our manager is never at work, my coworker told a board member I’m upset at work, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. Our manager is never at work

A few years ago, a new assistant director position was added within my department to provide our staff with the direct, day-to-day supervision we had been lacking, due to the director’s many other responsibilities outside of our department. At first, it was a huge improvement – we had someone who was available to address concerns and issues, represent us at company meetings, etc. Over the last nine months, however, this manager has become increasingly absent. We are all salaried, so there is some flexibility in our schedules and time off, but working from home is not an option. She rarely works a full day in the office, typically coming in late and/or leaving early, or is out for a full day. I truly cannot remember a recent week when she has worked eight hours per day for five days.

Not only is this problematic for our department, in that we can’t find time to meet with her about issues that arise, but it is also incredibly draining on our morale. We’ve been receiving increasing pressure to meet revenue goals, etc., with some emails from our boss even mentioning that staff should be here for their scheduled hours and not be leaving 10 minutes early! I realize her absences could be the result of a serious personal matter she is attending to and doesn’t want to (or need to) share, but it seems like it would be wise for her to at least generally address her absenteeism with us, rather than letting the gossip and resentment fly. Her absence goes unnoticed by her supervisor (the director), due to the previously mentioned responsibilities and lack of his physical presence in our department. Is there any way to constructively address this without overstepping boundaries?

I’d start asking her directly for her time for specific things. For instance:

  • “Could I get an hour on your calendar this week to talk about ___?”
  • “We’d love to debrief how ___ went. Could you meet with the three of us who worked on it on Tuesday afternoon to discuss it?”
  • “I’m hoping for your feedback on ___ before I need to submit final numbers on Thursday morning.”
  • … and so forth.

While her time in the office isn’t your business, her getting you what you need to do your jobs IS your business. If you ask her directly for what you need in that regard and aren’t getting it, at that point it’s reasonable to talk to the department director about it (and you’ll be able to provide more concrete specifics than just “she’s not here”).

Alternately, if you want, you could go straight to the director now and say something like, “Is something going on with Jane? She’s been increasingly not around and I wasn’t sure if something was going on we should know about, or if we can expect her back more regularly soon.”

2. My coworker led a board member to think I’m upset at work

I am in a constituent relations role in a large nonprofit. A significant part of my job involves working with volunteers and donors. Recently, I was approached at an event by someone on one of our leadership boards; he “wanted to help me” because he heard I wasn’t receiving support from my colleagues. He mentioned a specific department that, allegedly, was pushing back on my initiatives. I was perplexed by his comments, as I have good relationships with my colleagues. He wouldn’t share the source of these comments, just “the grapevine.” He kept pushing for me to confide in him and to let him help me navigate all my issues. I was put on the spot and had no idea what he was talking about.

It turns out that this volunteer/donor had met up with a good friend of mine just a couple days earlier in a group setting. The friend (who works in our organization, but in more of a back-end role) offered her own “State of the Organization” update over a boozy dinner. Among her comments, she shared that I do such a great job, but that I am frustrated and that she wishes my colleagues and boss were more supportive of my work. Apparently she based this on an isolated anecdote I shared with her months ago, along with the occasional text message from me (“Is it Friday happy hour yet? What a long week!”) which I had considered to be pretty innocuous. The fact that she shared this with a volunteer/donor was absurd and unprofessional, but not malicious.

Obviously the big lesson for me is to be more mindful of how I choose to express myself, especially with this friend/colleague. However, my larger concern is with the volunteer/donor, who now believes that I’m unsupported, frustrated, and in need of assistance. Part of me thinks that if I bring this subject up with him again — to clarify things — it would just lend credence to nonexistent issues. The other part of me thinks that I need to nip this in the bud immediately so that these unfounded assertions do not spread. What do you think?

Yeah, I’d say something since he asked you about it directly. I’d say something like this: “I thought more about what you mentioned to me at the X event, and I wanted to clear it up: It sounds like like Jane misunderstood the situation and got some of the facts wrong — not surprising when it’s being related secondhand! I want to assure you that I’m actually very happy with (fill in whatever he the issues are), and not at all feeling unsupported! I really appreciate you checking in, and it’s great to know that I can approach you if there ever were problems like that. And I”m looking forward to seeing you next month at ___.” Or something like that.

And then talk to your coworker and tell her not to put you in that position again.

3. Writing compelling cover letters when you’re inexperienced and writing to a recruiter

I’ve had a lot of difficulties writing cover letters for positions advertised by recruiters due to a couple of reasons. My first problem is that I usually write about my interest in X or Y company and/or what I can offer them etc. in my opening paragraph, and my second is that I am a relatively recent graduate and have never held a position relating to my field. Finding work experience in the field has been near impossible for me as my degree was in a moderately specialised field of science, and the few work experience offers are only for students, presumably for insurance or worker’s comp related reasons.

Unfortunately, this has added up into my stated problem. The combination of addressing my cover letter to a recruiter who is not a part of the company whose position I am applying for, not being able to relate my passion for my field of study to a company’s goals or ideals, and not having a paragraph dedicated to accomplishments specifically related to this field of work has left me in a bit of a bind and has left me sending far more generic cover letters than I would prefer to. How would you address this issue?

Why would you be great at the job? There’s something that makes you feel you’d be good at it. That’s what your letter needs to convey.

Pretend you’re writing an email to a friend about why this job seems like a great match for you and why you’d be awesome at it. That’s the basis for your cover letter right there.

