what relocation help can I expect, explaining a tiny raise, and more

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

1. What relocation expenses do companies typically pay?

I have a question about relocating for a job. What is customary for the employer to offer when an offer is made? I’ve had 3 phone interviews with a large, publically traded company, and now they want to meet me in person. We’ve confirmed the date and I’m just waiting for travel details. My question is, should I bring my husband with me (my expense), to check out the city? I’m worried that if they offer me the job, I can’t really accept until my husband and I check out the city. My interview is on a Monday, so I thought we’d fly there on Saturday and spend the weekend, then have my interview on Monday (while my husband contines to scope out the city).

A few friends have told me that if they make me an offer, the company should fly us both back to the city to check things out. But I think that’s a pretty big expense for someone who hasn’t even accepted an offer. Also, if I accept the offer, would they then pay my travel expenses trying to find a new place to live? I’m pretty confident they’d pay to relocate me (movers, etc.) but I’m wondering about travel expenses for a weekend while we try to find a place to live? I’m feeling pretty overwhelmed at the thought of relocating and all of these little details (like who pays for what) are making me dizzy. Anything you or your readers can clue me in on would be very much appreciated.

It varies widely by company. Some won’t offer relocation at all, some will offer a relative small amount, and some will offer amounts all the way up to “substantial,” including flying you and your spouse out to look at neighborhoods and housing. Sometimes it also varies by how senior the job is.

If you’re in touch with an HR person there, you could certainly ask them about their relocation policy (not detailed questions at this stage — just for basic info on it); that may or may not tell you what you want to know. But absent definite information on this, I’d say that if you can afford to bring your husband out with you now, do it, because there’s no guarantee that the company will pay for that if they do make you an offer.

2. How to tell my team that their raises will be tiny, despite their hard work

I manage a team of 12 IT staff. Over the last year, we were responsible for an extremely large project working long and hard hours. The cost savings to the company was supposed to be in the millions. We sang the typical tune, as instructed by HR, to demand everyone to work more efficiently and put staff on performance plans if they only met the status quo . Well, now it’s time for pay raises and was told I am being given $5,000 to split between the 12 staff. This is completely demoralizing. How do I communicate this when doing performance reviews?

(I can’t really push back on it because the “pot” is final. I’ve tried to ask HR for guidance on how to communicate this. Some staff already see through this that working harder to get a better rating has no bearing on salary raises.)

I wouldn’t try to shield your staff from the knowledge that they’re working for a company that will work them to the bone and not reward them. That’s information they need to have in order to properly manage their careers — which for many of them will hopefully mean going to a company that values them and shows it. (That’s not a reflection on you as a manager — it’s a reflection on your company.)

I hope you’ll tell someone in a position to do something about it what the impact will be on your ability to motivate and retain your team in the future.

3. Does an employer need to pay you for time spent waiting to start work?

My son works for a service company as a tech assistant or helper. He is required to arrive at the office at 7 am. There may be a several hour delay before a “job” starts. Is it legal for the employer not to pay him an hourly rate during this time when he must stay on site?

Nope. If he’s required to be at work, they’re required to pay him for it. (Assuming he’s non-exempt, of course. If he’s exempt, he’s getting the same salary regardless of how many hours he’s there.)

4. Writing a cover letter when a job has 25 requirements and qualifications

I’m applying for a position as an academic librarian. I think I am well-qualified for the position in many ways and I really want this specific job, but I’m stymied over what to put in my cover letter.There are at least 25 separate things between the job responsibilities and required and preferred qualifications. I have read that a cover letter should use that language of the job ad and speak to these duties and qualifications, but at the same time not restate what’s on a resume, and that I shouldn’t just try to say everything I’ve done. So I don’t know what to do. Do I use bullet points and describe an accomplishment for each and every job responsibility and qualification? Pick a few that I think I have an especially good story for and write that? I’m not worried about writing a two-page letter. I sometimes think that the advice for one-page cover letters is for people with little background or experience, which is not me. Still, I don’t want to cut myself out of competition by trying to address each and every item? Or maybe I should do that. What do you think?

Well, first, please stick to one page. I’m a huge fan of cover letters, but even I don’t want to read more than one page, in all but the rarest circumstances. It’s absolutely not true that simply having more experience means you can write two pages. You risk it not being read at all.

Anyway, you don’t need to address every requirement in your cover letter, and sticking to that formula will produce an awful letter anyway. Just talk about why you’d be good at that job.

