fast answer Friday — 7 short answers to 7 short questions

It’s fast answer Friday — seven short answers to seven short questions. Here we go…

1. Did I wrap up this phone interview rudely?

I had a phone interview recently, and I thought it went great except for the end. The interview was scheduled for 30 minutes, but after both she and I had exchanged questions and answers, I had noticed that we had gone about 10 minutes over. In an effort to be conscientious of the interviewer’s time, I mentioned that I had enjoyed speaking with her, that I wanted to respect her time and that we had gone over. She then very quickly explained next steps in the process and thanked me for my time then we departed. Was this bad etiquette?

Well, I wouldn’t say it was poor etiquette exactly, but it was unnecessary and might have come across as you cutting the conversation a bit short. The interviewer would have wrapped up if she needed to; you didn’t need to worry that you were being rude by keeping her on the phone. In general, assume that interviewers will signal if they need to close the conversation, and that interviews often do go a bit over the scheduled time. They’ll tell you if that’s a problem.

2. Rude email from a coworker

I am a temp worker for an Accounts Payable dept. of a company and have been working there for two months while someone is on maternity leave. I have the least work to do, but am also getting paid the least. I am on top of my job and frequently have less work than my coworker who sits next to me. I have frequently helped out this coworker (when she asks me). However, today I got this email (also cc’d to my supervisor): “If you ever find yourself with nothing to do, I have tons of invoices for you to vendorize and statements to go through. Also, the file clerk always needs help matching checks. I encourage you to help out more in the office. Your emails will not change once read. Also, I found what I think is one of your hair’s on my desk I’m not grossed out but I do find it unsanitary that you habitually play with your hair.”

I was shocked and speechless. In my opinion, this woman does not work as productively as me or as she could. Additionally, there is another coworker (that she is related to) who finishes her work and does homework for a class she is taking instead of helping her, but I doubt she got the same email as me. I responded to the email saying that I felt I have been working effectively and finishing all my work and that I’d definitely help out more and was sorry she felt that way, but I want her to know that what she said was rude and deserves consequences. However, I want to remain in good standing with my supervisor. What are your thoughts?

Her email was rude, and if your manager has any sense, she read it as rude too. You don’t need to respond further. It’s not your job to give her “consequences.”

3. Negotiating salary for a promotion

On my first day of my new position, I was informed that plans had changed and that they wanted to transition me into a higher position within a month. They had indicated that there would be a salary increase, but they have been quite vague about it in terms of a specific figure. Aside from asking my direct supervisor, can you recommend any way for me to learn this information prior to the promotion such that I do not lowball myself in negotiation?

Just ask: “What is the salary range for the new position?” Then decide if you’re willing to do it for that amount or whether you want to try to negotiate. It would be pretty odd for them to refuse to tell you in this context (unlike when you’re applying from the outside.)

4. Does this mean I didn’t get the job?

I had an interview with 3 people. When I left, the director walked me to the door and said, “Thank you for coming out to meet with us.” Does that mean I didn’t get the job? I talked to the person i would be working with very closely today because my thank-you note didn’t go through and he said that I interviewed well and they had one more interview today.

I know interviewing is stressful and it’s normal to look for signals about how well you’re doing, but I will never understand why people read things like this into statements like this. It means “thank you for coming to meet with us,” no more and no less.

5. Employer doesn’t know that I live overseas

I recently applied for a virtual position within my industry. I got called for two interviews and they both went great. I hope to receive an offer in the next week or two. There’s just one little piece of information I wasn’t so forthcoming with during the interview process. I live outside the U.S. for most of the year, and the employer is under the impression I’m based in the U.S. While my physical location in no way impacts the work I’ll be doing (a shift well within waking hours where I live, all done online and communication is via IM and email), I can’t help but think I should mention this at least in some capacity (that I split my time or travel often, maybe not say I pretty much live overseas for the moment).

My fear would be to have them find out after several months if they request a phone call and see that my phone number is always from out of the country and feel like I misled them. If asked, I could say that I’m traveling, but if I always seem like I’m traveling, I don’t know what issues this would raise, if any. My instinct was to let them know I split my time overseas, but a friend told me that it’s best to not bring this up at all since it in no way impacts my work – that if they knew about my travels and had an identical candidate in say, Pennsylvania, they’d hire that person because it’s cut and dry. For the record, I’m American, have a permanent U.S. address and bank account. I have not lied at all during the interview process, but I also didn’t provide any additional details. Right now I’m just waiting on the next steps, but what would you do if you were me?

