asking a client to cover child care costs, did I over-share about my new salary, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. My assistant quit because of St. Patrick’s Day pinching

This letter got so much interest that I made it into its own post, so that it didn’t overwhelm the comment section here.

2. Can I ask for child care costs to be covered as as contractor?

I’m a part-time, work-from-home, freelance contractor for a professional organization. Most of the time, I set my own hours. This is good, because I have a one-year-old at home, so I try to do most of my work during his naps, on weekends, and in the evenings after bedtime. If there are time-dependent obligations, like a meeting I have to attend, they’re usually in the evenings, so I can call in after bedtime.

One exception is the professional development courses we host, which happen during the workweek. For those, I have to be on-site doing registration and being the organization’s point person. Those are usually held on Mondays, which is fine, because my in-laws, who work Tuesday-Saturday, can come over and babysit (the logistics of a part-time working mom life consist of many moving parts :D). However, my organization has just signed up to man a booth a conference next month, and informed me that I’ll need to be there for “as much time is reasonable.” The conference is Tuesday through Thursday, three full days.

Childcare in my city is usually about $15 an hour, while I’m paid $18. Being on-site means that my net income is drastically reduced those days, to almost nothing. Is this something I should share with the board’s president? And is it reasonable to ask for a childcare stipend for events that must be attended in-person that I can’t cover for free? I think of this as being something like a travel or hotel stipend for out-of-town board members, and it’s a cost that I’m incurring because I work for them. How would you suggest that I approach this as a contractor?

Typically contractors roll this kind of thing into their rates, or charge a travel fee (which doesn’t really apply here). It would be unusual for a contractor to say “I need you to cover my child care.”

But are you sure you meet the legal definition for a contractor? What you’ve described sounds more like a part-time employee. If you’re truly a contractor, though, then you can set your own rates, which means that you can say, “This is a bit different from our regular arrangement, which lets me work around my child care obligations. For daytime work, I charge $X/hour. Knowing that, does it still make sense for me to be on-site for this event?” (You could even leave out that first sentence, but for an organization that you work closely with, it often makes sense to give some context.)

3. Did I over-share about my new salary?

I recently started interviewing for positions at director level with 10-15 direct reports. However, I am relocating from a bigger market to a second tier market and the pay in general in my new city is less, like 20-30% less.

I found an interesting opportunity in my new town and interviewed with a senior VP and a team of the people I’d be working with. I was told they liked me and could expect a job offer soon. They mentioned they would struggle to meet my current pay but that if they put me at a director level in the HR system, it would come close.

Then early the next week, I was promoted unexpectedly at my current job (I fly in to work in the old, bigger city and work remotely from my new city a few days a week). I let the company I’d been interviewing with know that I’d just been promoted to a director-level position, and though I was still very interested in working with their team, I’d just been promoted and I’d received a raise.

I never heard back from the senior VP again. I emailed HR a week later and then two weeks lat,er and each time I was told by HR that they expected the VP to reach out any day, but they did not have any other information. I did not have his direct contact information or otherwise I would have emailed or called him directly.

My wife says I should not have talked about money or the recent promotion until I received an offer in writing. I was trying to set expectations of salary in an honest way, but did I overshare?

No. You gave them relevant information that sounds like it probably changed the calculation on their side — but the fact that it changed it doesn’t mean that it was a mistake to tell them.

They’d already told you that they were going to struggle to meet your current pay, so once you told them that you’d received a raise, they probably figured that it didn’t make sense to proceed, since now they’d be coming in well under your new salary. And presumably you were telling them about the raise because you would have wanted them to be able to meet it — which it sounds like they didn’t feel equipped to do. That wouldn’t have changed if you’d waited for them to make an offer before mentioning it.

4. Mentioning YouTube training in my cover letter

I’m in the process of applying for jobs after taking about 18 months off after moving halfway across the country and having a second kid. I’ve been volunteering specifically at nonprofits where I can meet people and make a bigger impact. That said, I still feel rusty and am nervous about my prospects.

My question: I’m applying for positions in development positions, and most prefer candidates with specific database software experience that I do not have (I’ve mostly worked with Excel). In my research for the job, I’ve started watching YouTube videos about the software they specify. Can I mention my YouTube “training” on my cover letter?

I wouldn’t. It’s not likely to convince them that you have real experience with the software (since it’s a different thing than actually using it), and it potentially will come across as a little naive for that reason.

But if you have a way of actually using the software and teaching yourself that way, you can mention that you’ve taught yourself to use it.

5. Being asked to copy too many people on emails

In our business dealing with realtors, lenders, title companies, etc., we are frequently asked to copy other team members of a person we are dealing with. For example, I am in a house sale transaction and the lender wants me to copy five of his team members every time I send him information. This is something they should handle internally. I as the client, should not be responsible to remember the five people I need to copy so he can do his job properly.

How do I politely say “please handle that internally” in a nice way? We are way too busy to try to remember everyone’s team members we need to copy on a transaction. We handle that ourselves on our end. Why can’t they?

Yeah, it’s reasonable to ask you to send it to two people, but not five. You could say something like, “Realistically, we’re not likely to remember to copy five people every time. I can send to Jane and copy Fergus, but for anyone beyond that, can you handle it internally?” They may say no, but it’s a reasonable request for you to make.

(And really, they could make this much easier on you by setting up a distribution list for you to use, so you only have to enter one address and it would get sent to all five people.)

{ 130 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. Mike C.

    I really feel for OP4, because for so many software packages out there all you really need are a few YouTube videos or a well documented help system and you’re ready to go. The whole, “we need someone with five years experience in Outlook” type requirements can become a little silly.

    Reply
    1. Wendy Darling

      Also, a lot of software packages are out of reach of the general public. There’s a particular piece of software I’d like to get more experience with even just using it on my own time, but I ran out the 30-day trial a couple years ago and a personal license is $1000 so it’s not gonna happen.

      Reply
      1. Normally A Lurker

        Check with your local libraries. I can’t guarantee they have it, but they often purchase software packages so people can hands on experiences for job training. Also, ask the librarian if it’s possible.