5. How can I assure employers that my freelance work won’t interfere with a full-time job?

I have a question about side/part time jobs. I have been out of school for 2 years, and I have been trying to land my first full-time permanent position. I have had 3 contract positions with great companies since that time. Last year, a family friend asked me to do some freelance work for them. I took the work because I was in between positions. It has since turned into a couple of clients and a regular paying situation that I do in addition to searching for a full-time job.

When I am interviewing, how do I highlight/present the work I have done without sending messages like this would come first over a full-time position or making potential employers feel like I couldn’t handle both? I am proud of the work that I do and the fact that I was able to create work for myself in a tough economy, but I don’t want employers to view me as already employed. I haven’t found the right balance when interviewing. Right now I work on it roughly 30 hours a week because I have the time, but I could cut it down to 10 hours and just do nights and weekends if the right job presented itself (and I would stop it altogether if I had to for a long-term position where I thought I could stay and grow).

Many employers will simply assume that you’ll stop the side work if you get a full-time position. Those that aren’t assuming it will ask you, and at that point, you can explain that you plan to cut back to a manageable X hours when you get a full-time job, or that you can end it altogether if necessary for the position.

6. Using a local address that isn’t really yours when applying long-distance

I have a question about trying to relocate and finding a job in the new area before the move. Currently, I am attempting to move across the country (to be closer to family, friends, and boyfriend) but I am trying to ensure I have a job before I move. I haven’t had a lot of luck so far, just a few nibbles, and I was wondering your opinion of some old advice I remember — put the address of a friend in the area you want to make yourself seem more local. This seems dishonest to me, but I was wondering your take. I am planning to move as soon as I have an accepted job offer and I don’t need relocation assistance.

Yes, do it. Many out-of-town candidates use the local address of family or friends who live in the area. But be prepared to explain when you’re called and invited to come in for an interview “tomorrow.”

Job searching long-distance can be hard to impossible in this market, so you want to do whatever you can to minimize that disadvantage.

{ 95 comments… read them below }

  1. Esra*

    I used to work on a web team for a (very) large company. There were no raises, ever, and the bonuses were insultingly small. Like much smaller than the < $500 OP #2 has per person for raises. We were very profitable, but it didn't matter, the money was all funneled elsewhere.

    I guess you could make one high-performer moderately happy, and give the others very tiny raises. No matter how this plays out, you're going to be looking at losing people.

  2. Anonymous*

    #2. HR may have instructed you how to motivate the team, but Management told HR what needed to be done. Management, of course, also decided how much money would be in the
    “pot.” Sometimes you can blame individual workers for bad acts, but Management must be blamed for demoralizing policies.

    1. Josh S*

      We sang the typical tune, as instructed by HR, to demand everyone to work more efficiently and put staff on performance plans if they only met the status quo .

      It also seems kind of crappy that people go on PIPs for maintaining the status quo. I mean, I get that people are expected to get better over time/take on more responsibility, etc. But to say, “Well, the effort and time you put in last year was great, but because you only put in the same effort and time this year, we’re putting you on a performance plan. You really ought to work more from year to year if you expect to keep your job.”

      That’s crap. Set a high (but achievable) bar for performance and expect people to meet it, then once they do, help them grow beyond their comfort zone again by adding responsibilities. But let them achieve. If you set the bar so high it’s nigh-on-impossible to reach, people come close to meeting it, and your response is to raise the bar even higher to keep it out of reach, well, that’s just crappy.

      1. Ruffingit*

        +1. When I read that part of the letter, I thought to myself that nearly everyone on that team is going to jump ship as soon as they hear about the (lack of) raises. And I can’t blame them. They get almost no reward for what was apparently a colossal effort and yet, they are obligated to work beyond what they are paid to do (that is, more than the status quo)? No way.

      2. Vicki*

        Agreed. The part about “put staff on performance plans if they only met the status quo”, especially in light of the recent letter about PIPs really annoyed me.

        1. HarryV*

          OP for #2 here. Attended a wedding today so didn’t get to read the responses.

          Totally agree. It’s frustrating enough that you have to send this type of message that status quo isn’t enough. It actually is sufficient and a rating that is normally AVG is suddenly insufficient. At one point, you would understand that the company wants everyone to ‘step it up’ per se. However, if you are not given the ability to reward those who do, then the whole point is moot. As a manager, your preaching is hollow.

          1. Mike C.*

            At the heart of your question, you asked “What can I do?”

            Here’s what you can do – serve as a willing and great reference to your employees as they leave the company. Cut them slack when they have that “emergency doctor’s appointment” or they happen to show up to work a little more dressed up than before.

            And when your bosses want an explanation for all the turnover, you can tell them that they all left for places that would be willing to treat them with respect.

