It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…
1. I started cleaning our office as a side job, but now I want to stop
I’ve worked at my company for over 10 years as an administrative assistant. It’s a small, informal, family-run firm. About eight years ago, the cleaning person was let go. I was offered the opportunity to earn extra money for cleaning the office on weekends. At the time, because of the recession, our office of 25 people was downsized to about 8 full-time and 3 part-time staff. Everyone was doing a side hustle to supplement their incomes back then. Having fewer people made cleaning the office somewhat easy.
As the economy picked up, though, the staff size slowly increased to almost the original size, which as made cleaning more time consuming. Also, an unintended side effect of being part of the cleaning crew (my family and I often cleaned together to make it go faster) is that I’ve come to be seen as the de facto office maid by management during regular work hours. Taking out the trash, running the vacuum, and wiping down tables are regular things for me to do during the week, even though the cleaning job is on the weekends outside of working hours.
Long story short, my husband recently took a job with a significant pay increase. He’ll be working longer hours and will travel around the city and suburbs. He’s said that we’ll have to step away from the cleaning as it no longer fits our family schedule. I’m totally fine with that as it means we get our weekends back without trying to fit cleaning into the short time period. My question is how do I professionally resign from the side job without causing problems in my regular admin job which I was hired to do? Also, I never wanted to be seen as the office maid all week long. How can I politely get that point across in a respectful and professional manner?
Ooof. This has the potential to be tricky if it’s sort of melded into your regular job. Hopefully your boss still sees as you the admin who happened to pick up cleaning side work on the weekend … as opposed to the admin whose job expanded to include cleaning.
But since it sounds like it was supposed to be the former, talk with whoever manages the cleaning (or your boss, if there’s no other obvious person), and say something like this: “As you probably recall, I took on the cleaning gig for some extra money on top of my normal job back during the recession when the staff was smaller and we got rid of the cleaning person. I want to let you know I’m no longer going to be able to do it and so am officially stepping down from that side job. I can do it for two more weekends if you’d like me to, but after that will need to stop, so we should go back to hiring a cleaning service if no one else wants to take it on.”
The more informal cleaning during regular work hours might be trickier, but you could use this as an opening to raise that with your boss too, by saying something like: “I wanted to mention that since I’ve started doing the cleaning as a side job, I’ve noticed people have asked me to do cleaning tasks during the week that they never asked me to do before — things like vacuuming and wiping down counters. I’m hoping you’ll support me in trying to create new boundaries around that stuff now that I’m officially taking myself out of the cleaning job.”
A complicating factor here is that in some offices, admins are asked to do tasks like that. But if you weren’t asked to do it before picking up the side gig, hopefully you’ll be able to argue for going back to that earlier model.
2. My interview got cancelled because another team in the same company is interested in me
I recently applied for two jobs I found on an online job board. They were pretty similar positions with teams at a real estate company. Both jobs were with the same company, but at different office locations, and neither job post gave the name of the team. I have a lot of experience in a pretty specific real estate role, and I got interviews with both teams right away. My interview with team #1 went really well, and they scheduled a follow up interview. This morning, I got an email from team #2, canceling my first interview with them. They said they knew I met with team #1, team #1 is really great, and they’d be in touch to interview me if it didn’t work out with team #1.
After doing some Facebook research, I found that the leaders of team #1 and #2 are friends, and actually work out of the same location (even though the locations online were different — in 2 different states, in fact!) Based on this and the email from team #2, I can only assume that team #1 asked team #2 to back off because they’d like to hire me. It’s also possible team #2 felt awkward enough about the situation to cancel my interview.
I’m frustrated because I was looking forward to meeting with both teams and having some options. I actually think that team #2 is a better fit for me, based on my phone interview. I feel like I should have been allowed to make the decision of which team is the best fit for myself, but now I’m limited. Did I do something wrong by pursuing interviews with both teams? Is this scenario in itself a red flag?
I’m not sure what to do, because I don’t want to feel pigeon-holed into a job with team #1, but I also don’t want to burn any bridges. The real estate community is a small one, and I want to protect my reputation. What should I do?
