applying for a role similar to one I turned down at the same company

A reader writes:

Last year, after being laid off, I applied for a position in my prestigious field that was at the same level, title-wise, as my previous job, but not comparable in terms of compensation. I got the offer, but it was paid hourly and offered no benefits ($14/hr, no health benefits). I’d held 3 internships in this field and one full-time job, and still, the interviewing process was rigorous.

After exhaustively weighing the pros and cons, I turned down the offer and opted to search for full-time work (and ended up in a different field). When turning it down, I expressed a lot of gratitude for the offer, excitement about the place, and regret that I couldn’t accept because of the package. Then, a couple months ago, after realizing that I don’t want to stay in this field and instead head back to my previous field, I reached out to the woman I’d interviewed with asking if she’d keep me in mind for openings. She said she would.

My question is this: I see a position open at the company in a different, but related, department. It is advertised as temp, which is how the previous job was listed — I think they use this term in lieu of saying that it’s not a salaried role. So, it would probably be the same deal money and benefits wise as the job I turned down. I’m interested in the opportunity because I do feel I’m in the wrong field now, but it would be a moderate pay cut from what I currently make — and also a little dangerous, since I’m turning 26 and won’t have health benefits under my parents very soon.

I think I should probably know for sure whether I’d take the job at the pay they will likely offer before even applying — just because I know them personally and don’t want to appear flaky (I couldn’t accept that money earlier this year, but I can now?). Do you think that’s true, or should I just apply and see what happens?

Well, if you knew the pay range for sure, I’d say that you should decide whether you’d accept it before applying. After all, if you move to the interview stage, they’re very likely to ask you about it, since that was the reason you cited for turning down their offer last year. It’s going to be the obvious question on their minds.

However, you don’t actually know the pay range here — you’re just guessing. So why not get in touch with your contact there and ask? It would be fine to say something like, “I’m really interested in the X opening you have posted and I’d love to apply. Since I know that salary ended up being an obstacle when we were talking about the Y position last year, I wonder if you can give me a sense of whether the salary range for this position is in the same ballpark or not. I’m very interested but don’t want to take up your time if we’re likely to be too far apart there again.”

Then, once you get an answer, you can decide what to do. If it is indeed the same low pay, you can thank them and say you’ll continue to keep in touch. Or, you could think it over, decide you’re sufficiently interested in the job to apply anyway, and then explain that. You might have some convincing to do since they might be concerned that you’ll be unhappy with the salary, which is generally isn’t a situation an employer wants to sign up for, but if you can explain that compellingly, you should be fine.

Alternately, if you decide you’d be fine with the lower salary before even talking to them, you could skip all of the above and just apply. However, if you go that route, I’d simultaneously reach out to them and explain your evolution on the salary issue, since otherwise they’re likely to assume that the money will be an issue again and skip over you for that reason. (Of course, the downside to this plan is that if the position does pay more and you preemptively announce you’ll take less, you may have just significantly undercut yourself. Which is an argument for proceeding as above after all.)

By the way, I’d caution you about taking a job with no health insurance, because while going without insurance can sometimes work out okay, when it doesn’t work out, It Really Doesn’t Work Out, in big, awful, potentially bankrupting ways. So if you have other options, I’d focus on pursuing the ones that come with insurance or plan to purchase your own (and start looking now at how much that will cost you).

{ 69 comments… read them below }

  1. businesslady*

    seconding the exhortation for health insurance–I would probably be dead if I hadn’t had it when my appendix ruptured a couple years back, & that’s something that “being healthy” can’t prevent (to say nothing of car accidents, etc.).

    also, Alison–there’s a Foghorn Leghorn-esque typo going on in the first line of your response. :)

  2. Sasha*

    Depending on your financial situation, you could think about getting a personal policy for health insurance. I did that after I got married, when I was taken off my parents’ insurance, and I was working part time with no benefits, and my husband’s company’s insurance was waaaay too expensive. I got an individual plan from some big-name insurer, and while it was kinda sucky, it tided me over until I got a full time job with benefits. At the time it was around $100/month, so I could handle that. It basically covered my butt in case something catastrophic happened (like a car accident), so not the greatest, but at least I didn’t have to worry about going into hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt in case something like that happened.