          2. Josh S*

            Well, to be fair, there *are* times where the status quo isn’t enough–but that’s when you’re coming into a situation where the bar hasn’t been set high before, and you’re raising expectations. And it should include a series of conversations along the lines of, “I know that up til now, doing A and B has been ‘enough,’ but going forward the expectation is to do A, B, and C. This is a change. But in order for our group to do well for the company, that’s the goal and the standard I’m holding each of you to. I’ll do my best to make that possible, and I’d like your commitment to meet that standard as well. I know you’re capable. Now go do it.”

            But absent a lack of performance already, such a move shouldn’t happen.

          3. JM in England*

            Agreed HarryV……….in England, we call it “moving the goalposts” and it causes no end of resentment and frustration!

    2. HarryV*

      OP here. There is a complete disconnect from sr management (who is on another continent) vs. what happens on the ground. Very frustrating.

    3. Lisa*

      #2 – What exactly are you supposed to say to these people? If your honest, then it bites you in the a– with management cause you sound like a complainer and not one of them. If you lie, your team won’t trust you, either way you end up with your entire team looking for jobs and suddenly everyone is concerned with their dental hygiene and will be a little late on monday, tuesday, and thursday for the foreseeable future.

  3. Malissa*

    #6 Having just successfully landed a job 1,400 from where I currently live I can offer a couple of tips.
    First is to be explicit in the fact that you will relocate yourself. Put it in your cover letter that you expect to cover all of your relocation and interview expenses. Also include that you have family in the area and that’s why you are looking there. —Having this in my cover letter upped my phone screen rate by at least 50%.
    Second is to have the money in the bank so that you can by that last minute ticket to make it to an interview on short notice.
    Third keep all receipts for interview travel expenses and later for the moving expenses. A good portion of them will be tax deductible.

    1. Legal Eagle*

      I agree with explicitly stating that your family is in the area. I always referenced my “large and local” family in my cover letters. Just one sentence was enough for the cover letter, and I would mix in references to my family in the interview.

      Them: How was your trip here?
      Me: Great! I came in last night and spent the night with some family that I hadn’t seen in a while.

      Them: Do you think you’d like to live in City X?
      Me: Yes. After this interviewing I’m having dinner with my uncle and his wife. I hardly ever get to see them. Family is one of the reasons why I am relocating here.

      Yada, yada.

    2. patchinko*

      good advice here! i feel weird about using a local address, it feels like lying just to get through the screening process.

      i also mention that i am moving to be closer to my family (and that i grew up in the area if it’s true – i am looking in a few different places within a radius of my parents and in-laws). i get tons and tons of interviews this way – still no job, but at least i know i’m getting through the first part of the process!

      1. Coco*

        If you feel weird about using a local address, ask your friend/family in the area “if I got job in this area, could I stay with you for a month or so until I get a few paychecks under my belt?”

        If they say yes, then you can use their address without guilt since you would be technically staying with them. At least, that would be your tentative plan at the time you apply for the job. That way, it’s not lying.

        1. Dang*

          Yup. I started referring to being in the process of moving back to my hometown in the cover letter and got nothing until I started putting down a local address on my résumé.

          I’d tried to avoid doing this because I had a bad experience once when an employer acted put off when I told her that I was to living in (state) yet, even though I had written my relocation intentions in the cover letter and written “future address” on my résumé. Now I realize this was anomaly. All other long distance interviews I’ve had have asked me what my timeline was for relocating and it hasn’t been an issue.

          1. Carrie in Scotland*

            What if you wanted to move but NOT because it was nearer friends/family? What would you say then? (I ask because that is what situation I will be in next year – my partner & I want to move to a bigger and better city).

            1. Marmite*

              I recently applied to a job in Edinburgh and I’m currently in the Southerly half of England. I wanted the job, specifically, but am also ready for a move. I didn’t include an address in my cover letter or CV and got a phone interview, during that I was asked where I lived and told the interviewers truthfully where I am now and that I would be happy to move. I got through to the next round of interviews and at that stage was asked questions about my ability to re-locate, whether I thought I would like Edinburgh, whether I had any friends/family in the area and so on.

              I’ve applied and interviewed for several other jobs that would involve a relocation and most have asked questions about my willingness to move during the interview process. So, I’d say be ready and able to answer those questions with whatever works for you. I haven’t found that it needs to be addressed in the cover letter. I think this is somewhat different than it would be in the US as, assuming you’re staying in Britain, the distances are much smaller. You’re not going to be moving 3,000 miles away!