What?! No, of course you need to tell them (and they they absolutely will find out later). It’s relevant because they may need to you to come to their headquarters or other physical location without much notice (and yes, this happens even with remote jobs), may need to send you packages, may one day want you to take care of something in the physical location they think you live in, and who knows what else — and because, fairly or unfairly, it’s the kind of thing employers want to know. If you’re convinced it won’t impact anything, then explain that and why. But it’s not your call to make for them. And you will absolutely come across as having tried to pull the wool over their eyes if you don’t disclose this (and I think you know that, since you’re contemplating lying about it in the future). Ignore your friend!

6. Asking about being considered for a second position

I had a phone interview last Thursday with a hiring manager. During the conversation, I realized I was being interviewed for a newly posted position that they have and not the one I originally applied for. I didn’t get the job and I want to email him asking what happened to that other open position that I thought I was going for (it is still posted on their job site).

Just say: “Thanks for letting me know. I’d still love to be considered for the XYZ position if it’s still open.”

7. Typo in cover letter

I just realized that I have a typo in the first sentence of my cover letter, and I’ve used variations of this cover letter for the past 5-6 jobs that I’ve applied for. Here’s the kicker: I’m applying for writing and editing jobs! Yeah, oops. Instead of saying how excited I am by the (fill in the blank) job opportunity, my letter says that I’m exited. Exited is not even close to excited.

Have I just shot myself in the foot to all these employers? As soon as I saw the typo (today) I corrected it for cover letters moving forward, but I’m afraid I’ve just been laughed out of consideration for any position I’ve applied for up through now. Your thoughts?

It’ll vary. Some employers will discard you because of the error and because it’s an editing job, some won’t notice, and others will take note of it but not reject you instantly over it. You could certainly send a short follow-up noting the correction, though again responses to that will vary. I wouldn’t beat yourself up over it though — you’re human and mistakes happen.

{ 101 comments… read them below }

  1. nyxalinth*

    #2 The Office Workplace: giving busybodies a place to call home since offices were first invented. Also applies to call centers.

    I don’t understand the busybody mentality at all. I hope the OP’s supervisor see that letter for what it is.

    1. Heather*

      Seriously! I’d be tempted to bring the hair that is pulled off when I use the furminator on my cat and put it on her desk. I know it’s extremely childish of me but a hair? Really?

      she was so rude!

      1. EM*

        Yeah, people don’t have control over when a hair falls out. If your hair is long, a single hair will be noticable. Unless you work in food service, people are not going to walk around with hair nets all the time.

    2. Anonymous*

      Uhg I hated when I worked at a call center and they decided we didn’t have enough to do if it were anything less than back to back calls. They used to make me open returned mail, and make a note on the account for the reason of the return. I just started throwing it in the shredder bin.

        1. Anonymous*

          Oh I didn’t include this in my original comment but I did it for a while and when I was done with the pile I asked what I should do with it and they said shred it. So what am I opening it to NOT update the information for? Just so I am “working?”

      1. The Other Dawn*

        I work at a bank and there’s a reason why returned mail is handled a certain way. I would guess in most offices that tossing the returned mail in the shredder is not the right thing to do.

        1. Anonymous*

          They actually never updated the accounts or had us contact the customer. They just wanted me to make a note the mail had returned. Also, it was only when we were slow and the mail was several months to a year old.

    1. Anonymous*

      I think this person should relay this information ASAP, and that this information would greatly impact the offer details, if they still wanted to extend an offer and take on the implications this has (especially if this role is going to be a full-time gig). This can have unemployment/tax implications for the potential employer (and for you), and can also have an impact on employee benefits. I used to work for a company where we had an employee who lived in France and we even needed to organize everything with an attorney because we had to obey their employment laws, which included issuing more vacation time to the employee as required by France law, we chose to offer an insurance stipend to the employee since they could not enroll in our health insurance plan, and the list goes on…. so I say disclose this information ASAP, because it will be perceived as quite deceptive if you don’t, and just because they give you an offer it doesn’t mean they can’t/won’t rescind it once they find out you are in a completely different country, as this seriously can complicate things.

    2. OP #5*

      OP#5 here, thanks for commenting. To clarify, it is NOT a full-time position and there are not any benefits, so I think that’s a little easier than if it were a full-time job with benefits in terms of tax and time off. The prospect of anyone needing to see me in person is extremely slim. I do feel I need to tell them and absolutely after an offer is made. If it costs me the position, I guess I’ll just believe it wasn’t meant to be. I’d be super bummed, but being ethical and 100% truthful is the only way to go here I think.

