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. Help! I agreed to recommend two people for the same position

I work in a technical services department in a library. There are three sub-departments, each with a coordinator. The three coordinators are managed by a department head. Well, the department head job is currently vacant, and two of my coworkers (both coordinators) are applying for the job. One coordinator asked me to be a reference for her and I said yes. Then last week, another coordinator asked me and I said yes to him as well.

I was a little hesitant to say yes to the second guy, but I did anyway to avoid awkwardness. I took the easy way out. Of course after thinking about it, I realize I probably shouldn’t have said yes to the second guy. Did I do the wrong thing or should I ‘fess up to him and tell him it’s a conflict of interest? I know that the first coordinator would do a superior job to the second guy.

Well, there’s nothing inherently wrong with being a reference for two people applying for the same job. A reference doesn’t have to mean “this is the absolute best person for the job; there is no one better.” Rather, a good reference is one that speaks with nuance to the person’s experience and abilities — with enthusiasm and praise, of course, but still with detail and nuance. So it’s entirely conceivable that you could give two different references for these two coworkers — both positive, but describing different things. The idea is that you’d share your impressions, and the hiring manager would incorporate that info into her overall thinking about each.

However, if you don’t think that you could give an honest positive reference to the second guy, you shouldn’t agree to speak on his behalf. You could go back and say to him, “I realized that I’d already agreed to be a reference for someone else for this position and I don’t feel comfortable giving two.”

2. Employer asked if candidate would convert to Catholicism

The husband of a friend of mine recently interviewed for an IT position at a Catholic hospital that receives public funding. He was asked the question, “Would you be willing to convert to Catholicism?” as part of the hiring process. He answered affirmatively, but only because he thought his application might be discarded if he answered no. Is this a legal question to ask?

Religious organizations are allowed to discriminate in hiring on the basis of religion. But whether or not a Catholic hospital would qualify as a religious organization for the purposes of the law is something I wasn’t sure about, so I turned to employment lawyer Bryan Cavanaugh. He says: “It would be important to examine whether the hospital is truly religious-based. If the hospital is ‘Catholic in name only,’ the exception will not apply. The hospital’s purpose and character must be primarily religious. This would be determined by looking at its charter, its practical interactions with the Catholic Church, and by weighing other religious versus secular characteristics.”

(And here’s your regular reminder that the act of asking questions about religion, race, etc. isn’t illegal on its own. Making hiring decisions based on the answer is what’s illegal. Although it’s hard to see how this particular question wouldn’t be taken as evidence of intent to base a hiring decision around it.)

3. Professional reference for a spouse

I am in the process of starting up a technology company. Since I am not yet hiring folks for full-time pay (equity only) and I want to devote my time to writing code and my wife has a business background, she has been helping with the business end of things, including incorporation, equity structure, IRS registration, taxation, etc. for the past few months. She recently started applying for full-time jobs, and for one position I provided a professional reference based on the work she has done for my start-up. I kept the reference completely professional, focusing equally on her strengths and weaknesses. I do not have a problem being objective with this since I have about 8 years professional experience, a senior developer at a large technology firm, and do interviews for the company and mentor junior developers. How is this viewed by hiring managers?

Badly. Unprofessionally. You’re assumed to be biased where your spouse is concerned and as a result, you really can’t serve as a reasonable reference for her.  (And if you don’t disclose that you’re married and it comes out later, she’ll look deceptive.)

4. Did I ruin my chances to negotiate salary?

Quick question regarding salary negotiation. The position I will be interviewing for had a pretty large salary range ($36k – 45k). During the phone screening, I was asked what my minimum requirement for salary was. I was caught offguard and said $36k. As soon as I put that out there, I knew I just sold myself short and this number wasn’t going to be enough to make me want to leave my current job and start all over again some place new. Have I lost my chance to negotiate salary with this mistake?

Maybe, but maybe not. You can certainly say later, “After thinking it over, I realize that I’d need to earn at least X in order to leave my current job.” This would be harder to undo if you were unemployed, but you have the advantage of being able to use the wording above.

5. Did this hiring manager really mean that I should stay in touch?

I recently interviewed with a boutique law firm. Both rounds of interviews went incredibly well. I felt a real connection with many of the interviewers; many remarked on my excellent qualifications, and several were comfortable enough with me to laugh and joke around. But I didn’t get the job.

