could this rejection email be a mistake, typos on an employer’s website, and more

by Ask a Manager on July 17, 2013

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It’s wee answer Wednesday — seven short answers to seven short questions. Here we go…

1. Could this rejection email be a mistake?

I have had two interviews for a position at a very large health services nonprofit organization. Both interviews went very well, and ended with meeting the team and the supervisor. After the second interview, which was on a Friday, the interviewer instructed me to call her towards the end of the next week for an update. When I finally got in touch with her, she said that the organization was undergoing a surprise audit the following week and that I should, once again, call her towards the end of that next week. Today, which is the Monday following that phone call, I received an automated, form rejection email from the organization.

I have read much of your archives section and I understand that one does not have a job until an offer is in hand, but it seems strange to me that an interviewer would encourage me to continue to follow up, only to have HR send me a rejection 2 business days later. Is it worth trying to follow up with the interviewer? I know this sounds ridiculous, but are form rejection emails ever sent out by mistake (say, to the entire list of applicants for the position, without removing the pool of candidates who have been interviewed and are still being considered)?

Occasionally, sure. But it’s more likely the the email was correct — it’s entirely plausible that you were given a genuine, sincere “we’re still deciding” on Friday, only to receive a rejection on Monday. It doesn’t usually take days to decide; the delay is generally about finishing interviews or making the time to sit down and compare candidates. Once you do that, you can make a decision very quickly, which is why it’s perfectly reasonable that she could have no answer for you one day and a rejection the next.

That said, if you want to be certain, you can email her to let her know that you received the rejection but want to thank her for the time she spent talking with you and that you wish her the best in the search. If for some reason the email was a mistake, that will alert her.

2. Should I point out typos on a company’s website when applying for a job with them?

I’m interviewing with a company soon and I was just looking at their website. I found quite a few typos. Should I tell them? Of course not on the first interview, but should I mention something, or is that too risky? I think they could be losing business if there are errors on their page; it makes them look unprofessional.

Also, recently I interviewed with a company whose address was marked at the wrong spot on Google Maps. It took me a while to find it (good thing I left home early), and when I got there, the interviewer told me that people always have trouble finding the place because of the error on Google Maps. After the interview, along with my thank you note, I sent a printout of how to fix that, with a quick note saying: “Not sure you’ve tried this, but if the Google error bothers you, this is how to fix it, it should be pretty simple.” On a side note, I’ve worked for Google and we discussed that in the interview, so I didn’t think it would be too obnoxious. But since I never heard back from them, I wonder if that hurt my chances.

I don’t want to sound like a “know-it-all,” which I’m not, I’m actually pretty quiet and more on the reserved side, but I catch on these little details that are an easy fix and it drives me crazy not to say anything.

It depends on how you do it. There’s a longer discussion of this here, but basically, it can go over well or it can go over poorly, depending on your framing. If you don’t get the tone right, it can backfire on you. I would think your tip on fixing Google Maps would have been really appreciated though, at least at the right company.

3. Explaining why I’m not using my last and best job as a reference

I was hired on a short-term contract of 6 months. For various reasons including being requested to engage in fraud by my supervisor, un-stimulating work, and low pay, I was not interested in extending my contract, nor had I received an offer to extend it by my employer.

A week before my last day my supervisor scheduled me to attend a meeting a month later. When I pointed out that my contract was to terminate in a few days and that I was not going to extend it, she called me into a meeting with HR staff, who tried to threaten me into extending the contract by saying that they would ruin my professional reputation if I did not extend my contract (amongst other nasty threats and accusations). Basically, I cannot ask them for a reference.

The problem is that they are by far my most relevant work experience and a major gem on my CV for the jobs I am currently applying for. I learned a lot of useful skills that I want to point out in future applications. However, how do I explain to potential employees why I am not using them as a reference? How do I explain the situation I had with them without coming across as trash-talking my past employer? I asume that I was doing a good job at my previous work place since they were so eager to keep me (only they tried making me stay by using a whip rather than carrots), so how would you suggest I try to bring that forward?

“They became angry when I declined their offer to extend my contract, and unfortunately it soured the relationship.”

You might also follow the advice here on what to do when a previous employer will give you a bad reference, in case a prospective employer calls them anyway.

