do companies keep do-not-hire lists, I don’t have any work to do, and more

by Alison Green on September 30, 2013

It’s seven short answers to seven short questions. Here we go…

1. Do companies keep “do not hire” lists?

Do companies maintain a no hire list and is it legal to do? I asked because I applied to two positions with this company that are an exact fit for me. In addition, I know the hiring manager of the department. Unfortunately, I was never contacted. There is an employee at this company who I worked with for 11 years at a previous company. Before she was laid off from the company, she and I had a little disagreement. Could she have contacted personnel and besmirched my reputation?

Some do, most don’t (but most do know of candidates they’ll never hire, just without keeping them in a centralized list somewhere). And yes, such a list would be perfectly legal.

It’s possible that your former coworker has blacklisted you, but it’s more likely that you simply didn’t get contact for the same reason that the majority of job seekers don’t hear back from a single given company — they have tons of qualified candidate and are only going to interview a few of them.

2. Manager is asking me to find work to do — but there isn’t any

I’ve been in my current job at a university for about 13 years. Initially it was busy, as we were building a new program from scratch, but after a few years, I calmed down, and then eventually, other centralized departments started offering the same services that I provided. For the past few years, I have had nothing to do. Literally nothing. Last year my position was RIF-ed to half time due to underutilization. Before it happened my boss asked me to “come up with other things I could do for the department”. I’ve been re-educating the last 4 years, and have new skills, but none of them translate to this job. I had nothing to offer. I have a new boss, and I asked to meet with her to see if she had any ideas of what I might be able to do, and got the same thing – “come up with some ideas”. I thought of a few things, but they are so far from anything I know how to do or that I could get caught up on, I feel like I’d be setting myself up for failure.

Is it normal for managers to ask people to “think of something to do”? All of the responsibilities in my job description have been taken from me by other departments. I don’t think it’s right that I’m expected to come up with new things on my own. I’ve been trying to find other work for a long time, and I get no callbacks. Both in my old skillset, and my new one. The depression that this job causes affects my education and the rest of my life and it feels like I’m on the cusp of falling down a hole of unemployment and permanent homelessness. (I’m filing bankruptcy because at half time, this job doesn’t pay enough to pay my mortgage) I don’t know if I should quit and go work in food service to get out of the bad situation, or if I’d just be jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire.

It’s not unheard of for a manager to ask an employee to figure out how their time can best be used, but the bigger point here is the one you’ve already come to on your own: You need to be looking for other work, because this position might not be around much longer if the work is no longer needed. I wouldn’t quit with nothing lined up though — both because of the income and because it’s often easier to find work when you’re already employed. There’s no point in leaving prematurely just because you know the job is likely to go away at some point. Plus, if/when it does, it will be a layoff, which means you should be able to collect unemployment benefits (which you can’t if you quit).

So stay there but keep job searching, and do it as actively as you can. I don’t know what your resume and cover letters are like, but if you’re not getting interviews, it would be worth taking a look at the advice here and seeing it if helps. Good luck!

3. Was my boss hinting I can take extra vacation days off the books?

I’m in my first real professional job and recently accepted a new position at my company in a different department. I was previously part-time, so I now get paid vacation days, but it’s a very slim amount. The other day, when my new boss was telling me she would be out of the office the next day, she asked if I would be in. I said, “Of course,” and she replied that she is very bad with keeping track of days out. I kind of nervously laughed and she said, “Seriously, I am.”

Was she implying that I can take off more days than technically allowed? I’m not trying to pull one over on my company and would finish all my work in the same way I would if I took an official day off. Also, since this is my first real job, I don’t understand much about how PTO works. The man previously in my position is at a new company, but I do know him so would it be inappropriate to ask him how flexible my new boss is on this policy?

Assume that there’s no flexibility on PTO unless you’re told that there is. It would be pretty unusual for for your boss to hint to you that you can take extra vacation days beyond what’s in your benefits package rather than just coming out and telling you that’s the case. So no, I wouldn’t assume that she was hinting at that at all, and I wouldn’t contact your predecessor to ask about it, since you risk that getting back to your boss and looking bad. Assume the number of vacation days you were told you have is in fact the number you can take.

4. Can I ask to do a second interview by Skype rather than traveling again?

I am writing you because I need your expertise! I am currently interviewing for a position that is in another city (five hours away). I had my phone interview with the HR manager, and then she invited me for a second interview. I took off of work and traveled to the city where I would be interviewing the day before so that I would be prepared for the next day ( the interview was 8:30 am). The HR manager sent me an email the day before the interview to let me know that two of the panelist were unable to make it and that she and another manager still would like to interview with me. However, I would need to come back and interview with the other members of the panel (there was no way around this).

Would I be wrong to ask if they can do a Skype interview with me for that second interview? I do not want to keep going back and forth. I spent a lot of money for gas, food, and hotel that I’m not getting reimbursed for.

Sure, you can ask that, and it’s not an unreasonable question for them. However, be prepared for the possibility that they will want to meet you in person (especially if the actual hiring manager who you’d be working for wasn’t in the first interview). Also, be aware that there’s some research coming out showing that candidates who do video interviews are perceived as less likable and are less likely to be recommended for hire. So if you really want the job, it might be in your best interests to go back in person, even if they’re willing to talk by Skype. (And yes, that is unfair, but it’s one of the realities when you’re looking at non-local jobs.)

5. I want the job that I turned down a few months ago

After graduating from college, I received an offer from a PR company. At the time, I did not want to work in PR and was unaware of the clients, so I turned down the offer since I had interviews with 3 other companies where I would have been offered a better package. Unfortunately, the companies turned me down and I was left jobless. This has been the most horrible 4 months of my life trying to find a new job and thinking about the PR job that I would enjoy now.

Would it be appropriate to reach out to the team again at the PR job and ask about a new position? I never gave them a reason as to why I turned it down and asked to stay in touch, but they just responded with “I’m sorry to hear you aren’t joining us.” I really believe that I made a mistake as I had gotten along with the team, enjoyed their client list and could see myself grow with the PR company now.

Sure, you can absolutely do that. Be prepared, though, for them to ask you why you turned them down last time. You don’t want your answer to be “I thought I could get something better” — you’ll want to have an answer that doesn’t sound like they’re your last choice and/or that you’ll be likely to leave them if something better comes up.

6. Should I tell interviewers about an internship I was offered but which got canceled?

Three months ago, I got accepted for an internship in a very big cosmetics company in Germany. (I’m a Vietnamese national studying in Finland for a bachelor degree in International Business). However, the timing was not good for both of us and my visa application for internship took longer than usual. They weren’t able to be that patient and decided to cancel the internship. It was a pity, but the internship was only optional for me (I completed the first and compulsary internship before that).

Now, I’m about to graduate within three months and have started applying for several companies in recruitment positions. I wonder if I should mention that I was accepted by such a big company like that in the interview or simply put it aside?

Don’t mention it. It’s not being accepted that really impresses people; it’s working there and having real accomplishments you can point to.

7. My biweekly paychecks don’t add up to my annual salary

I recently was calculating out my gross biweekly pay into my annual pay. My company is on a 26 biweekly pay period schedule. But when I multiply my paycheck amount by 26, it’s about $150 less than my annual salary. I emailed payroll, and they told me I have to multiply my biweekly paycheck by 26.1, to account for an extra paycheck every ten years. This made no sense to me since my office letter dictated a salary “annually.” Is this a common practice? I was paid monthly at my last job and am new to biweekly pay.

That’s not common, at least not in my experience. And their explanation is ridiculous — if there’s an extra paycheck every 10 years, they could simply adjust your biweekly checks in those years, rather than keep $150 of your money the other nine years.