              One other thing; I’ve learned to ask whether I am really in the running for a job before traveling long distance for interviews. Particularly if it’s assessment day style interviews where there can be a lot of candidates invited. If the answer is, “Well, we like your CV but you are missing x qualification and we’re interviewing 100 candidates at the assessment days and hiring for one position.” then I may chose not to spend a lot of money on trains/hotels/food etc. to attend, unless it’s a job I REALLY want.

              1. Carrie in Scotland*

                Ha! I am also looking to move to Edinburgh – it’s been keeping me sane for the past few years…hopefully by then my flat will be sellable and I will have been in my current job for 18 months by then – I am only a few hrs away from Edin so I could do it in a (long but not impossible) day. Thanks for the advice :-)

            2. Kate in Scotland*

              I wouldn’t be too worried, Edinburgh people do have the assumption that everybody in Scotland must automatically want to move to Edinburgh! (I work in Edinburgh, it’s fab. But people tend to look at me strangely because I don’t live in the city but ‘so far away’ in Fife. Even though my 25 min train commute is shorter that most of their buses .)

              1. Kate in Scotland*

                PS I don’t remember what sector you’re in, but feel free to link to me through the AAM LinkedIn group if you want to see whether any of my Edinburgh contacts would be of use to you.

                1. Carrie in Scotland*

                  It’s been a whi e.since I have seen you comment (mind you, I tend to read.& not comment myself!) Kate in Scotland. I don’t have linkedin…yet as up until this.job there wasnt much point and even still, I am currently an admin assistant. But thank you, Kate, and Marmite too for your help. I will join soon – & then join the AAM group as well :-)

      2. The Snarky B*

        If you’re getting tons and tons of interviews, OP, maybe it’s a non-issue. It was my understanding that the local address gets you past the screening point – but it doesn’t sound like that’s been a problem.

    3. RLS*

      Thank you so much! I have been trying to relocate to California. I have had a couple of nibbles and one interview. I will definitely try this…however, what would you suggest if the reason you’re moving really isn’t family? For example, I want to live there because, quite honestly, I love the state, and I want to (eventually, after a few years) continue studying and researching there. Plus I work in an industry that is very prevalent there (not showbiz!), and want to work my way up there.

      1. Meg*

        You could say that, exactly.

        When I started looking for work in the DC area, it was primarily because there are a million and one job opportunities for my field (I was getting on average between 15-20 recruiters and employers contacting me for interviews without me even submitting a resume or cover letter most of the time – I did have my resume up on a prominent job board though).

        I have no family in the area, though I did use my best friend’s address (with whom I am living until next weekend, actually). The city was “local” enough though. It’s only about 110, 120 miles from where I was living at previously.

        If you’ve got a place to stay while you’re working, not commuting 2+ hours, and already know for sure that’s where you want to be, then an employer is going to be more comfortable hiring you since you’re not going to jump ship and go back after 6 months.

      2. Malissa*

        What Meg said. Plus if you are looking at southern California you could state your desire to be a warmer climate as well.

        1. RLS*

          Thanks a ton for both of your replies! Many think I am naive to want to move there…and so I’ve been under the impression that telling an employer why I want to be there would come across the same way to a native resident.

        2. Rana*

          I’d be wary of that one, actually. Having lived a long time in California (half in northern, half in southern), I can say that nice weather is something you get used to, and you’re expected to ignore it in order to come to work (unlike what I’ve seen in the Midwest, where the first nice day after a bad winter turns into city-wide hooky). It’s also a bit stereotypical.

          If you can reference other things you like about the area you’d be living in – proximity to mountains and oceans, interest in improving your Spanish, appreciation for the food culture, etc. – that would be more persuasive. Basically, Californians do think their state is an awesome place that people should want to live, but “palm trees, beaches and sunshine” is not what most of us think of as “California.”

      3. Been there/done that*

        I recently relocated from Ga to CA for a job. Actaully i knew no one here and honestly never really wanted to move here but the job was a great opportunity and have come to love it here actaully. Now my mom wants to relocate here, and I suggest she use my address because she wants to relocate here.

  4. Christine*

    Alison – Not sure if you’re online this weekend, but there’s only 6 questions, not 7 :)

    #4 – Yeah, those loonnnng lists of qualifications can be pretty intimidating! That’s pretty common with large employers (assuming you’re applying at a major university).

  5. Cimorene*

    I thought that the rules about applying to academic positions were different from the rules for non-academic jobs. Wouldn’t that mean that an academic librarian (assuming this means in a research or otherwise specialized library?) would be following different rules for cover letters, etc?