The fact that the recruiter doesn’t work for the company where the position is based doesn’t matter; forget that’s even the case and write the way you would if you were writing straight to the manager the role reports to.

4. Hyperlinks in a resume

Is it helpful to hiring managers to include hyperlinks to various publications or pieces of writing you have been involved in or is this considered annoying or gimmicky? For example, if I had worked on the development of a major report, would it be weird to hyperlink to the report? My thoughts that it would be helpful, if a hiring manager had the option to click through and see the report, but a friend thinks that they would get annoyed at being expected to do that and see it as a turn-off, particularly if there were references to multiple publications. I have a friend who works in communications and always does this to reference the website campaigns he has been involved in. Do you have an opinion on this?

It’s fine to do that. Your friend is wrong in thinking hiring managers would be annoyed at being expected to do that, because the mere presence of a link doesn’t carry an obligation to click on it. It’s an option if they want it; if they don’t, it’s easily ignored.

5. Listing community college awards when you also graduated from a four-year school

I have a question on how to interpret someone’s resume. In sum: They collapsed their community college degree information into their bachelors degree, reporting awards earned at each institution under just the one with no mention that there were multiple institutions involved.

The applicant turned in just a resume (a formal electronic application is not part of the process). This person reported just a 4-year university on the resume. However, under that bachelors degree entry, there were several awards and honors listed. I recognized that one of the honor societies listed was one strictly for community colleges (I’m a community college graduate as well). During the interview, I asked the applicant about this and they reported that they had graduated from a community college and had collapsed their honors, etc. from that degree under their 4-year degree. Note that there was no mention of the GPA from that community college or the community college at all, just a single GPA listed next to a single 4-year degree institution.

I found this very disingenuous. I have always listed my 4-year and community college degrees as separate entries, mainly because I had different GPAs and honors belonging to each. I asked a few coworkers about it and they thought it was completely fine to only list the 4-year degree and had no problem with all the person’s awards/honors/etc listed under that final degree. I would not have had a problem with listing just the final degree if only the awards/honors from that institution were listed. From my perspective, you have to pick one of the other: list them all with the respective awards, etc., or list the highest earned degree and only the items earned at that degree. What is your take?

Yes, you have to pick one or the other. It’s totally fine to list just the institution you received the four-year degree from. But if you do that, you forego the ability to list honors and awards from the community college, because if you list them without the school they came from, you’re implying that they’re from the other school, and that’s disingenuous.

{ 122 comments… read them below }

  1. Student

    5) If this is a very recent graduate, I can understand being annoyed by this.

    If this applicant has even one to two years of experience post-college, then it’s not really a big deal how they list college level awards. The applicant was probably really proud of the community college award, but couldn’t justify the space to list the community college. It might not have been intended to be deceptive, though it’s not a brilliant decision. The vast majority of college-level awards are not exactly the kind of thing I’d base an employment decision on.

  2. Piggle

    #5 I would like to disagree with the answers for #5. Most people only list their terminal four-year degree on their resume. For example, I have transfer credits from a different university and those credits are only listed on my official transcript. There’s nothing duplicitous or disingenuous about not mentioning my whole career.

    Many students, however, attend community colleges, which are designed to give associates degrees, in order to improve their grades or save money. In my state, a student must complete a transfer program or associates in order to even apply to the four-year state university. (I know a student who is currently enrolled in vet school who shaved a year off of her higher ed learning and, consequently, financial debt by attending community college for two years, even during high school, while living at home.) If a person earned an honors award, then I would be inclined to think that they might even be extra determined to complete their goals. Still, by completing a four-year degree at a university, the person has completed the required credits and classes to be awarded the degree from that particular university.

    Associates degrees seem a bit worthless to me, not worth mentioning, particularly if you’ve finished college. I also wonder if there is a bias against students who attend community college rather than any other university?

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      Yes, it’s absolutely fine not to list the associate degree and only list the four-year degree. In fact, that’s exactly what I recommend people do.

      But if you’re going to list specific awards or honors from the community college, you need to list the community college as well, so that you’re not inaccurately implying they came from the other school.

      1. Kelly L.

        I may not understand this perfectly, but I know some community colleges have articulation agreements with 4-year colleges, where you do two years at the community college and then transfer to the 4-year college for the last two years–the curriculum is designed so that everything transfers smoothly and you have all the requirements to come into the 4-year as a junior. And then, if I’m not mistaken, when you graduate, the school name on your degree is that of the 4-year college, at least in some cases. I’m not sure it’s necessarily disingenuous if it’s something like that, especially if the colleges themselves call it “a degree from 4-Year University.”

        1. TheSnarkyB

          I see what you’re saying here but I think it misses the point.
          At every point in this conversation, Alison has said that she sees no problem with just listing the 4-year institution. (Whether they have matriculation agreements as you reference here, or not.)
          However, you can’t list that you graduated from University of Michigan and got a “Student Org Leader of the Year” award while you were in college, if that award was given to you at an Ann Arbor Community College, without specifically stating that UMich didn’t give you that award.
          That’s all that’s being said here. The schools don’t have the same numbers of students, maybe have different standards for an award like that, and definitely don’t have a comparable number of orgs, so that’s why it’s not okay. And Michigan also wouldn’t confirm it if they were asked, so it seems like you’re disingenuously trying to pass off an award that you didn’t get from them.

          1. --

            (This is #5 OP)

            Exactly. My issue was with the applicant not being clear about which awards came from which institution. There were about 8 listed, and half of them came from other institutions.

