Author Topic: Career advice-how to reconcile with an old boss  (Read 5656 times)

hoping2retire35

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1401
  • Location: UPCOUNTRY CAROLINA
  • just want to see where this appears
Career advice-how to reconcile with an old boss
« on: March 02, 2016, 12:17:38 PM »
Well I like my current job and can't complain other than the commute and lack of upward mobility. it's mentally challenging and pays the bills. however a job recently opened up at the university I attended that is only 3 miles from my house. Based on the description I could start working full throttle the first day and my current pay is in the lower middle range of what they are offering. Sounds great so far.

But I notice some things that sound familiar. I dig around and realize this is for a project that I started working on as a grad assistant 9 years ago! So I know I could do the job except that after working as a grad assistant for a year the professor was done with me. They moved me to another department for my assistantship for the second year. Some of it was she is hard to please and I didn't really know what I was doing and some of it was my immaturity.
If I were to apply for this job I would rather talk to her first(I see she is still in charge of this project(also a little surprised they are just now at this stage or even working on it at all)), but I really do not want to apply for a job or waste the mentally energy of going to see her if this seems hopeless or "nothing to lose".

Has anyone been in a situation like this before? as the employee or supervisor? How would you react if you were the professor? How should I approach speaking to her about this?

Retire-Canada

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 6742
Re: Career advice-how to reconcile with an old boss
« Reply #1 on: March 02, 2016, 12:28:30 PM »
How should I approach speaking to her about this?

Call her up and ask her if you can drop by for 10mins to chat.

hoping2retire35

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1401
  • Location: UPCOUNTRY CAROLINA
  • just want to see where this appears
Re: Career advice-how to reconcile with an old boss
« Reply #2 on: March 02, 2016, 12:35:00 PM »
How should I approach speaking to her about this?

Call her up and ask her if you can drop by for 10mins to chat.

lol, I actually meant how should I drive the conversation.

FrugalFan

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 910
Re: Career advice-how to reconcile with an old boss
« Reply #3 on: March 02, 2016, 12:43:46 PM »
I'm a professor. I would just contact her and tell her you are interested in the position but were concerned because of how you left things. Then explain the things you think went wrong from your perspective (don't complain about her expectations, just explain what you think you did wrong). Also explain how you would change things so that the previous problems would not reoccur. End with something positive, like how you know the material well and could hit the ground running. And how you would want to work together to make sure the expectations are clear and that you are meeting milestones. If she is reasonable and the situation was not totally one-sided or really terrible for her, she will consider what you have written and may even admit to having bit a bit challenging to work for as well. If it was terrible for her, you may not hear back from her at all or may get a terse response. But that is the worst that could happen. I think you have nothing to lose.

DebtFreeBy25

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 239
  • Age: 32
  • Location: Appalachian and...tolerating it
Re: Career advice-how to reconcile with an old boss
« Reply #4 on: March 02, 2016, 01:29:07 PM »
Hi, [Her Name]. This is [Your Name]. You may not remember me, but we worked together many years ago when I was a graduate assistant. (Note: This is assuming that you weren't so bad that she definitely remembers your immature former self all these years later.) I saw the posting for [job] and really want to apply, but I wanted to speak with you first. I know I wasn't the best graduate assistant back then. I wasn't very mature at that point in my life, and I'm sorry for how I handled the project. I've matured a lot in the past 9 years. I've [brief description of a few relevant accomplishments]. I think I'd be a real asset to help you finish this project. Would you be willing to consider working with me again?

I think most people would respect someone who had the cajones to proactively reach out and apologize. Honestly, if you give this speech and she says no, I wouldn't recommend pursuing the position.

Agg97

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 28
Re: Career advice-how to reconcile with an old boss
« Reply #5 on: March 02, 2016, 01:39:24 PM »
lol, I actually meant how should I drive the conversation.

You've been given good advice so far.  I'll just add this:  Do NOT leave a message, and definitely do NOT leave a long-winded message on her voicemail.  If she's not available, just say "thank you, I'll try back later."  Or, "do you know when she would be available?  Thank you."  You want a human on the other side, and so she can get the sense that you have indeed changed.  If you leave a message, she may remember all the old stuff.  THAT will be at the forefront of her mind, not what you are currently saying to her.

Josiecat

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 299
Re: Career advice-how to reconcile with an old boss
« Reply #6 on: March 02, 2016, 01:54:31 PM »
I disagree with bringing up that you were immature, etc.  She might not even remember you or your work.  If that is the case you care just reminding her that you sucked.

I would just send a resume and see if they call you for an interview. 

FrugalFan

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 910
Re: Career advice-how to reconcile with an old boss
« Reply #7 on: March 02, 2016, 02:06:24 PM »
I would definitely remember someone who left working as my assistant on bad terms. I would not even consider the application without some kind of explanation/apology. I also would appreciate an email before a phone call or visit to prepare myself mentally and work through the situation before having to discuss it with the person. 

bobechs

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1068
Re: Career advice-how to reconcile with an old boss
« Reply #8 on: March 02, 2016, 02:11:06 PM »
And don't mention that you are astonished that they have gotten nowhere on the project in the last nine years after you left.

