short answer Sunday — 6 short answers to 6 short questions

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

1. I have a trip planned for the week of an important event at my new job

After reading your e-book and being a faithful reader of your blog for years, I just landed a wonderful new job opportunity that I definitely credit in part to your advice! However, I do need a little more help with a vacation request. I accepted the position this week and I have a planned vacation from 6/29-7/6 that is prepaid for with my family. Normally I would not be hesitant to bring this up to a new employer since many respect a planned vacation, but this might be a unique situation.

The job is part of a new facility that is opening on 7/1 (I will be working in HR, the facility is a call center). Since my vacation would fall within the same week of the opening of the facility, I do not know if it’s reasonable to still ask for this vacation time. While I would be really bummed to have to give up this vacation (I only take one vacation a year and this one is completely paid for already), I do not want to seem like I’m bailing during a crucial opening week. Is it naive to ask for the week off or should I ask anyway? And if so, should I ask in person when I see my boss in a week or send an email now?

Uh oh. It sound like you already formally accepted the job but haven’t brought up the vacation yet. Generally, you always want to mention any pre-planned vacation time as part of your offer negotiations. Otherwise, if you wait and bring it up later, it can sound as if you assumed it would be fine to take, when it fact it might not be — especially a week-long vacation just one month into starting a new job (which many employers really, really wouldn’t like to have sprung on them once you started, whereas they might have easily approved it if you brought it up during the offer conversation).

In any case, it’s too late for that now — but I wouldn’t wait until you start. Instead, email your boss now — but I’d be prepared to cancel the trip, at least if you value the new job more than you value the trip. And you should make that very clear in your email; explain that you realize it’s only a month after you’ll be starting and during an important week to boot, and ask if you should cancel it. In other words, put the focus more on your willingness to cancel than on your hope that you can still take it — because otherwise you risk starting off on the wrong foot.

2. Leaving your mailing address off your resume

Recently I’ve been seeing a lot of people advising that long distance candidates leave their mailing address off their resume entirely. This seems really bizarre to me, and like it would make it look like you’re hiding something (which you are!). What do you think of this advice?

It does look like you’re hiding something, so it’s not ideal, but it’s not such a huge deal that it would get an otherwise great candidate rejected.

3. Applying for a job with a company that rejected me last year

I applied for a dream job at a dream company last year and got to the final round of interviews. They told me that they picked a local candidate (it was originally posted as a possible home office job). The process took over 4 months and I met with at least a dozen people in the company, up to an executive vice president.

A VERY similar job was recently posted (I suspect that they split the territory for the original job) and I want it so badly, it hurts! The problem is that I’ve never written a cover letter for a job from which I was previously rejected. They know my skills and qualifications so the normal templates for cover letters won’t really work. I know I need to tell them that I’m willing to move this time around, but what else can I/should I tell them that they don’t already know and that convinces them that I’m the right pick this time around?

Also, should I send a note directly to the hiring manager even though the company uses an applicant management system?

Well, first, stop using templates for your cover letters, because those aren’t going to lead to a particularly great cover letter. But aside from that, open by saying that you’d love the chance to talk with them again and that you’re willing to relocate. Aside from that, I have no idea what you can tell them that will convince them to hire you because I don’t know why they didn’t hire you last time — but I CAN tell you that it’s unlikely anything you put in a cover letter will outweigh whatever they already know from the extensive interviewing last time (good, bad, or otherwise), so I wouldn’t stress terribly about it.

And yes, email the hiring manager directly too since you’ve interviewed with her in the past (presumably).

Also, you can’t have any idea whether it’s really your dream job, and it’s helpful to keep that in mind.

4. How can I calculate my annual salary when I’m hourly with variable hours?

I have a question about dealing with required salary history entries on online applications. My last job (my first out of grad school) was a salaried position with benefits, etc. That position ended last year, and since then I have been employed in an hourly wage position with lower per-hour pay and no benefits. This is seasonal work, and in the off-season my hours get cut back based on what my boss can afford from his research budget. I have been applying to jobs in my field, but all of the online applications require annual salary histories. How should I enter my current salary? My W-2 from last year is only from a partial year and I’ve since received a raise. If I use hard salary numbers from 2012, it doesn’t reflect the variability of my hours and the fact that my boss thinks I’m worth $X per hour — it would appear that my wages were much lower per hour than they really are.

I’m concerned because I don’t want to lie on the application, but don’t want to be thrown out by the screening program used by these companies. The salary ranges for these positions are about double what I’m making now, so a huge disparity between my current salary and the desired position would probably be a big red flag.

There’s no good way to do this and these systems are ridiculous for requiring it at all, but I’d probably take your current hourly wage and project it out into an annual salary. If you advance further into their hiring process and they ask about it, you can explain how you calculated it and why (while privately flipping them the bird for using such a crappy system).