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{ 136 comments… read them below or add one }

MJ September 30, 2013 at 12:14 am

OP #7

I’m a Payroll Manager and I’m disagreeing with AAM on this one. It is really common. There are 52.14 weeks in a standard year, or 52.28 weeks in a leap year. Payroll calculating off 52.2 weeks in a year is done in almost every organisation I’ve ever worked with; it’s very, very common practice.

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Jessa September 30, 2013 at 12:22 am

It doesn’t really work that way because they do 26 cheques. Those extra weeks are often paid into the next year, because of the way the year works. IE the last days in December are usually on a cheque paid in January. I’ve never had my salary divided out this way. They work it up as 26 cheques per year.

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KarenT September 30, 2013 at 12:29 am

I’m confused. If the OP’s salary is is calculated at 52.2 weeks, should she be getting a bit more money, not less? Her annually salary is for 52 weeks, and she is paid for 52.2?

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A Bug! September 30, 2013 at 12:05 pm

Not quite. You’ve got it a little backwards. That number’s a divisor, not a multiplier.

So let’s say OP is makes $52k annually (on paper). There are 26 pay periods in an average year. If you divide the $52k by 26 pay periods, you get $2,000 per pay period. But if you divide the $52k by 26.1 pay periods, the pay becomes $1,992.

(What’s done with the extra is explained above, whether you agree that it’s a good practice or not.)

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KarenT September 30, 2013 at 4:17 pm

Ahhhh. thanks!

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Josh S September 30, 2013 at 1:20 am

MJ–You’re dead on. This whole thing is because the year (261 or 262 working days) doesn’t divide nicely by 5 (the number of working days in a week).

OP is getting paid for every day she works. Just…at the end of the year there’s an extra day that will fall in next year’s pay period (the one that goes from Dec 20-something through January something).

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Anonymous September 30, 2013 at 1:33 am

I agree with MJ and the other commenters with a slight reservation. The amount ‘short-changed’ will only be $150 if the OP’s annual pay is around $43,000. If it’s less than that it sounds like the OP is not being treated fairly.

If annual salary is $43,830 then the two-weekly pay would be $1,680. Twenty-six paychecks then equals $43,680 but those paychecks only cover 364 days, not the whole year. If the OP works a whole year then they are already a day (or two if it’s a leap year) into the next pay period.

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MJ of the West September 30, 2013 at 6:27 am

I’ve never seen this crazy math at any company I’ve been with, nor at any company my spouse has been with. The formula that I’ve always seen used was:

annual_salary / pay_periods_per_year

For a hypothetical $30k in a year with 26 pay periods, that works out to $1,153.85 per paycheck. If the next year has 27 pay periods (that happens every so often), those paychecks are only $1,111.11.

Occasionally, I have seen that the first paycheck of the year is slightly off due to some portion of the period being paid getting the prior year’s rate, but the effect of that tends to be minimal. And if you have a merit/COLA raise taking effect on Jan 1, that tends to overshadow the slight pay period calculations.

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doreen September 30, 2013 at 7:39 am

It’s a function of dividing a yearly salary by 26 paychecks. Either the yearly salary is never exactly correct ( a little high some years, a little low others averaging out to the quoted salary over 5 years or so ) or the paycheck can be adjusted every leap year ( it might take ten years for the difference to amount to a whole paycheck, but extra day comes more frequently).My employer adjusts the paycheck and it causes essentially the same problem. Instead of people feeling they are being cheated because their yearly salary is lower , they feel they are being cheated because their biweekly pay is lower.

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OmarF September 30, 2013 at 8:11 am

I think our company deals with this by treating the annual salary as a nominal number. What they really pay is 1/26 of that nominal number every two weeks. It doesn’t matter how many pay periods are in that year since they are really only paying for each two week period on its own. Yes, in theory, over the 10 year or so cycle they will pay for an extra period so your true annual salary will be slightly higher than the nominal number, but it’s not enough to get uptight about.

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Anonymous September 30, 2013 at 9:10 am

I agree completely. Yearly doesn’t mean you get paid for 52 weeks unless you get paid weekly.

A year isn’t exactly 26, 2 week periods. You get paid for the full year. You may or may not have noticed but every Jan 1 isn’t a Sunday.

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Anonymous September 30, 2013 at 9:10 am

By paid weekly I mean paid for a week of work not a day of work.

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Jazzy Red September 30, 2013 at 9:11 am

In our company (and in other companies I’ve worked for), we get paid every other week, and in months that have 5 weeks, we get a 3rd paycheck. It’s higher than normal because the company doesn’t deduct for insurance, 401k, etc. Nice little “bonus”.

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Bea W September 30, 2013 at 10:33 am

Yes! This happens twice a year. Love those 3 paycheck months!

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tcookson September 30, 2013 at 5:56 pm

My husband gets those, and it is always a nice little bonus. As a university employee, I get paid only once a month — which would be tough if I were single. I’m glad for my husband’s bi-weekly pay!

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Bea W October 1, 2013 at 9:28 am

I lived off once monthly (and very crappy) pay for a long time. I actually found it easier to budget than the bi-weekly schedule because I could pay out all my monthly bills and what was left was exactly how much I had to budget out for the rest of the month and could plan accordingly. When I was living paycheck to paycheck and getting paid bi-weekly, what would happen is the first check would cover some or all of the bills that were due in the first two weeks of the month, and then I was SOL until the next paycheck.

It probably would have worked better if some of my bills were due the last half of the month, but that was never the case. Everyone wants their money by the 1st or the 10th or maybe as late as the 15th. I am so glad to have left the paycheck-to-paycheck days behind!

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AdminAnon September 30, 2013 at 11:12 am

Same! Those months are the best.

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Elizabeth West September 30, 2013 at 5:04 pm

Me too. Even when I was paid weekly at Exjob, a couple months a year we had an extra check. That was really nic

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Elizabeth West September 30, 2013 at 5:05 pm

Nice, not nic. What the heck?!

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Cathy September 30, 2013 at 12:53 pm

I agree it’s a common practice if you pay every two weeks. You’re really getting paid by the day and they’re multiplying that by 10 to cover each pay period. This makes it easy to calculate your hourly rate or figure unpaid time.

I currently get paid bi-monthly, so there are 24 pay periods a year, and I get 1/24th of my annual salary every time. However, pay periods range from 10 to 12 weekdays, so technically, I get paid different amounts per day depending on how long the pay period is. This is what seems weird to me.

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Judy September 30, 2013 at 1:06 pm

Here they pay the exempt people monthly at 1/12 of annual salary. It is not varied based on how many days of the month.

The non-exempt people are paid every other week, and are paid based on the hourly rate (HourlyRate * 80) plus any OT. So they might get paid 26 or 27 times in a given year, but the hours are all accounted for. This year they are not going to cut checks on Dec 31 for 7 days of work and then on January 3 for another 3 days.

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AR September 30, 2013 at 1:33 pm

I’m a CPP and I have never heard of such a thing…. Ever! I disagree about this being a “Common” practice. 26 weeks is 26 weeks and a good payroll department will be able to account for the extra pay period in the year that it occurs, if they account for it at all. Most of the organizations I have worked for take the salary amount divide by 26 and be done with it except for rounding.

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Payroll Lady September 30, 2013 at 1:54 pm

I agree with AR. Been doing payroll for over 27 years, and not one company I worked for “worried” about the years with 27 checks. It also is not every 10 years, but varies since the it depends on what the pay day is, (ie Friday) and how many are in the year. I know someone has calculated it out and its something like 6 yrs, 10 yrs, 5 yrs.