For all you know, they are still blaming all that on you.

hoping2retire35

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1401
  • Location: UPCOUNTRY CAROLINA
  • just want to see where this appears
Re: Career advice-how to reconcile with an old boss
« Reply #9 on: March 02, 2016, 02:34:24 PM »
And don't mention that you are astonished that they have gotten nowhere on the project in the last nine years after you left.

For all you know, they are still blaming all that on you.
lol, I wonder if they do. no worries though, not a word from me.

caracarn

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1426
  • Age: 49
  • Location: Ohio
Re: Career advice-how to reconcile with an old boss
« Reply #10 on: March 02, 2016, 02:49:01 PM »
I would always apply.  You have gained nine years of experience at this point and that will make a huge difference.  I would certainly address your immaturity in a conversation with her if possible and you could most likely explain how that added nine years of experience has helped you understand the mistakes you made back then and how you would address them differently now.  You should be able to get a lot from how she responds in the conversation.  Is she cold and aloof or impressed at you self awareness and aggressiveness to make amends and not let it keep you from what you feel would be an excellent opportunity?  In the end I think all you can do is try to mend fences and then it is out of your control.

CU Tiger

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 460
  • Location: Mid-Atlantic USA
Re: Career advice-how to reconcile with an old boss
« Reply #11 on: March 02, 2016, 02:57:19 PM »
I'd reach out, using some of the advice given here. But the biggest thing is proving to her that you could be an asset to her in THIS job, so I'd keep the focus on that.

Also, which Carolina are you in the upstate of...just curious.

Retire-Canada

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 6742
Re: Career advice-how to reconcile with an old boss
« Reply #12 on: March 02, 2016, 04:22:13 PM »
lol, I actually meant how should I drive the conversation.

#1 Just go and talk to her. You have no idea if she'll remember you or care one way or another. If she expresses any concerns about your previous performance it's pretty straightforward to explain you are older/wiser now and presumably have a solid track record for getting shit done.

#2 If she actually remembers you and seriously dislikes you still I would just gather as much information about her concerns as possible and then leave. You'll need to decide what to do next and formulate a plan accordingly.

Take care of #1 and don't worry about #2 unless the situation calls for it. Most likely it won't and if it does you'll need to understand her specific concerns before you can do anything.

hoping2retire35

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1401
  • Location: UPCOUNTRY CAROLINA
  • just want to see where this appears
Re: Career advice-how to reconcile with an old boss
« Reply #13 on: March 03, 2016, 05:46:52 AM »
Thank you for the replies everyone, it helped a lot just to think through everything. I have prepared an email and will send it between 8 and 9 this morning. DebtFree, sorry, but I ruthlessly plagiarized your email format, I hope you do not mind. I offered to meet her next week if she would like. If she seems positive and open I will apply, if its negative she is still bitter I won't worry about it anymore. Thanks again everyone, Ill keep you all informed.

hoping2retire35

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1401
  • Location: UPCOUNTRY CAROLINA
  • just want to see where this appears
Re: Career advice-how to reconcile with an old boss
« Reply #14 on: March 03, 2016, 12:17:46 PM »
here is her reply

"Hi HTR35,

Thank you for contacting me, and frankly, it is your decision to apply to the position. If you do so and you meet the qualifications, then the search committee will consider your application.

Best,
Displeased Professor"

A little more neutral and perhaps terse than I was hoping. I guess this means she would not hold what happened many years ago against me. Opinions?

olivia

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 770
  • From Consumerism to Minimalism
Re: Career advice-how to reconcile with an old boss
« Reply #15 on: March 03, 2016, 12:32:49 PM »
Honestly, unless you have a specialized skill set, I can't see your old boss actually hiring you back.  That said, you may as well apply and see what happens.  The worst they can do is not interview you, or interview you and not hire you.

hoping2retire35

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1401
  • Location: UPCOUNTRY CAROLINA
  • just want to see where this appears
Re: Career advice-how to reconcile with an old boss
« Reply #16 on: March 03, 2016, 12:47:51 PM »
Honestly, unless you have a specialized skill set, I can't see your old boss actually hiring you back.  That said, you may as well apply and see what happens.  The worst they can do is not interview you, or interview you and not hire you.
it's a pretty niche skill set(one reason I don't mention is bc someone would could easily figure out who I am if they knew me and were looking on this site) and there are 5 or 6 local people who could do the job. I am guessing for someone who is not relocating it is basically down to me or a recent grad of the same program. these jobs do not open often and unless I move I have to keep looking our for better opportunities, change career or just FIRE!

