I want to bill an employer who wasted my time, returning to work after working in the adult industry, and more

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

1. I want to invoice an employer who wasted my time in an interview process

I was recently involved in a two-month interview process where they flew me out for an in person interview as a “final step.” They paid for my flight and hotel, and I had asked my recruiter what I was responsible for but did not get any response, so all else fell to me. During the interview, I used my subject expertise to provide the company a training among other things (lots of notes were taken and questions were asked to me that made it apparent they plan to use everything I gave them). A week later, I reached out to the recruiter to be told the company never got approval for it to be a remote position (which was what I was told the entire time).

I am considering sending them an invoice for my expenses and time. Am I just being petty or should I actually consider sending it? Had they said “we don’t think its a fit,” I would have dropped this altogether.

Between expenses and everything, this cost me around $400 out of my own pocket. I have three small children and we are a one-income family, so $400 is a lot of money to us, plus missing that time with my kids and wife means a lot to me.

You absolutely can’t send it.

I understand the impulse, but they’re not going to pay expenses that they never agreed to pay and you’ll make yourself look really bad in the process because it’s just not done.

There’s never a guarantee that you’ll get a job at the end of a hiring process, no matter how positive a company is sounding. Plans fall through, budgets and priorities change, stronger candidates emerge at the last minute, etc. I know that in this case they’d led you to believe that remote work was already approved, but even that kind of thing can change (or people can assume it’ll be fine and then discover that some decision-maker several levels up was never informed and doesn’t like it, or so forth).

The only safe thing to do is to not invest time or money into hiring processes if you’re not okay with the prospect of it not panning out in the end. I’m sorry!

2. Returning to professional work after being a phone sex operator

I was an executive in a nonprofit agency and worked in the sector for almost 10 years. This last winter I left a very prestigious job to pursue work in the adult industry. I had been working as a phone sex operator part-time during my employment just to make some extra money. After a major management change, I decided to leave my job and work full-time on the phone. Aside from the obvious benefits of working from home and making my own hours, the pay is phenomenal! I’m easily making more than twice as much as I was as a program director in nonprofit.

It’s been almost six months since I left my job and I still haven’t moved forward with finding any other employment. I never thought I’d be doing this this long. My concern is how I am going to explain this gap in my employment when I do decide it’s time to return to my profession. It could be another six months until I find another job (I want to be selective and hold out for the right position since I have the luxury to do so right now) and I’m nervous about explaining myself. With the phone company, I’m officially listed as a contractor.

I know this is a really weird situation and I need all the help I can get. I really don’t want people to know what I’ve been doing for this last year, but I also don’t want to lie. Even if I get a job after having been truthful, I’d be embarrassed and would feel like I’ve made a really weird impression.

Unfortunately, because we live in a society that is so puritanical about anything related to sex, I think you’re better off not trying to come up with PG cover for the job and instead just saying you took some time off to do something else — travel, pursue a personal interest, attend to family, or so forth. If your previous job was a highly stressful one, you could even just say that after a decade of high-stress work, you wanted to take a break to recharge and think about what you wanted to focus on next.

If you’re only out for a year, I think you can make that work. Once it starts getting longer than that, that starts getting trickier, as people will worry about your skills getting stale, whether you really want to return to work, etc.

3. What help can I ask for after spraining my ankle?

I sprained my ankle playing soccer yesterday. I have a parking spot that I pay around $50 a month for that is four blocks away from my office. This parking spot is subsidized by my office (I think about $50).

It took me a half hour to walk in my crutches to my office from the garage — it was up hill on uneven ground. And I am an assistant so some of my daily functions require walking (copies, greeting clients, dispersing paperwork, etc.)

What, if anything, would be a reasonable request for my HR department? Or since this happened on my own time from my own stupidity do I just make do? There’s parking behind where I work but it’s all taken up by people with seniority. Would it be unreasonable to ask to park there for the week (or two) until this heals? Can I ask for a pass from some of the walking-related work things? I don’t know what’s reasonable and what isn’t. My first job out of high school, and I don’t want to be fussy, but I also don’t want to get needlessly screwed.

You can ask for all of that. It’s very reasonable to ask HR for temporary parking closer to the building. You should also talk to your boss (not HR) and explain that it’s difficult to walk right now and ask for temporary accommodations to your responsibilities until you’re off the crutches. These are both normal things to ask for and you’re not being fussy!

4. I was asked to complete an “automated phone screen”

I submitted a resume through a job board and received a reply from the job board, asking me to “Please complete your automated phone screen for [position].”

I’m supposed to call a number and answer pre-prepared questions, ones you’re typically asked in a live phone screen: “Tell us a little about your background,” “why are you interested in this position” (I’m not, but I need a job; can’t say that!), past accomplishment, and describe a difficult situation and how you resolved it. I have a week to do it, but I’m leaning toward simply deleting the email and forgetting the entire thing.

Is this a normal thing? I’ve never run across this before, ever. It’s for a receptionist job at a personal injury law firm. I’ve applied to law firms before and this never happened. Am I crazy to think this is lazy as hell? Anybody else run into this?

It’s not a super common thing, but it’s a technology that’s out there that some companies use … companies that don’t know how to hire well. It’s terrible for tons of reasons, including that it asks candidates who have already provided resumes and cover letters to spend more time investing in the job possibility while the company still isn’t investing any time back (i.e., answering their questions), it treats candidates like cattle, and it deprives the employers of most of the benefits of phone interviews (like seeing how the candidate speaks off the cuff, rather than how they read a script they may have written down in advance, and being able to ask follow-up questions).

5. Interviews in public spaces

I think I need some help with interview scheduling ettiquette. I currently work on a campus, within which several businesses share the same public spaces. I have an upcoming interview with one of the other businesses, and the hiring manager has asked to meet in the shared dining area for the interview. I’m not particularly comfortable asking her to move the location, as there is nowhere else nearby that is suitable. However, it’s highly likely that coworkers or bosses will see me and either realize I’m in an interview, or come and speak to me!

Would it be reasonable for me to ask the interviewer if we can ensure that the meeting is held outside of normal lunch hours? Should I admit that it’s because I want to be discreet? Or does that come across like I’m being underhanded about leaving my current job? I feel a bit awkward about all options!

You can do that! It’s a normal thing to not want your current job to know you’re interviewing; that’s not seen as underhanded.

Say it this way: “My current boss and many of my current coworkers tend to eat in that area around lunchtime, and I worry that we’ll be interrupted or that it could be awkward since my manager doesn’t know I’m interviewing. Is there somewhere else we could meet, or would it work for you to meet there outside of normal lunch hours?”

{ 399 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. Cam

    I have never heard of “automated phone screens” before and I really, really hope they don’t catch on. What an awful thing on so many levels.

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      1. stuff happens

        I did an automated video interview for my recent job. I was moving across country at the time and they did eventually fly me in for the in-person interview. It was basically their version of the phone screen. They said it promoted fairness because they made sure everyone got asked the same questions and a variety of stakeholders could watch the answers without being live on the line. All good points!

        The best part was, after I got the job, my new boss said “you were the only one who really took the time to make sure your presence and background looked neat and professional for the phone screen. The background even looked staged.” HA! My house was staged because we were in the process of selling it!

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        1. Trout 'Waver

          So they do it out of fairness, but they are influenced by the neatness of the background behind the candidate? What?

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          1. Iris Eyes

            How is that inappropriate? How you choose to present yourself says a lot about your preparedness and professionalism, that’s why interview suits are a thing.

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            1. General Ginger

              I don’t know, it’s a lot easier for a person who has a bad living situation to come up with an interview suit than a perfect location/background for their video.

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              1. Risha

                Thank you for thinking of that – there are a lot of little things that the homeless have to deal with that most people never think twice about. As someone who has had a run of bad luck in recent memory and spent a couple of years living in cheap hotels and working short term contract jobs, I did more than a few phone interviews from said cheap hotel rooms. For my only Skype interview (for Current Permanent Job!) I was in a decent one, fortunately. (And Skype misbehaved, so it ended up a phone interview anyway.) I never had to live in my car, but I came close a couple of times, and finding another location would have been problematic indeed. A private study room at one of the local libraries, perhaps, if I was in a place where the library had one and I had a card for them.

                With all that said, I don’t think having a neat/clean/bland background is an unreasonable expectation. Just, like the suit, not necessarily a universally easy one to pull off.

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            2. Jessie the First (or second)

              Yes, how you choose to present yourself says lots – but expecting interviewees to be able to rework their *home* so that it looks professional in the background seems odd and intrusive.

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                1. Taxi Rider

                  I don’t have a blank wall in my apartment. It’s set up in such way that every wall has either a window, a door or cabinets/bookcases behind it.

                2. Myrin

                  @Taxi Rider, all three of which are perfectly fine things to have in the background for such an interview. (Not to mention that plenty of people do have an empty wall somewhere; talk about sandwiches and all that.) Like, I’m not a fan of this practice but it seems pretty likely to me that those who didn’t have “neat” backgrounds had stuff like laundry strewn all over the place or an all-around mess clearly visible, not that they didn’t live in a catalogue.

                3. Jessie the First (or second)

                  True, blank wall ought to be fine. I guess I was thrown by the comment about having had the home “staged” because she was selling it – because that means there was more than a blank wall they were impressed by.

                4. Happy Lurker

                  My first thought was that I would use my bathroom, for the blank wall and the lock on the door. I would just have to make sure the camera angle was correct!

      2. Bored and Confused

        I did a video interview for the job I just got, but thankfully it was pretty relaxed. I made sure to get my hands on a friend’s laptop that had a good webcam because I did not want to deal with holding up my phone or tablet (and the app is apparently a nightmare to work with!). Turns out that the questions the company was interesting in asking me were more along the lines of “why do you want to work here” and “why do you think respect is important in the workplace”. It was a very simple process, though the countdown at the bottom of the screen telling me I only had a minute and a half to answer was a bit stressful.
        I should also note that this was the second step in the process, the first of which was simply sending in my resume. The third in final step was an in person interview were they made sure that we asked them lots of questions and were comfortable in our knowledge of the job and the company. I would say that this isn’t the worst thing in the world if they are using it to replace those 150 question personality tests some companies are oh so fond of.

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      3. Geoffrey B

        My work uses those sometimes; I was on the panel for the videos a couple of years back.

        Candidates who make it to that stage of the process get given login info and a time window, I think two weeks. They can do their interview any time during that window but they only get one shot at it. (However, there is a test mode so they can make sure their equipment’s all working.)

        They log on and get given a series of questions. I think they get about a minute’s thinking time after seeing the question, and then 2-5 minutes to respond, depending on the question, finishing with an open-ended “anything else you’d like to tell us?” question. Afterwards we review the responses. The ones who make it through that stage are shortlisted for in-person interviews.

        It has its points. It’s convenient for both sides – somebody who’s working can do their interview at night without relying on our availability, and I can work through videos in between other calls on my time rather than scheduling around them. We get a lot of applicants all over the country, and flying staff around to interview people in person is expensive and logistically hard, so the video stage really helps with that. (Why don’t we do live video interviews? Don’t get me started…)

        From the interviewer side, the biggest negative is that there’s no way to give feedback while people are answering. If somebody misunderstands the question in a live interview, I can steer them back on track, and if they get stuck I can prompt them. Can’t do those things with a recorded interview. One candidate froze up on a technical question and just stared at the camera for two minutes umming and ahhing; it was awful to watch and must’ve been horrible for him.

        pro tip: if you’ve written our mission statement on a card next to the camera, and you’re reading buzzwords off that, we can tell.

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    1. Naerose Eiren

      I did an automated video interview recently. It was super weird. The hardest part for me was doing it on my iPad because of where the camera is positioned. I did it in landscape mode, so the camera is off to the left, and I quickly figured that looking at the centre of the screen (where my image was) actually made me look shifty and devious because my eyes were off to the side! You have to keep yourself in a frame around your upper body, so anyone who is animated will end up being out of frame from time to time.

      The questions come up with a little wheel telling you how many seconds you have to read, then it starts recording (at least I hope that’s when it records because I was vaping and muttering to myself when I read the questions, and there may have been excessive use of profanity about the inane questions being asked). You have the countdown wheel of death telling you how long you have to answer, and it starts flashing red when you’re getting close to time’s up – no, not distracting in the least!

      What’s super bizarre is they counted this as the ‘final stage’ of the recruitment process. I’d answered some behavioural questions online, sent in my cover letter and resume, done the robo-interview, and had my referees send through responses to a questionnaire. I have not spoken to an actual human being, let alone met one yet!

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    2. T3k

      Man, this is eerie, I just got one of these emails this week and it left a bad taste in my mouth for the reasons Alison put down (wanting me to invest yet more of my time when they do nothing). I’m desperate right now for a job, but this made me question if, even I finally reached an actual person at the company and got the job, would I even want to stay for more than a few months? Nope nope nope.

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      1. Erin W

        Ditto to this comment. I work in HR and applied for an HR position at a different company. They sent me an email asking me to do one of those video interviews. I wasn’t desperate for a job, so I just noped right out of that.

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    3. KellyK

      For a list of made-up reasons you should take this job, press 1. For a long-winded description of our benefits that disguises the fact that they’re below industry standard, press 2. To ask about work-life balance, press 3. To provide us with the work history that we already have in your resume, press 4. To make a futile attempt at asking this voice-recognition software a question, press 5. To speak to a real person, press 666 and continue to hold until the sun goes nova and the earth is destroyed. Your time is valuable to us.

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    4. Green

      These companies are going to lose some of the best candidates. I have a job and only selectively apply to new jobs. I’d delete an e-mail asking me o jump through some nonsense hoops before a human has chosen me for further consideration.

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    5. Ann O'Nemity

      I did an automated phone screen almost 20 years ago! It was for a survey research position at Gallup, so it makes sense they’d have the capacity to do this with all the polling and phone surveys they do. I have to say, though, it felt very impersonal and was a turn-off for me. I didn’t have any opportunity to ask questions or find out if the job was a good fit for me.

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    6. Jesmlet

      As a recruiter that occasionally posts on big job boards, I’ve noticed this was added as an option to send to specific candidates recently on Indeed. Personally I’d never do it because I just find it weird and I’m enough of a control freak that I’d want to call myself and have a regular dialogue rather than pre-selected questions. I hope it doesn’t become the norm.

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    7. Mamunia

      I had one 10 years for my current job. It was a little odd, but I loved the option to re-record any answers where I felt I hemmed too much or forgot to include things I would have wanted to say. The hiring manager said (years later) that she had been able to really narrow down the candidates for in-person, based on the phone screen. I don’t think my company does it any more though.

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    8. former foster kid

      so the uk civil service is the biggest employer in the uk. they have a very selective program for a portion of new civil servants, called the fast stream – and all of the applicants, once they pass raw number requirements (have a degree or x years of x kind of work, that kind of thing) have to do automated phone or video interviews. then based on that you do a ton more interviews, tests, and a full day of team exercises. the whole process takes like 4-6 months. but with thousands of applicants, i suppose it’s not a terrible way to give them a fair shake.

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    9. jennie

      As a recruiter, a company tried to sell me on automated phone screen & recorded video interviews a while back. It would take me almost as much time to review the audio and videos as it would to do the interviews myself! And I lose the ability to probe and ask follow-up questions. I don’t understand how companies can justify the cost of these systems. Plus candidates hate them. Makes no sense.

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      1. Geoffrey B

        Having used recorded video interviews: yeah, it still takes time to review them, but it’s much more flexible time than an in-person interview. I can review the videos whenever I have a few minutes’ free time, I can shuffle it around if something else comes up, do it from home in my pyjamas if I really want.

        Inability to probe/follow-up is a major limitation, and I think it’s a bad idea to treat recording as a replacement for live interviews. We had a live stage after the recordings, so if we weren’t sure about some aspect of a candidate’s recorded interview we could let them through to the next stage and make a note to follow up the relevant issue.