            This was a fresh grad, so I would have been fine with just seeing a separate Awards section with the institution acronym next to the individual award indicating where it was earned. Just something to make it clear. For example, being elected as student body president at your community college would be a significant achievement to list as a fresh grad, but shouldn’t listed under your 4 year university. Had the applicant made these distinctions clear, it would have added a lot of value to their application, but instead it only made them look like they were sloppy or dishonest. The resume in question had a host of other problems, so I elected to call it sloppy rather than purposefully misleading.

        2. Anonalicious

          when you graduate, the school name on your degree is that of the 4-year college

          This is because you transferred to the 4-year college and stopped being a student at the community college. It doesn’t change what Alison is saying.

        3. teclatwig

          I think you all present a convincing argument here, but as someone who saved money and proved myself as a student at the CC level before transferring to a 4-year, I can absolutely see people making this mistake due. It doesn’t have to be disingenuous or an attempt to deceive.

          (I have mostly dealt with the issue by putting the name of the institution on the same line with the award, btw. There is no good way — or reason — to list my transfer credit hours on my resume.)

          1. Kelly L.

            Yeah, they may think this is how they’re supposed to write it, since the final degree is conferred by the 4-year.

          2. Ask a Manager Post author

            To be clear, I’m not saying people who do this are being deliberately deceptive. But the end result is misleading and inaccurate, and thus you shouldn’t do it that way.

          3. --

            (#5 OP)

            That would have been perfect! I’m also a community college grad and have struggled with how to handle my AS/BS/MS institutions on my resume. My issue was not omission of the degree but the formatting that indicated all the awards came from their 4 year university. In the context of the applicant’s resume, it made complete sense to omit the degree. However, by choosing to omit the degree they had to choose: add annotations (in a style similar to what you mentioned) to clarify which institution granted the award/honor or don’t list the awards/honors from that degree.

      2. Anna

        My issue is that I have an MA, but I also have 2 bachelor degrees. It doesn’t really come up anymore now that I have a more established work history, but when I didn’t I wasn’t sure how to list the MA, which was in the same subject as one of my BAs. What about that other BA just hanging out there?

    2. Once Anon a Time

      I understand your point, but respectfully disagree that listing an Associate’s degree is not important if you’ve earned a Bachelor’s. I have my BS in Sociology but recently realized I want to work in healthcare. In order to do that, I need to take certain courses in medical terminology, coding, and transcription. I am now pursuing an AAS degree, AFTER getting a BS.

      So for me, it is very necessary for me to list my AAS when applying for jobs. Otherwise, it looks like I’m shotgunning resumes, because my BS alone doesn’t properly convey that I want a career in healthcare. I know this because hiring managers have told me that taking these courses would help me get the jobs I was previously denied due to lack of healthcare knowledge and experience.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        You have something of an unusual case though; it makes sense for your specific situation, but in general isn’t necessary to list.

      2. Dan

        I have a similar situation — I got an AAS after my BS. While I had to get the degree to pursue a specific type of government job, it ultimately didn’t pan out. These days, the AAS reference can probably go, but it still is a credential that adds to my candidacy in certain aspects. Although, with time, its significance is less and less.

      3. 2horseygirls

        I have a 20 year old BA in public relations from a 4 year college (now university). I also just completed a Certificate (not even an AAS (wasn’t offered)) in Advanced Equine Science from a community college.

        For equine-related jobs, I am listing the recent Certificate. For strictly administrative assistant/marketing jobs – do I leave the certificate on my resume (showing initiative and time managements skills (went to school while working full-time)), or remove it since it has no relevance to the admin/marketing field? TIA.

  3. Once Anon a Time

    Just to touch on the issue in #5, is it a red flag to employers if you don’t list your overall GPA, but list awards and honors you’ve received from your university?

    For example, my overall GPA was not very good, but my major GPA in Sociology was a 3.9. I also minored in Business Administration, and that GPA was a 3.7. As a result, I earned honors in both Sociology and Business when I graduated. On my resume, I list those honors without listing my overall GPA.

    None of the hiring managers ever asked me what my overall GPA was, but I was just curious if it’s a big red flag? If they did ask, I’d be truthful and tell what it is, and explain that I did not feel comfortable listing it.

    1. Variation

      I don’t see this as disengenuous. You earned the notation with your degree, and your post secondary institution had no problem granting you that distinction. Your overall GPA isn’t necessary for your resume- it can be a nice addition to show how hard you worked, but it’s not totally reflective of how you’d perform outside the school environment. I’d be leery about any employer who prioritized this information over my work or volunteer experience.

    2. Liz in a Library

      While it isn’t going to hurt you, when I’m looking at a resume, GPA is not something I care about seeing. Listing it or not will not matter a bit to our hiring process (some places are different).

      1. Judy

        I’ve not had my gpa from my bachelor’s degree on my resume since looking for my second job out of college. I’ve never had my gpa from my masters’s degree, gained while working full time.

        1. Judy

          Oh, and I’ve not put any awards or honors from my schools since the second job search, either.

          1. Ruffingit

            I don’t do that either. It’s been my experience that employers seem to care more about what I’ve done with the degree than how well I did in school. I could list the GPA since I did very well in school, so it’s not a shame thing, but it just doesn’t seem to matter. It’s my work experience that most have cared about.

      2. A.N. De Mous

        Agree 100%. Once the diploma is in your hand, the GPA ceases to matter. Grading is too subjective to use as a metric on how someone might function on the job. What do I care that you wrote a brilliant paper on Beowulf five years ago when I need you to do supply chain logistics today?

