short answer Sunday — 6 short answers to 6 short questions

It’s short answer Sunday — six short answers to six short questions. Here we go…

1. Negotiating maternity leave and salary at the same time

I am excited about a recent interview. However, if it results in a job offer, I am worried about asking for too much in negotiations. I am 7 months pregnant and will need to negotiate a maternity leave. I understand taking leave shortly after starting is not ideal and I hope to negotiate a short leave 3-4 weeks, then reduced hours for an additional 2-3 weeks. First, does this sound reasonable? Or should I have different expectations of what will be agreed to since I will only be at the position about 10 weeks?

Second, when we discussed salary, we were $15k apart. I based my asking salary on industry data, but it was national data and not region-specific. I feel that the salary they said they were planning for the position is still on the low side, even taking our geographic area into consideration. I would be comfortable (but not ideal) taking $10k less than my asking salary but don’t want to sell myself short. My main question is… can I negotiate a higher salary AND a maternity leave? I feel like I should only be asking for one. Is asking for too much a turn-off to an employer? I have had three professional jobs and have only negotiated salary.

No, you can do that. Maternity leave is really a separate thing from salary negotiations (and what you’re planning to ask for there is more than reasonable; they’ll probably be relieved you’re not asking for more).

2. Declining to extend an internship

I’ve been an intern at a nonprofit wildlife hospital since last June. I’ve loved the experience and my end date has been extended several times. Recently, I’ve been asked to stay another nine months and this time I don’t think I can accept, as I don’t feel as though I have anything more to learn and they’ve already made it clear they cannot afford to hire me as a member of their full-time staff. How do I go about declining the internship without offending anyone? We work in a very intimate environment where the lines between friendship and professionalism tend to blur, but I do need a good recommendation from them before I leave, thus I can’t afford to hurt anyone’s feelings with my answer.

Do not worry At All about this. It’s perfectly normal to leave jobs and decline offers to extend internships. They’re not going to be offended. You can simply say that you need to find full-time work, but that you’ve loved the experience and hope to stay in touch.

3. What did this interview question mean?

I have a question about a question I was asked in an interview. The position is for a mid-career, non-management position, and I would be hired as the most junior position on a team. During the first interview, they asked me about my “strategic management” style. I was floored because this position will not supervise others. I fumbled my way through a response where I talked about how I handle projects (and gave a specific example). I know my answer was adequate enough to not kick me out of the interviewing process, but I am unsure of what they were looking for. I am just anxious that the next round of interviews may ask similar questions. What kind of information do you think they were looking for?

I have no idea — that’s a bizarre question to ask anyone, let alone someone not managing people. (I really have no idea what “strategic management style” even means.) But if you ever get asked questions in the future that you’re not sure how to interpret, it’s totally fine to ask for clarification. Just say something like, “Could you tell me a little more about what you’re looking for there?”

4. Do the rules change when you’re headhunted?

I was headhunted by a firm two months ago. I told them politely that I was happy with my current job but thanks anyway. They’ve reached out again today, asking if I’d reconsider because they’re being very particular and are really interested in the background I have. They’ve piqued my interest a bit more this time, but I’ve never been headhunted before. In these kind of situations, is it ok to ask upfront about salary expectations and bring up that I’m currently on manager track at my current role and wouldn’t move unless this opportunity (which isn’t a manger role) had similar opportunities? I normally wouldn’t bring this up so early during a regular job search but seeing as they approached me, do the rules change?

Yep. It’s totally fine to say, “I’m interested in talking more, but I want to be up-front with you that I wouldn’t make a move unless the opportunity was really the right one. I don’t want to waste your time, so can I ask you about the salary range and the growth potential in the role?”

If they turn it around and ask you what salary you’d be looking for, you can say, “Since I’m not actively looking, I haven’t given that enough thought. But if you can give me a sense of your ballpark, I can tell you if it makes sense for us to keep talking.” They still might not, because some companies don’t, but that would be ridiculous since they’re pursuing you.