      1. Brett*

        Keep in mind there are legal issues for the company here too. If you’re W2 (and potentially 1099, I’m not sure), the location where you usually work determines a lot of tax, insurance, regulatory and other issues and they need to know this.

        I think it’s likely that they will need to remit payroll and income tax to the government of where ever you’re working, at a minimum.

        If you’d be an independent contractor many of these issues may go away.

        1. Tax Nerd*

          Anoymous and Brett are correct that there are lot of corpoate level issues – being compliant with your residence country’s payroll and labor laws, in particular.

          There are also potential issues of you creating a “permanent establishment” in that country by being there, which creates a host of legal and tax problems for the U.S. company if your residence country decides it’s entitled to a share of the company’s profits because the company has an employee in that country.

          I’d bet dollars to donuts that the offer will be retracted if you don’t disclose this until you receive an offer. They’ll have to decide if you’re worth the extra headache at the same time they’re reeling because you withheld this critical piece of info from them.

          It is possible that they’ll shrug, and decide that the tax/legal/logistical problems are your problems. (This probably depends on the country you’re living in.) Usually, though, they can only do this if you’re a contractor, since employers are ultimately responsible for a host of things.

      2. Angela S.*

        I think you should tell them now. You never know, but there might be some restriction on the residency of the person whom they eventually want to hire, regardless whether you need to be seen in person by the employer or not.

        This might not apply in the US… but recently in Canada, there was a case that was brought to the court but it was dismissed. This guy was fired from his job after reviewing to his employer that he’d just moved from Canada to Mexico. The guy argued that ever since he was hired, he worked from home. Therefore, moving from Canada to Mexico shouldn’t be a big deal as long as he would get the work done. But the employer said that there was an “understanding” that this guy would eventually move closer to the company’s headquarter (the guy used to live in different province than where the company’s headquarter is). The employer also added that if he had known the guy was moving out of Canada, he wouldn’t hire the guy due to the work this job was involved (something about network security). The employer argued that his line of work could never been done outside the Canadian soil. The court agreed with the employer.

        It is more than the tax issue.

    3. AnonLawyer*

      I agree with the other commenters that this is a huge issue that needs to be disclosed now. In addition to the other issues, in some industries data cannot go overseas without being subject to additional regulations and/or data encryption.

  2. laura*

    #7, a marketing/communications officer where I work actually won a PR award with a creative email blast she quickly pulled together to correct wrong phone number contact for an event she was publicizing.

    Alison gave good advice–you can follow up, and lightheartedly correct yourself.

    And typos aren’t everything–a friend and I applied for the same technical writing position a few years ago, and she got it (she had more of a comp sci background, and the job was in that industry), despite having a big typo on her resume. It isn’t necessarily a dealbreaker!

    1. KellyK*

      I got a documentation specialist (mostly copyediting with some user manual writing) with the wrong date in my cover letter. If everything else is good, it may not be a dealbreaker. Just make sure you fix it on any and all versions of your resume!

  3. -X-*

    Or if a call is going over, say something like “Oh, I just noticed we’ve been talking for 40 minutes. I’ve got time to continue, but if you need to go I’d be happy to wrap up.”

    1. EM*

      I wouldn’t even mention it, honestly. The interviewer will be keeping track of the time if they have a commitment after the scheduled end of the interview. IMHO, it’s usually a good sign when an interview goes over the scheduled time; they want to talk to you more.

      1. Vicki*

        If the interviewer is keeping track of time, shouldn’t _she_ be the one to say “Oh, I just noticed we’ve been talking for 40 minutes. I’ve got time to continue, but if you need to go I’d be happy to wrap up.”

        After all, the candidate’s time is also valuable (and she is more likely to be taking time off work for this interview call.)

  4. golding*

    Related to #4: I once had an interview end with the manager walking me out, chatting amicably about the weather, etc, and as he held the door open for me, he said, “We’re doing a lot of interviews, and the process can be pretty time-consuming, so, um, you probably shouldn’t expect to hear from us for a good long time. Thank you for coming in, though.” I (rightly) guessed then that I didn’t get the job.

    1. Sharon*

      This may be cynical, but with the way the market’s been lately, I always just assume that if I’m not offered the position by the end of the interview, I’m not the one they’ve selected. So anything along the lines of “we have more people to interview” means I’m not the one. (This isn’t meant to be self-pitying. I do the same to companies. There was one in my last job search that I knew halfway through the interview it was a place I didn’t want to work for. I was polite to the HR lady as she walked me out because I didn’t expect her to know the hiring manager was an ass.)