    1. twentymilehike*

      . It basically covered my butt in case something catastrophic happened

      I think this is key. I have never held a job that offered a health insurance package (think small companies where TPTB have bomb plans through their spouses) and I finally sucked it up and bought my own … Albeit the cheapest plan possible. I don’t get much of a break going in for a random office visit, but if I have a major incident, I know I’ll be able to pay off the bill off one day.

      A lot of people (formerly me and a lot of my friends) say “I can’t afford health insurance, I should get it for free!” but don’t say two words about paying $150 a month for auto insurance or making a $400 car payment. As I’ve gotten older and needed more health care, I’d rather buy a cheaper car and spend the money on health insurance (FWIW I pay $150 a month).

      Anyhow, if I were you, OP, I’d consider the job if it meant a major increase in happines, but make sure I got my ducks in a row on health care at the same time. Find a plan that at least has reasonable catastrophic coverage. You can get your preventative care covered and any emergencies and have a little peace of mind :)

      1. the gold digger*

        It’s the people who say they can’t afford health insurance but can afford cable TV, eating out, an iphone, and new clothes who bug me. During my periods of unemployment, the health insurance got paid first. $180 a month for a $5,000 deductible with no RX or maternity coverage (wow – much like my employer-provided coverage now). Not great, but better than nothing.

        A healthy 26 year old with no break in coverage (that is, start looking for individual plans before you are not covered by your parents’ plan) should be able to pick something up for under $200 a month, if not less.

        1. Sasha*

          The only big kicker I found was maternity coverage. I was a healthy 24-year-old female with no chronic illnesses or other major problems, so a basic plan was pretty cheap for me. But if I wanted to add maternity? Well that was an extra $400/month. For basic. They really don’t want you having babies. However, there are many alternatives to this for families who have limited/no health care and want kids – such as birthing centers and midwives (a friend of mine is taking this route now and it’s working out very well).

          1. AnotherAlison*

            I went through a stop-gap type program at the county health department and the university hospital that still cost $3,000 out of pocket, 15 years ago (a screaming deal compared to regular price, but a lot for a college student). I didn’t have insurance coverage for maternity at the time, although I was insured.

            My son has cost me much more since then, so I’m thinking keeping the maternity costs high is good. . .might as well get used to the offspring spending all your money. : )

            1. Sasha*

              Yes, you are probably right. It just felt like they were anti-baby when we were on a tight budget and couldn’t afford any surprises. :)

      2. KayDay*

        I’m going to echo this; I needed to get an individual policy between college and the start of benefits at my first job (about a six month period), so I got (okay, my parents got me, thanks mom&dad) a high-deductible policy for maybe $200/month (not sure exactly, it was a while ago). I used to refer to it as my “hit by a bus policy” because I couldn’t afford routine care with it at the time, but if anything major happened I was covered.

        1. Sandy*

          My parents did the same thing! I had to go about 3 months between when I was no longer eligible for their plan and when I could get onto my boyfriend’s plan (I worked for a small business). I didn’t understand the importance of it, so I refused to pay for it, but my dad insisted and ended up paying for it. I also called it my ‘hit by a bus’ insurance :)

        2. Twentymilehike*

          I used to refer to it as my “hit by a bus policy” because I couldn’t afford routine care with it at the time, but if anything major happened I was covered

          Just a side note … I don’t know if its all plans now or what, but my provider recently informed me that all preventative care was covered in full. Though my plan increased from $125 to $150 in the last year… I make sure to take advantage of that yearly preventative exam! I was also notified that contraceptives would be no copay … great news if you don’t have maternity :)

    2. The IT Manager*

      when it doesn’t work out, It Really Doesn’t Work Out, in big, awful, potentially bankrupting ways.

      I just want to add that you and Allison said here was key. It’s an annoying expense if you’re healthy, but if you’re not it can be life alteringly bad. Not just bankruptcy, but many uninsured patients are more likely to try to wait something symptoms out and it can make things worse.

      1. AnotherAlison*

        I also don’t think people who have not had medical expenses always understand just how expensive things are. I had a very minor outpatient surgery (an itty bitty benign tumor that they just wanted to be sure about), and the bill would have been $15,000-$20,000 dollars without insurance. For someone earning $14/hr, that would take a long time to pay off.

        1. Sasha*

          Exactly, even just going to a CareNow or something for a cold can cost a couple hundred bucks without the insurance.

        2. Natalie*

          Even routine stuff can be expensive. At one point when I was between health insurance I paid for my annual physicals out of pocket, and with lab fees the bill was usually around $200.

