when a candidate’s salary expectations are too high, asking for better software, and more

It’s seven short answers to seven short questions. Here we go…

1. When a candidate’s salary expectations are too high

Our online application system asks candidates to provide salary requirements, and of course we have in mind a target salary for our new hire. How can I best respond to candidates who have salary requirements well outside our range? If the candidate’s target salary is literally double our budget, I don’t want to waste anyone’s time.

My first inclination (almost always) is to just be upfront, to say via email, “Thanks for your interest! I wanted to let you know your target salary is well outside our range for this position. If that’s not firm, I’d love to discuss the role further with you, but if it is, I don’t want to waste your time.” Thoughts?

That kind of candor is great … but it would also be useful to give them an idea of what your range actually is when you’re doing it. After all, they might be flexible enough to go $10K lower but not $30K lower. So if you’re opening a dialogue, you want to give them some information they can work with.

And taking that one step further, why not list a salary range in your ad so that candidates won’t bother applying if the salary isn’t acceptable to them? If you want candidates to share their salary expectations up-front, it’s reasonable for you to do the same!

2. I reported a colleague for harassment and now I feel awkward working with him

Over the course of a few months, a male colleague of mine who works in a different office started making small comments about me which felt as if he was getting too “familiar” with me. One day he outright called me attractive, and at that point I was creeped out enough to report him to a superior. We are both married and it crossed a line with me. The behavior subsequently stopped. In fact, he only contacts me by email now, and it has been business-only, whereas before he would call me quite a bit and the conversations were a mix of socialization and work.

I think it is inevitable that at some point we will need to talk on the phone again and even meet face-to-face. I am afraid of this happening and don’t know what to say to him. Whenever I see an email with his name on it come through my inbox, I have a visceral fear reaction. Is there anything I can do to prepare myself for this?

Are you afraid of him starting the inappropriateness again, or just of the awkwardness? The awkwardness can’t be avoided — although I’d bet that he feels even more awkward than you do — but if you’re worried about him crossing lines again, keep this in mind: He stopped cold turkey as soon as you reported the behavior. And your employer took it seriously enough that they said whatever was necessary to get that to occur. So this is a guy who backed off when told to, and an employer who will take action to ensure he does. Until you see evidence to the contrary, assume that the problem has been taken care of. Be civil and professional to him, and if problems recur, you know that you can escalate it if you need to.

That said, it sounds like you didn’t told him directly that his comments were unwelcome before you reported it. While there are certainly situations where that’s the wisest course of action, in general it’s good to tell the person directly to stop the behavior, unless you feel unsafe doing that.

3. How can I convince my company that I need upgraded software?

My company bought another company and had a large merger two years ago, which resulted in the new company taking over many management positions and our department got new management. To get us all on the same software, they upgraded most of us. However, in what they deemed as my “role” now, I did not get an upgrade on all my programs (Adobe Suite CS6), but they did give the entire upgrade to others in the same position in other offices.

Do I have a leg to stand on to fight for the rights to have the upgrade on my software? They only want to let me have the InDesign upgrade but not all the CS6 programs that go with it (Photoshop, Illustrator etc). My fear is retaliation for arguing, which seems to be a big problem now that they have “taken over” the company, and many have been canned for standing up in other departments. But is there a way I could argue my point in a positive way to get the software upgrade?

Well, you’re not going to be shouting down the CEO in a all-hands meeting or trying to pull off a coup; you’re just asking for a resource to do your job. Assuming that you need the software to do your job better or more efficiently, simply explain that. They might not have realized it, and you should simply propose the expense and explain the business case for it. Keep it business-focused, and you should be fine.

4. My boss is letting a non-employee carry out firings

My group consists of three employees. Friday, the boss called from a trade show and said that someone in the group would be getting the ax on Monday. The person who will be dropping the ax was with him at the trade show and is neither an employee nor an officer in the company. Yes, it’s in bad taste, but is it legal?