4. When a job is posted by multiple recruiting agencies

I applied for a job a while back at a major employer through their website. I am now seeing the same job posted by a decent amount of agencies. Do the agencies have an agreement with this company or are they hoping to find a candidate and present that person to the company hoping to get a contract with them?

Could be either — no real way of knowing unless you talk to the agency, at which point you can ask whether they’re working on contract with the company.

5. Changing my desired salary range after learning more about a job

I recently found a job posting on Craigslist. It was pretty vague, and didn’t even really give a title, but it sounded like something I could do, so I applied. They also asked for salary history. Instead of that, I followed your advice and sent them the range I was looking for. They called me and talked to me a bit more about the position, and when I learned the details and title, I really feel like I low-balled myself (it’s a director level position). If I were to get an offer, is there anyway I could negotiate a higher salary than I stated? I don’t want to look like I wasn’t being honest, but I really think the responsibilities deserve more money than I originally stated.

You can certainly say something like, “After learning more about the job’s responsibilities, I think a salary of $X is fair and in keeping with the market.” You’re at somewhat of a disadvantage because employers tend to think of salary numbers as what you’re willing to live on, rather than what you’d need to perform a specific job at a specific level, and they already have your “what I’m willing to live on” number. But you can absolutely try, and might be able to get more.

6. Asking for a raise when my company isn’t giving them this year

I have an annual performance review coming up this week after a year at my company. About nine months ago, there was a large round of layoffs, and my role was expanded to cover two campuses, effectively doubling my area of responsibility. All the other employees with my job description manage one campus. Each of my quarterly reviews has been glowing, and I’ve implemented several new programs that have been incredibly successful.

That being said, it’s widely known that any sort of substantial raise will be off the table for this year no matter how good an employee’s performance has been due to the company’s position. We’ve received emails asking us what sort of thing incentives us, with options ranging from company merchandise to professional development opportunities.

Knowing all this, should I ask for a raise? If there’s no chance for a raise at all, is it reasonable to ask for the company to fund a trip to an industry conference or something similar? I love my work, but I do feel like over the last year my position has changed enough to justify something in terms of compensation.

If you can make the case that you’ve made significant contributions and performed at a significantly higher level than what’s generally expected in your role (and it sounds like you can), then yes, ask for a raise. You may or may not get it, but exceptions are sometimes made to across-the-board raise policies for exceptional employees, and it’s absolutely reasonable to argue that your work deserves it.

And yes, if you can’t get it, then certainly ask for the conference trip.

7. Explaining why my summer job is ending due to political unrest

My question is how to deal with the fact that my summer job in a foreign country (running the summer season of an artist residency) has been dramatically effected and by course basically ended due to political unrest in the country. I am in Istanbul, and with the protests earlier this summer, several resident artists slated to come for the summer have changed their plans. With few artists coming to the residency there is not the same need for a residency coordinator (me) to be here. I need to find another job ASAP (preferably one in a country with less civil unrest).

I am now starting to look for jobs earlier than anticipated, and I will not have a chance to fulfill some of the other projects affliated with this position (such as creating a guide book, and assisting in the production of several small exhibitions). Should I mention this in my cover letter, and on my resume (position terminated due to political unrest sounds a bit dramatic) or should I refrain from putting the job on my resume. if so how do I explain why I am currently in Istanbul and only contactable thru email or skype?

Yes, include it, and briefly explain why you’re leaving early in your cover letter. People will find it interesting, and it will give them something to talk about with you.

{ 75 comments… read them below or add one }

MR July 17, 2013 at 12:22 am

Here is the thing I’ve noticed about No. 2 lately: I see typos ALL of the time with job ads. Well over 50 percent have misspellings or obvious grammatical errors. I’m certainly no grammar Nazi or anything, but it is really difficult for me to take a potential employer seriously if they can’t get the basics correct. If they are going to hold me, as a jobseeker, to such a high standard – then I’m going to do the same to employers.

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B July 17, 2013 at 10:46 am

Not related to the topic of typos but I do not think anyone should be using the word Nazi when describing grammar or anything related to this site. Unless we are specifically talking about the atrocities that occurred it looks poorly upon you. As you say you cannot take a company seriously with typos, many people cannot take someone seriously who seems to make light of what the Nazi’s stood for.