5. How can I back out of my new internship if I get a better offer?

I have been job searching for about six months and am having a great deal of trouble finding a job. About six months ago, I applied to a great looking job that was right up my alley but never heard anything back. I moved on and applied for a paid internship that was not in my field because it gave me 10 paid weeks to figure out what to do.

Three days after I accepted the internship, I received a call from the company I applied to six months ago, asking if I would like to come in for an interview. The interview went very well and the interviewer apologized for taking six months to get back with me. Apparently the department went through some restructuring and they didn’t want to hire anyone until they knew what the new department would look like. Four days later, I received a call from the interviewer asking me to come in for a second interview.

If selected for the job how do I resign from the internship? I will have to resign before the ten weeks are up but I would like to keep doing some of the things I’m doing as a volunteer. The awkward part is that the internship is at my church so I am going to see most of these people every Wednesday and Sunday. Plus, the minister I’m working for can be very difficult to work with. Two of the secretaries told me you need to be psychic to work with him because he never says what he means and is incredibly disorganized. How do I resign in a way that will allow me to keep volunteering and won’t burn any bridges at my church? I am on my second week of the internship if that makes any difference.

You may not be able to. All you can do is notify them as soon as you have a formal job offer from the other place (if you get one), and offer to do whatever you can to help them out in the interim and afterwards. How they respond is up to them. (And it’s worth noting that they’d be entitled to be a bit annoyed; you made a commitment to them that you’d be reneging on, and that’s legitimately frustrating, no matter how understandable your reasons.) But it shouldn’t burn your bridges at the church, not unless they have black, black hearts.

6. How do I follow up on networking contacts offers to interview me?

I am in professional school, and my field’s recruiting season is coming up in a couple months. I chose my school for the unparalleled professional opportunities it offers, but it is across the country from my hometown, where I am very intent on returning for personal reasons. Since my school is so far away, companies from my hometown don’t often recruit there, and I have had to do much of the legwork on my own. I’ve had several informational interviewing/networking conversations with some personal connections at a handful of companies there, and these conversations have all ended with the other person saying something like, “If you’re interested, let me know when you’ll be in town during recruiting season” or “I’d be happy to set up an interview if you’d like to work here.”

I’ll be returning home a few times during the next couple months. How should I follow up with these contacts and let them know I’ll be in town and that I would be thrilled to interview with them? Since they told me they would interview me, not just “pass my resume along” or whatever, I’m not sure how to phrase my follow-up without sounding presumptuous. I am also not sure if I should include a resume and cover letter separate from the text of the email, or if I should wait for confirmation from them that they can/will actually speak with me. I know it sounds like I’m overthinking this, but I would really love to work at these places, and I don’t want to inadvertently turn anyone off by sounding pushy.

“Thank you so much for meeting with me last month. I’m going to be in town several times in the next few months, and I would be thrilled to take you up on your offer to interview with ABC while I’m there, if that offer still stands.” Or, “Thank you so much for meeting with me last month. You mentioned that I should let you know when I’ll be in town during your recruiting season, and my trips are now booked for DATES. I’d be thrilled to be able to meet with you or someone else recruiting for the company while I’m there.”

And yes, attach a resume (not a cover letter, since this isn’t an official application). That’s not presumptuous; it’s courteous, because it will save them the time of having to find it or having to ask you for it.

{ 44 comments… read them below }

  1. Kay @ Travel Bug Diary blog

    #3 – Can’t you negotiate a starting date after the 10 weeks are up? The interview process might take a long time, then the negotiating…. by the time you get an offer you might actually be close to the end of the interning. Avoid the situation #1 is in, and make your starting date part of the negotiation.

    1. OP 5

      I think you meant this for me, OP 5. I have spoken with the hiring manager about pushing the start date back but they need someone to start by mid June. They have a very important event in July and the position I’m interviewing for is necessary for the success of that event.

  2. sara

    Well yesterday day I was coughing some And last night my nose got all stuffy And when I woke up I still had a stuffy nose and now I have red bumps on my throat!?! .Can anyone tell me what’s wrong with me and what I can do to help this?

      1. Jamie

        Ha – not sure how I missed this but there are worse places to get a diagnosis than the AAM comments. I’ve gotten medical help here before and I prefer you all to most of the doctors I see.

  3. Anonymous

    Re: #2 ; I have been leaving my mailing address off my résumé simply for privacy concerns. I put my city, phone and email, but leave off my street address. I’m only applying local, but never considered this might appear sketchy like I was trying to hide something. That’s kind of disappointing. I don’t like giving out personal information before its necessary. Interesting.

    1. EM

      Privacy concerns? I’m a little confused. The address of one’s residence is generally considered public information. I have no idea how old you are, but back in the days before the internet, every house had a phone book, and you could look up the name of any adult in town and find their home phone number and home address. Now you can go to websites like whitepages.com. I just now did it for myself, and it showed my home address, a map of where my house is, my age range, and my husband’s name.