I followed up with a brief email to the hiring partner thanking him for the opportunity, expressing my continued interest in his firm, and requesting that he keep me in mind when the next opportunity arises. He wrote back (copying HR) and called my email “incredibly classy,” said “everyone really liked me,” he’ll “definitely keep me in mind” when they hire next, and that I should “please stay in touch.”

Is this just a nice way of saying “good luck with your job search”? Or does this mean that, if I follow up periodically, I could be in the running for the next opening?

Take it at face value. He likes you and will keep you in mind when they next hire. Feel free to stay in touch. Very few hiring managers say things like this when they don’t mean them, since that would be inviting a flood of unwanted contacted.

6. Blind job postings on Craigslist

I recently read an article that recommended staying away from blind job postings on Craigslist. I admit that I’m wary of them; I don’t like the idea of someone knowing a good bit about me, when I know absolutely nothing about them. On the other hand, I don’t want to miss out on legitimate opportunities when the company just doesn’t want to be swarmed with applicants doing clumsy and unwanted follow up calls and messages. What’s your take on blind ads in general, and Craigslist in particular?

Lots of them are scams, but some of them are for legitimate jobs. You can usually recognize the scams pretty quickly, so if you’re interested in the legitimate jobs there, there’s no reason to be scared of by the bad ones.

7. Update from the reader with the abusive boss

I had emailed you quite some time ago about resigning with an abusive boss (who had physically pushed me, among other things). Your advice was very helpful! Funnily enough, when I resigned, both my boss and her boss and her boss’s boss (wow, getting long) all acted completely shocked, and started telling me how important and valuable I was to the department, and if they could counter offer, and how much they didn’t want to lose me. I politely reiterated my need to move on for my career, and I mentioned to my boss’s boss the pushing incident. I don’t know how much weight it carried, because the general tone around the office was one of “oh, that’s just how ______ is!”

I was approached several times over my three week’s notice to ask, again, if I would consider staying. They even offered to move me internally to a different position in the same department! However, the money they were willing to offer was not near what I was offered for my new position, and they were not in a budgetary position to offer me more.

My new job is wonderful. I’m busy, but not overwhelmed. The emails stop at 5, and everyone seems to have balanced work and life very well. My skills are employed well, nobody belittles me, and certainly nobody pushes me!

That’s great. Congratulations!

{ 74 comments… read them below }

  1. Blinx*

    6. Google “Craig’s List job scams” to become familiar with some of the more common ones. Sometimes it gets tricky, when the scammer claims to represent a legitimate company.

    1. Hilary*

      Keep in mind that Craig’s List allows (wants!) readers to flag ads they think have problems. It takes LOTS of flags to remove an ad, so if you’re not sure, go ahead and flag. You can help take down some of the bad ads, and make it easier to find the good ones. Many readers do flag if ads don’t include company info and/or specific compensation. That’s perfectly allowed.

  2. Mimi*

    #7, Congrats on your new job and for getting out of there!! The fact that the pushing incident was viewed so cavalierly is affirmation that this isn’t a company you want to work for. Really, who shrugs off pushing??

    1. Sascha*

      Yeah, physically pushing someone around is likely to get you fired, sometimes on the spot, at most jobs. It should NOT be viewed as a quirk! We’re glad you’re out of there, OP!

    2. Kara*

      Right? “Oh, that’s just how he is” would get a response of “You mean irrationally violent?” from me. At the very least, the company should be concerned about covering its ass in a lawsuit, to say nothing of not tolerating a manager laying hands on his subordinates.

  3. Lynn*

    Why is it so common that employers treat their people badly, and then beg them not to leave, make counter-offers, etc? If the employee is so valuable, why treat them like poo? If they’re so disposable, why the begging and counter-offers?

    1. fposte*

      You could replace “employers” and “employees” with “significant others.” It’s just a way that a lot of people act in general.

    2. Rana*

      I think it’s that they take those employees for granted up to and until the point where it’s clear that the employee not only has other options, but better ones. Then there’s that sudden realization that they screwed up and are about to lose someone they can’t easily replace… but it’s not a realization that’s going to last if the employee is foolish enough to stick around.

  4. Jamie*

    #4 – I don’t think you hurt yourself irreparably because you mentioned you haven’t interviewed with them yet.

    Reasonable people understand that any numbers thrown out before an interview and learning the specifics of the job are just ballparks. There are a million reasons why, after you learn the details of the job, that you think this job is worth more.

