It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…
1. I want to invoice an employer who wasted my time in an interview process
I was recently involved in a two-month interview process where they flew me out for an in person interview as a “final step.” They paid for my flight and hotel, and I had asked my recruiter what I was responsible for but did not get any response, so all else fell to me. During the interview, I used my subject expertise to provide the company a training among other things (lots of notes were taken and questions were asked to me that made it apparent they plan to use everything I gave them). A week later, I reached out to the recruiter to be told the company never got approval for it to be a remote position (which was what I was told the entire time).
I am considering sending them an invoice for my expenses and time. Am I just being petty or should I actually consider sending it? Had they said “we don’t think its a fit,” I would have dropped this altogether.
Between expenses and everything, this cost me around $400 out of my own pocket. I have three small children and we are a one-income family, so $400 is a lot of money to us, plus missing that time with my kids and wife means a lot to me.
You absolutely can’t send it.
I understand the impulse, but they’re not going to pay expenses that they never agreed to pay and you’ll make yourself look really bad in the process because it’s just not done.
There’s never a guarantee that you’ll get a job at the end of a hiring process, no matter how positive a company is sounding. Plans fall through, budgets and priorities change, stronger candidates emerge at the last minute, etc. I know that in this case they’d led you to believe that remote work was already approved, but even that kind of thing can change (or people can assume it’ll be fine and then discover that some decision-maker several levels up was never informed and doesn’t like it, or so forth).
The only safe thing to do is to not invest time or money into hiring processes if you’re not okay with the prospect of it not panning out in the end. I’m sorry!
2. Returning to professional work after being a phone sex operator
I was an executive in a nonprofit agency and worked in the sector for almost 10 years. This last winter I left a very prestigious job to pursue work in the adult industry. I had been working as a phone sex operator part-time during my employment just to make some extra money. After a major management change, I decided to leave my job and work full-time on the phone. Aside from the obvious benefits of working from home and making my own hours, the pay is phenomenal! I’m easily making more than twice as much as I was as a program director in nonprofit.
It’s been almost six months since I left my job and I still haven’t moved forward with finding any other employment. I never thought I’d be doing this this long. My concern is how I am going to explain this gap in my employment when I do decide it’s time to return to my profession. It could be another six months until I find another job (I want to be selective and hold out for the right position since I have the luxury to do so right now) and I’m nervous about explaining myself. With the phone company, I’m officially listed as a contractor.
I know this is a really weird situation and I need all the help I can get. I really don’t want people to know what I’ve been doing for this last year, but I also don’t want to lie. Even if I get a job after having been truthful, I’d be embarrassed and would feel like I’ve made a really weird impression.
Unfortunately, because we live in a society that is so puritanical about anything related to sex, I think you’re better off not trying to come up with PG cover for the job and instead just saying you took some time off to do something else — travel, pursue a personal interest, attend to family, or so forth. If your previous job was a highly stressful one, you could even just say that after a decade of high-stress work, you wanted to take a break to recharge and think about what you wanted to focus on next.
If you’re only out for a year, I think you can make that work. Once it starts getting longer than that, that starts getting trickier, as people will worry about your skills getting stale, whether you really want to return to work, etc.
3. What help can I ask for after spraining my ankle?
I sprained my ankle playing soccer yesterday. I have a parking spot that I pay around $50 a month for that is four blocks away from my office. This parking spot is subsidized by my office (I think about $50).
It took me a half hour to walk in my crutches to my office from the garage — it was up hill on uneven ground. And I am an assistant so some of my daily functions require walking (copies, greeting clients, dispersing paperwork, etc.)
What, if anything, would be a reasonable request for my HR department? Or since this happened on my own time from my own stupidity do I just make do? There’s parking behind where I work but it’s all taken up by people with seniority. Would it be unreasonable to ask to park there for the week (or two) until this heals? Can I ask for a pass from some of the walking-related work things? I don’t know what’s reasonable and what isn’t. My first job out of high school, and I don’t want to be fussy, but I also don’t want to get needlessly screwed.
You can ask for all of that. It’s very reasonable to ask HR for temporary parking closer to the building. You should also talk to your boss (not HR) and explain that it’s difficult to walk right now and ask for temporary accommodations to your responsibilities until you’re off the crutches. These are both normal things to ask for and you’re not being fussy!
4. I was asked to complete an “automated phone screen”
I submitted a resume through a job board and received a reply from the job board, asking me to “Please complete your automated phone screen for [position].”
I’m supposed to call a number and answer pre-prepared questions, ones you’re typically asked in a live phone screen: “Tell us a little about your background,” “why are you interested in this position” (I’m not, but I need a job; can’t say that!), past accomplishment, and describe a difficult situation and how you resolved it. I have a week to do it, but I’m leaning toward simply deleting the email and forgetting the entire thing.
Is this a normal thing? I’ve never run across this before, ever. It’s for a receptionist job at a personal injury law firm. I’ve applied to law firms before and this never happened. Am I crazy to think this is lazy as hell? Anybody else run into this?
It’s not a super common thing, but it’s a technology that’s out there that some companies use … companies that don’t know how to hire well. It’s terrible for tons of reasons, including that it asks candidates who have already provided resumes and cover letters to spend more time investing in the job possibility while the company still isn’t investing any time back (i.e., answering their questions), it treats candidates like cattle, and it deprives the employers of most of the benefits of phone interviews (like seeing how the candidate speaks off the cuff, rather than how they read a script they may have written down in advance, and being able to ask follow-up questions).
5. Interviews in public spaces
I think I need some help with interview scheduling ettiquette. I currently work on a campus, within which several businesses share the same public spaces. I have an upcoming interview with one of the other businesses, and the hiring manager has asked to meet in the shared dining area for the interview. I’m not particularly comfortable asking her to move the location, as there is nowhere else nearby that is suitable. However, it’s highly likely that coworkers or bosses will see me and either realize I’m in an interview, or come and speak to me!
Would it be reasonable for me to ask the interviewer if we can ensure that the meeting is held outside of normal lunch hours? Should I admit that it’s because I want to be discreet? Or does that come across like I’m being underhanded about leaving my current job? I feel a bit awkward about all options!
You can do that! It’s a normal thing to not want your current job to know you’re interviewing; that’s not seen as underhanded.
Say it this way: “My current boss and many of my current coworkers tend to eat in that area around lunchtime, and I worry that we’ll be interrupted or that it could be awkward since my manager doesn’t know I’m interviewing. Is there somewhere else we could meet, or would it work for you to meet there outside of normal lunch hours?”
I want to bill an employer who wasted my time, returning to work after working in the adult industry, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.