avoiding fake job interviews, will I have to return my bonus, and more

It’s seven short answers to seven short questions. Here we go…

1. How can I avoid fake job interviews with staffing agencies?

I just read your post about the “fake” job posting. I had a national agency call me directly and ask me to show up for a preliminary interview no less than four times over the past two years. Each time, I drive 30+ minutes to hear that there was no job for me. Is there a tactful way to decline these?

I don’t think there’s a foolproof way of spotting these beforehand, but one thing you can do is to ask explicitly, “Is this interview for a specific job that you currently have open, or is it a more general interview in case I’m a good fit for something in the future?” (You’d only ask this for interviews with staffing agencies, not if you’re interviewing with an employer directly — as employers don’t typically do this.)

Some agencies will be willing to lie to you, ridiculously, but some will either answer you directly or hem and haw (hemming and hawing should be taken as “there’s no real job”).

2. I shared with my staff that I have cancer and am not sure that I should have

In a moment of panic, I’ve overshared at work and I’m not sure of the most professional action to take now; I’d appreciate your advice for moving forward.

Yesterday, I found out I have ovarian cancer. I see an oncologist next week to schedule surgery and have a rough several months ahead. In addition to telling HR and my manager, I also told the 6 people I supervise directly. My thinking at the time was that this was happening very quickly, I’m going to be out for several weeks after surgery, and I needed to get a plan in place immediately. Yeah, okay, I panicked.

In hindsight, I think I should’ve waited until I have a date scheduled and just told them I was having a medical procedure done and would be out a few weeks. But I didn’t, and I can’t take it back. So what should I do now and for the next few weeks? I want to handle this professionally, at least from now on. I like my team, we’re a close group, but this is my issue not theirs to deal with; I just didn’t want them to hear rumors. What should I do now?

Don’t panic; I don’t think this is a disaster at all. I’d just be very explicit with them about how you’d like to proceed. For instance, if you don’t want a lot of concerned checks on your well-being, tell them that — explain that they can help you most by helping you stay focused on work when you’re at work, and that at least for now, that’s what you’re finding most helpful. They will be worried about you, of course, so if people express concern, let them know that you’ll let them know if you have anything important to share, but for now you’d love their help in staying focused on work. (That said, be aware that you might not be able to pull that off 100% — people will be concerned and want to check in, and you may have days where you aren’t working at full speed — and that’s completely fine.

I’m sorry you’re dealing with this, and I hope it all goes as smoothly as we can hope for.

3. Will I have to return my bonus if I get a new job soon?

I’m in the middle of a job search and already have interviews lined up for next week. Earlier today, my boss came into my office, shut the door, and told me I was getting a bonus of a generous amount (a few thousand dollars). He said it was to thank me for all my hard work, and he asked me to keep this to myself, etc.

Assuming that I get an offer from one of the companies I’m interviewing at, what is the likelihood my company will ask for the bonus money back?

Just for a bit of insight, bonuses in my company are never guaranteed and are at the discretion of management. There’s no mention of bonuses in our company handbook or in my offer letter. I would think that the worst that’ll happen if I get and accept an offer elsewhere is that my company would be pissed, but are there any legal ramifications?

Assuming that you don’t have a contract with wording to the contrary, any bonus you get is legally your money to keep. It’s very unlikely that your company would ask for it back (or expect you to give it back), and if for some bizarre reason they did, you wouldn’t be legally required to comply.

It’s important to remember that while bonuses are certainly retention strategies, they’re also recognition of work you’ve done previously.

4. Should I include a brand-new consulting job on my resume?

I am currently working as a consultant for a nonprofit, which I haven’t even been doing for a month. I started out as an intern for a few weeks, then they eventually offered me a full-time job but I declined the offer because the pay was horrible and it wasn’t really the field I was interested in. Anyhow, when I declined the full-time position, they hired me on as a consultant, where I am working only 10 hours a week (from home).

Since this is not a full-time job and since it is a job that I can do on the side, I am looking for other full-time work. However, when I apply for new jobs, I am not sure if it is worth putting this consultant position on my applications. I think it might look peculiar since I have been barely working there for a month and now I am looking for work again. I state on all of the applications that is a 10-hour job done from home. I am just not sure if stating it in my applications is helping or hurting my applications.

Include it, and make it very clear that it’s part-time consulting work. No one will think it’s odd that you’re still looking for work if you include that context.

5. Will my reason for moving sound flaky?

I am planning to move in about 6 months from southern California to Chicago, and I plan to begin my job search briefly before I move. I am not moving for any particular reason other than I am looking for a change of pace in a different city. If someone were to ask me in an interview, “Why Chicago?” does “change of pace” seem too flaky? I don’t want to sound flighty.

It sounds a little flaky, yes. If you wanted a change of pace, you could have picked any city. What they want to know is, why Chicago specifically? And they care about your answer because they want to ensure your decision to move is well thought-out and that you’re not going to change your mind and move back three months into your new job. (Because of that, good answers are ones that speak to roots — family and friends there, etc.)

6. I resigned before accepting a job offer, and then the offer was revoked

I was recently offered a position for my dream job. After seeing the offer, I pled my case for more money. I said how excited I was about the job, but with my experience I thought I warranted more. I assumed the compensation would be higher. I asked the recruiter if she could let me know what she could do. We spoke the next day and she said she would go to bat for me to the director and accounting. I went ahead and resigned from my job. Big mistake.

The offer was withdrew and when I said I would talk the initial offer they still rescinded it. I’ve tried repeatedly to get the director and recruiter on the phone, but without a doubt they’re ignoring my phone calls.

I went back to my company and they said they’d have to honor my resignation, because I was looking for a new job that offered more money and variety (the reasoning behind my new job search). Those are two things they can’t offer. I pled my case with the results I’ve brought to the team and they said it would be putting a Band-Aid on the situation.

Now I don’t have a job. Since this is usually one of the first questions asked in an interview, I wanted to see what the best way to approach this is. I have tangible results from all my jobs. I was thinking I would tell about the situation, then go on to what I did great for the company. Your thoughts are greatly appreciated.