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Laura July 17, 2013 at 2:22 pm

B, there was a time when I would disagree with you, but not anymore. My company has an office in Germany, so this is something I’m rather hyper-sensitive about.

When my daughter was about 18 months old I started making her pick up her toys every night before bedtime, and my husband started calling me the “Toy Nazi.” After awhile I told him he had to stop using that word, and when he asked why, I said, “Because I work with a lot of people from Germany, and I’m so afraid that word is going to pop out of my mouth during a conference call or something. I’m not sure what would happen if I used that word in the presence of someone from Germany, but I’m pretty sure it would involve HR.” He saw my point and stopped saying that word.

I also used to say “drink the Kool-Aid” quite a bit, and then watched a documentary on the 30th anniversary of the Jonestown massacre. It reminded me where that expression came from, and how horrible it was, and so I quit saying that too. I was about 10 when that happened, and it’s the first big news story I remember that stopped everyone in their tracks.

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B July 17, 2013 at 4:43 pm

Agreed and you just never know who is there when things are said. Perhaps a holocaust survivor is around when it is said or that of a child of one. One never knows what lays beneath the surface by saying a word that has that type of connotation. If it is not meant as something good, best not to say it.

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Ruffingit July 17, 2013 at 9:21 pm

I agree that it’s not a word one should throw around lightly as a descriptor. That said, I just asked the question of my boyfriend who is from Germany. He said that in Germany, Nazi is not a word that people use because of its connotations with the horror of World War II. However, he said that it’s understood that Americans use the word often to mean someone who is overly strict about something (grammar Nazi for example) and thus in general, German people aren’t going to think you’re a jerk for using it in such a context.

All of that said, I still agree that it’s best to just use a different word.

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Laura July 18, 2013 at 3:45 pm

Ruffingit, that’s interesting and something I’ve always wondered about. I am good friends with many of my German colleagues, but it’s not really something you can just bring up out of the blue, as if you’re commenting on the weather.

I’ve also wondered what German children learn in school about World War II. Some parts of American history are pretty unsavory, such as the way Native Americans were treated, slavery, and the internment of Japanese people during WWII. But no one really talks about that stuff, and it’s kind of glossed over in history textbooks, so kids don’t really learn about those things. My 15 year old stepdaughter was thrilled to be able to choose the history class she wanted to take for her freshman year of high school, because according to her all she learned about until 8th grade was the American Revolution and the Civil War. So that’s why I’ve wondered about that. Most of the Germans I know are very forthright and just put it all out there, so I would think that sensibility would trickle down to the school system. But again — not something I feel like I could just randomly ask about.

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Vicki July 18, 2013 at 3:13 am

This letter was about typos on the website, not typos in the ad.

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Rana July 17, 2013 at 12:43 am

#2 – Speaking as an editor, who you would think would be expected to notice such mistakes and comment on them, I’ve found that it almost never goes well if you correct people unsolicited.

Something like what you did with the Google maps error, on the other hand, works, because you’ve established a relationship with the other party, and they pointed out the problem, not you.

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Jessa July 17, 2013 at 1:03 am

I agree, I’d leave off on the typos unless they’re screamingly obvious on the main website or something hugely egregious (they spell out a rude word by accident or make the meaning of something really inaccurate.) The Google Maps thing I’d absolutely do. Because if their applicants can’t find them, neither can their customers.

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Lore July 17, 2013 at 6:45 am

I had an interview once where one of the main functions was preparing a major piece of promotional material twice a year. I’d picked up a copy of the current one and it was riddled with errors. During the interview it became clear that in the time the job had been empty, that had been handled by a group, so no one had final oversight. Anyway, the interviewer asked if I’d seen it and if I had any comments… so I pulled out my copy which of course by force of habit I’d copy edited and it was full of markup. She seemed impressed and taken aback at the same time. The job ended up going to an internal candidate–and was a reach for me in the first place–but I still wonder if I handled that correctly.

