applying for a job when the salary is too low, messing up at work, and more

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

1. Posted salary is too low, but I should apply anyway?

An executive assistant position, reporting to the CEO and board of a nonprofit organization, has been advertised. I’m very qualified for the position, but the salary range they’ve listed is, at the high end, 30% less than I’m currently making; I can’t take that much of a salary cut. Should I apply for the position and, if offered, try to negotiate the salary up, or is this wasting everyone’s time?

Wasting everyone’s time. They’ve been clear about the salary they’re offering, and it’s dramatically below what you’d accept. It’s one thing if it was just a little bit below; then there might be room for negotiation. But it’s highly, highly unlikely that you could ever negotiate the salary up 30% higher. They listed the salary up-front for a reason; believe their ad.

2. Why hasn’t my promotion been announced?

I recently was promoted at my job (from analyst to senior analyst). I’m one of six people in my department. The promotion went into effect in the very beginning of August — both in my pay and also in our company listing of titles. When you hover over my name in Outlook, senior analyst comes up.

About two times a week, our company intranet announces all new hires and job changes/promotions for salaried employees (I am salaried). No announcement has been made here, nor has one been made in our many, many departmental meetings since the time of this promotion. As I mentioned, this is a tiny department. So far, everyone has noticed my Outlook title and taken me aside to congratulate me.

I’ve been hesitant to update my email signature or my LinkedIn title since no announcement has been made. I’m wondering if I’m supposed to keep this under my hat until such announcement is made, but at this point I think that won’t ever happen. I finally updated my LinkedIn but turned off the email blast that comes with, and updated my signature but stopped using it for internal communications. I’m sure I’m just being paranoid, but wanted to know your take on this. I want to be proud of my work and the recognition I got for it, but am left just feeling unsure of myself.

I would assume it’s an oversight and that it’s fine to update your email signature (since your pay and title changes have gone into effect and since no one has told you not to). But since you’re unsure, why not just ask your manager instead of wondering and worrying? Say something like, “Since my promotion hasn’t been officially announced to the staff, is it okay for me to change my email signature to the new title, or is there anything I should be waiting for first?”

Direct, straightforward, problem solved.

3. When should I tell an interviewer that I need to leave at 5 every day to pick up my child?

I am trying to get my foot in the door in a stable interior design company. I have been grappling with this for awhile: In an interview, when do I bring up that I must leave at 5-ish (not 6:30-ish or beyond) — every day. This is because I have the responsibility of being a mother (who must pick up her child and care for him at the end of the day). Also, it is really 5 pm, and unfortunately not much leeway because childcare itself ends on a strict schedule.

The kind of interior design firm I would like to work for is usually larger with projects that can suddenly have needs at the end of the day. (Ie., someone is leaving for out of town and needs x,y & z done by the next morning; meeting coming up, etc.)

I have gotten the impression from others’ advice that bringing up “kids” is almost a taboo word when interviewing for a job. I do understand why this may be the case, but it is a reality for me. I do find it hard to think that this should be an unwelcome aspect to me as a potential employee, but it is a very real one. Do you have any ideas as to how this should be brought up during an interview?

Well, first, don’t bring it up until you have an offer — because at that point they’ve already decided they want to hire you and may be more willing to make concessions. But second — and maybe more importantly — it sounds like the type of firm you’re targeting (ones with projects that have sudden end-of-day needs) might be incompatible with the schedule you can work right now. You might need to look at other types of companies that are more likely to be able to accommodate the schedule you need; otherwise, you might just be setting yourself up for hearing it won’t work.

4. Talking about an employer’s mission in my cover letter

I graduated with an MS almost a year ago and am still waiting to get an interview. I learned that writing about the company’s mission in your cover letter impresses them. I think I’m making a mistake by reading the mission statement oon the company website, and summarizing it as best as I can in the first paragraph of my cover letter. Even after summarizing or paraphrasing, it still sounds like I just copied and pasted their mission statement. Is this causing them to toss my application? What can I do to improve my chances of getting an interview?

Yeah, don’t do that. They know what their mission is; they don’t need you to restate it for them. I suspect the advice you’re thinking of is that it’s helpful to talk in your cover letter about why the organization’s mission interests you — but that’s very different than simply regurgitating it.

5. My manager is pushing me to say when I’ll return after surgery

I’m having a personal surgery done. I told my manager the date of my surgery and told her I don’t want to get into it because its private. I told her a few months ago and she was fine with it. I just said I’d need a few weeks off. Now she is asking me the date I’m returning to work. How do I answer this when I don’t even know? My surgery is coming up soon.

Well, yeah, of course she wants to know when you’re returning; that’s completely reasonable. If you can’t predict with certainty, you need to give her a likely date, along with the caveat that you can’t predict with precise certainty when your doctor will say you’re able to return — something like, “I expect to return on October 15, but with this type of surgery, that could end up being off by a few days in either direction. Let’s plan on the 15th, and I’ll update you either way one week before.”