    1. Dan*

      Absolutely. And salary “minimums” are just that — they’re not a promise to accept an offer at that pay rate. They’re just a number that says “if your final offer is below that, don’t waste your time.”

  5. Jamie*

    I kept the reference completely professional, focusing equally on her strengths and weaknesses. I do not have a problem being objective with this

    I don’t believe for one minute that a spouse could be objective. Having a bias doesn’t mean you see someone as being without flaws – it just means you lack a neutral point of view. I don’t see how anyone could have a neutral point of view of their spouse – not to mention spouses also benefit when the other gets a good job so there is that.

    I’m sure you think you are objective – but I just can’t see that ever being the case. If I give a reference for a former co-worker I’m only doing it if I can speak well of them. If I didn’t it’s no skin of my nose – I don’t live with them and my financial status doesn’t change depending on whether they are working or not.

    Also – just as an aside but you focused equally on her strengths and weaknesses during the reference? I wouldn’t be a reference for anyone unless their strengths far outweighed any weaknesses they have as it pertains to the job. Maybe it was just the wording – but if you gave equal time to both that’s generally not a sign of a great reference anyway.

    But I totally agree with Alison in that this is really unprofessional and can only hurt her chances.

  6. Jazzy Red*

    OP #7 – Congratulations!! And thanks for the follow-up. I’m happy for you that everything turned out so well.

  7. nyxalinth*

    #6 Seconded on AAM’s advice. there’s scams, but sometimes even legit companies hide who they are, because they don’t want phone calls and walk-ins.

    One scam I used to see quite a bit were legitimate looking postings where you would send in your resume, and get an email back from a person claiming to be from the company’s HR department. this ‘person’ would direct you to request your credit report through a link in the email, ostensibly for ‘proof of your identity’. Bullcrap. No legit employer would ever do that. I reported them to Craigslist. A couple of others I’ve seen take you to a job listing site, but the site makes you jump through those offer hoops to even access the jobs, or REQUIRE a cell phone number so they can rack up text messaging charges.

    The “fill out paid offers for the job listings” scam started happening right after the economy went to hell in a handbasket. I guess they realized it was a better way to prey on people than offering free iPads and Coach purses :P

    1. nyxalinth*

      Oh, and another one leads to a website that looks like a job listing site, but if you sing up there’s a question about you schooling and if you plan to go back to school, etc. I fell for it–once–and was hassled by people calling me for colleges in my area for ages

      1. East Side Tori*

        Ugh, that happened to me, too. I got called by the same technical college multiple times a day, everyday (even weekends) for months! I felt pretty dumb for falling for that one.

    2. Tasha*

      The same rules apply for detecting job scams as for detecting regular scams: don’t give money or private financial information to someone you don’t actually know, and if an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is. I’d be wary of a posting that mentions up-front fees. Aside from that, a job that has a salary drastically different from the norm for similar positions could be a red flag.

      Nyxalinth’s example is trickier, and I can see how someone might fall for that. Some employers offer support for job-related education, and some positions (especially at universities) are meant to bridge 1-3 year gaps between college and graduate school.

  8. VictoriaHR*

    Craigslist can be a valuable job posting tool for those of us employers with limited budgets. I use it, but I make sure to specify our company name in the ad, and the URL to the job posting where people can apply if they were to google our name and look up our job postings that way. If you’re unsure, don’t contact the person.

    Relatedly, I posted a post about my homemade soap business and get 5-10 emails every day, all with the same verbiage, trying to get me to click on a link to become romantically involved with someone. Quite frustrating.

    1. VictoriaHR*

      “the URL to the job posting IS THE SAME AS one that people can apply TO if they were to google our name and look up our job postings that way.”

      Need. More. Coffee.

    2. Jamie*

      We use it also – in fact I found my position here on Craigslist.

      We do use our company name, but back when I applied they were doing blind ads. Others in our industry use it as well – its cost effective and we’ve gotten good candidates from there.

      I don’t see anything wrong with having truncated contact info on a resume (email only) if responding to a blind ad. A reasonable employer will understand the precaution.

      1. AB*

        “I don’t see anything wrong with having truncated contact info on a resume (email only) if responding to a blind ad. A reasonable employer will understand the precaution.”

        That reminds me of a question I’ve been meaning to ask here: I see many omments from people saying they worry about their resumes getting in the wrong hands because of the personal information included.