      2. Anonymous Accountant*

        The #1 reason for bankruptcies in the US is due to medical bills. A 3-day stay in the hospital total bill, including separate bills from 4 doctors that treated me and read x-rays, etc was $7,400.

        “when it doesn’t work out, It Really Doesn’t Work Out, in big, awful, potentially bankrupting ways.” This is so true unfortunately.

        1. the gold digger*

          Years ago, my aerobics teacher was a young woman who had just graduated from college. She had gotten a full-time job with benefits, but there was a 3-month waiting period for the insurance. I got her all the info for a temporary policy: it would have cost her $60 a month (no maternity) for the three months. $5,000 deductible.

          I would wave the brochures in her face after class and she would laugh that she was 22 and a fitness instructor! What could possibly happen?

          Two days before her insurance kicked in, she went to the ER in horrible pain. A few days in the hospital for ovarian cysts and there went all the money she and her fiance’ had saved for their wedding.

          I should have been pushier.

          PS And to the rest of you – get life insurance! Enough to take care of your family if you get stomach cancer at 32 and are dead in three months.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Even if you take out a modest policy for a simple funeral, if you are single and have no one dependent on your income. This can save your family from compounded grief (losing you PLUS losing their savings.) However, if you have other assets to cover the funeral (IRA or long term savings) you may not need to rush out and get life insurance right now.

            Definitely check this out if you have others living with your and dependent on your income.

            1. Jamie*

              I second the thoughts on life insurance – it’s just peace of mind to know that of all the things my family would have to struggle with if I were to die that keeping the house and the kids in school wouldn’t be among them.

              Every time I watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” and he gets to the part where he says he’s worth more dead than alive my husband and I look at each other and say “aren’t we all?”

        2. FreeThinkerTX*

          Wow, *only* $7400?? I had my gall bladder removed, which included a 3-day stay in the hospital, and my bill was $18,000. And that was at the County-funded hospital, where things are supposed to be much cheaper than regular hospitals.

        3. Daniel*

          What year was this? My wife was in the hospital for about 4 hours for food poisoning. She was given a prescription for an antinauseau drug and released. Total bill over $6000.

  3. Jamie*

    It is advertised as temp, which is how the previous job was listed — I think they use this term in lieu of saying that it’s not a salaried role.

    I’ve never seen a hourly role listed as temp if it wasn’t a temp position. Why would you assume that?

    1. KarenT*

      I thought temp just meant it was a job with an expiry date, be it a contract to cover a maternity leave, or the company bringing in an extra person for a busy season.

      1. Jamie*

        That’s always been my understanding. Even if not a definite exp date, but known that it’s a short term contract. Usually through an agency (but not always).

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’m thinking that she’s assuming that because that’s how it worked with the position she was offered last year, but that’s just a guess.

      1. OP*

        Yes, Alison, this is right. The position I turned down was listed as “temp” but was actually F/T despite being paid hourly with no benefits, so I learned that they use that term loosely.

        I will reply to the rest of these great comments ASAP!

        1. Jamie*

          Oh okay – that may very well work to your advantage because most people won’t know that. If I were looking for F/T work I would skip anything listed as temp. Maybe that means a smaller candidate pool?

    3. Lulu*

      I actually recently applied for a role listed as temp, and it turned out to be temp-to-perm (which in my experience is a great plan for both parties, so you get a bit of a trial run before deciding whether you really are a good fit for eachother). Unfortunately, no WAY was I ever going to take a permanent position for $14/hr, so I declined to pursue it, knowing it wasn’t truly temp.

      Also, at least one company I’ve worked had us classified as the (not strictly legal) “contractor”, which was code for hourly-without-benefits. Other companies may use “temp” instead so no one gets their hopes up too high!

  4. AnotherAlison*

    A lot of things don’t add up for me in this question. I think the OP has some more soul searching to do before returning to her previous field.