        Reply
        1. starsaphire

          Community colleges, too. Sometimes you can pay a very small cost per unit to take a course and get a certificate in Photoshop or whatever, which does take a time commitment but is astonishingly cheaper than paying a grand for a software package.

          My JC used to have a self-paced system, although it seems from the website that they’ve phased it out — but it was pretty awesome that I could spend a few Saturdays in the computer lab and get a certificate that stated I was fluent in Access or Illustrator.

          Reply
      2. Newby

        The OP should see if there is a free trial for the software they need to learn. It is possible that playing around with it for a month would help a lot.

        Reply
    2. Over Development

      For a lot of software systems, I would agree, but most fundraising databases aren’t poke around with it for an afternoon and you’ll be fine.

      I’ve trained people on Raiser’s Edge and I can usually get most people to run the canned stuff easily. But there are a lot of naunces and things that take significant training and experience.

      (I also get frustrated because I’ve been responsible for cleaning up databases when people who didn’t know what they were doing are thrown untrained into Raiser’s Edge. It’s not pretty.)

      Reply
      1. Detective Amy Santiago

        I feel like that’s every database ever. I worked in Raiser’s Edge at my first job and I’ve worked in a number of proprietary databases and they all seem to be a mess.

        Basic stuff like Microsoft Office that has the same functionality everywhere you can learn from videos, but anything that is remotely customizeable is a whole different ball game.

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        1. Natalie

          At least in my experience with accounting software and databases, they’re semi-customized as well, so the kind of experience that gets to those nuances has to happen on the job.

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        2. FDCA In Canada

          Lord, yes. I’ve worked with different databases in different jobs, and it seems like no matter what there’s always some kind of knot to untangle that can be directly attributed to insufficient training. At my old job the database might have four or five listings for the same person–all with different key information in them–and consolidating all of that and fixing and cleaning took me literally months. Because someone, somewhere along the line, didn’t pay any attention to the intro and setup training.

          Reply
          1. Over Development

            I spent months unraveling and finally just rentering 300+ gifts because it was such a mess.

            I kept have to remind myself that the original person doing the entry was given zero training and simple had software installed on her computer that she was responsible for figuring out.

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          2. SophieChotek

            I hear you. I would like to wrest control of the databases at my company for the same reason; every time I ask for a list I get a different list or different info on the same person, or sometimes old information when I know I did research and found so-and-so moved. We’re not in fundraising, but I still have some minimal need to be able to contact our distributors, etc.

            Reply
      2. SignalLost

        Same, for Access. People who don’t know what they’re doing in a database are a biiiiiiig problem; once the data is gone, it’s gone. I would absolutely not consider YouTube videos a substitute for training in databases. (Though I probably would consider self-teaching from a textbook or competent, directed how-to guide a good start.)

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      3. paul

        Raiser’s Edge can go burn in hell. Our NGO wanted *everyone* to try to train on it, even people that are in direct client services rather than fundraising. Epic fail, and a huge waste of time. I think it was 3-5 years ago, and guess what? A week of training, I haven’t touched it since, and can’t remember anything except being aggrvated.

        Reply
        1. g

          We gave everyone a rudimentary training on it a few years ago. I found it helped staff that don’t use the program understand what the people who do use it need. We also found new ways to interact. But it is not a program you can really teach yourself.

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      4. CoveredInBees

        A big problem is inconsistency of use within organizations. At my last job, there must have been at least 15 people who’d entered information into the database over the 8 years they’d had it (this was a very small shop). There were no decided-upon conventions for entering the info (including how to code donations!!!) so everyone just did whatever they wanted. This was also a problem with our electronic and paper files.

        We also had the issue that whomever set up the original database options didn’t really know what they were doing so we can track things we don’t care about in detail (eg donor golf habits) but not things we do care about (like personal emails, phone calls, meetings).

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      5. Franzia Spritzer

        How do you get training on Raisers Edge? I see postings for work I’d be otherwise qualified for but I don’t have any experience with this software, (the orgs I worked with used an umbrella org to process gifts). It may be naive of me to think having it in my toolset would improve my prospects.

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        1. zora

          As people said above, find an organization you can volunteer with that gives you some training in it.

          Or, find a class, training, etc in ANY relational database. Honestly, most people who know what they are doing are going to look for a candidate that has experience in general with relational databases, because once you understand one, learning a specific software is the easy part. In the past, Access was the cheapest database, so you could see if lynda.com or a local community college offer a class in Access and see if you can start there.

          Also, depending on where you live, some cities have organizations that just do training for the nonprofit sector, and they might offer an affordable class in databases. In SF there’s an organization called CompassPoint, you might look around where you live to see if there is an organization or school that offers training for nonprofits.

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        2. DataQueen

          Learning another database will help, but learning the principles – not the tasks. I can’t tell you how many times people tell me they are database experts and then freeze when I put them in front of RE because “wait… the buttons aren’t in the same place.” So the other posters are right – learning another CRM system will absolutely help, but my advice is to focus on relational data – not on exactly how everything is done! Because everything will change between systems and even versions of the same system, but the principles will remain the same!

          Reply
    3. Dizzy Steinway

      Yes. I feel this way about InDesign. Not for graphic design, which does require in-depth knowledge I think, but for editors, because it really is just point and click – and you can learn it on the job easily enough ( I did, in a daily newsroom so not exactly somewhere with a relaxed pace). That might be going off-topic, though.

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      1. edj3

        We use it for all our training development and it’s most definitely NOT point and click for us. My writers are super smart, but it’s still a long ramp up time :(

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          1. KarenD

            LOL I was exactly the opposite – our PageMaker-based system was a nightmare; when we switched to InDesign, everyone got all wide-eyed about how easy it was. Most of us were up and running with about 10 hours’ training and only a few of us had any InDesign experience before that.

            That said, in both cases I think the real culprit/winner was our content management system. Programs like InDesign, sure someone can learn to use the out-of-the-box product but unless they’ve worked with a particular CMS/layout combo they aren’t really ready to jump into a product feet-first. That would be the big caveat with web training – some programs are often so heavily customized that they’re really different programs. If OP went to a potential employer saying “I know InDesign” the employer would probably understand that the OP would still need training, but a basic understanding of the kinds of things s/he can do would probably be a small point in favor.