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    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      I almost suggested that, but when I broke my foot a few years ago, the process of getting a temporary handicapped parking permit took weeks. I had to send documentation from my doctor to the state DMV and I got the permit in the mail about four weeks later … and it sounds like the OP only needs it for a week or two.

      This could certainly vary by state though so it’s definitely worth finding out.

      Reply
      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

        This has been my experience, as well (although it was a bit faster—a 10-day turnaround, and on-the-spot extension of its expiration if you showed up in person with proper documentation).

        But I do think it’s valuable for OP to frame their request to HR as a temporary disability accommodation, which is something HR will have seen before and will likely be able to plan around.

        And OP, it doesn’t matter if you sprained your ankle off-site when it comes to accommodation. Better to ask than to suffer while you’re healing.

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        1. Newby

          If you can’t get parking closer, another option is to look into getting (or renting) a knee scooter. I was super super slow on crutches, but the scooter made me just as fast as someone walking. If walking is important for your normal job duties and cannot be temporary given to someone else, you could even see if the company would be willing to subsidize the scooter. Worst case scenario, I used an office chair as a temporary scooter which is what made me look into them to begin with.

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          1. Havarti

            Yes! Someone at work busted his leg and got a knee scooter cheap from like Walmart or something because getting it from the doc was way more expensive. He used it instead of crutches because he was worried about nerve damage (because apparently you can hurt yourself if you don’t use the crutches properly).

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          2. Alison Read

            There are companies that rent them and bill your insurance. When I had my broken foot (about the same time as Alison’s) the knee scooter was my life saver, mostly because it had a basket. (Imagine trying to carry a beverage with crutches!) I ended up buying a used one off Craig’s List and reselling it for the same $$$ when I was healed. Although going back to your car, downhill, over rough terrain sounds like it would be an adventure …

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            1. JessaB

              And if you can’t rent them, call your local Easter Seals/Goodwill group. The one near me loans free and gratis all kinds of medical equipment from frames to bedside commodes, and it’s nice equipment. We needed a commode riser, and they gave me a good one, no questions asked. Obviously if it’s a returnable item and you’re not permanently disabled, you do sign a paper agreeing to return it, but still they may have one if your insurance doesn’t cover.

              And at least in Ohio, you can go into DMV and walk out with a permit. All you have to do is fill out a form and have a prescription. I dunno how other states do it.

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      2. Buffay the Vampire Layer

        This varies by state. I brought my doctor signed form to the dmv here in California and walked out with my temporary parking hang tag in a couple of hours.

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        1. Former Computer Professional

          In PA and MI you just go to the DMV and they make the placard on the spot. They just pull out a blank one, fill in your permit ID number and expiration date (for regular placards, it’s usually based around your birthday), and there you go.

          PA at least used to give you — at least for a regular placard — an ID card to go with it, which also had the permit ID on it. MI creates your placard’s ID number based on your driver’s license number. making it harder for someone else to use it. They not only write the expiration date but punch out a year and month.

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      3. name needed

        I’m sorry to read about how long getting a temporary tag takes in other states.

        Despite Oahu’s reputation for being on Hawaiian time, I was able to get a tag in under an hour, from beginning to end, the day after my spouse unexpectedly broke his foot. (Why is it always the right foot?)

        Downloaded a PDF, brought it into my spouse’s primary care physician. Office staff filled it out and checked off the box allowing a designee to pick up the hang tag. I then drove the paperwork to a satellite city hall and walked out 10 minutes later with a fully functioning tag. I’d suggest doing a keyword search for your mumicipality and temporary handicapped placard … not all GPs or even specialists may be aware of how simple the process can be when needed.

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      4. Kat A.

        Alison, aren’t you in Virginia? I am, and my doctor simply filled out a form, I took it to the DMV, and I had my placard in no time.

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          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

            It definitely takes longer by mail! If you’re able to show up in person to the DMV, they’ll usually issue it on the spot (at least that was the case in the states where I’ve lived).

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      5. INeedANap

        This definitely varies by state; I broke my foot and needed surgery on it, and there was a very long healing time for the process. My doctor wrote me a note at my first appointment, I stopped at my local town hall on the way home, and they gave me the temporary handicapped permit right there. The whole process, doctor’s visit and all, took less than two hours. I’m in NY, for what it’s worth.

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      6. Christmas Carol

        Boy, I’m glad to live in a state where it’s a lot simpler. Here it’s: #1 Have your doctor fill out and sign the form, which you can print from the ‘net, but my ortho had a stack of blanks in his office anyways. # 2 Limp into the DMV, or wait in the car and send in a friend, or even wait at home on your couch. #3 The hardest step–wait until your number is called for your turn at the counter. #4 Receive your permit, either permanent or temporary (6-month) on the spot.

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      7. paul

        yeah, I looked into that Monday myself; by the time I got the permit I hope to be more or less functional again anyway so I’ll gut it out.

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      8. Becky

        I guess it depends on your jurisdiction. I twisted my knee horribly a few years ago and my doctor gave me the note in minutes and I took it straight to the DMV and had my placard in about 24 hours flat. If OP has access to a local DMV office rather than having to mail it, it would be a lot quicker.

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      9. JKP

        When my niece left the hospital in a wheelchair with both legs in a cast, we were able to get one of the those temporary permits that hang off your mirror on the same day.

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      10. Countess Boochie Flagrante

        When I went to get one, I just walked into the DMV, waited about half an hour to be seen, and once my number was called, walked out with my placards about ten minutes later. Going through the mail sounds like a nightmarish way to do it!

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    2. Dmr

      The temporary permit thing is complicated and locally regulated. My Ob completed the paperwork for me to get one due to severe anemia during pregnancy, and my state rejected it with the response that pregnant related complications are not eligible for temporary handicapped placards.

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      1. Sprained ankle letter writer

        I will look in to the handicap parking tag – but I’m not sure how it’ll help. I don’t know of any spots near the office marked specifically for handicap spots. Just a lot of 1 max HR pay parking that would mean I have to move my car a lot.

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        1. Turkletina

          In a lot of places, a placard will allow you to bypass the time limits on meters or park in metered spots for free.

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          1. Jessesgirl72

            That is changing. Chicago used to let you park anywhere for free with a placard. Now you still have to pay.

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            1. Anna

              This recently changed in Portland, OR, too. It used to be completely free, now you have to pay but you can go over the time limit.

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            2. Chameleon

              I believe Seattle is doing the same–but that only means you have to pay. It still bypasses the “move your car every hour” issue (and you can re-up the meter by phone).

              May not help since parking may be too expensive, but worth looking into at least.

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          2. fposte

            In my state, a permanent disability placard extends some of those privileges but a temporary one doesn’t.

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    3. Me2

      I am not a fan of LW#3 saying he/she doesn’t want to get “needlessly screwed.” It seems like that is a fairly antagonistic phrase to use with your company when you are asking them to accommodate something that you did to yourself. Being as the LW said it was their first job out of high school, I might suggest that they not try to set up a me versus them mentality prior to even asking if they can be accommodated.

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      1. Ramona Flowers

        Wow. No.

        The LW has made it clear they are unsure of workplace norms. They don’t know if they can ask for help, are hesitant to do so and, as a result, it appears they may lose out. They are using that phrase here, not with their employer. The fact they were injured in their own time doesn’t mean they are unreasonable in asking for some accommodation.

        I think you’re putting too much weight on semantics.

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        1. Sprained ankle letter writer

          “Needlessly screwed” meant a couple of things: 1) I clocked in late because it took me so long to get into the office, so I had to stay late to make up the time, and that sucked because I got there on time. (2) I really like my office – this isn’t about them. Or missing out. (3) I’m definitely worried about reinjurimg myself – and that is very likely considering the uneven ground to get to work.

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          1. Catalin

            LW3, depending on your workplace and relationships with coworkers, you m ight be shocked by the generosity and kindness of your office-mates. In my years at my current office I have been on crutches at least three times. If you let people help you, they often will. I had a similar parking issue, but there was no closer location for me to park at. Several of my coworkers stepped up and allowed me to pull up to the building, get out, and hand over the keys. Another would bring my car from the garage in the afternoon. My coworker-friends would also bring ice, do the walking if I needed something taken to someone; my office even let me work from home several days.

            Granted, I have an unusually good working situation, however; that doesn’t mean you wouldn’t. An office that would subsidize your parking is likely to be invested in its employees. Ask for and accept help: after all, we’d all do it if someone else was injured, right?

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            1. Adlib

              I like this comment. I had a coworker tear an ACL and then tear an Achilles’ the next year. Each time he had surgery, I helped shuttle him from home to work and back, if needed. (He also tore the other Achilles’ later. Man, that guy had weak ligaments.) I also carpooled with another coworker at times when one or the other of us was having car problems. I hope OP has a coworker or two she is close with or has a good relationship with that can help out.

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              1. Tin Cormorant

                Years ago, I knew a coworker who didn’t have a car and had to walk two blocks to the bus stop and take the bus to get to work every day. Then he broke his ankle and had to use crutches. This is when I learned that his apartment was across the street from mine, so I drove him to work for a couple of months until he was back on his feet. There’s often someone willing to help out.

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            2. LQ

              Agreed. I had a coworker break her ankle a few years ago and when she finally came back to work we were so happy. We would have carried her around on a palanquin if it would have helped. As it was we did lots of things like taking care of getting all the stuff from the printer and running around the building to deliver things and someone would meet her downstairs from where her husband dropped her off to help her carry in her bags so she could maneuver on the crutches.
              I think asking for help is really natural and coworkers are generally happy to help (even the coworker who does NOT like the one who broke her ankle was helpful).

              Reply
            3. Risha

              I had an elderly coworker with a degenerative foot disease of some sort. She had surgery on one foot at a time, after which she couldn’t use it at all for a protracted healing period. A couple of other coworkers drove her to work and back home every single day for several months.

              Reply
      2. Bea

        I take it to mean that they’re asking if it’s reasonable here, so that they don’t screw themselves over by asking for something that will make them look bad. So it’s to needlessly screw themselves, it’s an internal struggle right now.

        Reply
      3. Colette

        I agree that’s not a good way for the OP to frame this, even to herself. No one is trying to screw her by not giving her something she hasn’t asked for – and, if she asks and they say no, it’s better for her to believe that they’re trying to accommodate her in good faith.

        It’s fine to ask for help when you need it, but it’s not good to ask for help you don’t need because you’ll be missing out if you don’t use people for everything you can get.

        Reply
        1. Lily in NYC

          This seems like quite a stretch. The nitpicking and arguing semantics with every.single.letter is really starting to get frustrating.

          Reply
        2. JB (not in Houston)

          As others have said, that’s not what the OP was saying at all. It’s pretty clear from the context of her letter that she’s saying *she* doesn’t want to screw over *herself* by not asking for something her employer would be willing to provide.

          Reply
        3. Liane

          I am not a fan of either Colette’s or Me2’s framing. Their respective comments come across as needlessly antagonistic, which is not a good way to respond to a perfectly fine and reasonable question.

          Reply
  2. amy

    Oh, I definitely think LW1 should determine first that this position had never been approved, then bill for that training session at his usual rate.

    It’s one thing to be told “sorry, we had approval yanked”, but “we never got permission” is something else, and they got free work out of him. Which is nonsense and they know it too. I’d contact the recruiter and be firm about that. It’s one thing if you’re doing it in the context of an interview for a job that actually exists, but for a job that *might* exist? No.

    I’ve found it seldom pays to allow yourself to get ripped off this way, and that it often pays to go and require payment for work.

    Reply
    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      You can’t insist on payment for something they never agreed to pay for. It will just make the OP look really bad and it’s highly unlikely they’d pay the bill.

      Reply
      1. Artemesia

        This. And unapproved positions are par for the course in hiring. I know many people who were finalists for positions that never materialized — not just for them but not for anyone.

        Reply
          1. Koko

            I have only seen a few instances of it, but they were typically related to grant-funded positions that were on a tight deadline. They only needed/could afford the additional person if the grant came through, and once the grant came through they needed someone to start ASAP, so they try to time the interview process so that it’s nearing the offer stage when the grant is received and they can have someone on the job almost immediately after the money is available. In a few cases, the grant didn’t come through, so they were otherwise ready to make an offer but weren’t able to.

            Reply
          2. Is It Performance Art

            We had that happen when partway through the process there was a hiring freeze. Or there was a selective hiringfreeze and first it didn’t apply and now it doesn’t. Needless to say I’m not a fan of prolonged hiring freezes.

            Reply
          3. Shadow

            Worker supervisors trying to get a head start on hiring before funding is approved. (They assume it’s going to be funded)

            Reply
          4. Lora

            Because humans are really, really bad at planning and communication. Even when there’s $$$millions$$$ on the line. There’s project management tools and professional project managers but mostly humans are just really terrible at planning, risk management, and communication.

            There’s snap decisions made by yes-men and by people who aren’t bothered about doing their homework before making decisions.
            There’s the whole “we don’t want to tell anyone about our super-secret layoffs because all the good people will run for the exits if they know we’re not doing well” thing.
            There’s “we were counting our funding before it was hatched, now the VCs are not as generous as we had hoped”.
            There’s volatile stock prices. There’s sudden bad financial results from a report that wasn’t published until the CFO decided to release it to the public.

            Basically there’s a lot of risk and not much stability in general – any one of a number of things can kill a job opening, but all the stars must align perfectly for a job opening to continue to exist.

            Reply
        1. Lora

          In a startup it usually happens because some funding source backed out or they didn’t meet a milestone to get paid that they were expecting to hit.

          In established companies sometimes it’s a “surprise! layoffs, also hiring freeze” thing and sometimes it’s a re-org thing (literally they are changing the department structure but not necessarily firing anyone), sometimes it’s a political thing (Fergus was allowed two FTEs for his department but then the CEO’s nephew and cousin needed jobs).

          Reply
      2. Cambridge Comma

        It’s the fact that there’s almost no chance that they would pay it that makes all the other considerations moot for me. What’s the point in exposing yourself like that for zero potential gain? What about the small chance they call back with a different remote position next month?

        Reply
    2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      How do you feel OP was ripped off? I understand losing money on traveling and delivering a content-based training, but it doesn’t sound like they “got free work out of him” in the way we think about work when we bill for it.

      I’m curious because my immediate reaction to the letter was, “Oh goodness, don’t do that!” I’m trying to understand how this is analogous to doing work as a consultant or on contract.

      Reply
      1. consultant

        Let me explain. When preparing for interviews for some positions companies ask you to prepare presentations, case studies or similar. Sometimes these are related to their current projects/ problems.

        OP writes he had to deliver a training. He’s probably in training development, IT or something similar. Such trainings can cost participants thousands of dollars a session. Preparing a training at my current (consultant) job would also cost the client many thousand.

        So yes, what the company did was extremely unfair to say the least and I’m not surprised that he considers sending them a bill.

        Reply
        1. consultant

          I would add the client normally also pays for the travel costs, at least where I work – in Europe, but I don’t think there are big differences towards the US.

          Reply
        2. Mookie

          Let me explain. When preparing for interviews for some positions companies ask you to prepare presentations, case studies or similar. Sometimes these are related to their current projects/ problems.

          Are you going to bill us for this?

          Reply
        3. Jen

          It isn’t entirely clear here. If OP provided a training rubrick for them and they are now using that as free consulting, sure it’s crappy, but billing is still futile because there simply is no contract. She did that work with no clear agreement that she would be paid. Any time you interview for a job there is a chance you won’t get it. If the amount of prep or effort is unreasonable, don’t do it then or.ask for compensation then, but you have no legal basis to bill someone in that circumstance. And sending a bill to be complaining about a job interview process would make sure that, even if your complaint was legitimate, you’re just going to look delusional or like a scammer trying to get money when you have no legal claim.

