It’s short answer Sunday — seven short answers to seven short questions. Here we go…
1. Am I still entitled to severance pay if I find a new job quickly?
Am I still entitled to the severance pay promised to me if I find another job immediately after I was let go? A couple weeks ago, I let my boss know that I was going to start job searching. She had told me numerous times she likes to know if someone is thinking about leaving so she’s not blindsided. She agreed that I could stay until I found a job and she would help me search. A week and a half later, she called me and told me she was letting me go because she couldn’t risk me sharing company secrets/ trying to take clients with me. She offered to pay me for the week and give me an additional two weeks pay and told me I would be able to collect unemployment. Amazingly, that afternoon I got called in for a job interview and the next day I went in and got the job to start the following Monday (thanks in large part to all the tips on your blog!). My question is, am I still entitled to keep the severance pay/ chase after it if she tries to stop the check if she finds out I’m starting a new job? Nothing was in writing except for a brief email from her saying she was waiting on the checks to come and would send them in a couple days.
Generally, if you’re getting a severance payment, it’s independent of how quickly you find a new job — unless you have an agreement that says otherwise. You don’t have that agreement, so you’re still entitled to that severance. Of course, since you don’t have any agreement, you’d also probably have no way to chase after it if she changes her mind. This is why it’s smart to put things in writing. (It’s also smart for the employer; most employers make severance contingent upon you signing a “general release” promising not to sue for anything in the future.)
If what you’re actually asking is less about what’s legally required in this situation and more about whether employers view severance as something that should be rescinded if you get a new job … in general no, but there are certainly employers who would see it that way. But there’s no reason you need to announce your new job to your old boss.
2. My coworker was allowed to transfer and I wasn’t
My company has a relocation policy of not being allowed to transfer until you have worked there at least a year. My coworker and I started working around the same time. Now, eight months into the job, due to family reasons, she applied for a transfer and was given an exception—she is moving to another office. I tried the same thing, in order to be closer to my significant other, and was denied because I have not been here long enough. Would it be out of line to bring up that coworker and question why she was given the exception and I was not? I understand exceptions are exceptions, but this just seems blatantly unfair.
I don’t see any harm in bringing it up. Clearly they do make exceptions to the policy, so it’s reasonable to say, “I understand the policy, but I also understand that there’s some flexibility, as there was for Lucinda recently.” You may learn that they see your coworker’s situation as different from yours, of course, so be prepared for that.
3. Does “we’ll be in touch” mean “you’re not getting the job”?
I recently went on a second interview which lasted about an hour and forty-five minutes. I met with two department heads (the hiring managers), their boss, and that person’s boss, along with his number two person. Overall I thought it went extremely well, but in hindsight I realize that I might have put my foot in my mouth once or twice, though I’m not sure how much of a turn off it was. Once the interview wrapped up, one of the managers escorted me down to the lobby. Before we parted ways, we shook hands and the interviewer said, “We’ll be in touch either way.” My stomach dropped to the floor when I heard that. To me, “We’ll be in touch” usually means “We’re not interested and you probably won’t ever hear from us again.”
You’re reading too much into it. It might mean that, or it might mean nothing at all. It’s not a code phrase. I wouldn’t give that another thought.
4. Following up to reiterate your interest after applying for a job
Just wondering if there is any point in trying to follow up when a job posting specifically states something to the extent of “Due to the volume of applicants, only those selected for interviews will be contacted”? I don’t want to seem obnoxious or appear to be ignoring their instructions, but I also don’t want to miss an opportunity to reaffirm my sincere interest in a position, particularly if it is expected of a good candidate.
They already know you’re interested in the position, because you applied for it and said that you were in your cover letter (right?). It’s certainly not expected that you’ll follow up (unless you’re applying for a sales job, in which case the rules are often different), and it’s generally considered annoying. But if you absolutely must do it, make sure that you do it by email, not by phone.
5. Working with an over-sharer
I’m in the running for a job where I will be working closely with one other person under a supervisor. This other person would be someone who I met in graduate school (we are graduating together) and have taken courses with. I don’t know her that well, but I know her well enough because she is a person who shares. A lot. I am hopeful that this is due to the fact that we were classmates and not coworkers. I am a person who does not share a lot, especially with work colleagues — I want to have a mostly professional relationship with them. Do you have any recommendations for how to build a professional relationship with someone who (a) seems hell-bent on oversharing and who (b) views me more as a classmate then as a teammate? Is there hope for this job? (It is only a year position, so I may risk it anyway.)
You’re getting a little ahead of yourself here, but you’d just need to set boundaries from the start: Model the behavior you’d like to see her display, don’t do anything that would appear encouraging if she does overshare (such as asking questions, etc.), and make it clear that you need to focus on your work, including by explicitly saying it if necessary. Do this all from the start, so that you’re not stuck trying to have to correct her down the road, after the behavior has become entrenched.
And keep in mind that you’ve got more power in these situations than you think you do. It’s actually easier to set boundaries on this kind of thing at work (where you can cite deadlines or a need to concentrate) than in social situations (where you can’t always as easily bow out).
6. Pre-planned vacation when job-hunting
Last week, I applied for a full time administrative assistant job with a local health care services company and I found out yesterday that I have been shortlisted for an interview. I am really excited because this is the job I have been looking for but there is one concern — I have two pre-planned vacations coming up. The first is July 3-9 (I will be attending my cousin’s wedding vow renewal ceremony interstate) and the second is August 4-7 (I have to attend my godson’s christening – which is also interstate). Both of these were booked five months ago. My question is, when do I tell my potential employer about these trips because I don’t want to hurt my chances of getting this job.
Don’t bring this up during the interviewing process. Wait until you get an offer — at which point mention that you have these trips pre-planned and ask if it will still be possible to take them. If not, then you’ll have to decide if you want the job more than the trips, or vice versa. But this is a very normal situation, and it comes up all the time. Your employer won’t think anything of it. (Keep the reasons out of it though; they’re irrelevant, and attending your cousin’s vow renewal isn’t going to sound super urgent to most people).
7. Explaining that you left a job on ethical grounds
How do you explain to an interviewer why you left a job if the reason is that you found out that the business wasn’t managed ethically, so for your own personal morals you left? I’ve been working for a hair salon as a receptionist for six months, but I want to leave it now because I recently learned a number of things about the way the salon runs its business is fraudulent. To name one, the wages of a few of the other employees have been misrepresented on tax forms purposely to abide by state law, when in actuality they aren’t earning those amounts. So morally I don’t feel comfortable associating with such a business. How best would you suggest I explain this at a job interview?
“There were some problems with how they were handling payroll and taxes.” You don’t need to provide more information, and in fact shouldn’t, since you should show that you’re discreet and not someone who’s going to badmouth a former employer.
I wouldn’t get into talking about your morals, because (rightly or wrongly) that’s a good way to make an employer wonder if you’re going to find something to object to there as well.