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        The vast majority of employers don’t make job offers in interviews. They finish all their interviews with other candidates, often talk amongst themselves, and then make an offer.

        I think it’s good for your mental health to move on when you’re done interviewing, but if you really believe that not getting an on-the-spot interview means you didn’t get the job, I’d rethink that!

        1. ChristineH*

          I’ve actually been hired on the first interview twice. I honestly think on-the-spot hiring in these cases are red flags. Both jobs turned out to be pretty miserable; the first job I stuck with for 2 years but did look elsewhere for a long time. The second job was extremely toxic, and I was mercifully let go after just 2.5 weeks.

      2. nyxalinth*

        I’ve only ever had ONE good job where I was hired art the end of the interview; the rest were rubbish (toxic workplace, immature/unprofessional setting overall, a telesales job that claimed hourly pay but was actually commission only–their logic was “But if you make X in commission, it comes out to Y hourly, then bonuses on top of that!”–I walked when I found out the truth on the day I started. Their ad was deliberately misleading and I told them so.) and for a long time I assumed if I didn’t get an instant offer, that was that. No job. this has been true fairly often, but there’s also been times where I did get hired.

        Don’t assume either way.

        1. Jamie*

          I assume you guys are discussing being hired at the end of a first interview?

          Because I’ve had offers at the end of second and third interviews, which were clearly prepared ahead of time (paperwork, etc.) and ready to go barring any implosion on my part during the final interview.

          That’s common, IME.

            1. Hari*

              Alison, why do you think companies even bother with a second/third interview if they are already prepared with paper work to offer the interviewer the position at the end? Seems like a waste of time that could be spent doing something more productive if the real purpose of the interview is just to get to know someone better who you already plan to hire?

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                Well, as I said above, it’s not something I’d ever do, but I assume that when it happens it’s because the manager feels pretty sure about the person but wants to have one final conversation to confirm that — in other words, they’re not 100% sure at the start of that last interview.

                1. Jamie*

                  That’s what I assume as well. In my case (both times) they told me I was the only candidate – which I later confirmed to be true – so the third interview was part formality and part just wanting one more confirmation that I would be a good fit.

                  I’ve also seen it when there were a couple of candidates and a tight hiring deadline so each had a offer packet ready to go and who got it was determined on the final interview.

                  I agree with Alison – I wouldn’t do it this way myself – but I’ve seen it more than once.

    2. businesslady*

      but in that case, it was the “um” (& probably some other nonverbal cues) that tipped you off, not the act of walking you to the door itself, right?

      & re: what others are saying downthread, I have NEVER gotten a job offer right after an interview (other than, as someone mentioned, for one of those sketchy pyramid-scheme sales jobs). even for internal positions where the interview was largely a formality. I actually think I’d be weirded out by an offer at that stage, honestly, even if I really wanted the job.

        1. Steve Martin*

          For what it’s worth as an opposing experience: I’m in my fourth professional job (all various engineering jobs). I got the job offer for the first two at the first in-person interview, the third at the end of the first phone interview. My fourth (and current) job I was directly recruited by the hiring manager and is the only one for which I had to wait on an offer (informal offer took about a week, formal one took almost three).

          Only the first job was a bad workplace. Second one turned hostile/toxic by the time I left, but the individuals responsible for that weren’t even part of the company when I was hired.

          1. Vicki*

            You got a job offer at the end of a first (phone) Interview? No in-person interview at all? And that _wasn’t_ the one where you ere recruited by the hiring manager? Wow.

            1. class factotum*

              Engineering is its own world, I think, where it’s easier to tell if someone can do the job from the resume. My husband is an engineer – he has gotten his jobs because former bosses have hired him to follow him to the new employer. He was amazed and appalled what I, an English major/MBA/general business person, had to do during my job hunt.

              My sister is a nurse practitioner and she, too, cannot believe how job hunts work in the real world. Even just with money: “Why would you even bother to interview if you don’t know what the pay is?” she asks, which I think is an excellent question.

              PS My last two jobs, however, have yielded offers informal offers within 48 hours of the interview. The most recent one was because of Alison’s excellent advice!

              1. class factotum*

                And I realize my point about my husband doesn’t support Steve’s point except to the point that engineering is special. It helps to have a profession where demand exceeds supply.

  5. KarenT*

    # 5

    NO NO NO

    Not only is that unbelievably dishonest, you are potentially opening up your company to legal consequences. I don’t know where you are, but if you are in say France, your company could be considered as doing business in France and have to comply with laws regarding your employment that they didn’t intend to. It’s entirely possible that this could be a complete non-issue, but your employer should make that call.