    3. MR

      I never put any GPA on my resume. I always felt it was a waste of space to do so…graduating was the point of college, not what my GPA was while I was there.

      While I really wouldn’t think anything of a recent graduate putting the GPA on the resume, once you obtain your first job following school, the GPA is largely irrelevant from that point forward.

    4. MaryMary

      I think it depends on the hiring manager. Some people put more weight on how you did in college (particularly, in my experience, if they had a high GPA themselves), other people couldn’t care less. I think you’re taking a bit of a gamble, but the further you are out of school, the less I’d worry about it.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        I wouldn’t even call it a gamble, since most people don’t include it. If a particular employer cares about it, they’ll ask for it — but not including it proactively shouldn’t hurt you. (An exception to this could be the small number of fields where it’s widely known that GPA will often come up.)

        1. MaryMary

          Oh, I don’t think not including your GPA on your resume is a gamble. I think the situation Once Anon A Time is talking about, where she highlights some specific academic honors but doesn’t include her overall GPA because it’s not great could be a little risky, especially for a recent grad. I can think of a couple colleagues who would be put off if a candidate’s resume said they achieved honors in business, but checked a transcript and found a 2.5 GPA.

  4. OP #3

    Thanks for the response Alison, I appreciate it.

    On a related note, I have an interview lined up with one of those agencies tomorrow! I think I needed the reminder that I should be focusing on why I’d be great in this position, so your timing was brilliant. Now I just need to get rid of these nerves, ha.

    1. pgh_adventurer

      Good luck! Something that helps me a lot is remembering they already think you’d be a good fit for the position–if they didn’t, then they wouldn’t be spending the time interviewing you. You just have to prove them right!

  5. soitgoes

    #5 might be an issue with resume templates in programs like Word. The pre-made forms only give you room to list one college/university, which is annoying for anyone who might want to list both their community colleges and four-year schools, or who would like to list their undergraduate and graduate schools under separate headings. I understand why someone would list one school on the template and then just throw all of the impressive college-related stuff under it. There are ways around this glitch, no doubt, but then you’re sacrificing formatting and you’re also using up space that could be used to list a past job. I usually just list my MA as the main university heading and put my BA as a bullet point underneath it (I got both at the same school).

    So yeah, the applicant probably wasn’t being deceptive. He just doesn’t know how to format a resume from scratch.

    1. PEBCAK

      If you can’t figure out how to make a resume in MSWord, you are pretty much unqualified for every office job I can think of.

      1. Kaethe L.

        Yes, this may not be the case for all fields, but I’m always wary of candidates who use templates (hiring managers usually can spot a Word template from a mile away) or have poorly formatted resumes. It makes me wonder about their basic computer skills. But I always hired for jobs that involved a lot of formatting, so this may not universally apply.

        Still, I would think it weird to have your BA as a bullet under your MA.

        1. Betsy

          Just using a template? I almost always use Word templates, not because I’m not skilled at using Word, but because my design aesthetic is questionable at best. If I don’t start from a template of some sort, I find myself seduced into 28-pt flashing neon green headers, probably with some kind of marquee scroll. In Comic Sans.

          Templates are a useful tool. I don’t think only computer incompetents use them.

          1. ArtsNerd

            Hah! This made me giggle. I see nothing wrong with templates unless you’re gunning for a design job.

            Modifying the template to fit your needs, however, is something I’d expect a candidate to do.

            1. Betsy

              Oh, I’m on board with that. If you have more education items than there is space for, add a new one. Copy the formatting. You don’t paint a picture to fit a frame, and you shouldn’t write your resume to match the template.

          2. Kaethe L.

            Yeah, I suppose I was remembering myself as being harsher than I actually was. It’s just that so often, candidates don’t modify the template to fit their needs. That’s a problem. But if the resume is well-organized (targets the position, doesn’t seem to include irrelevant categories just because the template has them) and doesn’t have any weird formatting, there’s not really an issue.

          3. LQ

            I, for one, am glad when people use templates. Manipulate them all you want (well maybe not you, since the temptations of the format bar seem to be significant…) but starting with one is generally a good idea.

            And for me they are more likely to render the final format accessible which is a hugely important thing in the work I do so I strongly encourage templates.

          4. Elizabeth West

            Haha, me too. I like to tweak a template a bit, though. But even though I made a new report template for my department from scratch, after taking a document design class this last semester, it has become painfully clear to me that my design skills are rudimentary at best. I’ll stick to words, thanks!

          5. Ask a Manager Post author

            Templates are fine, as long you use them to fit what you need, rather than contorting your content to fit the template. That means you shouldn’t have categories that don’t strengthen your particular resume, and you should figure out how to add new lines when you need them (so that, as in this example, your BA isn’t a bullet point under your MA but rather its own separate thing).

            1. soitgoes

              I’ve already responded to someone else to this effect, but the problem with making wholly separate listings for multiple degrees is that you’re cutting into the space that you’ve reserved for your job history. Which one is more important? Is there a preferred way to write a resume if you have degrees from different schools and also have more than 2 or 3 past jobs that are relevant to the position at hand? Should you go onto a second page? Make the print really small? Template or not (even assuming that you’re not bothering with an objective), you only have room for maybe five or six entries. How do you make all of your information fit? Putting my MA and BA under the same heading allowed me to keep a prestigious internship on my resume.