            Reply
        1. SP

          Could you add InCopy to your workflow? It’s specifically designed so non-designers can edit an InDesign file. There’s a bit of a learning curve, but for stuff like magazines and newspapers, or publications with a lot of collaboration/contributors it’s very helpful, and it’s included in CC subscriptions.

          There are also some really great InDesign plug-ins from EmSoft (DocsFlow and WordFlow) that will live-merge edits in Word and Google files (in both directions) placed into ID, so editors never even have to open InDesign. They’re a little pricey, but I’m in book design and production and they’ve saved me countless hours AND tears.

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      2. Persephone Mulberry

        Yeah, training someone to do a few specific things in InDesign is one thing; even beginner-level general proficiency is entirely another. When I left my last job, my boss (who doesn’t even really know what InDesign is) wanted me to give an admin an hourlong “crash course” in the software so they could take over the marketing material design I had been doing. I flat out refused as it would have been a waste of everyone’s time.

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    4. NotoriousMCG

      Yeah, this doesn’t translate for nonprofit databases. Some nonprofits have to actually hire outside consulting experts to sort out or set up their databases for them because someone along the line messed it up a lot or the transferring protocols from the old database from the new are complex and you may lose valuable information if not handled correctly. Nonprofits (especially the devo department) live and breathe by having accurate and well-maintained databases, and people usually learn them in entry-level jobs or internships.

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      1. Over Development

        I have a friend who worked for one of the big consulting firms fixing databases :/ Or highly-customized crystal reports to try and extract some of the previous data.

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    5. Relosa

      I almost applied to an office management position–everything was great until the requirements read that I would have to take a written AND practical Excel exam and provide “letters of reference.”

      This is the age of the Internet. I grew up learning how to do MS-DOS commands at 5. My mom ran a data business for digitizing and archiving when it was a ~new thing~ –so I was taught how to figure out how to do what I needed instead of memorize protocols. So ridiculous. Quiz me, sure, or ask me to create something, but exams? No thank you.

      Reply
  2. Over Development

    LW#4, I completely agree with Alison.

    As the person on the team with the most database (Raiser’s Edge, Sales Force, Tessetura, etc.) I’m often the one judging people’s database experience and there’s nothing worse than someone who over states their ability or competence level.

    However, I do think it would be okay to raise this in an interview. When someone asks what’s your familiarity with XYZ database, hearing, “I haven’t had a chance to use it, but I have been reading and watching videos to familiarize myself with it” is good.

    Finally, what type of development position are you looking for? As a gift officer, all I do these days is occasional look people up and put in contact reports. Unless you are gift entry and reporting people aren’t expecting you to be a whiz!

    Reply
    1. jordanjay29

      Speaking as someone whose entire education on SQL boils down to self-teaching one summer and one college class, it’s really hard to find a way to sell off that potential for a job, even entry level. Especially as most of the academic instruction was how to design a new database, not work with one that already exists. Coming out of that class without a lot of JOINs practice was the biggest letdown of my college career.

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      1. Hellanon

        All of our students take Photoshop and Illustrator their 1st and 2nd quarters and then spend the rest of their time with us practicing those skills. I would imagine it’s the same with the big database programs – you have to be able to put them to work in a variety of problem-solving scenarios before you can say you know how to use them, and one semester just isn’t enough. We do the same with Excel for the programs where it’s used…

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      2. ArtsNerd

        jordanjay – were you looking for development work or database administrator work?

        I feel like smaller nonprofits–where the small development staff needs to wear ‘all the hats’–would be much more open to software training since they have to hire for so many different skill sets. Of course, they have fewer job openings than the big players and less appealing benefits, etc.

        And I really feel for LW 4, as it’s not like Raiser’s Edge or Tessitura are easily obtained to fiddle around with,* and even if it were… using dummy data just isn’t the same.

        I taught myself the bare minimum SQL to pull mailing lists from an Access database at an old job. Since a large number of our patrons were on multiple mailing lists, I then very quickly learned how to automatically pull up duplicate entries because before that (as I was trained) I was manually. scrolling. through. the. list. every. time. looking. for. dupes. A mailing might be 3k addresses so it was a horrific use of my time.

        I would never claim to be an Access expert, but I do think it would be appropriate for me to use that as an example of problem-solving, of understanding some basic logic of how SQL and databases work, and my ability to pick up software skills relatively easily once I’m using it.

        *Not recommending this tack for the LW, but a non-trivial number of professional designers taught themselves Adobe software such as Photoshop and InDesign using pirated versions while they were in school, because it is the industry standard and very expensive, even with significant education discounts. Then their employer would pay for the licenses because that was the software their designers used and so on. Now Adobe uses a subscription model with a monthly cost vs. a one-time purchase, which makes it much, much harder to pirate. I’m curious to see how this affects their market share moving forward, as viable competitors crop up for many of their products. (But not InDesign yet. Still looking for an InDesign alternative…)

        Reply
        1. jordanjay29

          Hellanon:
          Yep, that’s my biggest frustration. I need to get my feet wet in a serious role so I can actually claim to know what I’m doing.

          ArtsNerd:
          Development work. I don’t have the 5-15 years of experience with SQL that’s required for a straight DB job, but I can manage select, update, alter table, etc, without a problem. Joins take me longer to get right, but that’s mostly due to my lack of experience. I definitely don’t claim to be an expert, but I’ll put it down as a skill I have, it’s just not one that is easily reflected in my previous experiences.

          Reply
    2. TheAssistant

      I agree with Over Development! I worked in fundraising operations (not asking people for money; doing the entry and pipeline sorting for those who did) for six years and three databases. I even helped design, test, and migrate data to a new system.

      Not having database experience for actual fundraising is generally okay, as long as you a) don’t overstate it and b) are willing to learn and don’t assume you know everything while someone is teaching you. Even the largest organizations have weird donor database quirks.