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Julie July 17, 2013 at 9:54 am

I don’t see anything wrong with that, but perhaps she was embarrassed that there were so many errors. If that situation happens again, maybe you could tell the person that you noticed some typos and that you could take a closer look at it if she’d like. Disclaimer: I would have done exactly what you did, but I can’t prevent myself from editing (at least mentally), so I might not be the best person to give advice to other people on this subject. (And now I’m hyper-aware of my own posts here because it would be really embarrassing to “out” myself as a perfectionist on grammar, usage, and punctuation and get something wrong!) :P

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Elizabeth West July 17, 2013 at 11:35 am

Don’t feel bad…I headit all the time. I was sitting here going through a company training presentation and silently rewriting sentences.

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Ruffingit July 17, 2013 at 9:25 pm

I do the same thing. I’ve worked previously as a reporter and a copy editor. On that note, and not to disparage AAM (really, because I love this site), but there are often errors in the letters she is answering and sometimes in her answers and I always notice it. It doesn’t bother me per se, but I see it and I always “headit.” My new favorite word, thanks Elizabeth.

And let me be clear here that this is not a slam against Alison because if I had to produce all the copy she does on a daily basis, I know I’d have errors too. Hell, I have them in MY posts often enough. :)

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Rana July 17, 2013 at 5:34 pm

Ah, Muphry’s Law. It’s bitten me more than once.

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Felicia July 17, 2013 at 10:37 am

I think since she asked for suggestions it was ok, it would have been different if she didnt ask. Maybe next time you could be a little less specific e.g. you noticed a lot of typos, instead of showing her all the red, but if you didn’t mention the errors at all that’d be lying about what you thought of it.

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Chinook July 17, 2013 at 8:36 am

Speaking of the google maps error – how do you fix it? I worked for one place that the map put on the wrong side of a highway, and I am sure this info would be quite valuable.

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Brett July 17, 2013 at 9:44 am

The best way to fix it is to take ownership of the business entry on Google Places for Business.
https://www.google.com/business/placesforbusiness/
That will allow you to edit and lock the entire business profile, as well as edit the location of the business. The verification process takes a few days, but is worth it.

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Lauren July 17, 2013 at 10:17 am

Brett’s idea is the best. Claim the biz and move the little pin to the correct side. If you don’t work there anymore, search for directions, on the left side you will see the step by step directions. At the bottom, it says ‘report a problem’. You can then say what the problem is, choose which line item is the problem and state that its on the wrong side of the highway. Do not claim the listing unless you want it attached to your gmail account for the foreseeable future.

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Rana July 17, 2013 at 5:37 pm

I had to do that for my home address, too, using the correction option in the pop-up bubble that shows up in Map View. It helps to be persistent, and if you can show them an image from Street View that includes the proper address, that helps.

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PEBCAK July 17, 2013 at 1:05 am

#1 Also possible that the hiring manager was passing the buck and didn’t want to reject you over the phone. It’s a little weak, but if you were calling her (as opposed to her having called you and been prepared for the convo), a “call me back later” could mean she already knew and didn’t want to say anything.

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Ask a Manager July 17, 2013 at 9:18 am

That’s possible too. But it’s equally possible that the decision hadn’t been made then. There’s just no way to know.

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OP #1 July 17, 2013 at 4:48 pm

I think either explanation is plausible, but given the situation, AAM’s take makes more sense. The interviewer didn’t ask to be called back when reached over the phone; She specifically asked me to call her to check-in the following week. Asking a candidate to call you for an update, knowing that you would potentially have bad news to deliver, but would not want to deliver said bad news over the phone, seems a bit counterintuitive.

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Lily in NYC July 17, 2013 at 9:19 am

That is exactly what I think happened. One of our HR reps does it to candidates all the time becuase she’s too chicken to tell them on the phone.

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Ask a Manager July 17, 2013 at 9:22 am

I actually think that’s legitimate. When telling people on the phone, many people want to debate the decision / get upset / etc. I have no objection to what your HR rep does there, as long as rejections are being sent out in a timely way.

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Lily in NYC July 17, 2013 at 9:57 am

Oh, I wasn’t maligning her – she jokes about being a “cowardly chicken” but she’s very good at her job.

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Ask a Manager July 17, 2013 at 9:58 am

Got it! People DO align HR people for doing that, and I always think it’s unfair to do so!

