it’s ready, then leaving.

  5. Jubilance

    #7 – yeah avoiding the question is really a d-bag thing to do, especially since you guys work together. You don’t have to go into all the details, but a simple “no thank you, i’m not interested” is the way to go. As for being interested in another coworker…I’ve stuck by the “no dating coworkers” rule to good success. Too many horror stories out there, especially if your workplace is small & as family-like as you claim.

    1. Janet

      Agreed you really need to say no. It reminds me once in college a guy asked me out – we were just friends (I thought) so his question caught me off guard. For some reason being young I couldn’t just say “No” because I thought that would be rude so I literally stammered and said “Um, uh, uh, ummm, uh, well, uh, umm” for about 2 minutes straight. He honestly walked away from me as I nervously stammered. Hint taken. But it would have been kinder if I’d been able to just say “John, I am not interested in dating you”

    2. fposte

      I think being asked out by somebody you’re not interested in is like being in a car accident that isn’t your fault–you may not have caused the situation, but you’re still responsible for dealing with it and not running away from it.

  6. Anonymous

    #5 – Since her communications are passive-aggressive, my response would be to respond to them. I wouldn’t advise that in other scenarios, but in this one, I think it would work to your advantage to directly refer to the problematic behavior – such as:

    -Texting or talking on her phone
    Stop talking and wait and if she motions you to go on or tells you to continue say “That’s OK, I understand you’re busy and I’m happy to wait until you finished up that call/text”. You’re acknowledging the behavior and telling her in a non-direct way that you’re not going to compete for her attention. If she insists, you can get more direct and say “I’d like to have your full attention when we meet”. Ultimately though, if your supervisor won’t back you up and tell this lady that it’s NOT OK to talk and text during meetings, there’s only so much you can do about it. However, I think acknowledging the behavior is happening will help you feel more empowered and less like a victim.

    – Looking at the clock
    “Do you have another meeting to get to?” If she says “no”, you can say “OK, I just noticed you looking at the clock a couple of times and I wanted to be mindful of your schedule”. Again, I think rather than sitting there and enduring behavior you find demeaning, speaking up about it in a non-accusatory way can help you feel more in control. Might not change her, but it could help your mindset. And it’s letting her know you see her bag of tricks :)

    – Yawning
    “Oh gosh, now you’re going to have me yawning!” Then, yawn.

    I think you get the idea. You can’t change her behavior, you can change how you respond to it and that could help lessen how bad it makes you feels.

  7. Frances

    #6 – I once administered a job search for a fairly senior administrative position that went on for two years, with at least three different postings. A number of things happened to cause the delay: the original posting didn’t get quite the candidates the search committee wanted, a second try resulted in an offer that was ultimately turned down, and the third try got hung up as the department was restructured. (I actually left my job there before they hired someone.) Although some of this was beyond our control, some of this was also caused by the dysfunctional internal politics of the organization, so just be mindful of that if you make a third attempt.

  8. perrik

    #4: Changing organizational culture is difficult enough to accomplish when you’re in the C-suite. If you’re middle management or lower, forget it. Been there, realized I couldn’t do anything about it, and left – but took with me a valuable first-hand lesson about how management can trip itself up.

    #5: I’m a little concerned that your supervisor’s advice is to just suck it up and deal – because your supervisor is also *her* supervisor, and should be managing the unprofessional behavior of his/her direct report.

    #6: On the second go-round, did you re-interview with the client company? If so, the second recruiting had submitted your resume to them and they requested the interview… which indicates that you were probably not put into a “no” pile after interviewing via the first recruiter.

    What’s really weird is that the second recruiter even worked with you. It’s pretty standard that the recruiter who submits your resume to the client first “owns” your candidacy for a certain amount of time; by that contractual agreement, the second recruiter wouldn’t be getting paid if you’re hired because the first recruiter owns you.

    The client company could be very picky, or very disorganized to the point of not realizing that they’ve already interviewed you for this position. If the third recruiting agency contacts you about this position, well, it’s time to ask some questions about what’s going on with the client. Or just run.