              1. Ask a Manager Post author

                I guess I’m confused — either way, they’re taking up 2 lines, right? But one doesn’t need to be a sub-buleet of the other.

        2. Mike C.

          Use of templates means the person has poor computer skills? Do you penalize candidates that don’t do their own hand kerning as well?

          1. aebhel

            I think being tied to a template to the point that you’re leaving out or distorting information because it doesn’t fit implies that you lack the ability to modify that template effectively. MS Word is (a) ubiquitous and (b) not particularly complicated, so I’d be leery of hiring anyone who can’t use it for any kind of office job.

            (Although apparently a couple of people at my office do all their work–not just flyers, but ordinary bullet-point handouts–in Publisher, which I find baffling.)

            1. Natalie

              That may not say anything about their technical skills, particularly a new grad – they may simply assume that the items are culturally required in a resume.

              I had an old co-worker who did everything in Publisher, too. It was so odd.

            2. LQ

              I find the publisher thing really strange too, I find it mostly with people who seem to want to be thought of as techy but really aren’t.

              I do think that if you can’t manipulate a template at all that is a problem, but starting with a template I think is generally a great place to begin. You’ve got consistent styling, things like headings are already being used, etc. If you aren’t sure I’d rather people use a template and stumble into the document being somewhat useful than start with a blank page that requires complete reworking.

    2. Onymouse

      An easy way around your BA/MA problem would be to list the school first, i.e.

      University of Blogsville
      * M.A. Chocolate Teapot Crafting
      * B.A. Teapot Arts

      1. soitgoes

        That’s what it looks like anyway.

        The problem with copying the formatting block to make a whole new “paragraph” for another school or degree is that you eliminate space that could be used for past jobs. Someone who did her AA, BA, and MA at different schools would be going onto a second page by listing all of those separately, and these days going onto a second page is considered the worst decision you could make when designing a resume. The point is that the standard “last 3 jobs + university where you earned your bachelor’s degree” isn’t applicable to the majority of young job seekers, and it’s rough to see hiring managers in the 30+ range who don’t understand why the information looks weird. I’m seriously asking: would you rather see “last 3 jobs + all post-high school academic info” on one page in really small print, that info on more than one page, one page with fewer than 3 jobs, or one page with thorough employment experience and a condensed version of the academic stuff?

        1. Kaethe L.

          I’m also confused. How does:

          M.A. in Library Science, University of Teapots
          B.A. in History, University of Teapots

          take up less space than:

          M.A. in Library Science, University of Teapots
          *BA in History, 2006

          Maybe I’m just imagining your formatting wrong, but it seems to me that there’s a way to list both while making sure you format similar items similarly (important for having a resume that can be read and understood quickly)

          If you want to de-emphasize your education section, because your work experience is more relevant, no problem. It doesn’t need to be more than 2 lines, 3-4 w/ section header. This would be easy without a template, but might be harder with one, if it’s set up to put college and degree on different lines, say. I guess that’s my problem with them. They restrict your options needlessly. You can fit a ton on a page (or 2 pages) if you’re doing your own formatting.

          1. Kaethe L.

            Oops, I see Alison already asked this. Sorry for the redundancy. Also, I suppose that should be an M.S. degree. :-)

        2. Melissa

          I thought it was okay to go onto a second page if you have a long work history?

          But I have a BA, an MA, and a nearly-earned PhD and my resume still doesn’t go on the second page even if I am listing 2-3 jobs.

  6. Purple Dragon

    #2 – My coworker led a board member to think I’m upset at work
    This line jumped out at me:

    “He kept pushing for me to confide in him and to let him help me navigate all my issues.”

    I’m wondering if something else is going on, like a political game, or maybe he’s trying to suggest a mentoring relationship with the OP ? Unless they had this type of relationship before this event.

    Like I said – that line just jumped out at me, I can’t imagine any of the board members etc I know saying something like this, especially being pushy about it.

    1. Pip

      Yeah, the pushiness is odd. I’m thinking either there’s some ongoing drama on the board and he is trying to recruit OP2 to his team, or that he is one of those who are addicted to stirring up drama.

      Either way, I’d stay *very* professional and drama-evasive around him.

    2. CTO

      That caught my eye, as well. At most largish organizations, the board isn’t supposed to be heavily involved in day-to-day operations and small issues. The board’s role is to hire and supervise a strong Executive Director to deal with the day-to-day stuff.

      I’ve seen plenty of boards with differing expectations, boundaries, and involvement… but in general, a board member shouldn’t be getting so involved in a “someone is a little unhappy” situation like this. OP, I’d be mindful that this board member may have boundary issues or be the kind of person who wants/needs to fix everything whether or not it’s their responsibility.

      I think it’s still a good idea to send a message like Alison suggested, just to try to put a more final “I’m fine” note on the situation, but then keep your distance. It could cause you trouble if you unwittingly encourage a board member to be overinvolved or if your managers start to think that you’re undermining their authority by going straight to the top.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        Yeah, if it’s the governing board, this is really inappropriate. I think it might be something more like an advisory or honorary board of some sort based on the way the OP described it, but I could be wrong.

        1. OP #2

          Thanks so much for your advice, Alison!

          You are correct; the volunteer is on an advisory board (not the governing board) in a role that directly relates to the work that I do.

  7. Chocolate Teapot

    1. I think I would focus on pinning the Manager down long enough to have the meetings and discussions required.

    I once tried the “Is there something going on with Jane?” approach in a similar situation, and got my head bitten off and accusations of being nosy about things which didn’t concern me. Pointing out that I didn’t really care where Jane was and I simply needed information on when we might be expecting her back, didn’t go down too well either.