And just a little pet peeve of mine, not trying to cause issues, but it is semi-monthly payments when paid 24 checks. if it was bi-monthly, you would be paid every other month and that is not legal in any state that I can think off. :)

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Sydney September 30, 2013 at 5:29 pm

Actually, bi-monthly means twice per month and every other month.

http://www.google.com/search?q=bimonthly

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Editor October 1, 2013 at 12:20 am

Bi-monthly and bi-weekly are ambiguous. They can mean twice a month/week or every other month/week. It’s best to clarify the meaning somewhere if you’re using those terms in an employee handbook, for instance.

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Jessa September 30, 2013 at 12:20 am

#7, that’s crazy, you take the annual salary divide by 26 and voila, and if there’s a couple of cents off you pay the employee a couple of dollars more, it won’t kill the company to have overpaid you a few cents, it is completely wrong for them to short you $150. They could easily pay you the 5.77 dollars a paycheque. That’s 150/26. Since it’s 5.769 they’d at most be paying you an extra few cents a year. Actually 5.77 x 26 is 150.02. SERIOUSLY 2 cents. If they hate that two cents they can take it off the 26th cheque.

I’d seriously call them on this.

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Josh S September 30, 2013 at 1:18 am

Except what most companies do is take your annual salary and divide by the number of days you work in a year (52 weeks * 5 days + 1 extra day of work = 261 days) to get your daily rate of pay.

In year 1, you get 26 paychecks. Those account for 260 days of work.

In year 2, you get 26 paychecks. Those account for 1 day from the previous year, PLUS 259 days of work in year 2.

Etc etc etc.

This is so that you get the amount of salary for the amount of days you actually worked.

If you quit on a Tuesday, are you mad that they didn’t pay you for the whole week?

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WWWONKA September 30, 2013 at 12:24 am

#1 I would swear they do.

#2 Do you need to be hit in the head with a brick? You should have been looking for another job long ago.

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EE September 30, 2013 at 12:40 am

I think you’re being a little harsh here on OP#2. It’s a situation where you inevitably fall into a depression and not having anything to do makes you feel that you’re not able to do anything. It’s hard to have energy and self-belief.

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Bea W September 30, 2013 at 7:59 am

“I’ve been trying to find other work for a long time, and I get no callbacks. Both in my old skillset, and my new one.”

It seems like she has, just not been successful.

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WWWONKA September 30, 2013 at 10:18 am

I applied for a job and was given the big no. I have subsequently applied again when I have seen the re-posting of this job but, have received a message stating I have already applied and am not eligible for this position.

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Anna September 30, 2013 at 9:46 pm

That’s not a “no hire list,” though. That’s just a list of people who have already been evaluated and rejected for that particular position. It doesn’t mean that you’d be turned down without consideration if you applied for some other job at the same company. It just means that they’re not going to spend their time re-evaluating candidates they’ve already decided are not the right fit for the position.

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Spinks September 30, 2013 at 1:35 pm

#2 sounds really down. I’d suggest talking to a doctor or suchlike, if your workplace has any workplace counselling go and see them.

Of course you’re not going to be a bright bundle of new ideas if you are depressed.

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#2 September 30, 2013 at 3:26 pm

I am starting to feel like hitting my head with a brick repeatedly is the only way I’ll get out of this situation..

I have been looking for a new job for a long time. Most of my old skills have atrophied from this job so much that there’s not much I can do in the way of those kind of jobs. I’ve been in a Masters program trying to re-educate for the past few years, but there are no jobs in this geographic area in the field that I am re-educating in, so I am kind of stuck.

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Elizabeth West September 30, 2013 at 5:08 pm

Hmm. You didn’t say what those skills were in–is there a way to keep your eyes open for positions with some transferable skills, something that will let you get out of there and get caught up a bit?

The only other thing I could suggest would be to change fields, or look elsewhere, but then for that you would have to have moving money. :\ Arrgh! I will keep my fingers crossed for you.

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JJ September 30, 2013 at 1:40 am

If you happen to end up on a company’s do not hire list, would there be any way to find out? Any way to be taken off of it?

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Peredur September 30, 2013 at 2:00 am

You’re unlikely to find out and risk making things even worse by badgering the company.

Applicant: “Am I on a do-not-hire list?”
Employer (thinking): “No, but sounds like there’s a reason you should be.”

If you are and you want to be taken off then make a success of yourself in the same field with a different company so the first company wants to employ you despite the do-not-hire status.

Manager: “I want to employ this hotshot.”
HR: “You can’t, they are on a company do-not-hire list”
Manager: “I don’t care, this employee would be a huge benefit to our business” (goes over HR’s head to get that name off the do-not-hire list)

By the way, I’m assuming from the OP that this potential blacklist isn’t for any protected status. If an employer held a do-not-hire list which sought to avoid employing Muslims for example, or a Washington D.C. business had a black-list of known Republicans, that would be illegal.

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MarBar September 30, 2013 at 7:01 am

Alison will have to confirm this, but, while I agree with you that a do-not-hire list eliminating all Muslims as candidates would be illegal, one focusing on eliminating Republicans (or Democrats) as candidates would be perfectly legal. Political parties aren’t protected classes under the law — at least, not last I checked.

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Bea W September 30, 2013 at 7:56 am

Religious beliefs are protected. Political beliefs don’t appear to be on the list, which I found here http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/types/index.cfm

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Catbertismyhero September 30, 2013 at 8:45 am

In Washington DC, political affiliation is a protected class.

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Ask a Manager September 30, 2013 at 9:20 am

Unless it’s a bona fide job qualification, which for many D.C. jobs it actually is.

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Bea W September 30, 2013 at 10:47 am

I think it should be the case everywhere. There are periods in US history where discrimination based on political affiliation, real or imagined, was quite notable and openly practiced.

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ExceptionToTheRule September 30, 2013 at 9:01 am

I have a do not hire list. It’s pretty short (there are like 5 or 6 names on it) and consists of former employees who were bad, bad, bad, bad fits. The only way to get off it is for me to leave the company and no, I’m not telling you that it 1) exists and 2) that you’re on it.

If someone applies who knows someone in our company, I’ll ask them about that person and take their opinion into account in my hiring decision and that’s different from my no hire list.

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AP September 30, 2013 at 9:26 am

I hire a lot of freelancers and entry-leve; people and I would say there are plenty (maybe 20%?) that I would never hire again. But of course, I haven’t written down the list and pretty much the only way to get yourself off it is to go back in time and not have screwed up in the first place.

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Mimi September 30, 2013 at 10:34 am

Same here – we don’t have a list, per se, but we keep notes in our ATS that indicate whether someone is a “No-Rehire” status. And no, we don’t tell them they are a “No-Rehire” when they call, since 99% of the time it leads to an argument about why they should be allowed to be re-hired.

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Cathy September 30, 2013 at 12:47 pm

I have exactly the same. A very short list of people who are not going to get interviewed or hired by me. One of them threw a temper tantrum and damaged company property, which led to his getting fired. One of them committed a crime (he served time in prison for it) that caused his former employer, who is a competitor of ours, to lose a key client. I don’t think either of these guys could get off my personal “do not hire” list. There are a couple of others who just overall made the workplace unpleasant or unproductive for other people.

The company also has an “Eligible for rehire? yes/no” question on the exit paperwork I fill out. There’s no single list of people who aren’t eligible for rehire, but if anyone who’s worked here before reapplies, we pull their file and look at that as well as other documents. I can think of reasons why I might ignore the rehire flag (e.g. you’re the only qualified candidate), but I’d expect your cover letter to display awareness of the fact that you caused some pain in the past and indicate that you’ve had an epiphany and are now a different person.

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Nichole September 30, 2013 at 1:22 pm

In two of my previous jobs, I was told specifically that I was eligible for rehire after I quit. While I’d love to think they were hinting that they hoped I’d come back because I’m so fabulous, I got the impression that “eligible for rehire” was an objective classification with specific criteria at those companies. I’ve never been not eligible (to my knowledge), though, so I don’t know if those criteria are solely things like “gave two weeks notice” or if they include “doesn’t throw things” and “not a jerk.”