6. Did I come across terribly on my second day of work?

I’m 17, and today was my second day of work. This is my first job. My manager left work and left my assistant on the floor. When it was time for me to leave, I asked my assistant manager if I could go, and she told me to fold all the clothes on the front tables before I left and put them in size order. So I did and she came over and told me I didn’t fold the shirts right, and so she messed up all my clothes I had just done. Then as I was fixing them, she went to my previous table and she found that one skinny jean was in the wrong spot, so she told me to just go home. Now I feel like I really messed up and she is going to tell the manager I didn’t do my job. After I left the store, I got really upset because its only my second day and I didn’t mean to mess up.

People mess up on their second days; it’s normal. Don’t freak out. The next time you’re at work, make sure that you’re catching on to what they’re training you in, and if you feel like you don’t quite have it, it’s fine to ask to be shown how to do a particular task again. In the future, though, if something like happens, a better way to handle it is to say, “I didn’t realize I’d done these wrong. Could you show me how to do them correctly?” That shows that you’re interested in getting it right, and it generally will make a better impression than saying nothing. Good luck!

7. Should I confirm my new job offer (again) before I give notice?

I am putting in my two weeks notice on Wednesday so I can move to a job that I accepted three weeks ago. I did have the offer in writing. Since it has been a while, would it be weird if I check in with the new company to make sure nothing unforeseen has come up before I put in my notice? It feels a bit weird to me, but I’d hate to put in my notice and then find out an hour later that the offer is rescinded. I have no reason to think it would be; this is jusy me being paranoid!

You can absolutely check in with them. Don’t make it sound like you’re worried the offer might have fallen through, though; just say you want to confirm the start date since you’re about to give notice. I’d say something like, “I’m about to give notice to my current employer, and before I do I wanted to confirm that a start date of X is still looking good to you.”

{ 199 comments… read them below }

  1. KarenT*


    Just give your doctor’s estimate and tell your manager it’s tentative and you’ll confirm after the procedure.

    At the same time, I know how you feel. I had surgery last year. When my manager asked when I was going to return I said, “January 10. Or maybe never, as I had to sign a form acknowledging I may die. So hopefully Jan. 10”

    1. WWWONKA*

      I was in the hospital for a very long time. My idiot a hole boss had me call in every week to let him know I was not coming back to work yet. Maybe he should have had me call a few weeks prior to return.

      1. Jessa*

        Well I kind of understand this one. Unless you have a thing from the doctor giving them some kind of future date, they do want to keep in regular contact with you to know whether you’re coming back or not. Once a week isn’t actually that bad. Some places you have to call in every day unless you’re on a leave with dates attached to it.

      2. Jamie*

        Once a week is really common, and IMO, fair. It’s just touching base to see where you’re at with the timeline.

      3. kelly*

        Once a week is more than reasonable. At my last job, the full time person slipped and fell on the job, injuring her back. She ended up going to Minneapolis for surgery and staying with her daughter for most of the two months she was out. She was supposed to check in with management once a week because they needed to give the worker’s comp insurance company notification that she would be out that week in order for her to get some pay. Said daughter who happens to be a retail manager was not good about giving updates. I think after they told the daughter that if they didn’t get regular updates, they couldn’t guarantee that her mother’s medical bills would be paid and that she would have her exact same job held for her upon her return. Those threats did prompt the daughter to be more diligent in checking in with the store. I think they were exaggerating a bit, but they didn’t think that the daughter would appreciate being strung along in the same way by one of her direct reports.

        1. Vicki*

          I don’t understand. Why was the daughter responsible? A back injury should not have prevented the employee from making her own updates.

      4. Forrest*

        Yea, I’m not seeing the problem either. Did you tell him an expected return date and he had you call once a week before that return date?

        The way you made it sound like its all on your boss to either coordinate your return or just be happy when you show up and say “Surprise!”

          1. WWWONKA*

            They knew I would be out long term, had all the doctor’s notes, and knew I was on long term leave/disability. I think it was excessive.

            1. Forrest*

              …But why do you think its excessive? Its not like it was daily. It was a once a week phone call.

              Unless you had your vocal cords removed, I don’t get the hardship this was.

            2. fposte*

              They needed to know when you’d be coming back; or, alternatively, at least when you knew that you *would* know. That’s not unreasonable. If they had that information and still called, then it was unreasonable.

            3. ali*

              When I was on short-term disability I had to have a date in place for coming back before I could even leave. That was also true for FMLA. I had an awesome HR department and was able to change that if I felt I could come back sooner or needed a few more days. All of it was taken care of shortly after my surgery (which was an emergency surgery). They didn’t feel the need to check in with me once a week, but my supervisor did actually come to my hospital room to do my performance evaluation – if she hadn’t I would have missed the deadline and the promotion and 8% raise I’d gotten that year! Otherwise, one of my coworkers was a good friend of mine, so I’m sure they checked in with her regularly to see how I was doing, but they didn’t bug me as they had a date set for when I’d be back. I think once a week is excessive if you have a pre-set return date.

              1. Forrest*

                “I think once a week is excessive if you have a pre-set return date.”

                Yea but WWWonka hasn’t made it clear that he did.

      5. Bea W*

        As everyone else as said, common and not unreasonable, especially if it was an unplanned hospital stay and your return date continued to hinge on how well you were doing. In many cases an employer also has to arrange and confirm continued pay out of benefits. Even when the leave has been pre-arranged with a return date, employers still need to be kept up-to-date, because with anything medical, things can easily change in a week.