Ooooh, that’s not good. I know you’ve just learned this, but it bears repeating: Never, ever resign your job until you have a formal job offer that you’ve accepted (and ideally a start date).

As for what to tell prospective employers now, this is tricky because if I heard that your old company wouldn’t take you back, I’d think, “That’s an employee who they weren’t too devastated to lose” (particularly since they hadn’t replaced you yet, it sounds like). I think you’re better off simply explaining that you had a job offer that fell through after you’d already left your old job, and not getting into details. Good luck.

7. How should I handle an internal job offer when I have an upcoming vacation?

How should I handle an internal job offer when I have an upcoming approved vacation?

The same way you would with a job offer outside your company — by explaining that you have a planned vacation for those dates before you accept the offer and making it part of the overall negotiation process. You don’t want to wait until afterwards, or it will come across as if you’re presenting it as a done deal, which she almost certainly won’t see it that way.

{ 109 comments… read them below }

  1. L. Renee*

    OP1, I was the one whose partner was offered a fake job and my advice is to take advantage of Google. Find out what other people are saying about any company who contacts you if you’re not already familiar with them. Check out Glassdoor.com as well for employee reviews. Good luck.

    1. Ruffingit*

      Glassdoor.com is the best! I’ve avoided even applying to certain places thanks to that site. So helpful to have the input from people who have actually worked there.

  2. Angela S.*

    To OP#3: I agree with AAM. Check the original contract that you signed with your employer and any updated materials with regards to your terms of employment. Very often, an employer will list items that you’d need to return upon resigning from your position. The most popular item that I’ve heard of is the education incentives. At where I work now, if I choose to resign now, any tuition cost that my employer paid in the last 2 years needs to be returned. If you get your employer to pay for your MBA, it could be very costly.

    If the bonus money is important for you, wait until you receive the money before you resign. However, if the new opportunity is good enough, I wouldn’t care about the bonus money.

    I’ve also have friends who would resign from a position if they don’t received an “expected” bonus. Obviously, they usually have good connection and they don’t have a problem getting another job. That’s too extreme.

    1. AG*

      I think the only time you have to return a bonus is if it’s explicitly stated in a contract or manual. I worked somewhere that had a signing bonus, but it was very clear that I would have to return it if I left before 6 months.

      1. Eric*

        I think it is pretty normal to have to return a signing bonus if you leave within a certain period of time. A bonus for previous work, seems a bit stranger to have to return.

        1. Jessa*

          Yeh most companies who give out signing bonuses are pretty careful about putting terms in them.

  3. straws*

    OP#2 – I think there are many ways you turn this around to use it to your advantage and also strengthen your team. Since you’ll be out, there will almost certainly be people asking about your absence. Having someone else around to control the situation can be extremely helpful. I recently had a coworker in a similar situation, and since we work very closely together she shared some of the details with me. In addition to planning our work to accommodate her needs & potential absences, we discussed how much she was willing to share and with whom. This allowed me to properly address any questions that either came to me directly or were floating around the office, ensured that the level of privacy she preferred was maintained, and also kept the office gossip to a minimum.

    Also, although you may have shared more than you feel comfortable with, you’ve also shown your employees that you trust them to have the information. If you can set expectations & boundaries, they’ll be better off while keeping the team running when your needs are elsewhere.

    Best of luck with your upcoming surgery. My coworker is almost completely back to normal now, and I wish you the same recovery!

  4. Ruffingit*

    #2 says In a moment of panic, I’ve overshared at work and I’m not of the most professional action to take now…

    That should be I’m not SURE of the most professional action…


  5. Ruffingit*

    Just wanted to address this part of #6:

    The offer was withdrew and when I said I would talk the initial offer they still rescinded it. I’ve tried repeatedly to get the director and recruiter on the phone, but without a doubt they’re ignoring my phone calls.

    Yes, they are ignoring your phone calls because no one wants to deal with a harasser. They withdrew the offer. You said you would take the initial one. They still held to their stance of withdrawing it. And yet, you are repeatedly trying to get the director and recruiter on the phone??

    WHY?? They have made their position clear. Why are you continuing to bother them? Continuing to try to get them on the phone after they effectively withdrew the offer twice is desperate behavior that slides into harassment. Move on.

    1. OP #6*

      I repeatedly called them, not harassed them because what that did was bizarre, wrong and befuddling. I had a great interview that I felt I had a good rapport with the team. That same day the recruiter said she heard it went incredibly well, wanted to start a background check and would love if I joined the team.

      A few days later I received a formal job offer letter with salary, start date, benefits, etc. When I talked to the recruiter she never said the offer was firm with no chance of going up. She acted quite the opposite actually.

      I gave my notice because I wanted the company I worked for to have as much notice as possible and thought that the new company would either upt the offer or let me accept the original offer.

      I’ve been very professional during this whole ordeal and if anything I’m devastated not a harasser.

      1. NtrlGAGirl*

        OP #6, what do you see as the difference between “repeatedly calling” and “harrassing”?

        The company made you an offer, you felt you warranted a higher salary, but they’re unwilling to negotiate or now consider you for the position at the original offer. You may think its unfair, but it’s not that bizarre or wrong. Regardless of how YOU felt things went, the employer may not have felt the same and asking for the higher salary could have tipped the scales for them towards the next best applicant. If that applicant was a close call & was willing to accept what was offered, why negotiate with you? They offered, but you didn’t accept the position so it wasn’t a done deal. I hate that this is such a difficult learning experience for you.

        I can understand your feeling & empathize with you, and I wish you the best of luck in your job search.

        1. TheSnarkyB*

          Ditto on the question above, and also:
          OP, were you looking for feedback or something? Or were you looking to call them back and change their mind? Or were you looking to tell them how “wrong” it was?
          I don’t necessarily agree that it was wrong, by the way – I think that depends on exactly how you handled it, what the role is like, whether it’s a field where negotiation is appropriate/normal at this level, etc…. You’re a much better judge of all this than I am, but that doesn’t mean that what they did was inherently wrong, and certainly not that bizarre.

          1. fposte*

            Well, it is pretty strange to withdraw an offer entirely merely because the candidate queries the salary–I think the company was actually pretty crappy there. But even though the desperation is understandable, repeated calling is still out of order, and it’s not going to get you anything but blacklisted for future positions.