        I wonder why do people put their addresses and phone numbers in resumes? I’m asking because I never do — my resume only includes an email address. If we get to the point of scheduling a phone interview, then I’ll provide a number to call. And 80% of the time I apply for a job, I get a reply back from a recruiter right away to schedule a call, so I don’t think they really care that the info isn’t in the resume.

        I just mention in the cover letter that I’m a local candidate, and never had any problem getting interviews that way. The explanation may be that I do have a lot of experience in an area with few qualified candidates, and was never unemployed (as discussed in another post, employed candidates have more leverage). But I wonder whether for other candidates it truly counts against them if they only provide an email address, or they are unnecessarily exposing contact information in their resume when this step could wait until after the company had expressed an interest by email?

    3. Legal Eagle*

      My fiance’s company uses blind posts on craiglist, to avoid being swamped by calls or drop-ins. Just be very careful!

    4. Angela S.*

      With the most recent job opening in my office, the ad was posted on Craiglist. Within a few days, we’ve got some 300 resumes.

      Just don’t apply for those 1-line job postings. But if everything looks legit, go ahead and apply!

  9. OP #5*

    Thanks for the helpful response! I’ll be sure to follow up with the hiring partner in the next few months and let you know what happens.

  10. BW*

    #2 – It will be interesting to see if he does get an offer if they will actually ask or even require him to convert as a condition of employment. It’s a position in IT, not ministry. I just find this question bizarre, but then I’ve never interviewed with a religiously affiliated workplace.

    1. Jamie*

      I find this question bizarre, too. The Church isn’t even requiring conversion for marriages anymore – so I’m actually shocked by this. Conversion to Catholicism is a very big deal. It requires official classes and sacraments and the main part of the deal is that you’re doing it sincerely and of your own volition out of personal faith.

      Stating that you were converting as a job requirement would get you dismissed pretty quickly from the program…and last I checked the Church still frowns on lying.

      I thought the legal advice was really interesting on this – about the difference between being a religious institution in name only or one in which it’s part of the character. I’ve been to Catholic hospitals where except for the name and the styling of the chapel were indistinguishable from any other hospital and I’ve been to one where I saw more nuns walking the halls than you’ll find in most parochial schools. I personally found it comforting, but if I weren’t Catholic I’d have opted for a secular experience.

      It’s interesting to me that the law differentiates the two.

      1. Sascha*

        It’s very interesting to me, too, as I have worked for two religiously affiliated organizations (the first was a non-profit serving churches, and the second a religious private university). At the non-profit, I don’t think anyone had to sign a statement or do anything official other than verbally state they were a member of an affiliated church – the idea was, if you were serving this particular demographic, they wanted you to be a part of its culture. At the university, there was never anything official, though it was strongly encouraged – so they would probably hire someone who was not part of the denomination without an issue. However these were both Protestant organizations and conversion tends to be a lot less formal.

        1. Rana*

          That was my experience working for colleges with religious affiliations, too. Some didn’t care at all what you thought or did on your own spare time, just that you were supportive of the school’s mission in your professional life. Others (which I didn’t apply for) expected faculty to conform to the standards of their church in their private life as well (things like drinking, for example, or sex out of wedlock) though even those didn’t outright require conversion (though it was strongly implied that candidates of that faith would be given priority over those who were not).

          1. Your Mileage May Vary*

            Others (which I didn’t apply for) expected faculty to conform to the standards of their church in their private life as well (things like drinking, for example, or sex out of wedlock)

            So, there’s a church that wants you to drink and have sex out of wedlock? Sign me up!!!

            (I knew what you meant. It just struck me funny the way you worded it.)

      2. KarenT*

        As a Catholic I have to say I’m not surprised by the question at all (not saying I agree with it).
        I have a few friends who work in the Catholic school board (some as teachers, a couple as admin support staff) and you not only have to be Catholic, but you have to have a priest verify you are an active member of your parish (attend church, etc.) and not just ‘technically’ Catholic. Of course, teaching is very different than IT. I also have a friend who works for Catholic child welfare (exactly like regular child welfare, except they try very hard to place the foster kids in Catholic homes) and she also had to be Catholic and she’s a marketing coordinator.

        1. Jamie*

          All of that makes perfect sense to me. I don’t have a problem with any religious organization stipulating that you need to be an active member of that faith to be employed there.