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Judy September 30, 2013 at 3:17 pm

Beyond being fired for cause, many companies mark you “ineligible for rehire” if you accept a severance during a RIF. Or at least you would be in that status for 2x your severance period. Simply because they don’t want a manager giving severance to their friends and then rehiring them.

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Anonimous September 30, 2013 at 3:32 pm

Very slimy practice. Imagine what happens if a prospective employer calls for reference and is told that this person is not eligible for rehire. Bye-bye job offer.

Slimeballs!

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Jessica (the celt) October 13, 2013 at 4:41 pm

I do know that one job that I left with two weeks’ notice, I was told when I talked to my manager that I wouldn’t be eligible for rehire due to my notice period. (I wouldn’t work there again anyway, so I wasn’t heartbroken.) She called me back into her office later that day to let me know that I was eligible for rehire after all: she had done the math wrong on my notice period. I’m not sure how many companies have a specific notification period, but I can say that this wasn’t a known thing around the organization. There was no handbook or guidelines to let employees know how much notice was expected of them, and some of my former coworkers were surprised that there was not only a rehire eligibility list but also that there was apparently some kind of guideline in place for this to be determined. It turned out that lower-level, hourly employees like us were expected to give two weeks’ notice, and the higher positions depended on several factors (if they managed people or had specific accounts they worked on, for example) that made their rehire-notification period range from two weeks to a month.

At least one good thing came out of my work there: the other employees found out about the notice period guidelines. ;)

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Elizabeth West September 30, 2013 at 5:10 pm

Now I am totally dying to know what the worst thing people did to get on everybody’s list is.

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Ruffingit September 30, 2013 at 8:21 pm

+1

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some1 September 30, 2013 at 10:27 am

I have never heard of an actual, physical list of people, but I have heard of HM’s having a mental list of certain former employees who try to come back for the following reasons:

- low-performers or otherwise bad fits

- former employees who resigned with no notice or little notice

- former candidates who turned previously turned down positions because they accepted a current employer’s counter-offer

But most people have a good sense of whether they left an employer in good standing or not.

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AGirlCalledFriday September 30, 2013 at 2:39 am

Thanks for the info about online interviewees being perceived as less likable! I’m wondering if there is any way around that, especially as someone interested in overseas opportunities who can’t afford to fly out for interviews – and am unlikely to receive travel reimbursement for them.

Love the blog, I read it religiously! And I have to say that I really appreciate all the time and energy you have devoted to helping people.

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Green September 30, 2013 at 11:22 am

Interview travel expenses are tax deductible.

If you are applying for international jobs (say, in London), it may be a good idea to have two weeks where you can be in London for interviews, hold a flight (but don’t book), and send out cover letters with “Please note that I will be in London on July X-July X, although I would be happy to return at your convenience.”

I got tons of interviews this way [corporate legal and nonprofit fields] in part because it (1) shows genuine interest in the area and (2) reduces the cost to interview you if you are a competitive candidate. And it can reduce your costs, by scheduling multiple interviews in the same week.

But bottom line is that if you are applying outside your local geographic area, you simply need to be prepared to pay your own way and travel at the employer’s convenience (not your own).

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Chocolate Teapot September 30, 2013 at 3:41 am

I remember applying for jobs overseas and there several occasions when I got the “We would like to meet you, can you come for interview? But we can only pay your expenses if you get the job.”

This was in the days before Skype and Video Conferencing. I ended up taking a cheap flight, staying in a youth hostel and setting up 4 appointments, plus a few last minute popping into recruitment agencies to leave updated CVs in the space of a day.

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Deirdre September 30, 2013 at 6:44 am

To the OP who works at the university – for many employees of colleges and universities, the career development office is available to staff. I would suggest that you reach out and see if there is internal (and free) help to review your resume, cover letter, and help with interviewing. I would also suggest that you talk to HR about options for adding another 1/2 time position, look for other opportunities on campus, or add to the temp pool needed on campus. All are very common questions that I get working in college HR. Lastly, if you are down and depressed, ask about an EAP and get some help if you haven’t. Most have several visits for free and it doesn’t depend on your work FTE. Good luck.

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Tina September 30, 2013 at 8:35 am

Unfortunately, only a few schools I know of provide services to staff or faculty. I know our office doesn’t.

I’d also look into One-St0p Career Centers in your local area. They offer some free and sliding-scale services, if I remember correctly.

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Forrest September 30, 2013 at 9:37 am

Thats kind of risky. The career center isn’t held to confidential standards – how do you know it won’t get back to your boss?

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Anonymous September 30, 2013 at 10:41 am

Because they don’t have a reason to contact the OP’s current manager, these kinds of offices are focused on getting another job, and retaining quality employees by finding them another job on campus.

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College Career Counselor September 30, 2013 at 10:54 am

I can’t speak to all career centers, but the ones where I have worked were available (un)officially to university staff, and occasionally faculty. We treated those conversations as confidential, although not “legally” confidential. I suppose if there had been a subpoena or something, we would have had to say, “yes, we met with so-and-so on X date.”

And if the person was meeting with us about changing jobs/leaving because of her boss, chances are that wasn’t the first time that particular supervisor ever came up in conversation.

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Anonymis September 30, 2013 at 11:28 am

We may not be bound legally to confidentiality, but we would be ethically. Not to mention, there simply would be no reason for us to contact the person’s current boss and tell them. Our obligation is to provide service to our students/alumni, and we’d no more contact someone’s supervisor if they worked at our University than if they worked somewhere else.

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themmases September 30, 2013 at 11:34 am

Under the circumstances, where the boss is telling the OP to find something to do and the position has already been changed to half-time, I can’t believe the boss would be upset about this even if it did get back to them. It sounds like everyone there knows this position is going to be eliminated eventually unless something big changes, and most people wouldn’t just be fine with going from full-time to half-time. The boss would be naive at best and unreasonable at worst if they didn’t think the OP was already looking.

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Bea W September 30, 2013 at 7:09 am

#1 – Unfortunately, just because you think you’re an “exact fit”, doesn’t mean the person looking at your resume feels the same. Have you talked with the hiring manager?

I’m not sure if this is common because my field is pretty small, uses a lot of contractors, and people cross paths all the time, but when hiring managers will ask other people within the same department who worked at the same company if they know someone whose resume came across their desk and solicit some basic feedback. This helps weed through the pile. I like to think that 99% of people aren’t going to be vindictive over an argument and just stick to commenting on someone’s work, but you never know. If your former co-worker is in the same dept you applied to, it’s possible she said something not-so-nice.

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Anonymous September 30, 2013 at 9:14 am

“Unfortunately, just because you think you’re an “exact fit”, doesn’t mean the person looking at your resume feels the same.”

Right. Just b/c you saw a job and think it is great for YOU, doesn’t mean they think you are great for THEM. Plus, sometimes job opening descriptions don’t always list everything they want a candidate to have. Maybe they would love someone to have xyz experience, but for some reason, haven’t updates the posting.

Maybe you have everything they want + more but they are receiving candidates that have +++more.

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Anonymis September 30, 2013 at 11:29 am

+1 That’s exactly what I was thinking about the job description.

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Felicia September 30, 2013 at 12:18 pm

That’s what I was thinking. Often you may have exactly everything they ask for in the job description, but lots of other candidates also have everythign they have in the job description, plus more and that more might be more specifically relevant to the company

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Kimberlee, Esq. September 30, 2013 at 2:26 pm

Plus, you can have every single qualification they ask for, and if your materials aren’t communicating those skills or experiences effectively, the prospective employer has no idea. That’s why the resume and cover letter need to be a roadmap for how your skills directly relate to the job description; if the person reading your resume has to parse it out and make cognitive leaps to understand how you’ll fit into the job, you won’t be getting it.