            1. TheSnarkyB*

              But we don’t know that that’s why. We’ve seen here that offers being withdrawn isn’t necessarily uncommon.

            2. ChristineSW*

              While I agree that the OP should move on rather than repeatedly calling, I think the company handled the offer inappropriately. Unless I’m missing something (I apologize if that’s the case), it seems like the details were not discussed verbally, which would’ve allowed the OP the chance to negotiate. THEN the company would send the written offer. Also, I agree that they shouldn’t have just withdrawn the offer like that, but I do get that this can happen for a variety of reasons.

              On further thought – was this job through an external (staffing agency) or internal recruiter? I’m not sure if there’s less room for negotiation when going through an external recruiter.

          2. Ruffingit*

            This is exactly the question I’m wondering about. Why repeatedly call them? To beg for the job, to tell them they’re wrong? It makes no sense to do this. Yes, it’s disappointing what they did, but they made their position clear so the phone calls you made after that are not helping your reputation at all. At this point, they are likely breathing a sigh of relief that they went with someone else because you are making yourself look terribly unprofessional with repeated calls.

            It’s a shame this happened, but it does happen and the best thing to do is not repeatedly call, it’s to move on.

        2. Vicki*

          Why is this not “bizarre or wrong”.
          What the OP did is called “negotiating”. I don’t know what to call the company’s reaction other than bizarre, unexpected, and weird.

          If a candidate fears that any attempt to negotiate will cause the initial offer to be revoked, no candidate in his or her right mind will ever try negotiating.

          That’s what makes this “bizarre and wrong”.

          This is the second letter in a too-short time in which the LW tried negotiating and was then told the job was not available at all, even under the original terms.

        3. Melissa*

          Actually, it is kind of bizarre. It’s standard practice to try to negotiate for a higher salary, and it’s bizarre that a company would rescind an offer for their first choice candidate rather than come back and say “No, sorry, our offer is firm. Would you be willing to take the offer at the original salary?” and at least give them a chance to decide whether they are willing to take the original salary.

      2. Laura*

        Calling once, maybe twice is OK. Any more than that in my book does qualify as harassment.

        It could be that your approach is what led them to rescind the job offer – pure speculation on my part though. If you were blunt and just said you wanted more money, without any real finesse, that might have put them off. On the other hand if you asked, “Is the salary firm or is there any wiggle-room there” it might have changed the way things turned out.

        The best thing you can do is just let it go and move on. I would say MAYBE email the recruiter asking for some feedback about what went wrong that you can learn from. But if the recruiter doesn’t respond, then you need to just put it behind you.

        1. OP #6*

          I’ll clarify what “repeatedly” means. I sent the recruiter an email and left two voice message, I sent the director an email and one voice message. A lot of times if I can’t get someone on the phone at the office I’ll send them an email., no one has ever said that to be an issue and in fact, plenty of people do that to me.

          I wanted clarification on what exactly went wrong or maybe that it was mistake (the director was out of the office for a few days so I was hoping that it was miscommunicati0n or that they didn’t think I’d take the initial offer).

          When I asked for more salary I said I was so excited for the position but assumed the salary would be higher and asked if she could do anything about that. The recruiter said she would see what she could do. She never said it was firm or I would only have one chance at the offer. I think it’s crappy they can’t explain this over the phone and I think they know what they did was wrong because they’re not returning my phone calls. The position was a newly developed position so they could of even though they didn’t want to hire for it right now. I don’t know.

          I work in marketing where I negotiate things a great deal. This wasn’t a big deal to me to negotiate and I thought I handled it the best way possible. I thought it was simply salary negotiations and would never of quit my job if I wasn’t sure. I don’t have savings, I don’t have a spouse. I will now get to cash in my 401K and have to find a job asap.

          Does anyone has any comments about what Alison said? How would you feel about interviewing someone that explained it as so?

          1. TheSnarkyB*

            That sounds like a lot of contacting to me- I really understand the “harassment” label that a few people here have put on it.

            1. ChristineSW*

              I agree with you Snarky and respect your opinion, but I honestly don’t think OP6 meant it as harassing.

              1. ChristineSW*

                Ack…that didn’t come out the way I meant it. I should say that I agree that it’s a lot of contacting, but I don’t believe it was meant to be harassing. I do respect others’ opinions though.

                1. fposte*

                  Speaking generally, not meaning to harass somebody doesn’t mean you’re not harassing somebody. It’s about recipient experience, not the actor’s intent. (And I don’t think they’re failing to answer because they think they did wrong, I think they’re failing to answer because they’re not interested in discussing the issue.)

                  However, I don’t think it makes much of a difference at this point. As long as the OP stops now I don’t think she’s burned any industry bridges any more than the company has. And I agree with Alison that if it comes up, it’s fine to say that you left for a job offer that unfortunately fell through at a late stage. I doubt they’re going to push more on that.

                  Sorry this happened, OP; this is a hard one.

            2. Victoria Nonprofit*

              This seems like a reasonable amount of contact to me, and I’m surprised that there’s disagreement. A phone call followed immediately with an email is a strategy I use all the time (like, pretty much any time I leave a voicemail).

              So here’s how I read it: She calls both people she had contact with and follows up with an email. No response. She tries the hiring manager again. Done. Totally reasonable.

              1. Anonymous*

                Agreed, for a situation this odd (pulling an offer because you tried to negotiate is really strange behaviour IMHO), I think contacting both people you dealt with is reasonable. And like Victoria said, an email and a voicemail is normal – a lot of people won’t check voicemail as often as they check email, or in some cases check it at all, so doing both is not harassment. I think calling this harassment is over the top.

              2. Tasha*

                I somewhat agree. While this is more contact than I’d be comfortable with–I’d probably send one email to both people I had contact with, eschewing voicemail entirely–sales positions often involve more followup than other fields. In my mind, it doesn’t cross the line into harassment; if the company did withdraw OP#6’s offer over how s/he communicated, it seems like a mismatch in company culture.

