Friday night question queue

It’s the Friday night question queue. Here we go…

1. Frustrated that half a department left early

I recently started a new position in a new state. I am in a director role, so I have people who report to me, and my direct supervisor is in charge of me and another department. In that other department, everyone seems to be best of friends, even my manager. Which I thought I could handle, until one day we got an email that several people ( not the whole department) were leaving early to attend a sporting event with the manager. I really don’t care that I wasn’t invited, I’m not a fan of that sport, but it really through my work day for a loop. They said they’d be reachable on their phone, but we had 4 new employees who they are training.

They talked about going over a month ago, and honestly, I thought they were kidding. Am I being ridiculous? I know people need to get out of work sometimes, but taking half the department away with little/no notice is not cool. The one person who was left in the department was supposed to only work a half day that day and was stuck working all day, and I was working on testing that required their feedback throughout the day until web-launch. How should I respond? Do I tell my boss that it frustrated me?

Just to make sure I’m clear, the people who went were in a different department from yours and don’t report to you, right? Assuming that’s correct, I think you can say, “Hey, it caused some problems for us when so many people from department X were out at once. We didn’t have anyone to help with testing, and my four new people didn’t have anyone to train them.” However, if all signs are that this was a one-time event, you’re probably better off letting it go — it if happens again, that’s when I’d address it.

2. Disclosing a recent medical condition when job searching

I am in my late 20s and was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer two years ago. I was in and out of the hospital for around a year receiving treatment and, despite my initial grim prognosis, my doctors now believe that I have made a full recovery and will likely remain in remission. In an odd twist of fate, my illness was discovered when I was transitioning from one graduate program to another, so fortunately there is no visible gap on my resume. I am also currently very healthy and robust and look completely normal; no one would guess that two years ago I was given less than a 50% chance of survival.

I just finished my graduate program and have been interviewing for full-time jobs. While I haven’t received any offers yet, I am struggling with how to proceed with disclosing my health history when I do find a position. While I have completed my treatment, I do go to a doctor for tests every few months or so that require me to be out of the office for a half a day or less (mild anesthesia is required). Since this is relatively recent history and I am on a doctor’s leash, am I obligated to tell a new employer about my disease, even though it is most likely cured? If I do need to tell them, when should I bring this up? It might be premature to worry about this before I have an offer in hand, but I feel like I need a game plan that I feel comfortable with before the situation arises.

You have no obligation to disclose a previous health issue. However, once you get an offer (and not before), it would make sense to explain that you’re finishing up medical treatment for something, and you need to take a half day every few months for tests. You don’t need to specify what the condition is if you don’t want to, and you definitely don’t need to raise it before you have an offer.

Congratulations on beating the odds — that’s awesome.

3. Should I badmouth a friend who’s applying for the same job as me?

If both me and a friend are going for the same job, and the manager happens to ask what I think of him, what should I say? This is all hypothetical, but I wasn’t sure if I should badmouth the guy or kind of praise him?

Saying something nice will make you look classy and confident. Badmouthing him will make you look unprofessional and like kind of a jerk. Plus, um, he’s your friend, so that would be crappy to do.

4. Would this raise request be unreasonable?

My fiancé and I were talking about his upcoming performance evaluation and if he was going to ask for a raise and how much he was going to ask for.

A little background: He works for a “B Corporation,” which essentially means they’re ethical and pay a living wage. This upcoming review will mark 1 year with this company. At the 6-month evaluation, they offered him a 10% raise without prompting, and on top of an already generous starting salary (25% increase from his previous job).

He will follow all of your regular advice about asking. But just in case, do you think it’s unreasonable to ask for another 10%? Is it possible to price himself too high in this situation? All of this may be unnecessary, since they will probably offer him another one, but in case they don’t–he wants to be prepared. And of course, the crux of this issue is that he’s terrified of asking for too much, but I say to not undervalue himself and take the cue from the company.

Yes, it’s unreasonable to ask for another 10%, when they earlier gave him an unprompted 10% after only six months. The average salary increase last year was 2.8% — 3.1% for top performers. Asking for 20% in a year would be operating in bad faith with a company that has operated in very good faith with him, unless he has truly unusual circumstances that would justify it.

5. When you need time off for religious reasons

Being an orthodox Jew in a community that has no idea what that means can be quite hard when in the midst of a job search. There are several holidays throughout the year when I am unable to be at work. Twice a year, I am away from work for about 8+ days (depending on when the holiday falls). Also, I must be home before sunset on Fridays and am unable to work at all on Saturdays. I make up for it by working Sundays. I am a good employee; I never call in sick and pick up every shift offered. I will come in to work spur of the moment when called. The only time I take off is for my religion. When applying for a new job, I feel guilty if I do not inform them up front of my requirements, but it’s working against me to be honest because no one wants to hire me. When is it appropriate to let a potential employer about my obligations? What is the best way to do this?

Wait until you have a job offer. Once you have the offer, negotiate these terms as part of your acceptance, and explain that it’s for religious reasons. Unless the employer has a significant amount of work on Friday nights or Saturdays, you should be able to negotiate this as religious accommodation (reasonable accommodations for religion are required by law if the employer has 15 or more employees, as long as it doesn’t cause “undue hardship”). It’s going to be easier to do once they’ve already decided they want to hire you and once you have a firm offer than if you bring it up earlier.

6. Pursuing a job without notifying a recruiter

A recruiter reached out to me on LinkedIn about one month ago with a Project Manager role. I interviewed for the position and absolutely loved the company, but the role wasn’t a good fit for me (I’m looking for a more hybrid marketing management role), so after a few days of serious reflection, I decided to pass on the offer. I conveyed my decision to the recruiter and he was very accepting of it, so the whole situation ended on a positive note for everyone involved.

However, the company reached out to me directly a few days ago to see if I was interested in a new role that they were creating for a marketing manager (the description that they have in mind is exactly what I’ve been looking for!). I’d like to pursue this opportunity, but don’t want the recruiter to feel like I went behind his back and burn bridges. Is it ok for me to pursue this without notifying the recruiter?

You should let the recruiter know, because he may have a contract with the employer that requires that he be paid a commission if they hire you for anything in the six months or year following his introduction.

7. Switching staffing firms while keeping my contract job

I am a contractor currently working for a great company (hiring company) but I am unsatisfied with my staffing firm. My current contract ends in 2 months and I would like to switch to another staffing firm while keeping my current position. I’ve discussed this with my supervisor and she is very supportive.

Is this possible? If so, how do I terminate employment in a professional manner without a breach of contract or harming the hiring company?

Hmmm. The new staffing firm would need to be one that has a contract with your company, or your company would need to enter into a new contract with them. Your supervisor may be supportive, but it sounds like she doesn’t understand how this would work logically. I’d talk to your HR department and find out if it’s even possible, and if so, what steps you should take.

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