    1. I am Number 4

      Your words are quite sobering….and sad. We’ve had many good employees who have left the company. I may yet take an exit myself, but the opportunity has not yet arose. Like Alison said, they made it pretty clear they aren’t interested in my feedback. While that saddens me greatly, I hold out hope while continuing to do a great job in what I CAN affect.

  9. J

    1. Your HR manual should have guidelines on disclosing relationships. At every school I’ve worked at, any relationship involving a student or co-workers had to be disclosed, but there isn’t always consequences, especially if interaction was minimal/nonexistent.

  10. anon-2

    #2 – when there’s an “open req”, often the money for the position is budgeted to the department that owns it. If they really don’t have an immediate need to fill it, a manager may drag his/her feet to keep control over the money, and it won’t be spent.

    In one place I worked, the stall would work – and then HR would jump in and say “**** or get off the pot – if you don’t fill it in 21 days we are closing the position and pulling back the money.”

    This can even lead to further weird stuff.

  11. Yup

    #6 – One thing I’ve seen several times is that the hiring manager changed to a different person (due to reorg, etc). So because a different boss was now in charge of the open position, they wanted to use *their* favorite recruiting firm, or they decided to rewrite the posting, or they wanted to change the job from a grade 4 to a grade 5.

  12. Katie in Ed

    #1: Something about this comment really rubbed me the wrong way. I can’t put my finger on it, but I think it was somewhere between “involved intimately with an undergraduate student” and “mentorship…with the student in question.” The hesitant language here suggests an uncomfortable power dynamic dynamic.

    In general, I’m ambivalent about prohibitions on dating between students and staff in universities. On a theoretical level, such prohibitions are condescending to students, exacerbating an already unproductive paternalism in academic institutions. But in reality, these rules put a full stop to some really squicky relationships (alas, it seems like some turn in their shame in exchange for tenure).

    1. Ellie H.

      The way I read the question, it seemed to me like it was being worded as cautiously as possible (i.e. possibly over-emphasizing a potential conflict of interest). It sounds like this is a relatively recent graduate who met his girlfriend while they were both undergraduates, and now has a job at the business school of the same university, which is totally disaffiliated from the undergraduate college.

      I also read when he said, “I am still involved in unofficial and informal capacities with undergrad aspects as an alumnus (coaching, mentorship, informal advice to those involved in the programs which I was involved in – this includes working with the student in question)” to mean that, because he graduated from a particular program (like, maybe the pre-business undergrad major), and is still kind of “around” working at the university, a professor or advisor in that major might say “Oh, Wakeen was an X major and now he works at the business school, you should ask him if you need advice about choosing classes” or whatever. Like I said, it seemed to me worded very cautiously and like it probably wasn’t really a conflict of interest. But I could definitely be reading it wrong.

      1. fposte

        That was my impression as well–that these aren’t areas where he has any particular power, s/he’s just a friendly alum resource. The key is to make sure that people (including the coordinators of the alum programs) are aware that you’re dating her rather than hearing about it third-hand after you kiss her goodbye in the hall.

        Oh, and if she ever applies to the business school, you disclose your relationship, even if you have nothing to do with admissions. Again–nobody likes surprises.

  13. Elizabeth West

    #3–Word resume

    Just keep both versions on hand. Then you have it when you need it. Personally, I think .pdfs are better, since the recipient can look at them with Adobe Reader no matter what version of Office they have, and formatting usually stays the same. But some people still like to see it in Word.

    #6–company keeps interviewing but not hiring

    As someone here (I wish I could remember who!) so eloquently put it, maybe they’re just waiting for Jesus. :)

    #7–asked out by the wrong coworker

    Blargh! I hate this! It’s always the wrong one who asks!

    I solve this by never ever going out with coworkers. I did it once, and never again. A newly-single Christian Bale could come to work here and beg me to go out with him, and I would not do it. Reason: I can’t afford to lose a job over a guy.

    1. Chris

      “Blargh! I hate this! It’s always the wrong one who asks!”

      Just wondering: Have you ever tried asking a guy out? At the very least, the problem of having the wrong guy ask you out won’t be an issue, and you’ll be able to tell immediately how the guy you like thinks of you based on his response and body language.