                1. OP #6*

                  Tasha- They rescinded the offer I assume because of salary. My background is squeaky clean and they never contacted my references. I can only assume that’s what it was but I’m not sure since they won’t answer my calls…

          2. Ruffingit*

            Just a note for the future – A lot of companies won’t give you clarification on what went wrong. That’s been discussed off and on here before. They don’t want to get into why they rescind offers or don’t give them in the first place because they can easily get themselves in legal trouble offering up details. That’s not always the reason they don’t do it, but it can be one of them.

            That said, since you asked for feedback regarding Alison’s advice, I would say go with it. There’s nothing else you can say except that you left your old job for an offer that was rescinded. That has happened to people here before so it’s not that unusual.

            Also, sign up with every temp agency in town immediately. I realize you are in marketing, but temp agencies can help you make some money while you’re waiting to land a full-time job. The other thing I did when in a pinch for money between jobs was take on babysitting jobs. I ended up with a regular Thursday night gig that paid my cell phone bill and some other incidentals for awhile and didn’t take away from the things I needed to be doing during the day.

            Just a thought. Sign up with sittercity.com. That’s how I got my sitting jobs. Those are some little things you can do right now. Also, if you need help paying the rent and such,Google your town and “rental assistance.” My town has an entire site devoted to possible resources. Perhaps yours does as well.

            Regardless of what I think about your excessive contact, I do feel for you with the unemployment. That just sucks. Been there, done that. Hope some of my tips can help and good luck with the job search!

          3. KW*

            OP #6, I think AAM’s advice it spot on and simply say “you had a job offer that fell through after you’d already left your old job, and not getting into details.” And when they ask why you left your old job, like you said you’re looking for more variety which is a reasonable answer.

            Because they didn’t hire you back, you might have a third person call to check your references there. If asked, I would want to know their response to, “Is this person eligible for rehiring.”

            Also, as challenging as it seems and hard to imagine, you’ll take an enormous hit to cash out your 401k. I would avoid this if at all possible and proceed only if you have absolutely no other options.

          4. Laura*

            I’m just going by your description of what happened, but to me the statement that you were “so excited for the job but assumed the salary would be higher” has the tone of a backhanded compliment or being passive-aggressive — even though I’m sure that’s not what you were intending. It could be that this is what put the employer off, and they moved onto the next applicant.

            Negotiation skills vary depending upon the situation. You said that you work in marketing, so I’m assuming that you have experience working with potential suppliers. In that scenario, the balance of power lies with you, the prospective customer. The supplier wants your company’s business (and money) so usually they’ll be willing to accommodate special requests, grant price breaks, and so on. So in that situation, being a bit forward or even pushy is usually a good thing that works to your advantage.

            In a job search situation, the company hiring for the position has the advantage, so negotiating requires a softer touch. Unless you’ve got a highly specialized skill set, or the candidate pool is extremely weak, when you get to the offer stage it’s safe to assume that you are one of several qualified candidates that the company liked. If something happens at that point to give the impression that you’re going to be a difficult and high-maintenance employee, the company may decide to just move to the next qualified candidate.

            That could be what happened here, although it’s just pure speculation. This is really a tough situation, and I do feel for you. But when things like this happen, the best thing to do is to evaluate what has transpired and then try to take something from it that will help you in the future.

            Many people have provided you with feedback, and hopefully there’s something here that will strike a chord with you. Some of it has probably not been pleasant to read, but I don’t think anyone here is trying to be unkind. Even though it backfired on you, giving your notice so soon so your current employer could have as much time as possible to plan for your departure was a considerate and decent move on your part.

            Also, I think AAM is right on by just telling other potential employers that you had a job fall through at the last minute and leave it at that.

            1. OP #6*

              Laura-I actually looked at this blog for the salary negotiations advice. When I talked to the recruiter she really didn’t seem like I was being offensive and acted like it was normal.

              Thanks for your input and I’ve definitely learned from this situation.

              1. Laura*

                Well I will sound like a total Pollyanna here, but I really do feel that thing happen for a reason.

                I got fired from a job once, and I was both upset and relieved. I had taken it because a friend had recommended me for it, but almost immediately I knew it was a bad fit. Then the guy who hired me sold the company and retired, and the 2 other guys left running the place were complete jerks and I did not get along with them at all. Then there were some other acquisitions, which resulted in some duplicate positions, so that was a good reason to get rid of me.

                I was ticked off at the time, but glad to be out of there. And then I landed a much better job, and it turned out to be the one that got me pointed down my current career path, which has been very fulfilling.

                So…even though it completely sucked at the time, it was all for the best. I hope that’s how it works out for you too.

        2. Mimi*

          I wonder if the offer ended up being rescinded not because OP asked for more money, but because of the subsequent reference check. Maybe they received info that made them change their minds?

      3. anon*

        I had a company pull a job offer after I tried to negotiate. In retrospect, I negotiated way too hard and was a little unreasonable in my expectations. That said, I realize now that the company was pretty dysfunctional, and that the salary offer was ridiculous, so I’m glad that I didn’t end up working there. Sometimes these devastating things are actually blessings in disguise.

        1. OP #6*

          Anon and how did that end up working for you? I do feel like they way they conducted themselves that I wouldn’t be a good fit there. I negotiate services for the companies I work for all the time and don’t beat around the bush. I just wish I still had a job to pay the bills with in the mean time.

          1. Anon 2*

            OP 6

            It sounds like you are getting frustrated by the comments about the multiple contacts. And, I understand — you are in a tough position.

            But, if you need to land a new job quickly, you need to truly hear what people are saying.

            You think you come across as direct and a good negotiator. Others may see you as pushy and blunt. The fact that your current company would not even consider taking you back and the new company was so turned off, indicates that you could may come across as a difficult person to work with.

            I am not saying you are — I don’t know you — but two groups of people who have met you have declined to work with you. It may be helpful to talk to others who do know you and ask them to be painfully honest.

            1. OP #6*

              I think it’s easy to be misconstrued over this. I was just looking for input on what Alison said, not to discuss how much I called, because that’s not really realvent at this point since it’s over with.

