wee answer Wednesday — 7 short answers to 7 short questions

It’s wee answer Wednesday — seven short answers to seven short questions. Here we go…

1. What’s up with this poor benefits package?

I just had an interview at a company for a senior-level director position I am potentially interested in, but the company’s benefits (or lack thereof) concern me. For instance, the company only offers one week of paid vacation time for the first two years, six paid holidays off (I currently get 10), and no 401K. I know I could negotiate for more vacation time; however, my concern is that this speaks to how the company treats its employees (poorly). I asked why a company of their size (700 people) didn’t offer a 401K plan, and her answer was that they used to have one, but it didn’t work, and since they were primarily a manufacturer, it wasn’t common for manufacturers to employ this perk. Is that true? What would be the reason for this? Also, I thought that two weeks vacation time was, if not law, standard for full-time work. Is it common for companies to offer only one week? The company does offer medical, dental, and vision.

No law requires employers to offer any vacation time, but two weeks has long been considered a minimum in most industries. That said, benefits packages do vary widely and can be a solid reason for turning down an offer. If you do decide to turn down the offer over this, I hope you’ll tell them why — they’re more likely to improve their benefits if they realize that they’re losing good candidates (and employees) over it.

2. New job has extreme flexibility

I just started a new job last week, and it is a bit nontraditional in the sense that there isn’t really a set office: The company is so small that we each just have a membership at a coworking space, our cells are our main phone lines, and people are often out and about for meetings. I basically stay in the “office” unless I’m accompanying someone to a meeting. Everything can be done online, so often people just leave early and work from home or sometimes just don’t come in at all. This is great, but since I’m used to working in traditional offices, I’m not sure when I can start saying I’d like to work from home on certain days since I’m so new. When do you think it would be appropriate? A lot of days, I find myself done with my work pretty early and would love to beat the traffic, but I wait around until the last person leaves or until a little after 5 p.m. It seems that they would be fine if I starting leaving early as long as I’m finished with my work but I’m nervous and I’d like your opinion first. I’d really like to make a good impression, but I’m not sure if they would even think twice because everything is so laid-back.

Personally, I’d work regular hours for at least the first month, and possibly two. Right now, you’re an unknown quantity, and you want to establish yourself as someone with a good work ethic who isn’t abusing their flexibility. Once you do that, you should be able to take advantage of these benefits — but build a firm reputation for being a hard worker first, so that no one is wondering what the new person is working on and why they haven’t seen her.

3. Getting reimbursed for travel expenses for a company holiday party

I have been in my current job for more than 10 years. I used to work in the office but moved this year to another state and now work remotely. I’ve been invited to our office holiday party and, like you, feel it’s always a wise career move to attend. My company generally reimburses my travel expenses when I am called into the main office for a staff meeting. Is it a reasonable expectation to be reimbursed for travel expenses (round trip train fare, one night hotel stay) to our holiday party?

Yes. It’s a business event and an expense you wouldn’t be incurring if you weren’t working there. But if you’re uncertain, just check with your boss beforehand. Say something like, “This might be a silly question, but is it okay for me to submit a reimbursement request for my travel expenses for the holiday party?”

4. Can I thank my husband’s company for their great holiday party?

My husband’s company threw its annual holiday party on Saturday, and it was even better than usual. In addition to outstanding food and drink, they had two different bands, both of which were excellent. And if that wasn’t good enough, it was a “Monte Carlo” theme so there was no risk gambling, and the dealers were incredibly nice, patient, and educational.

I would love to send a note saying thanks for such an amazing evening, and also to let them know how absolutely fantastic the catering and casino staff were. I am acquainted with a lady in HR, and would send it to her and ask her to forward it on to the appropriate people. My husband says this is fine, but after reading you for years, I’m not sure it would be appropriate for me to send it. The easy answer is for my husband to do it, but unfortunately, that is not something that he would ever do.

Nope, don’t do it. You’re thinking of this as a social event, where it would be perfectly appropriate for you to send a thank-you, but it’s a business event. That means that if anyone is going to thank them, it should be your husband — the employee. But I wouldn’t push him to do it if he doesn’t want to, because providing a holiday party for employees is less of a gift and more of a business function — the company has the party because they believe it helps them achieve their business goals, such as building morale and camaraderie. It’s certainly nice to thank the people who organized it, but there’s not the same obligation that there would be if it were a social event outside of work.

Either way, though, you should no more send a note of thanks for this than you should send a note of thanks to the guy in accounting for helping your husband fix his direct deposit problem; these are his coworkers, and his relationships to manage.

5. Is this company stalling on hiring me?

Recently (about a month ago), I applied to a position with a wonderful startup. I thought I had finally found an opportunity within an environment in which I would flourish, while being a part of something fresh and innovative. I truly love their product.

Well, after 3 interviews, they asked for my references (good sign, or at least I thought so). Fast forward to December 10 — references haven’t been called, and after I inquired, I was told a new CEO was being brought on, and that they were still interested in me, and will hopefully have a more concrete answer before the holidays. Does this seem like a stall tactic of sorts or what? A week prior, I was told that they would hopefully reach out to my references early the following week. I don’t know what to think.

You should think exactly what they told you: that they have a new CEO and are hoping to have a concrete answer by the holidays. If they’re having a major leadership change, it makes sense that they’re not able to move forward on hiring as quickly as they normally might be.

Seriously, you guys, start taking statements like this at face value.

6. What does this email mean?

I was hoping you could interpret the following email I received from an HR manager. Just a little background, I did not reach out to the HR manager. The email below was unsolicited:

“My apologies for the delay in reaching out. I thought I sent a note on Friday but it was sitting in my draft folder. I debriefed with the interview team on Friday and they provided some very positive feedback. I am waiting to discuss things with Name Redacted (hiring partner) who you were unfortunately unable to meet with. Again, sorry for the delay but I hope to have some good news for you shortly.”

See above. Take it at face value. There’s been a delay but they consider you a strong candidate. Face value.

7. Applying when you don’t meet the GPA requirement

I am a (somewhat) recent grad and am currently looking for my next career step. I am applying to entry-level positions, and have found one that is perfect and I’ve networked with someone in the company who has encouraged me to apply. However, there is a GPA requirement listed for the position that I did not meet while in school. Should I not apply for the position? Should I apply and be honest if they ask? Do you think they will ask me for some sort of transcript?

Go ahead and apply anyway, because you have nothing to lose. (And yes, of course you should be honest if they ask. They may or may not ask for transcripts or otherwise verify your GPA, but regardless, you don’t lie about stuff like that.) They may or may not be rigid about the GPA requirement; if they are, you’ll find out soon enough, but many companies are more flexible about requirements than what their job postings would lead you to believe.

{ 143 comments… read them below }

    1. Cathy

      LOL! I was at that party (unless there are two companies throwing identical parties at the holidays; ours was on a pier). I just read that part of the column aloud to my husband and we both agreed the party was a lot of fun. His company does cool parties most years though. They’ve had them in local natural history and anthropology museums where dessert was served in the butterfly exhibit or among the mummies; on a ship that’s become a museum; etc. Turnout is usually around 3000 people, so they need a big venue.