          Reply
          1. consultant

            Of course it’s crappy and of course he has no chance of success.

            What I wanted to express with my comment is that I understand the sentiment. Investing so much into a job which didn’t exist in the first place is extreme frustrating. And what the company did is not even an exception – there are plenty of such employers.

            Reply
            1. Jen

              This is same as yesterday’s LW who had a terrible horrible work environment but everyone yelled “nope, don’t do it” at the suggestion of deleting files when quitting. Understandable to be frustrated, but you don’t do something that’ll hurt yourself professionally. Impulse is one thing, execution another.

              Reply
              1. Construction Safety

                Yeah, that’s what I was thinking, too. Let the imagination run then knock the dust from the sandals & move forward.

                Reply
              2. Trout 'Waver

                It’s not the same, though. Deleting files is unethical and probably illegal. In today’s case, it’s the company that is unethical.

                Reply
                1. Falling Diphthong

                  Burning bridges is an odd term to throw around in these cases, because this is what constitutes a professional reputation–for both the OPs and the companies. We expect people to give an honest but fair and professional appraisal–that this employee responded to all requests with “I’m going to kill your mom” or this company made promises that forever were pushed off to the mythical next quarter. If everyone preserves every bridge with “They were excellent” then that accolade eventually loses any weight.

                  So don’t destroy the files (unethical, probably illegal, and annoying to the wrong individuals) and don’t send a bill (it won’t be paid). But answering honestly when asked if New Person should work there–that does more for your professional reputation than claiming that everything everywhere is equally wonderful.

                2. Jen

                  I am really shocked by this kind of rhetoric, we have no indication the company did anything unethical. Stuff falls through all the time, my org was affected by sequestration, for instance and people had to have positions rescinded. That kind of thing happens.

                  This is 100% the same as yesterday in that it is okay to feel bad but the proposed actions by both LWs are self-sabotaging and would hurt their professional reps and possibly future employment. That’s a card you play when righting an extreme wrong like discrimination or stopping dangerous or illegal behavior. Not these kinds of things.

                3. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

                  If we all waited to act until we had perfect, unchangeable information we would never do anything.

                  Have you ever interviewed for a job that had a downside, without being 100% sure that you’d tolerate the downside if the job were offered to you? I’m sure you have; I’m sure we all have. That’s what happened here. They interviewed someone who had a downside (needed to work remotely) without being 100% sure that they’d be willing to tolerate a remote worker.

                4. Trout 'Waver

                  @Jen. The company didn’t communicate that they did not have approval for a remote position. In fact, they communicated the opposite (i.e. lied). If they had communicated that they intended it to be a remote position, but didn’t have final approval yet, the OP would have had the chance to make a different decision. But, the company made that decision for her by withholding the information. I believe that type of behavior to be unethical.

                5. Ask a Manager Post author

                  Come on. It’s not lying if they believed it to be true. Things change, people make assumptions that seem safe but turn out to be wrong, etc.

                  If you do enough hiring, you see this happen over and over and it’s because anyone was lying.

                6. Thinking Outside the Boss

                  As far as I can tell, everything this company did was above board. Just because the job changed doesn’t make this company the mother of all evil.

                  I’m a manager in a government agency and because of the civil service rules, we’ve had to pull back a job offer because the person who was supposed to retire decided at the last minute to stay on an additional 12 months. We had to not make offers to candidates because our budget was cut a week before the offers were supposed to be made. Just last year we were going to hire 4 people, but they only authorized a budget increase for 3 people and let us know at the last minute.

                  I’m assuming the employer here is a private sector employer. But similar things happen in the private sector all the time. Like daily. This is the nature of business. And I realize that some folks have been out of work for a while, but badly wanting a job and having it not materialize does not mean that the employer is bad.

                7. Trout 'Waver

                  @Alison. Why not tell the candidate that the remote work opportunity is still under review? Why misrepresent it as a fait accompli? Surely that’s better for everyone.

                8. Ask a Manager Post author

                  Because they may not have known that. Or they may have had good reason to assume it would be no problem. Or because it was a go and then things changed. Tons of possibilities.

            2. Not Allison

              I am in agreement. I see this often after the market crash. The workforce became such a place that people were happy to just anything to be considered for a job so these companies ask for more and more then dismiss them without much thought. I once had a homework assignment after 5 rounds of interviews and a marathon 7 hours with the company. They wanted me to read the CEO’s book and write a thesis then defend it to the CEO. It was a damned CRM position. I noped the hell out of there but my recruiter was SHOCKED that I didn’t do the homework.

              It is somewhat common to have an interviewer complete a project then take their ideas and reject them for whatever reason. It is crappy but I don’t think OP can “bill” them.

              Reply
              1. Wheezy Weasel

                I think it’s on the job seeker to know the relative amount of work they should be willing to put in. In NotAllison’s example, this level of effort may have been worthwhile for a senior executive making over $100k, but not for a Customer Relationship Manager who tend to cycle in and out of companies (in my experience).

                In my experience, it’s only after the job seeker has been burned once or twice before they start pushing back on the employer. Even if “all of the candidates are preparing 3 hour seminars” that doesn’t mean that it’s normal, it just means that all of the other candidates have decided that 3 hours of their time (plus prep) are a worthwhile investment for this job opportunity or haven’t given it any thought at all.

                Reply
          2. FiveWheels

            Question about US laws – are contracts only enforceable if they’re in writing? In some jurisdictions the court can rule a verbal contract was in place even if no price was discussed. I don’t really think that applies here, but if a reasonable person would expect to pay /be paid for the work done, that can be enforced.

            Reply
            1. Jessesgirl72

              They are only provable if they are in writing, or you had witnesses. In some jurisdictions, a verbal agreement, if you can otherwise prove it, is enough.

              But it doesn’t apply here because they never even verbally agreed to pay him.

              Reply
              1. JB (not in Houston)

                Yep. Oral contracts are thing that, at least in my state, are perfectly enforceable. But you have to have, at the least, offer and acceptance–“do this training and we will pay your for your time,” “ok, I’ll come do the training.” There was never an offer to pay the OP for their time. There’s nothing here at all to support a contract.

                Reply
                1. Kathleen Adams

                  Yes, verbal agreements are definitely enforceable in my state, too.

                  But there has to be an agreement, and it doesn’t sound as though there was one here. At all.

                  I can’t even tell if the company did anything unethical. It’s possible it did, but it’s also possible it was just One Of Those Things. In any case, I see no upside for the OP in trying to pursue this.

              2. Jessie the First (or second)

                Verbal contracts are a thing. It is simply that it can be hard to prove a contract exists if you don’t have some kind of external evidence of it – someone witnessed or oversaw it, or there is an email somewhere in which someone mentions that there was an agreement. Or, frankly, whether it just makes no sense that there would not have been a contract (For example, a professional painter comes and paints my entire house – what are the chances that I didn’t actually hire this person? Obviously it’d be tricky, but there can be situations where a court simply would not believe that there had not been an agreement in place.)

                Reply
                1. Jessie the First (or second)

                  And to clarify – there’s no evidence at all that there was anything like a contract in the LW’s case. This was an interview. I can’t imagine there was ever any discussion about *paying* for LW’s time – that just is not a thing in the world of interviews. That LW feels misled doesn’t transform the interview process into a consulting job.

            2. Ask a Manager Post author

              There’s no standard to expect that you’ll get paid for this type of thing as part of an interview process. In fact, just the opposite.

              If you want to be paid for something, you need to negotiate that up-front, not come in with a bill after the fact.

              Reply
        4. Danger: Gumption Ahead

          I get what you are saying. I too would have a heat of anger/frustration thought that I would want to send them an invoice. Then it would pass and I would call the recruiter and ask them to make it clear with the next company that travel would have to be covered if it was an out of town interview. It will likely mean missing out on some jobs, but this particular frustration could be avoided.

          The LW is out $400 and time. $400 would mostly be travel if you account for transport, hotel, and meals, and by not agreeing to an out of area interview unless the company covers the cost, they can avoid losing money in the future. That would probably make the sting of losing time a bit less.

          Reply
          1. Kathleen Adams

            The OP said they paid for flight and hotel, so the $400 is for everything else – meals, I assume, cabs, that kind of thing. It sounds like a lot to me, but maybe that’s not the case in an expensive city.

            Reply
            1. Elizabeth West

              It sounds like a lot to me too. If the OP was there for a week, I could see that, but if it were only a couple of days, how did they spend that much? Even an expensive city has cheaper options. Buses, breakfast buffet at the hotel, etc. Maybe it was a car rental for several days?

              Reply
              1. Kathleen Adams

                Yes, or maybe cab fares. I haven’t used cabs much except in DC, but it wouldn’t be too difficult to rack up, say, $$150-$200 in cab fares there, although I must point out that there are generally other options there as well.

                Reply
        5. Falling Diphthong

          It sounds a lot like something I’ve heard on here before–company decides it would cost $10,000 to hire a consultant to analyze this problem and suggest a fix, but much less to place a job ad and have someone with the right expertise perform that task as a way of auditioning… for a job that never existed.

          I think OP is screwed in terms of billing for this, but their perception that this was unpaid consulting rather than a legit interview might be dead on.

          Reply
          1. Ask a Manager Post author

            Very, very unlikely. Doing good consulting takes real time and investment. It’s not just coming in and doing a presentation; you have to get to know the company and its needs. It is highly, HIGHLY unlikely that the company did this intentionally. Positions get canceled all the time. ALL THE TIME. It makes no sense to take this thing that happens constantly and assign this sort of malice to it.

            Reply
            1. Czhorat

              It’s certainly possible, but I agree that there’s not enough here to see it as likely.

              Either way, there’s no redress for the candidate. We also should remember that, as frustrating as it is, they could have not hired them because they didn’t like them. Or because another candidate was stronger. Or any other reason.

              Conversely, the candidate could have decided they weren’t a good fit for this firm and withdrawn. There are no guarantees. Think of it like a Tinder date; you’ve both swiped right (or left? I don’t know how Tinder works) and traded some messages. Now you’ve met for coffee, maybe then dinner. There’s no promise that you’ll get married or even sleep together. You’re evaluating each other. There shouldn’t be an expectation of remuneration if you don’t move forward.

              Reply
              1. Mononymous

                I like this analogy… And OP, you don’t want to be seen in the same light as those social media viral posts about people who invoiced their Tinder dates for the costs of the first date after they politely declined a second date!

                Reply
              2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

                This is where I am on this. I don’t see this as exploiting OP for free labor at all. It might be close to the line, but it’s an interview. I’m baffled by the level of anger against the prospective employer and a little confused about why it’s “good” to adopt the most negative explanation for what happened and then burn a bridge.

                Reply
                1. Czhorat

                  It could be that most people are in industries which don’t require this kind of thing. I do AV system design, for example. In an interview, I’d more likely be asked broad steps I’d take to design a certain kind of system than I would to actually design one on the spot. Actual design work in an interview would, in my industry, be very much an outlier. If it’s more normal in other fields, then that’s what it is.

                  That the OP didn’t have alarm bells go off until after the interview tells me that this behaviour isn’t so far outside of the norm for their field to be a drastic concern. It’s just one of those things which, this time, didn’t work out.

            2. Jessie the First (or second)

              Yes!

              I am sure it was a great and lovely and instructive presentation/training. But a presentation made for an interview does not come CLOSE to an actual consulting/training project. It would not hit the same standard, it would not be in the same ballpark, it wouldn’t even be the same sport. A one-off presentation made after a week of preparation = the caliber of a presentation from hired consultant who has spent time getting to know the details of the organization and its needs, the knowledge level of the trainees. I think the idea that companies post false ads to scam free consulting work off people makes zero sense and is not a thing. (It’s quite a swipe at consultants, frankly – as if what they do is easy and be dashed together quickly without anything more than outsider knowledge of a company)

              Reply
              1. Jessie the First (or second)

                (Ugh. “=” should be “NOT =”. The opposite of the point I typed is the point I intended to make.)

                Reply
            3. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

              Right. I think people who believe this must have never hired consultants.

              Sure, I suppose you could get some ideas from the work someone prepared for an interview presentation. But when you hire a consultant to develop a training (e.g.) they have several lengthy conversations with various folks at the organization about what you’re looking for; get your agreement on an outline; develop a draft; incorporate your feedback; push back if they think you’re wrong about something; develop a new draft; work with you to make the case for any folks in your organization that aren’t supportive of the work; finally get your approval; practice delivering the content several times, sometimes with observation and feedback from someone on your staff; and then deliver the content.

              Reply
            4. Artemesia

              In this case I’m sure you are right but I have known many people who work for the big consulting firms and who basically provide the same boilerplate advice to everyone with similar problems. They just plug in the personalized information from the very expensive consult and give the same stock advice. One of the great scams in American business.

              Reply
              1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

                Ok. Bad consultants exist (as do bad accountants, dog trainers, and Executive Directors). That doesn’t change anything about this question.

                Reply
          2. LBK

            I think this actually happening is waaaaaaaaay less common than people believing that’s what happened to them because they just can’t fathom that the company wouldn’t have wanted to hire them and they’re frustrated to not get the job after putting a lot of effort into the hiring process. It’s just such an ineffective way to try to wring free consulting services out of people that I’d bet the number of times it actually happens is in the single digits annually and it’s probably confined to a small handful of unscrupulous companies. If you’re not willing to pay someone to get info that’s tailored to your company, there’s plenty of free online resources you could utilize rather than going through this absurd hassle of creating a fake position.

            Reply
            1. LBK

              Not to mention that in this case they did pay for the flight and hotel…which doesn’t seem like something a company would do if the whole point was to get free work out of someone.

              Reply
              1. Jessesgirl72

                The OP’s only evidence that they were intending to “steal” his training is that they took a lot of notes.

                But they’d have taken a lot of notes, regardless. Assuming they were all notes, and not doodles.

                Reply
                1. Czhorat

                  If nobody took notes, then the OP might think they weren’t serious about the candidacy and just going through the motions.

                  The sting of rejection makes it very easy to read too much into the actions – or lack thereof – of the hiring firm.

            2. Kathleen Adams

              We frequently have entry-level or intern candidates do a little on-the-spot test, e.g., “Imagine that we’re sponsoring a new event called the Teapot Fanciers Extravaganza” (which I’d *totally* want to go to, BTW). “We’re going to give you 20 minutes to come up with some general ideas for promoting the extravaganza.” I can’t say that we’ve never gotten any insight from these tests – I don’t think so (there are only so many ways to promote stuff, after all), but I can’t swear to it. The point of the tests isn’t to push back the boundaries of marketing knowledge, but to see if the candidate has some good, basic knowledge and the ability to use that knowledge in a constructive way. But even if we have, we have definitely not gotten anything consultant-worthy. Exploiting candidates who don’t know this organization and its goals is just not an effective way to get consultation help.

              Reply
              1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

                I mean, we regularly have people provide a writing sample on a prompt we’ve designed. The prompt is usually related to a case we’ve actually litigated, but that doesn’t mean I’m using a person’s writing sample as my court brief!

                (I’m agreeing with you :) ).

                Reply
          3. LQ

            We hire a lot of consultants (ok it feels like a lot, not sure if it is) to do things and if they have training (a lot) we will often ask if one or two of us can sit in on training that they are doing elsewhere to see if it is right for us. (We made a hire this year without doing it and it was A MISTAKE.) But we take lots of notes and make lots of comments and such. That doesn’t mean we are trying to get anything for free. It means we want to determine if this person is the right person for our organization. Do they shift based on the room? (After this week) Are they hard and fast about absolute best practices or do they adjust and help people where they are? Or just do their rote presentation no matter what? Did the presenter talk about how they didn’t have enough time over and over? Did they know what they were doing? All of these things. When I go to a training to decide if the trainer is the right person I can walk away with no notes on the actual content and dozens of pages of notes on should we use them.