              1. TheSnarkyB*

                I see what you’re saying, but a lot of times, great advice (often w/ details more nuanced than what Alison is trying to get at) is found in the comments, and OPs often come back and thank the commenters for their side-notes and thoughts, etc.
                I agree with Anon2 above in that it might be helpful for you to look at the range of how different people see you- in general, we tend to surround ourselves with somewhat like-minded people (to varying degrees) and it seems like that could be detrimental to job hunting, where we have to come across well to very different types of people. You may come off a bit more brusque than you intend or than you want for your next employment interaction- and we all want you to find employment easily and quickly! :)

          2. nyxalinth*

            It’s really easy (probably easier for people) to just look at the surface behavior and slap a label on it (correct or not) than look at the underlying statement and address it.

            OP 6, I get the feeling you’re repeating yourself a bit because no one is addressing how frustrating and upsetting this is for you, and they just ‘harp on’ your repeated contacts. While it obviously isn’t getting you anywhere, I know and understand how this is. Companies rescind offers all the times, and yeah, sometimes it is a jerk move done over one innocent question. usually not, but it does happen. I also know this is probably a very scary time for you.

            I’m not saying you should disregard their words. that amount of contact is a bit excessive. let it go if this is how they are, you don’t want to be there, anyway. I know that doesn’t give you a paycheck, but neither does obsessing over it.

          3. Mimi*

            “Don’t beat around the bush” – curious as to ehat you mean by that. One person’s “direct” can be another person’s “rude”.

            1. OP#6*

              Mimi- I think it would have been a difficult conversation that the recruiter or the director was going to have to say. I think most people don’t like difficult conversations and my not beating around the bush means if I did it and I have to be able to talk about it.

              1. Colette*

                But … It sounds like they already said it. You were told the were no longer interested. If I were the recipient of further contact, I’d think you were planning to argue with me and try to change my mind. I would be hesitant to return your call, too – because the decision was already made.

                The exception would be if you contacted them, wished them well, and expressed interest in working together in the future – but I’m pretty sure that’s not what you did.

          4. anon*

            I was really frustrated, depressed, and angry. I had been unemployed for a long time. I felt like I had seen a ray of sunshine and then the door was abruptly closed. However I realized that I didn’t want to work with a company that operated like that. They knew what I was looking for initially, and their offer was so off-base that it was ridiculous.

            I went back to applying for jobs, and found another one and started about a month after the salary catastrophe. This is the job I am at now and it’s awesome, with a better salary, in a better industry. I wouldn’t have found it if I had taken the other job with the crappy salary. So that’s how it worked out for me.

    1. Chicago girl*

      I can’t speak for the OP, but not everyone dreads winter. My idea of a terrible climate is that of Southern California.

      1. OP #5*

        Since writing in I have thought more about what I wrote and as usual, Alison is right on. My family are from other states in the Midwest (not in Chicago but nearby) and I lived in Chicago briefly as a child so I know I won’t be leaving right away but I understand now that maybe if I just share the information above, it will show some roots. Thanks Alison!

        1. Another Ellie*

          I moved to Chicago from Southern California for school, and have had to stay because I’m married to somebody who hasn’t finished his degree. Unless you are very, very sure of your feelings about the weather (the summers are as bad as the winters because of the humidity, there’s no real spring), the culture of the city (Chicago is a blatantly racist city, just for starters), and the distance between yourself and your closest family and friends (a minimum of $500 bucks round trip, for one or two weeks of visiting a year? Plus your plane gets grounded when you were scheduled to fly home for Christmas?), I would strongly advise against the move. Many people I know from the southwest/west coast, even those who have some family nearby, wish they could go back home. Plus the job market is pretty bad in Illinois still, and Chicago is the big city that everybody from the midwest goes to, so you’re fighting against applicants from St. Louis and Milwaukee.

          1. OP #5*

            Another Ellie — I’m sorry you seem to have such a negative view of the city. I happen to love the city, am very familiar with the weather and have no qualms about the move. It’s happening, I was just curious about Hiring Managers/HR and what is going through their minds when hiring someone who moved half way across the country. Thanks everyone for your responses. I agree with Rana — some of us westerners can handle weather that isn’t mild all year round.

          2. The gold digger*

            I was tricked into moving to the upper midwest, too! I love it here in the summer – it’s absolutely gorgeous and there is so much to do, but I hate hate hate winter.

        2. Reva*

          Ironically, I am moving from Chicago to Orange County for a new job. When they asked me why the OC, I said my interest was specific to the job rather than the location. Chicago is the greatest city in the summer, in terms of things to do, but yes the humidity is terrible and there is no true spring. No city is perfect and climate aside I have enjoyed my 6+ years here, but you really need to be sure before making a drastic climate change. I am making the easier move – craptastic to better rather than the other way around.

          1. 10:52 anon*

            I work at a well known, but medium size university, at a place that gets lake effect snow*, and get to deal with 18-year olds who have NO idea how to drive in the snow, and parents who have NO idea why that is a problem. First big snowfall and there are bunches of people who think stopping in the snow and ice is no problem. I once watched someone who almost managed to create an accident across 4 lanes of traffic, because they slid through an intersection. She was lucky the other 4 of us know how to drive in the snow.

            *Lake effect snow** is when a system passes over a large body of water, usually the Great Lakes, and then dumps the amount of snow from that system AND the amount it picked up from that body of water. 3+ feet of snow in 6 hours is possible. There are multiple variables involved, so generally the forecasts are very bad at predicting how much lake effect snow an area will actually get.

            **Lake effect rain is possible, but the water has to be warmer than the air passing over it, which usually doesn’t happen during summer.

        3. TychaBrahe*

          I moved from SoCal to Chicago a bit over five years ago. Unfortunately you can’t fall back on the number one reason that people are leaving California these days, because Illinois has the same tax, unfunded pension liabilities, and mismanaged government that Chicago does, plus corruption. (Although the recent county assessor and the developing water district scandals are a good effort, SoCal just can’t top Illinois’s “four of our last seven governors are in prison.”)