      I totally agree with Alison about not sending a note to HR. If it’s the same company, HR is big, and the person you know is probably not involved in planning parties and may have no idea who is. While I don’t know for sure how this company does it, in other large companies where I’ve worked, one of the executive assistants would hire an event planning firm and they would come back with 3 or 4 ideas. Sometimes the assistant or president would just make a decision, or sometimes there would be a small committee of employees who would choose. Then the event planner takes it from there. HR had nothing to do with it.

      1. Anon

        The wife could send a note to the company that employs the dealers if she has the name – they may want to hear about what a great event it was.

        1. COT

          Absolutely–she could definitely contact the caterers, dealers, and bands directly if she knows who they were. The venue may also be able to provide that information to her.

      2. OP#5

        Yes, same party, and yes, they do throw good ones. When I remember holiday efforts from past companies or read about the experiences of other commenters, it made me appreciate Saturday’s event even more.

        Now having thought about it, and read some of the feedback, I think I was unclear about what I wanted to do. I have worked in customer service for a lot of years and know all about getting customer complaints, so when I run into exceptional service, I like to call it out. I know this is not exactly the same, but whoever chose the vendors hit it out of the park, as did the event staff themselves, and I wanted some way to acknowlege that without stepping into the middle of my husband’s work relationships.

        I like the idea of contacting the venue itself for more information. I can definitely remember the name of the casino company, and hopefully will be able to get the name of the catering company and bands.

  1. KarenT

    #7
    You really have nothing to lose by trying. I think it really depends on the field. If it’s something like engineering, they will probably be very, very rigid. With an insanely tight job market right now, they also don’t have much of an incentive to be flexible, particularly with new grads. I hope that’s not discouraging, keep in mind that if you have other things to offer like internships or summer jobs that you held, you might be a really strong candidate.

  2. Elizabeth M

    Regarding #5 and #6, I think this is one more way that job-hunting is a little like dating! When we’re anxious, we tend to get doubtful. “He said he had a good time last night, and wants to see me again… What does he mean?” “She said she’s been really busy at work and can’t go out until the weekend… What does she mean?” :)

    1. Victoria Nonprofit

      … And like dating, actions speak louder than words. “He said he really liked me, but he hasn’t called in a month…”

  3. BB

    To OP 1 – be cautious. I faced a similar situation when I recently moved from a big company with solid benefits to a small contract manufacturer with a less impressive benefits package.

    I negotiated for additional vacation time, I considered the drop in benefits in my salary negotiation, and I’m getting a lot out of this job in the way of professional development BUT… My first instincts were certainly right. Even though I negotiated for a better than average package, I continue to feel like I’m getting nickel-and-dimed on everything (4 days of sick time? 6 mos waiting period for benefits that turned into 8? 401k that they said has no vesting period actually has a 6 year vesting? No life insurance or disability coverage/medical leave options?). That is consistent with what I think is a general lack of commitment to employees. Everything is about the bottom line this month or this week, and there is little to no concerns for long term employee training or development.

    As I said, I’m getting enough out of this job to make it worthwhile to me for a couple years. But my instincts were certainly right and the company is weak in all of the areas that I was concerned they would be. So trust your gut.

    1. BB

      I should also say that, as a senior level manager, I do not have the resources to staff my department appropriately (even though I am building a critical department practically from scratch). The company consensus seems to be that senior employees (aka expensive) should be layed off to make way for young and inexperienced (aka cheap) employees, regardless of what that does to our knowledge base or capabilities. So the company lack of commitment to employee needs affects my department and our ability to succeed, not just my personal wallet.

    2. Lulu

      Thanks. The feeling of being nickel-and-dimed all the time is definitely my concern. While I know I could negotiate vacation time and salary, I don’t want to take the job but still feel resentful about it.

    3. AgilePhalanges

      This is 0nly one data point, but I work for a manufacturer with about 400 employees, and we have 12 holidays and start with three weeks of PTO (with the idea that one week is in lieu of sick time and two weeks are for vacation, but of course it’s all lumped together).

      We also have a 401(k) with pretty good matching, in lieu of the pension plan that they froze a while ago (shortly after I started with the company, so whenever they decide to do payouts, I stand to get a couple hundred as my lump sum payout–woo!). My company contributes 3% of each person’s salary to their 401(k) no matter what, even if the employee doesn’t contribute anything themselves–that’s in lieu of the pension plan. We are also matched 1-to-1 on our first 3% and half on our second 3%. So if you contribute 6% of your salary, you get the “free” 3%, 3% on the first half, and 1.5% on the latter half, for a total of 7.5% of your salary from the employer.

      I have no idea what other companies offer, but from reading here and other places around the web, I think that the company OP#1 posted about is incorrect that that’s how “all manufacturers” operate.

  4. Anonymous

    Um, the reason that applicants like #5 and #6 aren’t sure whether to take something at face value is because then #7 comes along and it’s, “well they say it’s required, but it may or may not be.”

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      I’d like to encourage people to realize that those are two different things — one is a job description, which is often a wish list of the profile of the ideal candidate, while the other is human-to-human interaction. Very different things. In conversation, people generally aren’t speaking in code; when their words seem to have a surface meaning, it’s safest to just believe the surface meaning. (They’re not speaking in code in the job description either, generally; they’re just often less rigid than what’s in writing.)

      1. Anonymous

        How much of a job description (say the required qualifications and the perfered qualifications) should you fit before applying to a job? Someone at my school’s career center told me to only apply for things if you fit 80% of the required/prefered qualifications.

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          There’s no formula. You want to fit most of the requirements (preferred stuff is literally just preferred, not required, so leave that out of your calculation). 80% isn’t unreasonable, depending on the full context of the position and who you are as a candidate. That said, be aware that in this market, employers can be pretty picky, so when you don’t meet all/nearly all of the requirements, you want to really be able to show you’re a strong candidate in other ways.

          1. -X-

            To Anonymous 12/12/12 1:42am

            Here’s an example in the real world: I recently saw a job description for something with about 20 qualifications listed. I hit most but not all, so was going to apply. But one was speaking and writing Spanish and I know this organization’s work is in Latin America and the job is in communications to constituents in Latin America. So I’m certain the not-speaking Spanish is a deal breaker, whereas the others would be not essential if strong in most things.

          2. KarenT

            When I interviewed for my last job, when the hiring manager made the offer she told me that she had been on the fence about interviewing me and my resume had been near the bottom of the pile of contacted candidates (not because it was bad, but because I met most but not all of the qualifications). She said after meeting me and hearing what I had to say I became her top choice.
            My point is, you really have nothing to lose by applying and that if you don’t meet all the qualifications just be prepared to explain why you would be a good candidate and really make a case for yourself.

      2. Josh S

        You’re right, those *are* two different things. But to many people, they hear only, “For some cases, I need to believe what they said and take it at face value. In other cases, the company communication does not accurately reflect what they mean.” That can be confusing, especially in the doubt-laden hiring process.

      3. M-C

        Also, these are not internal office politics yet. You don’t work there, they have no possible motivation to pull the wool over your eyes about anything. Most HR departments are very lax about communication with candidates, so both #5 and #6 should consider themselves lucky that they’re getting any updates at all.

