It’s four answers to four questions. Here we go…
1. Child care reimbursement for a weekend-long team-building retreat
I work for a company that has a team-building retreat one weekend a year. We are at the event Friday through Sunday (so two overnights). In that time, we have two substantive meetings of about 2.5 hours each. The rest of the time is spent at spas, wineries, shopping, golfing, etc. Spouses are highly encouraged to attend, but children are not allowed. Attendance is not required per se, but it is highly encouraged and if you miss it, there better be a good reason. Similarly, if your spouse does not come, management wants to know why.
My question is whether the attendees who must find and pay for care for children for two nights and days can seek reimbursement of those costs. If this were really for business, or during the week, I could see why not, but it is more of a forced fun event and really, a boondoggle.
Very, very unlikely. Your better bet is to attend without your spouse and explain that he or she isn’t there because you have children who couldn’t be left alone. And beyond that, it might also be useful to get a group of employees to push back against the “you need a good reason for missing this” situation, because asking people to give up an entire weekend (even if it’s full of spas and wineries) is enough of an imposition that they should make it more truly optional than it currently sounds.
2. Can I tell an employer I really want a higher level position than the one I’m interviewing for?
I’m a computer programmer/systems analyst, and I’ve gone through some denied-a-promotion adventures this year for a team lead position. Lots of drama and pain. Long story short, even though I have proven myself and am more than capable of running my own projects and team, I have been all but told that I am too valuable in my current position. That was six months ago, and I’ve been job hunting ever since. (Don’t worry – I didn’t quit my job yet!)
I started looking at only team lead positions to apply to, but have recently started looking at the possibility of sidestepping into the same position at another organization just for the sake of getting out of my current (now toxic) work environment. I’m starting to get some traction with both the team lead positions and the sidestep positions and have been writing some job exams as the first stage of the interview process. The next step after these will be formal interviews.
In these possible upcoming interviews where it would be a sidestep, is it worthwhile mentioning that I really am looking for a position that is one level higher than what the posted position is for? How will that come across? Clearly, they’re hiring for that specific position and not one higher up for a reason. Could it possibly ruin my chances of getting into one of these organizations where there’s more room for career growth? I could mention it as a 5-year goal, but the reality is that I’m not prepared to wait that long and genuinely feel that I am overdue for this.
Nope, you shouldn’t mention that you’re really looking for a higher level position; that’s basically like announcing “I don’t actually want the job that you’re trying to fill and will quickly be trying to move out of it.” Employers want to hire people who are excited about the job they’re putting them in, not already feeling overdue to move up.
In fact, I think you probably need to resolve that mentally before you keep applying for lateral moves. If you’re going to feel frustrated six months into one of those jobs, you’ll have done yourself and the employer a disservice. I think you’ve got to either figure out a way to be reasonably happy at that level for a couple of years, or apply for positions that are at the level you want to be at.
3. How to ask a prospective employer for a schedule where I’d leave early
I am currently searching for a new job (still working at current job but unhappy for many reasons), and in anticipation of interviews, I’m wondering how to ask for specific work hours. I have a one-year daughter who attends a daycare that we adore, but it is only open until 4:30, which means I need to leave work to pick her up before then. At my current job, I’ve modified my hours so I come in early, take a short lunch, and leave early. I’m also available to work at home in the evening if needed. I’d really like to continue this schedule and not have to find a new daycare. I know I’m lucky to have an accommodating workplace, and that has stopped me from perusing other opportunities that are better career-wise. If it matters, the type of positions are upper-level research and development roles that involve working with a team as well as a lot of solo work.
How do I bring this up? In the past, I’ve always accepted the terms as they were offered (and kick myself afterwards), so I don’t have a lot of negotiating experience. Am I crazy for even asking a potential employer to accommodate this sort of schedule without only being considered for lower-level positions? I feel a trapped in my current job because it fits our family needs so well, but I also want to advance my career.
Wait until you have an offer, and bring it up then as something you negotiate for. An employer may or may not agree, but it’s not unreasonable to ask for it. If they won’t agree to it, then you can decide whether the rest of the package is attractive enough to make it worth it to you anyway, or you can always turn it down. But you’re better off trying to negotiate it once you have an offer; if you bring it up earlier in the process, you risk it being a strike against you before they’ve made up their mind that they want you, or the hiring manager just not wanting to sort through it before they’ve even figured out if they want to hire you.
4. Will I be penalized for not identifying my race when a job application asks for it?
I have a question regarding race on job applications. Every job application that I apply to online asks that I identify my race/ethnicity on the application (I am African American) or declare that I wish not to identify my race. Does not declaring my race put me at a disadvantage? I don’t want any potential employers viewing my actions of not declaring my race in the online application as trying to hide something.
They’re asking because companies with more than 100 employees and companies with government contracts over a certain dollar amount are required by law to report the demographic makeup of their applicants and employees to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (in aggregate, not individually).
However, answering is voluntary, and you can’t be penalized for not answering. In fact, it’s illegal to use the information in a hiring decision (except for the part where they asked about veteran status; it’s legal to give veterans a preference in hiring), and that information is usually separated from the rest of your application in order to avoid even the appearance of it entering into decisions.