          Here are some thing you can talk about. Cold winters are no match for weeks of 100+ heat. You would like to have autumn, instead of having all the leaves fall of the trees the week before Christmas. You are looking for a city with good public transportation because you are sick of the freeways. (I went from a 90 minute to a 20 minute commute. I usually do ride the bus, which takes 45 minutes, but I get to read while doing it.) You want a more ethnically diverse environment. While none of your family lives in Chicago, it lets you be much closer to them while still giving you the big city environment you desire. You are looking for a city with more cultural offerings. You probably shouldn’t mention that you are looking for a city with a better bar scene, although Chicago has that, too.

          Good luck!

      2. fposte*

        Me too, but we live in the Midwest. If I were hiring somebody relocating from California with no particular connection to or experience in Chicago, I’d immediately wonder whether they’re going to deal all right with the winter. The OP is wise to realize that her Midwestern past is worth mentioning.

          1. fposte*

            I think that’s one of the reasons why hiring managers want to hear there’s more than a whim behind moving to a very different place–it almost always involves a lot of adjustment to reality if you don’t already know what it’s like to live there!

        1. Anonymous*

          I was thinking more about transportation. Even walking someplace becomes a chore when nothing has been swept or plowed.

        2. Rana*

          Oh, gah. I dealt with this all. the. time. when I first moved to the Midwest from California. The first place I lived? Minnesota. After that, no one ever second-guessed my ability to survive a Midwestern winter again.

          Ironically, I’ve found the summers here to be far more unbearable than any of the winter weather – winters here in Chicago the last two years to be far milder than any of the ones I experienced in Indiana, further to the south. Seriously – we only had to shovel one day the previous winter, and two this last winter. Last summer, though, was outrageously hot and humid, and I was far more miserable, and summers in Indiana could be just as bad.

          Just an FYI for the folks who’ve grown up in the Midwest and have preconceptions about what Westerners are capable of handling.

      3. anon*

        Agreed. I’m from the Midwest, currently living in the deep South, and I MISS WINTER. My parents retired to Wisconsin, where they’re both from, and love the climate there. I’d love to move to Chicago.

        1. The gold digger*

          Snow isn’t so bad if you don’t have to get to work every morning, ie, you don’t have to shovel the driveway or trudge five blocks through unshoveled sidewalks and then wait for the (late) bus in 15 below.

          1. tcookson*

            I live in the south, where the schools (including my university) have closed when there is two inches of snow. I look so forward to snow days in the winter, if I moved to the uppper midwest, I’d be heartbroken to still have to go to work with feet of snow on the ground!

            1. tcookson*

              One of our new professors is from Cleveland, and he burned up Facebook with jokes back home to all his friends when the whole town was closed due to the two inches of snow. :-)

  6. OP1*

    The company that contacted me was a national, well-known staffing agency for IT. It would be like any other staffing agency contacting you. Typically, they have dozens of jobs posted that they are looking for candidates on. The problem was that they never had job that they had in mind to submit me for.

    When the agency finally did have a job, the recruiter left that agency for somewhere else and no other recruiter picked it up. So, I was signed exclusively to an agency that had no intentions of giving me a job, but had every intention of preventing from getting that one. As of right now, I’m permanently barred from getting a job at that location in town unless that agency contacts me about it.

    1. AreYouSure*

      Hmmm…. are you sure that you are barred from that location permanently? (I am not challenging it, just sometimes people believe what agents say… blah you are tied to this agency and you are not allowed blah….)

      …no other recruiter picked it up…
      Then you can try to apply to the company Directly, what have you got to loose? Google around and you can comeup with other similiar postings and one of them may be posted by the company itself.


    #1 I have seen this over and over. Also see multiple agencies post the same position as well. I had one that wanted my SS # and when I refused our talk was done. One time I challenged an agency and blatantly told them they are farming for resumes and for a pool of candidates for non existent positions.

    1. nyxalinth*

      Good for you, Wonka. I’ve mentioned my own go-rounds with agencies, and yeah, I have also accused one agency (their name is By the Shore of a Lake, if you get my meaning) of blatant resume farming and told them I never wanted anything to do with them again. I’ve have had experiences with what I call Bait and Switch: they call you about Awesome McCool Job, and when you get there for the appointment give you a story about how that position was juuuuust filled, but hey, how about Crappy McHell job? After the third time of this, I told them to stuff it and walked away.

      I have no luck with agencies anymore, even the good ones. As regarding telling those two to get lost, I was more polite than my words here indicate.

    2. OP1*

      I had one that asked for my SS# over the phone and I refused to give it, but that’s highly uncommon. What is more common is being called in for an interview for nothing in particular or being constantly offered something $10K to $20K lower than my current rate.

      1. WWWONKA*

        The request for my SS # was also over the phone. I told the guy that I didn’t know him from Adam and if he got me the job then that’s when I would give it.

  8. Not So NewReader*

    OP#2. No you did not over share. See yesterday’s question regarding an employee having difficulty and no one knowing what to do. You did the right thing. Your next step is to set your boundaries as Alison described.
    I wish you the best!

    OP#3. Being the cautious person I am … ok worrywart…. I would put the money to one side and not spend it. Once I had changed jobs and I felt the dust had settled, I would get myself a nice little treat for being patient and careful.

    1. OP #3*

      I agree. Despite the job search, the money came to me whilst planning/saving for my wedding. This will certainly help!

  9. Laura*

    #3 – Unless your company policy specifically states conditions for returning bonuses, you should be OK. But someone else had some good advice about just squirreling it away for a little while until you’re sure you won’t have to reimburse it. I would probably do the same thing.

    My company has an annual bonus which is not paid out until March of the following year. The policy states that you must be an active employee as of 12/31 of that year in order to be eligible for the bonus.

    A director resigned and gave a last working day of 12/28, and then raised an enormous stink when she found out that she would not get her bonus for the year. She asked if she could change her last day, and was turned down. She then proceeded to become very bitter, and took a slash-and-burn approach to her resignation, including stating during her exit interviews that she was going to steal/recruit all the company’s best people. Classy.

    My view was that it was her own fault for not finding out what the policy was before she resigned. Of course that fact that I didn’t really like her, and thought she was extremely untrustworthy and unethical probably contributed to that opinion. But really, at a director level this should occur to you. Another friend of mine who left around the same time specifically waited until January 2 to give her notice, just so there would be no question about her getting her bonus.