        When you’re getting something which isn’t a form letter, be grateful. Believe it. Really. Especially #5 when it’s something as sensible as the fact that a new CEO may want to have a say in new hires, duh. How would you like to take over a company and be stuck with a new hire that doesn’t in the least fit your vision of where it should be going, or whose inflated salary will push it over the edge?

        1. Victoria HR

          Agreed. #6 is lucky that the HR manager reached out at all. It shows that HR definitely is interested in him/her and wants to keep him/her in the loop in case he/she is about to accept another job offer. I would definitely thank that HR manager for the communication and expect, at the very least, another interview to come.

          1. Ask a Manager Post author

            One small modification to that — I wouldn’t necessarily expect another interview at the least. It sounds like the OP is a strong candidate, but anything can happen. In general, it’s safer not to read anything into the statement beyond what was actually said — the OP is a strong candidate, but they haven’t made a decision yet.

      4. Katie the Fed

        I realize that government hiring is exceptionally slow and obnoxious, but from the perspective of someone who’s been on the selection panel for applicants, it can be just as frustrating for us as it is for the candidate. You find that great applicant, prepare all the paperwork, and then just wait. And wait. And wait. It can take months to clear all the legal, HR, security wickets. And you hope that the candidate hasn’t found something else by that time.

        It’s frustrating to be constrained by a slow system.

        1. Anonymous

          True! This recently happened with our hiring committee for an executive. We interviewed a number of candidates, then had to wait 2 weeks to get them on the CEO’s schedule because he was too busy, and then another 3 weeks for board approval… when we finally offered the PERFECT candidate the job, we found out she had already been scooped up by another company! Now 3 months later the job is still open, stuck in this same ridiculously slow process.

          1. -X-

            I think it’s worth a carefully written note to leaders of your company about the need to speed up the hiring process, with some broad info on the cost of not having a position filled.

            1. Anonymous

              Yeah, well we are reporting directly to the CEO, and he is getting frustrated with how long the search is taking, and we keep insisting that the time frame needs to be shortened…. but the time lull’s continue.

            2. Unanimously Anonymous

              -X-, if those “leaders” are anything like the ones running my company, the ONLY thing they’re thinking is “well…if we delay filling X vacant positions for Y time periods, that leaves Z dollars available for the executive bonus pool. Win-win!””

              1. -X-

                If you can’t tell them any costs (fewer sales made, contracts signed, grants received) then you’re lost. If you have costs tell them. If you don’t, then they’re right.

                1. Blanziflor

                  I’d agree with the first sentence, but not the last. People can generally cover and make do for a while. But burnout-induced turnover has a cost too. Unfortunately, that’s going to be hard to show in a simple form – particularly to someone whose bonus may depend on them not understanding.

        2. Victoria HR

          It’s not just government either. Back in October I was applying for positions at various employers that I had targeted as ideal places for me to work. Some were larger than others. I wound up accepting an offer from a smaller marketing firm in November and started on Dec 3rd. I had exactly one phone and one in-person interview for this job, and the process took less than 2 weeks total.

          This past Monday, I received an email from a large employer that I applied with back in October, asking me to do a phone screen. I explained that I’d already found and started a new position.

          So the smaller employer, with the faster recruiting process, won the candidate.

        3. Frances

          I once was the administrator (as in not a decision maker, but the staffer handling the incoming resumes and inquiries) for a hiring process in academia that lasted TWO YEARS. We had three changes in the leadership of the hiring department during that time and each new leader had a slightly different concept of the position (the second leader actually did choose a candidate but they ended up turning the position down because of the cost of relocating). I was the person who sent out the emails to the candidates we were interested in to explain yet another delay, and it was always a struggle to avoid expressing my own frustration with the process — which probably meant the email read a bit flat and emotionless to the candidates.

          I actually ended up leaving that job myself before they hired someone. I always wondered how long it took them to replace me.

  5. Marie

    I only have a few years of work experience so I’m fairly young compared to the majority in the professional work environment, however, I’m always shocked by the questions submitted by wives regarding any aspect of their husbands’ work. Could there ever be a situation where its appropriate for a wife to contact her husbands work? Or vice versa, husband to wife, although most of the questions posted to AAM seem to be from wives. All I can think about is COBRA benefits after divorce or if the spouse is too sick to call or email in.

    1. M-C

      Yes, indeed, you get it perfectly. He’s in the hospital on a respirator and can’t explain for himself why he won’t be there in the morning. You’re right to be shocked, and especially about the wives.

    2. Katie the Fed

      My dad had some serious medical issues a few years ago and my parents decided he should retire early. My mom kept insisting on coming along to his negotiations over his retirement package because she didn’t trust him to negotiate a good package (she’s just a BIT overbearing…sigh). I kept trying to explain how completely inappropriate it was but she wasn’t hearing it.

      I guess since he separated from the company though it’s not the end of the world, but I found it highly inappropriate.

    3. Anonymous

      I called my wife’s boss when she had to rush to another state to be with her dying father. I think that’s about where the bar needs to be set (and this was a part time, retail job).

    4. Anonymous

      LOL. I used to have someone’s wife REGULARLY call me about her husband’s paycheck, vacation time, taxes on bonuses, etc. IT WAS RIDICULOUS. He used to apologize, but it didn’t stop her from calling me at least 2-3 times a month.

      1. Sara

        I nag my husband viciously about his work issues (he works from home but he’s pretty much on call 24/7 and will never tell them he isn’t available to work!) but I can’t imagine ever speaking to his bosses…..that’d be so weird AND he’d kill me. (not literally)

  6. EngineerGirl

    #1 – An executive position with no 401K and no pension? I hope they double the salary! That is a huge pay cut. I can’t see a company claiming to be competative without a 401K.

    #7 Absolutely apply! And make sure that you let your contact know about it. Better, if they have an employee referral program have your contact submit your resume that way (it will bypass a lot of HR who tend to be gatekeepers).

    Our company has a requirement of 3.5 GPA or higher. One of my previous managers hired someone with a 2.7 GPA and HR had a hissy fit and tried to deny it. The thing was, this guy was working full time while supporting a wife and kid and going to school. This was also his second job. So yes, his GPA was lower than the little snowflakes that were sent to school by mommy and daddy. Guess who was the most resourceful, hardest working person with the best work ethic? We got him in to our engineering leadership program and he’s now fast tracked for management. HR needs to learn that GPA is **one** discriminator, not the **only** one.

    So in short, use your contacts and do everything you can to bypass HR. Demonstrate your work experience as much as possible so that they use that to evaluate you instead of your GPA.

    1. Victoria Nonprofit

      I get your overall point here, but it seems unnecessary to namecall folks whose parents pay for their education. Their privilege is a reality and they should understand how it interacts with the rest of the world, but it doesn’t make them weaker, less capable, or too delicate for the workforce.

      1. Jamie

        I thought that was harsh as well. My parents paid for my education and I have two kids’ in college right now that I’m paying for. If a parent is in the position to help a child pay for college so they can start adult life without debt why would there be a stigma attached to that?

        I really admire people who worked to put themselves through school, and I’m sure there are benefits that come from doing it yourself…but I don’t think it would be sensible for anyone to refuse help from parents who can pay, want to pay, and happily want to help just to incur debt to do it on their own.