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BausLady July 17, 2013 at 10:10 am

I’m in HR, and my tiny hourly wage is not nearly high enough to subject myself to over-the-phone turn down conversations. I have a lovely email template that I send to each candidate that is not hired within 2 days of whatever event was the deciding factor.

Before I talked my HR Manager into allowing turn-down emails, I was subjected to a battery of angry, swearing candidates when they found out they weren’t getting the job via a phone call.

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Lisa July 17, 2013 at 10:22 am

I personally hated it when people would show up everyday asking if they could start then since they were available and I reposted the job. Ugh drivers, I get that people need work, but you have to realize after the 5th time that ‘no, means no’. I eventually started saying you need at least 1 previous driving job to be considered, and bring a copy of your driving record to the interview. We were pretty ok with past criminal records as long as it was non-violent and no DUIs.

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Cat July 17, 2013 at 10:49 am

Honestly, I’d rather be rejected by e-mail than by phone anyway. Nothing like having to instantly compose a polite and pleasant response to disappointment.

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Elizabeth West July 17, 2013 at 11:37 am

Me too. It’s just too awkward.

Calla July 17, 2013 at 12:06 pm

Seriously.

One of the VPs I support recently went through hiring a new position. There were two candidates and he wanted me to email the candidate who didn’t get it *to set a phone call in which he would tell her she didn’t get it.* I wanted to go “are you crazy??” but instead I just said, “You know, I really think that has the potential to be awkward and most people would just prefer a polite email.” By all means, since you’re acquainted with the candidate and it’s a higher level position, send a personalized email and not a form one, but still don’t call.

Felicia July 17, 2013 at 12:36 pm

I actually got an email like that once – it was from the hiring manager telling me to call him, so i got my hopes up and called, and then it was him rejecting me. I have also gotten rejected on my voicemail before. I prefer email rejections because if i’m going to be upset about it i dont want people to hear me over the phone being upset. Though most common kind of rejection after interviews is never hearing from them again, so at least they let me know.

tcookson July 17, 2013 at 1:03 pm

Me, too. The dean’s assistant had me call back a few rejected candidates on her behalf one time, and she wanted me to call them up and tell them, unsolicited, not only that they didn’t get the job, but also WHY they didn’t get the job. One was because references had not been positive; I don’t remember what the other ones were. I decided not to go into the “why” part unless one of them asked me, and then I would just be general, since I wasn’t involved in the hiring whatsoever and it was probably already weird enough to be hearing from me.

Rana July 17, 2013 at 5:38 pm

Agreed. Plus I’m a visual person, so text – which I can read again later – is more “real” to me than something said over the phone or in person.

Ruffingit July 17, 2013 at 9:30 pm

+100

Ruffingit July 17, 2013 at 9:28 pm

That is horrible. Job applicants – take the rejection with dignity. Swearing and anger will get you nowhere and only blacklist you for every possible job opening that company ever has and possibly at other places too because you never know who the HR person knows within the industry you want to work in.

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Ruffingit July 17, 2013 at 9:32 pm

tcookson,

I think I’d appreciate knowing why I didn’t get a job. That would be valuable feedback that might be helpful in the search. However, not everyone would appreciate it and it could open up the employer to discrimination issues depending on the reason so it may be better to say nothing.

OP #2 July 17, 2013 at 1:10 am

Thanks for answering my question. I still haven’t heard from the company with the Google maps error, it’s been almost 3 weeks, so I am assuming I’m out of the run. Not sure if that interfered or not, but I’m thinking it was very rude of them to never even bother sending a rejection email. The Google maps error is still there too, I just checked… lol

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Lily in NYC July 17, 2013 at 9:54 am

I can understand not hearing anything from a company if you aren’t going to get an interview, but never hearing back AFTER an interview is so unprofessional. I hate that it’s so common.

I think in most cases it’s not a good idea to bring a mistake to a potential employer’s attention, but in your situation it made perfect sense to do exactly what you did.

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Felicia July 17, 2013 at 11:10 am

That sucks – I had 3 interviews in a week a month ago, and then after the interviews I never heard from them again. I think it’s very rude that they didnt get back to you, though it’s not necessarily about the Google Maps thing.