          What I found strange is that he was asked if he were willing to convert. If he were merely asked if he were Catholic I wouldn’t find that odd at all. But it goes against the tenets of the Church to convert for reasons not of faith. It just made it sound like was he willing to get a commercial drivers license or some other job requirement. :)

          1. KarenT*

            Fully agree with your argument! It’s just that in knowing some of these organizations, I’m just not that surprised.

          2. BW*

            That’s what I found strange too, the question about being willing to convert, not that they asked if he was Catholic. That question makes sense in the context of working for any institution connected with a particular church or religion.

            The conversion question was just…what? Jamie’s example about being willing to get a commercial drivers license is a good one. I had no idea how formal the Catholic Church is about converting to Catholicism, but the question came across to me like they were asking him if he’d be willing to work the early shift instead of the later one.

            1. Jamie*

              It’s actually weekly classes that start in September and end at Easter – so it’s a huge commitment.

              1. louise*

                wait, you get to quit being Catholic after Easter? I’m a Christian of the Episcopalian variety and I have to be one year round! ;)

                That really is an odd interview question…I wonder if it was a way to weed out people who were overly desperate? Like, if they’re willing to completely change their religion for this job, what else would they be willing to compromise? That really doesn’t make any sense either, though. Clearly another strange interviewer.

                1. Chinook*

                  Heck, you don’t even have to go to church to be called Catholic. Once we have sprinkled you with oil and water, there is no going back ;)

                  We don’t even take attendance anymore!

              2. Chinook*

                And Jamie is talking about the short version. In my diocese, you are expected to take a year or two for your classes (which take place once during the week AND during mass). This is not something that should be taken lightly and definitely not for the sake of a job. To join a religion formerly you should show it respect and, if you are uncertain about it, then you are showing it respect by not committing until you are.

                And yes, I believe the same with kids. I am a Sunday School teacher and have told the kids that, if they don’t want to be confirmed (last stage of conversion), I will stand behind their decision and help them talk to their parents. I think that means I am a rabble rouser?

          3. Laura L*

            It would also make me question how seriously he takes the faith, if he thinks people would be willing to convert for a job.

          4. Ask a Manager* Post author

            I wonder if the wording was actually something like, “To be honest with you, we generally prefer to hire Catholics. So unless you’re planning to convert… you’re not, are you?”

        2. Chinook*

          I see a school board as being different from the hospital, though, because you are focused on teaching children throughout the day, not just in class. And, in this job market, they can be picky about requirements. As for needing to have a priest verify, that would be because too many in the past would say yes but not have actually darkened the door of a church in years or even attempted to live the lifestyle.

      3. BW*

        I’ve had that experience. I did not find it comforting, but then the nun standing over my bed was in the full length black flowing robe with the full habit, not like the nuns I’d see around town with the blue or grey outfits with knee-length skirts that could be taken as conservative civilian dress except for the nun hats and the crucifixes. I’d never seen one of those in real life, and the angle was intimidating, and I was really frikkin sick. It wasn’t the best combination of circumstances. :D

        1. Elizabeth West*

          LOL!!! Attack of the penguin!

          I haven’t seen a full habit in years. Most nuns nowadays just wear regular clothes, and some will wear the wimple (the part that goes on their heads, with the little towel hanging down in back). Many don’t even do that. I believe some of the cloistered orders still wear the full habit, but obviously you won’t see them, because they remain secluded.

      4. twentymilehike*

        Conversion to Catholicism is a very big deal. It requires official classes and sacraments and the main part of the deal is that you’re doing it sincerely and of your own volition out of personal faith.

        Agree with this whole heartedly. As someone who’s been a part of multiple religions, I would have to have been seriously on the verge of conversion to even be able to give any sort of honest answer. Some people may not see choosing a religion as a much of a bigger deal than picking a favorite restaurant, but to many a religious affiliation is a defining part of our character. I’m at a point in my life where if someone asked me if I’d consider converting religions, I’d just look at them funny.

        OP, depending on what type of person your husband is regarding religion, I’d probably take that as a red flag.

      5. KellyK*

        Yeah, the idea that they asked if he’d be willing to convert for the job like that was *desirable* struck me as really odd too.

        I mean, if I personally were in charge of hiring at a religious organization, I’d see “willing to convert for the job” as a giant red flag, not a positive. Both because it implies that you don’t take faith seriously *at all* and because, wow, how desperate are you?