    1. Artemesia

      And here I thought this was great advice. I wonder if in the OP’s situation the supervisor knows very well that the manager is slacking off but is protecting her for whatever reason as apparently was the case in your situation.

      1. MM

        It could be that the senior manager is aware of the problem but isn’t willing to admit to it, or address it. There is a great deal of work involved with documenting poor behavior at work, following up with verbal and written warnings, than termination. Sometimes they didn’t do a reference check or due diligence when they hired someone; than are afraid to admit to the hiring mistake. Than the is the old problem solver “If I ignore it, not address it, than it’s not a problem.

        I had a friend that had a terrible manager. She had someone in her lab that was terrible. Wouldn’t follow procedures and they were applying for accreditation. The boss & co-worker were hunting pals. His refusal to address the situation along with a few other improper behaviors ended with both of them being hired. She likes her new boss quite well.

    2. Ask a Manager Post author

      Someone who would bite your head off for asking that in that situation is a problem in their own right though. (Could certainly be the case here too, of course.)

    3. Dan

      Agreed. Additionally, if I were Jane, I’d be ticked off that you didn’t talk to me before going to my boss. That’s just uncool.

  8. Nina

    #1: I had a supervisor like that. He would show up for an hour or so in the morning, return briefly before lunch, and disappear again in the afternoon, sometimes not returning at all. No idea where he was going or what he was doing. Eventually, I had to talk to his boss because I couldn’t track him down and I was having issues with my numbers. If your manager doesn’t respond, talk to her boss.

    1. Dan

      Be very careful with going over someone’s head. Especially if that person is your manager. That person has the power to make your work life hell.

      1. MM

        True. When I worked at a bank we suffered the disappearing manager syndrome. She would have you lie when the district manager called and tell him that she was with a client. Than we were supposed to call her at home and let her know.

        We also found out that she was stealing our sales. There was a document trail associated with incentive pay. She was tearing ours up and writing down her employee number instead. Hate to see how much she cost me over a six month period.

        We were so happy when they fired her. The district manager had people my o-workers meet with him on their time off to sign documents etc. I bet they didn’t get paid for it either.

  9. Elysian

    #1 Manager not at work

    I was wondering if the OP should address the morale problem at all. I can see it be very disheartening to get emails from your manager saying “Don’t leave 10 min early or you won’t meet our joint goals!” when your manager hasn’t worked a full week in a long time. I know we usually advise people to focus on how the absence affects their work, but if this were me I would be stewing over the issue and I would have trouble taking the manager seriously. Is there anything appropriate that the OP could do to address the morale issues this creates? Or does she just have to suck it up and ‘get over it’ (I don’t I personally would be able to do that easily)?

    1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

      How much trouble do you want to borrow?

      You can do that, but a bunch of unexpected things might happen next. Sticking to the work specifics is practical because you either are or aren’t getting what you need.

      Personal opinion: that’s a super sucky way for a manager to conduct herself, even if there are personal or health reasons why this time off is necessary. I believe you DO owe your staff some kind of explanation, but I know from reading previous posts here that belief isn’t universal.

    2. Sophia

      But the manager not working a full week is the OP’s perspective. The manager could be going to meetings etc (work related stuff). OP doesn’t know. I think OP should focus on not getting a hold of manager bc as Alison said, that is the OP’s buisness

      1. Judy

        Not a manager, but I had a nearly 18 month stint of having a conference call from 5:30am to 8am on Wednesdays. I’d roll in to work at 8:30 or so those days, normal start time was 7:30. I did hear someone from another department complaining to my boss that I was late to work as I was walking in one day. (My calendar was blocked until 8:30, so that I’d have time to drive from home and get situated. It was just so much easier to not have to drive to work for the 5:30 meeting.)

      2. Lowmantotempole

        And then there’s those manager who show up late/leave early and have loud personal calls all day long. Ye are blest if yours leaves! You can’t win telling on them because that makes your manager’s boss look bad- they’re not managing your manager.

        Let in roll off your back and look for new work if it is too much to deal with. Rarely have I ever seen a manager reformed. It would be a miracle if they went from ineffective slacker to effective manager.

    3. Del

      Personally, I’d avoid going there, just because the OP doesn’t know what the manager is off doing, and that can come across a little immature (“why does she get to do it if we don’t?”) unless phrased very, very carefully to someone who is receptive to the argument.

      The impact of “she is not around when we need her” is frankly a lot more important, and kind of implies the rest of it. The OP could even come at it from the angle of “You’ve said that we need all hands on deck from 9-5 in order to get our goals met; if she isn’t around, then that impacts our ability to do that.” But think of it this way — if it turns out that the manager is doing something that is related to the work but off-site, then the “she is not around when we need her” and “we need the person in this role to be here the vast majority of the time while we are working” would hold equally true, but “it’s making us discontent that she leaves and we don’t get to” would look really petty.

      1. Anonymous Drama

        In my experience, managers can pretty much do whatever they want (especially if they are exempt), especially on showing up late or not being around much, in certain cases. If you have the power, you have the privilege, period. Objecting to such when you are a peon generally won’t go well because that’s part of management culture.

    4. OP #1

      Yes! I’m curious about this too. Obviously, feeling like we’re being held to a different standard (the whole “Do as I say, not as I do” scenario) is frustrating, but the effect this situation is having on morale is much worse. We’ve been seeing a trickle-down effect in the office, in that newer staff have become very lax with their schedules, just following the example they’ve seen – and not having a manager there to notice!