Having all the qualifications in the world don’t mean anything if the prospective employer doesn’t know it!

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Elizabeth West September 30, 2013 at 5:17 pm

Not only that, but you do not know if you are the right fit until you get in there and talk to them. It’s folly to think otherwise until you have an interview.

I’ve had some that sounded great on paper, but when I set foot in the office, it was clear that I would be extremely unhappy if I got the job. Either the hiring manager was a dick, the place was awful, or there was something they didn’t put in the ad or tell me on the phone.

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Healthcare Professional September 30, 2013 at 7:12 am

Letter Writer #1; I’d like to share a story.

A lot of my friends left our company (Say Company A), to accept jobs at Company B. It was a good fit, because Company B was one of the few places that did the same kind of work as Company A.

I got laid off from Company A and, noticing that I had all of the qualifications Company B asked for on their Monster board listing, I applied. Within hours, I checked on my application status and it said, “No longer under consideration”. A week later, the listing was up again; I applied, and the exact same thing happened.

I was curious to see exactly what about me seemed so repellant, so I got my resume and left it exactly the same except for my name and address, and the names of my former employers, then created a new username on their website and applied. Would you believe by the next day I had an e mail telling me the were very interested in my “impressive experience” and asking me to call their HR office to set up an interview?!?

So I have to believe that I’m very much on some sort of do-not-hire list although I honestly have no idea why that would be the case. Bizarre, though!

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Healthcare Professional September 30, 2013 at 7:15 am

Oh, and just wanted to add that the people I knew who went to work for Company B were (are) friends, so I don’t imagine that they’d have any negative feedback to give about me.

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Bea W September 30, 2013 at 7:52 am

Wow! That is bizarre, and a whole lot disconcerting! I wonder what was up with that. Maybe someone had a bad experience with someone with the same name, and didn’t even bother looking to see if it was the same person? It sounds like they didn’t even read your original resume if they didn’t notice it was exactly the same as the one submitted with the fake name.

Did you ask any of your former co-workers about this?

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$0.2 September 30, 2013 at 8:41 am

I am curious if you have a foreign name? I think “foreign names” get discriminated.

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Anonymous September 30, 2013 at 9:15 am

Hadn’t thought about that and they probably do.

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Anonimous September 30, 2013 at 11:50 am

This would not surprize me at all. I have a distinctly Russian first name and a “common” middle name. One time I sent two identical resumes to the same employer except that one resume had my name listed as First name – middle initial – last name and the other as First initial – middle name – last name. One resume got a swift rejection letter and the other got me invited to an interview. During this interview, I was explicitly asked where I was from, and after revealing that I was from Russia, swiftly rejected as “lacking experience”.

Draw your own conclusions.

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Bea W September 30, 2013 at 3:23 pm

“Draw your own conclusions.”

You have a not obviously or non-stereotypical Russian last name that would have clued him in? ;-)

Discrimination based on national origin is illegal, but it sounds like you dodged a bullet being rejected by that hiring manager.

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Forrest September 30, 2013 at 9:22 am

I think you changed too many of the controls for this to be a good experiment. Its possible that Company A is the thing that’s blacklisted (because of many reasons – Company B thinks its bad relations to poach Company A employees, Company A has been bad mouthing Company B, your coworkers from Company A that moved to Company B just suck as employees.)

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AP September 30, 2013 at 9:28 am

I was just going to suggest that- maybe your friends at Company B have been bad fits, or are finding it hard to adjust their processes, and they don’t want to compound the problem?

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Sabrina September 30, 2013 at 9:35 am

If you applied through Monster (or another job board), it could be that the company put a limit on how many applications they would accept for that posting. After that, doesn’t matter how qualified you are or that the job is still posted, you get rejected.

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hamster September 30, 2013 at 10:35 am

Mabye they’ve reached a gentelman’s agreement with company A?
Do not poach each other’s employees?

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Spinks September 30, 2013 at 1:40 pm

This was my thought also.

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Healthcare Professional September 30, 2013 at 1:52 pm

My husband had the same thought, hamster. But I’d been laid off from Company A, I wasn’t just looking to switch jobs.

To the poster who mentioned about my name; that is very interesting! I’d honestly never thought of that. To tell you the truth, I am a White female but my first name is extremely common among Black men. Now I wonder if this was a racially-involved thing. That’s disturbing!

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Bea W September 30, 2013 at 3:30 pm

There are people who have actually studied this. I remember hearing about this years ago, and it was easy to find it again.

http://www.nber.org/digest/sep03/w9873.html

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Anonymous September 30, 2013 at 11:50 pm

+1

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MJ of the West September 30, 2013 at 7:26 am

In response to #1…

My company doesn’t have a “Do Not Hire” list, but we do keep a permanent record of every person who has ever worked for us or applied for a job with us. And if either of those things didn’t go well, they would be visible on future applications and given significant weight.

And when you do apply, we cross-reference your resume against an internal database of people who might have worked with you and try to obtain internal feedback (positive or negative) about your prior work, even if you don’t list those people as references. That becomes part of the aforementioned permanent record as well.

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Bea W September 30, 2013 at 7:40 am

#2 – This is a crappy situation! A friend of mine is in the same boat where her full time job was cut to part time. She also works for a university.

I’d say since you are working only part time, you can pick up some part-time work to supplement your income while you look for a full time position somewhere else. Full-time at a minimum wage food-service job may be just as bad as part time in your current position, especially if you are still getting other benefits at your current job.

Are you getting any unemployment benefits? I thought in some cases you could collect some unemployment if your full-time hours were cut like this, but I may be imagining that.

Check out AAM’s great advice on resumes and cover letters. Having a great resume and cover letter make a huge difference in getting those coveted callbacks.

As important – please take care of yourself physically and emotionally to stave off depression. I am sure readers can give you great tips that might help you if you ask, depending on where your needs are.

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Bea W September 30, 2013 at 7:46 am

#3 – Your boss may really be that bad at keeping track of time, and wasn’t sure if you’d be in or not. My boss approves all my PTO, but she’s busy and has many people to manage, so I get that question all time. “Will you be in…”

The way PTO generally works is you request time off from your manager who approves it. Some workplaces have a paper or electronic request form that gets submitted to your boss for approval. Check your employee handbook, or the company’s internal website if they have one. PTO policies will usually be posted there, and definitely check them either this way or/and by asking your boss, because some companies have a “use it or lose it” policy, and we’re into the last quarter of the year.

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AdAgencyChick September 30, 2013 at 9:50 am

Yeah, I read this as the boss being genuine about her shortcomings, and if she’s hinting at anything, it’s that OP should send lots of reminders when she IS going to be out of the office, so that the boss knows. I would not read this as “you can take extra time off and I won’t care” at all.

I have had bosses who look the other way re: PTO because they recognize that that policy helps make up for the late nights and weekends that this job sometimes entails. But when that’s the case, they flat out say, “Take a comp day, and if the attendance taker asks where you’re at, the answer is ‘client meeting’.”

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Flynn September 30, 2013 at 10:43 am

Yeah. My boss is pretty awesome about leave, but she’s terrible about keeping track of people (which is fair enough, she’s busy). Basically, if we don’t write it down in a specific book, she’s not going to remember. I’ve also learnt it’s better to give two weeks notice of something (…minor stuff, obv), rather than six, as she’ll just completely forget otherwise and it’s too far ahead for her to plan stuff.

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Jen October 1, 2013 at 4:14 am

I love your Gravatar!