5. Asking to connect with an interviewer on LinkedIn

I’m curious what you think of candidates requesting to connect with HR managers on LinkedIn. I am the HR person for a small company and have been doing a lot of hiring recently thus I have been doing a TON of phone interviews with candidates. I find it awkward to phone interview someone and then receive a request to connect and I tend to ignore these requests, regardless of if I liked the candidate or not. If we hire them then, sure, I’ll connect but I tend to be more selective with who I connect with. What are your thoughts, both for the candidates sending them and the HR managers receiving them?

I think it’s fine for candidates to do, because some HR people and hiring managers are happy to connect with them. Others, however, aren’t — feeling that they don’t know them well enough. (I’m in the last category myself, and ignore connection requests from most candidates I interview.) So while I don’t think it’s inappropriate to request the connection, I think it’s fine for you to ignore it if you’d prefer to.

6. Employer said they were about to check my references and then disappeared

I applied for an out-of-state job and had a phone interview and a subsequent in-person interview. I sent a thank you e-mail the next day after the in-person interview and my interviewer quickly responded that it was great to meet me and they would be in contact soon. A few days later the interviewer emailed me to tell me they would be contacting my references the next day. Great news! I contacted all my references to tell them to expect a call.

But nothing happened! All my references contacted me saying they never heard from my interviewer. It’s now been about 3 weeks since they said they would contact my references and I haven’t heard a word. I tried sending an “update on your timeline” email, but again, no response. Even if they had run a credit, background, social media, etc. check, I would have been in the clear. What do you think could have happened? I understand not getting the job, but it just seems odd to say you’re going to contact references and not do so and then completely stop communicating.

Could be anything — they went with another candidate, the hiring process stalled for some reason, your interviewer quit or got fired, she’s been out sick, something higher priority came up … or something else. There’s no way to know. Your best move here is to mentally move on, and let it be a pleasant surprise if they resurface later.

{ 59 comments… read them below }

  1. G.

    #1 I wonder if this is your first baby? I’d take care before promising only a short leave. At least don’t promise it in writing. When I had a baby I was not even able to sit after 5 weeks of giving birth. It was a difficult birth. It would have been completely impossible to go to work where I would have had to sit (e.g., behind a computer).

    1. just laura

      Good point. Talk with your OB about this idea– there is a reason that six weeks is usually the minimum maternity leave!

    2. a

      +1. After first, I was in pain or extremely uncomfortable until 6 plus weeks put, and only started feeling human a few weeks later. I would request at least 6 weeks leave to ensure you are coming back at full strength, particularly since you will still be a relatively new employee upon your return. Considering you are interviewing very pregnant anyway, I doubt your employer will bat an eye at that request.

    3. Anonymous

      This. Plus, I think most day cares won’t accept infants younger than 6 weeks.

      Please, give yourself the option to take a slightly longer leave if you need to. It’s really easy to assume you’ll bounce back immediately from delivery, especially if you’re young, healthy, and have had a relatively easy pregnancy. If you end up with a Caesarian birth, you will be recovering from major abdominal surgery. The amount of time ones body takes to recover from giving birth (and I’m not even touching on the demands of a newborn) has nothing to do with how committed one is to their career.

      1. marbar

        OP #1, I know that unasked-for advice is odious, but…I strongly, strongly advise you to ask for 8 weeks off (at minimum). I mention that because that is the typical amount of time you’re on disability following a C-section (which you may end up needing even if your pregnancy has been a breeze thus far). I’m sure you’re concerned about scaring off a promising employer, but it’s better if you present the worst-case scenario up front. If you have an easy birth and are feeling great 4 weeks out, I doubt your employer will mind you telling them, “Hey, I’m ready to come back early if you have something for me to do!” Eight weeks is not unreasonable, especially if you think that you can start listening to some conference calls and doing other low-key work-related prep tasks before the end of your official leave.

        I say this as someone who had a terrific pregnancy through the first two trimesters…only to have everything fall apart in the third trimester to the point where a semi-emergent C-section and weeks in the NICU were involved. Now, I was pregnant with two babies, which is inherently high risk, so my situation is not necessarily applicable to yours…but my approach to baby-related stuff was to prepare for the worst-case scenario when possible and reasonable, and I ended up being very glad I did.