        1. fposte*

          They often also have to hire temps and shift deadlines around. Look on the bright side–you *want* it to be kind of a pain for them that you’re out and for them to be eager for you to get back. You really don’t want it to make no difference to them. So be happy that they remained interested in when you’d return.

      6. Shelley*

        Once a week seems fair to me. I once got driven to the hospital mid-shift on a Wednesday (I had an evening shift), and when I called in the next morning when he was at the office, my then-manager wouldn’t let me call in the rest of the week. It was only two days, and I still had to call him every morning. It wasn’t paid sick leave, either.

      1. WWWONKA*

        I was out for just short of one year. They knew it would be a very long recovery and were aware of the time frame. I could easily see making contact with them as the return time came closer but every week was ridiculous. I had some visitors come by from work and they would tell my boss of any new news regarding my situation. Never did my boss make contact with me as to my status nor was he required to. As he did not care about me or my return I could see calling maybe every six weeks.

        1. Forrest*

          I would assume your time out was only possible because of your job. (Or at least, better financially.)

          I think you’re making a mountain out of a mole hill.

  2. KarenT*


    Aww, don’t despair. Pay attention to those training you, ask questions when you’re unsure, and keep your chin up. Retail managers can be very impatient when training


    #1 The only thing applying will do is possibly give you interview practice. Unethical… maybe, but you can always turn down an offer.

    1. Joey*

      And burn a bridge. I know I would absolutely hate it if a candidate knows my salary range, interviews than I find out we aren’t even in the same ball park. See you later, dude….and don’t bother applying to anything else. I don’t play games.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yep. And there are people out there who really want that job, and it’s not cool to take an interview slot away from one of them who might actually get hired and accept the job happily.

        1. WWWONKA*

          It’s rare that a company gives you the salary range from the start, you have to do that dance. You also never know if something may change your mind. I recently interviewed for a lower paying job and found out it was a 4/10 work week which I may consider if I get an offer.

      2. Bea W*

        Total waste of time for everyone involved! Interview practice can be had without the time and effort both the employer and candidate put into the application and interview process.

    2. Verde*

      It’s a non-profit, which means they’re stressed and understaffed as it is. Applying just to interview at a non-profit when you have no realistic interest in the job is a waste of time that no one there has to spare, and it’s just jerky. Also, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: if you are thinking about making the jump from the for-profit to the non-profit world, do your homework. It’s super frustrating to bring someone on who really “wants to make a change in their career”, only to have them freak out when they realize that no one is going to file their expense report for them, there’s no IT department, and they have to do their own dishes.

    1. Malissa*

      I totally understand what you are going through. When I switched jobs it was 9 weeks and 1400 mile between the offer and my start date.
      I don’t know how many times I really wanted to call and check in just to make sure it was really happening. Thankfully I had the best recruiter ever.

      1. Poster formally known as Jane Doe*

        Thanks! I am just glad that I have been able to contain my (misplaced) guilt enough to not blurt out “ahh! Stop being nice! I am quitting!”

    2. Jen in RO*

      I started a new job yesterday (a month and a half after I had accepted the offer) and I was really wondering if I’d get there in the morning and they’d be ‘uhm we forgot to tell you, but… we don’t need you anymore.’. Instead, the office manager remembered me from the interviews and she was great in guiding me through my first day. And now I’m commenting on AAM and I’ll be late on my second day, eek!

      1. jesicka309*

        This is completely my fear. I was offered a job yesterday, start date in a month. I thens poke to the manager who will be training me, to find that she’s part-time, and doesn’t work Mondays, therefore the start date HR gave me won’t really work. Not an issue in terms of pay, because I’m getting a payout of leave from my current role and won’t start, but I had a mini heart attack when she said “now, about your start date…”
        I think I’ll be suffering the exact same anxieties until I’m sitting at my desk at my new job – I’m completely scared they’ll take it away from me! And that I’ll have to tell my current job and they’ll have to retract the announcement they sent out yesterday etc.etc.
        Arg. I hate long notice periods.

        1. Jen*

          A month is the usual notice period here (it’s the law), and I took two extra weeks for holiday… but it’s the first time I’ve ever given notice and I was a bit anxious – what if I told everyone about this great new job and now it’s gone aaaaa panic!

          1. Y*

            A usual notice period here is either 1 or 3 months and at my recent (and first) job change I had 3 months notice. Thankfully, my new employer had to check in to ask for information from time to time anyway.

            (I also had a signed contract and everything, but still, three months is a long time)

            1. Bea W*

              What countries or industries do you both work in? I can’t imagine giving 1-3 months notice, except in the case where someone planned to leave for school or a planned move independent of a job offer somewhere else. Academia may be the exception.

              1. Chocolate Teapot*

                A month’s notice is quite normal in Europe. Notice periods aren’t given in employment contracts, but are often legally defined. (NB. This varies from country to country, but has been my experience)

                For example, if you have worked for a company for less than 5 years, it’s a month’s notice, more than 5 years then it’s 2 months, more than 10 years and it’s 3 months.

                1. carlotta*

                  This is London calling. 1 month or 4 weeks is standard and in general the higher you progress, the longer this can be. three months for managers is not uncommon and 6 months for MDs etc.

                  If it helps, we are all amazed by two week notice periods and ‘at will’ work and can’t imagine that either!