Josiecat

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 299
Re: Career advice-how to reconcile with an old boss
« Reply #17 on: March 03, 2016, 02:29:13 PM »
Hhhhmmm, her reply doesn't sound promising to me.  She clearly doesn't want to discuss with you. I would apply through the regular channels and see what happens.

Petuniajo

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 89
  • Location: Southeastern US
Re: Career advice-how to reconcile with an old boss
« Reply #18 on: March 03, 2016, 02:36:09 PM »
here is her reply

"Hi HTR35,

Thank you for contacting me, and frankly, it is your decision to apply to the position. If you do so and you meet the qualifications, then the search committee will consider your application.

Best,
Displeased Professor"

A little more neutral and perhaps terse than I was hoping. I guess this means she would not hold what happened many years ago against me. Opinions?

I'm not sure what the nature of the position is, but HR rules at many universities can make it difficult to provide a lot more information than she has. At a lot of schools, people on search committees have to go through detailed training about what they can and cannot say in a huge variety of situations. Even if she would hold what happened many years ago against you, I doubt she could/would say that. On the other hand, she may have completely moved on and is open to your employment, but can't say anything indicating you are likely to be hired. I would probably just not read anything into her neutral response and apply for the job.

SeanMC

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 152
Re: Career advice-how to reconcile with an old boss
« Reply #19 on: March 03, 2016, 03:10:12 PM »
There is no harm in applying, but I don't think you have a realistic chance at being hired.

The email she wrote basically complies with the bare minimum legal requirements of how jobs are posted and the process of hiring. She can't tell you NOT to apply or that you WON'T be considered.

She may not remember all the details, but she will - and likely does - vaguely remember "bad experience, did not work out." Sometimes that can be worse.

Whether or not you have matured or become more qualified in the intervening years won't "fix" the bad impression you left, nor will an apology or explanation. In the same shoes as this professor, I would not recommend hiring you on the hope that you've matured, unless there are no other qualified applicants AND someone must be hired.

I hate to be harsh, but I imagine I am less harsh and demanding that this former supervisor. So - yes, by all means apply, and if by some chance you do get invited in for an interview, just do your best to express why you are the most qualified person NOW for the job. However, I wouldn't expect to get the position.

Mongoose

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2410
Re: Career advice-how to reconcile with an old boss
« Reply #20 on: March 03, 2016, 05:03:54 PM »
You can definitely apply but I wouldn't recommend being invested in the outcome. Plus, do you want to work for someone who you found difficult and demanding. You may very well have matured. Grad assistants are rarely at their professional peak. In my experience, it isn't too likely that the lab dynamic/supervisor has changed much.

DebtFreeBy25

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 239
  • Age: 32
  • Location: Appalachian and...tolerating it
Re: Career advice-how to reconcile with an old boss
« Reply #21 on: March 03, 2016, 08:22:55 PM »
I'm not sure what the nature of the position is, but HR rules at many universities can make it difficult to provide a lot more information than she has. At a lot of schools, people on search committees have to go through detailed training about what they can and cannot say in a huge variety of situations. Even if she would hold what happened many years ago against you, I doubt she could/would say that. On the other hand, she may have completely moved on and is open to your employment, but can't say anything indicating you are likely to be hired. I would probably just not read anything into her neutral response and apply for the job.

This is my take on her reply as well. Given the current situation, she is probably very cautious regarding what she's willing to put in writing. She wouldn't want to say anything- whether positive or negative- that could be viewed as out of line by HR, so she didn't really say anything. This is why I recommended trying to call her. Most people are a bit more honest over the phone than in an email.

There is one small piece of valuable information in this "no answer" answer.  It seems as if the decision on who to interview is likely being made by committee, so I'd recommend sending in an application anyway. The other committee members may have no prior knowledge of you, and your former boss is probably unlikely to black ball you for HR reasons.

hoping2retire35

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1401
  • Location: UPCOUNTRY CAROLINA
  • just want to see where this appears
Re: Career advice-how to reconcile with an old boss
« Reply #22 on: March 04, 2016, 05:50:07 AM »
Thanks everyone. I agree this seems like an HR answer. I will still apply. and I have thought about what Mongoose said, it may be unpleasant working for her; I should clarify, she was demanding but I don't think unreasonably so. However, if they offered me the job and I turned them down for this reason it would still put a good pep in my step. I think before I sent the email I would have had almost zero chance and this may have brought me to potentially a level playing field. If I get an interview or an offer I'll be sure to post. maybe even a little of my identity and which university this is...

nobody123

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 524
Re: Career advice-how to reconcile with an old boss
« Reply #23 on: March 04, 2016, 12:55:32 PM »
I can't imagine that she isn't on the search committee for a position she is responsible for.  Her email was an HR-friendly "eff off", IMHO.  I would personally have nutted up and called instead of sending an email -- she could have given you a real answer without a paper trail.

That being said, there's no harm in applying, but I'd have zero expectation of them ignoring whatever is in the HR file on you and calling you for an interview.