    OP refers to her field as a “prestigous field,” but she was laid off shortly after beginning her career in that field and has not since been able to find work at a reasonable salary with benefits. That doesn’t strike me as very prestigous. I think the OP really needs to look at the long-term prospects before re-committing to her previous field. Some things that were good jobs 4 years ago just aren’t going to be good jobs again. I recently read an article about a videographer who was making $70K pre-recession, dropped to $30K in the next related position he could find, and then had to relocate and is working for $8/hr in a warehouse. At some point, a person has to make decisions based on income. If your current field offers more opportunities, better pay, and benefits, it makes more sense to stay there, imho. Now, if you are making $16/hr now and you could make $14/hr in your old field, fine, it’s close enough to do what you enjoy more, but if you are always going to be fighting for scarce jobs that barely pay in that field, do something else! Over time you’ll wiggle your way into something you enjoy anyway.

    1. KarenT*

      I was also wondering what the original field was. I can’t think of many I’d describe as prestigous–maybe high fashion or Hollywood?

      1. AnotherAlison*

        This has been bugging me.

        The definition of prestigious is “having a high reputation, honored, esteemed.”

        I don’t consider fashion or film to fit that. I really can’t think of any _industry_ that fits that. A position within an industry or company, sure. A CEO of any F500 company is probably prestigious, but a grunt fashion job, no. I see the common definition, where if my neighbor asks me what I do, and they say, “Oooh that must be exciting,” when I tell them, then fine it’s prestigious, but in reality, a job isn’t “esteemed” if you aren’t paid enough to make ends meet. (I’m nit-picky and contrary today).

        1. Jamie*

          I know what you mean – but I think they are using prestigious to mean coveted. And film and fashion – also the art world – some of those jobs have a certain cache even if they don’t pay well.

          For me when I think of a prestigious job it’s one that impresses me – implies a certain amount of achievement or technical skill.

          Neurosurgeon, Nuclear Physicist (as opposed to all those unimpressive regular ol’ run of the mill physicists), Being Bill Gates…that kind of thing.

          But she didn’t’ say the job was prestigious – just the industry.

  5. Anonymous*

    I’m just here to caution against have no health insurance whatsoever (along with everyone else).

  6. Anon*

    Just curious, how prestigious can a particular field be if it’s possible to get away with offering $14/hr to applicants?

    1. AP*

      The more prestigious a field is, the shittier the pay and benefits are. See: high fashion, film, certain parts of book publishing and journalism, and Conde Nast in particular.

    2. TL*

      Basically, what AP said. Prestigious industries – especially the ones perceived as being glamorous – can be extremely competitive. You’re not just competing with other job applicants, either – you’re competing with unpaid (or minimally paid) interns. There’s a large supply of students willing to work for little or nothing, just to get an “in” in these industries.

    3. Jamie*

      Appropos of nothing I wonder sometimes if I’m using field and industry correctly.

      I consider my field to be IT and my industry to be manufacturing.

      Sometimes I wonder if I’ve got the definitions juxtaposed and IT is really my industry and Mfg my field? But that doesn’t sound right.

      Because it’s easier to switch industries than fields – or am I wrong.

      I’m very tired – ignore me.

      1. Twentymilehike*

        No Jamie, I think you are right! FWIW maybe someone who’s all knowing could chime in to clarify?

    4. Lulu*

      Agreed re: misuse of “prestigious” – my general experience is in high-profile industries that probably sound super cool to other people, but in reality… want to pay you $14/hr for a non-entry-level job. And/or not offer benefits. The rest of your salary is “paid” in intangibles ;) When I was in my 20’s, this was not a big deal to me, different priorities and all that. And an assumption the pay situation would change. Now, notsomuch. The companies on my resume may sound cool, but I am desperate to find a way out of this industry (really, more than one, but I think they get lumped together in other people’s minds) so I can get a job that pays more than $14/hr! However, there are still plenty of people lining up for a way in, so companies are happy to keep their budgets low…

      (Note: my last position paid considerably more than $14/hr, but there’s no exact corollary elsewhere, so in the current apples-apples job market I’m having to consider lower level jobs just to get in anywhere.)

  7. Canuck*

    Just in response to all of the folks who posted about the costs of health insurance – as a Canadian, reading those made me cringe!! I feel for you, I really do. It’s just one of those things I’m very thankful for; even though our healthcare system isn’t perfect (I’m well aware, as I work in it!), I know that if I need care, I will get it and I won’t have to pay extra out of pocket costs for it. Sure, I may have to wait a few months for elective or non-emergency surgery, but I will gladly take that wait as a trade-off for immediate care for a trauma or ongoing treatment of a chronic disease.

