It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…
1. What’s up with “dream jobs”?
This may be a pet peeve of mine, but it grates on my nerves when I see the term “dream job” in a letter writer’s question. I see it used so frequently — once or twice a week, maybe more — that it leaves me wondering how many of these jobs can truly be “dream jobs.” Maybe a better term would be “fantastic opportunity” or “chance to get my foot in the door of this industry/organization.”
Do you have any sense from readers as to how many of those “dream jobs” truly manifested into the unbelievable opportunity they thought it would be? Realistically, I’d bet that after they got the job they found out the boss sucked or the coworkers were unpleasant or they hadn’t anticipated how much they would hate the long commute or that there were zero opportunities for raises/promotions or any number of other factors. To me, the term “dream job” is something a young person who hasn’t spent much time in the work world would say, and it strikes me as very naïve. A job is a collection of factors, and they’d all have to be nearly perfect for me to consider it a dream job. And it’s impossible to know all those factors when you haven’t even worked at the place yet.
Totally agree. I actually ranted about that here a few years ago.
You can’t tell if something is your dream job until you’re already there and working in. There is literally zero way to tell from the outside if you’ll be happy there — you could end up hating your coworkers, your boss, the culture, all sorts of things.
Of course, what people really mean when they say “dream job” is “this is the type of work I want to do, configured exactly the way I’d create a job for myself if I could.” Or sometimes it’s company-specific — “I’ve always thought it would be amazing/prestigious/rewarding to work at this particular organization.” But either way, it can be a dangerous mindset, because when you go into a hiring process thinking “dream job,” you’re more likely to miss signs that it’s not actually a situation you’ll be happy in.
2. My coworker is doing my work, but it’s not her fault
I work on a team that is at least double the size it needs to be for the amount of work we have. Occasionally there will be busy periods, but mostly we all have quite a bit of downtime. One of my coworkers, Jane, who is extremely good at this job, put in her resignation because she was moving. My manager didn’t want to lose such a good worker, so offered for Jane to work second shift remotely from her new locale.
The gist of our job is that we all are assigned tickets from a big chunk. We all can see all of the tickets, but certain ones are assigned to us and then we “help out” when we’re finished with our assignments. Jane has been doing all of my work. I come to work in the morning and only have about one-third to one-half of the work I was expecting for the day (which was not very much to begin with). When I look to see where all of my work went, I see that Jane did it. Sometimes it’s work that isn’t due for a week or more (and I was “saving” for slow times). I am getting frustrated because now I have large sections of time with absolutely nothing to do. It’s not Jane’s fault, we’re all just trying to get our eight hours in. I’ve asked my manager for additional projects, but nothing more has been given to me. Do I risk sounding like I’m not a team player if I talk to Jane or my manager, since we are expected to help out when we’ve finished our own assignments and Jane isn’t doing anything wrong?
I’d start with Jane. Can you say something like this to her: “I’ve noticed that recently you’ve been doing a large portion of the tickets assigned to me. Often it’s work that isn’t due for a week or more and that I’m saving for slower times. I’m coming in in the mornings and finding that you already did up to half of the work I planned to do that day, which is really impacting my ability to manage my workload. So if there are tickets assigned to me, can you leave them for me? I’d really appreciate it.”
Of course, that may not work — it sounds like there’s a fundamental problem here with the staffing levels — but it’s a reasonable thing to say and it may help. More broadly, though, if your team is double the size needed for the work, I’d worry about your longer-term job security (and I’d worry that this situation with Jane may be the thing that brings the problem to light for your boss), and so it might be smart to think about whether you want to lay the groundwork for a job search too.
3. My position isn’t mentioned in a job posting for my boss
I work for as a development associate for a nonprofit. I report to the junior development director and the senior development director. The senior director was just fired and she was the one who hired me (around six months ago). The junior director is in the midst of transferring positions within the organization. I found the job posting for the junior posting and it mentions overseeing every member of my six-person department except my position. Two of those positions have been added recently (created and hired six months ago), while I believe my position has existed for quite some time. Should I be concerned that this may allude to plans to eliminate my position or that I’m going to be fired?