And, on topic, my ex-boss was also great about leave, but he never could remember the exact dates, to the extent that we reminded him every couple of days… and he would schedule meetings with us while we were out. Eventually he put our team lead in charge with keeping track (and I informally kept track for the team lead herself, when she was out).

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Shoshie September 30, 2013 at 11:02 am

This. My boss has lots of people to keep track of and it’s just not his priority. We actually just started keeping a calendar of when people will be out of town, because it’s useful to know if someone’s taking a personal day, just out for a little bit, possibly sick, or if this is the first day of a week long vacation. And I always shoot him an e-mail a couple days before I take time off to let him know that I’m going to be gone, often with details like whether I’ll be available by e-mail in the case of an emergency (I work in a lab, so emergencies happen).

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Bea W September 30, 2013 at 3:37 pm

One large team I worked with had a year-long dry erase calendar. After the manager gave approval, she’d remind people to “Put it on the calendar”. It worked really well. Everyone knew where to look to see who was out of the office. It was also great for planning in the summer. You could see who else would be out at any given time and for how long when trying to decide the best time to take your own vacation.

The job I was at after that, the AA kept a color coded spreadsheet, which she would send out monthly and ask people to update with their time out of the office.

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Hooptie September 30, 2013 at 1:14 pm

Absolutely agree. I would take this as a heads-up that OP#3 should come up with some kind of tracking system that is easy for both of them to reference. It’s the kind of thing I would appreciate as a manager, and shows that the employee is ‘managing up’ by accommodating a manager’s known weakness.

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Agile Phalanges October 5, 2013 at 10:03 pm

I agree with everyone else’s interpretations of the boss’ comments, and just want to chime in with yay for awesome bosses. I’m exempt, and next weekend is a trade show for which I’ll be traveling on Saturday, at the show on Sunday and Monday, and also traveling home on Monday (LONG day!), so my boss told me to take two days off sometime as “comp time” and if anyone asks where I am he’ll say I’m working on home but am incommunicado on a project. Yay for awesome bosses!

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Elizabeth West September 30, 2013 at 5:20 pm

I read it as wishful thinking; it doesn’t sound to me like that’s what the boss meant at all. It sounded like she meant “Seriously, I am,” as “No, really. I suffer from a bad case of CRS–can’t remember sh*t.”

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The Other Dawn September 30, 2013 at 8:02 am

RE: #3

All I would assume here is that the OP should be keeping track of her PTO on her own. I wouldn’t assume the boss was hinting at extra time off the books.

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Anonymis September 30, 2013 at 8:47 am

Regarding #4 and Skype. I know someone who recently accepted a job with an organization purely based on Skype interviews. She got there, and it was a horrendous fit, for multiple reasons. Big part office culture that she hadn’t seen in play, part office politics and being mislead about certain job tasks. She’s now learned to be more careful about what questions to ask in those types of situations.

As convenient as they are, there are certain things that are easy to miss when it’s only virtual interviewing. I realize in this case, the OP has been to the office and met a couple of the people, but personally I’d want to make sure I met the hiring manager in person. Is it possible to just reschedule the interview to a day when everyone is available?

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Dang September 30, 2013 at 9:00 am

In my opinion and experience… Avoid skype interviews if at all possible. It’s nearly impossible to build a rapport and the time delay makes it really awkward.

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Jen September 30, 2013 at 10:46 am

I agree that a Skype interview isn’t the same as an in-person interview, but how can an in-person interview prevent bad fit due to office culture, office politics and misleading task descriptions? OK, let’s say that you can discern something about culture judging by the interviewers’ attitude/clothes/etc, but the rest?

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Anonymis September 30, 2013 at 11:53 am

You’re right, some of those things can happen regardless of whether it’s a Skype or in-person interview, especially misleading job descriptions. But in this case, some of it related to seeing how people actually interacted with each other, not just how they *said* they interacted with each other. You don’t see certain non-verbal cues, like body language and response to other people. Being physically in an office provides an opportunity to also see/observe potential co-workers who may not be involved directly in the interviewing and hiring process.

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Green September 30, 2013 at 11:30 am

One time I did a video conference interview and there were some technical difficulties where the video went out but the one way audio was still working (I could hear them, they couldn’t hear me). Got everything up and running again two minutes later (this was through a school career services office so tech support was available and they knew it wasn’t my fault), but in the meantime I had heard them discussing how “stiff” I seemed and debating whether it was the video conferencing that made it awkward or whether I just sucked.

They had no idea I had heard their assessment of me, but the rest of the interview was awkwarddddd. (But I did get a second interview after adjusting my style and making some lame jokes to not seem so “stiff”.)

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Trixie September 30, 2013 at 4:52 pm

#4, ” I spent a lot of money for gas, food, and hotel that I’m not getting reimbursed for.”

Have you checked out airbnb.com or something similar? Often less expensive and with a kitchenette so you can bring/prepare your own food.

And I would also keep your receipts for next year’s taxes.

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Jazzy Red September 30, 2013 at 8:57 am

OP # 3, don’t ever EVER do anything at work “off the books”. Your workplace is one place you need to follow all the rules. And there are no “unwritten rules”. (If someone tells you that there are, then you’re in a badly run workplace. Same advice applies, plus think about finding a job where things are done professionally and above board.)

I think your manager might be telling you that YOU need to keep track of your PTO, and your work hours. If you don’t fill out a timesheet every week, you could make a simple spreadsheet of your own to keep track of your hours. Your manager sounds incompetent to me, and might eventually be asked by upper management to explain about all these things she doesn’t keep track of. Having your own tracking sheet could prove beneficial for you.

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Anonymous September 30, 2013 at 9:03 am

+1. See my comment below. Gaming the system never ends well for you, no matter if your boss gave you permission.

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Anonymous September 30, 2013 at 8:59 am

#3

How did her statement about her own record keeping translate into extra “off the books” PTO to you? Take it as face value…she has a hard time keeping track. That means you need to keep track and be ready to pop in and remind her if a PTO day is coming up.

The fact that you contemplated reaching out to the former employee about flexibility (sounds like) you are interested in the possibility of extra time. I like to stick to company policy and not do things off of the books. I have 12 years at my company and 4 weeks PTO. If I run out, I run out. I am management so we can flex (make time up in lieu if using PTO) but it is against company policy to take extra paid time off. You may be able to take unpaid PTO though. Check your employee policies.

It’s not cool when you get dinged violating policy, even for something your boss allowed you to do. I’ve seen it happen to a few people…

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some1 September 30, 2013 at 10:31 am

That’s what I was thinking, too. The boss was saying he can’t remember if LW had asked for the next day off, not “I am not good at keeping track of PTO requests, so do whatever you want.”

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Ali September 30, 2013 at 9:45 am

Sometimes I wonder if #1 is real. I want to work in a competitive industry that is not a big world and had a disagreement (over e-mail, no less) with one of my contacts in the field. I tried to reconcile, but apparently he wasn’t interested in that. Now when I go on the job search in this industry, I have to worry about whether or not he’s going to get a call about me (we never directly worked together; we were just contacts, though he knows of some of my work) and how much our disagreement is going to come into play. It makes me think my chance at a career in this business could be basically shot since a lot of people know each other so closely.

It really, really sucks.

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OmarF September 30, 2013 at 10:08 am

“It makes me think my chance at a career in this business could be basically shot since a lot of people know each other so closely.”

IMO, employers are always looking for quality people. They can’t afford to walk away from everyone who has ever had a tiff with someone they know. It might open an area to question, but if the person you had the disagreement with is that unreasonable, then their acquaintances will realize that.

I had a call from a previous employer one time about someone I worked with in my current job. I didn’t like his work quality. I tried to be fair, but also tried to steer them away from the guy. They hired him anyway because they didn’t have better options plus he was probably better suited for their style of organization than ours.

