Cubicle-dweller wants private office

Marie G. McIntyre
Tribune News Service

Q. Most of our employees work in cubicles, with offices being reserved for managers and team leads. While I am not technically considered a manager, I believe I deserve an office because I oversee a very important project. I have mentioned this to my boss several times.

Now I am upset about an office that was given to a newly hired employee. “Nancy” came in as a team lead but was temporarily assigned to my project because she has certain specialized skills. In a few months, when that project phase is complete, she will move into her team lead role.

Although Nancy is working under my direction, she has an office, while I’m still in a cubicle. I would like to confront my boss about this blatant unfairness, but I’m afraid he would view that as whining. What should I do about this?

A. First, you need to recognize that these are two separate issues. One is whether your leadership role entitles you to an office. Another is whether newcomer Nancy should be placed in a cube. The second question is much more easily answered than the first.

Despite her temporary assignment, Nancy officially holds a team lead position and will fully assume that role in the near future. Since team leads are given offices, parking her in a cubicle for several months just to appease your ego makes absolutely no sense.

Your own eligibility is more complicated. Lacking an automatic office position, you must convince the higher-ups that your job has equivalent responsibilities. One common justification for private space is the need to have confidential conversations, so emphasizing that aspect might help.

To avoid the whiner label, present your case in a calm, businesslike manner without any emotional speeches about unfairness. If your request is denied, accept that decision in the same spirit. Otherwise, if you act like a petulant child, you could remain a cube dweller for a very long time.

Q. Despite having a master’s degree in education, I am looking for a sales position in a craft shop. Several years ago, after becoming acquainted with the store manager, I did this type of work for 18 months. I thoroughly enjoyed helping customers with projects and left only because we moved away.

Now, after submitting numerous online applications, I still haven’t received a single request for an interview. I believe I’m being screened out because of my graduate degree. Since I obviously can’t lie about my education, how do I overcome this hurdle?

A. There’s a big difference between falsifying a degree and omitting one. As an applicant, you should include any background information that is applicable to the position you are seeking. But since a master’s in education has absolutely no relevance to craft store sales, you can simply leave it off.

As your last job proved, however, personal contact is still the best way to get hired. So in addition to applying online, hand-deliver your resume to nearby stores and have a friendly chat with the manager. Your enthusiasm for the work and charming sales personality will make a much stronger impression than any application form.

Marie G. McIntyre is a workplace coach and the author of “Secrets to Winning at Office Politics.”

Twitter: @officecoach