    1. Ruffingit*

      You didn’t really like her? Gee, I wonder why, she sounds fabulous (dripping sarcasm here). I can understand her being upset, but the slash and burn technique never goes over well. Bad move on her part.

      1. Laura*

        Yeah, I agree. Another friend of mine left the company to go work for her, as they got along very well, but based on what that friend has told me, she’s found out what this woman is really like. I feel bad for my friend, because the company she went to has a reputation around our city: the pay is awesome, but the benefits are terrible, and they will work you to death. Making it a year there is like making it 5 years someplace else. But she was offered an enormous raise, and her oldest was getting ready for college, so she felt she had no choice. In her position I probably would have done the same thing.

        What’s interesting is that I never had any direct dealings with this director, it was just the vibe I got from her. She was the Program Manager on the ERP upgrade project I was working on. It was a HUGE project, quite complex, affecting users in multiple countries. We were on a very old version of the software, so it was really more of a re-implementation than an upgrade. The original Program Manager left the company very abruptly; the story was that she resigned but project dates had slipped and things had gone over budget, and it was a very high-profile project. So I think she was probably given a choice to either be let go or give her notice.

        Then this new director showed up on the scene, and just from listening to her talk in meetings and reading her emails I got the impression that she was not at all trustworthy, and would not hesitate to make any one of us a scapegoat and hang us out to dry if it suited her purposes.

        About a year later I was working on another project, and was in one of our offices in Europe for some testing. A bunch of people from the team went out to dinner one night, including one of the directors in the HR group. While we were talking this woman’s name came up. I shared the above sentiments, and the HR director said, “You’ve got good instincts.” I was dying for more details, but of course he couldn’t share them.

    2. OP #3*

      My company is so ass-backwards, I’m confident that there’s no stipulation written anywhere stating that the money has to be paid back. Our “employee handbook” hasn’t been updated for over a decade and I still have the original one that was given to me seven years ago. I known my superiors will be pissed off for taking the money and leaving if it comes to that…but the timing is what it is, even if it’s in my favor. ;-)

  10. Anonymous*

    OP#6, we were just on the opposite side with a candidate. He passed all 6 interviews successfully, seemed like a great choice and we made him an offer. He was obviously disappointed with the salary and brought this up 2 times. The conversations were with HR and with the person who was going to be his direct manager. At no point did the candidate say he wouldn’t accept the offer, but we got the message that the salary was below what he was looking for, and frankly, his communication fell a bit on the rude/too insistent side. After we discussed our options amongst the senior management (and increasing the offer was not an option) we decided that if he accepts the offer, taking him on would be a risk, since he would be very likely to continue looking, and our investment in training etc, would be wasted. So we rescinded the offer and moved on with out search.

    From your description it doesn’t sound like you make your dissatisfaction with the salary that clear, but maybe the recruiter batted too hard on your behalf. In any case, there is nothing illegal with withdrawing an offer before it is accepted. Sorry about your situation, hopefully you’ll find another opportunity quickly

    1. OP #6*

      I knew I didn’t sound dissatisfaction with the offer because, when I received the offer I thought it was low but knew if they didn’t come back with more money I was still going to accept it. I even kinda mentioned it to the recruiter, “let me know what you can do if not let’s talk.”

      Regardless, it’s a suck situation to be in right now.

  11. Steve G*

    #2 – you did everything right, and don’t worry about silly little things like this – you need to focus on your health and get someone to step up to your plate while you are out so you can take a real leave.

    Also, it can be annoying to be told “I’m having something done, I will be out.” Of course that is best to say if you’re having a nose job, but cancer is not in that category. If you had been vague, you would have just caused alot of gossip and interruption in the office.

    this is one of those times where its ok to shed the “professional” face and be a person – like in 2011 when there was the earthquake in NY and we all ran screaming from the office!

    1. Chinook*

      I want to echo that being told “I’m having something done” can be irritating from a boss. I don’t need details,see but I would appreciate knowing if it is a risky surgery because it may mean you don’t come back when you initially planned. Cancer surgery is a perfect example because they never know what they might find when they open you up. Not only do your colleagues care about you, but this also affects their jobs and they will appreciate knowing that you have a backup plan in place.

      1. GeekChic*

        When I was first having treatments for my various rounds of cancer I did, in fact, go with “I’m having something done” and similar statements. Why? Because I simply wasn’t interested in discussing personal medical issues with co-workers or staff any more than necessary and, frankly, that was all that was necessary at first.

        Backup plans were already in place at my various places of employment (because a wayward bus can happen at any time) and the fact that peripheral people cared about me frankly lost its relevance really quickly (and yes, co-workers and staff were peripheral people for me – still are).

        I had the energy to manage myself, my close family and my close friends. Anyone else? Nope. The fact that that irritated some people is something I stopped caring about very early on in the process.

        1. fposte*

          Yeah, I’m with you on that. If you can handle it in a way that’s helpful for your co-workers and staff, that’s great, but their irritation is pretty low on the priority list in such a situation. (And I hope things are going well for you, GC.)

          That said–OP, I realize that you made this decision in more haste than you would have liked, but I still think it might have been a good one for you. One advantage to your having told is exactly what drove you to do it–it gave you a chance to control the message when a lot of things are outside of your control. Also, later on you might be glad not to still be facing the “tell or not?” question.

          My best wishes to you in this tough time.

    2. OP#2*

      Thanks, the comments here (plus Alison’s advice) have been encouraging, and I don’t feel as bad about the over-sharing as I did a couple of days ago. I appreciated your thoughts.

      1. The gold digger*

        I think you did the right thing. My boss has been acting very odd the past few months. My co-workers and I have speculated – is he drinking? on some new medication? Alzheimer’s? We don’t know what’s causing his behavior – he has become unpredictable and very short tempered.

        It’s not our business what’s causing his behavior, but we are affected by it. If we knew he faced a medical problem, we could at least feel sympathetic to him rather than on edge all the time, wondering which of us is going to be the next victim of a lashing out.