        And I’m not even Catholic, so I imagine it would be an even bigger negative for most Catholics. How big of a deal conversion is for Protestants varies wildly by denomination, but most churches will take you as a member based on a statement of faith, no classes required.

        1. Jamie*

          It’s funny – I was just thinking it’s kind of like when Danny and Gretchen Bonaduce got married on their first date. Who’s crazier? Him for proposing the idea or her for going along with it? It’s a draw, IMO.

          And I’ve just drawn a comparison between the institution I hold most holy and the weird Partridge kid who keeps getting arrested.

        2. fposte*

          Back in the day, my father was asked if he’d be interested in taking a significant legal position with a Latter Day Saints non-profit in Salt Lake City; conversion to Mormonism would have been a requirement for the job. (He really considered it, because he loved Salt Lake City and the agency.)

    2. Vicki*

      I didn’t like the question, but I liked the answer even less. “He answered affirmatively, but only because he thought his application might be discarded if he answered no.”

      It’s far better to answer honestly and cut the interview short now than to lie and be caught later.

      1. Your Mileage May Vary*

        Well, that’s not really fair. You can hardly expect that question to come up in an interview. I don’t blame him for not knowing what to say.

  11. BW*

    #7 – Congratulations on getting out of there! People really thought pushing an employee is okay? Because that is just the way the guy is? REALLY? Wow. *facepalm*

  12. Oxford Comma*

    #1 – Fellow librarian here. I have to do this frequently, although not for internal postings. I would treat each person you are serving as a reference for separately. You shouldn’t be asked to compare the two applicants, so don’t. If they do ask you to compare, say: I’m not comfortable with that. I would prefer to answer your questions about Applicant #1 first and then Applicant #2. It’s tough, but it’s doable. Unless of course you don’t think you can be a good reference for Applicant #2. If that’s the case, I’d back out.

    1. Anonymous*

      Thanks for the advice! I decided to go ahead with giving both a reference – only because there’s a tight deadline and I didn’t want to back out on #2 at the last minute.

  13. P.*

    Somewhat tangentially from #3, what DO you do if your only viable references would be familial? I know Alison has recommended asking someone in your organization who is not a family member to provide your reference, but I know at least one person who has worked for their in-laws’ company where there were only a few employees — all of whom were related to each other.

    Not exactly my cup of tea, but I’m still curious — is someone like that either required to stay in the family business or start from complete scratch, since their work and references would be considered biased? This can’t be ALL that uncommon.

    1. Jamie*

      I don’t think it’s all that common where a business was so small there isn’t one unrelated employee who could appropriately give a reference.

      You can also use other professional references – consultants with whom you’ve worked closely, vendors (if close relationship), customers…not ideal but better than family.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’d just explain the situation with an acknowledgement that they probably don’t want to talk to those people: “Well, it’s a family business, so everyone there who could speak to my work is family, and I realize those aren’t typical references (although you can certainly contact them if you’d like). Is there someone else I could put you in touch with, like a vendor who’s worked closely with me?”

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Yeah, I’d just use a vendor. I have one that agreed to be my reference. Although I don’t think anyone actually called him….Come to think of it, NONE of my references said they were called, even for NewJob! 0_0

    3. twentymilehike*

      what DO you do if your only viable references would be familial?

      Oh, this so reminds me of a situation my boss was in recently: She was going through some application process for something financial. They needed some company information and it could not be self-reported, and needed to be from the CFO. Well, she IS the CFO, so that didn’t work out. Well, so then they decide, okay it can come from your boss. Well, she OWNS the company, so that didn’t work out. I’m not really sure what they ended up doing … but it was a huge ordeal.

  14. Liz in the City*

    #7 SO glad you stood your ground and got out of there!!! I can’t believe how they treated you and didn’t deal with your old boss. It sounds like it was an abusive atmosphere (physically, emotionally). Sometimes, the only cure is completely removing yourself from the situation — and you got more money and less stress!

    #2 That’s very bizarre. A friend of mine worked for a church and at no time was she asked to convert / if she would join. In fact, they hired people several different faiths for their office staff (not religious staff, obvs.). I wonder if it’s the act of a rogue interviewer or hospital policy. And if this person does get the job and doesn’t convert, are they seriously going to be fired?