        (Of course, that advice is assuming that this is your first baby and you don’t have direct experience to go off of. If this is, say, your third baby and you always have relatively easy births and short recovery times, then ignore my advice — just don’t gloat too much about it, please. (: )

    4. Lore

      Also, the company may have a standard maternity leave policy. My company, for example, offers four weeks paid to either parent, and eight to ten weeks disability is standard depending on whether you have a C section. But you’d also need to make sure to clarify that all applicable benefits begin on your start date, and that there’s no coverage gaps between your old and new benefits.

    5. Laura

      Another thought…your company may have a policy where you would be required to present a doctor’s note stating that you are OK to return to work. Many doctors will not do this before the 6 week mark, or 8 weeks for a C-section.

    6. Anonymous

      +1. I had an emergency c-section with my first. I wasn’t even able to drive after 3 weeks. Also, be aware that most childcare providers won’t take care of a baby younger than 6 weeks.

  2. FiveNine

    My jaw is on the ground with the lengths of some of the internships I’ve seen in these questions. OP #2 has already been at this internship nine months, and they want to extend another nine months?!? I believe within just the past week there was another letter writer whose internship length took me by surprise, and that was much shorter — but still, a half year, unpaid. I’m not an old fogie, I’m also not completely out of sync with the new economy, but these are shocking to me. When I was interning in the late 1980s before graduating in the 1990s the internships tended to be paid (I know that’s not the norm now) and to last about three months (one summer). I know people agree to these conditions — but they’re desperate to get any foot in the door, and I don’t understand how this isn’t a bigger issue. It seems very wrong somehow. I know I’d have a real problem taking seriously any management that would have an intern on board for 18 months (!?), even if it is non-profit. Are there exposes? It seems like these corporations and businesses and nonprofits should be named.

    1. K

      To be fair, they might have been part-time during the school year, which isn’t crazy, I don’t think. Full-time is, though, I agree.

    2. Ask a Manager Post author

      #2’s internship could certainly be paid; it doesn’t say either way. If it’s paid, I don’t see an issue. (Frankly, I don’t see an issue even if it’s not since the OP can leave at any time, but certainly if it’s paid, who cares?)

      1. AA

        Hello! I’m the intern. Just to clarify there is a small monthly stipend involved and housing is included. I’m very lucky to have these accommodations and the opportunity has provided me with the chance to learn a great deal about wildlife rehabilitation. It has been full time hours (60+ hours during the busiest seasons, 45 during the slower ones.)

    3. RLS

      My internship was paid – I was required by my university to receive some type of minimum compensation and was not allowed to have an unpaid assignment. This is also partly because my official internship (I took another unofficially, not for credit, a summer prior) was 16 credits and the capstone of my program.

      Not all internships are unpaid! But I think it’s ridiculous that some are – part time, okay, sure, that can be unpaid or stipend. But over half-time or full time? There’s just no way!

    4. CoffeeLover

      Unpaid internships are basically non-existent in Canada (well in my region anyways). In fact the only unpaid internship I’ve ever heard of was to work for the American consulate. I didn’t even know they existed until I started reading AAM (let alone that they’re so common).

      I have to agree that I think the systematic level of unpaid internships is unfair. I can appreciate the fact that someone can get experience in their field from a company that can’t afford to hire them (vs. not getting any experience at all). Unfortunately, if the only way to get the experience they need is to do unpaid internships, and everyone they’re competing with in the job market has these internships, then people basically don’t have a choice. Besides, doesn’t that almost encourage companies to have unpaid internships rather than finding a way to budget for their interns?

      1. Esra

        They are definitely around in Toronto, especially in the graphic design industry. You get big Bay street firms advertising for unpaid design internships, it’s really bad.

        I secretly hope those ‘job’ postings get bombed with stealth links to shouldiworkforfree.com.

        1. CoffeeLover

          I like the graph! (especially the part about working for your mom :P)

          What’s weird to me about all of the justifications for unpaid internships is that there seems to places (re: where I live), where people get experience and the world works just fine with just paid internships.

