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. What’s up with this poor benefits package?

I just had an interview at a company for a senior-level director position I am potentially interested in, but the company’s benefits (or lack thereof) concern me. For instance, the company only offers one week of paid vacation time for the first two years, six paid holidays off (I currently get 10), and no 401K. I know I could negotiate for more vacation time; however, my concern is that this speaks to how the company treats its employees (poorly). I asked why a company of their size (700 people) didn’t offer a 401K plan, and her answer was that they used to have one, but it didn’t work, and since they were primarily a manufacturer, it wasn’t common for manufacturers to employ this perk. Is that true? What would be the reason for this? Also, I thought that two weeks vacation time was, if not law, standard for full-time work. Is it common for companies to offer only one week? The company does offer medical, dental, and vision.

No law requires employers to offer any vacation time, but two weeks has long been considered a minimum in most industries. That said, benefits packages do vary widely and can be a solid reason for turning down an offer. If you do decide to turn down the offer over this, I hope you’ll tell them why — they’re more likely to improve their benefits if they realize that they’re losing good candidates (and employees) over it.

2. New job has extreme flexibility

I just started a new job last week, and it is a bit nontraditional in the sense that there isn’t really a set office: The company is so small that we each just have a membership at a coworking space, our cells are our main phone lines, and people are often out and about for meetings. I basically stay in the “office” unless I’m accompanying someone to a meeting. Everything can be done online, so often people just leave early and work from home or sometimes just don’t come in at all. This is great, but since I’m used to working in traditional offices, I’m not sure when I can start saying I’d like to work from home on certain days since I’m so new. When do you think it would be appropriate? A lot of days, I find myself done with my work pretty early and would love to beat the traffic, but I wait around until the last person leaves or until a little after 5 p.m. It seems that they would be fine if I starting leaving early as long as I’m finished with my work but I’m nervous and I’d like your opinion first. I’d really like to make a good impression, but I’m not sure if they would even think twice because everything is so laid-back.

Personally, I’d work regular hours for at least the first month, and possibly two. Right now, you’re an unknown quantity, and you want to establish yourself as someone with a good work ethic who isn’t abusing their flexibility. Once you do that, you should be able to take advantage of these benefits — but build a firm reputation for being a hard worker first, so that no one is wondering what the new person is working on and why they haven’t seen her.

3. Getting reimbursed for travel expenses for a company holiday party

I have been in my current job for more than 10 years. I used to work in the office but moved this year to another state and now work remotely. I’ve been invited to our office holiday party and, like you, feel it’s always a wise career move to attend. My company generally reimburses my travel expenses when I am called into the main office for a staff meeting. Is it a reasonable expectation to be reimbursed for travel expenses (round trip train fare, one night hotel stay) to our holiday party?

Yes. It’s a business event and an expense you wouldn’t be incurring if you weren’t working there. But if you’re uncertain, just check with your boss beforehand. Say something like, “This might be a silly question, but is it okay for me to submit a reimbursement request for my travel expenses for the holiday party?”

4. Can I thank my husband’s company for their great holiday party?

My husband’s company threw its annual holiday party on Saturday, and it was even better than usual. In addition to outstanding food and drink, they had two different bands, both of which were excellent. And if that wasn’t good enough, it was a “Monte Carlo” theme so there was no risk gambling, and the dealers were incredibly nice, patient, and educational.

I would love to send a note saying thanks for such an amazing evening, and also to let them know how absolutely fantastic the catering and casino staff were. I am acquainted with a lady in HR, and would send it to her and ask her to forward it on to the appropriate people. My husband says this is fine, but after reading you for years, I’m not sure it would be appropriate for me to send it. The easy answer is for my husband to do it, but unfortunately, that is not something that he would ever do.

Nope, don’t do it. You’re thinking of this as a social event, where it would be perfectly appropriate for you to send a thank-you, but it’s a business event. That means that if anyone is going to thank them, it should be your husband — the employee. But I wouldn’t push him to do it if he doesn’t want to, because providing a holiday party for employees is less of a gift and more of a business function — the company has the party because they believe it helps them achieve their business goals, such as building morale and camaraderie. It’s certainly nice to thank the people who organized it, but there’s not the same obligation that there would be if it were a social event outside of work.

Either way, though, you should no more send a note of thanks for this than you should send a note of thanks to the guy in accounting for helping your husband fix his direct deposit problem; these are his coworkers, and his relationships to manage.

5. Is this company stalling on hiring me?

Recently (about a month ago), I applied to a position with a wonderful startup. I thought I had finally found an opportunity within an environment in which I would flourish, while being a part of something fresh and innovative. I truly love their product.

Well, after 3 interviews, they asked for my references (good sign, or at least I thought so). Fast forward to December 10 — references haven’t been called, and after I inquired, I was told a new CEO was being brought on, and that they were still interested in me, and will hopefully have a more concrete answer before the holidays. Does this seem like a stall tactic of sorts or what? A week prior, I was told that they would hopefully reach out to my references early the following week. I don’t know what to think.

You should think exactly what they told you: that they have a new CEO and are hoping to have a concrete answer by the holidays. If they’re having a major leadership change, it makes sense that they’re not able to move forward on hiring as quickly as they normally might be.

Seriously, you guys, start taking statements like this at face value.

6. What does this email mean?

I was hoping you could interpret the following email I received from an HR manager. Just a little background, I did not reach out to the HR manager. The email below was unsolicited:

“My apologies for the delay in reaching out. I thought I sent a note on Friday but it was sitting in my draft folder. I debriefed with the interview team on Friday and they provided some very positive feedback. I am waiting to discuss things with Name Redacted (hiring partner) who you were unfortunately unable to meet with. Again, sorry for the delay but I hope to have some good news for you shortly.”

See above. Take it at face value. There’s been a delay but they consider you a strong candidate. Face value.

7. Applying when you don’t meet the GPA requirement

I am a (somewhat) recent grad and am currently looking for my next career step. I am applying to entry-level positions, and have found one that is perfect and I’ve networked with someone in the company who has encouraged me to apply. However, there is a GPA requirement listed for the position that I did not meet while in school. Should I not apply for the position? Should I apply and be honest if they ask? Do you think they will ask me for some sort of transcript?

Go ahead and apply anyway, because you have nothing to lose. (And yes, of course you should be honest if they ask. They may or may not ask for transcripts or otherwise verify your GPA, but regardless, you don’t lie about stuff like that.) They may or may not be rigid about the GPA requirement; if they are, you’ll find out soon enough, but many companies are more flexible about requirements than what their job postings would lead you to believe.

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