            I really think this is far less common than people think it is. It takes time and analysis to really understand the problem to come in with a custom solution rather than a one size fits all. And how much is $400 going to buy you from a consultant anyway? I couldn’t hire anyone to do any kind of training for that around here. Nothing I’d want anyway.

            Reply
          4. Shadow

            This is an urban legend for the most part. Companies rarely, if ever use the actual work product from candidates because generally they don’t know enough about how stuff actually works at the company to make it useful. Ideas yes, but it rarely makes little business sense to think so highly of a candidates idea/vision and then think someone else is better equipped to implement.

            Reply
            1. Statler von Waldorf

              It’s not purely an urban legend. I’ve seen it happen twice in my career. Both times had two major things in common. The first was that it was a new startup, and the second was that they were looking for stuff that was outside their core business. I’ll agree that established and larger companies don’t generally do this, but with the one-man startup I’d watch out.

              I actually got dragged into court over one of them. The company claimed to be hiring someone to do in-house design for an upcoming project. They asked for samples based around a certain theme to be included in their portfolio. Then they stole one of those samples and used it as their own logo. I had to testify in court that the designer did not receive any payment at any time for his work. They settled out of court about an hour before the verdict was to be announced, so I never did find out the result. The designer seemed happy with it.

              Reply
              1. Artemesia

                Startups are a whole other hazard. I know two people who worked for equity and got fired a day before the equity was available. i.e. they worked a year for virtually nothing, giving their expertise to a company that was to be part theirs and then got stiffed. Two different start ups. One set up the entire on line presence for a company that was marketing on line and then they essentially stole his work and denied him equity. I was pleased to see them go under a year later.

                Reply
                1. Lora

                  Ugh, yeah. Have a colleague / ex-friend who wanted me to come work for his startup for equity. I said, I can’t pay my mortgage in equity and I can’t eat equity, so no. He had a lot to say about that and all I had to say to him was, sorry I don’t have rich parents, dude – from each according to their ability, to each according to their need.

              2. LBK

                Well, in your example that doesn’t necessarily mean they invented a fake position just to steal a logo from someone. It could’ve been that they were genuinely trying to hire someone, liked a sample in someone’s portfolio and copied it – which is still shady, but not the same as intentionally putting up a job posting for a job that doesn’t exist just to rip off the applicants’ work.

                Reply
                1. Statler von Waldorf

                  Except in this case, the reason the whole lawsuit got started is the man behind the startup publicly stated at the bar one night that he did it intentionally and that anyone who paid for design services was an idiot. This was an especially dumb idea in a small town. The bartender who he told it to used to date the designer’s sister, and after he told her he also ended up testifying at the trial.

          5. Specialk9

            That’s my read too. Yes, they got taken advantage of for free work by the company. But no, they don’t get to send an invoice without looking like a nut, and not getting paid. Lesson learned that this is a sketchy practice… don’t get suckered again .

            Reply
        6. JB (not in Houston)

          How is unfair, though? If the OP is a consultant, why wouldn’t they have them do some sort of training exercise to see how he does his job? What if they had turned him down because they had a stronger candidate–would you still think his feeling of wanting to bill them is understandable?

          It’s possible it was unfair. If they knew they didn’t have approval for a remote position, if the OP had any real basis to believe that they set up the interview just to get cheap work (but they paid for his flight and hotel, so it certainly wasn’t free for them), that kind of thing. But while it sucks for the OP to not get the job, I don’t think you can say from the letter that what the company did was “extremely unfair to say the least.”

          Reply
    3. Vanilla Nice

      Alison is right. An invoice would burn a bridge in a major way that people would remember.

      If L.W. #1 is contacted by the people from the organization in the future for other job vacancies or for networking purposes, I do think the O.P. could say something along the lines “I’m going to respectfully decline that invitation, because of my experience when I interviewed with you for the ABC position in May 2017.” That phrasing avoids casting blame but makes clear the L.W. was not happy with the previous experience. (Of course, this also assumes that the O.P. is prepared to burn that bridge, which may not be a good idea!).

      Reply
      1. Trout 'Waver

        The company has already torched the bridge, though. If you make someone apply at their own expense for a position that never existed in the first place, you’re already destroyed a potential relationship.

        Reply
        1. anoncmntr

          Can I ask what you mean with “apply at their own expense”? Since the company paid airfare and hotel, it seems that the company covered the expenses associated with applying. The candidate assumed they were responsible for all other expenses, but never confirmed that, so I really don’t think it’s fair to say that they applied “at their own expense.”

          Reply
          1. Kathleen Adams

            That’s how I look at it too. They paid hotel and airfare, which is a LOT, so it’s not as though they got the OP to fund the whole experience.

            Reply
          2. Trout 'Waver

            Just going on the OP’s words. They’re out $400 that they wouldn’t have spent. I was simply taking it at their word.

            Reply
            1. Kathleen Adams

              I get that the OP is out $400. But it’s not accurate to say that the OP applied “at their own expense” when the company paid airfare and hotel, which the OP said is the case.

              Reply
                1. Kathleen Adams

                  If someone said to me, “You’re welcome to attend the conference, but it would be at your own expense,” that would translate to “You can go, but you pay for everything.” Not just meals, not just X percent of the costs, but *everything*. So when someone says that the OP “applied at their own expense,” I disagree with that. Yes, the OP paid some of the costs of this trip, but assuming the hotel and airfare totaled considerably more than $400 (a pretty fair assumption, I’d say), the majority of the expense was borne by the company, not the OP, so the phrase “at their own expense” does not reflect what happened here.

                  What happened here is that part of the costs of the trip were borne by the OP. That’s unfortunate, and I wouldn’t be happy if it happened to me, either. But on the other hand, all the OP was promised was hotel and airfare. If that wasn’t acceptable – and I can easily see why it wouldn’t be – the OP should not have traveled for this interview. He should have said, “Thank you for your consideration, but I can’t come unless I come unless you’re willing to pick up X, Y and Z, too.”

                  The real problem is that the OP thought he was getting this job, and since he didn’t get it, he feels misled. Maybe he was misled when it comes to working remotely (it’s very difficult to say), but it doesn’t sound to me as though he was misled about anything else – including about likely he was to get the job. He was a finalist, and not getting a job you want when you reach that level of commitment is hard, so hard. But if he was a finalist, it wasn’t misleading of the company to tell him so. And if they didn’t promise to pay everything including meals and so on (and clearly they did not), it’s not misleading of them to not pay for those things now.

            2. LBK

              I’m actually a little confused what the OP had to spend $400 on. Even if you factor in cabs and food I can’t imagine it was that much for a day trip.

              Reply
              1. Trout 'Waver

                If the OP was an hourly worker and missed time, I could see that. Airport parking plus checked bag fees could get you over $150 easily.

                Reply
                1. LBK

                  I’d assume bag fees would be part of the flight, and the way the OP phrased it I didn’t interpret that number to include opportunity cost of missed work time.

        2. PaperTowel

          The company have the power here, not the applicant. I doubt they’re losing sleep over this. I don’t think it counts as a burned bridge if it’s irrelevant and probably went unnoticed on behalf of the employer. It’s tempting to try and see it as the employer burning a bridge but i see that notion along the lines of saying ‘don’t worry I didn’t fancy you anyway!’ when rejected for a date! I.e. ‘You really screwed up this time, employer!’ says the candidate they didn’t want to hire.

          Also the employer paid for flights and accommodation. That’s a not insignificant sum. I’d be curious to know what the reported $400 was spent on. Things like interview clothing which can be reused or obtained more cheaply? Expensive meals out while attending the interview when they could have taken a packed lunch or food from home? Maybe it’s for childcare which is unavoidable, but applying for jobs does sometimes cost money.

          Reply
          1. Falling Diphthong

            A rental car, parking or transport to/from your home airport, and meals. All normal business expenses. I could easily make the first $200, the second $100, and the third $100 eating reasonably, but sometimes in one’s hotel or at the airport, over two days.

            It would be a weird expectation that someone pack peanut butter sandwiches from home and eat those for every meal on a multi-day trip.

            Reply
            1. PaperTowel

              True, though we don’t know how long the process was. I would have thought they paid for a rental car and taxis if they were paying for transport.

              Personally if money were tight I’d be taking food with me (doesn’t have to be sandwiches, they’re unlikely to keep for more than a day!) such as ready meals, things that don’t need heating, things that can be made using the hotel kettle rather than spending on eating out for every meal.

              It’s all conjecture anyway seeing as we don’t know what the four hundred dollars was spent on, and seeing that the company ain’t gonna pay for something they didn’t agree to.

              Reply
          2. Anon for this thread

            You’re limited to what food you can take from home if you are a plane ride away from it. I have managed to transport energy bars, plastic jars of nuts, tea bags, and packets of soup or hot chocolate mix in checked luggage, but good luck getting liquids through.

            Reply
    4. Chaordic One

      I’ve seen where people have left bad reviews on Glassdoor for employers that have ridiculous, rude or bizarre recruiting practices. This kind of behavior might justify a bad review calling the employer out.

      Reply
      1. Chaordic One

        Maybe also say write an honest review about the recruiter and the agency. They all seem like bridges worth burning.

        Reply
          1. Jen

            I am with you on this, it seems like a complete over-reaction something that may have been an unexpected request denial for the interviewers. Really struggling to see how this is in any way the recruiter’s fault at all if they were working in the same info, especially if the recruiter is external. I would saved sorched earth for an extreme situation and this is not it.

            Reply
            1. Czhorat

              In 99% of cases, the recruiter doesn’t get paid unless the candidate is hired. If the position vanishes then the recruiter’s time is just as must wasted as yours.

              One question to always ask in these cases is what your expected result is. Absent an agreement up front, you aren’t going to get paid. The only thing this will accomplish is to give you the emotional satisfaction of telling someone off. It also, as Alison said, makes you look bad. The people at this bad potential emplyer might work at a better employer down the road, and the burned bridge might count for something.

              I agree; it’s a bad idea.

              Reply
              1. Shadow

                That’s not totally true. As a recruiter If you send a viable candidate that’s ultimately not hired that company will continue to use your services. So not filling a job as a recruiter is not a waste unless you send sucky candidates

                Reply
            2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

              Yes. I’m not trying to be a jerk, but based on OP’s letter, there’s nothing in there that suggests the company’s behavior was unethical or bridge-burning (or worthy of bridge-burning). So I’m trying to figure out how folks are reading in so much animus and shadiness.

              Reply
      2. Undine

        It wasn’t ridiculous, rude, or bizarre. I assume at the time they interviewed in good faith — no one wants to spend time interviewing if they don’t have to. They paid for flights and hotels, so I’m sure they were serious — that’s not free to them. If the OP needed a rental car or some other expensive item, maybe she should have explicitly asked about having it covered. Otherwise the lesson to all of us is, no matter how sure you are that you will get a job, don’t do anything you would regret if you were wrong.

        Reply
        1. Jen

          I agree. Sometimes an employer believes something about a job but HR or some higher up or similar yanks them back at the approval stage. It happens. It doesn’t mean the people doing the hiring were bad or negligent, they might be just as upset as OP. All sending a bill would do is ensure that if the remote gets approved later, OP won’t get the job and potentially worse consequences with the recruiter and for reputation in the field. Don’t do it.

          Reply
          1. consultant

            It actually does mean that.

            I can’t imagine wasting someone’s time – it was at least 2 days work (several hours for preparing the training and flying there and the second day for the meeting and flying back) – without making sure that the position was certain.

            Reply
            1. Colette

              Positions are rarely certain. You can get to the finalist stage and not get an offer because they company is making budget cuts, or because someone else quit and they need to change what the position is, or because the hiring manager quit, or because there was a reorg, or because a higher manager came on board who doesn’t like remote work. I think I’ve seen fewer people get hired than I’ve seen potential positions disappear before anyone is hired.

              Reply
              1. consultant

                But this is something different, isn’t it?

                Here the position never existed.

                I’ve had positions being cancelled after I submitted my resume. But wasting someone’s time to this extent without even making sure the position existed is simply too much.

                I remember this letter where an NGO asked several applicants to prepare a dinner. The reactions were that it was unserious for the NGO to do a thing like that. I agree that it was. But here it was a very similar situation. The company wasted OP’s 2 days, potentially using his expertise and the position didn’t even exist and everybody seems to be ok with that.

                Reply
                1. Colette

                  The position did exist, they just decided it couldn’t be remote, even though the person who told the OP that it could be remote thought it could,

                2. consultant

                  Which means the position as advertised never existed. And the company knew it from the very beginning.

                3. Jen

                  The company isn’t a monolithic thing. It is possible this position used to be remote and then someone undecided to change it, or there was a policy change, or despite the fact that all similar positions were approved for remote, HR denied this request. Simetimes a grant falls through or a.contract doesn’t materialize and money that was expected to go for a job doesn’t exist. Companies have to do some pre-hiring and it is absurd to axt.like someone is a horrible.person in this situation. And doesn’t really matter because the fact is someone else could have gotten the job. If anything a technical.problem.leavea the door more open for LW not less, because there.is a chance it can be fixed.down the line.

                4. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

                  This is not at all similar to the NGO letter. In this case, they asked one candidate (that you know of; maybe there were others) to do a very normal thing: prepare a piece of work as a part of an interview.

                5. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

                  There’s no indication that the position didn’t exist or that the company went out to recruit people for a job that they knew did not and could not exist as advertised. When you add in the extra layer of the recruiter, it’s also possible that the recruiter misunderstood what they had been told or was overly optimistic when telling OP that the position could be entirely remote. That doesn’t make the company dishonest or predatory.

                  Do you honestly believe that people want to spend hours interviewing someone for a nonexistent position? All to “steal” a training that someone prepares as an exercise for their job interview? OP might feel like their time was wasted, but so was the company’s time. That’s the reality of hiring—it doesn’t always work out.

                  I’ve been in hiring where the funding falls apart or the rules change at the last minute, and in all of those cases, it had nothing to do with the candidate or with the company being dishonest (in most circumstances, we could not have predicted that the bottom would fall out or the geographic requirements would change). We let candidates know ASAP and then tried to figure out if we had processes to prevent it from happening again. But that doesn’t mean we were being shady when we began the hiring process.

                  What OP has described is nothing like the NGO that required people to throw a party and cook dinner on the fly. They’ve described a really normal job hiring process where the only thing that changed was whether the job could be done 100% remotely. They weren’t asked to fly at their own expense, to engage in exercises unrelated to the job, or to fight for an extremely low salary.

            2. Ask a Manager Post author

              I’m sorry to be so blunt here, but that is just really naive about how hiring works. Positions can seem certain and then things change and they’re not. It’s is really, really normal. Companies also hire for positions ALL THE TIME that aren’t yet certain but seem likely. Again, really normal.

              THERE IS NO CERTAINTY IN HIRING, because there is always a decent chance you won’t end up with the job, no matter what.

              I’m sorry for the all caps, but some of the comments in this thread are blowing my mind, and are really terrible advice for the OP and others.

              Reply
              1. Important Moi

                It certainly can be interesting to see how the comments evolve in a thread.

                I say this as someone who has been reprimanded. :)

                Reply
              2. Agnes

                Things like this happen in other areas of work all the time, too. You put together a proposal for a company, and they don’t choose you as a vendor. You bid on a government contract and the funding gets pulled. You put a lot of time into writing a grant, and don’t get it It sucks, but it’s the cost of doing business, on your side.

                Reply
                1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

                  Yes, good point!

                  I manage a consulting practice, and the majority of my time at work is spent on developing proposals (i.e. doing work) for clients; sometimes we’re selected and my work turns into the first draft of the work we’re paid to do; sometimes they hire someone else (or nobody) and we don’t get paid. It’s literally the cost of doing business.

              3. Stephanie the Great

                I am so confused by so many of these comments. I really wonder how many of these people have actually been involved in hiring???

