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 does this email from an interviewer mean?

What should I make of this email, which I received as a response to my own email: “Thank you for your mail. Happy to have met up with you and have placed you for consideration for a suitable vacancy that may arise. It is imperative that we have the right job that matches your experience and skill set.”

I had interviewed 45 days back for a mid-senior role. This is from the person who I met with; she heads consumer banking for south Asia for them. She had mentioned in the interview that they have multiple roles available.

It’s not especially direct, but I’d take it as meaning that you’re not currently under active consideration for the role you interviewed for, but that they might consider you for openings in the future. I’m interpreting it that way because she didn’t reference the job you talked about earlier, and instead referred to potential vacancies that apparently “may arise” but don’t currently exist.

2. Asking for more work

I love my job, best in the world. I work at the cinemas in my town, and in between movies, we have to find jobs to do. I usually have the problem of worrying before work about what I will do. If everyone else has found jobs to do, is it bad to ask my boss for what I should do? My boss is an amazing woman but sometimes the supervisors are a bit bossy.

Yes, if you’re supposed to find work to do in between movies and you’re not able to find any, ask your boss if there’s anything you should be working on. If it’s an ongoing issue, then you might address it as an on-going issue: “I’m not always able to find things to work on in between movies. Are there specific jobs you’d like me to regularly take on?”

3. Including travel on your resume

I plan to apply for a job titled “education abroad program specialist” at a local university. I have studied abroad in the countries that they indicate are their priority, and I have also completed my masters thesis in this area. Should I also include any personal travel that supports my continued interest in learning about these particular countries post-college?

Normally no, but given the nature of this particular job, sure. Include a travel section on your resume, or mention it in your cover letter.

4. Mentioning to a prospective employer that I’ve been laid off since our interview

I was laid off last week from company A. I was on a H1B (non-immigrant visa) and it is valid until 2014. I am getting an offer from company B soon. Company B does not know that I have been laid off because I was still employed during the interview. Now I have to transfer my H1B to company B. Company B will come to know that I am laid off during the transfer (when they ask for my latest pay stubs). Should I inform them or not prior to my H1B transfer? (I prefer not to, thinking it might adversely affect my job offer). How to proceed further?

I don’t have any expertise in visa issues, but if the core question is whether you should disclose up-front that you’ve been laid off since you interviewed with them, I don’t see any need to disclose it. As long as you didn’t mislead them or give them inaccurate information (such as saying on your resume or in your interview that you were currently employed when you actually weren’t — which isn’t the case here), you’re under no obligation to keep them informed of your every move.

However, I don’t know enough about the visa transfer process to know if it’ll be in some way relevant to them in that context. If your being currently unemployed will impact what they have to do to transfer the visa or make that more onerous, you should mention it once you get an offer.

5. Talking about your current salary when it includes housing

I’m currently working as a nanny but plan to begin looking for work in my field soon. I’ve heard from friends that I should expect to be asked about my previous salaries, and I’ve got some special circumstances which make that a rather difficult question to answer.

My current nanny position is live-in. I took a $2-3/hour pay cut in exchange for the (very nice, mostly private) housing for myself and my husband. When listing my current salary, do I list the amount I actually see on my paycheck (which is what shows up on my W-2s) or do I include the extra $2-3/hour?

Ideally you wouldn’t answer that question at all because it’s no one’s business but yours, and if you’re directly asked, you could explain that your current compensation includes housing for both you and your husband, which obviously makes it impossible to compare apples to apples when it comes to salary. However, if you’re asked on an online application form that makes it impossible to proceed without answering the question, I’d factor in the housing and explain later that that’s how you calculated it.

6. Jerky manager in possibly unsafe workspace

I work for the call center in a casino, and things seem to be getting worse and worse every week there, but I desperately need this job. I have brought up multiple concerns with my manager and have seen no difference or change over the last few weeks.

Our manager says some things that really bother me. If I have to change my schedule or ask to go home early because of my schooling (which I don’t do very often), he asks me what specifically it is that I need to do. It makes me uncomfortable that I have to tell him exactly which class it is, when it is, and where it is for him to comply with my school schedule. He will also do things like roll his eyes or sigh heavily if you ask anything from him, so none of us like to ask him questions. He will also say things that really offend some people. For instance, one woman had a sweater that he didn’t like, so he told her to “Just go out and buy a new one from Wal-Mart.” Or another woman had to take time off work for medical reasons, and after she came back, he told her, “Oh I cut your hours, because I thought you could use more time to lie on the couch and do nothing.” He doesn’t seem to have any sort of filter on what is appropriate to say to an employee. Many of us have gone to human resources about him, but nothing has been done about his behavior.