    1. Eric*

      Even in an academic position, I can’t imagine a multi-page cover letter (maybe for the president of a university, and even then…). Long CVs are the norm, but the cover letter isn’t much different than a non-academic one, in my experience.

      1. Eric*

        Ok…I’m don’t have much experience with librarians in particular, so I would trust the comments below over my opinion.

      2. Anonymous*

        Academia is weird, and totally obsessed with stuff being writing as verbosely as possible.

        1. Lucy*

          Academia IS weird. There is a website, opencoverletters.com, that posts actual cover letters of library/archives professionals that landed them jobs. Many of them are more than one page, and many of them are stilted and boring as hell, but they still resulted in not only an interview, but a job offer, apparently.

          1. Kit M.*

            Yes, thank you! I was going to bring this up. I looked at them for reference when I was writing my own (librarian) cover letters, and decided to ignore them.

      3. Jessa*

        I think I’d try to split the difference and put part of it in the cover letter and make sure the resume highlighted the rest of it.

      4. Sarabeth*

        Totally the norm in my academic field. I’ve been on search committees, two pages is standard. And because it’s the standard, one-pages letters don’t work as well, since they necessarily lack some of the information we expect to see.

      5. Grge77*

        I have read a number of application packages for academic jobs and the cover letters have almost all been more than one page, and in some cases three or four. These have been relatively upper level jobs, but certainly not president. I don’t know what level this person is at, but I’ll tell you one thing, if it’s a research university and the title of this job has director in it, many of her peers will be sending multi page cover letters.

    2. anon*

      Is it a faculty position? I’ve seen cover letters up to 4 pages for senior positions, and 2 is nothing out of the ordinary for a mid-level or even entry-level position.

  6. Seal*

    #4 – As an academic librarian at a major public university who just served on a search committee, I can safely say that 2 page cover letters are the norm, particularly for more experienced candidates. That is in part because our job descriptions tend to be long and detailed (25 requirements and qualifications isn’t at all unusual). But as Allison says, you don’t have to address every single one, just talk about why you would be good at this job. Search committees look at the combination of your cover letter and resume or CV to make sure you meet all of the requirements and qualifications; those that are well-written and nicely formatted stand out, so focus on that. I have seen many poorly-written or just plain bad cover letters and resumes over the years; it’s mind-boggling that so many applicants for a job that requires at least one master’s degree cannot put together a decent cover letter.

    Also, be aware that interviews for most academic librarian positions include a phone interview and day-long in-person interview (2 days for managerial or administrative positions) where you will meet with a number of people and groups, and will most likely be asked to do a presentation of some sort. Assuming you get that far, by the end of the interview process the search committe will be able to tell whether or not you meet all of the requirements and qualifications.

    1. Zed*

      As an academic librarian who recently completed (!) a job search, I will add that I have been repeatedly advised that it is a good idea to address at least all of the required qualifications in your cover letter. These days a single open position is likely to receive 100-200 applications, so anything you can do to get yourself through the first cull helps.

      1. AisforAmy*

        I’m going to have to respectively disagree with that. With the vast number of requirements these jobs are posting, it’s just not prudent (and most likely will read uninteresting) to try to fit all of the requirements into a single cover letter. I read a cover letter once that one paragraph was “I know Photoshop.” I think the job postings we’re seeing today for librarian’s can be a real wish list, so I would focus on making it an interesting read rather than saying “I know Microsoft Office!”.

        I think the best way to write an academic librarian cover letter is to kind of give an overview of yourself as a professional and speaking to the requirements will naturally work their way in. Obviously we could have very different specialities so it might be different.. I’m a digital librarian, so by introducing myself, my career trajectory and the projects I’ve overseen it demonstrates in a more natural way the requirements I meet. This is the way I’ve always written cover letters and it’s been quite successful.. I have 2 interviews in June!

        1. Zed*

          Well, most likely all 25 qualifications are not *required* qualifications. The required ones are not a “wish list” – they are required, and if you don’t have them, at least at my university, you cannot be hired.

          However, I’m not sure we actually disagree! I don’t know anyone who would recommend just listing all of the requirements and how your experience matches them; that’s bad writing. But you can choose examples that speak to the requirements more organically. So of course you shouldn’t say “I know Photoshop” full stop… but if Photoshop is a required qualification you will want to mention Photoshop in some capacity.

          1. Kristi*

            I find it frustrating when looking at two similar/identical positions at a university/academic setting, and the job description/qualifications are so varied. One will be a brief overview but gets the point across. The second posting will be for the same title but go into lengthy detail for probably 99% of the job duties. So while I have a good feel of what to include in cover letter/resume for first job, I’m always thrown how much detail to go into for second posting. While I’ve done most of it, I wouldn’t count all of it as “accomplishments” or as resume/cover letter worthy. So frustrating!