                2. Elizabeth West*

                  I can see that. The longer you worked there, the more stuff you’re likely to have to wrap up and/or hand over. Do they try to hire the new person in for you to train during that time? Which would also make sense.

              2. jesicka309*

                I’m in Australia and 4 weeks seems to be the norm here too. I’m new enough to the work force that this is my first notice period I’m serving out, and it’s kind of torture (mind you I’m only 3 days in haha…3 weeks and two days to go!)
                Industry is media/marketing. Sometimes by the time HR receive all my resignation paperwork, they approve the rehiring of my position, they post the position, leave it open for a couple of weeks, then start the hiring process, I am gone. Though I’m junior enough that I don’t have significant handover duties, you could say that even a month isn’t long enough to hire and train someone before your previous worker has left.

              3. Y*

                Germany and IT (software developer). Everyone expects at least one month, and in my industry 3 months is more common, so when I was interviewing in March/April, my interview partners knew I wouldn’t be available until August or so.

        2. Elysian*

          I totally understand this feeling! Someone once left a job offer on my voicemail for a job that wasn’t scheduled to start for about 6 months. I kept that voicemail and still have it to this day, and I listened to it whenever I got anxious thinking that they would rescind. I told myself that as long as I had evidence that they offered me the job, it would be ok. Of course if I marched in there and said “You can’t rescind, I have your voicemail!!” they would have laughed at me, but it did make me feel better to listen to it occasionally while I was waiting for 6 months.

        1. Bea W*

          Me too. Even with a written offer and start date, and confirmation, it’s almost not entirely real until the day you walk in the door at your new job, and they recognize you as an employee. Crazy things happen, and knowing that between my last day at old job and first day at new job that I’m technically unemployed with no insurance (thankfully, you have something like 60 days to decide on Cobra), even if it is just over a weekend, makes me nervous.

          1. Poster formally known as Jane Doe*

            Just got my confirmation! I am super excited for my new start….. Less excited for the conversation I have to have with my current employer though. Reaaaally dreading that.

              1. Poster formally known as Jane Doe*

                Yep! That’s what I keep telling myself, and it’s giving me more confidence. Thanks!

                1. Treece*

                  I recently had to give notice and it was so nerve wracking! But it really wasn’t near as bad as I made it in my head. Practice the words to yourself a bit and then go for it. Good luck with the new job!

      2. Wren*

        My ex-husband showed up to a new job and no one knew who he was. The hiring manager got fired right after hiring him!

  4. Rich*

    #4 I think values and mission alignment are particularly important for cover letters at nonprofits. I used to work at one and it was one of the few places where hiring managers were serious about cover letters and why candidates wanted to work there. Good opportunity for folks to tell a resonating story or highlight something that hit home and led them to apply. Rehashing the company mission in the cover letter is definitely a no-no. Might as well be a form template letter.

    1. Felicia*

      +1 . I think particularly non profits you’re supposed to talk about why the mission appeals to you. You probably don’t ever need to restate the mission – they know what it is !

    2. Saadia*

      Thanks for your feedback, I am the one who asked #4.

      My follow up question is, how do I write about the company in the opening paragraph in order to impress them that I’ve actually researched their company? I usually just say something like, ” I am very excited to apply to a company that [insert paraphrased/summarized mission statement or company fact].

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Here’s a hint that helps me. Let’s say I’m applying for a job as a development admin with Save the Plants. I have receptionist experience, which is a good crossover (customer service, phone work, clerical, etc.). When I research the company, I make some notes about what I find in the mission statement, website, etc. Not copying what it says, but my own notes. I look at everything, not just their mission. Something like this:

        1. Save the Plants. prides themselves on having up-to-date information on current plant research. Hmm, okay, I like that.
        2. They do mailings but you can opt out. Nice.
        3. Ooh, they do community outreach events where people can bring their neglected, ill, or unwanted plants and get help with them. Cool.

        Then I take this and decide how I feel about it, and how it conforms with MY values. Then I would write my cover letter like this:

        I was excited to discover that Save the Plants’ company values are in line with my own. In my past experience, I have found that keeping up on current research and information allows me to answer customers’ questions with authority. Your outreach and education programs allow you not only to give back to the community, but to provide hands-on support to the plants in jeopardy. This kind of involvement is exactly what I am looking for.

        Or something like that. You can tweak it so it applies to for-profit companies too. The trick is to use your own words to say how you feel about it, and how you can bring something to the table. But first you have to decide how you feel. Then you’ll know what you want to say. :)

        I hope that helps!

        1. Saadia*

          Thank you so much Elizabeth, that’s a really good way to write about the company in the cover letter! It shows them that you’ve done your research about them and how you fit into the company.

  5. MR*

    No need to stress out, No. 6! Heck, by seeking help about this situation, you are ahead of 99.999 percent of 17-year-olds. Keep working hard, and reading this website. You will learn a ton of good things about the work world that will make you a great employee (and hopefully boss). You are well on your way to success!

  6. abankyteller*

    #6: you’re doing just fine on your second day I’m sure. I think it speaks to your character that you are paying this much attention to your first job. Keep up the good work!

    1. Vicki*

      This letter reminded me of a short-term retail job I had in College. Time came for the store to close and we were all told that we couldn’t leave until we had “straightened the store”.

