mini answer Monday — 6 short answers to 6 short questions

It’s mini answer Monday — six short answers to six short questions. Here we go…

1. HR called to tell me they “couldn’t afford me,” then said that they could

I am currently employed in a managerial position at a major corporation. It is a good job but I feel like I have outgrown it in the 3 years I have been there. Recently a contact reached out and told me about a great position at a smaller, action-oriented company. I applied and had one phone interview with the hiring manager and a second interview with the other managers in the department. Both went very well and I am scheduled for an on-site interview next week. Up until last Wednesday, I was very excited about the opportunity.

Last week, after my second interview, I received a call from a member of the HR department. Before he even introduced himself, he bluntly asked what salary I currently made and what I was expecting. I gave my current salary and before I could get another word out, he stated, “We can’t afford you.” He then gave me a maximum salary of only about 70% of what I currently make. He said he thinks that the hiring manager was only interviewing me to please my influential contact and that even though they can’t afford me, he would be happy to give my resume to another larger company because “they would go nuts” for someone with my qualifications. I politely asserted my interest in this job and expressed my confusion because the hiring manager and I had discussed my salary requirements previously. He stated he would follow up with the hiring manager and would let me know ASAP if they could not afford me as he suspected.

A couple hours later, he calls me back and “good news,” they can afford me after all. But now I have this sinking feeling in my gut that by pursuing this opportunity I am stepping into a position with bad management. Am I being too sensitive to what seemed to be a very rude and confusing discussion? I had good experiences with everyone else in the company, but I can’t shake this interaction. Can you give me some perspective?

Ask your interviewer about it when you meet. Say, “Bob called me last week to tell me that he was sure you couldn’t afford me, but then called back a few hours later to say that it wouldn’t be a problem. I was confused by that, and wonder if you can shed any light on it for me.”

2. When do I tell an employer about my scheduling needs?

I’m in the process of looking for a new job and I’ve run into a bit of an issue. My young son is disabled and requires a lot of doctor and therapy appointments. My husband and I split this up as much as possible and always try to keep our time scheduled in the most effective way, but it is still not unusual to have to leave work for 2-3 appointments a month. It is very important that I work for an employer with flexible time-off and/or flexible scheduling. But it is also very important for me to be in a company with a culture accepting of my sometimes-crazy schedule.

I don’t want to set myself up for failure or find myself in a situation where – while everything looked great on paper – my coworker/boss is annoyed by my situation. What is the best way to deal with this? Is it appropriate to bring up my family situation in the later stages of the interview process? Is there a way to find out about this aspect of the company culture without scaring potential bosses away thinking I’m going to be chronically absent?

Wait until you have an offer, because at that point they’ve already decided that they want you (whereas if you bring it up earlier, you risk them being scared off). Talk in concrete specifics about the situation’s impact on your schedule (for instance, an average of X appointments per month, two of them without much notice, most requiring you to leave two hours early — or whatever it is). Then pay attention to the reaction. Do they sound hesitant? Worried? Annoyed? Supportive? They way they respond, as well as what they actually say, will tell you a lot.

3. Should I tell on my boss for working a side job from our office?

I noticed that my boss, the CFO, always has a laptop on his desk in addition to his regular desktop computer. I wondered why he needed two computers but didn’t think much of it. Today I found out that he has a second job and that’s what the laptop is for. When I walk by his office he is more often working on the laptop than on his desktop. The worst part is that we are a struggling non-profit and we desperately need a competent CFO whose only focus is on fixing the financial problems in our organization. He has only been with the company for four months and I haven’t been impressed by his management style, nor have I seen any changes or improvements. There are hundreds of people employed by this agency and we run important programs that the community depends on. I work for a nonprofit because I care about our mission and I’m appalled that someone who is so high up in the company would take advantage like this.

The CFO told another employee about his second job, and that employee told me. Should I tell the Interim Executive Director about this? We get along great and I don’t think there would be any backlash on me for telling, but I’m just not sure if its my place to do so. If you would tell, how would you approach that conversation?

Yes, because in a nonprofit, you have a responsibility to the issue the organization works on or the people it serves to speak up in this kind of situation. Now, it’s possible that the organization’s management knows about what your boss is doing and has given permission for it — but it’s also possible that they have no idea. I’d say something like this: “I feel awkward mentioning this, but I feel more uncomfortable not saying anything. I realize this might be something you know about and are okay with, but in case you don’t, I felt obligated to talk to you about it.”

4. Denying an employee’s training request

An employee has requested to attend an out-of-town training that I feel is beyond his scope of work, but I don’t want to discourage him by using this as an excuse in denying his request. This person has been a problem employee for years and will create a big incident if I refuse his request. I would appreciate your advice on how to deny this request gracefully.

Well, the bigger problem is why you’ve allowed a problem employee to stay a problem employee for years. You should be managing him out of the organization, not allowing him to stay on your staff and make you shy away from making responsible decisions.

As for the training, tell him that it’s not in the scope of his work, that you don’t have an unlimited budget for trainings, and that you need to save it for XYZ. And if he creates a “big incident,” use that as the starting point in tackling that problem — make your standards of behave clear, require him to adhere to them, and replace him if he doesn’t.

5. Salary negotiations when your salary is public record

I work for state government (Minnesota), and I am beginning to look for a new job. As I think about and plan salary negotiations, I have been reading your instructions to avoid telling prospective employers your current salary. The problem is that the state of Minnesota salaries for individual employees are very easily googleable, especially if you’re looking at my work history. How, if at all should I address this in salary negotiations? I have been saying “Because my salary is a public record, I’ll just tell you that the dollar amount is $X, not including any benefits or retirement.” Or should I just ignore it and let them find it if they know to find it?

There’s no reason to bring it up proactively. If they ask what you’ve been making, you can say, “As a state employee, my salary is public record, but I’m seeking a salary of $X, because of ____ (fill in with why you deserve $X).”

6. Including 360 comments on your resume

My current employer, like many others, has a 360 review process that’s performed annually for employees and their managers to get anonymous performance feedback from others in the organization they work with. What are your thoughts on including those comments on a resume? I’m on the fence because on one hand, the testimonials are a pretty strong endorsement which the recruiter would not have access to. On the other hand 1) it adds to the length of the resume and 2) the hiring company may have a similar program and consider it a violation of trust to turn around and use that data to get a new job.

I dont think it’s a violation of trust, but I don’t think it’ll be particularly effectively, because anonymous feedback rarely is — you need to know the source to know how much weight to put on it. If there’s something in there that’s particularly strong (like, really strong, not just pretty good), or if there’s a particularly theme to the commentary, you could briefly mention that in your cover letter, but I wouldn’t put it on a resume.

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