  14. Editor

    #3 — Is a PDF by definition a larger file than a Word resume? If I had limited capacity in my email (as I did at my last job) and took applications directly (as we sometimes did), file size could be an issue.

    I’ve had to deal with some huge press releases that were PDFs, and that was a pain when all the content was locked down and the file was big — but a resume wouldn’t have all those photos, colored display fonts and so on.

    Also, does uploading a PDF to an application file populate the application blanks, or does that only happen with a Word file? Or does this vary by the particular application the employer is using?

    Sort of off topic: There are so many different versions of Word that there’s no telling what the employer has. The last three places I freelanced for were using versions from 1999.

    My new measure of a recovering economy is if all those places hire more people and also decide to switch to a newer version — because we’ll know companies are feeling better about spending money if they increase employment AND upgrade software.

    #7 — Just say no, thank you. To add to the chorus, I would encourage you to avoid dating anyone you work with and also avoid letting anyone you work with be a friend on Facebook unless you’ve got a work Facebook page separate from your personal Facebook page. It seems so great when there’s all that friendship at work, but when it goes bad, it can get nasty fast. Having someone pick and choose between co-workers — whether for dating or friendship or promotions or flexible schedules — can encourage nastiness. I once made the mistake of working for a friend, and it did not end well; dating a person who might have been a work friend can be equally messy.

  15. Steve G

    #4 – when I first read it, I thought “wow, what a bad company.” But now I am not so sure after reading it 3 times. After all, I was reading up on my company on glassdoor and a bunch of ex-employees accuse my company of lacking direction, differentiation etc. However, we are aggressively growing in some areas and have alot of unique services and do things differently than our competitors in some markets, so while I understand the ex-employees may have felt that way at the time, it certainly wasn’t a picture of the way it is.

    #5 – I am dismissive like this too to some people. The reason? They act like every “new” situation is completely new and need coaching through the same types of situations over and over. Let’s say, one day the chocolate teapot-cooling machine starts melting the teapots on the assembly line instead of freezing them. I coach you through organizing the repair and payment for repair, and teach you general rules about what inventory to use for orders when production is down, how/when to ramp up production afterwards, etc.. The next month, a snowstorm closes the factory. Why are you coming to me acting you have no idea about inventory management the next day when we have 1-day less teapots? Why don’t you realize this is the same issue as last month – how to handle the inventory while production is out during/after an outage?! Etc. Etc….

    1. I am Number 4

      In no way am I saying this is an unsuccessful or bad company. They are doing a good job and a world leader in many of their markets. They have struggled to make sufficient profit in this economy but I believe they have the potential to do even better if some mindsets were changed by allowing/guiding dialogue with employees.

  16. Cassie

    #1: the university might have published guidelines about reporting relationships with students. Our university prohibits professors/TAs from having relationships with students IN THEIR CLASS, but doesn’t ban profs/TAs from having relationships with students who are not in their class. Of course, they advise against it either way. I don’t believe there are restrictions on student-staff relationships, unless the staff member in question has some sort of authority (say in the student affairs/registrar’s office or in a coach/mentor position).

    One of our staff members met/dated/married one of the graduate students in the same dept. Another staff member was married to a grad student in the same dept (they might have already been married before she started working here and he started his grad program, though) .

  17. I am #6

    Thank you for the responses to my issue over companies not hiring, seems reasonable now. I think because it happened twice in a short space of time I saw a trend where there isn’t one.
    You do have to just move on and keep trying your best!

    Has inspired me to cut some more fat from my CV so that I am being interviewed for exact match roles and am very clear about what I do.

  18. Laura L

    Just wanted to chime in on #7.

    I often say something along the lines of “sorry, I’m not interested, but thanks for asking.” Although this situation doesn’t necessitate an apology, I feel bad turning a guy down (assuming he’s a good guy), so I try to make it as nice as possible.

    And I absolutely second Alison on the “no, I’m taken” excuse. In addition to what she said, it also implies that if you’re not in a relationship, you’re automatically available to any guy who wants to date you, even those you don’t like.