          1. Esra

            Exactly, there is no reason 99% of the places I see can’t pay their interns. They aren’t charities, they’re large businesses and firms that should know better.

    5. Steve G

      I agree w/ 5’9. When I interned, it was part-time for 4 months. I opened the mail, dealt w/ some of it, covered the very busy switchboard, and wrote letters that someone else stamped their name on. By the end, I was already getting to the point where I was exhausting all available internship-type tasks. What was next – start infringing on paid-employees turf? If someone is at an internship for 8, 10, 15 months, whatever they are doing must be “real” work integral to the business, right?

    6. anon

      In our company, internships are generally a semester (5-6 months) and sometimes we ask exceptional interns to stay on for an additional semester if they are interested. I think the main benefit of this for them is that they get to see an entire calendar cycle in our company, which is very different from season to season. For example, everyone always wants to intern during the summer semester, but that’s actually the most slow and least interesting time for our company – I actually think those kids get a little bit shortchanged since we’re often sending them home early or just don’t have interesting projects that time of year. Anyway, for our company, there is definitely a benefit for staying for a year. Anything longer than a year, I agree, is just silly, and for exceptional interns, I try to help them find another internship or a job at that point.

  3. Jamie

    I’m familiar with strategic management style as a talking point.

    Basically it’s just a buzz word for your big picture management style, usually used in conjunction with its cousins “transactional” and “analytic.”

    Transactional being reactive and routine stuff, analytical being deciding empirical measurements, and strategic about big picture/taking it to the next level higher level thinking.

    At least that’s how it’s used when I get spoken to about needing to be more strategic and get out of my analytical comfort zone…and told that I don’t delegate transactional stuff enough. So yeah, I’m really familiar with this school of thought.

      1. PEBCAK

        Because you still need to know how people address the “big picture”. It’s not a good question, it would be better to get at this in some different ways, especially with some “tell me about a time…” questions, but plenty of people manage processes or projects without managing people.

      2. Yup

        Because people also use it to refer to the strategic management of the *organization.* For example, if your job is managing data analysis, then you’ll be doing data analysis in the context of the organization’s larger goals. So a possible answer for a data analysis manager position might be, “I have a collaborative strategic management style, so I’d need to work with the key people in marketing and engineering to develop a data analysis plan that incorporates the blah blah blah indicators that best yadda yadda yaddas with the company’s target of X% growth in Y sector.”

        It’s still a weird interview question for someone whose actual job isn’t strategic planning. I’d definitely ask clarifying questions to better understand how they’re using the term. They might really be asking, How do you think through the process of aligning the goals of your work with the overall goals of your group/devision/company.

      1. Jamie

        I do the IT thing, but the scope has crept to management outside of the realm of the keyboard.

        Transactional: routine stuff and day to day tasks. Delegate rote task.

        Analytical: using data to tell the story of what is now and projections.

        Strategic: what will be – big idea stuff. Changes, company growth and my role in that. Advances in tech, also.

        1. jesicka309

          It can refer to how you manage your own workloads too.

          I’ll use someone who is in public relations (yet doesn’t have direct reports)

          Transactional – putting out fires every day as they come along. To do list is based on what is most important ‘right now’. Maybe their publicity plans only go a month in advance? Should there be a huge scandal in the company (oh no, oil spill!), everything else gets dropped to deal with the huge crisis.

          Strategic – there is a plan in place for how things operate. The calendar is booked out or allocated month or years in advance. It’s been worked out with marketing and higher up executives to ensure that it’s always touting the company line and long term strategies. In the big oil spill emergency, they whip out their prepared crisis folder which has exact instructions of what to do (and keeps the company strategic line to a tee).

          I know this from uni though…it could be a nseaky way for the interviewer to see how you use the strategy training you get in courses in day to day – anyone in marketing/public relations *should* know exactly what strategic management is, and while many people have years of experience, if a company is really keen for someone strategically minded, they’ll definitely want to know.

        2. Laura

          I would add that “strategic” implies tying management activities with the organization’s Vision, Mission & Values. Also not sure why the interviewee would have been asked this question for a non-management role.

