short answer Sunday — 7 short answers to 7 short questions

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

1. Interviewing with other companies as a way to get a raise from your current company

My husband was hired on at his current company at the lowest point of the recession. Everyone at the time knew his salary was low, including the manager who made the offer, but it was a recession, that was the going price for new hires in his industry at the time, and my husband was a recent grad and had bills to pay, so he took it. Fast forward a few years later, my husband is a star performer at his company. He has top performance scores and has received the maximum merit pay increase he can receive after each of his annual performance reviews. Plus, he loves the job. We knew the pay was still low considering his tenure and his performance, but didn’t realize how much so until recently when one of the new hires at his company–also a recent college grad–let his salary slip. The new guy makes almost as much as my husband does now after all his raises.

My husband has been considering talking to his manager about a pay increase. He apparently discussed this with one of his older, male coworkers, and the coworker recommended that my husband go interview with other companies in the area and find out what they’d offer him, then bring it back to his manager and say, “This is what I’m worth. Will you match it?” My opinion is that this is a combative move that demonstrates to your manager you don’t trust them or their judgment and that you’re halfway out the door already. Especially since he really doesn’t want to work for another company, it just seems like all that is going to come out of this strategy is burning a lot of bridges, not only with other companies but also with his current boss. My advice was to have a discussion with his boss, explaining his reasons for why he thinks he deserves a raise (including, above all, his consistently stellar performance) and a dollar amount that can be used as a starting point for negotiations. My husband thinks this will make it too easy for his boss to turn him down, though, and that “it’s business” and he should go in with another offer in his hands. What are your thoughts on this? Am I silly to think that bringing in a competing offer is only going to put out his manager?

What?! Yes, that’s a terrible idea for all the reasons you said and all the reasons I’ve listed here for not taking a counter-offer. Plus, he risks his manager saying, “We can’t match that, so take the new job and we’ll miss you.” Bluffing is rarely a good idea, if you’re not willing to follow through on it.

Your husband should go to his manager and make the case for a raise. It sounds like he has plenty of ammunition to build that case; there’s no need for games. (And plus, the subtext of any raise request is “if you don’t give me this, I may look elsewhere.” His manager will get that without him having to say it.)

2. Listing work for my sister on my resume

I’m not currently looking for a job, but I’m working on updating my resume so that it will be ready when I need it. A few months ago, my sister hired me to be an editor for her blog. The blog in question had started out as my sister writing about her academic field, but expanded as she invited other people she knew to be contributors writing in their fields. I got the job because I spent about a year emailing or texting her after every post went up to let her know about grammatical errors, typos, or suggestions on rephrasing sentences. It became a running joke amongst the contributors that no matter how error-free they thought their posts were, within five minutes of publication I would send an email. My sister decided that I had already proven myself and that the site would benefit from having the posts read by me before they went public. I definitely got the job because of my relationship to my sister, as I would never pester anyone who wasn’t family with these unasked-for lists of corrections, but I was still hired based off of how well I did the job. I don’t know if I should address the relationship on my resume or only if I’m asked about it. If it helps, I’m doing this job on top of college and a part-time job in a café, so it doesn’t look like I was out of work until my sister hired me.

No need to announce on your resume that the work is for you sister. List it just the way you would any other job.

3. Explaining why I’m leaving a job after only six months

I recently finished grad school and have been at a my first full-time job for about 6 months now. I hate it. The work is boring, which I could deal with if it weren’t for the other issues. I wanted to pursue this particular line of work because I thought it would enable me to help people, but sometimes it seems all the people at the organization care about is money. There is high turnover: at least one person a month has left since I’ve been there. My department manager is ineffective and my coworkers in my department despise her and don’t listen to her. Everyone keeps doing things their own way, which creates confusion. There are major communication issues throughout the whole organization. One of my coworkers told me that they once had someone come and talk to everyone about the importance of communication, but nothing changed. I also do not feel like I’m living up to my full potential. I know I’m just starting out, but there are a lot of times when I feel like I have nothing to do and I go around asking others if there’s anything they need help with. Many of my coworkers, who hold the same job title of me, spend half their time surfing the internet or on Facebook. I know plenty of people would be happy with the down time, but I want to feel like I’m actually doing something. (This is also a job that is funded by the state government, so I often feel like we’re wasting everyone’s money).

I’ve started searching for a new job, but I’m nervous about it reflecting negatively on me that I’ve only been at my first full-time job for a short time. I’m expecting to be asked why I’m looking for a new job and I’m not sure how to answer this question without bashing the organization. How should I answer this question?

Yeah, it’s tough to explain why you’re looking after only six months. I’d go with something about the low workload and high turnover, without getting into detail.

(The good news, if you can call it that, is that job searches often take so long right now that it might be closer to a year before you’re interviewing, and then it will be easier to explain.)