                Reply
                1. LBK

                  I’d guess very few. Hiring seems so much more clear cut until you start doing it. I honestly think the main thing people forget is that a manager doesn’t drop their entire job just to hire – they still need to conduct their (presumably pretty busy) day-to-day career, and while you’d like to be able to dedicate the time to have a really polished and focused hiring process, it just doesn’t work out that way most of the time.

              4. HR Jeanne

                Agree!! There are so many factors that go into a hiring decision, and so many of these factors can change. I can’t imagine a hiring manager paying to fly someone out to get free “consulting”. To be effective, a consultant has to spend many hours (days, weeks) learning about the company and their specific needs. Also, HR generally does not make any of these decisions! We are advisory, and don’t make budgeting decisions. If a position is pulled, the decision was made by department leaders, not HR.

                Reply
              5. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

                It’s blowing my mind, as well. We often get stories about companies that are being shady, but aside from OP’s feelings of being screwed, there’s very little in the letter that substantiates the “burn it all down!” approach that people are suggesting.

                I’m also just baffled that after numerous emails where you have counseled people against invoicing for their unsuccessful job interview that there are commenters who think that is an appropriate or beneficial strategy for OP.

                When my friends are in a negativity spiral, I don’t make it worse for them by egging them on and encouraging them to blow up their professional lives. I’m not sure why some folks are insistently adopting that approach with OP.

                Reply
                1. fposte

                  Yeah, I get that it’s frustrating, and it’s frustrating for the people who wanted to hire the OP, too. But I don’t think that’s the same thing as being wronged.

            3. Consultant is correct

              Consultant, you’re absolutely right. But you’ll never get the regulars on this blog to agree.

              It’s completely unethical to demand free work product as a bribe for a chance at a job. That’s what happened here, and labor/know-how has value whether or not the “client” ever ends up implementing it.

              Reply
              1. Specialk9

                Exactly. They paid flight and hotel, but stiffed an expensive (presumably) trainer out of their fee, by dangling a job. It’s hard not to see that as sketchy.

                Reply
        2. Falling Diphthong

          She explicitly asked the recruiter, and the recruiter never got back to her.

          One could argue that she should have said Nope Nope Nope and refused to budge until they had ironed out car, per diem for food, and so on… but I bet most people’s instinct is to not raise a fuss this close to being hired.

          Reply
          1. Yorick

            She could reach out to ask about getting the travel expenses reimbursed, as long as she’s polite about it. That would probably not seem crazy or burn the bridge with the company. But you definitely can’t send an invoice for the work that was done.

            Reply
            1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

              It sounds like the travel was reimbursed, as was lodging. Not sure where the other $400 went, but I assume it was incidentals.

              Reply
        3. Mike C.

          No, it was most certainly rude to lead on a candidate here like this. Invoices are out of the question, but this employer screwed up big time.

          Reply
          1. Jen

            It doesn’t have to be leading on at all. We had this guy who interviewed with us five times (my org is subject to some strict rules on open and closed hiring periods). Every single time management and everyone wanted to hire him but because he had worked for a competitor, one guy in legal kept vetoing under some theory. We made an honest effort to clear it every time an it kept getting bounced. We did finally get him hired. I know it must have been hard for him but there was no bad faith.

            Reply
            1. Mike C.

              Fine, even it was incompetence, it’s still bad behavior. I get so sick and tired of feeling like we always have to excuse poor planning and communication terrible process because one time it might have been an actual emergency or genuine change of need.

              Reply
              1. paul

                Things change. Approvals for mergers or acquisitions fall through, business takes a slump, major accounts withdraw, whatever. Nothing’s 100% certain in hiring. It absolutely sucks, but it’s nto bad faith or incompetence.

                Reply
              2. Jen

                The idea that the managers conducting hiring have to predict everything is just nuts. Branches close, there are hiring freezes, rigs, contracts fall through, stuff comes up unexpectedly, some VP gets weird and wants to hold off, and expected grant or government funding is cut off. Bu on the side of an employee is the effect really different from “we picked someone else”? I have gone through a hiring process on both sides and let me tell you, hiring can be brutal for the employer side. Everyone is trying their hardest to get their needs filled.

                Reply
                1. Mike C.

                  I’m sorry Alison, but when I see this sort of thing happen day in and day out, it becomes very difficult for me to simply brush off every case as “things just happen”. It’s not “nuts” to describe my own personal experiences. I’m talking about the sorts of things that will become case studies in business school for years to come.

                  Also, I’m treating the employer as one entity here. I’m not complaining about specific hiring managers, because yes, I understand that things happen from on high.

                  When “some VP get weird”, that’s a failure to plan for the employer. If “business takes a slump”, how short term is their planning that business can change so drastically in the time it takes to hire someone? Black swan events sure, but those sorts of events should be obvious to even an outside observer.

                  There are actual emergencies, and then there are “emergencies” due to someone not communicating or not planning properly. I’ve seen a handful of the former, but I’ve seen way more of the latter. It’s not nuts to point that out.

              3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

                How is it bad behavior? We don’t know that this is poor planning or terrible communication, let alone something unethical.

                I fought for years to create a position, and when I finally received a greenlight, had all the approvals in place, and posted the position, the government adopted a hiring freeze and Congress held the budget hostage. Goodbye new position. That’s not because I was incompetent, a poor planner, or bad at communication—it’s because there was a massive political shift.

                In this case, it doesn’t even sound like the position disappeared. It just sounds like it wasn’t 100% remote, and it’s unclear if the failure to communicate that was the recruiter’s fault, or if the classification of the position changed during the hiring process.

                Reply
                1. Mike C.

                  I would argue that it was Congress that was acting badly there, and even still it’s an issue large enough that folks on the outside should understand.

              4. LBK

                How much experience do you have with hiring? I really feel like this is the view of someone who hasn’t done it extensively. You run into hiccups all. the. time. that you just can’t plan for. People whose approvals you need go on leave, budgets get frozen by people way above your authority to override, senior management introduces directional changes without your input. It’s not as clear cut as it feels from the candidate perspective.

                And, like I said above, you still have to do your day job while you’re trying to hire. Hiring is definitely important and you try to designate as much time to focus on it as you can, but that’s just not realistic a lot of the time.

                Reply
                1. Mike C.

                  But all those examples you list are things that I would clearly label as “the employer acting badly”. Not with malice but with lack of planning, communication and so on. I understand the time constraints and that’s fine, but things like frozen budgets and massive directional changes shouldn’t be happening with such frequency that you list them as major impediments to hiring people.

                  Like I said above, absent black swan events/true emergencies/etc these issues wouldn’t occur so often if long term planning were taken more seriously.

                2. LBK

                  And again I’m just going to say that it’s easy to say things like that shouldn’t happen from the outside, but realistically once you start doing hiring you quickly realize how much other stuff gets in the way. I’m not saying it occurs with every person you try to hire, obviously, but it’s more than you’d think. I also think you’re treating “the company” as too much of a monolith and not allowing for nuance that the hiring manager might be acting in good faith, but then other parties at the company might interfere – do you not allow any leeway for bureaucracy? It just feels like you’re pinning too much on the one specific manager who’s doing the hiring when realistically they’re almost never the only person who can influence the process, unless maybe you’re being hired by the owner/CEO.

                  And I still don’t understand what you mean by “long-term planning” – how do I “long-term plan” for budget cuts that happen way over my head that I don’t know anything about until they happen and that I have no say in? I really want to know what you think a middle manager who’s hiring should do in order to prepare for that scenario.

            2. Specialk9

              But did you keep asking him to do work for you, each time you interviewed, for free? That’s the sticking point. We get that jobs fall through. But having a candidate do *real* work *for free*, on the hope for a job, is really unethical.

              Reply
          2. Elizabeth H.

            How can this possibly be considered a “big time” screw up? They flew the person there and paid for the hotel! I have interviewed for jobs I traveled to on my own dime. It sounds like the company wanted it to be a remote position and thought it would be possible, and were excited about this person’s candidacy, but something changed or they thought something would be possible that wasn’t (remote work), etc. I see absolutely no indication that they acted in bad faith.

            Reply
    5. Bea

      If someone sent me a bill for this, even if they were jerked around and there were some kind of consultation level advice received, as the person who authorizes payment for everything, I’d roll my eyes and throw it out. It’s not going to get paid, if anyone has ever done this and received payment, it’d be shocking.

      You can send whatever you like but if it’s not an agreed upon bill, what are you going to do when they don’t respond? Sue them? That’s not how that works at all.

      Reply
      1. Antilles

        You can send whatever you like but if it’s not an agreed upon bill, what are you going to do when they don’t respond? Sue them? That’s not how that works at all.
        This is really the crux of the matter. Sending them a bill for this won’t accomplish anything. They will (rightly) refuse to pay, then there’s absolutely nothing you can do to make them. They’ll ignore your calls/emails asking for payment. If you threaten to sue, their lawyers will quickly determine you have no case and tell them to ignore it. If you try to actually sue, you’ll find that getting a lawyer in a different city/state (if you can even find one who’ll take this case) is going to be wildly more expensive in time and money than the $400 you could recover.

        Reply
    6. Ramona Flowers

      Is it possible they took notes on the LW’s performance rather than just milking them for info?

      Reply
      1. JB (not in Houston)

        Yeah, that’s what I’d be doing if I’d been sitting in on the interview. It doesn’t sound like the OP has enough to go on to start assuming they were taking notes to implement his suggestions.

        Reply
    7. Marzipan

      On the flipside, then, if you went through a series of interviews for a position, were offered it, but decided to decline, you’d be totally OK with them billing you for the staff time, expenses etc involved in interviewing you? I’m guessing no, because it would be pretty unreasonable and because it wasn’t something you’d agreed to.

      I don’t disagree that if a company uses interviews to get free work (actual work, not just exercises to see them in action) out of candidates it’s a red flag, but that’s a reason to treat it as a red flag at the time, not to start submitting daft invoices that won’t come to anything.

      Reply
      1. KellyK

        Exactly! If the training you provided wasn’t something you were comfortable providing for free, and it felt too much like work they were actually going to be able to use, whether they hired you or not, that’s really something you need to bring up before you agree to do it.

        Not knowing what the training is, it’s also hard to tell whether it really was useful to them. If you were one of two or three people providing training on a topic they were already familiar with, that’s very different than if they had the people who would actually use the training sit in on the interview so they didn’t have to pay for training.

        It’s totally understandable to feel ripped off when you spent time and money providing them what might’ve been useful work, when they couldn’t even get their ducks in a row on whether you could work remotely. But those really are two separate things.

        Reply
        1. Jonah Kyle

          I agree completely. I would submit that there are certain boundaries that one can assert prior to the formal interview itself, particularly if the process is not within the conventional means of normal interview protocol.

          Reply
      2. Specialk9

        Yes. It’s sketchy, and don’t be taken advantage of by doing real work for free in the guise of an interview… but no invoices if you later regret agreeing to be taken advantage of.

        Reply
    8. paul

      what do you think it’ll actually accomplish? They’re not paying, they’re not legally obligated to pay, and companies don’t just throw money at PO’d applicants.

      Reply
    9. LQ

      We never got permission might also be we really thought you would be the candidate that would sway them but it wasn’t quite enough. It wasn’t agreed to needs to be the bottom line here. Not the specifics of the wording they used passed through a recruiter.

      Reply
  3. (Another) B

    Not going to lie, I’m wondering how much being a phone sex operator pays haha. I need some extra income right now! Only half kidding.

    Reply
    1. Jane

      Working full time you can easily make $1000 a week if you have a good hold time. We also earn all sorts of other incentives. It’s amazing. As long as you’re enthusiastic and very very open minded. Believe me, most of the people calling these lines aren’t calling for just your typical “vanilla” experience. Give it a go. Not at all difficult to get hired.

      Reply
      1. Zombii

        Okay, I’ll ask. How do you break into this industry? What are the working conditions like? I’m assuming for some reason it’s one of those work-from-home phone contractor things, but I’ve never found one of those that turned out to be legit, they all just wanted money from me up-front to get registered/buy the software/etc and then I never got any shifts (but that was regular phone work like Domino’s delivery orders, not phone sex work). What should I be googling to get the right information?

        I am not kidding at all not even a little bit. I’ve been out of work too long, I’m desperate… and this sounds like it would be an interesting career path.

        Reply
        1. Middle Name Jane

          I’m interested as well (seriously). If you don’t mind sharing, I would appreciate finding out how to get hired without getting scammed.

          Reply
        2. Detective Amy Santiago

          Add me to the list of people who would genuinely be interested in learning about this. I’ve been told I have a great phone voice and I wouldn’t mind making some extra cash.

          Reply
        3. whichsister

          count me in as interested as well. I had looked into it before but not to hard… I found a better paying job but now I am back in a tight situation financially .

          Reply
        4. Anlina

          Every phone sex worker I know uses Niteflirt as their primary platform. You’re entirely self employed, so you have to be prepared to invest time and money in your marketing and paying for placement. If you decide to go this route there are lots of online communities where you can get tips about how to get the most out of your marketing dollars.

          There is no easy money in sex work, but if you put in the time and effort it can be lucrative.

          Reply
          1. Jane

            Hello ladies (and maybe gentlemen too?) I see lots of interest which is now leading me to a fun pastime to answer some questions in between taking calls. My closest 2 friends mother and boyfriend only know about my work so it’s kind of neat to be able to share some insight since I don’t exactly have this chat with every day people.

            Quick answer: Google phone sex work and go with the first or second option, that’s the company I’m currently with and have made the good money with. It’s not a scam. I learned that when I deposited my first check week one and got my first direct deposit week 2. I made $455 over a Friday and a weekend. Made over $550 the following week. That was a nice surprise.

            If you care to read on: I’m still determining if I should put it out there the company that I work for but I’ll say this. Just google phone sex work and it will be most likely the first advertisement you see. I saw someone mention Nightflirt. I’m also on there but the compitition is brutal and takes some serious investment and time to get moving on that site. So, doing this full time for the last 6 months or so and part time for the last 1-2 years, I’ve found there are two types of phone sex work you can get. One requires you “troll” (never even knew that was an actual industry term) which means you have to blog and set up a Facebook page and advertise yourself, to in chat rooms, basically find your own clients. The other type is dispatch work where they send the calls to you. Trolling pays much better by the minute. Usually about $1 a minute and sometimes more. On a site like Niteflirt you set your own price but they take a percentage. My price is $1.25/min and if I ever get any clients I’ll make about .89/min. So I started with a dispatch company and am still with a dispatch company as I’m working on learning as much as I can about self promotion etc. we’re paid on a scale. Obviously, the longer you’re able to keep the person on the phone the more you make. The max is .55 a minute. We’re also given other incentives which can add up to another $100 a week. At one point I was working 48 hours and I think my biggest check was about $1300 for the week. That’s 48 hours being technically logged in and probably 40 hours of actual talk time.

            I won’t lie. That pace was impossible. Now, if you’re money hungry (and btw phone sex companies looking to hire LOVE hearing that you’re money hungry- not exactly a point we typically put on our resumes so bluntly- but if you are then you might be able to bank it like that. Have an unpaid electricity bill? Have to come up with a tuition payment whatever you know, bust your butt and make it! When I very first started I could count on making about $300 a week doing about 10 hours of talk time. There is now a higher minimum log in requirement for the company I work for. May sound easy, but when you work full time and then come home to sit on the phone with ahemmmm, various men. It can be a bit much.