      2. Forrest

        There’s also a lot of kids who get parent-paid-for education and don’t have high GPAs due to disablities and such.

        For example, I excelled in the classes related to my major but always had a low GPA due to my general studies classes. Math and science are not my friend!

        My point? Things are rarely black and white and that’s why I dislike the GPA requirements. There has to be other ways to widdle down a group of candidates.

      3. Anonymous

        I’m not calling all students who have their tuition paid by their parents snowflakes. But 100% of all snowflakes have tuition paid by their parents. You know that people that paid their own way really wanted the education. With the others it is harder to tell.

        I do think a lot of parents are doing a huge disservice to their children by paying for everything. At some point the kids need to know what it is like to persevere through something non-school related and win. If you hand everything to the kids on a platter they will expect it from their employer too. It won’t end well. The real world is so much more than book knowledge. And life-tests are usually pass/fail, not graded on a curve.

        1. Anonymous Three

          You’re way off base here and I’d recommend you not make such blanket assumptions and sweeping statements. I sense you’re resentful, but please remember, everyone’s situation is different. My parents paid for my college education, as well as my sister’s, as it was an important goal for them to be able to provide this opportunity to their children as neither of them had the opportunity to attend college because their parents were not in a financial position to send them. My mom put herself through nursing school, my dad, a trade school. I knew how much my parents sacrificed to be able to send me to college, and how hard they worked, so I never missed class and I worked my ass off. Graduated at the top of my class, magna cum laude and with departmental honors. I went on to get my doctorate and paid for that myself and never thought my parents should have to pay for that, too. So even though my parents paid for my college education, no snowflake here.

    2. Ivy

      To be honest, I don’t really understand the benefits of hiring people with higher GPAs. I have a high GPA and I paid my way through school, but I don’t see how that necessarily demonstrates how well I will perform in an organization. The GPA means I’m book smart, which is a lot different than life smart in my opinion. The fact that I paid for my education is through no will or choice of my own (as Jamie has said). When I see a company that asks for a certain GPA, it just makes me think they get a large number of applicants and want to find a criterion that will filter some out.

      1. Ivy

        Oh, and OP it kind of depends on where you’re applying and how significantly off your GPA is. There are certain companies in certain industries that only hire high GPAs. Management consulting and investment banking comes to mind.

        1. KarenT

          I agree for humanities and social sciences, that the total picture matters more (good grades plus job experience). I think a high GPA does show more than book smarts (things like a good work ethic and responsibility) but it’s not the be-all end-all.
          Some fields, like engineering, it is pretty critical. I used to tell my father he was mean because he only hired engineering grads with really high GPAs. His answer was “o you want to ride in the airplane made by the guy who got a B in thermodynamics?”
          Reviewing new grads resumes, it’s worth noting that candidates with 4.0 GPAs often are the ones with demonstrated experience–internships, co-op programs, and part-time or summer jobs.

          1. EngineerGirl

            Smirk. I’m the person that got a B in thermodynamics. 2 of my projects are on display in the Smithsonian Air and Space museum.

            I should note that I had to put myself through school working 32 hours a week while only getting 4 hours of sleep a night.

            And yes, my GPA was a problem for some HR types.

            When hiring I look for experience, persistence, problem solving, specialization. GPA is one indicator, but not a major one.

          2. Jubilance

            I was on the recruiting team as an engineer, and in my experience, its the students with lower GPAs who have the well-rounded resumes – internships, leadership roles in student orgs, research experience, etc. I often saw students with high GPAs in engineering who only did schoolwork to maintain that high GPA. And as someone who got into a top PhD program with a 2.7 GPA, I can attest that GPA isn’t everything. In my case, being in the wrong major early in my college career tanked my GPA & no level of excelling in my later years come compensate for it. But I was an extremely well-rounded student who excelled in other areas, had leadership experience, 3 internships, good GRE scores & excellent letters of recommendation.

            1. Cassie

              This reminds me of a student who was being nominated for an award for a graduating student from the graduate program. The instructions stated a minimum GPA of 3.75. This student had a GPA of 3.575 (or something like that) and ended up being chosen as the awardee. I don’t know if the awards committee noticed he had a lower GPA or not, but he was strong in many other areas (had published a bunch of papers, was invited to speak at conferences, got awards for best papers, etc.

              I thought it was a little “unfair” that he won – but only because I thought the GPA requirement might have deterred other qualified students from being nominated. When I saw that his GPA didn’t meet the requirement, I almost didn’t submit his paperwork.

              They should have just done away with the GPA requirement, I think.

              1. EngineerGirl

                It would have been fairer if GPA had been one of the factors for the award. The higher the GPA the more points you get. But it shouldn’t be a filter for an award. That is one of the artificial things academia does to make grades look important.

          3. Blanziflor

            If you’re designing a subsonic aeroplane, thermodynamics isn’t going to count for much outside of the engines (and the cabin airconditioning). While you might prefer the ‘A’ I’d say the guy designing the aerofoils could get by just fine.

          4. EngineerGirl

            it’s worth noting that candidates with 4.0 GPAs often are the ones with demonstrated experience–internships, co-op programs, and part-time or summer jobs

            It is worth noting that high grades are a prerequisite for many of these types of jobs. Those with lower grades don’t get these opportunities, just like poorer students can’t use internship opportunities because they can’t self-fund. It is a system that favors rich kids who have parents that will fund their education (giving them more time to study) and even pay for tutors. Simply put, it is thinly veiled inequity.

            The fallacy is assuming that all students with low grades are bad hires. Low grades have many reasons – lack of studying is just one of them. As noted in other parts of this thread, grade inflation, differences in schools, and other factors make high grades just as irrelevant as medium grades.

      2. Rana

        Not to mention that the value of a particular grade depends on the professor giving it and the course, and the educational context. So an A for a first-year gut course at a low-standards institution with a tired adjunct teaching five other classes just like it in may well be the equivalent of a C given for a difficult senior course taught by a notoriously hard-case professor at a highly competitive institution.

        GPAs are just numbers. What matters is the work done and the skills and knowledge learned.

    3. Not So NewReader

      EG, I liked your point about having to heavy a reliance on grades. Grades are a part of the story but not all of it. Many bios of some famous people contain this type of storyline: “Mr/Ms BigWig did very poorly in school, dropped out of college and went on to be a millionaire many times over.”
      Some people do not connect to “theoretical” coursework. BUT, put a real task in front of them and they SHINE.

      When I first started college, I did not stack the coursework in my favor. I took a lot of courses that I knew I would not do well with– chemistry, yikes, that was the worst. And this shows in my GPA. Mercifully, as the years roll by this is less and less important.

    4. Joey

      EG,
      It’s not about HR learning or trying to go around them, its about the Engineering Manager pushing back. HR typically uses data from other companies to support job requirements. They have no way of knowing that you’re losing good candidates unless you push back with data. It’s really your manager who should:
      1. Build upon that experience to justify doing it again.
      2. Present data/examples that show successful candidates don’t have to have a 3.5 and make a proposal to change it.
      3. Show how much you can increase your viable applicant pool.

      The point is you really can’t expect HR to understand all of the ins and outs of what makes a successful engineering candidate without showing them. Theyre just going off of commonly accepted standards. And anecdotally telling them isn’t going to spring them into action.