  12. Not even close.*

    #6 – I and something similar just happen except I started the new job and within a month was laid off for financial reasons. What the hell?! And that was May and I can’t even collect unemployment because I left a job under contract (which was not anything we were forced to abide by) and the department of unemployment says “Why would you quit a job with a guaranteed check for two more months and take a nib guaranteed job?” Is a job ever truly guaranteed? It has just been devastating. Thankfully my husband is the primary worker but I was a director at a college, so I wasn’t exactly making small potatoes. It took me a year to find that new job. I have an MBA with a decade of experience and I’m going on month three of no luck.

  13. Anonymous*

    OP #6 – Will you have an exit interview? That might be the right time to get objective feedback on your performance/demeanor. That’s the roughest part of your situation. From that you can craft how to word your departure. Perhaps this position was going to be phased out anyway, perhaps it’s an opportunity for the company to change direction, or perhaps there was an unknown issue with your employment. Be open and as inviting as possible to new insights.

    Take that feedback and apply it with why you were looking elsewhere and I think that is how to best find a way to explain your departure.

    1. OP#6*

      I did have an exit interview. My job performance was great and I was known as the team “cheerleader” but ultimately it was a business decision. I was looking for a new job and they couldn’t offer me more money or variety (the reason behind my resignation).

  14. Annie O'Nymous*

    Regarding Situation #7: What if you’re accepting an internal position, and don’t have any vacation planned, but would like to take some before jumping into the new job? Is there a diplomatic way to ask for that?

  15. Bystander*

    #4. Should I include a brand-new consulting job on my resume?

    Sometimes it is easier to find a job when you have a job so putting it down will show you are a worker but noting it is part time shows you can do another job (you might be doing the part time work on the weekend or evenings which will not interfere with a full time job). I think a new employer will want to feel confident that you will not be on their job doing work for another company. I have worked with people who have held several jobs at the same time with no problem. As long as you do a good job and your two jobs are not in competition with each other, your employer should not be concerned.

  16. Bystander*

    #3. Will I have to return my bonus if I get a new job soon?

    haha, love the old secret meeting to make you think you are the only one ever getting a bonus. Congrats on the bonus, it is nice to be appreciated. As the boss said it was to thank you for all your hard work – sounds like past work so it is a bonus for the past hard work, not future. He may have also heard you were applying for jobs elsewhere and playing in your emotions to not quit. Don’t doubt that your current boss was called for a reference by your potential new boss – who may even know each other personally. And since you were told to keep the bonus to yourself, likely the boss does not want you to repeat being asked for its return. Good luck on your job search.

  17. Anty*

    Re: OP#6

    Do you think that the amount that you tried to negotiate was unreasonably too high and out of their range? Just wanted to get an idea, since let’s say, if it was a few thousand more and the co. revoked the offer, I would say it wasn’t the co you wanted to work for anyway, but if it was something like $20K more, than I could see why.

    1. OP#6*

      Anty- Nope, I was looking between $2,000-$6,000 more than the offer letter stated. The small amout adds to the bizarrness to me anyway. When talking with the recruiter she never said the offer was firm.

      1. fposte*

        OP, did they *say* that your salary query was the reason the offer was rescinded? As Snarky B notes upthread, job offers get rescinded for all kinds of reasons, so if they didn’t say, it’s quite possible the salary query wasn’t a factor.

        1. Mimi*

          That’s what I was thinking, but according to OP, references weren’t even contacted. I suppose there’s a chance the new employer took great offense at even the idea of someone negotiating for a higher salary….and if that’s the case, they’re completely unreasonable and OP dodged a bullet.

          1. fposte*

            The references thing doesn’t mean much–some places just don’t check references, and there’s certainly no reason to relate it to the salary issue. So I’m thinking that Snarky’s right, and the OP may have considered this to be a result of the salary query when it may have been for any number of reasons. Which does actually relate to the OP’s initial query–if it’s not stated why the job offer was rescinded, that simplifies the account of the situation in job-hunting, because you truthfully state that you never learned why it was rescinded.

          2. Cassie*

            It’s possible the company checked references other than the ones provided by the OP. Or the job rescinding could have nothing to do with the salary negotiations or references or anything.

            That said, we had a candidate who asked for $1K more than offered ($40K instead of $39K) and the hiring manager wanted to pull the offer just because the candidate had the “audacity” to ask. Cooler heads prevailed and the offer was changed to $40K. Candidate accepted and worked in our dept for a year before she left for a position closer to her college major.

            1. OP #6*

              Cassie-I’m assuming that is what happened. The director was offended that I would ask for more when they could hire someone for what they offered or less.

      2. AB*

        OP #6, to me the only thing you did wrong in this entire process (besides perhaps insisting too much by calling + emailing more than once after being told the offer was rescinded), is to have resigned before having all settled (accepted offer, start date officially communicated to you).

        This is a hard way to learn this lesson. I once resigned after accepting an offer without a start date, and then heard only silence from my new employer when my 2-week notice ended and I still didn’t have a start date. I lost a few nights of sleep, thinking they might rescind the offer, leaving me without the cushy job I had. It took them one week after I finished my notice to get back to me and set up the start date for a few days later. Now I’ll always make sure I have not only an accepted offer but also a start date clearly defined and confirmed with both HR and the hiring manager before I resign!

        1. OP #6*

          AB-I did have a start date in the offer letter. That’s why I really wanted to resign from my current company to give them as much notice as possible and because I had a meeting with my boss and didn’t wanna say everything’s great here only to give notice the next day. A lot of factors came into play here. I thought everything went incredibly well, the recruiter said so and I wanted to give notice because I wanted to be considerate to my current company. I thought it was simply salary negotiations.

  18. Brton3*

    Regarding #1 – while this may be common among staffing firms, it is sadly common among actual employers as well, particularly when they have silly bureaucratic guidelines around hiring. I have had numerous fake job interviews where the position was clearly earmarked for someone else but they just had to post it and make a little show of bringing some people in.

    1. Ruffingit*

      Been a victim of that myself and it’s maddening especially when you’re at the point of having been unemployed long enough that every cent really does count and the gas wasted to drive to the interview matters. I really wish companies wouldn’t do this to people.

Comments are closed.