  4. AdAgencyChick

    #4 — yes, absolutely, say what your dealbreakers are up front! They are clearly very interested in you, whereas you’re not necessarily even interested in moving. So you have the upper hand — but I wouldn’t think of this as gamesmanship but rather as an honest conversation. Do you really want to take time off from a job you’re happy at for an unknown quantity, when you don’t even know whether the salary or the growth opportunities would be interesting at all? I think you can say that in a very polite, cordial, yet still firm way.

    I did this a couple of years ago when a headhunter called me, especially because he had tried to recruit me earlier for a position at that company and, although that earlier encounter didn’t pan out because the funding for the position disappeared, he had made some noise about my salary being considered “high” at the new firm. So I was very blunt (but nice) about it — “I’m making more now than I was then, and I’m pretty content where I am, so I wouldn’t want to move without a significant bump. So before we spend time on the interview process, is salary going to be a problem?” The recruiter said he valued my forthrightness (maybe he was just saying that, but he wasn’t offended) and that yes, they could offer something in the appropriate range. And they did, when the time came.

    1. Waiting Patiently

      “— yes, absolutely, say what your dealbreakers are up front!” …”Do you really want to take time off from a job you’re happy at for an unknown quantity, when you don’t even know whether the salary or the growth opportunities would be interesting at all? I think you can say that in a very polite, cordial, yet still firm way.”

      very true!

  5. Zed

    #2

    OP, you don’t say if the issue is that you need to be open to taking a paying job. If so, though, is it an option to stay until you’ve found paying work elsewhere? I mean, if it’s an unpaid internship where everyone is rather friendly, I imagine you could say, “I have really loved my experience here, but I also need to focus on obtaining full-time paid employment. I would be interested in extending this internship with the understanding that I will leave before the nine months is up if I am offered a paying position elsewhere. Would that be acceptable to you?”

    I do wonder about your assertion that you don’t have much else to learn, though. Might it be possible to talk to the hospital about altering your duties if you stay on for another nine months? Maybe you could work with another department, or do slightly more advanced work. If you don’t have much other experience in your field, it might be worth asking about this rather than declining the internship outright.

    Besides, even if you don’t have much to *learn*, it may still be valuable to you to have the line on your resume and the good reference. If you already have something lined up for after the internship, that’s a different story, but otherwise you may be going from having an internship and no job to having no internship and no job.

    1. AB

      But no internship and no job, with plenty of time to do research about potential employers, go to events where you can network and meet people from other companies, might be a better choice at this point.

  6. BookWorm

    #1 – All of the employers I had required a Doctor’s release before a woman could return to work after giving birth. If the company requires a release & your Doctors won’t/can’t release you to return to work – any negotiated maternity leave would be a moot point.

    1. doreen

      All of my employers ( even the non-government ones) required a release- however, the requirement was not for maternity leave, per se, but for any leave for medical reasons lasting more than a certain number of days.

        1. doreen

          Yes. I expect it was because all of them offered what seem to be relatively generous sick leave polices and therefore required medical documentation including a return-to-work date for absences exceeding a certain number of days. I can understand why they wouldn’t want to allow me to return to work if I present a doctor’s note saying I need to be out another two weeks.

      1. BookWorm

        My employers had the the same rule as Doreen’s – all employees had to provide a medical release if out from work for medical reasons more than a certain number of days.

        I had limited my post to maternity leave since that was OP#1’s situation.

        My employers were in the US; include government contractors, manufacturing, financial services, and hightech/retail.

        Two of the companies were in the Fortune 500.

  7. AnotherAlison

    #1 – I’m thinking a likely scenario is that they would delay your start date until post-maternity leave, which makes me wonder if they would pass you over (I hope not!). Be sure you’re prepared for that possibility.

    You don’t have an offer yet. It could take a couple weeks (or months) to get an offer, and a couple more weeks to give notice, set a start date. Rather than 10 weeks before your due date, it could be six weeks or less. I’m not so sure about having someone come in and train for 6 weeks, then be out for several weeks. Nevermind that my second baby was due 8/25 and showed up 8/7, so 10 weeks is a best guess anyway. (That threw my boss for a loop, heh heh, as I went into labor Friday night and we were starting mandatory Saturday OT the next day!)

