It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…
1. Cutting the salary of a disappointing new hire
We hired an employee almost two months ago who seemed to have quite a lot of experience in our field (which is rare in our city). She asked for a higher salary than entry-level, which we were okay with giving based on her experience. Now, almost two months in, it’s become obvious to us that she actually doesn’t have as much experience in the field as she thought she did and her work is only slightly better than what we get from candidates straight out of school or switching into this industry from another one. Essentially, we regret paying her the higher salary and feel that she isn’t worth it. Legally, we know that we can reduce it a bit, but should we? And if so, how do we handle that situation? (She is at $60k. Entry level for us is $45k, possibly $50k. We haven’t settled on a firm number yet.)
Nope, don’t do it. It’s not fair — you agreed to a salary when you offered her the job, and she may have left a previous job and/or turned down other offers because of the salary you offered her. Lowering it now would be a bait and switch, and you’d be asking her to shoulder the burden of you not doing enough diligence to really investigate her skills before you hired her. (That’s not necessarily your fault; no one hires perfectly every time.)
What you can and should do is to talk to her about where she’s falling short and what you need to see from her to improve. You could also tell her that in order to stay at this salary level, you’d need to see (specific changes) in the next X months. That way you’d be giving her some warning and an opportunity to improve, rather than just blindsiding her with a salary cut. Be aware, though, that if you do that, it’ll likely be a serious hit to her morale and there’s a decent chance that you’ll lose her — if not immediately, then pretty soon afterwards.
It might make more sense to just write this off as the price of a lesson learned about better verifying people’s skills during the hiring process. (In fact, this will be a fairly cheap lesson if it becomes that — some employers never learn it!)
2. My company refuses to let me remove the lights above my desk
I sit in a cubicle at work all day. The overhead lighting is everywhere and bright as hell. I have a dry eye condition, and the brightness dries my eyes and sometimes causes headaches. I’ve asked my supervisor if they can take the bulbs out from the lighting right above my desk. I was told to get a doctor’s note, which I did. The doctor’s note stated that the lights should be dimmed in my area due to my eye condition. The note went to my supervisor and HR. Someone in facilities came by and took one (yes, one!) bulb out. It made no difference whatsoever. I asked if they can take all three out–keep in mind that there is plenty of lighting in my surrounding area, even if the three bulbs were taken off. Anyway, so now I get a meeting request from HR to “discuss.” Really?
Okay, so me, my supervisor and HR have a meeting, and I was told by HR that they can only remove twi bulbs and if that doesn’t work there are other options. Here are the options she gave me: use eye drops (which I already use per my doctor’s recommendation) and the second option is to get glare-resistant lenses on my glasses. What?? Really? She said the reason why the three bulbs can’t be removed is “in case IT has to go under my desk for any reason” (it’s always going to be dark under the desk, with or without lights!) and the other reason is “because janitors need light to clean.” There are plenty of lights everywhere! It’s not like I’m asking them to purchase some expensive chair or desk to accommodate me. Does this sound ridiculous to you?
Yes. Very. Your company sucks. There was no reason they should have made you get a doctor’s note in the first place (I mean, really, do they think you’re somehow trying to game the system into … having less light?), and they’re being ridiculous about it now. If you want to pursue it, I’d look into whether your condition is likely covered by the ADA and, if it is, approach it from that angle since they’d be required to engage in an interactive process with you to find solutions that will work on both ends.
3. I lied in an interview but then confessed
I recently got an interview with my county to become a dispatcher for emergency services. During the interview, I was asked if I knew anyone in the department or who dispatched. I answered yes, because my friend from high school does in fact work there. But then I told a lie to make myself sound more experienced and qualified I said my “cousin” worked for the public safety office in a neighboring county. Then they began to probe, and I kept lying because I froze up.
I used a fake name and everything. But only minutes after leaving the interview, I called the supervisor back and told the truth, that I just wanted to look good to the company.
Now I’m nervous that they won’t hire me. (I’m almost certain.) Do you think that they won’t hire me, even though I told her the truth and apologized?
Yes, I think they won’t hire you. Lying is a big deal, even if you confess it later, because it says something about your integrity and how trustworthy you are. This employer knows very little about you, but one thing they do know is that you lied to look better when you felt under pressure. That’s not something employers want to knowingly invite on to their staffs.
We all make silly mistakes, but sometimes the price of them is that we take ourselves out of the running for a job/a date/a promotion/a Powerball win. Write this one off, and figure out how to avoid whatever prompted you to do it.
