disclosing a side business, how much of a salary hit to take when changing jobs, and more

It’s seven short answers to seven short questions. Here we go…

1. Recruiter suggested paying for a pre-employment test study guide

My partner is looking for a job and was recently contacted by a recruiter. She was given an official application to complete as well as a link to an assessment. The recruiter highly suggested that she download and use the study guide prior to taking the assessment. The catch: the study guide is $18. While that is not a lot of money, I’ve never heard of having to pay for a study guide for a pre-employment test and never had to do so. In fact, I just began a new job that required a test but no study guide was offered (you either know it or your don’t) and the test was free of charge to me.

Is paying for the study guide for a pre-employment test standard now? I have googled both the recruiter’s company and his name but have found very little. I suggested that she get the name of the organziation that he is recruiting for and confirm that his company is working on their behalf. Did I give her good advice?

Paying for a study guide for something like this is absolutely not normal. In fact, it’s the sign of a scam. Under no circumstances should she pay for the study guide — and she should be prepared for there to be no real job either.

2. Asking about your chances as a candidate before going on a different interview

My husband is looking for a new job and had 2 interviews last week! The first interview was over Skype with a job that would take us to a completely different state. The second was at a place where he has previously worked that is a few hours away from where we are currently living.

The first job called today to ask him to be one of 4 candidates to come for an in-person interview. This would mean flying and we would be covering the cost of the plane ticket. The second job told him they were doing background checks and would let all the candidates know yes or no in 2 weeks. The two people who conducted the interview for the second job are my husband’s former colleagues with whom we have always been very friendly. He does not want to seem unprofessional but also, I think, would prefer the second job over the first.

Would it be inappropriate for him to send an email asking about his chances as a candidate or at least making them aware of the situation with the other job? Or is it best to just wait out the two weeks without saying anything and send him out of state for this interview to keep all options open?

I wouldn’t send that email, because (a) it will put them in an awkward position by implying he’s hoping to use his insider status to get insider information and (b) it probably won’t give him useful information anyway. They’re not ready to give a definitive yes, and so the best they could tell you is that he’s a maybe or a no — either of which would point toward your husband flying out for the interview with the other job. So he might as well just move forward with that interview without bugging his former coworkers for an answer that they’re not ready to supply.

3. Manager mentioned that I’ve called out sick a lot this year

I called out sick this week for 1 day. When I called in, one of my managers told me that I have been doing that a lot lately. That caught me off guard, but I answered politely and we ended the conversation. As I sat there, I tried to remember all of the times I have called out and why. I could only recall only 3 times this year, all due to illness; this time, I had a significant fever. Granted, it was always that manager who answered when I called, but is that a lot in one year? Not only that, I work for an ambulance service. If I came into work ill, is that not the definition of negligence?

Three times in seven months isn’t hugely excessive, although it’s more frequent than a lot of people do. Your manager handled it badly, though — if she’s concerned, she should address it directly with you, not make an off-hand remark like she did. If you’re concerned, go talk to her about it when you’re back in. Say something like, “I’ve taken three sick days this year, all when I was legitimately ill, and I didn’t think that was excessive. But do you have concerns about my attendance?”

4. Do I still have a job offer?

I am an international student in Europe who just received a job offer. The procedure was as follows. The HR manager interviewed me (first phone and then Skype the same day), and that went well, and she told me I’d have a Skype interview with the head manager which took place very quick, a day after interviewing with the HR manager. Minutes after the Skype interview, the HR manager calls me and says I have a job offer and that she will email me the details the next day.

However, the next day rolls around and instead, I receive an e-mail asking for a motivation letter of exactly why I want the job and how committed I am (she stated it was because hiring internationals is very expensive so they want to make sure I’m dedicated). That was Wednesday. I sent my letter Thursday. Now, it’s four days later. I haven’t heard anything from them, and I’m getting increasingly nervous. What do you think happened? Is the offer still there? I sent an additional email after the motivation letter, but still no response!

It’s something of a contradiction that they want to make sure you’re dedicated, but their hiring process is so haphazard that they’ll make a job offer to you seconds after interviewing you. And then put it on hold a day later when they decide they have more questions. I’d actually be questioning whether you want to work for them at all, given how sloppy, cavalier, and disorganized they seem, especially if an international move is involved.

I’d wait a week from your last contact to follow up, and then if you still don’t hear anything, I’d move on.

5. How much of a salary hit should I take when moving from a start-up to an established nonprofit?

I have been interviewing for a role at a very established nonprofit organization that is technically a step down from my current position at a start-up nonprofit. I went into the interview process knowing that I would be taking a hit on the salary side as well as on the title, but decided to move forward anyway because I thought a slight decrease in pay a) should be expected and b) was something I could handle. The HR rep I spoke to before I started interviewing ask me about my willingness to take a pay cut and I responded that I would be willing to take about $10K less than what I am currently making.

The interview process went really well and I was offered the job, but the salary offer came in about $20K lower than my current salary. I was told (after trying to negotiate up to my original number) that their starting salaries are non-negotiable (this was confirmed by HR).

The job feels like a really great fit and I would be really sad to turn it down, but I don’t think that is a realistic size of a pay cut to take, even for the stability of an established organization. I would love to hear your thoughts on if I am being too picky or if this is a completely standard size pay cut to take when making a move like this.

It’s really hard to say — nonprofit salaries vary widely. Some are competitive with for-profit salaries, others are a bit below, and others are far below. So unfortunately, there’s not an overall standard that you can use. Ultimately, you really just need to decide if you’re willing to take that large of a pay cut in exchange for whatever you’ll be getting in it.

(If it helps, you can look at the organization’s 990s on Guidestar to get a better sense of their finances and what their highest-paid people make.)

6. What information to list for references

Whenever I have to give a list of professional references, I’m always confused as to what to put for my reference’s relationship to myself. If these are former colleagues, do I list the position that person held when we worked together (and the company we were employed at) or their current position and company? Does it matter?

Yes, you want to explain what their relationship was to you when you worked together. List their title from when you worked together and the company where that happened. If they’ve since moved on to another job, you can add a parenthetical note explaining that, as well as any other context that will be helpful. For instance:

Jane Smith, Director of Special Projects, Teapots Inc. (Jane was my manager when I worked at Teapots Inc. but moved on to Saucers Ltd. last year)

7. Do I need to disclose my side business before accepting a job offer?

I am expecting a job offer for an administrative assistant position at a company that teaches English as a second language. I am also planning to do some tutoring on my own outside of work — both ESL and a foreign language I speak. Am I obligated to disclose my tutoring business before accepting this type of job? (I wouldn’t mention anything before receiving an offer.)

I don’t see it as a conflict because I would be tutoring people already in the area on a one-on-one basis. The (very large) company brings people from overseas and organizes formal classes. I also would be sure not to mention my business to any clients of the company. I feel I am within my rights to keep my business to myself, but it’s possible the company could eventually find out and I don’t want to be seen as sneaky, or as a competitor and risk losing my job. If I disclose it up front, I am afraid they may rescind the offer. It might be worth mentioning that my business is very small at the moment — I have less than 5 students.

Yes, you should mention it. If there’s any chance that they could rescind the offer over that, you want to know that NOW — not get fired for it later on after you’ve already started. Many companies have a conflict of interest policy that arrangements like this could violate; on the other hand, their policy might simply require that you disclose the work. Either way, you’re better off being up-front and finding out their stance on side work.

This entry was posted in HR, Leadership. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.