    1. Jamie

      Well, that was because you clearly neglected to teach your baby time management in the womb!

      New moms to be now know to read AAM aloud aiming their voice in the direction of their growing abdomens. :)

  8. Waiting Patiently

    #3 Bizarre questions
    I want to add lengthy questions to this. I had one interview where the interviewers’ questions were so lengthy I’m sure I almost fell asleep. This was for a government agency so I’m assuming they have to read you every bit of the job description to only then ask “What skill set could you bring?” Embarrassingly, I didn’t catch what the ‘real question’ was until I asked him to clarify and interviewer #1 went on the long drawn out speech again, then interviewer #2 sort of interrupted him and got to the point.

    #6 happened to me a few years ago. I signed up to volunteer at a hospital and was called in for an interview. The recruiter gave me all the necessary paperwork …release and reference forms, required immunization forms, and etc. Not only did I have to get updated MMR shots (hate needles) after having to get a tither test done (did I mention I hate needles)–my references and I submitted all required info. I emailed the volunteer coordinator a few weeks later to see if she had gotten back all my stuff –she said the only things she hadn’t received were my references and immunization forms however she said she was in the process of switching offices so the stuff was likely on her other desk (her words). She then added if I should follow up the following week. Well I followed up and nothing. I moved on..Then a whole year goes by and I get an email asking if I was still interested in volunteering. I replied yes…then nothing again.

  9. Mike C.

    I hear something like “strategic management” and I reach for my buzzword bingo card. Having a science background I understand that certain places have a unique nomenclature that is useful, but this doesn’t seem to be the case.

  10. Rory Trotter

    Great post, Alison.

    Concerning the use of LinkedIn, I’m the sort of person that will connect with anyone I’ve recruited (rather an offer is extended or not). For other recruiters that’s not the case, however, and I understand the anxiety the manager feels here.

    I would just say that having talked with many candidates over the past year or so about just this issue, they often feel a great deal of anxiety about reaching out to make a connection request for exactly the reason you mention.

    It takes some courage to put yourself out there like that (particularly with LinkedIn still being new enough that people are working out proper etiquette).

    As such, when a candidate reaches out it’s always a minor post interview plus/bump in my mind.

    Thanks for sharing, and keep writing.

    Best,

    Rory

    1. Chaigrl (op)

      Interesting comment! I just find it awkward as I prefer to know people I’m connected with and doing a 15 minute phone interview does not equal knowing them in my mind.

      Funny thing, I have started looking to see if candidates are on LI and if I know anyone connected to them. The last 2 people I knew with a connection to on of our candidates, I emailed both of them and neither of them knew the candidate at all! I hope I’m not in that position.

      Amber

      1. Jean

        I recently had the same experience: Asked two people (both of whom I know personally) for an introduction to a third party to whom they were already connected, according to Linked In…only to have both people respond that sorry, LinkedIn sometimes gets confused, and in fact neither person knew this mythical third party! Oh well. In the meantime my application to XYZ organization (current employer of the third party) went into The Void of Cyberspace or whatever it is that absorbs Unnoticed Applications. I guess as long as human beings do the programming, we’ll occasionally get mysterious results.

        1. anon...

          There are times you might be connected to someoen through a group.. in that case, you might not know them personally. Or may be a 2nd or 3rd degree connection. Before you write off a candidate you should make sure of the type of connection.

  11. Greg

    #1:

    I agree with what others have already said, but having never gone through childbirth myself, I’ll steer clear of offering my opinions on medical issues and such. What I will say — and the OP should feel free to correct me if I’m wrong — is that I sensed from your email that you were offering 4 weeks of leave as a pre-emptive concession, almost as if you feel guilty about taking leave so early. Yes, it’s not ideal, and yes, there are still far too many companies that might hold it against you (or even find a way to turn you down on that basis), but you should be entitled to as much leave as you need, no matter how long you’ve been on the job.