4. Organization isn’t using my volunteer work

I’ve been volunteering for a nonprofit organization for a little over a year. I recently suggested that I start writing a weekly blog post on news related to the organization’s cause. The people at the organization were interested, and have given me really good feedback about the posts. However, the woman in charge of publishing them doesn’t always do so in a timely manner. I’ve sent in 3 posts, and of those, she took 2 days to publish one, and never published another one. Obviously, after 2+ days, the “news” isn’t really anymore. Is this something worth bringing up, should I keep sending them in and hope they get published, or should I try to find another organization that might be interested in the posts?

Yep, you should address it. You’re doing this for free, after all. I don’t know enough about the context to know whether you should raise it with the people who brought you on to do this or the person in charge of publishing the posts, but you should talk to someone and say something like, “I’ve noticed that my posts aren’t always appearing or are appearing a few days later when they’re not timely anymore. Can you give me some feedback so that I can make sure I’m writing things that you’ll be able to use? And would it be more helpful for me to write on less timely topics, so they don’t need to be posted right away?”

Be open to signs that they’re not actually as enthusiastic about publishing the posts as they originally were. If that’s the case, you might be better off looking for another outlet.

5. How to move up without leaving a company

I find that I am often pigeonholed in positions that I accept. My bosses love my performance and frequently express their satisfaction. However, when another opportunity for a greater role becomes available within the company, they don’t want to let me go. I usually hear, “But I don’t want to lose you. We are a great team.” While I appreciate the praise, I want to continue up the career ladder. My career ambition is not to simply make their lives easier. I too want to professionally grow. I find myself frustrated but, moreover, feel it is not right. When such sentiments are expressed, I generally have to leave the company altogether in order to take on a more responsible position. Why utilize an employee as a painter when its clear they have the ability to build? How can this be avoided?

You need to screen for better managers before accepting a job. Ask questions about typical growth paths within the department, what past people in the position have gone on to do, and what type of growth and development you can expect after a couple of years in the job. You’re looking for managers who seem genuinely supportive of their people moving up.

6. Name changes on job applications

If you were adopted or your name was changed for some other reason as a child (and your birth certificate was amended to reflect the new name), does that count as a name you need to mention if you’re asked for other names you’ve been known by on a job application? Or does that apply only to other names that records the employer may want to check appear under?

They’re asking because they want to know for background checks and reference checks. If they call a past employer and ask for a reference for Sean Combs and the person they’re speaking to says, “I think you mean Puff Daddy,” they want to know that they’re talking about the right person. And if you’ve been known my multiple names, they might do a background check on each.

So for your purposes, no, you don’t need to mention a childhood name change.

7. Listing graduate research on your resume

I recently finished my PhD in microbiology. I did research all through my undergraduate degree, including spending the summers doing research internships, and then went directly from undergrad to graduate school. However, I became dissatisfied with research as a career towards the end of my PhD, and now I am looking for jobs that are not research focused.

Beyond the problem that having a science PhD appears to qualify you for a job doing scientific research and nothing else, I don’t know how to write a resume that will look attractive to anyone outside academia. If I were to stay on a research track, all the research I’ve done — two pages worth on my resume — would be important information for my potential employers. However, now that I am applying for non-academic jobs, I can’t imagine that the hiring managers care about the specifics of my research internships from undergrad. If I remove all of my research except for my PhD research, I’m left with an almost empty resume. I currently have a job editing scientific papers, but that would bring my resume down to two items: my current job and my PhD work. I also don’t want to look like I was a layabout in college; I worked, it’s just that it was research, not a “normal” job. How on earth does one sum up a educational/work experience track that was focused on what academia wants when one is no longer interested in a career in academia?

Yeah, you definitely don’t want two pages of information about your research. One way to condense it is to group the work by time period, — so it essentially becomes, say, three or four separate jobs — and cut out a lot of the detail. Academia wants way more detail than non-academic jobs do, so you can trim the details wayyyyyy down.

{ 80 comments… read them below }

  1. Sabrina*

    I had a former co-worker that did #1, except it was a total bluff for money because she didn’t have a new job. They didn’t match it or even try and after her 2 weeks notice period was up she had to come clean and beg for her job, but they already found someone new and she was out.

  2. Your Mileage May Vary*

    #4 – Is it possible that the organization just isn’t on top of their social media presence? No reflection on you or the posts you are writing but perhaps they don’t have enough time to prioritize getting your stuff uploaded. It could be that they appreciate your offer but see uploading your posts as something else they have to add to their busy day. Consequently, it falls much lower on their priority list.

    I suggest looking at their social media. Do they let more than a week go by without posting to Twitter or FaceBook? How often do they update their blog? It’s possible they don’t have the skills or the time to properly manage their social media and they may be open to hearing that a volunteer does. Is that something you’d want to do?

    #6 — I was adopted when I was 3 and again when I was 6. I don’t use either of my previous names — not for bank applications, not for my marriage license, not for fingerprint checks, and certainly not for prospective employers. Now if my married name was different from my maiden name (I seriously hate that term!), I’d give it because of the likelihood that I’ve worked with some employers with one name or the other. But as far as I’m concerned, my previous childhood names don’t exist.