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dejavu2 July 17, 2013 at 11:28 am

I had a period of time in my job hunt where I didn’t get a rejection letter from anyone I’d interviewed with… but did get a rejection letter from a place I had not applied. Demoralizing, to say the least.

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Elizabeth West July 17, 2013 at 11:38 am

0_0
How does that even HAPPEN??

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Lily in NYC July 17, 2013 at 12:51 pm

dejavu, this has completely tickled me beyond reason. It’s just so crazy I can’t help but laugh.

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tcookson July 17, 2013 at 1:05 pm

Me, too . . . it’s demoralizing enough to not hear back from companies you’ve interviewed with, but then to get an unsolicited rejection from left field during the process? Too much! 0_0

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Chocolate Teapot July 17, 2013 at 1:43 am

4. I once applied for a job through a recruitment agency and was rejected by the company (since they decided to interview me for a completely different role and wondered why I seemed surprised that most of my preparation was useless).

Shortly afterwards, I was going through job advertisements and found similar sounding roles through other recruiters. So I sent a CV, I was called as they were interested, and lo and behold, it turned out to be exactly the same job!

It could be that the company is trying to widen the pool of candidates.

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Vicki July 18, 2013 at 3:15 am

“4. When a job is posted by multiple recruiting agencies”

This happens a LOT. The job may or may not also be posted on the company’s website. There’s nothing unusual about it.

It’s a lot like having multiple realtors showing a house.

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Brightwanderer July 17, 2013 at 5:02 am

Weirdly, I actually have been on the receiving end of a blanket rejection sent to all candidates. It was followed some time later (long enough that I wonder if a candidate alerted them) by a panicked communication saying that it was a mistake and to ignore it, as they’d send the real rejections later – sadly for me, I was still on the ‘real’ rejections list. I think following up like that is a good move – it alerts them if there is a problem, and is general good manners if there isn’t.

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Brightwanderer July 17, 2013 at 5:03 am

“following up like that” = following up the way Alison suggests.

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plain jane July 17, 2013 at 8:14 am

#6 – while raises might be frozen, salary adjustments for promotions are often still available. You might be able to argue that your increased responsibilities and achievements are the results of a de facto promotion. And if that doesn’t fly, look at the fiscal year for your organization – can you ask for a salary adjustment to kick in at the beginning of the fiscal?

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Meredith July 17, 2013 at 10:29 am

I was going to say something similar. I work at a public university that hasn’t had the budget for merit-based raises in years. The only way to get a “raise” is to go through a title change. In my position, a title change entails demonstrating that I have taken on more responsibilities that fall within the scope of the title a level above my current one. A couple of years back, I changed titles from the entry-level “Associate Outreach Specialist” to “Outreach Specialist,” and received a modest pay bump.

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Anon July 17, 2013 at 9:07 am

I’m in a similar position to OP #6 (also in higher ed), so I understand how frustrating and discouraging that is. My boss actually suggested professional ddevelopment when it was painfully obvious that my raise wouldn’t match my achievements this year. I’m still getting useful opportunities, so I plan to stay (and told him that), but also said no benefit to being a top performer isn’t going to fly long term. PD comes from a different pot than raises, so that’s realistic, where the reasonable but not happening raise I wanted isn’t.

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Anonicorn July 17, 2013 at 9:37 am

#6, if you absolutely can’t get a raise, maybe you could ask for extra vacation, flex time, chances to work from home, etc.

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Liz in the City July 17, 2013 at 10:38 am

#6 I like this idea … that is if you don’t want that sweet, sweet company merchandise! (Seriously, aside from a company like Zappos or DSW, why would I want company-branded stuff instead of cold, hard cash!?)

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tcookson July 17, 2013 at 1:09 pm

**Will work for chocolate teapots**

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Chinook July 17, 2013 at 2:22 pm

Heck, I would be willing to work for the leftovers from when the teapots are being molded.

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ali July 17, 2013 at 9:56 am

#1 – after I had accepted my last job and about 3 days after I’d started working there (it was all a very quick process because they were desperate to get someone in the position), I got the standard rejection email from the HR system for the job. I showed my boss, who just laughed and said she’d mention it to HR. But I was already hired and working at the point that I received it, so it was pretty easy for me to deal with. But accidents do happen, so I think it is worth checking on.