      1. EngineerGirl

        I disagree. Our company is an engineering company with lots of leadership coming in from alternate paths. In spite of this, HR persists in using school based standards to asses. HR shouldn’t block hires unless it is egregious or illegal. A hiring manager shouldnt have to prove anything to HR. it is up to HR to listen to the engineers on what makes a good engineer, not use thier own criteria to override.

        You know what happens with a room full of 4.0 GPA students? No one wiling to do the grunt work. And grunt work provides the deep insights on how things really work. So you have a bunch of shallow engineers with no depth that only want glamor positions.

    5. Anonymous

      Yet another snarky comment towards young people!

      Good for you for sticking up for the guy you wanted to hire, but dissing people whose parents paid for school as “snowflakes”? Not cool.

      1. anonintheUK

        People in the UK who started undergraduate degrees before 1997 paid no tuition fees. Does that mean every British graduate over 33 or so is a snowflake?

  7. HMM..

    As a job seeker & the author of #5. I think it is hard to remember to take things at face value. Especially when there are so many horror stories of companies stalling candidates for different reasons, budgeting,vetting more candidates, or whatever the case may be. Although references were requested, you never know nowadays.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      The thing is, it all adds up to the same thing in the end — they’re not ready to make a decision yet. That’s really the only part that matters; the reason isn’t all that important. (I think people get focused on the reason for the delay, because they think they can find a signal about their chances there … but really, no matter how strong a candidate you are or how well your interview went, there are a ton of reasons why you might not get the job anyway, many of which you won’t be privy to. You’re better off just processing their message as “there’s a delay” and not dwelling on it beyond that.)

    2. Long Time Admin

      Your best bet is to continue with your job search until the first day of a new job. Things often fall apart at the last minute, and it’s just not wise to pin your hopes on anything until it’s actually happening now, right this minute.

      I always figure everything a potential employer says to me about contacting references, getting approvals, etc. means nothing until I’m filling out my new employee paperwork.

  8. Jamie

    I knew #1 was manufacturing before I got through sentence 2. The lack of 401K is weird, the sparse vacation is common.

    Manufacturing is notorious for offering less PTO than other industries. We run really lean and as such there are fewer redundancies for positions. That’s why in other industries arguing for more vacation time is an easy sell, it can be tougher to get for us than more money.

    That said the lack of 491k is odd, that’s just a given most places. If they pay enough for it to be worth your while you can always set up your own investment plan – albeit without matching.

    1. RG

      Is a 401k really a given at most places? Especially one with under 1000 employees? I work at a similar sized company – family owned, and only just added a 401k as a benefit. There was a profit sharing plan in place previously, so they were not completely devoid of retirement savings, but there was no 401k component to allow employees to save their own money.

      And that happened for a few reasons – most of our employees will not participate in a 401k. A lot of them live paycheck to paycheck and don’t see the space in their budget to start putting money aside like that. So then you have to start thinking about non-discrimination issues to be sure you aren’t favoring highly compensated employees. And then you have to consider what it’s going to cost the company in fees to maintain a plan that a relatively small percentage of employees utilize.

      If they had a 401k plan in the past, and nobody used it, or they cheaper out and got an administrator who didn’t know what they were doing and then they ran into trouble, I can why they wouldn’t have one now.

      So, TL;DR – I don’t see it highly unusual that a company that size in that industry doesn’t have a 401k. Uncompetative maybe, but not really inconceivable, even in this day and age.

      1. Jamie

        Maybe it’s less common than I think? The SMBs in mfg at which I’ve worked or temped always offered 401k to employees. That could be just coincidence though – but I thought it was pretty universal at this point.

      2. Lulu

        Thanks for the insight. FWIW, I currently work at a company that employs 30 people, and we have a 401K. All of my jobs, except one which only staffed 10 people, offered it. So while it’s not in itself a dealbreaker, it does make me think this isn’t the best fit.

        1. AgilePhalanges

          I believe the fees for the 401(k) administration come out of our (the employees) funds, so I don’t believe it costs the employer anything to just OFFER a 401(k), though of course any matching they do comes out of the company’s funds. It might be possible that they consider dealing with the payroll aspects of it to be more of a hassle than they want to deal with, though.

          As I mentioned above, our company does a pretty nice 401(k) match, but it’s in lieu of a pension plan. Maybe the job OP#1 is talking about would come with a nice pension? If neither, then definitely take that into consideration in salary negotiations–you’d have to set aside a hefty chunk of money to be on level footing with someone in a similar job with one or the other of those retirement benefits.

    2. Eric

      I find your assessment to be correct for the typical line worker, but not for office personal and executives. The manufacturing industry competing heavily due to globalization and the playing field is not even. It’s not surprising that there are few to no benefits and I’m interested to know if there has been any union talk since a company over 700 would certainly have generated some attention.

      1. Jamie

        My experience, which granted is just anecdotal, is that it’s also an issue for management and executives. At least with the smaller SMB of a couple hundred employees (100+ – 500) in my part of the industry.

        In a smaller company even the COO can have trouble getting more vacation time, because of the lack of redundancy and disruption to production to have the one person from a one person department gone.

    3. Yup

      Re #1: I’m wondering if there’s a pension plan instead of a 401k, and whether there are more company holidays than usual to make up for the lack of vacation days. Since scheduling is such a critical issue in manufacturing, some places find it easier to set longer company close dates (like the week between Christmas and New Years) instead of trying to coordinate everyone’s individual requests.

      1. Jamie

        This is a good point as well. And I should have clarified that I’m speaking from my limited POV of one segment of manufacturing in one geographical area. Both places where I’ve worked and information I have about how other companies in our niche function. But in rereading I realized I looked like I was speaking for the industry as a whole, which I am not in the position to do.

        That’s what happens when I post pre-coffee.

        But the shut down schedule is common in my experience as well. Often there a couple of weeks per year where the factory is shut down and that’s when the vast majority are expected to take their time off. In my case, because of my position, I always work shut-downs…so I have that time to take during the year.

        1. twentymilehike

          I knew #1 was manufacturing before I got through sentence 2. The lack of 401K is weird, the sparse vacation is common.

          In reading this thread its interesting to see the differences in manufacturing areas … I’m also in manufacturing. We have about 8 regular employees, and numerous contractors. Our company offer zero benefits, other than getting paid for the hours you work, 5 PTO days a year, and we close for major holidays (including the week between Christmas and New Years). We get no sick time, no retirment accounts, and no insurance of any kind.

          On the other hand, this environment is really flexible. When my mom passed away, I was gone for nearly a month and instead of using my accrued PTO, my boss paid me but didn’t take it out of my PTO; Similar situation when I got really sick on business trip. I work basically unsupervised and pretty much set my own schedule, which in turn set our business hours, I can make a lot of my own decisions and my opions carry a lot of weight. I also work with a lot of high profile people in our industry.

          Would I trade this level of autonomy for a better compensation package? Its a tough choice … but the ultimate answer is YES, but I have really high standards for what my next position is going to be.

          1. twentymilehike

            Shoot … I’m not though my coffee yet, as apparent by my typos and lack of conclusion haha.