    1. Broke Philosopher*

      Hey, I’m OP#4. Thanks for the feedback. They do use social media pretty extensively, and actually recently decided they want to increase their social media presence including the blog (which is why I got the idea to offer to contribute). I work full-time, so I can’t take on too much more responsibility, but maybe I’ll ask if there’s a way for me to post my blog posts directly without going through anyone. The person in charge of this has never edited anything I’ve written and she’s told me that my blog posts are the most popular ones on the blog, so I don’t think the issue is content or lack of enthusiasm. I’m guessing she’s just busy.

    2. fposte*

      Ditto on #6; unless you were adopted as an older teen or adult and have relevant history under your prior name, your legal birth-certificate name is the only one they’re interested in. Most people don’t even have information about their prior name to give them.

    3. Jessa*

      The only thing to worry about with a childhood name change is if it happened in High School. I literally forgot (I’ve had strokes) that my legal name change happened in the middle of HS and despite the fact that my current name is on the diploma the files had the other name too and it held up a background check on me. As long as the change is before something they’d want to check, it’s not a problem. I only realised this way after I had finally convinced them that “college degrees with the HS info on the original transcript is prima facie evidence that I must have graduated HS.” I finally remembered the issue about 3 months AFTER the fact. And had a major OOPS about it.

      So unless you were some kind of rich baby that had some kind of property transactions in your name before then…I wouldn’t worry about anything that early. If it’s for some kind of crazy high level government security clearance thing, you can always ask your intake person whether to put it or not.

      1. The gold digger*

        I have had NIGHTMARES about this! That I graduated from college but someone said, “You didn’t finish high school! You have to go back!” And I try to convince them that it’s not necessary to complete high school – that I already completed college!

        Great. Nightmares do come true. Today at work, I won’t be able to find my locker or my third-period math class.

        1. Jamie*

          Seriously – I’ve had nightmares that I was back in boarding school and I needed to pass X to get out and get back to my life and I am trying to convince people I’m 40 something and need to get back to my children and my job.

          I wake up in a dead panic – because someone I haven’t seen or spoken to in over 20 years won’t get off the damn phone in the form lobby – because talking to her boyfriend back home is more important than my calling into work and telling them I won’t be in because I’m caught in a time loop.

          I really doubt FMLA covers time loops.

    4. Anonymous*

      One caveat that comes to mind is official government security clearance checks (not routine employer background checks) – you certainly don’t want a government investigator thinking you didn’t exist before the age of 6!

      1. Chinook*

        And the forms that you fill out for those specify that they want all names you have been known by.

        1. Anonymous*

          That was the point of this question being asked – in the context of applying for a job, “other names you have been known by” refers to other names that contacts or records which may pop up during a background check are under, not every name that has been yours since birth. Likewise if you’re applying for a loan or other credit; they don’t care about a name changed before you had any credit records (but do want to know if you’ve obtained credit under another name). Now if you’re doing something like applying for a passport or other immigration papers, they’d want to know who you were back to birth (since that may affect your status, sometimes in a positive way).

        2. Anonymous*

          Sorry – I didn’t read that Chinook specified specifically about the security clearance forms (I read too fast!). Still, what I said in my reply is pretty much accurate.

      2. Your Mileage May Vary*

        When I was adopted for the final time, the state re-issued my birth certificate so that my current name shows up on it with my birthdate and adoptive parents listed as my birth parents. I can’t imagine how they would think that I didn’t exist before age 6; they wouldn’t find it any different from anyone else’s birth certificate.

        1. fposte*

          That’s SOP for adoptive birth certificates, in fact. (Slightly opening a can of worms here–I’ve heard that the State Department used–mid twentieth-century or so–to have problems with adoptees as a result, because the primary legal document of their identity contained known falsehoods.)

    5. PuppyKat*

      Regarding Your Mileage May Vary’s parenthetical comment: I’m with you about hating the phrase “maiden name.” I only use “family name.”

  3. Got a market adjustment*

    I was in a similar situation to #1 until a month ago. I was hired at a comparatively down time but had stellar performance. Our merit raises didn’t cover salary growth in the market. My boss made the case, and then his boss made the case, that I should get a “market adjustment” in addition to the merit. They did include the argument that this was a retention move and that if they were our competitors, they would be recruiting me.

    I do get inquiries from other firms but have not pursued any. So, this is a long way of saying, I wouldn’t go out and interview but sometimes that retention argument has to be made up the chain of command to get the change (I got 12%). I think it is best if you can get your manager to make it instead of you (yes my manager is awesome).

    1. Cathy*

      I was just going to post something similar. If the market has changed since he was hired, then he may be eligible for a market adjustment in addition to a merit raise. At the medium to large companies where I’ve worked, these are separate pools of money and the merit raise budget would never accommodate the usual salary growth needed for junior employees. At least in tech, employees in the first 3 to 5 years of their careers typically get much bigger raises as a percentage of salary than someone with 10+ years experience.

