It’s terse answer Tuesday — 7 short answers to 7 short questions

It’s terse answer Tuesday — seven short answers to seven short questions. Here we go…

1. Applying for a job at a company whose customer service I’ve complained about in the past

A job I’m interested in just opened up at a large telecom company based where I live that shall remain nameless. We’ll call them BT&T. I’m well qualified, the salary is quite a bit higher than my current salary, and I have an in at the company — one of my good friends is a manager. Seems perfect, right?

Well…the only hold-up is that in the past I have had HORRIBLE relations with customer service at this company. I’d like to blame it all on BT&T – and to the best of my knowledge all of my past troubles have originated with them — but I can admit I’ve lost my cool with the service reps multiple times somewhere during the 85th minute of being on hold or being transferred around. So, is it possible that these conversations would affect my chances being hired here? Do they keep files on this kind of stuff? I know they record conversations — so I just wondered if that meant I was in some sort of database of “angry BT&T customers.”

It’s pretty unlikely. I mean, I’ve never worked for a telecom company so it’s possible that something like this goes on, but generally speaking, it would be very unlikely. Hiring is a separate function from customer service. Unless you were a truly notorious customer, you’re probably in the clear. Anyone know otherwise?

2. How do I know if I’m being paid off the books or not?

I started working for a company in January and was hired for Sales/Marketing with a salary and commission. I get paid on time, I get a check, but no pay stub. He gives us a check and a handwritten break down of the taxes. I know he has two people employed off the books and I don’t want to be taken for a fool. How do I know for a fact that I am on the books?

You don’t. It’s entirely possible that he’s handling this all correctly but not using a payroll service and doing the calculations himself, but of course you don’t know that based on what you’re receiving. I’d imagine, though, that you could contact the IRS and your state tax agency to confirm that they’re receiving taxes on your behalf.

3. Should non-exempt employees be paid for time at non-mandatory work dinners?

Recently our entire department was invited to a dinner with staff members from an outside vendor. I believe the purpose of the dinner is to thank us for our business, as my company is their biggest client, and we do work with them almost daily. Our department head hasn’t said the dinner is mandatory but he cleared the date with us all ahead of time. As a non-exempt employee, am I entitled to be paid for my time spent attending this dinner? If so, how do I go about asking whether I’ll be paid if I attend? I’m an introvert and will likely find the dinner stressful so I don’t want to commit to attending if I’m donating my time. I do worry, though, about the impression it will give if I decline the invitation.

Say this: “As a non-exempt worker, how should I handle my time for this dinner?” It’s a reasonable question to ask. If you’re told, “Oh, since it’s voluntary, you won’t be paid for the time,” then it’s fine to decline to attend.

4. What to say at the end of an interview

I’m a recent graduate who has been trying to find a job in this tough market. Since December. I’ve applied to about 18 entry-level positions in my field, and have only had two interviews. Most recently, my dream job has come up (it’s a year-long internship in the cultural sector; I could care less about the “intern” title because frankly I’d love to work in the local arts and cultural scene for the rest of my career) and I’m worried that I’m a bit rusty in my interviews.

With that being said, here’s my question: as long as I don’t come across as desperate or begging–just using a firm voice with a confident smile–is it not too forward to mention at the end of an interview, “I want you to know that I really want this position, and I know I’d be a great fit here, if you’d give me the chance”?

Eh, it’s not a disaster or anything, but it’s a little cheesy. And you don’t really know if you’d be a great fit somewhere until you have much, much more insider information than you can get from an interview. Why not just say, “I want you to know that I really want this position, and I’d be hugely excited to be offered it”?

5. Letting an employer know I turned down another offer

Last week, I had two follow-up interviews at two different organizations. On Tuesday, it was a second interview, and a few hours later they called to offer me the job. On Thursday, it was a third interview for a job I really want. As we were discussing timing at the end of Thursday’s interview, I did let them know that I had received another job offer and so it would be helpful for me to know as soon as they could. The interviewer (who I know and have a good professional relationship with) said that she really appreciated my telling her and that she would be do her best to update me by the middle of this week.

Since Thursday, I have been in communication with organization A about their job offer and have decided to decline it. My question is…should I reach out to organization B to let them know that I did this? Ordinarily, I wouldn’t go out of my way to over-share with a job prospect on this, but I did get the feeling that she might twist her schedule/go out of her way to expedite a decision on my behalf. I am completely over thinking and going back and forth on which decision would give me more of a competitive advantage. But in the end, my inclination in general is to err on the side of transparency and tell her. What do you think?

Yes, transparency is generally good, and there’s no reason not to use it here. Particularly since she might feel pressured to get you a quicker answer than she otherwise would, and that can lead to the answer being “no” if she’s not 100% ready for it to be “yes” yet. Send her an email and let her know.

6. Is this a good sign?

I want to move back to my small hometown (10k) and was shocked when I found a company that does work in my niche industry. I sent a cold inquiry email with my resume on Friday night. I got a quick response early Saturday morning saying he was very interested in speaking, but couldn’t talk until after tax season ends, and would call me April 17.

Would you take “very interested” to mean he has a real opportunity and potential to hire, or possibly just willing to network for future?

There’s no way of knowing. But regardless, you’re better off taking it as “future networking” so that you don’t start counting on it in your head — since even if he means “I have an open position,” there’s no guarantee that it will stay open or that he’ll hire you for it.

7. I think my cousin is cheating his employees

My cousin owns a construction and assorted services (lawn care, snow plowing, etc.) business. I am not close with him; he lives several states away from me and I haven’t seen him in years.

I recently heard from another family member (who does know him well, spends a lot of time with him, etc.) about a number of problems he’s been having with his business lately, stemming from his poor treatment of clients and employees. One of the things she described was that, in retaliation for some employees “slacking off,” he retroactively cut their pay. I don’t know any more details (or even if it’s true, since I heard it secondhand), but it makes me so angry. His employees (who include other members of my family) are in no position to advocate for themselves. It feels like someone should do something, but I’m not sure what.

There are obviously plenty of family relationship issues here that are outside your scope. I’d love to hear your thoughts on whether I should get involved — and if so, what can actually do. I’ll say up front that my bias is that, ethically, I (or anyone in this situation) should do something (e..g, call the state Dept. of Labor, or whatever). I’m open to hearing that I shouldn’t, but I wanted to put that out there.

I don’t really see what you can do. You don’t have any way to verify the information, and you don’t have a relationship with your cousin where it would make sense to talk to him about this — you don’t have the standing to raise it with him the way you would if you were closer or in more contact. I think this falls under the “not your business” category, unless one of those factors changes.

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