            So now I’ll talk a wee bit more about the actual work. Is it worth it? Well, I don’t know yet. Obviously I, speaking from the POV of someone doing this full time. Honestly, some nights I’m struggling to be peppy, sexy open minded. As mentioned in my first comment. These guys aren’t calling because they want to talk about regular stuff. Even some may think, oh well sure “hardcore sex” lots of grunting and moaning and explicit descriptions, I can still do it. Sorry to be blunt or innapropriate in this post but please mind this is my work and my industry terms so just out on your Allison professional hat and try and see it as such. It’s all so ridiculous sometimes. Ok so, maybe MAYBE 50% of caller are going to be ok with the hardcore type call- mentioned above- lots of oohs and ahhhs and verbose sexually explicit talk. Like ummmm…. “I’m blanking your hot blank with my slippery blank and owwww it’s too big and oooooohhhh damn listen to this pudding box squish (I pull out some lotion and rub my palm together for apt sound effects). Ok where was I? Oh yes so, mayyyybe 50% of callers will be cool with this. Then the other 50% are going to ask you to really stretch your moral compass. This is where I won’t go into a lot of descriptions. I’m still learning new stuff and new kinks every day. Bet your butt you will be asked to pretend you’re a different sex, or both sexes at the same time, or ….. well lots of weird weird far out stuff. I like to say “It’s a safe place for people to explore their fantasies free from judgement and with an enthusiastic listener.” That’s my old social work jargon coming into play.

            So, I went way more into detail than I anticipated and will leave it at that for now. Sorry for the late reply but it’s very busy most nights so this has taken longer than expected to write. Excited to see your replies though.

            Reply
        1. Ramona Flowers

          For someone with debts to pay, or who’s having trouble finding work, it’s a pretty attractive amount to earn.

          Reply
        2. Panda Bandit

          That’s nearly triple what I make. For some of us that would be a life-changing amount of money.

          Reply
        3. Nervous Accountant

          Lol maybe not for you but for a lot of people that’s a nice amount to earn on top of what they’re earning.

          I’m seriously tempted……I’ll be reading more on this.

          Reply
        4. Danger: Gumption Ahead

          It is not exactly C-suite time or stress. Compare it to a call center job and the compensation is pretty good

          Reply
        5. Antilles

          First off, $1,000 a week is somewhere in the $40-50k a year range, assuming you take time off. Not C-Suite money, but not bad for something that doesn’t require the traditional educational path.
          Secondly, I’m guessing this is a job that you work off-hours (e.g., late nights) and probably also comes with some flexibility in the schedule. So this could be on top of a day job. Or if you have difficulties with the normal 9-5 due to family/health/whatever reasons. Or if you’re trying to break into a field like acting where you need to have the flexibility to show up to a 10 am audition on a random Tuesday with little notice.

          Reply
          1. Jane

            Yes yes and yes. The line I work for is busy constantly but this isn’t the case for every place. If you’re looking into work make sure to ask then how busy they are. What their average PSO makes. Luckily I can make money at any time of day, but yes lots of late night callers.

            Reply
        6. paul

          assuming 8 hours a day that’s 25/hour; it’s not OMG money but I’m kinda curious about doing it after the kids are in bed now…an extra few hundred a week goes a long way in a low COL area.

          Reply
        7. K.

          Not C-suite money but a good source of extra income that you could work around another job. I’d be a phone sex operator over a Lyft driver any day.

          I’ll be watching this thread – I was under the impression that it did not pay well and am interested to hear that I was wrong! It could be a good side hustle. I have a nice rich low (female) voice.

          Reply
        8. aebhel

          That’s a lot more than I make for my full-time professional job that I definitely cannot do in my pajamas.

          (I do not actually want to be a phone sex operator, but for this area that’s actually pretty good money)

          Reply
        9. General Ginger

          That’s double what I make now, at my full time office job. It may not be C-Suite money, but it’d certainly fill my surgery fund a lot quicker.

          Reply
        10. Bea

          Also not everyone needs to earn buckets of money, as long as it pays the bills and you’re not stressing out because your boss/job is giving you health problems, etc. It’s plenty for a person who isn’t taking care of anyone but themselves and likes a modest lowkey life.

          Also you can live in a very low priced area when you can work from home, bringing down your own overhead.

          Reply
        11. Zombii

          >>$200 a day? That’s not exactly C-Suite money.

          Are you being serious right now? The’s more than double what I’ve made at any call center I’ve worked at and I’ve worked at a few of them. If you know of an industry/company that pays their front-line support C-Suite money with no degree or previous experience required, I would love some information about that.

          If your point was that no job is worth taking unless it pays very very well, I don’t think that’s a realistic standard for most of us, or for most people at most points in their lives.

          Reply
      2. AGirlNameViolet

        Care to share? Looking for a part time side gig to help make ends meet and Uber is putting on too much wear and tear on my car to keep doing it for the long run. I’ve been applying to work from home jobs but its HARD. If you could please give us a nudge in the right direction, it would be very much appreciated!! Thank you!

        Reply
      3. evan

        Jane, yeah, it’s all good unless you need to explain to a regular employer what you did for your job. I’ve been in interviews where we hired (and at her request) promised to never tell her colleagues what she had done for a living (and she admitted in the interview she had physical sex – not phone sex) when her husband walked out on her, the bank accounts were frozen and as a person with few skills, she did what she had to do to feed the kids and put a roof over her head. This was for an entry level job in a pretty conservative industry and she’s now (with the support of the employer) in a much higher job and will go much further.

        While I know it’s not necessarily fair, there is a big difference between hiring on an entry level person who was a (physical) sex worker with few other options and a prospective manager who did phone sex as an option as their previous job didn’t meet their expectations. A manager has other options than sex work and will be judged if they say they chose that option. Fair? Irrelevant in the current hiring market unfortunately.

        Women have enough trouble getting hired into managerial roles already. We are underrepresented at almost every level. Put any kind of sex worker previous history on top of that and your chances have just gone from slim to non existent. Fair? No.

        Having said that, humans (women and men) seem (in my limited hiring experience) to take sex workers very personally. The men worry that them or one of their colleagues have had (phone) or other sex and may be outed and some / many women worry that a sex worker coming onto the job is representative of how their partner / husband may be cheating on them. (The evidence is pretty clear that it’s mostly married men or LTR men who are clientele of sex workers)

        Especially in a managerial role, cannot see how you can won here. Practise your lying skills in the mirror. In a fair world you wouldn’t have to, but it’s not a fair world.

        Reply
        1. Jane

          Oh yes I was hoping there would be someone like Evan here to kind of churn it up. I wish I could speak for more, but can only speak from myself as we all must do.

          I came from a social work background. In the end, if I decide to go back to that type of work I’m actually not so concerned as someone who might work in a different field. At least in my city, and again in my experience, I’ve found most of the people in this field to be exceptionally open minded. There would probably be a few who I might even just be totally honest with. Now that would seem to negate my original question which was published. But, I wanted to see how Alison would answer this and when I first wrote the question some months back I wasn’t quite sure what I would want to do. So, in a conservative industry I’d probably be pretty worried. In my field, not as much I guess. Working for myself for this short period of time has really opened my mind up to what’s possible. Now, the sex industry is constantly changing and I admit theres a good chance this industry may collapse and then well, on my current route, I’m screwed.

          I’m a very confident girl. Again, just speaking for ME. I’ve always excelled in what I did. I worked in retail and sales for years before going into non profit and moved up the ladder quickly doing that. I worked my way up into a position in non profit that would typically have only been offered to people with their Masters and a lot of experience. I’m kind of a unique case I guess because everything about my work experience is pretty non traditional. I’ve made good connections in all of those fields and now am trying something new and very lucrative.

          But Evan sounds just like the type of stuff I was trying to get away from. Sorry Evan, but it’s true. Practice my lying face in the mirror? Damn well hopefully it will be a phone interview and I’ll kill em’. I’m speaking from a point of view only my own, people who’ve had harder lives and have had scarier times might see things just as you do. I hope you aren’t right. But you may be. Wish me luck Ev’.

          Reply
          1. evan

            oh good lord, I have no probs at all if you want to throw me off into the netherworld. having said that, no matter how confident you feel you are in the real world, unfortunately, in the real world also, if you are looking for a job out of sex work, well yes people may judge you in ways you would prefer not to be judged. Funnily enough I am not one of those people who would judge you that way (even tho you think I am) I’m just realistic about how any job I’ve ever worked in would judge you. If you go back to my original comment you’ll see I said not fair but realistic.

            Reply
      4. Aphrodite

        Yes, please, I want to know too. I work in higher education but taking on some part-time phone sex work for extra money would be good. (I’d probably shower more than once a day, but hey, that’s okay.)

        Reply
      5. Arjay

        I had a friend who did this (no, really!), and she found the job posted as “phone actress.” I’m not sure if her experience was typical, but she didn’t make it past the initial (paid) training period. It wasn’t a scam, but she found it very difficult to balance being engaging while not being SO engaging that the call ended up being … brief.

        Reply
    2. Anny Mouse

      And exactly how clever are you about your own personal security? Do you know enough about the phone system to keep your real info from ever getting out? Because if you can’t manage that kind of issue better than every single client you take, then you’ll have your phone clients on your real doorstep eventually. Do you have means of handling that possibility?

      Reply
      1. F M

        Oh, goodness, a phone sex employee isn’t going to be calling people directly with their own phone number showing up on caller ID! The companies operating these things have systems and relays in place, and it’s less likely to result in stalkers than working reception (where any stranger showing up at the company can see your face or follow you in the parking lot) would be.

        Reply
        1. K.

          I used to do rape crisis hotline counseling and I did that from home (volunteers were required to do it from home although the organization did have an office); I’d call the hotline at the start of my shift and tell them who I was, and they’d set it up so that the hotline transferred to me. We were expressly forbidden from giving out any personal contact info. The hospital called the hotline. I assume any phone sex operation would work the same way.

          Reply
      2. Zombii

        Good angle: instead of shaming her for making a decision you obviously don’t agree with, pretend to be concerned for her safety. Seriously though, that’s really gross.

        Reply
        1. silent

          Speaking as a former cam girl, this is actually a really common response from SWers. People hear that they can make (relatively) good money by “just” talking on the phone or chatting with people, and they jump into it without doing much research or covering their butts (heh). The industry itself does not care about your privacy, and customers really love trying to invade your privacy, so it’s actually super important to have that on lock. People in the online sex industry see a looot of newbies who disregard this and sometimes the warning comes off as harsh because of it, but it’s still a legitimate thing to consider.

          Reply
          1. Zombii

            It’s a legitimate thing to consider if you’re thinking about getting into the online sex industry (or anything where you show your face or use your real name), but no one is talking about doing this freelance via Google Voice and posting contact info on their Facebook page—or at least I hope that’s not what we’re talking about.

            The comment I was responding to was concern-trolling like we were all going to write our names and phone numbers on a bathroom wall, next to our bank account details so callers could wire a payment after. It was insulting.

            Reply
    3. Audiophile

      I’ve considered working in this industry off and on in the past. Especially when I was unemployed for 3 months after graduation, but I could never find a legitimate company. In hindsight, this was probably a good thing as I was probably not mature enough to handle it and it’s likely easier to explain a gap later on in your career than in the beginning of your career.

      Anyway, all that is to say that I agree with Alison’s advice.

      And I’m quite curious myself that I might give it another try.

      Reply
  4. neverjaunty

    OP #2, have you talked to the company about how they might handle references and so forth if you were to get a second job?*. I would bet you are far from the first person to be in this situation, and they may have a suggestion as to how to characterize the job (maybe “telephone customer support”?) in a way that doesn’t put off pearl-clutchers.

    *that is, don’t tell them you’re thinking of quitting immediately; although I am sure they expect turnover.

    Reply
    1. Gen

      Having worked in an adjacent industry some are really discreet and have umbrella names for such purposes (and to protect customers bank statements etc), others not so much. And you might still get an interviewer who recognises the other name and wow is that awkward. There’s nothing worse than a grown man starting to say “I’m know that name from som… oh” then blushing and getting flustered. So YMMV. Personally I found it easier to take other similar freelance work and lump contracting all in with that.

      Reply
    2. KR

      This is what I was thinking! They might say it is remote telephone work or customer service or something. Also, when asked in job interviews could OP say “I have been working from home for the past Couple months doing customer service on the phone for an obscure company, but as it doesn’t really relate to my work with TPS reporting I haven’t included it on my resume. Having the income while working from home allowed me to read several books about TPS reporting, listen to TED talks about TPS advancements, and take my time to look for a role that’s a good fit. ” Then OP just has to worry about getting to the interview stage with the long gap on their resume.

      Reply
  5. Vanilla Nice

    L.W. #5: Definitely suggest a different location or ask for an interview outside of normal business hours. One of my previous jobs had a public space that people frequently tried to use for meetings, and it almost never ended well.

    Reply
    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      But then it’s going to look weird if OP refuses to list a supervisor or reference. I think you either have to be entirely transparent about what it was or borrow one of the not-quite-true euphemisms that Alison provided.

      Reply
    2. Buffay the Vampire Layer

      But wouldn’t that invite a lot of questions? It would be a big step down career wise from program director to call center employee. I think she’s better off leaving it off the resume entirely or doing some career related freelancing or volunteering on the side and filling the resume space that way instead.

      Reply
      1. my two cents

        as I understand it, services like that typically have an innocuous ‘stage name’ (or parent company/LLC) that appears on credit card bills. Yeah – it’s easy to reverse-lookup, but if LW goes back to nonprofits that help people, or maybe even women specifically, I don’t think it’d cause too many waves listed as-is.

        Reply
    3. whichsister

      I was thinking freelance consultant. Helping clients work through challenging situations and to reach a desired and satisfying outcome.

      Reply
    4. boop the first

      It’s kind of messed up that you can tell anyone else that you’re a phone sex operator for stacks of cash and everyone’s all “Wow, sign me up!” But tell a prospective employer that and suddenly you’ve got a big red ‘A’ on your dress. To the point where people are willing to lie and say they were unemployed for years. Really? I’m going to dissent and say take a chance, but then, my workplaces tend to be more casual and human.

      Reply
      1. Zombii

        In a culture that’s so sex-negative, I get it. Talking to internet strangers is different than talking to people in real life. If I got into that industry, would probably tell my tattooist I was a phone sex operator (or anyone else who wouldn’t judge me), but what would I tell my mother? (And my brain immediately says Collections. You would tell her you got a work-from-home job doing collections calls because that is a job she would not be interested in hearing anything about ever.)

        Reply
  6. Augusta Sugarbean

    #2 This seems like a relatively easy solve. If you anticipate finding a new job will take some time, start some “legitimate” activity like taking a class or two. Start with Alison’s “I took a break after leaving a high-pressure job and went back to school”. Or maybe do some volunteering if you can find something related to your profession so you can stay current on skills/topics.

    Reply
    1. Elle Em En Oh Pea

      Came here to suggest signing up for other ‘side hustle’ or ‘casual work’ services (Uber, Lyft, Instacart, whatever) where you’re an ‘independent contactor’. It gives you some extra padding to talk about, explains the absence on a resume, and you wouldn’t need to go into the details of your current job, or that you were working for the phone company before you signed up for the other service.

      “After leaving my high-pressure job, I did some independent contract work in 2017, like driving for Teapots2Home, and remote inbound calls for Hopefully Professional Safe Name services. I liked inbound calls better because it didn’t put wear and tear on my car and I enjoyed interacting with people more than delivering teapots around the city. They pay the bills, but they aren’t something I want to do forever.”

      Reply
    2. CM

      Yes, I was going to say the same thing. Side hustle, something that you don’t need to spend a lot of time on but is relevant to whatever you may want to do next and sounds legitimate. From the comment thread above, it sounds like OP#2 could start a career consulting business, advising people on how to be phone sex operators!

      Reply
    3. Cap

      There’s also “I wanted to set up my own company/consultancy” (and then maybe list SafeName as a client) You could even set one up properly and start looking for legit Non-Profit clients as a way to get back to FT work? I bet you could leverage your contacts to get a couple of small jobs that way, and that’s all you need to be able to say to interviewers “I tried it and it didn’t work/I didn’t like it” and explain why you’re back looking for a more standard job.