      That said, the husband needs to do some research and find out what his market value is before he talks to his manager. Look at some of the many salary sites on the Internet and find out what people with x years of experience in job y in area z are typically getting paid. If the husband’s current salary is in that range, he really doesn’t have a case for another increase, regardless of what the new hires in his firm are getting now.

      1. Anon1*

        I just finished a similar salary adjustment process. Asked for a 9 percent raise (merit would top out at 2.5) and got it. I did provide my manager publicly posted job ads which showed salaries just to show that my request was actually on the low side (but most of the positions were in another city that is known to pay much more than my local one). I’d be cautious about using my approach – it could easily look like you are job hunting unless you have a very good relationship with your manager.

      2. Anonymous*

        I’m curious how you go about quantifying how much of a raise to ask for when you can’t find precise figures. Like when I research my position, I find a range anywhere from $25K – >$100K. The difference is really specific factors that are called out in the job listings (which rarely list salary), but aren’t clear on the salary sites. I know, for example, that my skills are well above the $25K range, and well below the $100K range, and I know what jobs to apply for but when I’m trying to decide if I should be paid, say $60K vs. $40K, I can’t find clear cut evidence to back me up.

  4. Kimberlee, Esq.*

    On #7, if your research is truly irrelevant to the jobs you’re applying to, I’d just list your education with a couple bullet points, and list the actual internships that you’ve had with a few bullet points. When I read resumes, I definitely don’t like to see tons of detail for academic research that isn’t relevant to the job I’m hiring for; if you have a PhD, that’s sufficient evidence that you know how to do research, which is probably all I’ll glean. Not to mention that the more irrelevant information you have on a resume, the harder it is for me to actually find the important stuff, and I may miss it as I give a cursory glance to the sections I think aren’t important.

    Now, I assume you’re looking for jobs in the *field* but just not in research, in which case I’d say that you include the titles of a couple major projects under each section of education, and your current job and previous internships in another (and all this listed above your education, since the PhD is not looking like it should be your focus). My understanding is that journalism and writing can be a good career track for scientists who don’t want to do research. Good luck!

    1. J.B.*

      I would also say to #7 – don’t despair that you are stepping out of the traditional research role. There are definitely folks who move into other areas (pharma, scientific writing and editing) after getting the PhD.

      I agree with the suggestion that you probably don’t want to go into too much detail on research, but if you can hit on things you have done related to the research – presentations, writing, editing – that may be more significant to a lot of employers.

      Also keep in mind that a resume is not a CV. One page is a good goal just out of school.

      1. Anonymous*

        “Beyond the problem that having a science PhD appears to qualify you for a job doing scientific research and nothing else”

        What J.B. said. Your background is great for a pharmaceutical communications company (advertising or medical education, for example). Check out Medical Marketing & Media to find the names of companies that fall in this category — many are hiring people with your background as writers and strategists.

      2. OP #7*

        Thanks for the feedback (and the encouragement). I’m trying to re-write my resume to focus on my skills/accomplishments rather than my research, but it is difficult! All the training I’ve received has been on how to write an academic CV; no one in academia assumes you’re going to do anything but stay in academia for the rest of your life.

    2. Emily K*

      When I left academia with only part-time jobs and grad school on my resume, I simply listed my research assistantships (for which I was given a tuition waiver and living stipend) under Work Experience in the same format as one would list a job. The job title was “Research Assistant,” the employer was Professor Jones (whoever had supervised my assistantship for the dates listed) at State University, and I used bullet points to detail what my responsibilities were just like you would with a job (“Analyzed cross-national datasets using Software X,” “Authored chapters of paper detailing methodology and results,” etc.).

      Paper presentations at conferences and similar one-off achievements like that I listed as bullet points under my graduate school in the Education section of my resume. I removed most of the details of my academic work (the paper presentations etc) once I had more non-academic experience.

      1. OP #7*

        Thanks for the feedback. Listing my research assistantships as jobs is a really good idea. I was paid for the entire time I was in graduate school, which is one major reason why I want to keep listing it on the resume. I can make the bullet points more responsibilities rather than research highlights, as you suggest.

    3. Bwmn*

      #7 – I agree with everyone about streamlining your resume. Both for the purpose of making your specific skills that relate to the job pop out but also to avoid making you look over and under qualified.

      I work for a nonprofit and for one advocacy position we posted we had a number of recent PhD recipients apply. Most of the resumes were two pages and listed lots of detail and research that was somewhat related to our activities – but not related at all to the position. We were looking to hire someone to put together media campaigns – and if there were details or skills that the applicants felt their research involved, it all got lost. The resumes also left us feeling that someone “so educated and experienced” wouldn’t actually be interested in the job. And they were unqualified.

      So streamline as much as possible and really stress the non-research parts of the positions when possible.