You didn’t do anything wrong; this is a thing that can happen when you apply for two jobs in the same organization. It’s also not a red flag; it’s perfectly legitimate for them to decide to let one department pursue you and have the other back off.
It sounds like you’re thinking it might be some abuse of the friendship between the two managers, but that’s really not necessarily the case; this kind of thing happens all the time for totally legit reasons. For example, you’re an excellent fit for #1 and only a so-so fit for #2, so they decide it makes sense to put you on a track for #1. Or #2 is flooded with great candidates, while #1 has fewer. Or, #1’s manager tells #2’s manager that she’s really hoping to hire you and so #2 backs off, not out of friendship but out of professional courtesy.
There isn’t really much you can do about it, because it’s their call. At most, you could say something to #2 like, “As interested as I am in team #1, I’m really intrigued by the position with you as well, so I’d still love to talk if you think it might be the right fit.” But you should assume that that will get back to #1 as well, so you’d want to proceed with some caution there.
3. Listing staff members’ degrees on our staff listing
I’m in charge of updating a staff list on our organization’s website and have a question about the degrees listed after staff members’ names. We work in research so most (but not all) of our staff have at least some sort of advanced degree, if not several. The site currently lists staff and their degrees at the master’s and above level. Should I also list undergraduate credentials (B.A., B.S.) for the handful of staff who don’t have advanced degrees? One staff member asked about getting her B.A. added after her name. I’m not opposed to listing it, but I’d always thought the convention was master’s and up. If I do add undergrad degrees, would I need to add them to all staff names? That would create a long listing for some who already have several advanced degrees.
I did some web searching on the topic but I couldn’t find anything definitive. In fact, one site I found said on resumes you should only put credentials after your name at the top if you had a doctorate-level degree. I was surprised by that. What do you think?
In the vast majority of fields, it’s weird to list your degree after your name. There are some fields where it’s done as a matter of custom, but rarely with bachelor’s degrees.
Assuming that the custom in your field is to list advanced degrees but not bachelor’s degrees (which is what it sounds like based on how your website has done it so far), it would be reasonable to explain to your coworker that your organization’s practice is to only list advanced degrees. (But it also sounds like it would be worth verifying that with someone higher-up first, to make sure that you’re not giving her inaccurate information.)
4. I don’t want to use a camera for teleconferences
My company recently adopted an enterprise-wide technology for teleconferences that also allows for video. Our new boss is insisting that each of us get a camera to take part in departmental meetings. While I have no issue using a camera per se or with my coworkers seeing me on the screen, I do have an issue with seeing myself on the screen. My features are very uneven and the flattened look of video tends to exaggerate it. In real life or on conference calls, I’m usually very confident, but I find it distracting and unsettling when I have to see myself on screen while I’m talking, as the image on the screen is very unflattering. (I don’t even do FaceTime in my personal life because of this.)
I understand why my boss wants this, but I’m concerned that this will be too distracting and will affect my performance and presentation during these calls. I don’t want to appear not to be team player, or overly insecure/vain, but I’d really do not want to use video cameras. I have had a conversation with my boss about this when he first offered to send a camera and told him that I’m just not comfortable with it. I offered instead to upload a head shot, so people don’t feel like they’re talking to a faceless image. Now, I’m being requested to comply. Can my boss do this? And if so, are there settings I can use that would allow me to see my coworkers, but block me from seeing my own camera?
Yes, he can do that. (See this discussion of a similar issue.)
You’ve told him you’re uncomfortable and offered an alternative, he’s shot it down, and he’s directly telling you to comply. Unless you have a phobia-level problem with doing it like the person in the letter I just linked to, it sounds like you need to do it.
But if the problem is really just seeing yourself on screen while you talk, there are ways around that! The software itself may have an option to close or minimize the window with your image in it. If it doesn’t, you could even just put a sticky note over that part of the screen to block yourself from seeing it.
5. Complaining about HR
If you have complaints against HR themselves, who can you contact to submit a complaint? Is there a national body that governs the actions of HR?
No, there isn’t. If you have complaints about HR that you want to escalate, you’d do it in the same way you would with a complaint about any other department: by talking to the head of HR, and if that person is the problem, by talking to that person’s boss.
I want to stop cleaning our office, my interview was unfairly cancelled, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.