wee answer Wednesday — 7 short answers to 7 short questions

It’s wee answer Wednesday — seven short answers to seven short questions. Here we go…

1. Mentioning that I’d take a more junior position

I am in an interview process. Tomorrow morning, I have a second interview for a middle management position. I do not know how things will evolve. Meanwhile, the company advertised a position that involves less responsibilities — assistant manager. If I receive a NO for the manager position or feel that things are not going in the right direction, I am tempted to mention that I would be open for the less senior position. Any idea how I should approach them on this, and still look professional?

Don’t do this in the midst of an interview for the higher level position. If you don’t get that job, at that point you can mention that you’re interested in the more junior position — but if you mention while you’re being interviewed for the more senior role, you risk making yourself look like you’re not confident in your own skills. They’re giving you a second interview — they think you’re a viable candidate for this job, and so you should too.

2. Do different companies compare notes on their candidates?

During my latest job search, I came across a situation that made me uncomfortable. I had interviews with three different companies: Company A, then B, and lastly C. Company B gave me an offer the day before my interview with Company C. Talking to HR in Company A and C afterwards, they both knew I had an offer from Company B.

I would like to look for a job in a different state and use a recruiting agency to help, but I am concerned with my current company finding out in the same way the other companies did last time. Is this kind of “comparing notes” between HRs of different companies normal?

It’s not especially common, but it can happen in particularly close-knit industries where all the players know each other. Generally, though, I’d assume it’s not happening.

3. Being paid as a contractor when I’m treated as an employee

I recently came across the following information in one of your blog posts: “Your employer can’t pay you as a contractor while treating you like an employee. If your employer controls when, where, and how you work, the government says you’re an employee—and your company needs to pay your payroll taxes and offer you the same benefits it offers to regular employees.”

Is this a federal law? Or does it vary by state? Where can I find this information outlined so I can show it to my employer? My employer takes advantage of me and my pay requirements, and although I work as an employee he gave me a 1099 for my salary this year. I think he should pay whatever I owe.

It’s a federal law, although it’s commonly broken, and you can read about it here.

For whatever it’s worth, you don’t need to wait to be issued a tax form to find out how your employer is paying you; if taxes aren’t being taken out of your checks each pay period, you’re being paid as an independent contractor (legally or illegally).

4. I’ve been promoted but don’t know what to do

I’m 23 and have been working since I left school at 16. I’ve never had a sick day off work, I’m always 30 minutes early and the last one to leave. Finally after many years of hard work, a new project has come up at work and my manager and his business manager think I’m the perfect guy to help run the show. My promotion is leading me to run a team of six people, letting agreements, and marketing. Only problem is I know little about these subjects, but they really do think I’m the perfect person for the job. This has lead me to quite a few sleepless nights! It got worse today when the business manager asked me to help her write the job descriptions for the new positions, and it seemed like she was getting annoyed that I wasn’t putting much input in. I’ve been working so hard since I left school to reach a promotion like this and it’s my ticket to a successful career. But I really don’t know what to do, and don’t want to show them my weakness.

They promoted you for a reason, and since you’ve worked with them before, they have a pretty good idea of your skills. But it’s fine to admit when you don’t know something — in fact, the most confident people are usually the ones most willing to admit that, because it doesn’t threaten them. Why not go to your manager and ask for guidance in what you can do to get up to speed? If there are specific things you’re wondering about, ask about those too. Ask for help, and ask for feedback. That’s how you’ll learn the new role — don’t feel you need to walk in already having it mastered.

5. Should I ask for a raise now that I have new responsibilities?

I’ve been at my current positon for a year and recieved the standard 3% pay increase this week. Since I’ve been at this company, I’ve taken on new responsibilities. It’s been a great learning curve and I feel that I’ve grown a lot in this role. I’m also working at stepping up my skills in areas where my manager and I mutually agree I can improve. Recently, I was asked to be the main coordinator in an area where I’ve only had a supporting role before — that is, I’m responsible for tasks that I was only assisting with before. Right now I feel a bit shaky in this area as I’m learning the ropes, but I know I’m capable of doing an excellent job once I get the hang of it. I’m writing to ask, would you advise on asking for a higher raise at this point, or do you believe I would be in a better position to do so once I’ve demonstrated more value to the company through handling my new tasks?

You just got a raise. You need to demonstrate that you can excel at your new responsibilities — and that you’ve addressed the areas where you and your manager agreed you’d improve — before you ask for another one.

6. Can I reopen salary negotiations after starting work?

I’ve been doing some consulting work for a company a few hours a week from home. A couple months ago, they let me know about an opening for a different, but related position in their office. As we went through the hiring process there was talk about rolling my consulting duties into this new job, but nothing concrete was decided on. The new job doesn’t require an extra credential that I have, and that is reflected in the salary. I was still interested because of the potential to get full time employment and benefits with this company.

I figured that if I was offered the job, we would go over the details of how to handle my consulting work and I would negotiate a rate increase if they wanted to roll those duties into the new job. However, when I got the packet to look over, it was an acceptance packet with a start date and nothing to sign or negotiate. I missed my offer negotiation and went straight from interview to acceptance!

I started the job two weeks ago and while I haven’t been doing the duties from when I was consulting, last week my manager mentioned that I would be able to start doing those tasks again and that it’s no big deal because they could fall into “other duties as assigned.” I want to do the work that I had been doing as a consultant, but I want to be paid for that specialized skill. I don’t think it’s fair to say it’s part of “other duties” because if they had hired someone who didn’t have my background that person wouldn’t be able to do it. Do I have any leverage to say that I won’t do it until we’ve agreed on a rate for adding those duties? Please help me fix this, I’ve neglected my growth opportunities for so long and just started reading your blog and want to get my career on track!

First, you guys need to stop accepting job offers without negotiating just because the employer doesn’t proactively offer you a chance to negotiate. You can still bring up salary yourself.

However, at this point, you’ve missed your window of opportunity; you’ve already accepted the job at the rate they offered. I also wouldn’t try to ask for more now based on the fact that the new job includes your consulting work. First, they’d already mentioned previously that they might roll that into the position so they’re not springing this on you out of nowhere … and second, the fact that you could do this stuff is probably part of the reason they hired you and not someone else. You don’t really have standing to go back and negotiate now. The time to do that was when the offer was made, and you can’t do it weeks later.

7. Employer said a letter is in the mail

I had an interview for a secretary position 12 days ago. I called yesterday to see if the position had been filled and was asked if I received a letter in the mail. When I said no, the interviewer said she couldn’t tell me anything until I get the letter in the mail. I’m assuming this means I didn’t get the job, but wanted to know what your thoughts were on this. Is there any chance it could be a good thing? The position was with the State of TN Dept of Human Services office. They interviewed several people and said we would be notified when the position was filled. I assumed it would be by email because that’s my preferred method of contact.

It probably means that you didn’t get the job, but with government hiring, who knows. It’s entirely possible that they deliver job offers by putting them in bottles and throwing them into the ocean.

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