        1. EM

          Yes, they do. Lots of people also post questionable photos of themselves on a publicly-viewable Facebook page. The notion of privacy is very different nowadays.

            1. Anonymous

              +1 Vicki

              That said, I think hiding your address is generally pointless (generally – if someone has a stalker or some specific reason too, it might make sense). I just don’t get what the point is. But if someone wants to not share that, that’s their business – I won’t begrudge them.

              1. Jessa

                Just because they do not have a stalker now, does not mean there will never be one, and once the information is out there you cannot take it back. I’d rather err on the side of less info than more.

                1. -X-

                  If there was zero cost to that erring that’d be logical. But there is a cost. So it’s a trade-off.

                  PS – For almost everyone, that info is out there already. Hard to find perhaps, but possible for a determined person.

        2. Elise

          I only have a cell phone and have never had a land line phone at my current address. Whitepages.com still shows my accurate address, just no phone number.

      1. Vicki

        These days, the telephone companies are quite willing to leave out the address all together or use a PO Box.

        We don’t tell many people our street address. Even my drivers’ license has the PO box on it.

        1. The gold digger

          Is that a California thing, Vicki – the PO box as an address? In my state, you have to give a physical address to get a drivers license. There is also space on the application for a mailing address, but nothing about not having the street address on the license.

          I am curious because so many places use a DL as proof of residence and a PO box isn’t usually considered proof of residence, I don’t think.

      2. Blinx

        But sometimes looking up a name will give you quite a range of people who share that name — who’s to know what address/number are accurate?

        I do what Elizabeth does in the post below — for resumes posted to websites like Monster, I just have my town/state/email address. If someone’s really interested, they’ll get in touch. It’s easier for me to ignore unknown emails than unknown phone calls. When I apply directly to a company, they get my full address and phone number.

      3. FiveNine

        Mine is not publicly available and frankly there are many women who go out of their way to make sure their addresses are not publicly available. It’s not unusual, much less weird or unheard-of.

      4. Cassie

        It may be public information, but I wish it weren’t. I just checked whitepages.com and searched my name and city and found my listing. Combine that with the fact that my salary information is public because I work at a public university, that’s too much information that I’ll like to share.

        Thankfully my phone number isn’t listed (home phone is unlisted and I don’t usually give out my cellphone unless it’s to friends or family). I use my Google Voice number for stuff that need a number.

    2. SevenSixOne

      About eight years ago, the company I was working for implemented an online application system for its 300+ locations. They kept every application they recieved in a database on the intranet that was accessible to any current employee, and I knew of more than one employee who would snoop around in the database just for the hell of it. When I left the company about a year ago, the database still had every online application the company had ever recieved–HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of applications with each applicants’ name, address, phone number, email, work and salary history, references’ contact info, etc searchable by any employee who wanted to see it.

      Since then, I never put more than the bare minimum information on my job applications, since I never know how long a company keeps my information on file, what they do with that information, or how many people will/can see it.

      1. Ruffingit

        Wow, that’s quite a cautionary tale! Amazing that a company would do that and not think about the possible privacy concerns.

    3. EnnVeeEl

      I’ve been spammed, etc., before. I don’t put my address on my resume. It is clear I am local because all of my past positions and my current position are in one city. Also, since most places I apply make me also fill out an application, I put my address there so they have it if they need it. I don’t apply anywhere else. If I chose to apply to a job in another city, I would be honest about that in the cover letter. Not everyone is trying to lie and scheme an employer. Yes, there are people who do, but please try not to paint everyone with the same brush. And I agree on giving out personal information before anyone needs to know. I don’t do it.

  4. Elizabeth West

    #2–leaving address off resume

    For online versions of my resume, I do leave it off; I don’t want to get spammed and scammed or worse. Sometimes I don’t even put my phone number, just my email. Same for blind ads (I rarely respond to those because they’re mostly junk). I can’t imagine not telling a legitimate company where I am, though. Besides, it’s not hard to see what city I’m in; every single job on my resume is in the same place.

    #3–applying again

    You have nothing to lose here. That is EXACTLY how I got my job. I had previously interviewed for a different job with the same company, but I wasn’t hired. When this one was posted (and it was an even better fit), I wrote this in my cover letter:

    “Recently, I met with [interviewer] to discuss my candidacy for a receptionist position at [company’s other office]. While I wasn’t selected for that position, my interest in your company remains strong.”

    I then went on to mention some things that we discussed at that interview that were relevant to this new position. It got me a skills test, which got me a phone interview, which got me an in-person with my senior coworker, and I got the job.

    If the job is slightly different, it might even a better fit, like mine was. The worst they can say is no.