      Or a consultancy/company might work, and give you what you like about remote work and flexible hours, with perhaps a bit more pay, since contractors often get paid better than regular staff in non-profits.

      Reply
    4. Elizabeth H.

      I feel like so many people are doing things like driving for Lyft or Uber, or other “gig” type stuff (I am not a fan, but I can’t deny it’s common these days) that it is more understandable than it used to be to take a break from traditional 9-5 employment. Most of the time when I hear about people driving for these services they are doing it in between jobs anyway. I think these are good suggestions too – if the lack of professional experience during the resume gap is a concern, perhaps find something related/relevant to do and if it actually comes up explain that you were doing some part time/gig work for money. I don’t think that would sound unusual.

      Reply
  7. Cynical Lackey

    #3 Does your city have Lyft or Uber? They can shuttle you the 4 blocks from office to parking space.

    Reply
      1. Kate

        WHAT?! Where do you live that has that on the books??

        I take Uber like five or six times a week. Usually at about six bucks a ride.

        Reply
      2. Cynical Lackey

        I use Lyft in Los Angeles and a short ride would be about $5.00 a trip. And while it is nice to tip, the driver won’t know whether you did or you didn’t until you were out of his/her car,

        Uber doesn’t even allow tipping in most cities (although they are planning on allowing it by the end of July)

        Reply
        1. Bea

          Wow I never used Uber, always been a Lyft person since moving to an area that actually has these kinds of car services. More reason to always use Lyft, I do not carry cash around with me and the whole reason I love it is that I don’t ever need to go into my purse for anything during the transaction.

          A 25 minimum fee sounds like something that only happens if you’re leaving an airport and I am under the impression Uber is still banned from airports but that could be wrong.

          Reply
          1. Cynical Lackey

            Some airports allow Lyft and Uber others don’t. It basically depends on how well the taxi and shuttle companies lobby the airport admin boards.

            Reply
          2. LBK

            I don’t think it’s expected that you tip an Uber (I never have and no one I’ve ridden in one with has either).

            Reply
      3. Stephanie the Great

        What? No it doesn’t. I’ve paid an Uber to drive me 5 blocks and it was like $3. I didn’t want to walk home alone in the city.

        Reply
    1. Sprained ankle letter writer

      I was mostly worried the driver would be mad at me for wasting their time with a $4 fare, or whatever it comes out to.

      Got yelled at by a taxi driver once for tipping only 20% and so I’m nervous about history repeating itself.

      Reply
      1. Turkletina

        Some of the incentives offered to Lyft drivers, at least, are based on number of rides. A driver might grumble internally at such a short ride, but only a real jerk would see you on crutches and be mad at *you*.

        Reply
        1. Falling Diphthong

          And if there’s very limited parking, then it’s likely downtown at a high demand time. It’s not going to be that much trouble, especially compared to getting paid nothing for that time.

          Reply
      2. AvonLady Barksdale

        If you weren’t paying for that parking space, I would have suggested you just take an Uber a couple of days a week to give yourself a break. Do you have a friend or co-worker who might be willing to give you a ride (and would you be willing to do that)? They could drop you off at the door in exchange for some gas money or a dinner out.

        I feel for you, big time. I’ve had more than a few stress fractures that required heavy boots, and even though I lived in NYC and took public transportation (no parking), the extra time it took getting places and the extra strain on my body was no picnic. I hope you heal quickly!

        Reply
      3. Taxi Rider

        Taxi drivers can be jackasses sometimes. I once hailed a cab in Manhattan and asked to be taken into Queens, which was about 20 minutes of driving with traffic and all. Once I paid, the guy yelled at me for hailing him at 5:55 because he was supposed to be done at 6. He said I should have known and shouldn’t have asked to go so far because I was taking time from his family. I just rolled my eyes and said, “Thank you for the ride,” and got out. Don’t pick someone up if you don’t want to drive them where they want to go!

        Reply
      4. FiveWheels

        The two times I had a taxi driver angrily complain about a short trip I used my Scary Voice*, made convincing but empty threats involving supervisors, the licensing authority, and my attorney. It worked a treat!

        Scary Voice is usually only deployed in extreme situations but I had herniated disks in my back and I really wasn’t in the mood for charm.

        *This is much easier with an appropriate accent, eg Glasgow deployed in southern England.

        Reply
        1. Rookie Manager

          My partner is Glaswegian. When we visit London we always get a seat on the tube. A bland sentance sounds quite scary for those not used to it.

          (He doesn’t understand his power here, thinks it’s a ‘I asked politely and the responded appropriately’ situation rather than seeing the fear)

          Reply
        2. Qmatilda

          Hah! i lived in Glasgow for a year and the only effect a Glaswegian accent would have on me is a smile. Wonderful city.

          Reply
      5. Bea

        Since this is your first job out of high school, pardon me for making the assumption you’re a young adult here.

        Old lady advice for you. Ef anyone who yells at you for using their services, I don’t care what their “excuse” is and how they want to “teach you a lesson”. They’re idiots and jerks, they do not at all get to scare you away from a service as a whole because YES there are going to jackasses in every occupation out there.

        Tip them well, if you are a $4 fare, tip them $5, that’s okay. Don’t do it on percentages in these cases.

        You cannot please everyone and that’s okay. Do your best, be kind and be generous when you feel that they’re going above and beyond.

        Also Uber/Lyft drivers do not have to pick you up, it’s on them if you use them. They are usually within a few blocks of you anyways, so making $5 on a 5 minute drive is better than driving around for 5 minutes waiting for a longer fare to be requested.

        This is a business FFS, there are going to be small transactions and big ones, if there’s no minimum, there’s no minimum. Enough said.

        Reply
  8. Brett

    #1
    Did the OP give any indication how long this process was? $400 is a lot for meals and incidentals when travel and hotel is covered, that sounds like well over a week on site.
    If it was more than a week on site for the interview, I think it would be reasonable to ask (through the recruiter) to have meals and incidentals reimbursed. Still can’t try to bill for training though.

    Reply
    1. GiantPanda

      Agree with that. LW1 could try to get reimbursement for typical travel expenses (rental car? airport parking?), but nothing beyond that.

      Reply
    2. Recruit-o-rama

      I recently paid in unsuccessful candidate $400 for a one night trip. He drove from his home with his wife and spouse (a little more than 500 miles round trip) we paid for the hotel via corporate card, but he sent receipts for mileage and meals. His trip was one night. It doesn’t seem like a lot to me. It’s weird that they don’t pay for for expenses, we always do, whether we hire them or not.

      Reply
      1. KHB

        It sounds like the $400 was excluding the cost of the flight and hotel, which the company paid for. And that does sound like a lot (at least if it only includes actual expenses and not the cost of the OP’s time), although I can see it being feasible if there were some long cab rides involved. (I’m in the DC area, and a cab from my office to Dulles is around $100 each way.)

        Reply
      2. Cynical Lackey

        He brought both his wife AND spouse? No wonder he was unsuccessful. He was too fatigued for the interview. :-)

        Reply
    3. Anny Mouse

      It does depend a lot on what’s in that $400. If it’s per-diem expenses, then it’s possible somebody just forgot to include it for this applicant and a POLITE request could easily get this fixed. That’s a long trip of per-diem in most places, though.

      If those are expenses incurred putting together the training session, then the OP probably went way overboard with it for what’s reasonable in job interview prep and needs to scale that back.

      If this is more of the OP’s hourly rate for the interview time, or the OP ate at the highest-end local restaurants only, or the OP took an extensive driving tour around the area, then that’s unacceptable/way outside business norms to cover.

      Reply
  9. Juniper

    #2: I’m also in the sex industry (stripper) — I empathize. This is a hard situation, but I definitely think you should avoid putting the position on your resume and instead offer an explanation along the lines of Alison’s suggestions. Between two comparably qualified candidates, people will almost always choose the one who hasn’t worked in the sex industry.

    It is frustrating as heck that we can’t put our actual jobs on our resumes, because the sex industry is a challenging field with a ton of transferrable skills. I am better at my other job in no small part because of my experiences as a stripper. And I certainly hope that someday, societal acceptance of sex work will progress enough that I won’t feel pressure to lead a double life. But right now, I’m not betting my career on that acceptance.

    Reply
    1. Dinosaur

      Thank you for weighing in on this. I worked at a sex store for a few years and I gained so many skills that have made me a better professional. I so wish I could openly list my former company so that interviewers and whatnot would understand what barriers exist to excelling in these kinds of industries to have proper context for my achievements, but I’m too afraid of judgment.

      Reply
      1. Catalin

        Alison, can we get an interview with a sex worker? I think a LOT of us are fascinated.

        Also, FWIW, I personally wouldn’t hold it against someone who operated as a sex worker. Talk about understanding customers! Quickly adjusted skills! Willingness to be creative! Just because their subset expertise is in an atypical area doesn’t mean they can’t translate those skills into being a great salesperson/analyst/creative director/customer service rep/show runner/nurse/ (I could go on).

        Reply
        1. ForeverAnon

          Catalin – Alison did an interview with a sex worker and it was one of the most fascinating things I’ve read on the site.

          Reply
          1. Zombii

            I could only find the one with the brothel receptionist, is that the one you meant? (Link in next comment.)

            Reply
        2. Jane

          Hey, if Alison does decide to do an actual article she would be one of maybe only a dozen others and I’m sure she’ll do it so much better. Really, go out and google phone sex work and you will find close to zilch. I mean, compared to almost every other topic. Probably half of the interviews or articles one might find are by Cosmopolitan and say the same stuff over and over. Alison, I’m ready for my close up ahem. I’m being silly of course. Would definitely give me something to read in between taking calls. I’m sick of coloring…. be done with the coloring millennials.

          Reply
    2. Junior Dev

      I think it’s really great how Alison answers questions from people doing sex work in such a matter-of-fact, nonjudgmental way.

      OP 2, maybe consider doing some volunteer work or a personal project of some kind to have something on your resume during this time? It sucks that you can’t put the phone sex job but it might make you look a little better when applying to jobs. Or do some professional development of some kind–take a community college class ot get a professional certification or write a blog or something. I think that would go well with the “I decided to take some time off” narrative–you still care about your field but you wanted to take some time away from full time work to develop your skills.

      Reply
    3. Shadow

      I’ve seen a few applications from people in the sex industry in the past and they went from making boo koo to asking for salaries that were way lower but still way out of line for the jobs they applied for. I mean so far out of line I kind of felt bad for them.

      Reply
  10. Ramona Flowers

    #3 Okay so you asked if you have to just make do because this happened on your own time. When it comes to something like this – being injured and needing support at work – it’s really about what support you need to help you do your job without further injuring yourself. It’s not good for you or your employer if you exacerbate your injury instead of recovering. Your employer has a general duty to protect your health and safety, and you also need to look after your own health and safety which includes not making your injury worse.

    So by asking for support you are not being fussy. I’m sure some employers may act otherwise, but they are not being reasonable or acting within what would be considered the norm. I really hope having your letter posted reassures you that you can ask for help, and that you make a speedy recovery.

    Reply
    1. Sprained ankle letter writer

      Thank you, that’s really kind.

      I trested the waters yesterday – my jr boss told me I had to move around to stay in shape. A coworker just did one of my assignments for me without being asked – but that was probably because I was too late to do it myself. A 2nd coworker helped an elderly client into the building who needed assistance because if I tried we were both going down.

      I think today I’ll specifically ask to 1) not be in charge of walking duties and 2) request a closer spot. The worst they can do is say no, right? And if they say no, they probably have a good reason.

      Reply
      1. Manic Pixie HR Girl

        Definitely. I would be surprised if they didn’t have some sort of medical parking option for employees who need it on a temporary (or permanent) basis. At my job, how close your lot is depends on seniority, but if you have medical documentation there are spot set aside in the closest garage (which only requires elevators and minimal walking!) specifically for people in your situation. Definitely talk to HR with your doctor’s note in hand about reasonable accommodations.

        Also definitely look into a temporary handicapped parking tag (even if just for personal use, not work parking!) – I would be surprised if you were not entitled to that.

        Reply
        1. Sadsack

          My company also offers temporary medical parking. OP might be surprised to find his does, too. No need to tiptoe around it, just ask! You are requesting a medical accommodation so you can continue to do your job. It isn’t a big deal, or at least it shouldn’t be one.

          Reply
        1. FiveWheels

          Even if it is, how to stay in shape with an injury is very much a decision for OP and OP’s medical team.

          Reply
        2. Liane

          OP, I am hoping you won’t need this tip, but IF Mr. Stay In Shape keeps making such comments, it is okay for you to ask him politely to stop saying that, and to go to your manager if he doesn’t.

          Reply
        3. Squeeble

          My first thought was that the boss meant “keeping your body moving around will help you heal more quickly,” which has merit in some situations. But obviously you want to stay off a sprained ankle.

          Reply
      2. Lora

        ARGH ARGH ARGH. Having had many sprains and broken things, I feel like I can say with confidence that sprains should be treated with
        **Rest**
        Ice
        Compression
        Elevation

        At least that is what every ER physician, primary care doc and orthopedic doc I’ve ever had have told me.

        Dear bosses of the world: unless you are a doctor or nurse practitioner yourself, keep your opinions on whether or not your employees are bodily able to do a thing to yourselves. If someone says, “I am too sick to do [thing],” they are sick. You may ask if there is some help or accommodation that would allow them to do the thing, you may assign them a different thing to do instead, you may put them on light duty or whatever your organization does in the event of disability/illness, but what you do NOT get to do is question their healthiness.

        Reply
      3. Jessie the First (or second)

        ” And if they say no, they probably have a good reason.”

        Maybe. Or maybe they could be clueless, or thoughtless, or confused, or just too busy to pay attention. It is FINE to push back – politely, professionally – if they say no to something that is in fact medically important for you.

        If they say no, ask them why. Suggest an alternative that you think could work. And clarify that your doctor has told you to rest your ankle/reduce your walking (I’m assuming your doctor has, as walking around on a sprain isn’t great.)

        Reply
    2. aebhel

      And to look at it another way: it’s in your employer’s best interest that you don’t re-injure yourself and that you’re able to make it in the building on time.

      Reply
      1. Collarbone High

        Yep. First-hand experience here — it’s very easy to re-sprain a sprain by putting weight on it and end up with a more severe injury.

        Reply
        1. AMPG

          I’ll back this up as well. I sprained my ankle pretty badly in college and it took over three months to heal because I kept re-injuring it every time I tried to push myself even a little.

          Reply
      2. LCL

        Any manager with any sense realizes that it is better to accommodate someone’s off the job injury. Because if they don’t, and the person gets hurt worse trying to do their full duties, now the injury has turned into an L & I claim and will cost the company money.

        Reply
  11. Ramona Flowers

    #5 I would ask to use a private meeting room, their office, anything but the shared dining space. And not just due to discretion but also because it’s pretty distracting doing any kind of important 1:1 in a communal dining area even when it’s quiet.

    Reply
    1. LW5

      It was an odd one. I’m new to the world of start ups but I assume that the company doesn’t rent any sort of private meeting space on site. We went ahead in the shared space and it was somewhat distracting, also I was slightly paranoid about who was at the tables around us. The other option suggested was a bar in the evening and I felt even less comfortable with that (for different reasons). It worked out though, what sounded over the phone interview like a customer support specialist and sales role turned into more marketing/business strategy, so at least I know I’d be a poor fit!

      Reply
      1. Jen

        The Starbucks near my office is clearly used for interviews (clearly office type stuff too) and I feel bad for the interviewees. I am not sure if it’s the same company but it is always the table.closest to the door and that must be very distracting. I am sorry the job wasn’t A good fit. That interview sounds really unpleasant and I am sorry they put you through that.