      I had somewhere I needed to be in half an hour, so I started folding and straightening as quickly (but carefully) as possible.

      The other women in the section apparently greeted this as a fine way to get overtime. They stood, holding, folding, and refolding, the same shirt, while they talked to each other (occasionally giving me odd looks as I folded and straightened around them.)

      I learned that day that I am not cut out for retail or shift work.

  7. Liz*

    Oh, #6, I have been in your shoes! Don’t do what I did, and let a short-tempered manager intimidate you. You’re new, you stuffed up, it happens. Just keep working and learning, and you’ll be able to do your job in your sleep in no time.

    (And don’t do the OTHER thing I did, which is stay in a job with a short-tempered manager for so long that I was pathetically grateful to transfer and find myself with a boss who talked to me like a person, not a badly trained dog.)

    1. Tracy*

      Yeah, I thought the same thing. Purposely messing up a pile of clothes someone just folded? I think just showing the poster the correct way to fold the clothes then allowing her to fix them would have been enough.

      Reminds me of my first job when I was 15, at that fast food restaurant with the red haired mascot. I walked up to Assistant Manager I’d Never Met and said, “Hi, I’m Tracy. Today’s my second day.” To which she replied, “So?”

      1. Bea W*

        My mother used to do this when my sister and I were pre-schoolers and we didn’t clean up as quickly or as nicely as she liked. So when I read this I had an image in my mind of this woman throwing a hissy fit and making a bigger mess than it had been originally and one totally confused and upset new employee.

        1. LCL*

          #6, your assistant manager is just incompetent when it comes to people skills. Continue to work hard and ask questions. Stop worrying about pleasing her, because with someone like this you can’t. Retail management is notorious for paying poorly and management personnel are often asked to work off the clock, and their pay is often tied to (sometimes unattainable) sales goals. So retail managers are under a lot of stress, and can get all psychotic on you for reasons that you don’t know about. But it’s not about you.

        2. Chinook*

          “My mother used to do this when my sister and I were pre-schoolers and we didn’t clean up as quickly or as nicely as she liked. ”

          The only other places I have seen this used is in military/RCMP training and it is an actual training technique that reinforces the need to do everything perfectly but only after you have been shown how (which it sounds like the supervisor didn’t do here). It us done to reinforce that it is easier to do it right the first time and the people I have known how who went through it did learn that lesson (because nothing is as effective at making a point as seeing a seargant major throw your bed out of your cubicle because you didn’t make your bed correctly).

          The difference, though, is they were being both trained to do the actual job and pay attention to small details and the delay this type of thing causes is worked into the training schedule because it happens to everyone.

          In your case, OP, your manager was just being a jerk on a power trip.

    2. kelly*

      At least in my experience in retail, the best individuals don’t always get promoted to management positions. Sometimes you get lucky and get a supervisor who actually has good people skills and training instincts, but that seems to be the exception in my experience. At the last job, corporate decided to cut costs by reducing the number of salaried individuals by demoting most area selling managers to selling supervisors. Some of the affected people had been with the company for over 25 years and left as a result. At the location I worked at, one person stayed and the other left. Thankfully, it was the one who IMO needed to go because her years in management had gone to her head to the point where the complaints against her were adding up and the turnover in her department was increasing. Her replacement was the newest supervisor who has both good people skills and training skills. The turnover due to conflicts with management in her area has been nearly eliminated and when I left, people were looking to transfer into her area. That is a 360 degree turn from people looking to transfer out under the old manager. The big cause of turnover is low pay and not enough hours, but that is the most common cause of turnover in any retail job.

      1. Laufey*

        Well, it may be a 180 degree turn, but it’s probably not 360. Sorry, pet peeve of mine. Make a 360 degree change, and you wind up right where you started.

      1. Natalie*

        Sometimes it can get helpful to just have your feelings validated though. It was rude and unhelpful of that manager to mess up the pile and it’s understandable that it upset the LW.

        1. Chinook*

          Exactly, OP needs to hear that her expectations of what is rude and abnormal are correct and that this type of behaviour is not acceptable (even if it may be the norm).

    3. Jeanne*

      I see a huge red flag. That manager is a jerk. A good manager would not have messed up the table before asking her to redo it. She wouldn’t have told her to go home over one skinny jean. A customer probably did that while she was folding shirts. Allison’s advice is good for acting professionally with a jerk. Maybe on the next day a better manager will be there for training.

  8. Andrea*

    #1, please don’t do that. Please don’t apply for a job that is 30% lower than what you are making now and waste everybody’s time.

    Posted salaries aren’t picked out of thin air. They are based on available budget and (often) relative to what other employees in a like position are being paid.

    That said, if the salary posted is grossly under market, I don’t think it would hurt to email your resume and include your requested salary range. You’d have to find a way to word it that wasn’t offensive, but to the effect of — interested in your company and the position, here’s the range I need, if I can be of help and the budget for the position changes, I’d love to interview.

    As a hiring manager, I wouldn’t mind this and I would keep your resume. If I discovered that I’d offered a position way under market (after interviewing a slew of unqualified candidates), I might call you.

    Maybe after I had to up the salary range twice though. 30% is a huge jump.