    1. Cath@VWXYNot?*

      +1. Every time I read anything about the US health insurance system, I honestly wonder why people aren’t out rioting in the streets. The stat I heard a couple of years ago was that something like 70% of bankruptcies in the US are due to medical expenses, and more than half of those people had insurance.

      When I left the UK after grad school, my choice of Canada over the US was made in part because I couldn’t imagine living anywhere without universal healthcare.

      1. Laura L*

        Well, somehow, in the US, universal healthcare=communism. So. Or something. I live there and I don’t get it either.

    2. jesicka309*

      YES! As an Aussie, I hate hearing these stories about health insurance. 400 per month for one person seems outrageous!
      In Australia there is public and private healthcare. Everyone gets public and you pay for private if you want it.
      Medicare means that if I go to the doctor, I pay 70 up front and get a cheque in the mail for 30ish dollars. It’s subsidised, as long as you pay the upfront costs.
      And private healthacre, depending on what you get, can pay for a myriad of things. I had my wisdom teeth out recently, and paid $0 for my hospital expenses. It would have added a grand to my fees, and I was only a day patient. I get a little bit of my surgeon and anasthetists fees back too.
      I’m still on my parents health insurance, and will have to get my own before I’m 25, but I pay $70 a month to be on theirs.
      I can’t imagine a country like America where your work actually offers you your health insurance. They don’t insure your house or your car, so why should you depend on them for health insurance? Crazy.

      1. KayDay*

        I can’t imagine a country like America where your work actually offers you your health insurance. They don’t insure your house or your car, so why should you depend on them for health insurance?

        It’s totally weird, right? My parents tried to explain to me why that is, but I totally lost them after, “during/after WWII….” Something about salaries being frozen so employers needed to offer other things to compete for employees, maybe??? I don’t exactly remember what they said.

        So many problems would be mitigated if insurance wasn’t so dependent on employment–the cost of insurance is often a big barrier to hiring full time positions. Not to mention, it’s not the end users of insurance who are the “customers” of insurance companies, it’s the employers (hence the birth control coverage debate, and other less controversial issues regarding coverage).

        end rant.

        p.s. FWIW, my employer pays about $500 for my group insurance, which is far more comprehensive (and super awesome) than the individual plan I mentioned earlier.

        end rant for reals this time.

        1. Laura L*

          I’m not sure why it started, but I think a large part of why it continues is the lobbying and monetary influence of the health insurance corporations.

          1. KayDay*

            Agree with that, but also want to add: group health insurance (what you get from an employer) is a lot better/more regulated in general than individual insurance. I’m not sure about the specifics, but group health insurance can’t reject you for a pre-existing condition or drop you suddenly (I believe; not 100% sure). So many people really liked their group health insurance and wouldn’t want to switch to an individual plan, even if the employer would reimburse them. So group plans stayed.

            (that’s a general statement above. I know people who like get reimbursed for individual plans instead, by choice, but imo they are the definite minority.)

            1. Laura L*

              Oh yeah, totally agree. I would never choose individual coverage over group coverage. The last time I had individual, I was almost denied it because I had 3 pre-existing conditions (apparently 2 was the max you could have). Once I got everything squared away and was approved for coverage, they said they wouldn’t cover those conditions for two years.

              Also, when I wrote that, I was thinking about all private insurance (group and individual) and comparing it to either government insurance or government-run healthcare. I wasn’t comparing group to individual. :-)

      2. The IT Manager*

        Must answer this one- so interesting. During WWII when most young men were off to war, the wartime factories desperately needed workers and used employee-provided health care as a means to lure workers without increasing salaries. And somehow in America that became the way health insurance is done and it became some strange sacred cow that employee sponsored health care is good and government-sponsored (ie socialized) is bad.

        I first heard that story here: in Act 2: Let’s Take Your Medical History.

        But this link,, seems to cover similar ground and isn’t in audio.

        The modern system of getting benefits through a job required another catalyst: World War II. Thomasson says that if the Great Depression inadvertently inspired the spread of employer-based health insurance, World War II accidentally spread the idea everywhere.
        “The war economy is an entirely different ballgame,” Thomasson says. The government rationed goods even as factories ramped up production and needed to attract workers. Factory owners needed a way to lure employees. She explains that the owners turned to fringe benefits, offering more and more generous health plans. …
        By the mid-1960s, Thomasson says, Americans started to see that system — in which people with good jobs get health care through work and almost everyone else looks to government — as if it were the natural order of things.
        But to Thomasson and other economic historians, there’s nothing natural or inevitable about it. Instead, they see it as the profound result of historical accidents.