It’s possible that it was just an oversight, which wouldn’t be surprising given the amount of turmoil that it sounds like they have there right now, but it’s also possible that it wasn’t. The best thing you can do is to ask your boss (even though she’s in the process of moving positions). Say this: “I noticed that in the ad for your replacement, it mentions the person will manage each of the positions on our team except for mine. Do you know if there are other plans for my position?”
If they do plan to eliminate your job and haven’t told you that yet, she’s not likely to tell you just because you ask (the timing of that is usually strictly controlled). But you’ll probably learn something by asking the question and hearing her reaction. She may instantly tell you she noticed that too and was kicking herself for forgetting it in the job description, or that you’re actually going to be reporting to someone else on the team, or who knows. Or she may stammer and look nervous, which would be its own kind of information.
4. I’m getting business emails from a company I don’t work for
I’ve been in the job hunt for a while now, and I’ve applied for a couple of positions at a local company. While I haven’t gotten a reply to my applications, something odd has happened a couple of times: I’ve been getting business correspondence from the people who work there. It’s never anything compromising — it seems to be back-and-forth emails about making travel plans — and I think what’s happening is that one of the parties involved has a name similar enough to mine that when someone types in the first few letters of their name, I accidentally jump ahead of them in their contacts list.
Should I jump in and tell them? Up until now, I’ve been ignoring these when they pop up because I didn’t want my first interaction with these people to be pointing out one of them making a mistake (that just screams “bad first impression”). However, it occurs to me that even though it hasn’t been anything serious yet, there’s no guarantee that it won’t be later, not to mention if these emails are getting sent to me, it’s possibly they’re not going to who they’re supposed to. Should I say something or just let them work it out on their own?
Say something! You’re not going to make a bad impression by politely alerting them that you’re receiving emails they didn’t intend for you. You will make a bad impression if you apply in the future, they search for previous correspondence with you, and a bunch of misdirected emails pop up that you never said anything about.
So: “I think you intended this for a different Jane! Wanted to alert you so that it gets to the right person.”
5. Job applications through Facebook
We are hiring for an entry-level position. It’s pretty much intended for someone’s first job — the pay is low, but the benefits are good, and it’s a foot in the door of a university that does have lots of good jobs (a lot of the better-paying jobs require that someone have worked at the university). In other words, we’re working with applicants who aren’t very experienced at job-hunting.
We posted a link/ad for the job on Facebook, and didn’t realize that Facebook makes it look as though you can apply directly through them! There is a button says “Apply Now,” and it takes people to a form that they can fill out. Facebook says it is sending on the application. We didn’t know that (the receptionist who left wasn’t checking Facebook in the last week), so I just found out today that there are people who submitted applications that way.
The job has closed, and we were about to start interviewing. I think we owe it to people who applied via Facebook to consider their applications. It might mean we would have to open the job again; I’m fairly sure the U does require that applicants use their portal for job applications. Other people on the hiring team think that the applicants were “boneheads” for not applying for a job through the proper channels.
If you posted an ad on Facebook, people were not boneheads for thinking that the “apply now” button was in fact a place where they could apply now. The people on your hiring team who think otherwise are being really unfair with that assumption; they’re bringing their own internal knowledge to it (“we only accept applications through our official job portal!”) and assuming outside candidates will know that, which they can’t.
That said, you’re not obligated to consider the applicants who came to you through Facebook; you’re never obligated to consider any particular group of candidates (as long as you’re not discriminating based on race, sex, religion, disability, etc.). It would be a courtesy to do that since they spent time applying, but you don’t have to. If you’re very happy with the candidates you already have, you could decide to stick with them. But I think you’d be doing yourselves a disservice by not at least looking through those candidates to see if there’s anyone you want to invite to apply through your portal. The difference between an okay person in the job and a great person in the job is a significant one, and I’d hate for you to overlook a potentially great candidate on principle.
my coworker is doing my work, what’s up with “dream jobs,” and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.