            Anyhow, I was going to sum that up and say that I would suggest to the OP to weight the pros and cons of the environment, and see if the total compensation is worth it to you. Sometimes the benefits aren’t always aparent at first, but don’t settle for less knowing you won’t be happy in the long-run. Good luck :)

            1. Lulu

              Thanks – I am the OP, and definitely weighing the pros and cons. Right now, I think the cons are winning. :)

      2. Lulu

        I’m the original poster, and I don’t know about a pension plan (but guessing there is none, since they didn’t mention it when I expressed my concern over lack of benefits) but there are definitely fewer paid holidays (only 6 all year whereas I currently get 10) and they are open between Christmas and New Years.

  9. Anonymous

    Re: #7
    Apply anyways!

    We usually do not hold on to these requirements strictly. If they ask for it in the application, be honest though. With large companies, sometimes their recruiting systems will screen you out if it is lower than the required GPA… however it is worth a shot!

    Also important to note is that many College Career Center Recruiting sites require employers to put a minimum GPA in when you post jobs on their sites, even though it isn’t an actual requirement for the employer. So, if you’re applying through your college’s career center site, keep in mind the GPA posted is likely not even a real requirement.

  10. The Editor

    #4–I actually disagree with AAM. I manage our engagement group, including all the events. It is an utterly thankless job, and I treasure each thank you I get, especially from the spouses. One of our goals is to create an atmosphere that supports our employees both in and out of work. I see a thanks from a spouse as one sign that we are doing something right, and it simply makes my day.

    That being said, make sure it hits the right desk. Your husband should know who should see it. I would not blindly drop it not the HR box and hope it gets there.

    Oh, and we are doing Monte Carlo this year! Hopefully a winner!

    And of course each company is different. In my company, this would be very acceptable.

    1. Anonymous

      I sort of agree— I know the people charged with planning the event definitely appreciate a thank you, and it also reflects well on them to their higher-ups to receive such praise.

      1. Sasha

        Perhaps it could be a note signed by both the husband and wife – the wife can write the whole thing, but both signatures and the husband delivers it. That way it’s coming from an employee but you know the spouse enjoyed it as well.

    2. OP#4

      Thank you for this! I had resigned myself to just contacting the individual vendors and and letting them know how awesome they were, but after reading this, I will make sure my husband tracks down the right person and send a card to them as well.

      It just feels so odd not to acknowledge a truly superior effort…

    3. Emily

      I have to agree! If your husband is truly against sending a note for some reason, then I wouldn’t go around him to do it, but if he’s amenable to signing a note with you (I think it should come from both of you, not just “I am John’s wife and I loved the party) and addressing it or delivering it to the appropriate person, go for it. In my experience, party planning is an unofficial, volunteer gig and the executive’s assistants’ who find it on their desks might not even get to enjoy the fruits of their labors, but a warm thank you would be worth just as much.

  11. Anon

    #4-Why didn’t you just thank them at the party? When I go to events at my husband’s job, I make sure to thank the party hosts/creators. It’s a smaller company and I know them better but it seems to solve the problem.

    1. OP#4

      Because it is a really, really big party and I have no idea who put it together as my husband works in a department that is very, very far removed from event planning!

  12. Long Time Admin

    Regarding # 4 (thanking husband’s employer for a great party), I mostly agree with AAM and commenters. However, the Event Planner would be extremely happy if Husband would tell her what a great party she planned, and how much they enjoyed it. Husband should also thank Owner or Big Boss for the party, providing Husband actually knows this person and will see him or her during normal office interactions. If this is a mega-company and no one ever sees the Big Boss, “never mind!” (as Emily Litella used to say).

    Other spousal interference in someone’s job is inappropriate. Calling in to say that Spouse was rushed to the hospital late last night is not intereference, and is more than appropriate (we didn’t know for more than a day and were worried sick).

  13. Anonymous

    #4. I agree a spouse/partner should not thank the payroll department for fixing a direct deposit problem, i.e. doing their job.

    A holiday party is not the company’s job. It didn’t have to hold any event or include any non-employee. If she didn’t have the opportunity to thank the appropriate suits at the event I cannot think of a downside of a “Thank You” card sent via snail mail. Classic. Traditional. That card would be displayed, I believe, in a prominent position among the seasonal cards sent by vendors & customers.

    I am as cynical as they come, and I cannot think of a way a card would reflect poorly on the employee. If anything it would indicate the employee has good taste and judgment. I say send thanks to the one who came up with idea, those who organized it, and those who paid for it, but I’m no expert.

    1. Jamie

      This may vary from company to company, but I will say that the ones who an events at my work would be thrilled to get a note from the wife.

      I’ve gotten sports tickets from work and my kids who enjoyed them wrote their own notes thanking my boss. That’s more a gift than party, but kind of the same principle?

      1. Victoria HR

        My husband and I got to attend a university football game in the owner of the company’s skybox, twice in 2 years. Catered and everything, for the management employees. You betcha I sent him a thank you!

  14. apopculturalist

    Re: #1

    While I realize the OP is looking at senior level positions, I had to laugh a little when seeing the “standard two-week vacation time” for full-time positions.

    In my first full-time job, I had no vacation time for my first year, just three personal days. In my second year, I had five days of vacation.

    I’ve since switched jobs, and I feel absolutely thrilled that I get 9 days of vacation my first year. It feels luxurious by comparison!

    1. Mike C.

      Frankly, I think it’s terrible that so many cut out standard benefits like that. Employees who are tired or sick aren’t very productive.

    2. Heather

      It makes me sad that we’ve been trained to see a week of vacation as luxurious. I can’t blame Europeans for thinking Americans are insane in that area.

  15. Mike C.

    Asking for GPA is an absolutely stupid requirement. I went to a school that hasn’t had a drop of grade inflation in 50 years and had only five 4.0 students out of their first 10,000 awarded degrees. Other schools hand out As and Bs like candy. Why treat them all under the same standard?

    It’s pure laziness.

    1. Anonymous

      I don’t think so. GPA can be very indicative of work-ethic. No one achieves a 4.0 without putting in extra effort. If I’m looking at the applications of two recent grads, and they are essentially the same, and one had a 4.0 and the other had a 2.4— you best believe I’m going with the 4.0…. unless the caliber of school is significantly different. Even then, though, I’m more inclined to go with the 4.0… I worked my ass off in college to get my GPA, so I know hard others worked (and how hard others did not…) to achieve it. Of course, I do not see a big difference between say a 3.5 and a 4.0, as I think this could be indicative of differences in school grading, course difficulty, etc.. however a huge difference definitely indicates something.

      For example, my husband and I went to college together, he partied, skipped class, etc. etc. and got around a 2.5 (I think he only got it this high because I made him go to class when we started dating, ha!). I studied my ass off and got almost a 4.0. To this day, I think I still have a stronger work ethic than him!!!!

      1. EJ

        I think the point was that there are many reasons people don’t get a 4.0, and it’s not always lack of work ethic.

        This sounds like a similar argument I’ve heard from wealthy friends, that ‘if everyone worked hard they’d be wealthy too”. It comes from a need to validate one’s own efforts as worthwhile and having paid off.

        But applying this to grades, it may cost you good candidates.