  7. Anonymously Anonymous*

    #1 my family has relocated twice do to my then husband promotions within the same company. The first move was relatively close–only 3 hours and one state away. The company did pay for a 2day stay that time and helped with movers. The next move they flew him out first for the offer, then they flew us out together to see what I thought–because it was a further move and by that time we had one kid in school. That time they pretty much covered all our expenses-even helped us put a deposit on housing. This might be the exception or because of his role in the company. I remember doing the transition for the second move a really big icestorm hit the south and he was up north working. His company paid to put me and kids up in a hotel for a week.

  8. anon-2*

    #2 – The old joke with the punchline “Because they can” is applicable … this economy prevents people from being mobile, and the, uh, stinkers in middle and upper management know that.

    There’s good news here, and bad news here, and potentially good news.

    – Good news = they are not asking you to provide bad performance reviews to sham out their decision. Hopefully, they’re not. I worked in a place once where that was done. No raise + bad review + in reality, everyone exceeded expectations = “managers, drink the Kool-Aid”. If they’re not telling you to do that, there is some hope. If they ARE telling you to do that — well, YOU should get your resume ready, too. Because they just set you up to fail.

    – Bad news = yes, prepare for departures. Also, it’s probably a good idea to let your middle/upper management know that stink-bombs generally drive people out of an area. So does this. Your best performers DO have mobility – and when you pull a stunt like this, you likely are going to have to deal with this.

    – Potentially good news. If the company is profitable, and the executives have half a brain, but still throw a wagonload like this at you and your staff – (advice to execs who think this is a cool way to run a business) — there is almost always a “slush fund” – a set aside fund – “off budget” – for emergency raises.

    If a key performer were to resign, and you went up the chain to say “I told ya this would happen” – that fund could be tapped to cover his/her salary increase for the remainder of the fiscal year, including retroactive raises which are usually framed as “stay bonuses” or “market bonuses”. To justify it – you’re going to have to pump numbers up to the big boys and girls who will give you the high sign or nigh sign.

    Good luck. I was in a company where they did this — and the turnover was MASSIVE. Employees almost literally killed themselves to make and exceed goals, and they did – and were told “you stunk. Demotions and no raises for everyone!” It destroyed the business unit.

    1. Not so NewReader*

      I have a hard time understanding why upper management does not see their company crumbling…Unless they, themselves are off somewhere else.
      Who could possibly think that these types of bonuses or this type of toxic environment is going to get great work?

      I hear so much of this going on and it concerns me.

      1. Coco*

        Have you ever read John Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath?” The protagonist’s family is lured to a farm with a promise of earning 25 cents a bushel for picking fruit. When they get there, the are given pay of only 5 cents a bushel. When they complain, the management responds that if they don’t like, they can always find someone who will gladly take the 5 cents in order to feed their hungry family.

        With the economy still on the mend, it’s an employers market right now. Companies can make all types of outrageous demands on their employees and the employees pretty much have to take it or face the possibility of a long job search.

        Management will treat people like crap just because they can.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Not smart management, no. Well run organizations know that in order to get the best results they can in the long-term, they need to be able to attract and retain really good employees, and practices like this are counter to that. So while certainly plenty of companies do run this way, there are also plenty that don’t.

        2. Mike*

          For IT and computer related fields there are a TON of jobs out there so good performers have plenty of options.

    2. HarryV*

      Partially true in regards to bad review. We are expected to level our employees by ranking them from #1-12. When you do that, you end up finding reasons to rank someone low.

      Regarding the turnover, IT hiring is very low and our engineers are very specialized. Both the company and employees know this. I wouldn’t go as far as to say they are exploiting this but the liklihood is that no one will resign or quit because of this. We have GREAT side benefits which makes up for some of the lack of pay raises.

      The other issue is that performance reviews becomes a joke. If someone got the top rating and in the end of the day they get few hundred extra bucks compared with the person who was avg., it makes no sense to work hard. The only silver lining is if they want to move up in the career or switch to another group.

  9. Jane Doe*

    #4 – On top of Alison’s great cover letter advice in the archives here, take a look at http://opencoverletters.com/, if you haven’t already. They’re anonymous cover letters from hired librarians and can give you a good idea of what the norm is.

  10. Jessica*

    #4 – I’m also an academic librarian at a major research institution, and I’ve been involved with a number of searches. As Seal wrote, 2-page cover letters are the norm (librarians like to read these carefully, because often the hires are for life). Sometimes applicants with 1 pagers and bullets come off as too corporate – academia is a totally different environment. I know that some search committees use rubrics to see how applications match the job description, so I would actually address every qualification.