    Look, I understand that women approach maternity leave from a variety of different perspectives. And if you’re willing to take a shorter leave because it’s not that important to you, or because you’ll go stir crazy being in the house alone, or because you have a great childcare situation lined up, or whatever, I’m certainly not going to judge you (though, as the Marissa Mayer case unfortunately showed, many people will). My point is, if you are willing to negotiate away a longer maternity leave, that’s your decision. I’m just worried that you’re doing it because you think that’s what your future employer wants. Don’t be afraid to ask for what YOU want, and let them make a counter-offer.

    And good luck!

    1. Joey

      I get what you’re saying but you’re looking at the ideal, not reality. Most employers are too apprehensive to negotiate maternity leave. I think most just expect a new hire to take less than the 8-12 weeks most covered employees take under fmla. I know it sucks but I’d also bet most feel a new hire should be doing her best to get back to work as quickly as possible.

        1. Anonymous

          Yeah, this is kind of getting lost in the discussion. The pregnant poster is actually entitled to exactly zero days of pregnancy leave under US law as a new employee.

          Further, FMLA was gutted for state employees in 2012, so they get nothing guaranteed at all.

          A decent human being would give her leave, but that is not the norm. Unfortunately, I would expect that she will have to continue her job search until well after she has recovered from the birth.

  12. Canuck

    For OP #1: Just a comment, that I still can’t believe that a 6-week maternity leave (or less!) is standard in the US. In Canada, its a full year, and most of that time comes with funding from the Government. Albeit, its not very much – its about 55% of your salary, but capped at $1,700 per month. But its still something!

    My wife and I have a young child, and I couldn’t have imagined her going back to work after just 6 weeks. I have the utmost respect for those parents that have to go back to work with an infant at home.

    1. Your Mileage May Vary

      I knew a lady that went back to work 3 days (yes, three DAYS) after giving birth. She managed a convenience store which meant she was on her feet for at least a 10 hour shift every day, sometimes 12 hours. But her job had no paid sick leave, let alone maternity leave, and she couldn’t afford to take time off. Her mother kept the baby for her while she was at work.

      1. Anonymous

        Same here. One of my girlfriends went back to work 2 weeks after a c-section, while her mom watched her baby. She managed a discount retail store and was on her feet 10 hours a day. I don’t know how she survived.

        It’s definitely not healthy. It’s why the US has such terrible health outcomes for babies and new mothers.

        1. Anonymous

          The US has terrible health outcomes relative to other countries? That’s not my understanding.

          1. KellyK

            The US ranks 50th in maternal mortality. So, right in the middle.

            Granted, that’s less bad than it looks, because there’s not tons of difference between the top 50 countries. The US has 9.1 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births, compared to Estonia with 2 or Singapore with 3, while countries at the bottom are in the 800-1100 per 100,000 range.

          2. Lils

            It depends on what statistic you’re looking at. US has relatively similar health outcomes on *some* measures to other “1st world” nations, but spends more than they do to get the same outcome–we get less bang for our buck. There is a 2000 WHO report that ranked us at 37th in the world based partly on this interaction between expenditures and outcomes, but it’s been criticized: http://on.wsj.com/2byRvn However, we know that on individual measures, like life expectancy and infant mortality, we fall behind other industrialized countries–see this graph of infant mortality in the US (0.67%) compared to other countries: http://wapo.st/13hzzaB Not all of this is attributable to the health-care system–violence and lifestyle and other factors play a part too.

            Parents in the US are at a huge disadvantage to their foreign peers when it comes to paid leave and parental support from the community…and that’s IF you’re lucky enough to be employed and educated and living in a fairly safe area. As was noted upthread, there are loads of jobs that don’t pay a living wage and give no leave at all, forcing parents to return to work immediately.

            Good luck, OP #1. I wish you the best in your negotiations. I hope you’ll let us know how it goes.

  13. Anonymous

    #3: I would have asked the interviewer to clarify what they meant by “strategic management.” Strategic management DOES mean something (google it), but since it doesn’t sound like it’s related to the job you’re being interviewed for, the interviewer probably read or heard the term somewhere, thought it sounded smart, and decided to ask about it without knowing what it meant, either. So asking them to explain what it means TO THEM would be the best way to figure out how to answer the question.

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