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O.P. # 3 July 17, 2013 at 10:58 am

Thank you for posting an answer to my question.

Follow up question:
At what stage should I address this issue?

Should I pre-empt a bad reference by asking in the interview whether or not they will contact other references than those in the list provided by me? And if they say yes, explain the situation with the line you recommend? The risk here is that I would bring up something negative in the interview unecessarily, when the interviewer might not have had any intention of calling my “bad” boss.

Or (since few interviewers check references beyond those provided) should I not mention it at all until / if brought up later? The risk with this option is that I might not get the chance to “defend” myself and that they simply disregard me as a candidate if they hear a devestating reference from my old boss.

In short, when is the best time to bring this up?

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Ask a Manager July 17, 2013 at 12:20 pm

I’d wait until it’s brought up — just playing the odds there since the majority won’t contact someone not on your list.

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Ask a Manager July 17, 2013 at 12:20 pm

I’d also follow the advice in the linked post, in case they do anyway. (Talking to your former employer.)

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OP #6 July 17, 2013 at 11:20 am

Thanks everyone for your advice! Unfortunately, the way my company works I won’t be able to negotiate a title change – I already had that conversation with my supervisor a while after I took on the additional responsibility. Basically, there are “Local Teapot Makers” and “Regional Teapot Makers,” and unless a regional spot opens up there isn’t a lot of leeway there for a title/salary change.

I do love my job/department and my manager is great about listening to my goals and giving me plenty of opportunities to grow professionally, so it’s not like this is a deal breaker for me. I’ll probably explore the professional development angle, since this is something that my department has used as a reward for high performers in the past.

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TBoT July 17, 2013 at 11:38 am

I 100 percent agree with Alison’s advice in #2 and the linked post on the subject (which I’m sad I missed when it originally went up)!

As an editor who hires editors, I urge caution as well. I’ve seen people phrase this really, really badly, as in “If I worked there, for example, you wouldn’t have typo X on your homepage/in your listing right now.” Like Alison, I’ve also had applicants note errors that weren’t actual errors.

Of all the times job applicants have pointed out errors, I can’t think of a single one when it was both a real error and the applicant pointed it out in a way that didn’t come off as arrogant or overconfident. (Plus, applicants don’t really have any way of knowing who made the error they’re pointing out, so it’s possible that, even if they are right, they’re kicking off the application process by embarrassing the person doing the hiring.)

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tcookson July 17, 2013 at 1:13 pm

(which I’m sad I missed when it originally went up)!

Maybe Alison could use this one as a candidate for Flashback Friday?

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Elizabeth West July 17, 2013 at 11:42 am

#2–typos on company website

Companies really need to have oversight on this. While most people can dismiss an occasional typo (they happen to everyone), sloppy promotional materials or postings give a lousy overall impression.

Sometimes it’s even a problem with the boss–I had an interview last year with a company whose website copy was horrendous. Repetition, poor grammar, unclear statements. The interview was going pretty well, so I took a chance and gently brought it up. The interviewer told me yes, it set her teeth on edge too, but the boss thought it was awesome, wrote most of the copy himself, wouldn’t listen to Marketing, etc. I wasn’t offered the job, but by then, I had decided I didn’t want it.

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Ed July 17, 2013 at 12:05 pm

For #4, I use to get this all the time when I was actively looking for contracts. In my experience, it usually means the company opens the contract to all staffing companies. Since the quality of staffing companies varies widely, I would be careful who you apply through. Once you sign that contract, you’re locked in to using that company for this position. If it is open to anyone, you might even want to call one of the larger, more reputable agencies and ask if they are submitting candidates for this position. I wouldn’t make a blanket statement to not apply for those jobs but i would be very careful because they tend to attract the kind of staffing company that only cares about their one-time fee. I prefer to work with agencies that have built relationships over the years with their customers.

I used to laugh when I recruiter would call me and say they had an exclusive position with one of their top customers. I immediately started asking specific questions about the company and/or job and they could never answer any of them. It always turned out they had never placed any candidates there so they couldn’t let me speak to a current contractor or tell me the conversion rate (how many contracts actually convert to full-time which is often very low), they didn’t know the hiring manager and they couldn’t speak about culture issues like dress code and hours worked. They would just put me off and repeat the same thing over and over: “I’m going to send you an email stating the job, location and rate. Reply to the email saying you agree to the rate and we represent you.”