      2. Mike C.

        Yes, of course. The only reason one gets a 4.0 over a 2.4 is because of hard work. Not differences in colleges or majors or coursework choices, nor outside factors like having to work or raise children while going to school.

        My school had complex calculus and systems engineering (among others!) as general education requirements, did yours? Some of our GE courses had 30% failure rates, they were that difficult. Do you think that a whole 30% of the class was just lazy or partied too hard?

        Look, the 4.0 students I knew were the ones hotboxing their dorm rooms in between tutoring sessions for graduate level mathematics courses. Do they have a terrible work ethic as well? I had a room mate who would stay up all night playing computer games before a midterm and then ace it. Did he have terrible work ethic as well?

        1. Piper

          Agreed. GPA is a ridiculous indicator of work ethic. I didn’t end up with a 4.0 in undergrad. It was a good GPA, but not a 4.0. But you know what, I also had to work full-time to pay my rent plus I was doing internships and other activities, all while taking 18 credits per semester (6 classes). Sorry, but I think that says more about work ethic than a GPA.

      3. Cat

        Some people earned the 4.0 through hard work. Some earned it through grade inflation, which is a HUGE problem in higher ed, speaking as someone who works in higher ed. Some people work harder than others. And then there are those for whom college isn’t right – like my husband. He has a wonderful work ethic, a very strong sense of duty, and is praised for being a very valuable employee. But his GPA? He had a C average in college before he dropped out. He’s doing very well in his profession, better than I’m doing in mine. I received a near 4.0 when I graduated – I worked decently in my major classes, but the reason for the high GPA was mostly due to the fact that I transferred and the bulk of my classes were not included in my GPA. So really, it was somewhat unfair that I had a higher GPA, because I didn’t have as many classes counted against me.

        Point is, GPA is something that is so fluid it’s a bad idea to base a person’s ability to a do a job on. Even when applying to grad schools, who always have GPA requirements, many will look at the whole picture and be flexible about that requirement.

        1. FormerManager

          This. And I’m speaking from someone who had a straight 3.7 but only because I selected a major with only 1 math requirement (and that class was my only C in college). So you also have to look at a candidate’s degree program. Some are more rigorous than others like STEM courses.

          It’s sort of like in high school when you have all the students with high GPAs due to easy electives (I’m looking at you, Media Studies 101) and non-honors classes while someone who took the college level courses and honors classes could have a lower GPA (This always annoyed me.)

          1. Laura L

            Our honors and AP level classes were weighted when our GPA was calculated, which took care of that problem.

            So, in a regular class an A was worth 5.0, in an honors class it was worth 5.5, and in an AP class it was worth 6.0 (if I recall correctly-that seems high, but I’m not used to dealing with GPAs rated on a 5.0 scale anymore).

        2. Natalie

          “And then there are those for whom college isn’t right – like my husband.”

          Very true.

          My younger brother has always struggled with formal education for several reasons. Some of them are theoretically fixable, some are not, but the end result is that he has entered and dropped out of college 4 times.

          And what does he do for a living? He runs the business his father owns, for a fairly paltry wage and no benefits. He’s good at it and he enjoys it. Eventually it will probably officially transfer to his hands, and he will absolutely have earned it.

          1. Jamie

            This is such a huge issue for me and it weighs on me all the time.

            A couple of generations ago college was an option – even Andy was surprised when Opie said he wanted to go to college … it wasn’t mandatory.

            There are a lot of really bright and productive people out there for whom college isn’t a good fit. My son who has pervasive learning disabilities struggles with this and it kills me.

            1. Not So NewReader

              Right on, Jamie. A family member went to college. Not because he wanted to, but because dad said “You will go to college.” He got a degree in X. He was darn good at it, but because he was totally disconnected from the course work and the field, maybe he studied for the test or maybe not. He came out with a solid C average. He went on to work in field Y, totally unrelated. When that did not pan out he became a technician, which was his love/passion. He excelled. The sad part of this whole story is that he should have gone to a tech school so many years ago. College was doable for him on some level, but no way was it the right choice.

            2. Natalie

              Definitely. I probably couldn’t get him to admit this, but I suspect the only reason my younger brother has enrolled in college so many times is that he feels it’s expected. Everyone in his dad’s family went to college, even my grandmother (born in the 20, dad is an honest-to-god lumber baron, never expected to and never did have a job outside the home).

              I usually completely forget because he’s risen above it so well, but my brother actually dropped out of high school, too. He has a GED.

      4. LL

        Sure, a college GPA is indicative of *college* work ethic. But I haven’t seen a single published study that correlates college GPA with post-college work ethic. In fact, most studies suggest the opposite: college GPA is a poor predictor of job attainment or success!

        Mike makes a good point about grade inflation and GPA variability across schools. The standards for a 4.0 differ between Harvard and U of Nebraska, for example. And the standards for a Harvard 4.0 have changed dramatically between 1990 and today. (Yes, Harvard is guilty of grade inflation.) Here’s a troubling statistic – by 2008, ‘A’ was the most popular grade given in 4-year colleges. That’s right – ‘A’ is the new ‘C’.

      5. EngineerGirl

        I don’t think so. GPA can be very indicative of work-ethic. No one achieves a 4.0 without putting in extra effort.

        I know one woman who got a 4.0 GPA in geology by avoiding all the calculus classes. Do you really thing she really understands all those geophysics formulas? No.

    2. Natalie

      I went to a college that doesn’t give out grades – we got narrative evaluations from our professors. No one wants to read through a stack of multi-paragraph narratives.

      1. Not So NewReader

        Ha! Me, too! Business just does not work like that. No one has time to read 100 plus pages of evaluations. And the profs could not seem to grasp that.

      2. Rana

        I did too, but they also generated traditional transcripts for use outside of college. (Basically, we students got just the narrative evaluations, and had to petition if we wanted to see the letter grades associated with them, but there were letter grades on record.)

        I rather preferred – as a student, anyway – the narrative evaluations.

  16. Blinx

    I know #1 was regarding vacation time at a manufacturing company, but I’d like to know what is the norm for a large corporation? In my last job at Big Corporation I started with 2 weeks (but later learned I could have easily negotiated 3). After I was there some years, the policy was re-written, and offered every new employee, regardless of rank, 3 weeks! The reasoning was to be more attractive to candidates, as well as make true on their “work/life balance” philosophy. Those of us that had already “earned” 3 weeks by being there 5 years were given more days.

    1. Victoria Nonprofit

      My first job out of grad school had 2 weeks. Then, a few months later my boss (at our very small nonprofit) was trying to recruit a new admin and offered 3 weeks as an enticement to his top candidate. He made the mistake of telling me that, and immediately followed up by saying “oh, yeah, you have three weeks now too!”

    2. Anonymous

      I think larger corporations generally have the best benefits, from what I have seen.

      Of course, that depends on the actual business though. My husband works in the corporate part of the large bakery (think Wonder Bread, but a competitor) and they have some of the worst benefits I have every seen. This is largely because the majority of their employees are blue collar workers and are easily replaceable, so they don’t care about employee retention thus give crappy benefits.