      If you’re looking on the ops side of development and you’re not entry-level, this might be a bigger challenge. I now work as an analyst for a company that stores and analyzes all data in Excel, and it is like night and day from a database system. I think the best thing you can do there is be honest that you don’t have Raiser’s Edge (or whatever they ask for, but it’s usually Raiser’s Edge) but have plenty of examples of times you picked up systems quickly. If it doesn’t come up in an interview, raise it yourself – you don’t want to be in a position where your interviewers assumed you had experience you didn’t.

      As many have said before, due to internal quirks in fundraising data entry, the videos won’t be as helpful as plugging away at data for a week. But they aren’t useless for helping you spot what is an out-of-the-box feature and what is an organization-specific customization.

      Reply
    3. CoveredInBees

      I did just this when I transferred into development from a different career. Since my employer stated in the job posting what database they used, I watched a bunch of videos before my interview. In the interview, I was clear that I have never used that software but had been using online resources to get an overview of it. The interviewers were visibly impressed by my efforts and my job didn’t require that much work with the software, so that was enough.

      Reply
  3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

    OP#3, you didn’t do anything wrong. If I were hiring, I would have appreciated knowing about the promotion and raise. I don’t know if that now prices you beyond what the new company can afford or if the VP is simply busy/hectic right now. But disclosing new information was the right thing to do.

    Reply
    1. Grits McGee

      Agree with PCBH- Unless it’s been months and months since the company’s been in touch, OP may not even be out of the running for the position; the company could be scrambling for extra money/dealing with internal issues/waiting for the VP to come back from an Antarctic expedition/etc, and just be really bad about keeping in touch.

      The only time I could see it being an advantage to not disclose the promotion and raise is if you were 100% going to take the new job and were okay with a significant decrease in salary. And even then, you could still mention your promotion while making it clear that you’d be happy with the compensation new job was able to offer.

      Reply
      1. Person of Interest

        Yes, I was thinking that since he already knew the new company was pushing to the top of their range to meet his original salary request, OP probably shouldn’t have mentioned the salary increase if he was still open to moving to the new company at whatever lower salary they were likely to offer. Mentioning the new salary seems to have just made them think you were going to ask for even more, and priced yourself out of their range entirely. Plus, as Alison often says, your current salary doesn’t really matter, it’s the market rate for the new position that matters – especially when moving to a new area.

        Reply
    2. Newby

      The only reason not to disclose is if he did not expect the offer to increase because of it. If he would still be happy with a salary offer that didn’t even match his salary before the raise, don’t mention the raise. But I doubt he would be happy with that.

      Reply
  4. Al Lo

    We have certain instances where we pay childcare that sounds very similar to OP #2’s scenario. Our contract staff are arts teams, so their schedules are tied to rehearsals, performances, etc. When we go out of town on tour or have weekday daytime workshops that we require specific staff for, we pay childcare costs or sub fees for teachers.

    Reply
    1. KarenD

      Right. If it were an employment situation I would say childcare costs are just part of the deal. In a contracting situation a contractor should be able to negotiate the terms of each particular engagement.

      The flip side of that is certainly, the hiring company is always free to find another contractor that will perform the duties more affordably.

      When I was doing contract work I weighed my options. In one case I had an established, “angel” client contact me with a very rush request. I had tickets to a concert but decided to just eat them rather than raise my rate to cover the lost cost. The happy ending there was the client found out the tickets and compensated me generously.

      In the same situation with a new client, I probably would have rolled the cost of the tickets into my quote. In OP’s case with an hourly rate, I’d just say “Those are the rates for me when I’m working at night or other times that fit my schedule. My rates are higher during times that I’m not normally available.”

      Reply
      1. KarenD

        And actually, right after I hit “post” I realized we have this deal with one of my mom’s backup caregivers. If we need her to come over after 8:30 a.m. to get mom up/showered/dressed and even feed her breakfast and lunch, it’s one rate. But at 3 p.m., the terms change – if we want her to stay later than that, the rate is higher to cover the cost of child care.and we have to give her enough notice to get something lined up.

        Reply
  5. Beezus

    OP5 – in situations like the one you describe, my response is usually, “Hmm, that’s a lot of people, do you have an email distribution list I can use instead?” If they say no, sometimes I counter with, “Does it make sense to set one up?” If it’s something I’ll be using less than a dozen times, or it’s brand new and they might still be figuring out the players on their end, I let it go, though.

    Reply
    1. Detective Amy Santiago

      This is good advice. We have an office email address that reaches all of us for important things.

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    2. bentley

      When I was dealing with my lender, I was told to address things to “Team [Lastname].” Only one address to remember, and everyone got a copy of everything.

      Reply
    3. PersistentCat

      What’s terrible is when a company does have a distribution list set up, but then IT limits it to internal use only for “protection”. :/ Still not best pleased over that news.

      Personally, when I get a similar request, I just set up a “group” in outlook so I don’t have to worry about it. YMMV

      Reply
      1. Drew

        That’s what I was going to suggest – find out how to set up a group address in your email program of choice and then just email the group on your end. The only hard part will be remembering to add it back in when someone replies instead of replying all (looking at you, current overboss – we do a LOT of forwarding her mail around the office to cover for her lapses in communication).

        Reply
  6. Kara

    OP 5 – That is definitely frustrating, especially since there are so many programs they could use to handle it internally. My firm uses a ‘label’ program that is an add-on to Google mail. When you share a ‘label’ with another team member, it automatically copies you on all messaging that occurs with that email address. A little excessive, in some cases, but extremely helpful when you need information that was in an email thread where you were not a recipient. You might suggest they use a similar system to handle getting communications to the right people.

    Good luck!

    Reply
    1. jordanjay29

      Google also has groups within Gmail that can be organized internally. So I could make a group that sends to Bob, Michael, Kelly and Joyce with just one address, but unless they set up the same group themselves, they would have to enter in all those emails by hand. You can set this up in the Contacts part of Gmail, on the left side it has the link for New Group.

      Reply
      1. TheAssistant

        Same! It is super easy. I have three companies with three lists of people I need to email monthly, plus subsections of our board I need to email sporadically. It took me about ten minutes to set this all up in my professional Gmail account.

