It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…
1. My volunteer role has become full-time and I want to be paid
I am a stay-at-home mom who has volunteered for ten years at my church. I started just helping with a flyer and then little by little doing more. I am bilingual, so I started helping as a interpreter/translator. As this required more time, they started paying me something just as a token of appreciation.
In September, we got a new pastor, and since then I have been working such extensive hours that I feel it is a full-time job – just not paid. I’ve been taking all that weight because I didn’t want the foreign community to feel lost. Many people have been commenting, even at the church office, about the load I have, and that I should get paid. A bilingual associate priest is going to start soon, and I want to speak up that if I am going to keep doing all that I do – which I really enjoy – they need to start paying me. But I am clueless how to do it. I’m feeling very down because I am very qualified: I have a degree (from a foreign country), I speak fluently both languages, I am computer literate, have people skills, and also really care about the community here, but I don’t know how to approach this, much less what salary to negotiate.
Definitely speak up. But realize that they’re giving you more and more work because you’re agreeing to it; it’s not fair to resent them for something that you’re agreeing to and haven’t told them you’re not happy with. So definitely talk to them. You could say something like, “I really enjoy the work I do here and think providing interpreting services to our members is crucial. However, I’m now averaging X hours per week and can’t keep that up without a real salary. Is that something the church would be open to working out?”
When you say, this be prepared for the possibility that the answer will be no. In many situations like this, a volunteer is doing valuable work and the organization is glad to have it done, but if it becomes something they need to find room for in their budget, it will lose out to higher financial priorities. If that happens, then your next step is to let them know what you are and aren’t willing to continue doing. You just need to be clear with them about what you’re willing to offer.
2. Managers and the possessive tense
I have a new manager who has placed his desk in the middle of the room, and conducts all of his conference calls in a rather loud fashion. In doing so, he constantly refers to the employees (myself and my peers) as “his” — e.g. “my team,” “my testers,” “my people.”
Am I wrong to feel a bit demeaned that my new manager is placing himself as a king among the common employee? His self-placement of prominence above those that he rules is causing quite a bit of resentment amongst “we the people.”
Eh. I wouldn’t do it myself, but it’s a far from uncommon way of speaking. Focus on the way he actually manages — does he set clear expectations, give useful feedback, recognize good work, ensure you have the resources needed to do your job? That’s what matters.
3. Jobs that claim to be career-track but don’t offer benefits
I’m currently job searching, and I recently came across an odd job description. In the title, they specifically ask for people who are looking for a full-time career, not just a job, which is definitely something I am in the market for. The posting looks fairly interesting and I meet most of the skills. However, they post at the bottom of the ad that “benefits are not available for this position.”
It strikes me as a bit disingenuous to ask for people looking for a career, but not provide them with any benefits. It doesn’t specify which kinds, but I’m assuming PTO, insurance, and other things fall in that category. I would not be willing to move from my current position to one that provided no benefits, so would it be a waste of everyone’s time to apply? If I did apply and got to an interview stage, is there a way to tactfully point out that a job with no benefits doesn’t really make for a “career” in many people’s eyes?
Hell yeah, it’s disingenuous. What they’re telling you, very clearly, is that they want professional level skills and commitment, but they’re not willing to compensate you in accordance with the market norms for those things.
I wouldn’t bother applying on the hope that you could convince them to change their mind; it would almost certainly be a waste of your time. Plus, they were at least transparent enough to tell you their terms up-front, so you should do them the courtesy in return of taking them at their word and not taking up their time if you’re not willing to accept those terms.
4. Misdirected emails when you have a common name
I have a very common name – both first and last. I recently started an entry level job at a large international company, and I’ve been periodically receiving emails that are very clearly intended for other people. It’s an easy mistake to make – our email addresses are all name@company format, and the address book will autofill with the closest match when you type a name.
I’m comfortable sending a reply of, “Sorry, I think this was sent to me by mistake,” to an individual, but sometimes I’m copied into group emails. I don’t know how to handle that. Should I response privately or reply all so I don’t get copied into responses as well? What if the president of the company is part of the group or the original sender? (That’s actually happened.)
To complicate matters, I don’t have access to the email outside of work, and my hours don’t overlap with corporate hours. If something is sent on a Tuesday morning, I won’t see it until Friday night. Does the time gap change how I should respond? I’ve mostly been ignoring these emails, but I really doubt that’s the correct way to handle it.
Just write back (to the sender, not the whole group who received it) with a quick, “I think you meant this for a different Jane — wanted to let you know so you can get it to her.”
Doesn’t make a difference if the sender is the company president; she still needs to know that the person she meant to email hasn’t received it and needs to. And yes, say it even if you’re only seeing it days later; it’s not ideal, but it’s still better than the person assuming the other Jane has seen the email and not realizing that she hasn’t.
And definitely stop just ignoring them — that could end up reflecting badly on you if someone realizes it’s been happening and you haven’t bothered to point it out.
5. Back and forth when scheduling a start date
So my sister is 16, and she just got this job at a breakfast place. Her new manager originally wanted her to start her training this Friday, but she couldn’t – she’s going on a band trip with the school. Then they suggested Wednesday, but she can’t do that either, since she’s going to a track meet, and if she doesn’t go to that one, she won’t qualify for regionals. The place is only open until 3 PM most days, and the training is an hour and lasts from 3 PM until 4 PM, but obviously this track meet would take all day.
When you’re scheduling a start date, is it generally better to lay out all the days in the near future that you won’t be available up front? That’s what I’m kind of thinking, because so far both days that the manager has suggested have not been an option for her. She’s treating this worryingly casually, because even though one of her friends is the daughter of the owners, it’s still a business, right? I don’t think it would make sense to pull the job offer over it, but I don’t know how this all works.
I’m 17 and in my first job myself, in a retail environment, (and funnily enough my best friend’s mom is my manager), but I didn’t have to deal with this kind of run-around when I started my job (there were three or four training shifts that I had to go through, and I wasn’t available for two of them, but I was in the office with her when she was scheduling me and I was able to list everything out right there). Maybe it varies from job to job. I don’t know. Does it look pretentious or anything if you list all of your unavailable days right away?
Your instincts are right. It doesn’t look pretentious, but it does make you look unnecessarily difficult if you end up in a back and forth that gets dragged out because you didn’t just explain all your availability right away. In your sister’s defense, I can see why she didn’t think to do it in the first exchange, but by the time there was a second scheduling conflict, she should have said something like, “I apologize! I already have a commitment Wednesday as well, but I could do any other afternoon in the next two weeks except for May 17 and 20. Is there another afternoon that would work?” The idea is to make it as easy on the employer to schedule as she can, without requiring more back and forth to pick a date — and also to make it look like the training really is a priority for her and something she’s helping to make happen, rather than just passively relying on them to make it happen for her. Please advise her!