        1. Lulu*

          Isn’t there also something to do with tax benefits to the companies? I could totally be mis-remembering that, but I think there was a Freakonomics episode covering the topic a few months back and that stuck in my head.

          My ears always prick up when people start discussing health-insurance: As someone who has some “pre-existing conditions”, I think it would now cost something like $1200+ a month for high-deductible coverage. Seeing as I have an income of $0 right now, when my COBRA runs out at the end of the month, looks like I’ll be back on the Free Clinic & Crossed Fingers program I so enjoyed in my youth… It sucks that having a job or not is so closely tied to taking care of your health (or not).

          Given that it can be so prohibitive for even employed people to get insurance on their own, if we’re going to have this kind of system, I feel like companies should be required to provide access for ALL of their employees.

          (Yeesh, some day I’ll write a comment less than 3 paragraphs long, I promise!)

          1. The IT Manager*

            Yes, something to do with tax benefits too. I love This American Life, Planet Money, Freakonomics, and RadioLab. Information and entertaining podcasts for the commute or the workout.

            1. Lulu*

              Likewise! Though I need to remember to add the others into my rotation more, rather than just getting annoyed the Freakonomics guys don’t churn something out every day ;) (And apparently, retain the details of the stories better!)

    3. EngineerGirl*

      I can’t tell you the number of times I had my Canadian cousins stay with us in the US because they needed a procedure done some time in this decade. I know that my cousin needed throat surgery. Because she was a voice teacher and her throat was her living, it “only” took her 3 months to see a specialist. The insurance also doesn’t cover you out of country. So if you are retired and spend winters in Florida, it won’t cover you.

      What Canadian coverage does do is cover you for a basic level which is better than what many in the US have.

      1. KarenT*

        The insurance doesn’t cover you out of country because it’s not insurance. It’s government paid healthcare. It’s also provincial, which often means if you have something done out of province, you often have to pay out of pocket and get reimbursed. Many Canadians also have private insurance (usually but not always from an employer) that would cover them while travellling (such as vacationing in Florida). In Canada specialist appointments do take long, but never more than a year and usually faster than that. And if your case was urgent you would be seen sooner.

      2. Canuck*

        Sorry, but it’s far, far, far more than “basic” level that we get. It’s actually everything. MRI, CT, open-heart surgery, hip replacement, dialysis, organ transplant, pacemaker…. I could go on and on.

        Yes, sometimes we will wait longer. But that’s a function of not having to pay $50,000 for a surgery. And not for emergency or required care.

        And just as a side note, what people don’t realize is that the US and Canadian healthcare systems are NEARLY identical. Both are, in fact, insurance based systems. The difference is that the US has many, many insurance companies, and Canada has just one – a government run insurer (dealt with on a Provincial basis). This results in each province setting the fees/rates for physicians. But Canada does not have “socialzed medicine”; most of our doctors are not employees of the government, they are independent practitioners and bill on a fee-for-service basis, just like their counterparts in the US. They have full medical autonomy, and are not mandated by government to practice in certain ways (we don’t actually have Death Panels – although a U.S. HMO would be the closest example I can see). There are some exceptions, such as many hospital ER physician groups, who work on alternative group payment models.

  8. Bookworm*

    This won’t be a popular suggestion, but if you find yourself in a job with no health benefits that doesn’t pay well, go to your county assistance office (welfare) and apply for your state’s Medical Assistance program (Medicaid). I’m a welfare caseworker (hey, somebody’s gotta do it) and you may be eligible. You don’t have to apply for anything else but the medical benefits.

    You would be surprised at how many people are eligible for state-paid medical benefits. Look up the income limits for your state and see if you qualify. If you are cl

    1. FreeThinkerTX*

      I live in Texas and lost my job in October when the company I was working for closed its doors. I hadn’t made enough money in the previous four quarters to qualify for Unemployment, so I have zero income; and now I think I’ve torn a ligament in my left hip. Looked into Medicaid, and – nope – I don’t qualify for that because I don’t have any children. If you’re between the ages 18-64 in this state, you’re on your own (unless you choose to procreate). I may qualify for food stamps, however. I have a phone interview with those folks next week.

