My boss’s wife makes me do her schoolwork, how to make more money, and more

bossIts seven short answers to seven short questions. Here we go…

1. How to praise a coworker to her manager

I have been working closely with a colleague at my university who has been doing a stellar job. I really appreciate the work she has done – both in speed and quality! I would like to email her supervisor to let him know how much I appreciate her efforts. Are there guidelines I should follow before sending an email (for example, should I let her know first?). How should I structure the email? I want to be sure I don’t make any faux-paus when sending the email but I do want to be sure she’s recognized for all of her hard work!

No special protocol needed, and no need to tell her ahead of time (although you might forward it to her after you’ve sent it). In the email just be straightforward, and be as specific as you can. For instance: “I’ve been thinking lately about how much I appreciate working with Jane and figured I should tell you how great she is. She’s always happy to help with X, even when it’s at the last minute, and her ability to edit my writing to make it more concise without losing substance or voice has left me incredibly impressed. She’s a pleasure to work with.”

Also, people should do more of this.

2. My boss showed us a photo of himself using cocaine

My boss showed some of the staff a picture on his cell phone of himself using cocaine at a party. Multiple staff members have now heard about the incident and it has had a bit of a butterfly effect on staff morale. I am wondering if there are any implications of us not reporting the behavior? Are we legally compliant or liable in any way?

Your boss is a tool, but no, you’re not legally required to report him or liable for not doing so. (In fact, assuming we’re talking about reporting him to the police, it’s highly unlikely they could do anything at all about it if you did. It’s just a photo, not a report of something else they could act upon.)

3. Will I make more money through raises at my current company or by changing jobs?

I have been told by a couple of mentors (within my company) that you make more money and get more responsibilities by staying with one company, as opposed to moving jobs for modest raises. I have 10 years of experience in my field and I am currently working for my second company, where I’ve been for 5.5 years. When I moved from the first company, I received a 35% increase. My current raises have only averaged approximately 3% and the recent promotion I received was only 6% (with more responsibilities). Should I stay and hope more money will come with seniority or is it better to change and get more money in the short term? I could easily move to another company an immediately get 10-15% increase, but I am not sure if loyalty will pay off in the long term. Any guidance on this subject would be much appreciated.

What? No. That is backwards. It’s widely accepted that most people get significantly higher salary jumps by changing jobs than they do through company raises. Some companies are exceptions to this, of course, but it doesn’t sound like yours is.

Any chance these “mentors” in your company are just trying to get you to stay there?

4. My boss’s wife makes me do her schoolwork

I am an executive assistant to the chairman and CEO of a major firm and I need help. My boss is a real creep. A sneaky, unethical and cheap individual. Rarely acknowledges me, let alone says two words. However, he sits back and allows his wife to use me as her personal assistant. For years now the wife has imposed her schoolwork on me. Just today, she shows up to the office with thick textbooks, so I can work on her essay – create footnotes, bibliography and appendix, etc. He knows this is happening. My colleagues laugh at me and tell me, “I hope you are getting the diploma.”

To make matters worse, I have been putting off surgery (gallbladder removal) because of my workload, and when I reminded her today that I am scheduling for Nov. 6, she responded with, “Well, if that is the case then, since you live in the same county as I, when P is away (my boss) on business on the 30th, I want you to work from the house to help me with a big project of creating files for the past 7 years of home repairs.”

When is it going to stop? Just recently, they gave salary increases and as expected did not bother providing me with one…in nearly 7 years one increase of $3K and that is it. I am disgusted and tired of the abuse. He knows this is happening and says nothing. He doesn’t value me, so whom do I turn too? I was never hired to do personal work especially not for the wife.

That’s ridiculous. You could try telling your boss that you’re uncomfortable doing personal work for his wife when you were hired to work for him, but it doesn’t sound like you have much rapport with him or that you think he would care. And since he’s the CEO, it’s unlikely that you can do much about this.

So the answer to “when is it going to stop?” is probably that it’s going to stop when you leave, which is what you should probably be thinking about doing. You’ve been there seven years so it wouldn’t be a bad idea to be looking at other jobs anyway — but in light of all this, it would make a ton of sense to be actively looking.

5. How to start an email

I often find myself starting emails with “I hope all is well with you…” To be honest, I hate using this line, and I sometimes really don’t care how some people I am addressing are feeling. Do you know of a neutral way of asking this question? How can I start off my email without sounding discourteous?

You don’t necessarily need to open with a substitute for that line. In many contexts, especially for internal emails, it’s fine to go straight into what you’re writing about — for instance, “Hi Jane, I’m sending over a write-up on Jesse Pinkman that I thought you’d find useful,” or whatever. But if it’s someone you haven’t talked with in a long time or who you otherwise feel the need to use opening niceties with, “I hope you’re doing well” is pretty standard.

6. Interviewer wouldn’t tell me how many people they’re interviewing

I just had a full-day interview, and my interviewers knew I had been offered another position and had to make a decision. They had yet to interview the remaining candidates, but the interviewer wanted to be up-front with me about the time frame. She said I was still in the running and wanted me to make whatever decision was best for me. I asked her if she could tell me how many candidates remained to be interviewed and she told me she could not because it was illegal. However, she then went on to tell me that they had received 50 total applicants for the position and that these had been screened with phone interviews down to the current pool (I’m assuming so I could make an educated guess about how many were in the full-day interview stage).

Is this actually illegal? If so, why? And why was she still able to tell me how many applicants applied in the first place? If it’s not illegal, why would she tell me it was or be hesitant to provide the number of other interviewees? If she really is interested in me “doing what’s best for me,” it seems that knowing how many people I’m competing with would be a pretty important factor. This was in the state of Louisiana if that makes any difference.

No, that’s not illegal. That’s an interviewer who has no idea what she’s talking about. I have no idea why she told you that — but I’d guess that she really believes it, just like loads of other people think things are illegal that actually are not.

7. How can I show my increase in responsibility on my resume?

I’ve been in my current position for 5 years. Two years in, I was given an increase in responsibility but it caused no change to my title. (I became the one in charge when my boss was out for the day or on vacation, meaning I was responsible for handling emergencies, bringing in additional staff if we were short, locking up the building, and signing off on any reports that had to be handled ASAP.) Two years after that, another person left and I took on half of what she did (Job B) and my boss took on the other half.

How can I show on my resume the increase in responsibility for the last 3 years, even though there was no change in my title? So far, I’ve put something like:
Job A: 2008-present
Job B: 2012-present.

Saying I’m the “#2 behind my boss” feels phony even though it’s the truth and everyone in my department (and management) knows it.

If you weren’t trying to specifically show an increase in responsibility, I’d say that you should just put all of it in a single bucket, but since you are, the way you have it here works fine. And you could include something like, “Served as acting manager in director’s absence: [details here of what that entailed].”

Leave a comment

Please login to leave a comment. Optional login below.