terse answer Thursday — 7 short answers to 7 short questions

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

1. How can I reach out to a great candidate who I had to reject?

I conducted an interview screen recently that resulted in a no-hire decision for the candidate. It was, however, an extremely difficult decision, and the candidate, while not the right fit for what our team is looking for, would be a clear good fit for several other jobs in our office. In addition, the candidate and I share similar (very unusual and on-the-surface not very “marketable”) educational and work experiences–I really feel for how hard it is to find a position coming from that background!

I did pass the resume on to the hiring manager for the other positions in our office, with a good word about “not right for our job, but perhaps for yours.” The candidate sent me a “I understand I’m out of the running, thanks for your consideration” follow-up email today, and I would really like to reply with some sort of… encouragement? Links to other job posts? That if they’re looking for advice on what to do with our sort of weird background, I’d be happy to chat? I’m not sure what (if any) the appropriate thing to do here is!

If you’d really be happy to chat, that would be a really kind thing to offer. Most candidates would love to get feedback and personalized help from an employer, so if you’re willing to take the time to do that, definitely offer it!

2. Will declaring bankruptcy affect my job search?

I have a question about jobs and bankruptcy. I am considering filing for bankruptcy to get some help with my student loans. Unfortunately, I bought into the hype during high school that I would be able to make a lot of money after attending college. Other than my student loans, I only have one medical bill that is past due, but that is because my student loan bills are so high. I took out student loans to go to a great school and to obtain an in-demand major, but things did not work out in my favor. Since employers now are requiring background checks, do you think that it will hurt my job prospects in the future? I have never mismanaged any money from the jobs where I was required to handle money. Will employers ask me why I had to file for bankruptcy and consider my circumstances?

Well, first, this might not even be an option, because most student loans aren’t dischargeable in bankruptcy. So you’d want to look into that first. But if for some reason yours are, then whether it will impact your job prospects will depend on what type of field you’re in and what types of companies you’re applying with. Loads of companies, particularly smaller ones, don’t check credit records at all. And many others only do for jobs that involve handling money or having authority over money. Some employers are now starting to use them more frequently — but certainly not all or even most.

3. My manager will fire me if I don’t get a car

I have recently been told by my boss that if I do not purchase my own vehicle for the purposes of the business, that he will be looking to replace me. When I applied for the position, I was asked if I have access to my own vehicle, I said that I do not but am able to use my parents’ car. In email correspondence and in my contract, it was mentioned that he would reimburse me should I use my own vehicle for business. There was no mention of it being a necessity. I have since been unable to use my parents’ car as it is their only asset and they are trying their best not to run too many miles on it.

I have told him that purchasing a car for his business is an expense that I cannot possibly afford right now. I had also moved closer to work in order to walk. He says that if I do not have a car by the end of next week, he will fins someone else to replae me. I am currently on “short time” which I believe he is counting as the first of my 2 week’s notice. Can he do this?

Yes. As a condition of the job, he can require you to have a car, or a suit, or a passport, or a charming smile, or anything else that doesn’t discriminate based on race, sex, religion, national origin, or other protected classes.

4. Next-day interview, and employer wants to fill the job in less than a week

I’m applying for entry-level nonprofit communications roles, with plenty of communications internship experience and a year as an administrative assistant under my belt. Today I got a phone call from an organization I applied to work for, and they wanted to schedule me for an interview. Great! But when I told them my availability for the end of this week and beginning of next week, the response was, “What about tomorrow?” This in the mid-afternoon. I ended up taking an interview slot for tomorrow morning at 9:30 a.m.! It seems more than a little crazy to me that they want to interview me with less than 24 hours notice.