    Also, a multiple-page full CV is standard, not a single page resume.

    Good luck!

    1. Zed*

      This! If you don’t address every qualification, someone else will.

      When I applied to my current position, my entire application packet was five pages: two pages for the cover letter, two pages for the CV, and and a one-page list of references.

  11. ReeseS*

    As an academic who has served on many search committees for staff positions, I have to disagree with Alison on #4. University HR may very well have a policy like ours:

    The 25 qualifications are listed on a spreadsheet that comes from HR. Each search committee member is required to rate each candidate on a scale of 1-5 for each of the 25 qualifications. If a candidate doesn’t specifically mention a qualification either on the resume or in the cover letter, the score is zero for that category.

    After averaging scores from each committee member, the highest-scoring candidates are called in for interviews. HR insists this system is the most equitable way to ensure that the most qualified candidate is hired, and to protect against a possible future legal claim from a rejected candidate. There’s usually another rating category (#26?) for professional presentation and communication, so the nice-looking resumes do get figured into the scores.

    So if that helps, there’s a view from inside the weird world of academia. It can help to know exactly what’s happening on the other end of your application, and to know that the hiring manager or committee doesn’t necessarily get to determine the evaluation process.

    1. Anonymous*

      At least for tenure positions in my department, the process at my uni is similar, just not as regulated by HR. Each person on a search committee has their own list of what they’re looking for, and have their own score for how much each of those matter, and then when it’s time to decide everyone discuses their criteria and how the candidates did or did not meet it. Then everyone votes. “Fit” is more/less of a problem, since you have a group of people deciding you don’t have to click with all of them, however because it is a college campus, someone needs to fit in that community culture, rather than just company or departmental culture.

      1. Lucy*

        These are both super helpful replies AND excellent examples of what a bizarre crapshoot it is out there to get a job: never knowing what the hiring process is, so as a candidate do I address all 25 points and then have a very long cover letter that one search committee won’t look at, or not address them and get dinged as ReeseS says.


  12. Kas*

    I relocated from California to Alabama for my first full time position post college. It’s been a great experience, but I learned after almost a year that although I enjoy my job, I not only have a bad management situation but I also don’t feel accepted or comfortable culturally. So I am looking for a new position in a city/ area that is much more fitting to my likes and interests. Some of my top picks I don’t have family or friends in, so how do I attack the long distance job hunt? Should I just stick to adding in that I am willing and able to relocate myself in my cover?

    1. Anonymous*

      I think because you’ve made a big relocation before and that will be on your resume, employers might be more in tune with the fact you are willing to relocate for your career.

      In your cover letter you could state something like, “As you can see from my resume, in the past I have relocated for career opportunities and blah blah blah”

  13. Parfait*

    Ugh, #1 is totally wretched. That’s less than $35 a month if you divide it up equally. Not even enough to take your significant other out for dinner and a movie to celebrate your “raise.”

  14. Anonymous*

    #6. If you use a local address for a long-distance search, what do you do with the location of your current job (if you’re currently employed)? Take off all the cities on your resume?

    1. Meg*

      Nope. You can leave it on there. I never put “current” or “present” on my resume if I’m relocating long distance and using a local address. It makes it look like I’ve already moved if I put the current month on the resume (I don’t put days at all, because frankly I don’t remember the day).

      1. Anonymous*

        But then you have the problem of possibly looking unemployed, don’t you, which doesn’t really help either?

    2. RLS*

      This is my question as well. Not to mention, I clearly have an out of state number (but I guess that’s more common these days with cell phones). How is this perceived by those in charge of hiring?

      1. Anonymous*

        I’ve never worried about phone numbers. I kept my out of state phone number for a while after moving and as far as I could tell, it had no impact once I was actually in the state. Tons of people have only cell phones now and don’t bother changing the phone number as soon as they move.

      2. Xay*

        Before I relocated, I got a Google Voice number in the area code where I planned to move and used that as the contact number on my resumes/applications.

        1. Carly*

          @Allyson do you have any advice for @Anonymous question? I happen to be in the same situation and am curious about this! Thanks!

  15. Anonymous*

    Re #3, which law is it that covers the situation? I ask because my friend’s daughter is in a retail job where she has to be there at 4 in the morning to open, but the manager won’t clock himself in until 5 and no one is allowed to clock in before him. She says he’s salaried so it doesn’t affect his pay but by making them wait he shaves a few hours off the day’s payroll budget. I know this can’t be legal but I haven’t been able to find a law for it.