    1. Jamie*

      Yes – for the tax issues alone they need to factor this into their decision – to make sure you’re worth the pita you’ll be to the accounting department.

      I am not one to wonder if letters are real, but I did with this one.

      1. KarenT*

        Exactly, all kinds of issues. Employment regulations, taxation, trading laws, even things like statutory holidays and pay.

        I thought the letter was real, but perhaps because a story like this made some headlines where I live.

  6. KarenT*


    If you are applying for editing jobs at book/magazine publishers, your applications would not be considered (I have worked in book publishing for years). If it’s outside the industry you might be okay. But please don’t beat yourself up about it–every editor I know has a story like this. Including me, who once wrote “langauge” in a cover letter. I received a snippy response for the hiring editor telling me he couldn’t hire someone who couldn’t spell “language.” I was mortified, but it was a lesson learned. The good news is, it’s not the type of error that would ever end up getting you on a hiring blacklist or so egregious it would live in a hiring manager’s memory, so next time a position opens up, reapply.

    1. Wubbie*

      We’ve interviewed for letter writers on a few occasions and fair or not, quite simply, a mistake like that would immediately disqualify any guilty candidates for the position.

      The assumption is that if you allow such a mistake in your own letters, they’d be more likely to occur in the letters you write on our behalf when the personal stakes aren’t as high.

      We’re much more lenient other positions where writing is not the focus (in fact, our team manager is not even a native english speaker and frequently makes grammatical errors in speech and print).

      Sadly, my advice is, forget about those positions, and move on to other applications with the corrected cover letter. Then, if any of the ones you have already applied for do end up interviewing you, you can be pleasantly surprised.

    2. Forrest*

      I once spent two days sending in resumes and cover letters before I realized the spell check on my computer had been turned off. So upsetting!

      But there’s always more positions to apply for and like KarenT said, its not a blacklisting error. I once had a typo on something I submitted for a position. I didn’t get the job but when it was open again a year later, I took my time and turned in perfect materials. And I got the job!

  7. Malissa*

    #1–Never be an interviewer’s time keeper unless you have something more pressing afterwards. Chances are they want to talk to you longer than the allocated time because they find you interesting. Never assume otherwise.
    #2–All of the BS aside, could you be helping out more? This will make you look better and possibly lead to a permanent position.

        1. Jamie*

          This. Another area where work is just like dating. If you are looking for perfect you’ll wait a very long time and end up with nil in the results column.

          What you’re looking for is something in between perfect and batshit crazy where the office’s particular brand of weirdness is something you can live with.

          And ITA that if we would only work in offices without jackasses, most of us would be looking for a new job.

      1. Malissa*

        Well from the sounds of it the other worker may not be there much longer…
        Stranger things have happened. I know a couple of temps that were so good that they got hired on and the old staff ended up leaving. One was fired and one saw the writing on the wall and quit.

  8. Andy Lester*

    #4, #7: Don’t try to guess at the consequences and meaning of everything that happens. It will just drive you crazy. Humans are very bad at predicting the future.

    Ultimately the answer doesn’t matter because it’s not going to affect your job search strategy. If you conclude that you are likely to not get the job, you go back out there and keep looking. If you conclude that you are likely to get the job, you still go back out there and keep looking, because you could be wrong.

    Until you have a job offer, act as if nothing positive has happened.

  9. Dom*

    Honestly, if it were me, I don’t think I’d let #2 go so easily. I would probably send a reply to my only super saying that I was surprised by my colleague’s email. And that I feel as if I’m staying on top of all my duties, and helping out other colleagues when I have extra time. However, if s/he (supervisor) had any concerns with my performance, or felt I should be doing more, that I would definitely be open to feedback.

    Then i would mention to my rude colleague, who sits right beside me, that I got her email and was surprised by the tone, was something wrong?

    Anything wrong with this strategy? I often come off as aggressive, so I’m trying to work on that, but I feel like not saying something is condoning or even suggesting that the msg contains some truth…I like to nip these things in the bud, so to speak.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Nope, I think that’s fine too (and frankly is what I’d do, although I’m hesitant to suggest it in a case where the letter-writer sounds like she might get the tone wrong — i.e., the “she deserves consequences”).

      1. perrik*

        This sounds like a job for one of those “asking for advice” discussions (not emails) with the boss.

        “I’m unsure how I should respond to this email. Do you have any issues with my work performance that I should address? I do assist Jane whenever she asks for my help. Should I be more proactive about assisting others in the office when I have completed my work? Also, if Jane has been assigned to help you supervise my work, I would like to meet with both of you so we can clarify her role and what you both expect of me.”