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AP September 30, 2013 at 10:14 am

But…why would people even think to ask him about you if there’s no way to know that you know him just be looking at your resume?
(Ie., do you share an alma mater or a company in your history?)

I work in the tiniest industry there is (under 1000 people worldwide, half of whom live in NYC and see each other at the same events every other week) and this wouldn’t even happen with us – unless mayyybbeee it was the founder of the industry, one person’s experience with another couldn’t carry that much weight.

Honestly, the truth is that people don’t care that much about entry level people, and they probably are not thinking about this nearly as much as you are. But that’s good news for you – you can try to network around him and bypass any bad feelings by getting a different hiring manager on your side. As someone pointed out above, if an HM really wants to hire you, they aren’t going to care about what one person they don’t know well has to say.

(The caveat here would be if you did something super unprofessional, like told the guy to go F himself over email, but that doesn’t sound like the case. Good luck!)

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fposte September 30, 2013 at 11:37 am

I’m with AP–I don’t see how he’d play into the hiring process if it’s not at his organization and you’ve never actually worked with him.

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Ali September 30, 2013 at 12:38 pm

AP, we share a hometown. He moved to a different city for a new job, while I am still here but hoping to move (but not to his area) within the next year or so.

And no, I didn’t do anything super unprofessional. What I did could be considered rookie mistakes by someone hoping to get into my industry. I know better now!

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fposte September 30, 2013 at 2:30 pm

But it’s not standard practice to check with everybody from a town when hiring anybody from there. There’s no hiring procedure that would regularly involve somebody in the position you describe–he’s not a reference, he’s not a former manager, he’s not working for the company you’re applying to. I think you’re overworrying here.

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themmases September 30, 2013 at 10:26 am

While OP #2 should definitely keep working on their job hunt, I would think this could also be a good time to do some professional development in their new position. I also helped start up a (research) program practically from scratch a couple of years ago, and I got to learn a lot of weird stuff because I was one of two people in a tiny program. Definitely no one expected me to know things overnight, especially since from their perspective the program was providing a new service even if it wasn’t perfect yet. My department has been noticeably less supportive of me taking classes or going to conferences now that the program is up and running, but while it was growing it was very much in their interest to send me to those things rather than hiring an extra person.

I would advise the OP to take another look at their old responsibilities and maybe talk to the people they supported most when growing that program. Often when a job is split up between several people, something gets neglected– either because no one person has a full picture of the role, or because no one was really willing or equipped to do it. The OP might find something they know well that none of the new people are really addressing to people’s satisfaction. Or they might find a totally new need from someone in the department who already knows their work– they just aren’t seeing it because they don’t come into contact with those people as often now.

Lots of people in academic departments seem to have project ideas they never quite get around to. Two things really helped get our program off the ground. First, we found the busy, accomplished people– they often have pet projects or ideas that they don’t have the time or support to address– and got less ambitious people to do just a little on their project. Second, we got the word out to both groups about things they might have thought they had to do on their own. “Did you know you don’t have to do your own IRB paperwork/grant application/data collection/photo editing yourself?” Lots more people started projects when they realized that.

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fposte September 30, 2013 at 11:06 am

This is what I was thinking. Unless there’s a reason to think to the contrary, I would see this as a create-your-own-niche opportunity. They’re saying they like you, they think you’re valuable, they want to keep you. What do you want to do for them in that half-time slot?

Sure, the answer may still be “nothing,” but it’s a good question to me. It’s also not one that’s unheard of around my university–staff members often demonstrate a usefulness that exists past the original need and then develop new contributions.

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Green September 30, 2013 at 11:42 am

In a rapidly changing job world, where “traditional” positions are often changing (in my experience, legal secretary positions) because the new crop of attorneys doesn’t need typing assistance, phone answering or dictation and does e-filing, the people who avoided the axe are the people who came up with creative ways to stretch their roles and add value. My secretary asked if she could help me out by handling all my billing with vendors, my CLEs, making travel arrangements for all of my vendors, repeatedly bugging people to send me stuff that needed sending, etc. and she quickly went from underutilized to being irreplaceable and helping me be better at my own job by not having to deal with irritating administrative tasks that often wound up at the bottom of my list.

She would never be on the chopping block, while the secretaries who say “not my job” or “not my skillset” are the ones who are let go. When I left my job, I went to the head of our office (lawyers review and manage their individual secretaries but the two office bosses Boss Lawyer and Boss Administrator handle hiring/firing) and spent an hour talking about how she is the perfect secretary for he new era in legal the legal field.

What they’re telling OP is that they value her and want her to find a creative way to earn her keep, and OP is coming back and telling them that no she doesn’t really have any value after all.

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fposte September 30, 2013 at 2:35 pm

Though if she’d rather take a job elsewhere than do something new, that’s totally fair–it’s just that I think she’s seeing this as a punishment rather than as a reward. I’m thinking I might be in a similar situation in a few years, and I’m getting my fingers in a lot of pies now so that I could spin off into several different positions if I had to.

I do think some of the OP’s reaction could be depression and strongly second the recommendation to check out the EAP if there is one. But we’re basically talking about a “write your own ticket” job offer–that’s not a bad thing!

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#2 September 30, 2013 at 3:38 pm

>OP is coming back and telling them that no she doesn’t really have any value after all.

It may be my depression talking, but the above IS exactly my situation. I _don’t_ have any value to this operation since they took away the things I could do. I’m not trying to be worthless, but I got stuck in it.

In the past I tried to take on new things, and I failed miserably because they were way outside of my skill set and I couldn’t figure them out. I’m hesitant to come up with a list of pipe-dream ideas for me to fall flat on my face in again. :(

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fposte September 30, 2013 at 4:02 pm

Definitely start treatment for the depression, for one thing. It probably isn’t helping your job search or your current job, and I would imagine that you have better access to relevant benefits right now than you will later.

And I think it’s telling, from a depressive standpoint, that you’re finding ways to argue for stasis even when you know stasis is going to hurt you and favoring risks of omission over risks of commission. Sure, you’re not excited about the possibility of falling on your face, and that’s especially understandable when you feel fragile. But is that risk really more threatening than unemployment with no clear career path?

Who have you talked to in your department aside from your boss? If the answer is “no one,” I’d say it’s time to make a list and then check with them. I don’t know your field or your skills, but around here I’d check in with associate/assistant dean level folks and managers of research centers, and tell them that you are, with your boss’s blessing, looking to help out your department in new ways and wondering if there’s an area of their workload that you might be able to assist with or if there’s anybody they recommend you speak with.

Sure, there’s no guaranteed success, but there’s no guaranteed job loss there either, whereas it sounds like the alternative *is* guaranteed job loss. And I think if you can get a better handle on your depression the options might be better judgeable on their merits.

Good luck! It’s an understandably challenging situation.

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Green September 30, 2013 at 5:23 pm

+1.

And, FWIW, #2, many people in my former workplace were suffering from situational depression. I have more chronic depression issues, but layering situational depression from an external source (work) does not help.
So you may need a change of scenery to start feeling better (in addition to treatment), and you should know that your aren’t really alone in your depression (hugs!).

But fposte had a lot of good points: you’re worried about the risk of falling flat on your face by trying new things again, but you’re falling flat on your face when you are telling them there’s nothing you can do. :( Being scared of failure usually just results in a slower, more painful failure.

It may also be worth sharing your general role and skillset on the thread. People here have great ideas, and you may be able to pitch those ideas or connect with somebody who can give advice on learning the tasks!

