It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…
1. How important is a local area code when job-searching?
I recently graduated and moved to the Seattle area to be closer to family. In this time of mobility, how important is it to have a local area code? My number is from the Las Vegas area with the associated low taxes. If I transfer my number to a local one, my taxes for cell service will increase by an order of magnitude. And that’s a real budget hit. How vital is it to have a local number, even though I have a local address?
I’m in D.C., where everyone is transient and so tons of people have non-local area codes and it’s completely normal. My sense is that it’s a non-issue for other parts of the country too, but I don’t actually know that for sure — as I am here and not there — so I’d welcome people confirming/refuting that in the comments.
2. Candidates keep calling and hanging up on my voicemail, over and over
I have a new question regarding your post “Don’t stalk my voicemail” from 2010. I read through the comments but didn’t see any advice pertaining to this particular situation.
Lately I’ve had a number of candidates miss my call for their scheduled phone interview and then call me back repeatedly (the last one called back 44 times in less than two hours). Every voicemail I leave clearly states that my schedule for the week is pretty full (it is, unless we have a rare slow week) but that I will call them back at the first available time I have. Those call-backs are usually done during no shows, so I don’t have a specific time to give.
This is happening with probably 5-6 candidates a week, so it is holding up my other work. When I leave a voicemail for candidates, I’d like to specify that they should only call back once/leave one message. How would you phrase this request?
I wouldn’t ask them to call back at all — I’d tell them to email you about rescheduling. It’s more efficient and it allows you to respond to them when it’s convenient.
And actually, since these are scheduled phone interviews, I wouldn’t reschedule at all unless when they reach out to you, they proactively offer a compelling excuse for missing the call, because missing a scheduled interview isn’t something you should take lightly. To convey that it’s not an automatic reschedule, I’d say something in your message like, “I’m calling you at 2 p.m. for our scheduled phone call. If you get this in the next few minutes, please call me back at ___. Otherwise, if you’re still interested in the position, please email me at ____.” Then, when they email you, you can factor in whether they sound mortified or cavalier about missing the appointment.
3. Employer harassed me about pumping at work
I was an exempt employee, mid-level manager who was lactating for about one year when I was told I was no longer allowed to pump in my office because it made others uncomfortable. I was forced to use a lactation room, and even if it was occupied I would have to wait.
I developed mastitis because of the issue, and even though I had to start weaning the baby because of the harassment and hardship, I attempted to relieve myself behind a bathroom stall, when my employer followed me in and waited behind the door, insisting that I was not allowed to pump/relieve my engorged breasts in the bathroom.
Two months later, I was fired after I brought it to HR’s attention. My main question is, what do you make of the bathroom policing?
I make of it that your employer subjected you to a hostile work environment, possibly illegally so.
Because the federal law that requires breaks and appropriate pumping space for breastfeeding mothers is part of the Fair Labor Standards Act, it only applies to employees who are non-exempt (as that literally means “not exempt from the FLSA”). In other words, there’s no federal law that gives exempt employees those same protections. However, some state laws do, so you might check if your state is among them. (Also, the Supporting Working Moms Act of 2015 would extend those protections to exempt employees. It’s currently in a congressional committee, and if you support it, you should ask your members of Congress to support it too.)
However, it’s very possible that a court would consider the bathroom behavior to be sex-based discrimination or a violation of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. An employment lawyer could talk to you about all the details and advise you on that.
And speaking of being exempt…
4. Asking to reevaluate whether I’m exempt
Is there a tactful way to ask my manager if we can reevaluate whether I’m exempt? Last spring, my office suddenly reclassified everyone as non-exempt. I was told not to work more than 40 hours a week without prior approval, and my then-manager and I discussed workload and accepted the new classification. I was a bit surprised at my reclassification but did have quite a bit of discretion on initiating new processes, so I thought maybe they were just trying to fall on the safe side.
The owner heard I was reclassified as non-exempt and had me switched back to exempt because my work “is very important” and I often have to stay late. Not the best logic, but there you go.
Recently, my work has become less and less independent. I’m told to research a number, get a letter prepared, create a list of leads, etc. and I do it. I also consistently work 45+ hours a week, though my timesheet isn’t allowed to show more than 40. I’m starting to really doubt that I’m exempt, and want to raise it with my new manager.
Yeah, they can’t make you exempt just because your work is important and you stay late. In fact, it’s really not up to them whether your role is exempt or non-exempt; they need to comply with the definitions laid out by the federal government.
If you’ve looked at the qualifications for each and are pretty sure you should be non-exempt, I’d say this: “I’m concerned that my role doesn’t actually meet the federal regulations for being exempt because of X and Y. I think we could get into trouble if we miscategorize me, so I wanted to ask that someone take another look at it.”
5. Should I apply for jobs where I don’t meet all the qualifications?
When I attended the Illinois Paralegal Association (IPA) career seminar last October, they told us if the job ad states they want someone experienced or someone with a specific amount of experience (2-5 years, 3 years, 5 years, 5-7 years, etc.), then we shouldn’t apply because that’s what they want and there’s no sense or point in applying for something where you’re not qualified.
However, several paralegals in a couple of online posting communities I’m a part of have told me that the IPA gave me terrible advice and see no harm in applying for jobs you’re not qualified for, as you may be able to eventually convince the employer of hiring someone with little to no experience in an effort to save them money should you be able to secure an interview as a result of applying.
I see it as a waste of time to apply for a job in which they require someone really experienced, as I’ve seen plenty of job ads that tell applicants if they don’t meet the requirements then not even bother because no one will even look at their résumé. What’s your take on this?
Employers frequently end up hiring someone with less experience than what they put in the ad. Of course, there are limits to this; if they’re asking for 10 years of experience, there’s no point in applying if you only have two. But if you’re close to what they want but not exactly there (for example, you have two years of experience and they’re asking for three to five), you should apply, especially if you’re a pretty close match on the rest of the qualifications.
In some cases, the requirements in job ads truly are rigid. But much more frequently, there’s some flexibility in there. If you can make a compelling case for your ability to excel at the job, go ahead and apply (and make that case).