  9. Anonymously Anonymous*

    I’m taking a different route with this one. Is leaving after 5 and absolute deal-breaker for you? Then don’t apply. Could you ever stay later?If not, don’t apply.

    I’d assume that if you wait until you have the offer and then say you can’t stay past 5 -ever, imo will look bad especially since you know that sometimes projects may require you to stay later. Or I think you should be willing to offer something back to the employer in return for leaving early–like staying late every now and then. And don’t the ‘working from home’ approach, unless they suggest it.

    I hope it works out for you.

    1. just wondering*


      This always seems to be the way it is when dealing with clients in a creative capacity. There are never any guarantees you will get out at 5 pm. I wish I had known this when I was choosing a career path! I used to work as a editor for tv commercials and the clients pretty much “own” you until THEIR work for the day is done. As a creative, people want to work with YOU and the work can’t be just passed onto someone else at 5pm to finish up.

      But,#3, I do have some advice. Maybe look for a very small firm to join. Or even go out on your own. Then you will be able to pretty much decide your own hours. And finally, if you are serious about your career, you WILL have to work past 5 pm sometimes. Are there are any colleges near you? They are a great source for me of driving babysitters who can pick up my kids if needed and watch them for a hour or two (or more).

      good luck!

      1. Chinook*

        “As a creative, people want to work with YOU and the work can’t be just passed onto someone else at 5pm to finish up. ”

        This just isn’t a creative thing. It happened to me when I was working for accountants. The reality is that, as long as you are dealing with clients who have other external deadlines and/or a lack of comprehension of how long it takes to do your job, there is always the chance of having to stay late. I could almost always guarantee and extra couple of hours of work when a client had to present financial statements to a board meeting the next day because they would submit all of their changes at 4:25 to the accountant who would then sheepishly ask me if I can make the changes before I went home at 4:30 (which of course meant staying much, much later).

        1. Elizabeth West*

          My sales guys at Exjob had customers who would call and say “Oh my God I need a quote for 300 [widgets] and it’s for a multimillion dollar project and bids close in twenty minutes!” I did not know steam could come out of a person’s ears until I took that job.

    2. KellyK*

      Usually you have to actually talk to people to know what hours are expected. (With the exception that there are standards in some fields, and it’s hard to tell from outside how much variation there actually is.) If you just make the assumption that it will be a deal-breaker, you end up not applying for jobs where it might be fine.

      1. Bea W*

        You can ask questions about expectations around work hours in the interviewing process. Is having to stay late on short notice typical? Early mornings? Required hours that everyone must work? Is there an ability to work remotely during off-hours if needed? These are things everyone wants to know, not just parents with children in school or day care. I would be annoyed if I went through the trouble of doing the background check and making and offer to someone only to find out after the fact that our schedules and expectations around working hours are incompatible. Please speak up or at least ask general questions to help you determine if the schedule will work for you.

        Most candidates I have interviewed ask about expectations around working hours. A few have come out and said outright that they are limited to working certain hours and can rarely deviate from that schedule. This is information I want to know both as an interviewer or an interviewee, because it helps in determining whether a job is a good fit. I don’t need to know the reason, I just need to know if someone is generally available and willing to work within the time frame we need them to work. I would hope all hiring managers would lay out realistic scheduling expectations up front, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes you have to ask.

        1. Chinook*

          “A few have come out and said outright that they are limited to working certain hours and can rarely deviate from that schedule. ”

          This is me dependign on how I make my commute. If the employer wants me to be flexible on when I finish the day, I need to know this so I can make sure I have a way home at the end of the day and that any evening commitments I make are late enough that I can make them. I don’t have children but I am on a couple of committees and do tutoring and this meant that there are certain days where my being out of the office by X (which is usually 30 minutes later than my scheduled time) was non-negotiable.

        2. KellyK*

          Personally, I’d rather have that conversation in the interview too. My response was to someone who was saying “Don’t even apply.”

        3. Anonymously Anonymous*

          “Most candidates I have interviewed ask about expectations around working hours. A few have come out and said outright that they are limited to working certain hours and can rarely deviate from that schedule. This is information I want to know both as an interviewer or an interviewee, because it helps in determining whether a job is a good fit. I don’t need to know the reason, I just need to know if someone is generally available and willing to work within the time frame we need them to work. ”

          I shouldn’t have said to not apply because you’re right; if the hours aren’t known then they would miss out on the opportunity. IMO, I think it should be discussed before the offer for the reason you mentioned above.

      2. Anonymously Anonymous*

        I agree. My reply was that way only because the OP said she knows her field may require late hours.

    3. fposte*

      Yeah, I wouldn’t say “don’t apply.” But be very clear-eyed about what this limitation may do to you in your chosen field. I also think that if there’s any way you can arrange a substitute pickup if every now and then you have to stay late that would help. Think of it from your boss’s and colleagues’ perspective–you are the person who’s not available to help in crunch time. That’s going to need some compensating for.

      You don’t mention mornings, by the way–are you as time-limited in mornings as well because of the dropoff or is somebody else handling them? If somebody else is handling them, can you swap sometimes? If it’s on you, unfortunately that’s going to limit you further, because there’s no compensatory availability.

    4. VictoriaHR*

      “Or I think you should be willing to offer something back to the employer in return for leaving early–like staying late every now and then.”