    1. BW*

      The only thing I could think of is that the interviewer purposely asked that question just to gauge his reaction. I have a hard time thinking they’d actually require him to convert to keep his job, especially given that the process is hardly simple.

  15. kv*

    For #3, I asked the original question. This actually wasn’t the only reference; there were three other folks that were listed first with me as a backup in case any of them didn’t respond in time (which has happened in the past). All of them were either leads or direct managers.

  16. Chriama*

    What a weird question! I can’t see what the value of a question like that, unless there’s some sort of third party they have to answer to that requires all their employees be Catholic (like a Board of Directors?). Thing is, converting to Catholicism means acknowledging a value system, code of morality, and several lifestyle choices. Doesn’t the very act of asking that question in the context of a job interview (where the implicit understanding is that it’s a condition for accepting the job), subvert the screening process? Someone who “converts” to Catholicism for a job isn’t really Catholic. A better question would be “would you be willing to follow the practices and conduct of Catholicism?”. Because that seems like what the interviewer really wants to know, right?

    In the context of a job, however, how would you recommend answering that question? My inclination would be to iterate the sentiment above. “Faith conversion is an intrinsically motivated action, and I don’t think I could honestly claim to convert to Catholicism. However, I am willing to adopt a code of behaviour and certain practices of Catholicism in order to represent this organization”.

    Do you think that statement would come across badly? I can see how it might, but in that case the organization is probably not one where you want to work.

    1. KellyK*

      Your answer sounds reasonable to me. Way better than the, “What? Seriously? No, I wouldn’t convert for a job–faith is *way* more serious to me than that!” that I’d be likely to blurt out.

  17. Elizabeth West*

    #6 – blind ads

    I applied to some of them too, and a lot WERE scams. The big tip-offs are 1) a salary that sounds too good to be true (like $25 an hour for a receptionist position); 2) broken English or lots of typos/misspellings; 3) an ad that says the same exact thing numerous other ads say (probably the same scammer).

    I got caught once or twice. So I developed a version of my resume that only had my email and cell phone number on it and that’s the one I sent. Sure, they could tell where I was by all the jobs being in the same city, but not where I lived.

    Every once in a while I ran across one that was really hard to suss out, so I would send an inquiry cover letter email, offering to send my resume. If I got something spam-ish back, I deleted and blocked. But a couple of times I actually got replies from employers, which then led to phone interviews. I know, don’t send inquiries. But if you post a blind ad on one of the spammiest websites of all time, can you really blame applicants for being tentative?

    I had fun flagging the scam ads that kept reappearing, too. :D

    #7 – abusive boss update

    Oh that’s great! I’m so glad you found something decent. Yay for getting away from that idiot. Congratulations!

  18. TL*

    #6: I regularly apply to Craigslist ads (both blind and identified), and so far, I’ve only applied to *maybe* 1-2 listings that had scammy-sounding responses (can’t remember now, since it’s been a while since I hit one), and there’s a possibility that my phone number was harvested from a Craigslist response, since I’ve had some spam text messages. (No real way to determine where those spammers got my #, though.) I have, however, had several genuine responses and interviews from Craigslist ads, and many of them were initially blind listings.

    I’m pretty picky when it comes to applying to Craigslist jobs, so maybe that’s part of it. But reading the Craigslist pages on avoiding scams, and doing a quick Google search, should help you avoid most of them. The obvious scams are obvious: MLM-type ads, anything that asks for too much personal info (or sends a response asking for too much personal info), anything that promises gobs of money, or anything with too many exclamation points and too little detail.

    Personally, I also avoid anything with an excessive number of typos, anything that offers a drastically higher wage than the norm without something to explain *why* it’s so much higher, and anything that’s too generic. I may be missing some genuine opportunities by avoiding the “too generic” ads, but they’re often the ones that also offer higher-than-normal going rates. They tend to look like they’re cut and pasted from an occupational handbook description, and offer zero personalised notes about the company or the job. You tend to develop a sixth sense about them.

    Also, if there’s a phone or fax # or an e-mail address, I Google it. If I get an e-mail response, I’ll Google the domain (i.e. “does this website exist, and is it linked to a real company?”).

    So I wouldn’t be too afraid of blind ads. Use your judgment, read up on the common scams, and don’t share too much personal info, and you shouldn’t run into trouble. :)

  19. Anonymous*

    OP # 6 here –
    Thanks for everyone’s comments on Craigslist and blind box ads. They made some decisions much easier.

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