      1. OP #7*

        Thanks, that information actually helps a lot. I really wish I had found AAM before I started my job search. I’ve been sending out my academic CV (I didn’t know how to write anything else), and I can only imagine the winces hiring managers have made when reading it. *sigh*

    4. OP #7*

      Thanks for the feedback. Currently, my resume is dividing into five sections: Education (first), Research/Work Experience, Papers, Awards, and Presentations. This structure is typical for an academic CV. Are you suggesting limiting it to two sections, Professional Experience and Education, and that Education comes second? Not putting my education as front and center makes me feel very strange, but then, I am coming out of academia (and I did devote six damn years of my life to my PhD that I will never get back). My “Education” section is currently very short; it only lists my degrees and where I obtained them. Any further detail of what I did during my education is listed under the Research/Work Experience section.

      1. Heather*

        #7, I went through the same PhD-then-industry job search as you. I’d say to study the job postings for clues as to what’s essential to include on your resume, and

        Don’t list every Paper/Presentation/Award. You can still summarize this experience in a “Communication Skills” section – personally, I wanted to highlight that I’m an engineer who isn’t afraid to talk to people and is capable of getting ideas across. I would just try to summarize and quantify that with a few bullets:
        – Over X talks presented at regional and international technical meetings (20XX-20YY)
        – Y peer-reviewed technical articles published in journals, conference proceedings, etc.
        – (and then you might list awards for speaking, writing, etc)
        I described my research under Education (but you could just as easily put it in Work Experience), but very briefly, in non-jargony terms, and focusing on the impact and key contribution. You can always get into more detail on exactly what you did and how in an interview. If there are special competencies you developed that are really relevant to the job posting (like project management, team leadership, initiating collaborations, etc) you might mention that as well.

        After a couple of jobs, my undergrad internships didn’t fit on my resume anymore, but I would sometimes still enter them in online job applications. Again, focus on end products of your work rather than your day-to-day tasks.

        If you’re pursuing a technical position, it’s likely that hiring managers will be looking for specific technical skills/jargon on your resume. I broke it down into laboratory skills and IT skills. It depends on your field and the specific job, but could be lab equipment, software tools, etc. Hell, a PhD teaches you tons of IT skills: data visualization, statistical analysis, searching and reviewing literature. Brainstorm!

        Again, it really just depends on what competencies are needed in the job you’re pursuing. So yeah, it is necessary to highlight things from your academic experience that industry does care about and downplay the things industry doesn’t care about. It just takes a little creativity to think about your experience from a different angle!

  5. Kirsten*

    #7: If you haven’t already, you might check out the Versatile PhD website. You have to register, but it’s free and has lots of good info about making the switch from academic to non-academic employment.

  6. Anonymous*

    Here’s my advice for #3:

    1) Make a detailed list of what is wrong with your department.
    2) Create a detailed action plan of what you could do to fix parts of it on your end.
    3) Execute the plan to the best of your ability. You’ll have a couple of accomplishments to show on your resume when you leave, and it will give you something to do.
    4) If you can’t execute it, create a workplan and present to your co-workers, and see if parts of the plan can be executed together.
    5) If that can’t be executed, present to your manager. It’s possible there are reasons why things are dysfunctional due to state/government regulations, but it might spark a conversation that illuminates why things are the way they are. Sometimes good ideas need time and buy-in before they can move up the food chain. It sounds like a lot of hires there are checked out, and rather than being one of them if you demonstrate that you care about the work and are actively try to improve things, you will stand out, you might start feeling a sense of purpose, and you’ll be obtaining skills that you’ll need wherever you land. Good luck.

    1. Anonymous*

      Depending on the company culture, this may not win you any friends. I tried it at one place I worked, and even though I tried to frame it as positive as I could, management acted like I was calling their baby ugly.

    2. I'm OP#3*

      Thanks so much for your suggestion. However, I’m not sure how effective it would be at this organization. At this company, there is lots of talk and no action. But there may be a few things I could do to make a difference.
      For example, we currently use a severely outdated worksheet that someone in the department developed years ago. Everyone agrees it needs to be updated. And I took it upon myself one day to start a draft of a changed worksheet. To create a completed draft, I would need input from others, but people will either say, “Yeah we need to work on that…” and then never commit to a time to work on it or say that it’s not their job and they don’t have time to do it. But I think I may try to revisit that. Thanks.
      I think the main reason things are dysfunctional is that people simply don’t care. The manager will say things about how we need to develop standards or vaguely mention how the staff should get together in groups to develop a plan for something. One of my coworkers said she’s been saying that for years and then nothing is actually done. And after meetings where these things are brought up, my co-workers will go on about how they don’t have time to develop said plans, and then the subject is dropped.
      There is also lots of obvious tension among not just the manager and the people in my department, but the assistant manager and others as well. People show obvious disrespect towards them and have a tendency to talk to them in a condescending and combative manner. The only difference is the manager usually takes it, while the assistant manager will stand up for herself. Even so, no one is ever really reprimanded for their behavior. This situation can make for a very uncomfortable working environment.
      This isn’t directly related to what you said, but something I forgot to mention in my letter: in my first week of working there, the people in my department were already telling me not to stay there long. They said to stay there for a year, use it as a learning experience, and move on. Not something anyone wants to hear in their first week. When I first took the job, I was looking for a place where I could grow and develop my career and stay for at least a few years, and it was presented to me as such. After being there I’ve seen that there isn’t much opportunity for growth at this organization. People either leave for graduate school or leave in search of a better working environment and better opportunities.