Also, I’ve tried to talk to my manager about our working conditions, but he laughed them off. Our call center is in an older portion of the building, and it’s disgusting. There’s an air filter that’s on the ceiling above some of our computers that is pitch black, covered in dust and who knows what else, and I really am terrified that it hasn’t been cleaned since the 90’s, at least. The walls are a soundproof carpet material and have black spots all over them, mostly around the air vent and they haven’t been cleaned in ages. The fire sprinklers are rusted over, there’s electrical outlets duct taped to the legs of tables, all of the computers have layers of dust on the inside and outside of them, the list goes on and on. Is there anything I can do about that? Or do I need to just deal with it and ignore the filth since I work in a casino?

I know this job isn’t a permanent thing for me, but it is for many of the people there. I don’t think it’s unfair to want a manager that has some people skills and a clean workplace, right?

There are two different issues here: your potentially hazardous working conditions, and the fact that your manager is a jerk. You’ve tried to address the jerkiness, both with him and by escalating it, and it doesn’t look like that’s going to change — so you need to decide whether it’s something you’re willing to put up with as part of this job or not. It’s not illegal to be a jerk or a bad manager, so it’s a question of whether you’re willing to deal with it or not.

However, on the working conditions, you could certainly look into whether they violate federal OSHA regulations on safe workplaces and alert OSHA if they don’t. (Dust probably isn’t a violation, but fire sprinklers that don’t work almost certainly are.)

Read an update to this letter here.

7. Applying with an employer after being rejected

After 3 long months of waiting, I was rejected for yet another job. I did send a thank-you note afterward. This was only a few weeks ago. I see that the job has been reposted. Can I ask about it? How would I do so? There’s also another job that I would like to apply to but don’t know if it’s even worth me doing so. Do you have any advice about this?

I’d focus more on the other job that you’re interested in, and not on the job that you were just rejected for. Employers generally keep jobs posted until they’re filled (which often includes reposting them on some sites, so that they don’t get old or expire). But if they rejected you, they rejected you, and they’re unlikely to reconsider you just a few weeks alter.

As for how to inquire about the new job, if you got to the interview stage for the first job, reach out to your contact and let them know that you’ve just applied for Job B and would love to be considered for it. If you hadn’t reached the interview stage for the first job, then just go ahead and apply for this one now, just like you normally would.

{ 23 comments… read them below }

  1. Lizabeth*

    #6 Don’t wait for OSHA on the hazardous work conditions – contact the local fire marshal for a surprise inspection. The rusted fire sprinklers and electrical outlets duct taped to table legs is definitely not up to code. Are there any up to date fire extinguishers around? When was the last time a fire drill was conducted? And look for another job – that place sounds like a fire trap and your life is worth more than that.

    1. Mike C.*

      Seriously, this. Just call them up at home, tell them your concerns and that’s all you have to do. No names, no records, no nothing.

      Look, as you well know, casinos are crowded places. Call them and avoid a possible disaster. It’s really that simple.

    2. Long Time Admin*

      The black spots are probably mold, too. As for the filthy air ducts, that’s how Legionaires Disease is spread.

      Your employer is breaking the law in several ways.

  2. Michael*

    #2: Maybe you should start an “Anytime List” of chores that need to get done during downtime. Post it in a central place so that your coworkers and bosses can also see it and add to it. That might reduce the number of times you need to go to your boss for an idea.

    1. COT*

      You could also use a whiteboard so everyone can write down to-dos that they notice but don’t have time to do themselves.

    1. Sam*

      #6: Look for a new job. Your employer isn’t going to change. And while a surprise OSHA inspection may lead to some improvements, it may also result in fines, layoffs, and site closings – all of which could potentially have a negative impact on you.

  3. Anonymous*

    #1 – wow, that is one terribly worded email. the person who wrote seems to be going a very tortured route to explain that you didn’t get the job, without ever actually saying it. i’ll never understand the thought process behind that – it it less painful to not get the job if no one ever actually comes right out and uses those words?

    1. Katie the Fed*

      It read like a non-native speaker wrote it, and considering where the job is, that makes sense. The indirectness is also a cultural aspect.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I kind of sensed that the person has English as a second language. My clue is in the word order.