  9. Lulu*

    Going to chime in with actual advice to the OP as well:
    1) Agree w/Another Alison to fully evaluate the future/opportunities in the original field, so if you go back you know what you’re getting into. Is it a scenario where you’ll have the spectre of layoffs hanging over you all the time (and if so, are you ok with that)? Is it broad enough that there are growth opportunities, or would you potentially have to sit it out in the new, low-paying position for a long time before moving up at all? Some positions in high-profile industries are more viable than others in the longterm, especially these days…

    If it really does make some kind of sense for the long term, it can’t hurt to apply – I would just make sure you emphasize realizing your “passion” for the industry/field when you do, rather than calling out your salary non-expectations. They can always have a phone conversation with you on that front before bringing you in for an interview if they have questions. I also think AAM’s advice on reaching out to your contact before applying is solid, if you feel comfortable having that conversation – potential bonus is she could get your resume where it needs to be well before the official application, and you would know the financial implications more immediately.

    2) Have to +1 all of the “don’t discount health insurance” comments. You do not want to throw your back out and have to work from home while friends messenger you old Vicodin and Flexeril prescriptions because you can’t afford to go to the doctor OR call in sick OR get your own meds, but also can’t walk or drive. Nor do you want to lose an afternoon’s pay in the waiting room at the Free Clinic when you have a sinus infection. (In addition to the brain aneurysm, appendix bursting scenarios…) Trust me on this.

  10. Laura*

    Definitely make sure you can get healthcare, but you can also make this part of your negotiation process. Back in the olden days of yore I was a web designer, and worked as something termed “fulltime freelance” (which was almost certainly illegal, as we were treated as employees re: location, hours, equipment, etc. but paid as if we were contractors, but I digress). The hourly rate was quite good, but not when I factored in that I would be responsible for covering my own health insurance. I said right out that I really wanted the job (which I did), but that although I felt the rate they were offering was competitive on its face, once I factored in all the benefits (esp. healthcare) I would not be receiving compared to available fulltime jobs, it was much less favorable and I’d need something closer to $X to bring it into line with my needs/expectations. They met my number without even blinking.

  11. Nicole*

    I’d argue that it’s almost always better to buy your own health insurance. That way you aren’t changing plans with jobs and having to deal again with pre-existing conditions, etc. If you maintain your own policy, you can continue it no matter where your career path takes you.

    1. Lulu*

      I’m afraid I have to disagree with you there, although I agree with the rationale you’re using re: not having to make changes all the time. Unfortunately, (in my experience) group policies offer FAR better coverage than individual policies, and are significantly less expensive on all fronts. I can’t remember exactly how much I paid a month towards my employer-based PPO coverage, probably something like $100-200, and it was very comprehensive with reasonable copays. When I looked into it last year in order to compare the rates with COBRA, the best option (and still lesser) individual policy with several restrictions would have started at something like $1200 a month and included a very high deductible, and that was before figuring in any underwriting involved. No contest. Even my ridiculously expensive COBRA is less expensive than that.

      Perhaps if you’re looking at the “hit by a bus” policies and have always been pretty healthy, this would seem to make sense, but once you actually need to use your insurance I can’t imagine you would choose to go this route. I DO stress about having to possibly switch doctors when I switch policies, but that’s one reason I choose the PPO vs HMO options (so far I’ve always had that option). FWIW although I understand some policies do have a pre-existing condition waiting period, I’ve never encountered it, and that may no longer exist with the new rules coming into effect.

      1. Nicole*

        You probably work for a “big” company, I’d guess. I work for a very small business and our buying power is not enough to give employees a good deal on health insurance, so it’s still better for everyone to be self-insured.

        I had one sinus infection one time and when I switched insurance the new company declared any sinus issues “pre-existing” and told me they would not cover those. I hope that the new laws will address things like that, but policy isn’t always upheld in practice.

        1. Laura L*

          But that happens with individual insurance, not so much with group. Although, yeah, if your employer is really small, you won’t be able to get good deals on group policies.

    2. Laura L*

      Actually, group policies related to your job have to accept you, they don’t look at your pre-existing conditions. The individual plans always do.

  12. EC*

    just a side note. Most jobs are hourly or salaried based on the job. Keep in mind that Federal law regulates whether someone can be exempt salaried based mostly on the job duties. So just because it’s hourly, doesn’t mean the pay isn’t reasonable. I have a feeling temp means temporary. I wouldn’t assume that means hourly.

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