It’s short answer Saturday — seven short answers to seven short questions. Here we go…
1. Can I tell my former employer that I want to come back?
I worked for an employer a little over 4 years. It was my first job out of college and I was feeling really tied down and restless and wanted to try a new environment, so I switched from a consulting firm to working in an internal corporate role. I’m basically miserable at my new job. I don’t really like any of coworkers and just don’t feel like its a good fit. I liked my old job better and feel like I had a little quarter-life crisis and case of the grass is greener. It’s only been 6 months since I left.
My old employer was really sad to see me leave and valued my work, so I feel like they would consider me if they had an opening. Should I and how do I broach the subject with my old boss? I feel like it would take a lot of courage since I am basically saying I made a huge mistake. And of course I would just ask them to let me know when they hire again (which they do at least once a year, or as people leave).
Sure, you can do that — people do that all the time, and many employers are glad to welcome them back. Just be straightforward with your old boss — say that you’re realizing that you made a mistake, that you’d love to return, and to please let you know if he has a opening that you might be good for.
2. My replacement is still asking me for help, six months after I quit
I left a temp job about 6 months ago. I had been there for 18 months and it became clear that I would never be taken on as a permanent employee (that’s just how the company functions; they were very happy with my work). They became rather dependent on me in the time that I was there and I expanded the duties of the job quite a bit. When I told them I was leaving, they offered me a giant raise, which I declined. I gave two weeks notice. I trained a replacement who left after a week, so I came back and trained another replacement who is still there.
My replacement emails me about 2 or 3 times a month to answer questions that, in my opinion, she should be able to figure out fairly easily. Some of the answers are explicitly stated in my notes. How long do I continue to answer these questions? How do I tactfully get out of this? They are easy questions and I suppose I don’t mind, though I am a bit bitter because she is getting paid a lot more than I was (she started at my giant raise rate). I do really like my boss and he really helped me out by giving me the job as I had been a stay at home mom for many years and was having a hard finding a job in this market. So I want to help him out, but this is getting old.
It’s been six months; that’s about five months too long. The next time she emails you, respond with something like, “I’d check the notes that I left behind; the answer may be in there. I can’t continue to answer questions anymore since it’s been six months since I left, but the notes are pretty detailed. Good luck with everything.” You might also want to email your former boss to nicely let him know that after helping for six months, you’ve decided you can’t reasonably keep doing it — so that he hears it from you, rather than hearing a potentially twisted version from her.
3. The hiring manager I was talking to has left the company
Well, this is odd: nearly a month ago, I did a phone interview for a job with a company I was really excited about. They seemed excited about me, too, and said I would definitely get a call-back. The Director (who gave the interview and would be my boss) said that I would hear from them NO LATER than two weeks later. Never heard from them, even after sending a couple of follow-ups. I wrote it off as one of those inconsiderate Job Search things that companies do and figured that they were moving forward with other candidates. I moved on with my life.
Out of curiosity, I just checked their website, and the job I interviewed for is still up…but so a new listing for the Director (the same guy who gave my interview). They’ve also just spread the news that they just got a brand new CEO. Is this a sign of volatile change? Should I send another followup in case the new boss still wants to hire for my role?
Well, that might be your answer to what happened: If the person you were dealing with left the company, some of the hiring work he was doing probably got lost in the shuffle. I’d email whoever the contact is for the job listing, and explain what happened. As for your worries that things are volatile, that’s something that you can scope out during the course of interviewing and even ask direct questions about — but I wouldn’t assume that a new CEO and a director leaving indicate anything really worrisome.
4. Employer told me that my desired salary was “near the top of our range”
I know you always say not to read too much into what hiring managers say, but I wanted to get your thoughts on this. I recently applied for an admin job at a college. The online application had a mandatory field for salary requirement (I know you hate that, I do too). After doing some research into comparable jobs, I listed $35,000. I was called and asked to come in for an interview (yay!), but while on the phone I was told that that number was “near the top of our range.” Obviously this hasn’t bumped me out of consideration — I did get invited to interview, after all — but how should I respond if they ask me about my salary expectations in the interview? (As a side note, I know that the college has “salary bands,” but I can’t find any details on them to know what the range might be.)
Stick with your original answer. The top of their range doesn’t mean outside their range, and there’s no reason to change your answer unless they directly tell you that’s it’s not a possibility for them.
5. Dealing with an impossible manager
I need advice on how to manage up. My senior manager has these lofty ideas that the team loves him, but in reality he is a terrible manager. He has been our senior mananger for almost a year. He points blame on issues on people and loves to hold people accountable for items, no matter how small. He refuses to look back and see how someone has progressed over many years, and instead thinks the team started from when he took over. Most of the team has been together since before he joined the company and know how to work with each other. He does not like the idea of observing then changing for the better either, but believes one should jump in and handle everything his way. I tend to look forward and be more proactive, while he is very reactive. He does not understand what the team does or why we do it. In the long run, I feel that these differences will prevent me and many of my coworkers from being promoted. (It has already happened twice.) I do not know whether it is time to leave my team or try to work with him to see what is going on.
He’s not going to change, so you need to either resign yourself to dealing with him or look for work somewhere else.
6. Maternity leave when you have unlimited PTO
My company just announced it is moving from a “banked time” (certain number of sick/vacation days per year) to an “unlimited PTO” policy, which allows employees to take “as much PTO as they need” as long as it’s cleared with the manager, though more than 2 consecutive weeks must be cleared with the department head.
Well, I just found out I’m pregnant. Which means I’ll need a whole lot of time off, PTO or otherwise! Under the old policy, employees used sick time to fill the 1-week gap between before FMLA short-term disability kicks in (FMLA provides 6 weeks for maternity). After the 6 weeks of FMLA and 1 week of sick time were up, employees could tack on any remaining sick or vacation time to the 6 weeks. Under the old policy, I would have had about 3 weeks of sick time and 3.5 weeks of vacation time banked…and would probably have a bit more by my due date. So under the old policy I could have theoretically taken 12+ weeks if I wanted to clean out my time bank.
The new policy states only that the company will pay the “gap week” as PTO for those going on short-term disability. And then FMLA kicks in. So my question is…once I break the news about my pregnancy, how much extra PTO should I talk with my manager about taking? I don’t want to be unreasonable and exploit the system, but I also am taking to heart that the new policy is meant to be a perk, not a punishment.
I’d probably tell him that you plan to take the same PTO that would have been available to you under the old system, since that seems reasonable, and much more clear-cut than trying to figure it out otherwise. But if he encourages you to take more, then you can do so without worry.
7. Handbook hell
I work for a small, but ever growing IT consulting firm. I have recently taken on the director of marketing position, but really I am at a stage of fixing issues. Right now, I am knee-deep in our horribly put-together employee handbook. It is extremely vague because we have so many types of employees: internal full-time, internal part-time, consultants, H1B’s, etc… Am I allowed to have more than one handbook? Perhaps one for internal employees and one for our contractors? Benefits are different so that is why I want two separate handbooks.
Sure, you can have different handbooks for different classes of employees. But keep in mind that it’s going to be a pain in the ass to update them all every time you make a change to one that also affects others, so you might want to have one main handbook that covers everything that’s the same for all classes of employees, and then separate addendums for the other stuff.
By the way, when you’re redoing the handbook(s), get rid of whatever unnecessary bureaucracy you can, and write in a casual voice, not the ridiculous corporate-speak they’re usually written in. And here’s a good article on fixing it further.