        Not perfect wording, but you get the idea. Although I certainly hope the supervisor has already had a little discussion with Jane…

    2. Jenn*

      I’m the exact same way, Dom. I’m very direct, but apparently sometimes it comes off as rather aggressive. I’m definitely working on it. I always feel as though if I don’t address it, then I’m “condoning” it, as well. But that’s exactly how I would have handled it, myself.

  10. marie*

    #5 – you absolutely must tell the employer where you are living. My former employer was massively fined by the government because one of their remote US based employees moved to Italy without telling the company. The company didn’t find out until the government found out. The government found out because he was VPN’ing into the office remotely from across the pond repeatedly. The guy was immediately fired. And, he was one of the top performers.

    1. OP #5*

      Thanks for that Marie, very interesting. Was he an employee? I would be a contractor, so not sure all the issues would apply (i pay my own taxes to both governments where applicable). But I will tell them because it’s the right thing to do. And I assure everyone, I am indeed real.

      1. marie*

        Yes, he was an employee. A FANTASTIC employee too, who had been with the company for over 5 years. I don’t know the full details of what actually happened and how it all went down, but the company was in so much trouble to the point that they had to terminate him.

      2. V*

        It probably depends what you’re working on, and the company you’re working for. I know that in my company, export control is a VERY IMPORTANT issue, which can lead to huge fines or loss of contracts if we make a mistake with it. Nothing can be sent out of the country without reviews. Someone connecting in to our systems through the VPN while out of the country, and copying a document onto their laptop or checking their email, could easily violate the export control rules.

        As a side effect, if I schedule vacation out of the country, I can’t take my work laptop or check my work email :)

      3. fposte*

        I think basically the issue is that you really don’t know what consequences this may have for your prospective employer, so you can’t assume there aren’t any.

  11. Mason*

    At #5 – if you’re a US citizen, with a US address, and are considered a US resident for tax purposes – where you are physically shouldn’t matter at all for a job that is entirely virtual. Also, your present whereabouts aren’t any of their business – especially if you do not have to be physically present at their work location at any time for the job.

    1. marie*

      That is false. At the same company that I mentioned who was fined for having a US Based employee working out of Italy without their knowledge, the same company also would not allow a coworker to work from Oklahoma. Why? Because with the company headquartered in Massachusetts, they were not set up for tax purposes with the state of Oklahoma. So, the coworker who wanted to work from Oklahoma, ended up working from Texas. Why? Because the company was set up for tax purposes with Texas.

    2. OP #5*

      That was my original thinking too, Mason, and was actually told that by a tax accountant with whom I met with before moving. I know several freelance consultants, for example, who have clients all over the world (companies and individuals) and don’t disclose their location, mainly because it’s not relevant to the client and they’re always moving around. But I will mention this I think. And so be it if they say no thanks. And on to plan b…

      1. Anon*

        That seems like a reasonable way to bring it up. “By the way, I’m a U.S. citizen with a permanent U.S. address, but am based out of the country at the moment. I’ve consulted with an accountant who’s informed me that this won’t affect the Company’s tax liability in any way under the arrangement we’re contemplating. I can get a formal opinion letter to this effect if you’d like it.”

      2. HR Anon*

        Different countries have different rules about who can be a contractor and who has to be treated as an employee. If you are doing certain kinds of work, you may automatically be considered an employee under that country’s labor laws, even if in the US you could be an independent contractor doing that type of work. If you do lie and they find out later when they get in trouble with the government of that country, you will certainly be fired and get a bad reputation in the field. Better to tell them now.

    3. EngineerGirl*

      This is utterly untrue. Export Control rules apply for several technologies. Both the company and the individual are fined for violations. And we’re talking about serious fines. BTW, you personally will be responsible for them, and the company is prevented from reimbursing you for them.

      And then there are the tax rules.

  12. marie*

    With 1099 freelancers it’s OK because the freelancer is responsible for reporting all of their income to the IRS. With W2 employees, it is different because it is the employers responsibility to without the correct state and federal taxes, as well as complying with local state health insurance regulations.

  13. Victoria*

    #2 – She said “Your emails will not change once read.” in her email – I don’t even get what that is referring to??

    What a horrid woman. I feel so badly for that temp. I bet she’s just being a brat because the LW is a temp and sometimes people feel like they can be mean to temps. All that woman did is make herself look like the biggest ass to her supervisor, because she didn’t go to the temp first and talk to her about it.

      1. Heather*

        This. It doesn’t necessarily mean the OP was re-reading old email – maybe she was looking for something. But the comment was way out of line.