4. My promised promotion hasn’t come through yet
I’ve been at a big and well-known media company for about two years now, where I was hired in an entry-level position with the caveat that because of my master’s degree, I’d be looking at a promotion in a year. My list of responsibilities has continued to grow, including essentially taking over the roles that were once covered by not one, but two, senior professionals. I’ve been praised for my work and at my first annual review told I was “highly valuable” and received the highest merit raise possible. I decided to ask for a promotion back in September, and my boss (the VP of my department) told me that without a doubt, I was doing the job of the level above me and deserved the promotion and it would just depend on HR and my “big” boss (his boss).
Fast forward to a few weeks ago, when my boss told me that I would be getting the promotion on my work anniversary (this week). I let him know I was excited (but also took it with a grain of salt, because my boss sometimes over-promises … and I had a feeling this might be one of those times). I come into the office today and my boss tells me that there are going to be a ton of layoffs tomorrow (I know I’m not included in this) and that he spoke to his boss and my promotion won’t happen on my anniversary date after all. He mentioned that they can’t promote someone when they do all of these layoffs. He then went on to say that my promotion was “a done deal, it’s happening” and when I asked when he thought it would be, he said “closer to February.”
Does it sound like I’m being toyed with, or should I just be grateful I’m being told I’m getting a promotion at all? Is it normal to be told when you are getting a promotion to begin with? I feel like I’ve been very patient and putting in the work, but I don’t want to get jerked around. I’d love to go to HR and discuss this, but I know that to my boss, that would like I was going over his head. I’m really at a loss for what to do – just sit around and wait for it to happen or push for a date?
I’d take him at his word. He could have easily told you that it was on hold indefinitely, but he didn’t; he told you “a done deal, it’s happening.” Unless he has a track record of lying to you, I’d be believe him. Not being able to deal with this in the middle of layoffs is perfectly reasonable.
If February rolls around and he puts you off again, at that point I’d have more concerns — but so far none of this seems like major cause for concern.
5. How to let an out-of-state company know I’ll be in their area this weekend
I found a job posting for what sounds like the perfect job for me with a company that, no joke, I have dreamed of working for since I was in high school. Of course, I immediately applied, but the catch is that this job is with an office that is part of a larger nationwide company. This means that, of course, my application went into their big, centralized system, and the person who will have the first contact with it will likely not even be in the same state, let alone the same office, as the job itself. This is a little concerning to me because I tend to struggle to present myself on paper, and the job that I currently hold is not in the same field as the one I’m applying for. (The bills weren’t going to pay themselves while I job hunted, so I had to take what I could.)
The job is in a city that is 750 miles away from where I live now. I usually make a trip up there once a year for personal reasons, and by luck, this weekend is that trip. I feel like I should do something to put myself on their radar while I have the chance, but I fear crossing the line into “gimmick” territory. My first instinct was to reach out to the person who would be my boss if I got that job, but it would be obvious that I had done some detective work to get ahold of his email, as it’s not actually published on the company website anywhere. That seemed a little creepy to me. My second instinct was to use LinkedIn, but to be honest, I am not super savvy with LinkedIn, and this person’s profile seemed sparse enough to suggest that he wasn’t a big LinkedIn user either. My third thought was to simply stop by and drop off a business card and maybe resume as I passed through town, but that seemed amateurish, clumsy, and the exact opposite of what you would say to do.
What, if anything, should I do? It seems silly to let my application sit unnoticed in HR purgatory when I’m going to be right there. I would feel better about this whole situation if there was some easier way for me to get introduced, but my main networking contact from the last job I had in that field and that city (about four years ago) brushed me off the last time I asked for his help.
Most hiring managers won’t find it creepy that you figured out who they are; having people track you down like that is a pretty common part of hiring. (I mean, don’t contact him at home; that would be creepy. But otherwise, most people won’t have an issue with it.) Send him an email and say that you applied for the X job through their online system but that you wanted to let him know that you’re going to be in town this weekend, and that if he thinks it would be useful to meet and it happens to be convenient for him, you’d be glad to set up a time to talk. Attach your application materials to this email.
From there, it’s in his court. You may hear nothing, you may hear “we’re not interviewing candidates yet,” you may hear “HR handles these early stages and I don’t know where the process stands,” or you may hear “yes, let’s set up an interview.” If you don’t get a positive response, at that point you’ll need to let it drop — do not under any circumstances just show up at their office, which will mark you as out of touch and a bit annoying.