It’s short answer Saturday — seven short answers to seven short questions. Here we go…
1. Should I put off a job search until my GPA is higher?
I am a biochemistry student in college. My cumulative GPA is a teeny bit lower than a 3.0. This is a sensitive issue for me, because while I did somewhat poorly in the beginning of college, I really worked hard to bring it up. I know by the time I graduate, my goal is to graduate with a higher than 3.0 GPA. But how and when do you address that kind of issue to an employer? A previous professor told me that if I spin it off as a good thing to show my progress, then it would be possible to put that behind me. Because of this I am inclined to put off my job search until I am sure my GPA is high enough. That would mean I have to wait til I graduate to really go out there and find a job/experience. My major questions here are, do I bring this up first or explain if they ask me, and should I wait til after I graduate to look/apply for jobs for the upcoming term?
Don’t put off your job search. First, job searches often take a really long time — months or even a year or more, especially for many new grads. Second, lots of employers aren’t going to ask about your GPA at all, so you’d be putting off your search because of something that isn’t even going to play a role. Start applying for jobs now.
2. When do I mention my perfume allergy?
I have read your post on perfume allergies. I am one of those people who has it severely. I just lost my work-at-home job and now have to look for another. This is severe enough that I stop breathing and paramedics need to be called. This is not limited to perfume but also cleaning products and cigarette smoke. Do I tell the interviewer that I have this problem? Do I wait until I am hired or what is the best avenue?
Wait until you have a job offer, just like you would if you needed any other kind of accommodation. At that point, once they’ve decided that they want to hire you, you’ll be in the strongest position to try to work out an accommodation. Be prepared to make specific suggestions about what would work, since you have more experience with this than they do. Working from home may not be an option, so you’ll want to be ready with other suggestions too.
3. Explaining my most recent job, which I’m not pursuing further
I am about to start a job search, but I am not sure how to address my current position. I have been working at my current company for 3 years, and about a year ago was given a new position as bookkeeper. I am not trained to do anything related to the job and have been struggling for the last year to make it work. I will not be looking for a position as a bookkeeper obviously, but what do I tell interviewers about why I am not pursuing that? They will be able to tell I did not go to school for that (I majored in a social science) and I’m sure will have questions about the job change.
Thank you for any insight you can provide. I will have a good job reference and I am getting the job done, but it has been mostly self-taught and I really think it only works because of the company structure.
I’d list your title for your time at the company this way:
Chocolate Teapot Maker and Bookkeeper — 2010-present
… so that your previous title is included more prominently. From there, if you’re asked about it, you can explain that you took on bookkeeping duties in the last year, but that you’re seeking work in your previous field because that’s where your strengths are.
4. What did this email from an interviewer mean?
I recently got a very odd response when following up with an interviewer. In early November, I got a call for a job in that I applied to back in October. The process moved very fast from there. Initial phone interview that week, conference phone interview the next week (company is based in another state, but I’d be working in my home state), then in-person meeting/presentation with someone else working in my area the week after that. The in-person meeting, which was the day before Thanksgiving, went very well. I followed up about a week later, just asking about the timeline. The hiring manager said no decision had been made, but one would be made “soon.” I know that “soon” is a very relative term and that my definition may be different than his, but everything up to that point seemed like they wanted a decision by the end of the year.
Well, 2 more weeks went by, so I followed up again, asking about their timeline. This is where the odd answer came in. His paraphrased response was, “We’ll be making a decision shortly. Regardless of the outcome, we really liked you and your background and would like to build a relationship with you because we think you’d be a great addition to the company. Aside from the position you applied for there are other opportunities (not full-time) that you could consider as well.” I just responded thanking him for the update and telling him I looked forward to hearing about the position I applied for and the other opportunities.
I honestly have no idea how to take it. My initial thought was I wasn’t going to get the job I wanted with them. I mean, why bring up other opportunities if I am still in the running for the original position. Other friends think the opposite and since they said they really liked me, that it was just a weird way to respond. So I’m curious as to your thoughts on this. Also, should I follow up again after the new year (this last response came around December 10) or just wait to hear something?
You should take it at face value: They like you, and if they end up not hiring you for this job, they’d be interested in talking with you about jobs in the future. That doesn’t mean that you’re not getting this job — you might, you might not. This message doesn’t indicate one way or the other. It means no more and no less than what it said — take it literally.
And since it’s been almost a month, yes, it’s fine to check in again and ask when he’s likely to be making a decision.
5. Why do these applications want my age and photo?
I’ve been out of the workforce for going on three years. I moved due to family circumstances, and now I’m back in my hometown looking for work in a very small pool. As time goes by, I am finding ways to expand my search and came upon two things that alarmed me.
First, for tutoring: I have a masters degree in a related field for a posting I saw on indeed.com, which redirected to care.com. This seems to be a website mostly directed towards parents seeking tutors, and it wants to be a Facebook-LinkedIn hybrid. They ask for your photo, your birth date, your availability. It seems like rather a lot of personal information to be asking for and quite a lot to be giving. It all feels very raw and exposed.
Second, I’m applying for jobs in the health field. They will all require criminal background checks. So why are they asking for my age in the data entry field, and why is it required in order to move forward with my application? If it is an application and I haven’t yet made it to the offer stage, why would they need to know that kind of personal information? I thought that was illegal?
The tutoring jobs are probably asking for that information up-front because they do background checks, since you’d be working with kids.
On the health field jobs, I have no idea why they’re asking about age, unless they’re simply collecting all the info they’d need for a background check now. It’s not illegal to ask your age — it’s only illegal to deny you a job on the basis of your age (if you’re 40 or older). Of course, it’s stupid to ask because it sets off alarm bells for most candidates, like it’s done for you. But lots of applications collect information that would be illegal to consider in hiring (such as race for EEOC reporting), and companies have systems that store that information separately from what’s passed on to the hiring decision-makers.
6. Is travel money separate from salary?
When negotiating an athlete’s contract, is a salary considered different money than a travel budget? If the contract states $X for travel for a year (can only be used for travel), and then an agent gets a percentage of the athlete’s “salary,” but it doesn’t state travel budget, I’m wondering then, is the travel money different income than salary money?
I have no idea how athletes’ contracts are structured, but in general, the salary money and the travel money should be considered separate, and the agent should only get a percentage of the salary portion. But who knows what odd conventions the sports industry may have; they have mystified me for years with their running around and getting all sweaty.
7. Company is paying people slightly less than they’re supposed to
I recently found out that my company isn’t paying people the amount stated in their offer letter due to some weird payroll calculation. Basically, the salary is calculated using 2088 hours, but they’re only paid for 2080 hours. This doesn’t seem to be an issue with hourly employees, but it seems unethical to not pay a salaried employee those extra 8 hours so their pay is what they were told they would be getting. Is this illegal?
Probably. The company can certainly decide to lower people’s pay going forward if they want to, but they’re legally bound to pay the agreed upon salary. Has anyone pointed this out to someone at the company in a position to do something about it? It might be a mistake rather than deliberate malfeasance, and you might be able to get it retroactively corrected.