    3. Jennifer*

      Normally this would be a good suggestion – but if the OP does work at a govt funded position/civil service type job, I highly doubt it will have much of an effect to be honest. The amount of bureaucracy, blind policy following, and policies coming down from people above that have no clue how anything works is truly astounding.

      1. Jennifer*

        And if it is civil service, the problem is often perpetuated by the fact that is is extremely hard to get rid of ineffective and toxic employees (and these employees know that). So instead you tend to lose the good ones when they just get too fed up over it all. There are many great things about being protected by a union, but that is a major downfall.

  7. Vee*

    #7, get hold of a copy of ‘So What Are You Going To Do With That’ to learn how to translate your experiences into things that people outside academia.

  8. perrik*

    #7: Head over to Versatile PhD right away!

    That site was originally geared towards humanities and social science Ph.Ds, but then the STEM Ph.Ds started showing up with the same questions! You are far, far from alone in seeking ways to translate your doctoral experience into the working world outside academia.

    #1: Definitely agreeing with the others – your husband should bring this up as a market adjustment. My husband was hired at a below-market salary because he didn’t really have enough experience for the role (this was an internal promotion). Even with annual raises he was mired well below market. A management shift prompted a look at salaries, and my husband’s salary was bumped up by about 25% without him having to ask (although he was preparing to).

    #6: Ugh, I need more space on that part of the form. I have a birth name. I stopped using my first name when I was about 12, but it was still my legal first name until about 6 years ago. I changed my last name a couple years after getting married. So I was legally Jane Smith, Jane Jones, and Jill Jones, and was called Jill Smith (but was never legally named Jill Smith) by my bosses and co-workers until I became Jill Jones.

    If you had a legal name change as a child, though, you’d only need to tell them about the current name.

  9. Anonymous*

    #7 – You said you were working as an editor now. Do you plan to keep up with editing/writing as part of your next job? If so you’d probably want to highlight what you’ve written, such as published articles, or major papers for classes and the internships which may not have been published more so than the education and research. For the PhD and interships you should just list them and have maybe 1-2 sentences describing what you did in very basic terms (no science jargon) because that’s how you’re going to describe it during interviews. The description of your research should be interesting to the person it’s directed at, so no third person or we, and try to relate it back to human health/interests if possible.

    1. OP #7*

      Thanks for the feedback. I have a section on my resume that’s “Papers” because published papers are THE ONLY THING THAT MATTERS, EVER in academic research. It’s near the bottom, though, after my two pages of research experience (which, obviously, I am mostly cutting out). Do you suggest moving it to near the top? And how do I work in non-published papers? I only know how to cite my published papers (which is all anyone in academia cares about).

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        They go at the end, if you include them at all. Definitely only published ones, and possibly not even those. Unless they’re relevant to the jobs you’re applying for, most hiring managers won’t care.

  10. Vanessa*

    #7 I second the suggestion of visiting the Versatile PhD!

    Your phd experience may have prepared you more than you think. Presumably you did at least some or all of the following:
    -wrote and edited manuscripts
    -wrote grants
    -managed a project budget
    -managed a lab
    -maintained technical records and confidential research files
    -supervised research assistants
    -gave presentations
    -taught courses
    -used technical equipment
    -trained others on methods

    These things are all implied in an academic cv because academics are more interested in the content of your work. To translate this outside of academia you need to switch the focus from the content to the skills and experience you gained.

    1. OP #7*

      Thank you!! That list is extremely helpful when it comes to figuring out exactly what I did during my PhD *besides* research. I’ve been having difficulty coming up with such a list. It’s hard to get your head out of academia when you’ve been there your whole life. Thanks.

  11. anon-2*

    #1 Never use it as a bluff – BUT – some places have a pig-headed policy of “not bidding against ourselves – and sticking to guns.”

    But when “I have another offer that pays x more dollars”, the money somehow is found. In fact, I once worked for a company where they had this dumb policy – but there was a contingency fund for emergency raises, and in many instances, counter-offers were already prepared in advance for employees willing to use “the gun”.

    Of course, when you do give notice, it never should be a bluff because they may accept your resignation, and NOT counter.

    So the employee takes a chance – but if he has an offer, with what he wants elsewhere, he has options and nothing to lose by resigning.

    1. Another Emily*

      The problem with this crazy policy is it’s too little too late. By the time money is magically found to give the employee a raise, she already has a new job at another company for the same or more money, with the possibility of not having unhinged loons for managers. So why would she stay?