        It’s also, if I remember correctly, easy to do the same in Outlook, but it’s been a while since I had to do it.

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        1. NoMoreMrFixit

          Yes most email clients can do this. They’re private to you so other people won’t be able to use that group. If that becomes a necessity then ask your IT folks to create an email group for you.

          Reply
  7. Gadfly

    OP4–In addition to YouTube, you might look at Udemy. They have some decent free courses and if you search for “Udemy coupon” I don’t think there is ever a time where a bunch of the courses are not on a $10 sale.

    Reply
    1. Anonymouse

      Check to see if your local library has database access to Lynda.com — courses are free and professional level.

      Reply
      1. Cambridge Comma

        And if not, Lynda.com has a free trial. You can see the topics and their lengths before you sign up, so with some planning you could fit in some relevant courses entirely during the trial.

        Reply
  8. Dizzy Steinway

    OP #4, you mentioned volunteering. Are you volunteering anywhere that uses any of the particular programs you’re wanting to learn? If so, could you ask them if they have any training they do you could have access to (e.g. an in-person workshop or a webinar where you also get to use the program) or someone who could take a little time to walk you through the basics?

    Otherwise, try to remember that soft skills and personal qualities are harder to teach. Being without specific database experience may not be such a dealbreaker if you can demonstrate the sorts of qualities an employer is after. It’s true that YouTube training isn’t hands-on experience and with any program that might mean you don’t really get the actual quirks of using it. But if you mention you’ve been doing what you can to try and learn about it, that still speaks to you having initiative and wanting to grow your skills. And if you’re computer-literate and a fast learner, not knowing a particular program maybe isn’t a dealbreaker depending on the role.

    Reply
    1. zora

      Oh, good point about asking about a training! In nonprofits I’ve worked in, part of our fees for our database included webinars with the software company staff. They didn’t cost us any extra, so I would have been happy to set up a volunteer with a couple of training time slots and let them use an extra computer for a couple of hours. It wouldn’t actually have taken any of our staff time or cost us anything. Definitely ask about that if you are volunteering anywhere!

      Reply
    1. caryatis

      Agreed. OP#2 says it’s a “cost I’m incurring because I work for them”–but employers typically don’t pay for all of those costs. Office chair and computer, yes. Childcare, commuting costs, professional clothing, no. But I agree with Alison that if this person is truly a contractor, she ought to have the flexibility to negotiate higher rates for on-site work.

      Reply
      1. caryatis

        One way to distinguish between expenses the employer should pay and those you should pay is: who controls the cost? The employer can decide which office equipment to buy and whether to send you on travel. That cost is on them. But you get to decide whether to have kids, how far to live from work, and how many suits you want to buy. If you want to spend less on those things, you can without employer interference, and if you want to spend more, you can have ten kids, a two-hour commute, and a thousand suits. But those choices are on you.

        Reply
      2. Antilles

        In fact, even if you leave child care out of the equation, it’s quite common for on-site work to be billed at higher rates due to the additional hassles and costs involved.

        Reply
    2. Newby

      Can the OP just say that they are not available for on-site day work Tuesday through Saturday? If they are a contractor, how can the employer just suddenly change their hours?

      Reply
  9. Stitch

    OP2, the one thing I would be careful about is making sure that your office is fine with you working at home with your child there. I know as part of my telework agreement, I have to sign something saying I will have care for any children or dependent adults during work hours. Just before reaching out, make sure you haven’t signed something similar or be careful how you approach them.

    Reply
    1. Natalie

      If the LW is correctly classified as a contractor, it shouldn’t matter to the firm hiring her as they are paying for some particular deliverable rather than hiring an employee.

      One of the tests is actually how much control the company exerts over the persons work. In a true IC situation an agreement like you describe is risky because it could be used to challenge the classification.

      Reply
      1. MegaMoose, Esq

        Agreed – a signed agreement not to work at home with your child present would be a big red flag that you’ve been miss-classified. As a contractor, this is not her “office” she’s dealing with, it’s her client.

        Reply
        1. MegaMoose, Esq

          Woops, looks like the OP is Canadian, so I have no idea how IC rules would work for her as opposed to an IC in the US.

          Reply
          1. Natalie

            Yeah, that was posted after I commented. Ah well, it’s still useful information if any Americans reason are being misclassified. :)

            Reply
          2. Halpful

            very similarly – but the CRA is quite friendly when they point out that you’ve made a mistake on your taxes. :)

            Reply
  10. Colette

    #3 – if you are relocating to a market that pays less, you may need to take a pay cut. I agree you may have priced yourself out of this job. It would be a good idea to do some research to find out what a reasonable salary for your job is in the new market, if you have already done so.

    Reply
    1. The IT Manager

      I agree. It sounds like the LW wants his old high priced market salary when he’s moving to a market where work is priced less; I’d hope that this aligns to high and low cost of living.

      If LW was not interested in the new company making an attempt to match the new salary, he should not have told the new company about it. It was his choice, but it does seem likely since they were struggling to match his original salary there’s no chance of them matching the new one. If they think it’s a requirement, it seems like you were telling them that you aren’t going to take their offer.

      Reply
      1. Julie B.

        Agree. If LW really, really wanted the new job, then he should not have told the new company about the promotion and raise. If I were the Hiring Manager at New Company, I would be wondering why he told me this. Is he letting us know he is no longer interested? Or that we are now in competition with his new role? Is he was hoping that we would match his new salary (in a market that doesn’t support it)?

        Either way, it would diminish my interest in the LW as a candidate.

        Reply
    2. Christy

      Right. I imagine that you may eventually tire of flying back and forth, and so I’d seriously consider banking the entire raise so you don’t get used to a salary that you won’t be able to command in your new location. Maybe you’ll enjoy it and find the trade offs worth it, but better save than come to rely on a salary you won’t have in the future.

      Reply
  11. BRR

    #4 I work in development and I think often times you can get by if you have other experience. So if you’ve worked with another database or if you’re applying for a gift entry role and you have other experience that requires data entry that might satisfy them. The biggest exception I can think of is if you’re applying to for a position that manages the data base.