      1. Sydney

        One thing you can try to help your own reaction is to pretend as if whatever she is doing when she’s MIA is terrible. Like, she’s practicing for Fear Factor and is spending hours in a tub with cockroaches crawling all over her. Or her 7 year-old niece is an aspiring songwriter for the Wiggles and she’s the audience all day.

  10. Katie the Fed

    #2 – wow. I’d be really tempted to mention to the board member how unfortunate it is that your colleague can’t handle alcohol well.

    How completely obnoxious.

    1. Artemesia

      Beautiful. A little laugh and then “Oh I am so sorry you were on the receiving end of this. Susie does have difficulties when she has one too many.”

      1. ArtsNerd

        As fun as the fantasy of this snarky response is, in reality it would reflect really poorly on you for saying that. I’m sure all of you commenting realize that – just saying for the benefit of those readers still getting used to professional norms =)

    2. Mike B.

      Eek. If your colleague has a problem with alcohol, discussing it with a third party outside the organization is not something that should be done flippantly.

      1. Katie the Fed

        I know, it was a joke. :)

        BUT if this colleague loses all discretion when drinking, I’d probably have a word with her privately.

        1. Mike B.

          Ah, the snark didn’t come across on the first reading. Glad to hear it. :-)

          It’s hard to deal with a situation like that in a way that doesn’t threaten your colleague’s pride or privacy, though if she routinely has to socialize with donors in situations where alcohol is present, it may be necessary for her manager to step in. (It’s definitely not the place of a coworker unless you happen to be good friends outside of work.)

      2. OP #2

        The “boozy dinner” was used to describe the social nature of the meeting; my colleague doesn’t have a problem with alcohol. I think she just acted obliviously in this situation.

        1. Katie the Fed

          I’d probably still have a word with her about unintended consequences and that you’re uncomfortable telling her things now because you’re not sure who she’d repeat it to.

          I doubt she meant any harm but discretion is important!

          1. OP #2

            Yes, I did talk to her candidly about the incident. Hopefully, she learned a lesson about discretion.

  11. MK

    #2 I don’t know if I am being paranoid here, but could it be that the donor was hitting on the OP? Especially this sentence :

    “He kept pushing for me to confide in him and to let him help me navigate all my issues.”

    It sounds as if he was trying to play knight in shining armour, not just expressing concern about a possible problem in an organization he had an interest in.

    1. Ruffingit

      I can totally see that. Wasn’t my impression on first read, but now that you’ve mentioned it, it makes sense as a possibility.

    2. OhNo

      I was thinking this too. Maybe I’m paranoid, but if this kind of thing is not his responsibility and he’s pushing that hard for the OP to let him “help”, I’d be wary of any “private meetings to discuss the issue” that he might suggest.

      Just curious, OP, but did he offer an email, phone number, or any other means of contacting him outside what you already had? Or did he express interest in meeting with you at another place or time? Either of those things would seem to make this possibility more likely.

    3. OP #2

      Thank you for this comment! This gave me a huge laugh, and I can see how one might come to this conclusion based on what I wrote. I’ll just say… no, this is not the case.

  12. MR

    #1 isn’t all that uncommon, yet, is amazingly tolerated. Morale is almost always low in situations where there is an absent manager, especially when the staff is left in the dark as to what is going on.

    All staff should know what the situation is with their manager. People need to know when and how to get in touch with that manager when it is necessary to do so. If that manager is going to be unreachable, people must know that and know what to do in the interim. It makes life so much easier for those involved as a result.

    1. Katie the Fed

      It’s also really bad for morale when it seems like there’s a special set of rules for managers that doesn’t apply to the worker bees.

      1. Lowmantotempole

        There are. We are supposed to act oblivious to slacking. Eventually, the company suffers and we lose work, but they get their golden parachutes. I just consider their absence minivacations.

      2. Julie

        I’m not sure that’s the issue here, though. The OP’s manager might have authorization to be out of the office as much as she is, but she really ought to at least talk to her staff about how to handle their work when she’s out. She doesn’t need to get into details, but she has to know that her absence will impact on her team.

        1. Katie the Fed

          But you have to communicate that – and I think we agree on that.

          It’s one thing for the boss to be out of the office. But there’s no reason she shouldn’t have enough consideration for her team to say “I’ll be out of the office on these days and times.” You would expect that from employees. Information like that should flow both ways.

    2. AVP

      Or at least if the reason is really personal/awkward and the manager does not want their staff to know, they should at least know that there’s something going on that they aren’t privy to the details of. That gives people a chance to plan and to know that their manager isn’t just flaking out – unfortunately that’s what a lot of people end up assuming, and then the morale is gone.

      1. Lynn Whitehat

        They can always say something vague like “I am helping a family member with a health problem” or something. They could go even vaguer than that! The main thing is to communicate what people can expect from their manager, e.g “I will be in the office from 8-12 daily, and responding to emails in the afternoons.”

    3. Esra

      I don’t get this at all. I mentioned in my previous workplace that not knowing when the director will be in (especially when we frequently needed his signoff) was hurting productivity and morale and got a snippy response that he didn’t need to clear his schedule with us. I clarified that I don’t need a specific schedule, but that if he wanted to sign off on every piece we were producing, then we needed him on site, or to be aware when he was off site, when tight deadlines loomed.