      1. anon-2*


        Despite what the headhunting industry writes, there are sometimes pragmatic reasons for accepting a counter-offer.

        In spite of all the articles written as to why one shouldn’t accept or consider it, there are times when it’s practical to do so. It is entirely situational.

        But if you have a number of years of your career invested in a company – you may not want to walk away from a situation if, and only if, issues that were on the table were actually (and permanently) resolved.

        If you’re working under a bad manager and they agree to move you (or him/her) – the problem’s been fixed and you may wish to reconsider moving, especially if you’re a long term employee.

        If you were passed over for a position, and resigned due to that, management may turn around and offer you an alternative path to take. There have also been issues I’ve seen where a mistake like this has been recognized, if not acknowledged, and some type of corrective move is undertaken (management making sure they save their own face in the process).

        And finally – money. If a manager has to go to the “emergency fund”, or “contingency fund”, or “retention funds” — well, he/she is probably going to go to the wall for you. It’s twofold – a) you get your raise and b) they are less likely to heap abuse on you in this area in the future.

        I’ve been through this before several times. I always think it’s fair to “hear out management”. Sometimes you will get a terse “oh good luck”. Sometimes you may get a “gee whiz or maybe” or “next year” or “my budget doesn’t allow …”. Sometimes an attempt to compromise is made.

        But when an attempt at a resolution is offered – it pays to listen.

    2. #1 OP*

      This isn’t an issue at his company. He works for a really great company that has been very fair and good to him.

  12. Tired Scholar*

    #7 I found the book “So what are you going to do with that?: Finding Careers Outside of Academia” by Basalla and Debelius helpful for putting PhD work experience into a resume format.

    Hasn’t got me a job yet, though. Its rough transitioning right now. I may be headed back to school for a more “trade” oriented degree (library science) out of desperation next fall.

    Also, a warning about Versatile PhD. It can be very negative in tone and very light on constructive advice in my experience. A lot of people like it, but I consistently find myself despondent after going there (admittedly, I’m fragile at this point, my job hunt has been long and fruitless). Maybe you’ll find it useful and it could be better on the STEM side too, I hope so. And I think there is the potential for networking via Versatile PhD in larger cities, it does have that going for it.

    1. Laura L*

      Ooohh, the librarian job market isn’t much better than the market for PhDs who want to become tenured professors.

      If your PhD is in the humanities, I wouldn’t recommend going that route. I’m not sure what the job market is for people with humanities PhDs, but the vast majority of library science students have BAs or MAs in those fields.

      If yours is in the social sciences or the natural sciences, I would think you’d have a better chance of getting a job, since so few librarians have those background (especially the natural sciences).

    2. OP #7*

      Thanks. I browsed the Versatile PhD STEM forum and didn’t find much of use, frankly, but it’s always good to have more sources of information.

      Good luck with your search.

  13. Dan*

    #1: If you want to interview to determine what your true market worth is, I don’t have a problem with that. But if/when I present that number to my boss, I’d soft peddle it with something along the lines of “my research indicates that my market value is $X and I’d like to be paid accordingly.” You’re under no obligation to disclose that your research consisted of interviewing with other companies. This way, you preserve the “dedicated, loyal, otherwise happy employee” status you have with your boss.

    1. anon-2*

      Problem with this approach. Do you want to keep your boss happy?

      Or do you want the money?

      1. Dan*

        Well… soliciting a counter-offer generally creates a rather hostile environment. Most advice on the subject suggests a counter-offer is *not* the way to go. Most people who get one are gone within a year for one reason or another, so I don’t really a see a problem with that approach.

        Honestly, I wouldn’t want the money if it made my boss unhappy. If me getting a raise ticks off the boss, and he shows it, I’ll need to be looking for another job anyway.

    2. #1 OP*

      If you’re interviewing with other people, though, you still run the risk of burning bridges or your boss finding out you did interview with someone else if you work in a fairly small industry. (My husband does.) There are so many easier, less dicey ways to determine what you should be paid. If you can find that information in another way, why bother with interviews?

      1. KellyK*

        Absolutely. It’s also kind of inconsiderate to interview for jobs you have no intention of taking, since you’re wasting the time of everyone involved.

        1. Dan*

          We could save everybody a bunch of time if companies were willing to disclose their best offer during the phone screen. But since that won’t happen, candidates are forced to go through the process to get a number. If the hiring managers and HR find that inconsiderate, they’re free to change up the process to make more effective use of their time.

          While I’m happy at my job, I’m willing to leave it for the right price. Wrong price = no jump. How much time a company is willing to waste with me before disclosing that number is solely up to them.

      2. Dan*

        Your question was whether your husband should use a counter offer to strong arm an employer he wants to remain happily employed with. Clearly, he shouldn’t.

        But why should he bother with interviews? Because it’s the only true way for him to know with certainty what he is worth. I guess another way is to work with head hunters.