    1. MovingRightAlong

      This is really helpful, thank you. I’m also applying for a similar-but-different postion at a company where I’ve previously interviewed. New territory for me in terms of cover letters.

    2. Charlotte

      This is wonderful, Elizabeth. I’m so happy for you and you sound very resourceful.

    3. #3

      I am the person who submitted question #3. It’s encouraging that someone was able to rebound from an initial rejection.

      However, it’s almost the exact same job. I think that they decided it was too much work for one person so they split in two. And the hiring manager is the same person I spoke to last year.

      I have to say, your tactic was brilliant though!

      1. Jessa

        On the other hand if for some reason they thought you could not handle the job alone (or someone else was just BETTER,) they might not feel that way now. It kind of depends on why you didn’t get it the first time. I’d certainly reapply.

  5. V

    #5 – While it may be inconvenient for them that you left before the 10 weeks is up, any reasonable person would understand the situation you are in. It sounds like you have a personal relationship with each of the people you work with through the church, so hopefully as long as you assist with the transition, they will be happy for you.

  6. Jamie

    I just requested to family at large that someone make a new pot of coffee and if they don’t then they have “black, black hearts.”

    Husband made the coffee, #1 son got up to do so and would have if not beaten to it…and the other two have confessed to having black, black hearts.

    It’s defintely our new catchphrase.

  7. A fan in Fairfax

    Re#2 – I’ve not had my address on my résumé for years. Just my cell (from an area code three states ago) and email address. Not sure why an address or lack of one matters on the resume.

    1. Pandora Amora

      I’m a programmer. I hire programmers. I can hire work-from-home programmers. I prefer to hire work-in-office coworkers though.

      Having an address on the resume helps me see whether the person would be remote or local. For remote programmers, I need them to be pretty senior. They need to have built their careers to the point that they’re looking for engineering challenges rather than advancement-to-team-lead type challenges.

      I can take on a more junior programmer if they’re going to be in-house. I can train them up one-on-one. I can drop by their desk a few times a day; I can help them understand an Agile development environment; I can pair program with them, and teach them what I know and learn what they know. I love doing this.

      I can’t do all those same things with a remote programmer. I can’t easily help them out. I can’t teach good work ethics to someone fresh out of college that is located five states away.

      So having a mailing address is really important to me: it tells me whether I’ll even bother hiring this person or not.

      Do I make that a prerequisite for a phone screen? No. But for junior-looking programmers without an address, I ask our HR recruiter to find out where the candidate lives, and whether they’ll move to one of the three cities where we have office locations.

      I don’t need a full address. A simple city-and-state would be good.

      1. Cat

        I think everyone understands why you’d want people in the office for certain jobs. But “whether they’ll move to the city” is the key determinant there, not whether their address is local. Why not just make it clear your junior positions aren’t telework positions in the job posting?

      2. -X-

        “Having an address on the resume helps me see whether the person would be remote or local. ”

        You’re misleading yourself and excluding possible excellent applicants – they might be planning on moving.

        If the job requires being based in a certain place, simple say that in the description.

        1. College Career Counselor

          While it’s true that A Fan in Fairfax is excluding potentially good candidates, it’s also possible that s/he is getting enough good/excellent candidates while using this method that it’s not worth re-evaluating this screening criterion. This is a method of cutting down the number of applications to review. I don’t necessarily agree with it, but I understand it.

          1. Cat

            But if you’re actually having an assistant call candidates and find out if they’re willing to move, that seems like making more work for yourself vs. just making that clear from the get go.

  8. Seal

    I can understand to an extent leaving your home address off your resume or just putting your city/state. Chances are that a potential employer will be able to tell whether or not you are local based on your résumé and what you say in your cover letter. The ones I don’t get are resumes with local addresses from people who are clearly working halfway across the country that don’t explain the situation in their cover letter (i.e. I plan to move, or I work from home or whatever). We don’t fly people in for interviews for our staff positions, so if we can’t tell whether or not someone is local, chances are they won’t get an interview, particularly if we have a very large candidate pool.

    1. Cat

      I take a local address as a sign that a person is willing to get themselves there for an interview, regardless of whether they’re living there, which usually seems to be correct.

  9. #3

    I wrote question #3 and I want to be clear that I don’t ever use a template cover letter. I meant “template” to mean more of a general format. As in, in most cover letters you tell the reader how your resume qualifications tie to the posted position and why you want the job, but they know all of the normal introductory information about me and then some.

  10. Jessa

    #4 I’ve always done the hourly x 40 hours x 52 weeks routine, that’s not unreasonable. That IS your salary. Whether you work full time or not, it really is the numbers, but yes it’s annoying, because honestly, what you made before has not one damned thing to do with what the job you are being hired for is WORTH in the current market. And whether that number is higher or lower than your past pay is really irrelevant.

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