        Reply
      2. CM

        I guess it didn’t matter in the end for this job. But Alison’s right that it is normal and fine to ask for a different location if you’re likely to run into current coworkers/bosses. Once I had a job interview in a restaurant 10 miles away from work (which around here is a long way) and sitting two tables away was one of my then-current bosses! It was incredibly distracting, even though I’m not sure if he even saw me.

        Reply
      3. PizzaDog

        Does your city have a service like Breather? I’m sure you could set something up using a similar type of thing for next time.

        Reply
  12. MommyMD

    Almost any doctor will give you a DMI (document of medical impairment) for a couple of weeks listing what you can and cannot do. The company does not have to accept it but most do. For instance walking only 25 percent of an eight hour shift, allow proximity to parking, etc. I do this every day.

    Reply
    1. Goreygal

      What a waste of your time when a conversation between employee and maanger can often achieve the same agenda. I understand that for many the employer won’t be reasonable and need to be pushed (require a letter) bit it’s all so unnecessary. I work in Occupational health and it’s a constant conversation we have with employers; for something temporary manage it locally as that’s what good employers should do. If it looks like it’s going to become prolonged then get OH involved for specific advice.

      Reply
  13. AlwhoisthatAl

    #2 Is there something you do in your spare time that you can say you left your previous job to concentrate on ? Anything, like flower arranging or rock climbing or getting a qualification. If not, could you start something like that, so when you are asked you can be truthful.
    I do wonder if there are opportunities in your current field for middle-aged straight men, I was think of the services I could offer. “Call Al now to hear how he has done the dishes, put the laundry away, put the toilet seat down and is dying to hear what Mrs Smith said about Mrs Jones’s new backyard fence” – do you think there is a place for me ?

    Reply
    1. The Other Dawn

      This reminds me of a short I saw on HBO (?) years ago. It was a peepshow-type of setup. A handsome man was behind the glass and a woman was watching. When the curtain opened, the man was doing all sorts of housework and the woman was getting progressively more aroused as the show went on. Dishes, vacuuming, etc. It was absolutely hysterical and I searched the internet for a long time to see if I could find it somewhere.

      Reply
    2. Lora

      Hahahaha also could you please tell me you’d love to hear about my re-design of a mixing system for Class I Div I solvents at scale and tell me how thoughtful I am to combine both inherently safe design and QbD methodology in the piping schematic? (Usual response is, “that’s going to cost too much, woman”.)

      And I would like to hear about how creative and innovative I am with the new formulation I’ve come up with, as half the stuff I do is blown off as “well anyone coulda done that” (Yes, but you didn’t). If you could congratulate men for building on MY ideas and be sure to credit me with the original experiment, that would also be great.

      Validating my rage that completely unqualified men get promoted over extremely qualified women and that my female colleagues who have been doing fantastic work in the field for 20 years STILL don’t consider themselves experts while the men who make crap up as they go along and screw it up royally are mysteriously considered like serious people instead of blowhards would also make me feel a lot better.

      Reply
    3. MyTwoCents

      That’s what you think woman really want? LOL butnotreally #sad
      And this is why I gave up on dating .. smdh middle aged straight men :(

      Reply
  14. consultant

    #1

    I get invited to interviews abroad and companies normally offer to take over the flight costs too. Sometimes also the costs of the hotel.

    When that started I assumed the companies were really interested in me because the cost of such an invitation is normally high and well, it’s obvious that I have to take a day or 2 days off and spend a lot of time preparing.

    It’s surprising how frequently I flew to company headquarters only to meet completely unprepared HR people who saw my resume for the first time and/or it resulted they wanted to offer me a different position than the one I applied for, a position that I didn’t find interesting at all.

    Now I always ask for plenty of information and suggest we have a call before I visit the company. Also, for the most important info I get during the call I ask for a confirmation by email (like the job description). It’s not clear if you did that or not (you write that it was the last step in the recruitment process, so you might have several calls before), but it saved me a few absurd journeys.

    Reply
  15. Jane Dough

    OP1: I know several people in graphic arts who were asked to prepare a product concept for an interview, and the position never materialized. It seems to be a known thing, that when you are in certain professions you have to watch out for companies that go through the motions of hiring in order to steal ideas. Declining up front is always going to do less damage to your reputation than causing waves after the fact. It isn’t fair, but few things are.

    Reply
  16. Fabulous

    OP #1
    As someone who used to be the Travel and Expense Coordinator for a company with a lot of travel, we took care of EVERYTHING when a candidate flew out: flight cost, hotel room (no incidentals), rental car/cab, and meals. I absolutely think it’s worth it to reach back out to the company and ask again what can be submitted for reimbursement.

    Reply
    1. CM

      From the letter, it sounds like the company told OP#1 that it would cover only flight and hotel, not expenses. But if OP#1 is just assuming this and the company didn’t actually say it, I agree that sending receipts for expenses like meals and cabs would be OK, with a note saying, “Thanks for considering me. Attached are receipts for travel expenses from my interview for reimbursement.” But not an invoice for OP#1’s time.

      Reply
      1. Jessesgirl72

        Actually, they paid for his hotel and flight, and he asked the recruiter about the rest, and never got an answer. So it could go either way.

        I’m going to assume the bulk of the $400 was a rental car, and that would typically be covered. The meals… that can go either way.

        Reply
      2. Falling Diphthong

        Yes, she can’t invoice for her time, but it’s worth trying to get reimbursed for the other expenses. Best case OP gets reimbursed, worst case they are right where they are now with another reason to think poorly of the company.

        Reply
  17. paul

    #3 with the ankle; I’m in nearly the exact same boat after a fall this weekend (missed part of this week, had a hospital stay, etc).

    Regardless of the reason for your injury–I was cleaning my house, not at all work related–you can at least ask for accommodation. Sometimes it’s doable sometimes it isn’t, but unless your request are egregious (like, you ask for a person assistant for the duration or something) or your work is dysfunctional, they probably won’t be mad at you asking.

    I mean, if your job is, by its nature, on your feet all day (say, waiting tables, working in a factory) then not having to walk probably won’t fly but if there’s substantial duties that don’t’ involve being on your feet you should probably be OK.

    If you can get a medical note that’ll help–did you see your GP or wind up at the ER? GP’s are generally more accommodating about writing notes IME.

    Reply
  18. Definitely NOT a T-Rex

    OP #2: I don’t know if anyone else has already suggested this, so apologies in advance if this is redundant….but for the time being, would it be worth pursuing something else that is more “appropriate” on a freelance or part-time basis? Being able to put that on your resume (especially if you plan on following Allison’s advice by leaving off your phone operator work altogether) might make it easier for you to eventually transition into a full-time role you want (given the stigma that exists against unemployed applicants). There are plenty of part-time telecommuting gigs that anyone can do (virtual assistant and search engine assessor/evaluator come to mind), and showing that you’ve been working in one of those would still fit a cover story of taking time off to decompress from a stressful career, to travel, to gain time to figure out next steps, etc. After all, a person’s still got to eat while doing those things, right? :)

    To be clear, I’m not saying you should pursue part-time/freelance work *instead of* the full-time jobs that interest you. It just may be a good idea to apply to both, especially in the event that it may take you longer than one year to land that next full-time gig with what would otherwise be a resume gap that ends up being longer than one year. Good luck!

    Reply
    1. Definitely NOT a T-Rex

      Haha, just went through the comments and saw that *several* people had, indeed, already made this point. I’ll never comment again without having my coffee first. :)

      Reply
  19. my two cents

    LW #2 – I’d bet that non-profits dealing with getting people back to work and/or disadvantaged women would ‘get it’, and less judge-y about it…even listed honestly.

    Phone ‘support’ is a different set of skills(time mngmt, reading a customer on only tone, etc). Coupled with the *strong* Executive experience, I think that’d make for a really attractive hire.

    FWIW – I’m a female electrical engineer. I’d liken phone sex operator to working for a call center with a more salacious and theatrical conversation. When I worked the center for ToeLocker/WestBay, the worst was the angry people calling in to complain. I’d bet LW#2 has a higher percentage of ‘not angry’ calls. And if the money’s good, too? Well, dang. haha

    Reply
  20. Kai

    LW#2, you may want to consider writing to a sex work-specific blog, like Tits & Sass, for advice about returning to work, and artful tactics for awkward conversations. T&S often pull from a pool of sex work expertise and may have advice someone who’s been in a position similar to yours.

    Reply
  21. AlexandrinaVictoria

    Am I the only one who read the headline as “I want to KILL an employer who wasted my time?” Or do I just really need a day off!

    Reply
    1. Czhorat

      Now I’m imagining this as an AAM letter, and Alison’s response.

      “Don’t do that. While I understand your frustration, cold-blooded murder is well outside professional norms in most industries. You’ll hurt your reputation and risk legal issues which could further impact your future hirability.”

      Reply
      1. Chinook

        Most industries? Does that mean there ARE industries where cold-blooded murder would be considered within the professional norms?

        Reply
  22. AMPG

    LW #2: I suggest saying you took time off “to pursue a performance-related career that ultimately didn’t pan out.” If asked for details, you can say it was “mostly voice work” and change the subject. This explains why you didn’t have anything else going on during that time and why you don’t have references from any work you did. An interviewer would generally assume that you lived off savings or worked a service job that’s not resume-worthy.

    Reply
  23. sfigato

    #2-

    This reminds me of an article I read a few years ago about how hard it was for adult film actresses to hold mainstream jobs outside of the industry. One woman was a successful nurse and then got fired when people realized she had done porn, another worked for a real estate firm, etc. I felt really bad for the women. Such a dumb double standard.

    Reply
    1. paul

      It’s most aggravating, because frankly if you’re recognizing someone from porn it means you’re consuming it. Which even if you do have strong moral objections to pornography, kind of undercuts you as far as I’m concerned. If someone complained that they’d seen someone in adult films and wanted them gone I’d be more tempted to fire the complainer…

      Reply
      1. hbc

        Hey, maybe they’re not porn watchers, they’re just…googling the hot new coworker for perfectly innocent reasons!

        Yeah, I’d rather work with the former sex worker than the person whining about their background too.

        Reply
      2. Gazebo Slayer

        I know, right? I totally wouldn’t blame you for firing the coworker. “You can’t work with her because you recognize her from porn? Oh well then… I guess you won’t have to work with her!”

        Reply
    2. Justme

      As an aside, I like professional wrestling. People in the industry have said publicly many times that Chyna will never be in their HOF because she did adult films. But the person she did some of the films with (X-Pac) is totally eligible. It’s a definite double standard for women.

      Reply
  24. LemonLymon

    #5

    I’m sure you’ve thought of this but figured I’d throw it out there anyways…

    It was hard to tell from the post if you’re interviewing with the same company or a different one that shares the same campus. But if it’s the same company be sure to review your employee handbook prior to saying “my manager doesn’t know I’m interviewing.” My company requires that employees get a sign-off from their current managers prior to applying for internal jobs. This helps to maintain communication between departments and no one feels like they are poaching or being patched by a different dept. I’ve had an instance where an interviewee didn’t get the sign-off from her manager so he didn’t know she was going to interview (and as the interviewer, I didn’t know she hadn’t). I mentioned something to her manager about how it was nice to meet Interviewee during that morning and he got upset that she didn’t follow protocol. She didn’t get the job with me (we had a better candidate we already had been working with and trusted) and she lost a lot of his trust. It was a very well known policy and she had been with the org for several years (and had transferred once before) so there was no way she simply “didn’t know.”

    Reply
  25. Echo

    OP #4, I know this isn’t the main question you asked, but you mentioned the issue of how to answer “Why are you interested in this job?” when you’re not. I’m not sure if you’re early in your career (ignore if not!) but a couple of things I find helpful:

    1. Contrast the job to one you could theoretically do, but wouldn’t want to. E.g. imagine you’re picking between this job and driving a cab or cleaning houses. (I mean, maybe you do want to do that – I don’t know!) That might make it easier to identify that you’re interested in an office setting, a set schedule, face-to-face interactions with clients, independent work, etc.

    2. “I used Skill X at my previous job and really liked it, and I saw in the job posting that Skill X is a big part of this role” with a side helping of “I’m really interested in learning more about Skill Y, and this looks like a great opportunity to build that skill.”

    Reply
    1. OP #4 yep it's me

      It’s a receptionist job, and I’m not really interested in it because I’ve done it so many times that I’m sick of it. I was only interested in the pay, which is above average for that kind of job here. But the automated thing has really turned me off. There don’t seem to be any new skills I could learn, going by the job listing, and I’m not interested in pursuing further career options in a law office.

      These are really good suggestions, though; I’m going to keep them in mind. I thought about answering that question like, “I don’t know that I am interested until I actually talk to someone.” Heh heh.

      Reply
  26. Anlina

    LW #2

    The likelihood of discrimination is very high. I think Alison’s advice is solid, particularly if the field you may go back to or the culture in your locale is very conservative.

    But, being a sex worker isn’t going to be an issue for all industries and all organizations.

    I’ve been a sex worker off and on for 16 years. I got my first career track job in marketing while being open and honest with my boss about being a stripper (it was a small city, it was going to come up anyway, and it did – the first client I met recognized me.) Also I was pretty young and without that job I would have had an incredibly sparse resume.

    I switched careers in my late 20s and now work in the field of sexual and reproductive health and harm reduction. I’m very involved with sex workers’ rights organizing, and am open in the media about being a sex worker. A significant portion of my resume is related to sex work. There’s no hiding it even if I wanted to.

    While there are many organizations where this would not be okay, it actually hasn’t been as hard as you might think to find opportunities where my experience is an asset rather than a detriment. I have the most amazing job right now, where my boss knows I’m an active sex worker. (I’ve even run for political office in the past, at that time identifying as a former sex worker, and it was a complete non-issue for my party and no one cared enough for it to become a thing in the media.)

    There are jobs out there that can positively draw from your current experience, and even more employers who just won’t care. They’ll still be in the minority, but they exist. Do your research on the organizations you’re applying to, understand their values and then decide how to include (or not) your current work on your resume, but don’t assume you have to leave it off 100% of the time.

    Reply
  27. OP #4 yep it's me

    Thanks for answering my question, Alison! I really thought this automated phone screen thing was bizarre. I feel that if they want to ask everybody the same questions, they could just ask them. You’re more likely to get a sense of a candidate’s personality if you’re just talking to them as opposed to making them (probably) read off a script they’ve prepared ahead of time. Plus, someone still has to listen to all the answers, so it’s not like it saves that person any time.

    I really need a job, but I really want to nope away from this one, even though the pay is better than average. The job is in an upscale area but it’s a bit of a drive, way on the south side of town. And as I said in a comment upthread, I don’t have any desire to pursue a career in this field.

    I did get a call regarding a marketing proofreader job I applied for back in March; they had initially told me the job was part-time, and I was looking for full-time, and we didn’t proceed. She said they had decided they really needed someone on staff. So we talked a bit and I expressed my interest and she double-checked my contact info and said she would get back to me. We’ll see.

    I have no idea how much it pays, but it would move my resume away from front desk jobs and in the direction I want to go. (I hope it’s decent because it’s in the same area as the law office job.) I don’t mind driving across town for something I actually want to do.

    Reply
  28. Rebelina

    Why not say you were doing work from home as customer service support? It IS what it is… right? You could say what Allison said, that your job was stressful and you needed to take a break for XYZ reason (fixing up your home, traveling, taking care of your nana who has now passed on…) and making that reason something that had a definite end date. Then just say you were in customer service working from home. It’s the closest reason I can come up with and it won’t encourage lots of questions about it. For added oomph, you can take some leadership classes or tech classes or whatever, even at a nearby college, or become a member of the local association of teapot makers, and say that you’ve been keeping up with ongoing trends in the teapot making industry – or your particular type of strength/business inclination. Good luck!

    Reply
  29. Liz

    Alison – you know when you’ve done “tell me about your job interviews” in the past. If letter writer #2 would agree, I think that would be a great read!

    Reply

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