      1. Felicia

        I’ve had a similar manager and a similar response. She was supposed to sign off any time we wanted to do something different than what she said, and often the instructions and specifications she had made absolutely no practical sense (she had never done our work before, and seemed clueless to what it involved, but wouldn’t listen to us). So everytime we wanted to tell her “X that you asked is impossible, but y and z have been effective for this goal in the past, so we would like to do that instead” We’d have to find a time that she was in and free for a meeting, which meant we either had to wait a week for her approval, which wasn’t feasible, or go on without her. So the fact that she was rarely there wasn’t really the problem, it was that she wasn’t available for more urgent issues. She was also creating a lot of those issues with her management style but that was a whole other problem.

        1. SherryD

          I wonder how employees’ reaction to an absent manager relates to the overall performance of the manager.

          Years ago, I had a manager who left the workplace for extended periods during the workday, with flimsy excuses, but he was generally liked and respected and always came through when needed, and I don’t think anyone ever complained about his 2-hour lunches, or 3-hour expeditions to get a replacement part.

          At another job, though, I had a manager who also had repeated mysterious absences, and frequently left early. She was not well-respected by staff (due to her limited experience in our industry), and there was a lot of snark and eyerolls about her absences — even though I suspect many (if not all) of her absences were actually work-related.

  13. Ruffingit

    #2 last sentence should read

    “And then talk to your coworker and tell HER not to put you in that position again.”

  14. Lily in NYC

    #5 – I’m confused – why do you need to write a cover letter to a recruiter? I have gotten 4 jobs using recruiters and there has never been a need. In my experience, they call you in to make sure you are acceptable, interview you on the spot and then see if there’s anything that might be a good fit for you. In each case, they only wanted my resume. Are you applying “cold” to these places? If so, I would call the main number instead of emailing a cover letter.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      I think theses are jobs where a recruiter is handling initial applications and screening, and the instructions are to apply directly with that person. Same application process as any other, just going to a recruiter rather than a hiring manager.

      1. OP #3

        Exactly right, Alison. It’s very common for jobs to be advertised through recruiters in my field, and so far both the phone interview and initial interview have been with the recruiter at their firm instead of the company who is actually offering the job.

        I don’t know how common this is in other fields or in the US, so it’s possible that’s where some of the confusion comes from. Makes asking questions about company culture a little harder to ask, for sure!

  15. Anons

    Re #4 —

    Links are standard stuff in my field (web content), but in the cover letter or when asked for a portfolio / clip sheet, not in the actual resume.

    But in this field, the cover letter and work history actually carry more weight than the resume, too. Because your work product (byline) is very visible and anyone can Google up your history and performance pretty much instantly.

      1. Anons

        Yeah, I have (www . my-website .com ) in a line on my resume, up with my address and e-mail address, but I was thinking of links to specific projects — which I don’t put on, when I put my bullet points about those articles and projects.

  16. holly

    i recently had my resume reviewed the head of administration at my work place (a very large, well-known place,) and he asked if i was definitely making all my links hot in my cover letter and resume. he thought it was perfectly fine to have them there as long as the links were clickable and the hiring manager didn’t have to copy and paste or something. it’s just an easy way to direct someone to examples of your projects instead of describing them and then the person has to go and google.

  17. Julie

    I had a manager a few years back who would work from home a lot and tell us at the last minute (“I didn’t leave the house in time to get to the office for the 9:00 A.M. meeting, so I’ll be working from home today” kind of thing), and this was when working from home was really rare. Then he started taking trips to another state (3 hour plane ride) to visit someone he was dating and try to “work from home” from there. It was pretty demoralizing, and a big part of that was that it was never talked about. I think he felt (understandably) defensive that he was barely doing his job, and I guess he thought that if he ignored the situation, we wouldn’t notice! Not surprisingly, he moved to the other state after a few months of this.

    1. Ruffingit

      You all must have been so glad when he moved because there’s just no way to justify that kind of nonsense long-term.

      1. Julie

        We were! And I agree with you about this being nonsense. I was really surprised that his manager didn’t tell him he had to choose between traveling and working.

  18. Moni

    #2 is exactly why I’m not friends with my coworkers! Friendly, of course, but I save my “is it Friday” type complaints or anything that is overly personal or that could reflect negatively on me for my real friends with whom I don’t share an employer! Even with the best of intentions, people can misinterpret these type of comments and they can easily be used as ammo for people who actually do have bad intentions.

  19. Ruffingit

    Sort of an offshoot in a way of the listing community college vs. university degree on a resume. What do you think when someone lists their bachelor’s degree on a business card? I always think it’s kind of odd for a person who has an advanced degree. I saw this the other day on the business card of a man who is supremely arrogant. He listed his B.A. and then his M.A. I don’t get that. If you have an advanced degree, the bachelor’s is generally implied.

    Of course, I may be biased here because I had a boss once whose nameplate on her desk said “Boss McBoss, BBA.” The woman was the worst manager in the world (family business, she had risen to her role because she was a family member) and the business folded under her watch due to a number of bad choices. When I saw her nameplate, I thought “Guess you weren’t good enough to get an MBA.” That was terribly unfair of me, I know. But with this woman’s attitude, it’s just the thought I had because she really thought she was God’s gift to management and she wasn’t even close.

    1. Vancouver Reader

      I find it silly if it doesn’t directly relate to the industry they’re involved in. For instance, I’ve seen car sales people list their BFA or some such on their business cards. I have yet to understand how that relates to selling cars.

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