To have someone outside the company fire people? Sure, there’s no law against that. Your boss could pull a passerby off the street and have her carry out his firings if he wanted to (although I’m assuming that in this case, it’s a consultant or something).

But it’s pretty weird that your boss called you all to alert you to this in what sounds like a pretty cavalier way.

5. I did well at my internship, but my manager is badmouthing me

I interned at a nonprofit this summer. The woman who was supposed to supervise me gave me two tasks in the first two weeks and then was out of the office consistently; therefore, I was given tasks by her subordinate. I assumed this was reasonable — they were the tasks I was told I would be doing. I knew that there was tension between the two of them, but it was never indicated that I was doing anything except an excellent job. Much of the staff truly loved me, but it may have become apparent to the new CEO that I was more competent at the database than my supervisor, something she should be managing.

My internship ended in the first week of August. I continued helping them on a couple of things until my password to the database and my work email were changed/closed without any warning to me. Now it’s October and the internship coordinator of my graduate program called me in to tell me that my supervisor sent her an email vaguely insinuating that I was a terrible intern but would not say anything concrete when called. The coordinator was skeptical of her complaints and told me that it should all be fine, just to make sure I don’t have her as a reference. Is there something I should do here or should have done? Or is she just petty and unwilling to bring any concerns to my face?

I’m going to go with “petty and unwilling to share concerns,” but who knows. In any case, I’d do one or both of the following:
a. Call whoever you worked with most closely during the internship other than your manager and ask if they’d be willing to be a reference for you, and if they’d be comfortable recommending you strongly. Hell, you could do this with more than one person there, for that matter.
b. Talk to your old manager, say that your program passed along her concerns, and ask if she’d be willing to share her feedback with you, noting specifically that getting feedback that will help you in the future is part of why you did the internship to begin with (which might or might not make her more inclined to tell you what’s up).

6. I handed in my notice but haven’t heard anything from my manager

Today I handed in my two weeks notice to my employer. I rung him and told him that I am leaving to better my career and work for a competitor. I explained that I put it in writing and sent the email. The email was professional and at the end I said, “Please acknowledge receipt of my notice and inform me of whether you would like me to continue working my notice. As it’s a competitor, it would probably make sense to place me on garden leave.”

But as of yet, I have received no reply. However, within a few hours of notice being handed to them, they have advertised my position on Facebook, changed the locks, and changed the passwords. They told one of their employees, who in turn told me! What if it gets to Monday when I’m due to work and they do not reply? I assume that because of what they have done, they do not wish for me to return. So what do I do if they don’t reply?

If you don’t hear that they don’t want you to return, then you show up to work as normal — until and unless you’re told not to. But there’s no reason to sit just and wait and wonder — pick up the phone and call your manager and ask her what she prefers. There’s no reason to speculate when you can simply ask.

7. How can I present the mixed experience I got at my first job?

I have been with my current company for 18 months now as a software developer. However, my duties always included roles such as thoroughly testing the product, which goes far beyond the kind of testing expected of a normal software developer. Within 8 months, 90% of my responsibilities were unrelated to my official title due to almost all of the code being maintained offshore. I mistakenly assumed that the lack of software development would be very temporary, but this has continued for almost a year now.

My current goal is to work in another company as a software developer. I feel that it would be disingenuous to pretend that I have 18 months software development experience when applying, while I effectively have more like 6 months. However, I do not want to over-represent my work as a tester, as it is not the type of work I am looking for. This is my first job out of school, so I worry that this job may have a negative impact at the companies I apply to.

How should I present myself in my resume and interviews? I don’t mind joining a new job as effectively having 6 months of relative expertise in the field, but I worry more about framing this issue in the best light possible.

Don’t downplay the software developer experience you do have — in fact, play it up as much as you can without misrepresenting the situation — but make it clear what else you spent your time on. And this situation is a perfect reason to explain why you’re moving on.

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