    As someone who’s perpetually single, I don’t go out with guys I’m not interested in or don’t like just because they asked me. I’m also not always looking for a relationship and the assumption if I’m not dating someone I’m automatically available to date is super annoying.

    Basically, what I’m trying to say is you get to decide who you want to date or not, for any reason, and you don’t need to give anyone an explanation. Just say no works for dating, too. :-)

    1. Anonymous

      On the other hand, some guys won’t take anything but “Sorry, I’m taken.” A lot of guys who’ve asked me out have been like that. “I’m not interested” -> “But we have so much in common! Both of us like computers!” (goodness, we both have two legs too, that doesn’t make us soulmates.)

      “I don’t date men!” -> “I love lesbians!”

      “No” -> “But why I’m a really nice guy and I find you attractive.”

      “I’m taken” -> “Oh, okay.” (usually. though I did get one “Your boyfriend wouldn’t have to know!” protest from a guy I met on a bus. I ran into him *again* a year later and he asked if I was still together with my imaginary boyfriend.)

      1. KellyK

        Yeah, I once told a random guy who asked for my number that I was married, and his reply was “Happily?” Dude, if I were *looking* to cheat on my husband, why would I have told you I was married?

        I still don’t like the implication that my husband has me claimed, and if he gets hit by a bus tomorrow I’m totally up for grabs.

        And honestly, *any* reason you give provides an excuse to try to talk you out of it. With someone who you’ll see again, a complete lack of a reason might be the way to go.

        1. Laura L

          “I still don’t like the implication that my husband has me claimed, and if he gets hit by a bus tomorrow I’m totally up for grabs.”
          Seconded.

          “*any* reason you give provides an excuse to try to talk you out of it”
          Yes! I learned this from Captain Awkward. If you read her blog, she’s very adamant that you don’t owe anyone an explanation for turning them down and that if you’re turned down, you aren’t owed an explanation.
          The explanation really doesn’t make things better, it just leads to arguments.

      2. Laura L

        That’s true. I still never use “I’m taken” as an excuse.

        People need to learn to accept a no without an explanation as a valid response.

  19. Omne

    #4, were you written up for “constructive feedback” or was it for insubordination/misconduct? The only reason it came to mind was that I remember a situation where someone told me they were disciplined for offering constructive feedback and I found out later it was offered unsolicited at the top of their lungs in the manager’s office.

    1. I am Number 4

      My personality style is that I am not afraid of constructive conflict – “I have a disagreement – let’s talk it out so we can both benefit.” I respect leadership too much (even poor leadership) to commit insubordination. My mistake was in sharing some of my views with my team (which was a spawned by a very similar discussion in which everyone was discussing their frustrations). I thought it would be good to discuss and productively figure out how we could implement the vision by making it more applicable to our team’s role in the organization. One team member felt uncomfortable with these views and went to management rather than me. I trusted my team members to confront me if they had a difference of opinion.

      According to management, this was unacceptable behavior (making others feel uncomfortable) and that it was a pattern in my employment. All I was trying to do was make their goals more meaningful for our role in the company. Mentoring would be a key activity in my mind to guide me through this leadership-developing opportunity. I have received quite the opposite – no direct feedback from my boss for the last 8 weeks, no documented quarterly reviews, and no follow-up meetings with HR. Until recently, I was thinking that they were just waiting for one more falter to show me the door. Now, I focus on what I’m doing as very important as all my “stakeholders” are quite happy with what I’m doing. I try not to let my issues with management get in the way although every book/blog I read pretty much screams that this is not how management should be.

      1. Omne

        Was it an issue of simply making others uncomfortable or did they feel you were undermining management by offering the criticism to other employees instead of management? I’m kind of at a loss as to why someone in your team would feel uncomfortable if you were just applying management’s vision to your team’s work.

        1. I am Number 4

          Both and more. They seemed to say that I was too concerned with things outside my area of influence. To me, it was a slap on the face and an emphatic, “Do what we hired you for. Stop entertaining other notions as we’re not impressed.” I’m really surprised that management didn’t even ask this person if they had talked to me about it. Delegate the problem to personal responsibility first and escalate if the problem persists or hold a moderated meeting.

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