It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…
1. Should I say something about my coworker regularly bringing her granddaughter to work?
A part-time work colleague has started bringing her granddaughter to work regularly. It isn’t a huge distraction, but I don’t think it’s very professional. Her granddaughter doesn’t stay for just an hour, she stays her for most of the day. Truly, I do get that childcare is hard to come by (I’m a working mom and have run into my own fair share of childcare nightmares), but this is becoming a regular thing, and no one is addressing it.
I’m not this employee’s supervisor. We just work in the same office and collaborate on several projects. Her granddaughter isn’t a huge distraction. She’s a quiet, sweet girl who doesn’t cause a ruckus. My only concern is with professionalism. Should I bring this up to her manager?
Is there any chance her manager doesn’t know but would care if she did? If so (like if the manager works from a different location), then yes, it’s worth mentioning. Or, is part of your job to think about and manage the way this stuff can look to others? (For instance, this could be the case if you have clients or reporters visit you at work regularly and think it looks unprofessional to them, or if you’re part of your organization’s management structure and thus charged with caring about things like this, or so forth). But if neither of those things are the case, since it’s not impacting your ability to get your work done, I think it’s not your issue to deal with.
2. Negotiating pay if I fill in during my manager’s maternity leave
I’m in an entry-level role at my company due to a poorly-executed career change, so I’m older than the colleagues at my level. Recently, the manager I’m working with was told by her doc to go on early maternity leave, which leaves her post open for about 6 months. I have been asked to take over during this period.
I’m excited to have this opportunity but am concerned about a few things. I’m on contract so I know they will not change my job title. When I asked for increased compensation, they said they could only provide periodic bonuses and would get back to me. Tomorrow, they will likely share details on the amount and frequency. I know for a fact that my manager makes at least $70k more than I do. The team is saying I should use this as a chance to prove my capabilities, and that they may convert me to a permanent role once my contract expires.
What would you recommend I do? If I’m reading this correctly, they’re going to low-ball me on the “side” bonus and promise (not a written commitment) a renewal later. The opportunity itself would be a good learning experience, but I’m tired of being undervalued. Apparently I can still turn this down, but another manager in the group would then have to take this on. I can also say goodbye to a permanent offer in that case.
Well, it’s very unlikely that they’re going to pay someone currently in an entry-level role anything even approaching $70K more. They’re also probably not expecting you to do your manager’s whole job; rather, they’re probably expecting you to just keep the basics running and fend off crises — which is a very different thing.
If you’re willing to take on the work, I’d try to get more than what they offer you right off the bat if that offer is low (but assume you won’t be able to get a ton above the initial offer; that just doesn’t tend to happen in cases like this), negotiate clear goals for the time period you’re filling in, and look at it as an opportunity to majorly build your resume and parlay it into something else afterwards (either there or somewhere else) — which, given what you say about your career change, might be worth far more than a few months’ extra pay anyway.
3. Employer wants my Social Security number before I’m even interviewed
I was recently contacted by a company that previously declined my job application. They have changed the description and my qualifications are now a match. They are a well-known firm. My problem is that the hiring manager scheduled a phone interview and sent an application and consent form (credit report) and asked that I fill them out and send them back ASAP. That requires my Social Security number. Shouldn’t she wait until she conducts the interview and face to face interview before asking me to give her my personal business? I will not give her the information unless I receive a job offer. I’m not sure how to articulate that in an email without sounding standoffish. Help please?
“I’m really excited about this role, but I’ve been advised not to give out out my Social Security number until we’re at a stage in the process where it’s necessary for a background check.”
You may need to give it out before you get an offer; it’s necessary for some (but not all) background checks. But they certainly don’t need it before an interview, and they shouldn’t be doing credit checks unless you’re applying for a job that deals directly with money. (Also, note that 10 or so states explicitly ban credit checks in employment.)
4. References when you’ve been a freelancer
I’ve read a lot of your posts, being in the second round or so of interviews, and it’s time to start worrying about references. You mention often that it is a red flag when candidates’ references don’t include any managers. What I’m wondering is how freelancers deal with this.
I’m in a field that’s very small, specialized and somewhat incestuous, and it consists of a lot of freelancers and very few full-time staff members. I’ve freelanced for several years and am fairly respected for my work. But it does mean I don’t have a manager, and thus I don’t have any people who’ve managed me who can serve as references. This isn’t as much of a problem in my experience when interviewing for jobs within my field, because everyone knows what the deal is — but the other thing about my field is that it’s in poor shape, perhaps permanently, and eventually I might have to leave it. How do I go about this?
Yeah, this is different when you’ve been a freelancer for a while. When you’ve been an employee, not being able to give manager references is a red flag because it raises obvious concerns about why you don’t want an employer talking to any of your past managers. In your case, though, you simply haven’t had past managers — different situation. Instead, I’d explain the situation and offer the clients who worked with you most closely.
5. Bankruptcy cooties
I’m a recent grad applying for work. While I was in school, I was working full time in administration and sales, for a small retail environment. Sadly, the company went bankrupt about six months ago. I took the opportunity to focus all my energy on finishing my degree, including taking a semester abroad.
I’m working on a cover letter for a fast-paced organization and find my skills aligning with the job posting. Some of these skills are things I developed as a direct result of my former employer’s bankruptcy — switching hats rapidly, and covering complex duties on the fly. Would it be weird to discuss that experience in my cover letter? I’m not worried about “bankruptcy cooties,” for lack of a better term — the job is public sector.
Not weird at all. It could even potentially get mentioned on your resume, in the context of explaining work you did.