So many of these calls were from Indian recruiters that I sighed every time I answered the phone and heard a strong accent. I just knew that call would be a waste of my time. They would also routinely call me after 6 PM if a new job was released because they wanted to beat their competition. Anytime I got a late call I knew I would get literally a dozen more for the same job the next day. And the jobs were often 400-500 miles away, sometimes on the opposite coast. Like I would use some fly-by-night recruiter to uproot my entire life for a job they know nothing about.

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OP #5 July 17, 2013 at 3:36 pm

Thanks for answering my question. I understand what you mean that they look at the salary range I gave them as to what I’d be ok living on, as opposed to what the job should pay. It just sucks that they did it without giving a title or full list of responsibilities. But who knows if I’ll get an offer at all, so no sense in putting the cart before the horse. If it did come up though, at least now I have a strategy.

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AB July 17, 2013 at 5:29 pm

OP #5: AAM is right on what she said about you being at a bit of disadvantage, but definitely try to negotiate if you get an offer. I think you have a reasonable chance of getting more money.

I believe it’s quite possible to change the conversation away from “the salary you are willing to live on” argument. The salary I’m willing to live on is half my current salary (because I’d still be earning enough to live comfortably and travel internationally on vacation twice a year, which is my top priority). However, there is a range around twice that salary level that I negotiate from. There were times when I came back and asked for more after early salary conversations, when I learned more about the level of responsibility or inconvenience the job entailed (e.g., biweekly calls at 9 or 10pm to accommodate the Asian team).

Sometimes asking for more worked, sometimes it didn’t (and then I would decide whether or not the job was still worth it), but every time this happened, HR was not annoyed by my request (the hiring manager wasn’t directly involved in salary negotiation in these cases).

Just check the link below for a great tip from a previous AAM post, and be prepared to negotiate. Good luck :-).

http://www.askamanager.org/2012/07/what-to-say-when-you-negotiate-salary.html

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Twentymilehike July 17, 2013 at 3:48 pm

#1: I recently was interviewing for a job. After two interviews I had a contact within the company that was basically told that I was being hired already (unofficially) and I had two interviews that went really well. The day the hiring manger was making her decision I received a form rejection letter. I was so bummed!

The next day I got a call offering me the job!

It turned out that they were hiring two people for the same title and already filled one of the positions. The rejection letter was sent to me automatically because I was applying for the same position, just under a different manager.

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OP #1 July 17, 2013 at 4:53 pm

I think mine is a similar situation.

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Jaimi July 17, 2013 at 4:36 pm

When I was hired by my current employer, I got a call with an offer an offer on Fri afternoon, and a rejection letter on Monday. The rejection letter was a form letter sent to all candidates. I called and they were easily able to reassure me that the job was still mine and HR had made a mistake. So honestly – just call.

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Ask a Manager July 17, 2013 at 4:49 pm

But don’t call — email.

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OP #1 July 17, 2013 at 4:51 pm

Thank you so much for your help! It turns out that the email was, in fact, some sort of mistake: When I spoke to the interviewer she was very confused about why anything like that was sent. I haven’t received an offer but, as it stands now, I didn’t NOT get the job! Thanks, again, AAM (and commenters!) for all of your wonderful advice!

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Ask a Manager July 17, 2013 at 4:59 pm

Oh, that’s great!

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ChristineSW July 18, 2013 at 11:42 am

I’ve been wondering how it turned out…so glad there’s still a chance!

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Ruffingit July 17, 2013 at 9:12 pm

#6: We’ve received emails asking us what sort of thing incentives us, with options ranging from company merchandise to professional development opportunities.

Companies, please stop offering company merchandise as an incentive. No, that “awesome” water bottle is not compensation for not getting a raise this year. Professional development opportunities on the other hand are appropriate.

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op #7 July 19, 2013 at 12:28 pm

Thank you for answering my question! I hope to hear back from potential employers and will continue to post the summer job on my resume and mention it in future cover letters.

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