    3. Jubilance

      My first job was at a large corporation who started giving 3 weeks vacation to new hires, to compensate for new hires not being eligible for the pension plan. My second job initially had 2 weeks vacation, then in my 2nd year they added a week to everyone’s vacation package. My new job has only 2 weeks :-( and less company holidays than either of my previous jobs & I’m so missing that extra week!

    1. Sasha

      Yep! I work for the state and our vacation hours earned increases with X number of months of state service. I was looking at my vacation balance the other day and was quite shocked, and thanked the universe. It’s definitely not like that at many, many places, including the last place I worked.

      1. Anonymous

        I worked at a CALL CENTER of all places and if you’re permanent you got 4 weeks of PTO upfront. No need to accrue. Scheduling time off was a PITA, though.
        I’m in higher ed now. I have 3 weeks time off, but every imaginable holiday off as well. Throw in the fact that it’s a Cathloic institution… we get Good Friday, Christmas Eve, the day after Christmas, The day before AND after Thanksgiving, New Year’s Eve… <3 my job!

    2. Lucky too

      At an international conference, I was once bragging to a girl from Denmark about the fact that once I put 5 years in I would get 24 days off a year. She looked at me like I was a poor waif, and said that was less than the minimum in her country but most employers gave far more to attract good employees. She then talked about how HARD it was to find vacation time with her boyfriend, since he only got 5 weeks off a year. I didn’t dare tell her my husband gets 10 days.

      Looking at this list is just depressing: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_statutory_minimum_employment_leave_by_country

  17. Anon

    #1 I worked in manufacturing for years. Typically, the vacation time is worse, because they offer the people in the office the same thing as the people in the plant, and the shifts in the plant NEED to be covered. I can’t think of any other job, not even retail or service, where there are such rigid staffing requirements.

  18. Jamie

    six paid holidays off (I currently get 10)

    I get 10 as well:
    New Year’s Day
    Good Friday
    Memorial Day
    July 4th
    Labor Day
    Thanksgiving
    Day after Thanksgiving
    Christmas Eve
    Christmas Day
    New Year’s Eve

    That seems about right to me, which four does this new company cut out? Just out of curiosity.

    1. Elizabeth

      We get:
      New Year’s Day
      Memorial Day
      July 4th
      Labor Day
      Thanksgiving
      Christmas

      These come out of our PTO balance, but the accrual rate is adjusted to include them.

      I took off the day after Thanksgiving, and I was on medical leave over the first week of July.

    2. Natalie

      Ouch, nothing between January 1st and the end of March?

      We get holidays for MLK and Presidents, although our office isn’t closed so it is functionally a floating holiday. A couple of people who’s spouses and kids are off work/school always take the official holiday, but I like working them. No one is here and I get so much more done.

    3. K

      We get days the federal government is closed (standard for D.C. offices):

      MLK Day
      President’s Day
      Inauguration Day (once every four years)
      Memorial Day
      July Fourth
      Labor Day
      Columbus Day
      Veterans Day
      Thanksgiving
      Christmas
      New Years

      We don’t get Christmas or New Year’s Eve, or the day after Thanksgiving; I could see an employer jettisoning Columbus Day and Veterans Day and the two Winter ones and getting down to six.

  19. Elizabeth West

    #1- poor benefits

    Whaaaa? My last employer was a manufacturer, and they had a 401K. I worked for a RESTAURANT that had 401K!

    Many companies only offer one week. A European chat friend once said that was “barbaric.” I’m inclined to agree with her, when you consider burnout issues. I had two weeks at my last job, and you got three after seven years. I thought that even with no sick time that was fantastic. Of course, I’m used to barely having any. :P

    #2 – flexible job

    Oaaaaaahhh I’m jealous! Being a receptionist for so long, my jobs have been really butt-in-chair. I would love to be able to leave before the traffic / dark / yucky weather. Or just work at home if I felt like it.

    #5 – stalling

    In the interview I just had, she told me it may take a couple of weeks before I hear anything more, and don’t freak out. I’m trying not to but I’m still freaking! But yes, I”m trying to take it at face value.

  20. Kou

    #1 – Over my last year of job huntnig, I think I only came across maybe 2-3 companies that offered more than 10 days vacation in the first 1-2/1-5 years. Luckily I ended up working for one that gives two weeks for the first year with great increases every year after that. Which I’m extremely grateful for, because 10 days vacation with family out of state means having to choose which group to visit at Christmas and getting like maaaybe a few days off outside that. Which is highly unpleasant and really, really impacts my overall quality of life. I’m happy I don’t have to tell grandparents “Sorry guys, not this year, maybe next year I can visit” anymore.

  21. Bob G

    #3 (getting reimbursed for travel to the company holiday party)

    I generally always agree with AAM’s answers but I don’t agree with #3. The OP says they were “invited” to attend (not required) so I don’t see why the company should have to reimburse them for their expenses to attend. I completely understand them reimbursing when you have to come to the main office for a business function but this sounds optional. I agree it makes career sense to attend but I think the OP should look at this as a career expense not a business expense that should be reimbursed. I know I’m probably in the minority on this so I’m curious what I’m missing that would make others feel this should be reimbursed.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      A lot of business things are optional, but the company still pays because they’re ultimately business expenses. For instance, attending an optional conference — you’re invited to go, but if you decide to, the company will pay your expenses. I think the social nature of the holiday party is tripping you and the OP up here, but it’s still business travel.

      1. Bob G

        A conference I understand because the company would anticipate there being a business benefit to paying for the employee to attend. The company party has benefits in team building and such but I don’t see it in the same light. Assuming the party is at a hotel they wouldn’t pay for travel for all employees to and from the hotel. They wouldn’t pay for your room if you decided to get one in the hotel rather than drive home that night so I still don’t see it.

        I think what is also getting me is that it almost sounds like this is the only employee that is working out of state. They don’t state that they work in a remote office (meaning other employees) but decided to move to another state. I think that is playing into my rationale for this as well. I can see where the company decided that the employee was worth maintaining and decided that they would absorb the travel expenses when they were required to be onsite for staff meetings but I don’t see the holiday party being quite the same. Also the word “invited” doesn’t mean “required”. A staff meeting would be a requirement so they should pay the expenses.

        Don’t get me wrong I think it is awesome if they do pay the OP’s expenses I just don’t think I would have even considered it being an option. I’d be really curious to see how the employer responds if they do request reimbursement.

        1. Lori

          The company I work for employs about 30 people, four of whom live out of state, and my company pays for them to fly out for our holiday party every year. The employees typically come a few days early and work out of our office, but their travel and hotel expenses are always covered.

          1. Bob G

            I figured AAM was correct, she always seems to be right on, so I probably am wrong in my thinking. I’m sure my personal experiences are clouding my judgement as well. I’ve never worked for an employer that would do this so it is just hard for me to imagine. I can also see if they work locally right before the party it could be justified as part of the normal required “staff meetings” and subsequent travel expenses.

            1. Blanziflor

              Even without the “work locally before” part, if it’s the sort of party the employees genuinely want to attend, dropping a thousand or so on airfare and hotel is not so expensive in terms of maintaining morale. Indeed, it could well do more for morale than the equivalent salary increase (which would be less than $1k, due to overhead). Even if someone didn’t want to attend, the fact that a genuine “come if you want and we’ll pay” offer was made would do wonders.

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