It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…
1. I don’t have any work to do at my new job
I am a recent graduate who has just started my first job. When I started on my first day, the company gave me a bunch of self-study materials and a self-training schedule for a month that I must adhere to (which I happily obliged).
But now a month has passed, I have finished all of the self-study materials, and I still have not been given any task to do. I have asked my supervisor about this 3 times (through internal messaging software, email and verbally), but the answer is kinda vague (“I need to find simple tasks for you first” or “study this first for now”). What should I do? Any advice on this? I don’t want to be too pushy, but I don’t want to be seen as ‘that lazy new employee’ either.
I have tried googling about this particular problem, but most of the answers seems to be directed to experienced people (“make a proposal on how you could improve projects that you have worked on”).
Well, first, stop trying to address this over I.M. Instant messaging is for quick, time-sensitive, not super important things; this requires an actual, substantive conversation. Email your boss and say this: “Now that I’m done with my month of self-study, I’m eager to get started! Could we set up a time to meet in the next few days to talk about how you’d like me to be spending my time now?” If the problem continues after that, then say this: “I’m really eager to get to work. How would you like me spending my time over the next week? (Or, if it would be easier on you, I’d be glad to see if I can help Jane or Fergus until you have time to get me started — just let me know if you’d rather I do that.)”
If there are other people in your office who are at your level or just above it, you might also ask them if they have advice for how to handle this stage of things. They might have some insight into how long it usually takes your manager to get her act together with new employees, or about why it’s taking her a while in this case (for example, if she’s preoccupied with, say, an upcoming board meeting for the next two weeks, that could be useful to know).
2. What’s up with this awful resume feedback?
I’ve applied to a few places through online websites and received an email from one site explaining that they offer free “critiques” of resumes to assist in their site users’ success. I didn’t even realize that it wasn’t one of the sites that I submitted my resume to but didn’t care because it was at no cost or effort to me, and nobody’s resume is perfect so bring on the critique, I love getting better through advice. But after reading their elaborate assessment of my resume, I was left confused because everything she was saying went against everything that I had been taught by active hiring professionals. She even mentioned that my document file size was way too small at 17k and therefore I have more room to format. That was a first for me; it’s either .pdf or .doc.
But she offered an email link to contact her with questions so I did and got no response. Just to be sure, I did some research and read your “10 Things Leave off Your Resume” and most of your items matched hers — except they were the opposite. Even I know not to waste space with objectives or bios outside of a cover letter. Then I noticed the big bold package prices for their resume service that they offer and it clicked. My question is, and I’ve attached my resume just so that you can see what she saw. Are my suspicions accurate that this company intentionally rips resumes apart and gives harmful advice to obtain business like a shady mechanic, or was she giving honest, accurate advice?
I doubt this company is doing this to deliberately harm people since I don’t know what would be in it for them — they just suck. And they really do suck. I read the critique you forwarded to me and it’s ridiculous. I can promise you no hiring manager in the world cares that your resume file size is “too small.” They might care if it were several gigabytes, but “too small” isn’t something that’s even going to register. This person/company is shady and incompetent. Avoid.
3. I was called for a second interview but the job was reposted meanwhile
I interviewed for a position where I will be the manager of the same type of department I currently work in. I was interviewed by 2 department heads and the administrator. I was called the very next day for a second interview by the company administrator, but in the past 6 days, we have been playing email tag about scheduling it. I was told this was because they were trying to set up a time in which more of his colleagues could attend. This afternoon, which is a Monday, I confirmed it for Thursday at 5pm. However, I was told that there was a department meeting at that time he had forgotten about and he gave me 2 other times. However, the exact same job has been re-posted twice since my interview. In fact, it was re-posted about the same time my interview was cancelled and the offer of re-scheduling was made. I am really starting to feel strung along. Why would a company be scheduling second interviews while still apparently seeking out more candidates?
Many companies keep job listings active until they’ve made a hire. It’s actually the smart thing to do, because they have no way of knowing if their current crop of candidates will lead to a successful hire or not — they might end up not wanting to hire anyone from the current group, or the person they want to hire might turn down their offer. It’s smart to keep candidates coming in until they know they have a certain hire.
4. Interview handshakes when you’ve got arthritis
I’ve got really awful arthritis and I don’t like to call attention to it, especially in interview settings. I write for a living – I don’t want people to think I can’t type! I physically can shake hands, but I can’t *not* wince when someone squeezes powerfully. Is there a tactful way to ask for a wimpier handshake (or turn one down completely) in a professional setting without being too weird?
Just be direct before anyone has a chance to grab your hand, like you might if you were declining a handshake because you had a cold. For instance: “Excuse me for not shaking hands — I’m dealing with a minor issue in my hand right now.” (Or “I’m having some minor pain in my hand right now — nothing too serious, but gets in the way of me shaking hands.”) Say it confidently and it’ll go over fine.
5. What happened after this phone interview?
Recently I discovered that a company had an opening in my weird niche field in a location that I love. I applied, and a friend at who has contacts here (the company is a client of his company) called and put in a good word for me, but warned me that I may be overqualified / too expensive for the position.
About a week later, the HR department called me for what was supposed to be a 30-minute interview, but was actually only 10 minutes. The HR person started off with a question about why I wanted to leave my current job. I responded that I would like to work with a different flavor of teapots and that my current location was hard on my marriage because my wife has very limited career opportunities in our current location. I also mentioned that my company had been very good to me and I would not leave lightly, but if the fit were right and it would help my personal situation, then I would move.
HR asked about my current salary and benefits, and I gave approximate numbers, following up later that day with an email outlining the specifics. In the phone interview, I was very (too?) candid and mentioned that medical benefits were of particular interest because of a past condition that was in remission and likely (but not necessarily) cured. After the phone interview, HR sent me an email thanking me for the interview, attached their benefit summary, and told me that they would be in touch in the next two or three days to schedule an interview with the hiring manager.
I had a question about their medical benefits and called HR the next day and left a message (no details, just a request for a call). I also sent an email ( also no details, just a request for a call). No response. 16 days pass. Still nothing, so I sent a follow-up email: “Hi, (name), I’ve not received any communications from Company since you and I spoke. I wanted to follow up and make sure nothing got lost in the ether. Thanks! (my name, phone number).” Still no response. That was two and half weeks ago.
What’s going on? Did my friend say something that I’m not aware of? Did I commit some gaffe that I’m not seeing? Is the company just terribly unprofessional? My weird niche field is very small, and I’ll likely have to interact with the folks involved again. Yet, I’m curious (and let’s admit it, indignant) about the complete lack of response after having received such a positive, initial interest. What, if anything, should I do?
Well, it could just be that they’re moving forward with different candidates and don’t think you’re as strong as those. It’s really common for companies not to bother to update candidates when that happens — rude, but common. Or it could be that you’re still under consideration but the hiring for this position is taking a back seat to other priorities right now. It’s still rude for them not to get back to you to explain that, but again, very common.
But it’s also possible that you were too focused on benefits too early in the process. Rightly or wrongly, that can be a real turn-off for many employers, who prefer to save detailed discussions of benefits (especially nitty-gritty details of particular medical plans) for once you have an offer.
Regardless of the reason — and you’ll probably never know which it was — they did owe you an answer about your candidacy. But there’s a good chance you won’t get one — that’s just the way some companies do things. I’d write it off, move on, and let it be a pleasant surprise if they do contact you at some point.
I don’t have any work to do at my new job, awful resume feedback, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.