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#2 September 30, 2013 at 9:40 pm

you’re right about the change of scenery. I took an internship in SanDiego over the summer for my academic program. My boss and clients loved me. (not to mention I was making 3x as much salary… as an intern!) When I came back to the Midwest, the depression started immediately. Unfortunately I’m stuck here due to school and also wanting to be near my s/o.

My skill set with this job was mostly tech support, courseware administration and light web work. I’m now studying interaction design, but I can’t apply it as all the web work is now owned by another department, and I’m not even included on those decisions. My job has always been a service position. No one really listens to me unless they came to me with a problem.

I’m kicking around the idea of running usability tests on our courses (all online) but it will be a pain due to IRB, and in the past the individual instructors have been non-receptive to my suggestions.

At the same time, I’m struggling with my thesis, and 300 miles away from my s/o, so I have no support system. it’s just a lot all at once.

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Os October 2, 2013 at 3:17 am

How about some freelance work in these areas…look around see if you can pick up small projects?

The problem just worsens with time i’m afraid. I know ‘cos im in a ssimilar dead-end situation.

some1 September 30, 2013 at 10:36 am

#1: Unless you really think your co-worker is that petty, I doubt she contacted her HR Dept about you over a simple disagreement. She may not even know you applied there, and if it was really over a simple disagreement she could have already let it go.

If I were her I’d be afraid of making myself look bad by going out of way to block someone unless I saw serious issues with their previous work.

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Rich September 30, 2013 at 10:56 am

#4 Normally I’d say definitely go for the in-person if possible, but in this case I understand why OP wants to try Skype, and I don’t think that’s an unreasonable request. Especially since you’ve already taken a day off work and absorbed cost. However, if this is the last leg of the process, you may have to suck it up. Looking for work in a new city is never fun.

#7 I was closely involved in payroll at last job and it wasn’t uncommon for the numbers to not add up to the exact dollar. Especially when you get into semi-monthly and bi-weekly cycles. I think you’re entitled to full pay, but making a stink about $150 is not the way to go. When you do a little math, you’re talking about just under $6 per pay check for one year. Tax that $6/check and it’s even less.

Not worth it to me.

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Shoshie September 30, 2013 at 10:57 am

I work for a university, and they just pay us 1/24th of our yearly salary on the 11th and 24th of every month, regardless of any weirdness happening in the month. If the pay day is on a Saturday, we get paid on Friday and if it’s Sunday, we get paid on Monday. This really seems like the most logical way to do things, since it’s not dependent at all on how the weeks fall out in a given month.

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LeeD September 30, 2013 at 11:04 am

#2 – I’m also at a university, and after a few years on the job, ended up with a considerable amount of downtime. (In my case, it was because I automated a number of regular tasks.) With the agreement of my supervisor, I approached the office above mine and let them know I was available to help out with tasks as my workload permitted. While my original aim was just to keep busy and help out an overloaded office, this has been a great experience for me. I’ve gained experience with several different areas, gotten to know some new people, and been able to demonstrate my abilities and work ethic to folks up the chain.

There may not be anything to do in your office, but surely there’s something in your division (dean’s office, academic affairs, etc). Demonstrate to the people above your boss that you’re a good person to have on staff – an asset that the university shouldn’t lose – and you may find a new home for yourself at the university. At the very least, you’ll be less bored.

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Anonymous September 30, 2013 at 11:36 am

#1. A few months ago, the Dean with whom I interviewed for a job sent me an email informing me that I was not the final candidate selected for the position. Of course, in my ‘job-hunting-dementia,’ I read it as ‘you’re not and will never be the final candidate chosen for this or any other position at this or any other university here or abroad…ever.’

Strangely enough, I was perusing the job board this morning, and lo-and-behold, the position as been reposted. I still believe I want the job, but am somewhat convinced I’m on this dreaded ‘no-hire’ list. I’m tempted to email the Dean expressing interest, but of course, in my madness, admittedly, I picture her convulsing from the mere thought. What to do?

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Anonymous September 30, 2013 at 1:04 pm

Email her and express continued interest. Do not fret over what you can’t control and have no way of knowing.

Some of the greatest people in history would not have accomplished what they did if they let “fear of the unknown” stop them.

If you still don’t get the job, just move on. There may be something else out the for you.

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SAF September 30, 2013 at 1:43 pm

I’ve been the hiring supervisor in this situation – turned down some good people, hired someone, and that person didn’t make it past the probationary period. So there you are, less than 4 months later, hiring for the same position again.

Apply.

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fposte September 30, 2013 at 2:44 pm

The worst you will be is not hired, which is where you already are. Apply.

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Elizabeth West September 30, 2013 at 5:28 pm

+1 for “job-hunting dementia.” I agree with the others; you have NO clue why the position was re-posted or why you didn’t get it. It could have totally had nothing to do with you. Reapply!

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Lisa September 30, 2013 at 11:53 am

#2 – You in theory could be managing or creating your own dept if you had the drive to do so. If they have nothing for you, but are keeping you on… you should be attempting to a find a new way to be invaluable. Don’t wait for stuff to be given to you, take it! Find an area that no one is working on, and start doing it. Don’t wait for permission, tho tell your manager that you are going to go down this path. Create your own metrics that you are going to measure and after a month, say look, I’ve increased X when I spent time working on Y.

Create your own thing. Unless your company is super rigid and doesn’t want you to, but it sounds like they would be open to you finding your own way, do something because they won’t keep paying you unless you do.

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Mena September 30, 2013 at 12:31 pm

#1: Although there may not be a formal list, never under-estimate the power of word-of-mouth. If the person with which you disagreed is well-liked and respected AND privvy to scanning the resumes received for consideration, that person holds influence. And of course this is legal (LoL!) – my company hugely respects employee referrals and opinions on previous experience with a person. And in my 25 years of professional experience, yes, there are two people that if they came up on the radar, I would strike down immediately – and for good, professional reason coupled with personality conflict; taken together, neither is easy to work with and that is all my HR department needs to hear to immediately move focus onto all the others in the pile.

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Anonymous September 30, 2013 at 12:42 pm

We actually encourage employee referrals by offering cash incentives, I believe $2500.00.

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Kathy September 30, 2013 at 6:51 pm

Re: #7 – Our latest accounting supervisor pointed out the “extra paycheck every 10 years” issue and caused such a stink about it that we switched to semi-monthly pay, on the 15th and the last day of the month (pay periods end on the 10th and the 25th). However, our poor hourly people are plagued with trying to keep track of hours worked per WEEK to keep them under 40, even though the pay period generally includes one or two partial weeks. It is a nightmare to manage, especially since only the salaried employees ended up with an extra check. The hourly employees got paid for the hours they worked, at their hourly rate. Now we have pay periods that are anywhere between 72 hours and 96 hours, depending on how weekends fall. Its one of those petty things that destroys morale for no good reason.

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Ruffingit September 30, 2013 at 8:08 pm

#3: My assumption would not be that the boss is telling you to take more vacation days than allowed. My assumption (if we’re going to speculate here) would be that she’s telling you that it would help her if you would keep track of your own days and make sure they’re within the allotted amount. If assumptions are going to be made, it’s better that they be on the side of keeping within the rules than thinking it’s a “nudge, nudge, wink, wink” kind of thing.

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Sean M Crawford Sr December 3, 2013 at 4:49 pm

While most of the comments are centering around the pay I am gonna say as much as I understand companies should have a list on people who should not be rehired at their companies, I do not agree with the fact that minor issues that COULD & SHOULD be resolved are cause to “Blacklist” a person. That is purely a violation of the Fair Employment Act. I also know it is unfair to be released because someone didn’t like you. I don’t ever recall in any interview or job description “Having everyone like you” as a job description. Some people are outright crotchety, have nasty dispositions, and have not one drop of good people skills but, yet they are the ones in the position to get someone else fired.

This needs to be investigated to the fullest.

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