      2. KellyK*

        Yeah, that was what I got from it too, and it seemed awfully snippy to me. (If you need help, drop the b.s. and say, “Hey, I need a hand with X.”)

      3. Hari*

        Agreed on meaning. Although I’m wonder how OP’s coworker even knows this as this would imply more than a little shoulder hovering. Maybe if she spent more time getting her own work done instead of worrying about OP she wouldn’t have so much backlog.

  14. LK*

    4. Does this mean I didn’t get the job?

    During my current job search I made a conscious decision to take everything an interviewer/company representative said at face value. It’s saved me a ton of anxiety. So “have a good day, it was nice talking with you” MEANS “have a good day, it was nice talking with you,” not “I’ll be calling you first thing with an offer,” which is what I would have thought in the past.

    I interviewed for a great job a couple weeks ago and emailed thank you notes to each person on the interview panel. A few of them actually wrote back to me with nice notes about our conversation, which was a nice surprise. I forwarded one of the emails to my mom (who hasn’t job searched in at least 15 years) and she freaked out, saying I didn’t get the job because the person signed off with “Best, [Name].” Apparently best means you didn’t get the job, while I guess “sincerely” or something would mean I did get the job? I don’t think interviewers have the time or the energy to think up crazy code words to use with applicants.

  15. Job Seeker*

    #1. I just messed up a phone interview. I am so upset. I have been getting responses to my job search again. I have recently changed the format of my resume and have finally learned how to write a very good cover letter. Sometime earlier this week, someone called me about an interview on my cell phone. My voice mail was giving me trouble and I did not get it straighten out until last night. I just where she left me a message last night, a hiring manager wanting me to call her back regarding an interview. I have been applying several places lately and have been getting good results. I have also had my hands full because I have been helping my mother go to doctors offices every week. I don’t have a clue when this person called this week. I returned the call this morning and it was the hiring manager’s cell phone. I had to leave a voice mail and I explained the trouble I had been having with my phone. I told her I was so embarrassed and if the job was still open, I would like to talk with them. That was one hour ago and I was wondering should I call again later today if I do not hear back? This is so very embarrassing. I feel like I am juggling so many balls in the air right now and I am doing the best I can.

    1. some1*

      Do not call her back again today. These things happen with VM and anyone with a cell phone understands that. You don’t have anything to be embarrassed about, so please don’t beat yourself up. I would follow up late next week at the earliest.

  16. Dara*

    WRT #2, while I agree that the email was rude and overly harsh, it also seems clear to me that you’re not taking enough initiative with this assignment. You said, “I have frequently helped out this coworker (when she asks me),” but no one should have to babysit you to see when you need something to work on. When you’ve got nothing to do, you should ask if there’s something you can help with. That’s why you’re there. It has nothing to do with your pay rate or your coworkers.

    1. Heather*

      You’d be surprised at how often that is not true when you are temping. You’d think it would be logical to ask people if they need stuff done but often they say no. Especially to temps. It’s entirely possible she has asked and people have said no. Probably even this co-worker has said no. And permanent employees often treat temps very poorly. “She’s just a temp. How DARE she ask if she can help out on Project X!!! Who does she think she is?” Trust me it happens more often than you’d think.

      1. Steve G*

        amen to that, saw that at one place where I was a temp. No one wanted to give me anything complicated or requiring followup because they all thought I could be gone everyday even though it was a longterm temp role.

    2. Anonymous*

      We just had a thread in how to handle the office bossy boots. She’s not your supervisor; it’s not her place to find work for you unless your supervisor assigns you to help. Just make sure your supervisor knows you’re available and willing whenever you have time, and let it roll off you. And make sure your hair looks really great!

    3. Ellie H.*

      I think one point that your comment doesn’t address, Dara, is that the coworker who wrote LW2 the rude email is not her supervisor, and it doesn’t even seem to be part of LW2’s job description to help the coworker with her work. Of course, nobody works in a vacuum and you should always try to support the efforts of your workplace holistically to the extent that it is feasible, but I don’t think it’s necessarily true that LW2 is showing a problematic lack of initiative.

    4. TracyDee*

      Really? When I finish the work I’ve been assigned, I never ask anyone else if they need help. I’m a medical chart auditor and I don’t know how to do anyone else’s job but mine. Maybe it all depends on what industry the person is in?

  17. bella*

    Yes, I think you need to tell them because while it might not matter for your work duties it might matter with their legal hiring paperwork issues. Out of country employees with visas sometimes need to be sponsored and paperwork filed differently especially with social security reasons.