    Reply
    1. Anna

      Pretty much. Any program can be learned and the chances of finding and hiring someone with the exact number of experience in your exact database (when there are so many available on the market) is possible but is it worth holding out and waiting for them?

      Reply
    2. zora

      Yeah, I would agree, but the OP said she has mostly worked with Excel. I think in order to really work in a database, you need at least some experience with relational databases, even if it’s not the exact same program. Databases work very differently from Excel.

      Reply
  12. Wilton Businessman

    #5, isn’t there a technology soltuion you could use instead? For example, setup a mailing list called “XYZHouseMortgage” and add all 5 recepients and then just send it to XYZHouseMortgage? I’m thinking you’re over complicating it…

    Reply
    1. Rebecca

      That’s what I was thinking. I’ve run into this before, having to copy or send things to specific people for a specific thing, so I set up an Outlook Template. Easy to set up, easy to edit if needed, and I find they’re a huge time saver.

      Reply
    2. Spoonie

      That is exactly how Old Job functioned. We had a genericname@oldjob.com that I believe four people were tagged to that we had our IT department set up. That way people didn’t have to remember to copy Spoonie, etc. on to — not that it prevented them from necessarily thinking that they needed to send it to spoonie@, genericname@, etc. but…we tried to make it simple.

      Reply
  13. AdAgencyChick

    #5, from the vendor’s side of it…

    Yes, it’s unreasonable to ask you to remember five people to copy — but if you decide you’re only going to email one or two (and ESPECIALLY if it’s only one), make sure it’s the right one!

    My clients are supposed to contact their account executive first, not the creative team, with queries, requests, etc. to ensure that creatives aren’t stuck doing things like negotiating timelines. Unfortunately I have a client who insists on emailing me, sometimes without copying anyone else, simply because when we’re on team calls with her, I as the keeper of the content am doing a lot of the talking. But I DON’T do budgeting, timelines, etc. and she will keep asking me, whether or not I’m the one who should be or even CAN answer her question. Whenever I get an email from her I just forward it to the account team and refuse to answer it myself, which I guess is what you mean by handling it internally — but sometimes she’ll email me on my day off, or when I’m in meetings, or whatever. And then her request is just going to sit, when someone could have acted on it if she’d copied the right people in the first place.

    Reply
    1. Yorick

      You could respond with a very polite message explaining to her that Bob is the right person to contact with these questions.

      Reply
    2. Graciosa

      This is a great opportunity for “rules” in Outlook (or equivalent in another email program). You can set it up so that any email received from that client is automatically forwarded.

      Reply
    3. Cautionary tail

      The best way to accomplish this is to have the other party create and keep the distribution list. That way you send the email to only one recipient (ListName@company.com) and they manage who is in the list so that when people move, leave, are hired, etc., you don’t need to be stuck in the middle of their organizational changes.

      Reply
  14. MuseumChick

    OP2, I do not have children so my knowledge of the norms surrounding child care are limited. That being said, my understanding is that, in general, you do not ask an employer to cover your child care costs.

    Reply
    1. Natalie

      The crux of the issue is that the LW isn’t being treated as an employee legally or tax-wise. An independent contractor is essentially treating an individual the same as you would another company that’s providing some kind of service for you. So each job can (and probably should) have a different rate based on the “company’s” differing expenses. Charging for more work during the day makes perfect sense as an independent contractor.

      Now, if the LW doesn’t meet the requirements for an IC, that’s a different question. But it would be a much more complicated conversation and probably cost the company more than just paying LW’s higher day rate.

      Reply
      1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

        Either way, child care is an expense that the employee/contractor covers, not the company. If she were an employee, she would still need to find and pay for her own childcare.

        Reply
        1. Natalie

          Obviously, but it’s perfectly normal for a business to charge more for times when they have higher expenses. For an IC, child care is no different than any other expense they have to pay to operate their business.

          In commercial real estate we charged tenants for certain services provided by our maintenance staff that weren’t covered by their lease. If the service was needed outside of normal business hours, our staff was on time and a half, so we charged more because our expenses were higher. We didn’t have to detail out why the charge was higher, we just told them the after-hours rate was X.

          Reply
        2. Agile Phalanges

          Yes, but as in independent contractor, she can set one rate for work she can complete on her own schedule as long as she meets the deadline, another for similar work with short deadlines, and yet another for work that must be done on site and/or at the client’s exact schedule. So she should be able to tell the client that her rate is $X (where X is significantly more than 18 so she can actually make money while still paying for childcare) for on-site weekday work. She doesn’t have to explain that it’s to cover childcare (and in many cases, probably shouldn’t), but she can make up for the lack of flexibility with higher rates.

          Reply
  15. Becca

    LW4 here – thanks for all the responses! I agree with Alison putting it in the cover letter would look a little naieve or (as someone else pointed out) over confident. I’m really just hoping to show interest and initiative and think if I get to an interview will mention that I’ve been doing what I can to learn the basics of the software.

    A little more about me I’m mostly applying to part time grant associate positions. Previously I worked in public housing youth programming and would apply for (and often times get small community grants). I also was a contractor for the city where I helped enter analyze and report on minority health data. All of this is to say I have some experience in both grant writing and data entry and analysis. Again the organizations I volunteer for are very small and don’t have use the particular software I need. One organization got a list of over 500 funders from somewhere and I worked to whittle that down to about 40 names (by looking at way too many 990s).

    Hope all that info helped answer some questions. Thanks again for all the responses and I’ll definitely check out those sites.

    Reply
    1. ArtsNerd

      Best of luck! I think your experience is solid for grant associate work. Grant writers don’t typically come with magic super-database experience. They are two very different skill sets, and frequently the database part is easier to teach than “compelling writing.”

      Reply
      1. TheAssistant

        I agree! I’ll admit I worked on the larger end of things, so we had grant writers and individual giving writers and database folks and fundraisers and fundraising events managers and researchers and…

        Everyone needed to know the basics of the database, of course, but only the operations folks in particular had to REALLY know it (queries, high-level entry, etc.)

        You’ll be fine.