        Exactly how many (you quote “so many”) easier ways are there to get a precise valuation of your worth? Internet salary surveys only give you a vague idea of worth. will quote you 25%/50%/75%-iles for a given position. How do you know where your husband should fall within those bands? If he’s paid at the 50% level for his band, but his immediate report is paid at the 75% level of a lower band (quite likely giving a very comparable salary) I ‘m not sure that’s enough justification to go ask for a raise.

        Truth is, if he asks, and the company says no, and he stays working there, he just established his market worth. That said, I consider my compensation to be my paycheck, my benefits, and my quality of life. I’ll take a few bucks less to have a job where I can roll in and out whenever I please. Does that make me underpaid? That’s really hard to say, because $ is only one of three factors.

  14. Anon*

    Re #1: Believe it or not, a coworker at a previous job actually thought that no one should ever be given a raise without interviewing at another company and getting an offer that’s higher than their current salary. Despite holding a PhD, he was genuinely one of the dumbest people I have ever known. I’m very glad that he’s moved to the other side of the country and that I will likely never see or hear from him again.

    1. anon-2*

      And if you work in the computer industry long enough, you may end up working in a “don’t bid against yourself – stick to your guns” environment.

  15. Anon*

    #OP 4: I got caught in a situation like this and it was the biggest waste of time ever. In my case, I drafted all these things they wanted PRO BONO – template releases, a boilerplate, bios, etc., and they never used any of it. I didn’t feel comfortable putting it in my portfolio either, because it wasn’t used and I couldn’t point to it and discuss any ROI on it. I would move on. I know you are doing this for volunteer work AND for work samples, but if they aren’t using what you are producing, it makes no sense to keep doing it. You could be producing content for your own blog, submitting articles or other pieces for publications, or working with an organization that actually has it together.

    1. Broke Philosopher*

      That’s true. I really like the organization and I know that my posts bring a bunch of readers to the site, but if they’re not going to put them up, it’s probably not worth it.

  16. Jamie*

    #4 – Just a question, do your posts require a lot of editing?

    I am the keeper of the uploads for my company (no idea why it’s me except that I am also keeper of the passwords) and if people send me something that’s in good shape grammatically and I can just proof and minimal edits it will go up a lot faster than if I have to do rewrites for content and syntax.

    Not saying that’s the reason, but I’d check…because if your stuff is so timely it may have being irrelevant by the time the editing was complete.

    If we had someone on staff like OP #2 I would be the happiest person in the world. I freaking hate editing.

    1. Broke Philosopher*

      I’m OP#4. She’s never had to edit or change anything I’ve written–I think she just has a lot on her plate and posting isn’t a top priority, unfortunately for me.

  17. Joey*

    #1. I disagree with totally discounting the idea of coming to your boss with an offer in hand. In some companies that’s just the way they operate- no offer, no raise. While that’s not the smartest way to do things it has some advantages. But I do agree that your husband shouldn’t try to bluff his way into a raise. If he’s going to use that tactic he’s got to be prepared to leave.

    Here’s what I’d do if I were your husband. I’d go back to the co worker and ask why you can’t just ask for a raise and state your case. I’m guessing he might say everyone that does that gets shot down and the only people who’ve gotten raises came with an offer. Unfortunately sometimes thats the way it works. companies don’t realize that when they “force” you to look elsewhere for a raise you really start moving on mentally.

  18. LMW*

    #4 – I’m a content manager myself, and I always find it nearly impossible to get “bonus” material posted in a timely fashion, because it’s not part of my official calendar (the content that actually forms our campaigns and is part of our budget and expectations) and I always have competing priorities. Even if she usually posts it without any edits, she should be reading it. It might need to go through approvals (which can take forever). Have you actually talked to her about how to make sure you are fitting into her schedule? Because I can tell you there is no way one of my bloggers would be allowed to post without it going through me first, even if they are fantastic writers and I never need to change anything. I can also say that unscheduled blog posts that show up in my inbox are low on the list of priorities. But bloggers who talk to me about scheduling know exactly when to get their material to me and exactly when they can expect to see it go up.

    1. Broke Philosopher*

      Thanks, scheduling that with her is a great idea. I’ve been sending the material at the same time of day on the same day of the week every week, but it’s definitely possible that there’s a better time for her. It doesn’t need to be approved or anything–she once threw one of my posts up almost immediately after I sent it, so I know she can do that, it’s just not a high priority for her.

        1. Broke Philosopher*

          That’s a good point. I do know that in this case, she doesn’t need approval for the blog posts. She can just put them up. She’s extremely busy, which is why they’re not going up quickly, but she also tells me that my posts bring in the most readers and they are making their social media, especially the blog, more of a priority, so I’m not quite sure what to do there.

  19. OP #7*

    First, thank you so much for your response, Alison. That was what I was thinking I would have to do, but the only advice I’ve ever been given is for an academic CV, and it’s hard to break away!

    Second, I just cut my resume down from two pages (plus references) to less than one by deleting all my undergraduate research and restructuring my graduate research more as a job, listing my accomplishments rather than the details of my research. I might have cried a little bit.

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