  18. AG*

    All legalities aside, it might be logistically inconvenient for a company to have someone working in a totally different time zone.

  19. Bb*

    “Rude email from a coworker”

    I could write this question one over and over.. I almost did a few weeks ago! In fact I could write a book of them! I swear I get them all!

    I had one of these from another department that CC’d my boss in on a conversation when their response was hugely OTT and confrontational to a reasonably phrased request. I took a deep breath and waited for my boss to be in the office and we had a meeting before responding.

    We discussed why we felt (and we both did feel this way) that their response was wrong and decided on a bland emailed reply ignoring the snark and grump.

    In your case I’d speak to the boss with a “how would you like me to alter my working style” slant and see what comes of it. Hopefully the boss will be as confused and annoyed as you are and will deal with it themselves.

  20. Jill of All Trades*

    OP #2: I’ve seen this kind of thing many times in the past, and in every case it originated with someone who was incredibly insecure and was trying to create a position of higher authority for him/herself. I think the advice of asking your supervisor for advice is the best. And bear in mind, it’s not your problem – she shot herself in the foot with that email, and I’d bet it’s not the first time, nor will it be the last. She’ll get her consequences.

  21. OP #2*

    Firstly, Thanks so much for answering my question in a prompt matter, I really appreciated it! Secondly, thanks so much for your kind words. This email from my coworker really affected me. I realize in hindsight that the best thing for me to do would have been to email my supervisor with my concerns, however I did not think of that. My boss acts like nothing happened and based on their interactions, I do not think she has said anything to my coworker. There is a very strange office dynamic in my dept. which is that I think my supervisor doesn’t think that she can get anyone to do their jobs (because it deals with lots of angry vendors). She puts up with a lot of attitude from them for this reason (I think). However, I think these coworkers complain more than they should. I was terrified of the job based on what they told me, but realized it isn’t that bad at all. I think many people, especially in this economy would love any job. As to wanting to do extra work so I can stay, I have leads on other jobs that match my qualifications better. Also, I do not want to stay in this department when I feel uncomfortable. I found out that I end my job in about 3 weeks. If I sent my supervisor an email, my tone would not one that made my coworker get consequences; it would be one of concern. Is it too late to do so? Should I mention it on my way out?

    1. sara*

      I would be sooooo tempted to tear that soon to be ex-coworker a new one, just because I wouldn’t be working with her anymore! But seriously, I hope you find a better job. Judging by the manager’s lack of response, doesn’t seem like s/he gives a shit bout that nasty worker and those kind of workplaces can be very toxic and hostile. This kind of atittude/behavior rarely ever gets better.

    2. Rana*

      Honestly, if you’re leaving in three weeks, I wouldn’t bother. If her behavior was bad enough to make you quit early, then, yes, some explanation of why would probably be appreciated, but otherwise it’s not worth it.

      That said, it may be worth mentioning it to your agency, just as a head’s up for the next temp who works for that company. But, again, probably not, because while rude, it’s still only one email.

    3. Bb*

      “There is a very strange office dynamic in my dept. which is that I think my supervisor doesn’t think that she can get anyone to do their jobs (because it deals with lots of angry vendors).”

      Sorry, this is a bad excuse on your supervisors part to avoid having to deal with ‘awkward’ stuff. I deal with grumpy people all day long where we are arguing over contentious matters – if I snapped at someone then I’d be pulled up for it and told to buck up quick enough. It doesn’t mean that co-workers get to be nasty and fail to do their jobs. It doesn’t excuse bad management and it doesn’t excuse acting like that.

    4. Erica B*

      the thing I thought of after I read this one was that this lady was out on maternity leave, and is grossed out by seeing a hair in her work space. So anyone who has had a child knows that after you have the baby you shed hair like it’s going out of style and there is nothing you can do about it- even if you don’t play with your hair. Besides that it’s perfectly normal to shed hair regardless if you play with your hair or not- does this person have any hair at all that she doesn’t realize this?!

  22. Anony*

    Re: 5. Employer doesn’t know that I live overseas

    Keep in mind that with all the technology these days, it’s not hard for an employer to track your approximate location via ip addresses, etc.

    1. Vicki*

      It’s also far too easy to make a mistake based on IP address etc. e.g. Our ISP is 80 miles north of where we live, so our IP claims we live there. Never assume that the IP address gives you geographic coordinates.
      Also.. that’s an _awful_ lot of work for an employer to go to. Unless they have a really good reason to do it, why would they bother?

      (That’s not to say “Don’t tell them”. _Do_ tell them.)

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