        Reply
        1. Halpful

          I think there was some confusion here from there being two definitions of “developer”.

          A software developer claiming database knowledge would be expected to grok left joins, and mentioning Excel in that context would be… concerning. The other kind of developer I’m not familiar with, I’m just sorta glorping from context – apparently it involves grant writing and data entry and fundraisers. I’d love to know what that second definition actually is.

          Reply
          1. zora

            The word “developer” isn’t really used in this context. “Development” is the umbrella term in nonprofits for the department that raises money. But the job title is usually Development Assistant or Development Director. Development databases would be whatever database is being used to track donors and donations. The level of understanding of databases needed would vary depending on the level of the position, but usually if someone needed really advanced database skills, that position would be called a Database Administrator or something specific like that.

            Reply
    2. DataQueen

      I think your experience will be great! From my own experience, I know that I task my grant associates with updating their outstanding and upcoming grant proposals in our system, as well as submitting research requests, and updating primary contact records for foundations and corporations. So my advice when looking at systems would be to look at contact management and wealth screening/research append functions, but to focus on the principles of pipeline management in a database. Opportunity tracking, funding sources, plans and steps – I’ve seen that type of process called all those things, but a candidate coming in and saying “I’ve studied the different ways to identify and prioritize funding opportunities in the database”, well that would super impress me – I can’t get most of my senior grant officers to do that ;)

      Reply
    3. LW4

      Thanks again! Based on all the comments I think I’m going to sign up for CodeAcademy’s class on SQL and maybe Python to get database experience. As I apply I’ll research specific software to get a basic understanding. In the meantime I reached out to a local neighborhood association about volunteering with their development committee. I’m hoping this new opportunity will increase my networking circle and also give me a chance to play around with a database.

      Reply
  16. David

    #4: Haven’t had a chance to read every response, so sorry if this is stated earlier.

    I’m seeing a lot of recommendations to assist the OP in how to consistently copy multiple recipients, which is something I think everyone should know. However, we seem to be missing the point where she says she is the CLIENT of the party making this request. Allison’s recommendation really is the best in placing the onus back on the recipient. I can’t imagine any scenario where it’s right ask a customer to take extraordinary measures that manage your internal needs. In fact, based on how the OP describes the parties in play I’m guessing she and I are in the same industry, and never would I tell a customer they need to copy multiple parties on my end. That’s my job to see that happens.

    Reply
    1. Cranberry

      I agree with you. Sure, the OP could go through the (small) hassle of setting up their own list, but it shouldn’t be their problem in the first place.

      Reply
    2. Anna

      Thank you for saying this. I couldn’t figure out why the other responses didn’t quite feel right and this is it. It’s not the client’s responsibility to make sure every person on the team is informed of everything. It would be like me setting up an appointment with congressional staff and then asking them to copy my boss on the confirmation. Not Their Job.

      Reply
  17. MerelyMe

    Oh, the copying on emails! I used to work for the faculty promotions office at an Ivy League university. This particular faculty is spread out over lots of affiliated institutions. When somebody got promoted, we sent their department chair an email, which was fine, but we also had to copy the academic dean for the affiliated institution, the academic dean’s assistant, the department head’s assistant, the payroll department for the affiliated institution, and HR for the university. And they had to be in rank order, because heaven forbid the department head’s assistant come before the academic dean. One of the people I worked for was enough of a micromanager to insist on hanging over my shoulder and checking all of the recipients before I hit Send. Ugh.

    Reply
    1. Chaordic One

      Isn’t this why there is the Blind Carbon Copy feature? Did they really want to see everyone who received the email and to put their email addresses out for everyone else to see? Everyplace I worked was really paranoid about the privacy of the email recipients.

      Reply
  18. LW2

    LW2 here! I am indeed an independent contractor, which I know for sure because I just went through a rather intensive review process with the Canadian Revenue Agency. One complicating factor is that my wage is set for the duration of my contract with them, rather than negotiated on a per-job basis, so the “raise your rates” advice is good, but not really applicable.

    Reply
    1. fposte

      Ah, looks like ICs work completely differently in Canada–I suspect a lot of us didn’t know that. While that affects the question to some extent, I think the general principle that you don’t ask your employer to reimburse a child-care expense is still pretty sound.

      Reply
      1. Newby

        Unless she has the option to turn down this job. If it is outside of the duties she was hired for, renegotiating seems reasonable.

        Reply
    2. J.B.

      Well, the question then is whether what they have asked you to do fits the terms of the contract or not. If nothing else I’d review the contract to make sure that you explicitly handle on site work in the future. Since they have asked you to do “as much as possible” you certainly have the opportunity to explain what is and isn’t possible.

      Reply
      1. LW2

        This is really good advice. I’m re-negotiating my contract later this year, and I’m planning on asking for either a stipend to cover the cost of childcare during working hours, or to say “this is my rate for workday on-site availability.” Right now I have one set rate, and I actually think they’re more likely to go for the first option, because it keeps things simple.

        Reply
    3. Rusty Shackelford

      In that case, do you have the option to simply decline? “Sorry, but since this outside the hours I’m available, I won’t be able to be on site.” Isn’t that one of the hallmarks of being an independent contractor – that you can’t be forced to work certain hours? (I’m neither an IC nor a Canadian so I may be misinterpreting this.)

      Reply
      1. Agile Phalanges

        It’s one of the criteria the IRS (in the US, but the poster is in Canada) looks at, but it’s not the end-all-be-all. For example, if you hire a wedding planner, they’re an independent contractor for you, but in addition to the things they do leading up to the wedding, it’s going to be part of the contract that they WILL be at the wedding in order to coordinate, so you’re setting the workplace and timeframe for that particular event and requiring they be there in person, but that doesn’t automatically trigger them becoming an employee instead of an IC. Similarly in the work world, you can hire a IC to run an event that involves the same criteria–planning leading up to the event that can be done in their own timeframe and location, but culminating in a special event that they must be present at. I’m pretty sure it’s even perfectly legit if a person is otherwise deemed to be a contractor, but needs to work at the client site for some reason (for example, because the work they’re doing involves working directly with on-site buildings, materials, software that can’t be accessed remotely, whatever) and the client site is only open or available certain hours, like a contractor hired to re-wire a building’s networking but can only work after hours so as not to disrupt the company’s business hours.

