It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…
1. My employer is trying to guilt me into volunteering extra hours for free
I graduated last May and am working my first job in my field as a social media person for a nonprofit. I am paid hourly as a non-exempt, part-time employee. No benefits and low hourly wage as funds are tight, but between a second part-time job and some help from my parents in rent subsidy and their health care, I’m doing all right.
I love my job and am getting great experience and meeting so many people, but my boss and her boss are getting irritated with me. They sat me down in my first review and challenged my dedication to the cause. They said people who are successful put in MINIMUM 30-plus hours per week. They also respond 24-7 to calls and emails so that their colleagues can proceed and the mission moves forward. (To be clear, they would not be paying me for any hours over 20 a week).
I said I was trying to keep up, but that this is a 20-hour per week job and I just can’t survive because I need the second job to live, so I need more hours paid from this one if I’m going to drop the other one. (My other boss gets mad when he catches me doing this work during slow times at that job.) I thought that would help, but they said I have to suck it up these years if I want to make it. They then told me that others in my position have gone to food banks or dinners for the poor so they could cut down on their food bills. By living as our clients do, they don’t put themselves in the position of getting a second job that stops them from putting in the time you need to succeed. They also asked how I could show such selfishness when a dollar to me is necessarily taken away from those we serve. I assured them I didn’t mean to be selfish. They said they understood but that others might take it the wrong way.
They each said before they met their eventual partners they put in their dues. One’s is a partner in a law firm and the other owns a couple of very successful restaurants and nightclubs, by the way.
I understand hard work, and it’s nothing my friends who just started in law firms or in teaching aren’t doing. But they’re in salaried positions and get benefits. I can’t even get official hours added to my pay because fundraising is flat, and higher overhead will hurt our Charity Navigator score. Can you help me think through some solutions, or at least figure how long I need to live like this?
You don’t want to work for this organization. They’re badgering you to do something unreasonable and illegal. Employees can’t “volunteer” their hours for free to their employer, even at nonprofits. Plus, suggesting that you rely on food banks to get by? Calling you selfish for wanting to make a living wage? That’s an outrage. This is not normal at a nonprofit; this is something really messed up about this particular organization and the people running it.
Get out get out get out.
2. Recruiter wants to prep my references
The recruiter I’m working with for a position requested that they speak to all of my references to “prep” them before handing over my list of references to the employer for them to call. Is this normal?
As some background, the recruiter has scheduled a “prep” meeting with me before every step of the interview process. So, I had a 1-hour prep meeting before my 1-hour phone interview with the hiring manager, then another 30-minute prep meeting before a 40-minute phone interview with the VP. Even though I think the prep meetings are overkill and I feel like I’m being treated little bit like a child by the recruiter, I’m willing to put up with it since I think the role is a great fit for me, is a nice pay bump, and has a distinct advancement path.
But I think it’s asking a lot of my references to have them be coached/prepped by a recruiter first. If this is not a normal thing, how do I politely tell the recruiter this without ruining my chances at the position?
No, it’s not normal. I’d say this: “My references are busy and I’m not comfortable asking them to take the additional time for a prep call. These are people who I need to be able to call on in the future too, and I don’t want to use up too much of their time now. I know they’re happy to be references for me, but I don’t think they’d be thrilled to be asked to spend time prepping for it. And really, I feel like the employer and I are best served by them being candid with reference checkers.”
Frankly, there’s such a thing as too much prep for you too — you want to get a job where you’re a natural fit, after all, so that the chances of you excelling in it and being happy there are high. That recruiter isn’t going to be prepping you once you’re on the job, so both you and the employer are far better off knowing how you do without all that prep.
3. I don’t want to be listed on my company’s website because of past stalking
I grew up in a pretty messed-up household full of abuse. Now as an adult earning my own way, I have gone No Contact with family for my safety and sanity. These “people” have tried to kill me, abused me in every way possible, sabotaged past employment and education opportunities, and stalked me. I live my life like a hermit now to stay off the grid. That means they do not know where I live or work.
Well, I just recently found out that my job posted all staff’s names publically online, as they say it’s policy to do so. So if my abusive and psychotic family members decided they wanted to ruin everything for me again, all they would have to do if google my name and see my job’s location, company address, and my professional email. How do I go about addressing the issue while staying professional and not indulging too much personal information, as I don’t want anyone in my business? It’s an office and office gossip is a thing everywhere. I feel as though my safety has been compromised and I feel like I need to walk looking over my shoulder. What is the best way to solve this?
It’s pretty common to post staff listings online. For most people, it doesn’t cause any problems. But for some people — like you — it does, and in those cases reasonable employers will remove your info. I’d say this: “I had a situation in the past where I was stalk and harassed and have had to be careful not to list anything identifying my whereabouts online for safety reasons. I can’t have anything identifying where I live or work online. Can we exclude my name from the staff listing online?”
4. Checking in with my staff on my day off
I am a new manager for a retail company. What are your thoughts on me checking in on my day off to see if everything is running smoothly and what the sales are for the day?
It depends on the needs of the work. Does it go smoothly without you there? Do they know what types of emergencies you’d want to be contacted about? Is there some reason that you need to know the sales numbers that day and it can’t wait until tomorrow?
In general, the default should be that your days off is actual days off, unless there’s some real reason that they truly can’t be. That’s better for you, it sets a healthier example for your staff, and it allows people to learn to function in your absence (which you need unless you want to be tied to your work every day forever until you leave).
5. What to say in an email to a contact in the company where I’ll be interning
I’m a grad student and interning at my dream job this summer. I met someone at a work event last year at the same agency in a related department and would like to send an email re-introducing myself and letting him know I am looking forward to my internship this summer. I still have his card but am struggling to write an email that is not overly-friendly. I don’t have a specific ask, such as showing me around or taking me to coffee, since I imagine someone else will do that, but I would really like to say something since I need to work on developing my professional network.
“Hey Bob! We met at the Teapots Dinner last August, and you were incredibly helpful talking to me about spout design. I wanted to reach out and let you know that I’m going to be interning in Teapots Inc.’s communications department this summer, starting on May 20. I hope to get to reconnect while I’m there — I’d love to learn more about what you’re working on these days.”