      This was my thought also. When you approach them (after they’ve made the offer, of course), and ask for the 5 pm deal, mention any compromises you’d be willing to make regarding other hours up front. For example, would you be willing to come in on Saturdays for a few hours, or would you be able to come in an hour early some days if needed? If you approach it like, “Unfortunately I can’t do X, but I could do Y or Z, will that work for you?” they are less likely to see it negatively.

    5. AdAgencyChick*

      I think it depends on what’s normal for the industry when you disclose this and whether it’s worth applying. If normal hours are, say, 9:30-5:30, and the hours are pretty predictable, that’s not such an unreasonable request. But in my field, where the hours are “9:30 till whenever the client says you can leave,” asking for a 5 PM departure every day would get you laughed out of the room — and if you waited to say that until you were at the offer stage, I as a hiring manager would be annoyed that you wasted my time and that we may have let other candidates get away only to find out that there’s a major deal-breaker involved. (On the other hand, if you were an employee of mine who’d proven herself and were now looking to change her schedule, I might see whether I could work things to get you a part-time position or one with defined hours but a lower salary.)

      In fact, a candidate did do this to me several months ago — once we had extended her an offer, she told us she had to have a guaranteed 6 PM leave time three days a week. Now, as long as we’re not in a crazy period, it’s quite normal to leave at 6…but if I say I’m going to guarantee it, that means I have to cover every time she goes home, and I wasn’t willing to do that (particularly since one of the days she wanted was a day that our clients tend to ask us for things late in the day). I wish she had disclosed this earlier in the process, because as much as we liked her, this was a deal-breaker, and we ended up spending a lot of time on the interviews and negotiation process that I could have better spent elsewhere. Believe me, nine months later, I still remember her name.

    6. R*

      Do you have the capacity to work from home in the evenings and get the job done? If you said that you had to leave at 5, but could be back online from 7-11pm would the meet the company’s needs?

  10. Jamie*

    Hey, I’m having surgery soon, too! We need an AAM virtual recuperation ward where we comment while on painkillers and in between painful shuffling walks to the bathroom.

    I’m kind of not kidding. :)

    My situation is somewhat different in that my bosses know what I’m out for, and understand I can’t give an exact return time. In my case I arranged complete coverage for emergencies for the first two weeks. Hopefully it will just be one, but I’m prepared to be on another planet for two. Then after I’m up to remoting in I’ll be working exclusively from home for a couple more weeks as much as a I can. Although I had to pinky swear to put my recovery ahead of work as work will always be there but I only have one chance to heal properly.

    My boss is more than a little awesome.

    And that’s how you reward loyalty, IMO. All those years of bending over backwards, staying late, weekends, never bitching about the work and getting sh*t done…that’s all banked and remembered when life happens and you need a little slack.

    My point, besides that all bosses reading should be like mine, is that communication is critical. I’m not saying you have to tell them what you’re having done if your not comfortable, but bosses are human and they understand this isn’t a vacation where there is a definitive end date. And even after you’re cleared to return there may be some restrictions (for me no lifting anything over 10 lbs, etc) and they need to know that. So give then the window your doctor gave you, with the caveat that everyone heals differently and you’ll be in communication.

    I’d advise asking as much time as possible. That way you can always come back early, but no pressure.

    A funny aside – I am having a hysterectomy and that’s a fairly personal surgery, but I had no problem telling my bosses because I’m me and they have pretty extensive medical knowledge (and we have an excellent personal relationshp) and its not like I was using my uterus at work anyway. And people have to know because I’ll be out, so other people were just told its personal. Anyway, what I’m finding amusing is on days where I’m in visible pain or shakier than others people are so kind and genuinely solicitous and making sure I’m not lifting stuff, etc…anyway it’s the “how are you? Are you okay? Really okay?” Said with such concern and a total tone of “Inquiring about your health without mentioning the internal organ That Must Not Be Named.” It’s You Know Who, now. I work mostly with men. :)

    So …crazy rambling aside, advice:
    1. Be as forthright with the timeline as you are able to be.
    2. Remember your bosses are human beings who probably, like most humans, don’t want to add to your stress – they just want to know the facts to cover business.
    3. Keeps lines of communication open as timelines change
    4. Open mindlessly explore all possibilities of working for home, coming back on limited schedule, whatever works for you and your company. It’s not always as black and white as off or working full on.

    Good luck and feel better.

    1. Jazzy Red*

      Good luck with your surgery, Jamie, and best wishes for a speedy recovery.

      You certainly do have an awesome boss, and your boss has one awesome employee!

      1. Jamie*

        Awww…thanks. I’ve been promised the good Italian ice if I go through with this, so that’s my main motivation.

    2. ExceptionToTheRule*

      I want to second Jamie’s advice. I had major surgery on my colon about 18 months ago and the doctor’s return to work timeline was “2-3 weeks, depending on what we find… then it could be 2-3 months.”

      I told my boss the 2-3 weeks part and figured if it turned out to be 2-3 months, well, we’d cross that bridge when we got there. We would check in either via text or email every few days. Sometimes I initiated it and sometimes he did.

      Everyone at work knew what I was having done and because I work with a bunch of adults who have the maturity of teenagers, there were a lot of jokes – especially since the week before my surgery we did a bit on Colon Cancer Awareness and a local hospital brought by a giant inflatable colon…

      1. Jamie*

        Oh no! An inflatable colon? Worst bouncy house idea ever.