        So the LW would need to look at her contract to determine if having to attend this event live and in person is within the contract. If so, she’s probably out of luck this go-round, and needs to set her rates accordingly for future business relationships so that there’s some padding built in for the occasional weekday in-person requirements, or write the contracts to specify that the rate only includes off-site work and specifying her rate if on-site work becomes necessary, or something like that.

        Reply
    4. Vin Packer

      Sympathy, LW2. I’m cobbling together a professional existence around childcare as well right now, and it’s really tough. I too have contracts where I wouldn’t be able to just casually raise my rates like that (and I’m the in the US)–but I *could* just say it’s not in my schedule that week and not do it. Is that an option for you?

      Reply
    5. caryatis

      If the wages are duties are already set, I might try just talking to them and explaining that you’d like to be at the booth as little as possible because you’re a single mother (I assume–otherwise surely some of the childcare time & cost would be borne by your partner). Since they said “as much time as reasonable” there might be some flexibility if you have a good relationship.

      Reply
    6. Al Lo

      I commented above regarding my org’s contractors — I’m also Canadian, so we’d be working from the same base assumption there. Our contractors are also engaged for a period of time at a flat rate (choral directors, piano players, arts instructors). Their “base” requirements are reasonably set — they’re responsible, off-site, for prep work and their own schedules, and the on-site hours are tied directly to contact hours with our constituents.

      We tour once a year, or will occasionally do daytime work that’s outside of their usual purview. They don’t always get paid more for it in their contract (it depends on what it is, whether there’s an extra fee charged), but wherever applicable, we do pay childcare or sub fees for those events that are outside of the usual timeframe. Some of our contractors are fully flexible (make a living 100% in the arts and juggle multiple contracts), and don’t require that. Some do. Point is, it’s not unprecedented, and it couldn’t hurt to ask.

      Reply
    7. Epsilon Delta

      If I were in your position, here are some things I would consider. They might not all make sense for your situation, you can decide if any of them seem like good options.
      1) Can you decline to host the booth, or decline to host it full time for all three days? (Also, do you actually want to decline it, or do you want to host it?)
      2) Can you raise your rates for being on-site? (Sounds like no, at least for right now, but something to consider for your next contract)
      3) Can you find ways to reduce the cost of childcare? e.g., is there a stay at home parent you’re friends with who could watch your kid for part of the time, or could your relatives take a day or two off of work (or some half-days)?
      4) How likely is this situation to repeat itself, and how big of an impact does it have on your budget? It sounds like your contract allows you to be very flexible on your hours. Depending on how easy it is to find contracts like that, you may decide it’s worth doing to keep the flexibility the rest of the time.

      Reply
  19. paul

    Companies that require pre existing proficiency in very niche software confuse me. Even if it’s a commercial product rather than a custom one, if it’s particularly niche (say custom database or design software) where it is one of a few options for a fairly narrow industry…you’re basically gutting your candidate pool. This isn’t requiring basic competency in Word or Excel here. If you use niche software, be willing to train people in it.

    Reply
    1. DataQueen

      My impression was that it is not a niche software – that it’s something more like Raisers Edge, especially since the OP mentioned being able to find YouTube videos about it. Depending on the role, full training can be thousands of dollars to send the new hire off to Blackbaud University to complete the courses required, if they are truly going to be an intensive user, so bringing someone in with experience can be very beneficial and reduce the ramp up time significantly. And although RE may feel niche to anyone unfamiliar with it, 1/4 of US nonprofits use Blackbaud products (at least that’s the number I remember from last year’s conference lol).

      Reply
  20. spek

    #2 – It sounds like you have a very sweet thing going there, with lots of flexibility. If this is only a once or twice per year thing, are you sure you want to rock the boat over it?

    Reply
    1. LW2

      Well, manning a booth for three full days would be my whole workweek (21 hours), and working a whole workweek and not making any money from it would kind of stink.

      Reply
  21. Cheesehead

    #5: Every time they make the request to copy an insane amount of people, I’d reply breezily, “Oh, feel free to forward it on to whoever needs to see it!” and put the onus back on them. If they balk, then ask for them to set up a distribution list address on their end and let you know what it is. And then explain that with the amount of volume you deal with, with all of the various different lenders and clients, there’s no way that you can reliably copy many different addresses for each of them, so you can only send to one address per institution/client.

    Reply
    1. Happy Lurker

      Cheesehead – Not OP but borrowing your phrase!
      The 10 people on an email chain is sometimes out of control, especially when it’s just and FYI for 8 (and they don’t read it and still ask you questions).

      Reply
  22. Feo Takahari

    #4: How about books as opposed to Youtube videos? My library has a copy of Quickbooks 2017 for Dummies. When I finish it, I’m thinking of making it a one-liner in the skills section of my resume.

    Reply
      1. Zombii

        Yeah, if the book was technically equivalent to a programming manual, that would be one thing, but the For Dummies and Idiot’s Guide series have no professional credibility (for obvious reasons). I would reference reading books about the software in a cover letter (maybe), but I would not put it on a resume, and I would intentionally avoid referencing Dummies or <Idiot's by name.

        Reply
  23. S

    #5 – Is it the same set of people for every email, or does it change based on the topic of the email? If the former, then it’s really not hard to just email everyone (just reply-all to an old email, changing the subject and deleting the old body!) My company works with other companies (my company pays the other companies for their services; we have contracts for specific projects that involve specific people, but our two companies may have multiple projects/contracts at the same time, mostly with different people but sometimes there is some overlap), and we have multiple people from each company on the email list. If I need to send an email to the other company, I just send it to everyone who gets the weekly updates, even though I don’t know the roles of some of the people at the other company. The other company sends emails to the entire list, even if the topic primarily pertains to only one or two people on our side. It does result in everyone receiving more email, but it’s really not that hard to skim and determine that the details about item X are for team member A and not yourself, and it’s useful to know that there are some discussions.

    Reply

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