    1. Mike C.*

      Also have your friend’s daughter report this practice to the state labor board. This is a textbook example of illegal activity, and such things have cost large companies millions of dollars in back wages.

  16. tcookson*

    #1 I know there’s not really a “typical” moving expense, but what my university pays is 10% of the starting salary.

  17. Brandy*

    For relocation, my company pays for 2 flights for employee/spouse to the new city for house-shopping, plus actual moving expenses.

    My good friend recently got relocation expenses covered- he got a month in corporate housing (idea being you use that month to find a new place), and all moving expenses. He did not live a flight away (just 3 small states over)–they reimbursed mileage. He also negotiated a higher salary based on the higher cost of living in the new city.

  18. AdAgencyChick*

    #1 — the answer entirely depends on how badly they want/need your particular skill set. It’s a good sign that they’re asking you to come out and meet them — I’m guessing that since you want to get a look at the city before you move, they contacted you, not the other way around.

    If you initiated the contact, it’s likely to be more like #6’s situation, where you need to convince them that you’re worth taking a risk on over local candidates — and in that case, the company is much less likely to offer you anything.

  19. Duncan*

    Thanks for the advice on Writing a cover letter when a job has 25 requirements and qualifications. I don’t really understand the need to keep a cover letter to one page. I guess in light of your answer, how do I decide what to put on that one page? How can I guess from the 25 things that the ad lists are the most important?

  20. Jen*

    For longer cover letters, I like to write a list of the 25 specifications and match each one to an example or qualification that I have. That way you can either write all of them up in a more natural, ‘flowing’ way to make a longer cover letter, or edit out your weaker examples and highlight your stronger ones to make a more concise letter. You might also find that some examples need only be a few words, whereas others take longer to explain.

    I’ve been writing personal statements to go on library application forms (for more junior roles than the one above). My most thorough but concise version got me the job. I made sure a mentioned each specification (using often the language they had used in the job description) but combined some together. For example, discussing my ability to prioritise tasks and my ability to work to a deadline using one clear example. Some specifications fit more naturally together!

    As mentioned in the comments above, I have seen on my application forms that I must address every requirement with an example as they will be inviting candidates who match all of the essential criteria and as many of the desired criteria as possible. The only time I couldn’t give a decent response for a desired criteria was when they asked for a Welsh speaker!

    Good luck with your applications guys :)

  21. Anonymous*

    For #1
    For relocation expenses I was offered the equivalent of 1 month of salary. I believe it covers a trip to visit the location to look for housing. Luckily I’m already familiar with the location and was able to accept an offer without any doubt I wanted to live there.

    For #4
    I’ve seen job ads like these. I go through the job ad and review the qualifications, then I try to group similar ones together. Then I try to address each group in the cover letter. So I might have a paragraph about digital projects and another paragraph about management duties and another, etc.

  22. another librarian*

    I’m another academic librarian chiming in here to respond to the librarian looking for a job. I wanted to note that the question did not say that the job had 25 qualifications and requirements, but, rather “There are at least 25 separate things between the job responsibilities and required and preferred qualifications.”

    My advice: ignore the responsibilities in the letter. Focus on the required qualifications and also mention the preferred that you meet. In academic librarianship, it’s pretty standard that you won’t be considered unless you meet all of the required qualifications, so you need to make it easy for the screener (often the head of the search committee, a busy librarian) to figure out if you are eligible for a phone interview. If you don’t list the qualifications you meet, then the screener has to search through your CV to figure out if you have the responsibility mentioned.

    It’s good to expand on some of the requirements. If you are applying for a job as a reference librarian and they require two years of experience, then don’t just say you have two years of experience. Instead, “At University XYZ, I worked for three years as Reference and Instruction Librarian. My responsibilities there included…”

    If one of the requirements is something like, “Excellent communication skills,” then I think it’s okay to work that language into a sentence but not necessarily explain exactly how. The closer you mirror their language, the better.

    For folks who aren’t in faculty or faculty-type positions, there’s an easy explanation for why we do this: our CVs can be quite long (they are actually more like combination resume/CVs, with many pages of detailed experience listed out), and so it’s not always easy to figure out if someone meets the requirements. And they are truly requirements. At every place I’ve worked, we have thought very carefully about what we require versus what we prefer versus what we don’t include. The easier it is for us to see that candidates meet the requirements, the more we can focus on finding the best match.

    The job market for academic librarians is very competitive right now. Following the standard approach for cover letters is one way to demonstrate you know the conventions of the field.

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