Then, it got weirder. The person I was on the phone with said that they want someone to start by Monday. Like, the coming Monday. I don’t know how they can possibly do due diligence in their hiring process in that short a time period. Even if they were to offer me this job, I can’t start on Monday — I’m in the middle of the interview process for two other organizations, and I would need at least a couple days to think things through and see if I get one of the other offers. I really want to ask these people “What’s the rush?” when they ask me if I have any questions for them, but I have a feeling that’s too terse. Any suggestions for how to ask about the crazy time table at my interview?

Hey, sometimes positions need to be filled on short timelines. If that’s the case here, and it’s a job that has a ton of well-qualified applicants, they probably don’t see any reason not to fill it that quickly. And since it’s entry-level, they might not be planning on extensive reference checks. It’s not the way people would ideally hire, but it’s not unheard of either. If it makes you uncomfortable, though, you’re certainly not under any obligation to accept an offer with them, or even interview.

As for how to ask about it though, you can say, “It sounds like you’re on a very tight timeline for filling the position. What’s driving that?”

5. Handling an interviewer who talks a lot

How do you handle an interview where the interviewer talks a lot and you feel as if you can’t get a word in unless she actually stops to ask something? I went on my first full-time interview yesterday and my interviewer talked a lot. I’m a shy person so it was hard enough for me to even be in the interview, let alone try to get a word about why I want the job. In the end, I felt like I didn’t even get a chance to talk about myself and all we did was talk about the company and the position.

If it happens again, try steering the conversation back to the job opening and your qualifications. Say something like, “Would it be okay to take a minute and lead you through my professional background? I think it’ll tie in with what you were just saying about the job.”

Keep in mind, too, that someone who hires this way likely is making hiring mistakes along the way, so you’ll have some not-so-great coworkers unless the person is quick to fix their hiring mistakes.

6. Can I ask for a raise even though I just got a small one?

I work as an office administrator at a tech company. My day-to-day consists of all of the basics — I answer phones, order snacks and supplies, greet guests, and basically run the office (we have about 350 onsite on any given day). In addition to this workload, I feel that I do many things that go above and beyond the typical office admin role. My managers, as well as other employees, frequently praise my work ethic and ability to get things done (I am the go-to person when someone needs something to happen).

That said, I have been at the job for less than a year. My time with the organization (about 9 months) happened to coincide with yearly reviews, and so I was given one despite being around less than a calendar level. I received excellent scores in all criteria and received a scheduled raise. However, because of the way that increased are calculated, I received half of what I would have, had I been working at the company for one month longer. This comes out to a 1.3% increase. This review happened in February, and it’s been weighing on my mind ever since — with inflation and increased payroll taxes, I essentially received a pay cut even after being given very high praise.

Do you think it is too late to bring up the issue of compensation with our HR department? I love my job and wouldn’t want to do anything to jeopardize my status at the company, but I felt a little slighted by the increase. If you do think I would benefit from a conversation with my superiors, do you think I should include my thoughts on the relative scale of the actual increase (i.e. that it’s essentially a pay cut) or should I dwell solely on positives — things like a repair I did on an item that saved the company $700.

Wait until you’ve been there a full year, since generally it’s not reasonable to expect any raise before that anyway. At that point, go to your manager (not HR; this is an issue for your manager) and advocate for a higher raise. You can point out that because of the raise cycle, you weren’t eligible for a full raise when salaries were last assessed, but don’t dwell on that — the main thrust of your argument should be why your performance warrants more.

7. Can I cite my expected raise when employers ask how much I make?

I’m in a bit of a conundrum. I am expecting a promotion and salary increase, but I do not know the new salary or title (not a work scope change). I do know it is imminent. As I am interviewing for a few positions elsewhere, I wanted to ask what you would recommend if I am asked about salary history and recommendations in the meantime. Do I base estimates on what I’d expect or what I’m currently receiving?

You can say that you’re expecting a raise of around $X, but really, you want to focus on what your contributions to the new company are worth, not on your salary history. Allowing employers to peg your salary to what you’ve earned in the past is a good way to avoid getting a large jump when you change jobs, so you want to avoid that as much as possible.

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