      I would read it as “Thanks, we will hold on to your app. When we have that specific opening then we will contact you.”
      I am just guessing though….

  4. Katie the Fed*

    On #3, may I suggest you list it as “In-Country Experience” instead of just “travel.” That’s how I’ve seen it done in jobs that want you to have area familiarization.

  5. mel*

    Holy carp, if there is black mold on the wall that is a huge health issue. Even if you quit, I’m sure your coworkers would appreciate being able to breathe in their own workspace without developing serious respiratory problems! wow!

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Black mold is the first thing I thought of, too, OP.
      This is highly toxic. Please take care of yourself. No job is worth getting really sick.

  6. Dee*

    Regarding H1-B visas, from my understanding (I work in an h1-b dependent field), you can transfer your visa from one employer to another without your current employer knowing that you are transferring the visa.

    The company that you are transferring the visa TO, on the other hand, I am not that sure. I think you should mention it to your potential new employer now because I am pretty sure that you have 30 days max to find new work if your current position ends. The visa transfer has to start (meaning filing the paperwork) BEFORE day 30.

    1. Anonymous*

      Having just gone thru this with a laid off H1B employee… Our HR people told us that there is no grace period with an H1B- but that it’s a common misperception that there is. The H1B employee has to exit the US within 24 hrs of their last workday. Also, we were told that if the employee found a new job within her notice period with us and transferred the H1B to her next employer, then that new employer assumed the burden of paying for her plane ticket to her home country in the event they laid her off. That obligation to repatriate the laid off H1B older comes with the visa. And transferring the visa takes time.

      All that said, this was info from our HR dept. I think the best advice our particular H1B holder got was to consult with an immigration attorney. I’d suggest the LW do the same, and fast.

      1. Adele*

        I’ve done H1B visa transfer myself. The above comments are right. Your visa is not valid until 2014 – it is specifically tied to your current employer, and once that employment relationship ends, you’re out of status (there is no grace period). Consult with an immigration lawyer immediately as you really need to move this process very quickly. It takes longer than you think and it’s tricky as you’re technically out of status. Your new employer may need to be alerted as they may not realize how urgent this is – I would consult with an immigration lawyer to discuss all these issues.

  7. Cassie*

    #4: I’ve dealt with an H-1B visa for a person who was employed with another company and was going to join our institution. We were told he had to stay employed with the other company until his filing for change of employer (COE) was submitted. The application didn’t have to be approved yet – but it did need to be filed.

    I did a quick search on Google and saw that if a company lays off an H-1B employer, they are supposed to initiate for the H-1B visa to be revoked. The revocation process isn’t instantaneous, though.

    I think it’s best to ask an immigration lawyer about all the nitty gritty stuff. I don’t think it would negatively affect the anticipated job offer by Company B, though – it’s a lay-off and not a firing. (I mean, it could, but if Company B is interested in the OP enough to sponsor an H-1B visa for him/her, presumably Company B wouldn’t then reject him/her because of a lay-off?).

    1. AR*

      Yes, this is correct. I work on a lot of the HR paperwork for our (small) office which has a high number of people on H-1B visas. There is NO grace period for H-1Bs. That means that the day your sponsoring employer laid you off, your visa was out of status. This takes effect whenever your sponsoring employer contacts USCIS. If it was the same day (technically correct but rarely done), you’re already out of status. If they are slow in contacting USCIS, it may give you a little extra time.

      Because of the lack of grace period, many companies will often provide notice of termination to an H-1B visa holder, with the actual termination date extended out by a few weeks; basically, we give them paid leave for a bit to look for a job. Were you offered anything like this?

      Also note that if you were laid off, your sponsoring employer is required by law to offer you a plane ticket to your home country, or airfare to cover a plane ticket (with the idea being that if they will no longer sponsor your visa, they need to help you leave the country so you’re not here illegally). If they didn’t offer this to you, I would reach out to them or contact an immigration attorney.

      All that said, it is probably a good idea to let Company B know that you were laid off and are currently out of H-1B status. Being laid off is different than being fired and will (generally) not reflect poorly on you. Letting them know, however, may help them speed up their process so you can be back in compliant visa status.

      In the meantime, while you’re out of status, I would apply for a tourist visa; it will buy you 30 days in the country to work on getting your H-1B reestablished. Good luck!

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