        To your point, I do think the “depends what we find” should go without saying for a lot of surgeries. Things can change – hope for the best but prepare for the worst…that’s how I live my life and its kind of cynical but comes in handy at times like this.

        1. ExceptionToTheRule*

          It was a teaching tool for colon cancer – people could walk through it and see the various stages of polyps and the like. My co-workers, of course, treated it exactly like it was a bouncy house for grown-ups.

          Hope for the best & plan for the worst is the best advice I ever got!

          In my case, it was going to be the difference between laproscopic (sp?) and open abdominal surgery. I got really, really lucky because the surgeon started the lap procedure and by the time he realized he should have opened me up from stem to stern it was too late.

          Good luck on your surgery!

      2. Bea W*

        We had the inflatable colon at work, complete with polyps! My manager disclosed she was tempted to walk in there and fart.

    3. Windchime*

      I’m having surgery soon, too–Achille’s tendon repair. On my right foot, so no driving for about 6 weeks. We should start support group. Fortunately, I will be able to do more work-at-home days and catch rides to work with co-workers on the days I come into the office. But I am worried about my house full of stairs… downstairs, showers up. Yikes.

      1. Jamie*

        Alison’s blog about her foot from when she broke it will keep you in stitches while you recover.

        (I know, worst pun ever!)

          1. Jamie*

            I’ve actually kind of been thinking about it – just for my own amusement….but I’m not sure I should be swearing that much in type. :)

      2. fposte*

        WC–can you create a mini-kitchen upstairs with a borrowed microwave and a few dishes? That way you can at least have the no-stairs options in the earlier days.

      3. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Will you be able to walk on it or put any weight on it? If not, I have tons of advice for you about how to get around, from my own terrible foot tragedy of 2011.

        (And as Jamie mentioned, the foot had its own blog at the time, which is here. Warning: profanity in title.)

        1. Bea W*

          BWAH! I totally sent that to my friend who broke her ankle last year and shockingly did not create a blog written by her ankle, because that is totally the sort of thing she would do.

    4. fposte*

      Good luck to you, Jamie, for a speedy recovery!

      I also think that a successful IT person is like a successful priest or nun–their mental image influences good behavior even when they’re not there. They know that you’ll feel a disruption in the force from where you are and that they will be in serious trouble.

      1. Jamie*

        I have this tiny little joke program that pops Clippy (the little tutorial character that used to come with Office) at random times and it has hilarious canned messages, but you can also write your own.

        So people would be working away and Clippy would pop up and say, “Your typing has slowed in the last half an hour. Pick up the pace.” or “You aren’t sitting up straight, is everything okay? Do you want to talk?”

        I should hack it so it’s actually a pic of me popping up randomly for everyone with greetings, policy reminders, telling them I can see them through the monitor, mocking their web surfing habits…

        I may not be a nun, but I think I can still put the fear of God into people…thanks for the idea!!

        1. khilde*

          That would be an amusing way to spend your recovery time. And bonus points for drafing the messages when you’re under painkillers. Good luck on the surgery and I hope your recovery is swift!

    5. Elizabeth West*

      and its not like I was using my uterus at work anyway.

      Aaaand the Cheez-its just about hit the screen there. LOL!!!!

      This is great advice. Good luck with the surgery, Jamie!

  11. Anonymously Anonymous*


    I think you’ll be fine. It seems like the assistant manager was just ‘feeling herself’ and trying to throw her weight around and frazzle you.

    PS she didn’t necessarily send you home because you did something wrong– rather your shift had ended and it was time for you to clock out.

    I would have loved to see her to explain to the manager why you stayed late an extra 30 min or so refolding clothes she messed up…

  12. Rayner*

    To be honest, the assistant manager in #6 is sounding less like a manager and more like a complete and utter asshat.

    Second day on the job for the OP and the manager’s solution to an incorrectly done task is not to show how to fix it, or to explain but to just mess it up again? And then to send OP packing off home after finding one item out of place on another table?

    That’s ridiculous. And unfair.

    OP, I’d keep an eye on them, and see if they continue to be a complete and utter idiot on the job because that’s a clear sign that all is not cool there. IDK where to go after that but hey, maybe there’s another Ask a Manager letter in that.

    I wouldn’t feel bad. You didn’t do something horrific, and hopefully, as long as your manager is not a clone of the assistant manager, she’ll be fine with it.

    If you’re finding that you’re making silly mistakes, ask a more senior member of staff to help – “Hey, Maddy, I’m getting really confused how to fold these shirts/jeans/rehang these/process this stuff to assistant manager’s standards – can you show me how?” It shows you’re being proactive about your work.

    You’re seventeen. First job(s) are ALWAYS a learning curve :P Take it from someone who also messed up during her few days. You’ll figure it out.

    1. Rayner*

      Whoops, misread the letter – she just told you leave, not in the middle of your shift. But the rest still stands.

      Your assistant manager sounds like an asshat.

  13. wondering*

    Sorry kid, there are jerks out there…way too many of them. And I think they come out in retail so often because you ( the help) are a dime a dozen. I worked retail for a few years, and now office job….same crap, different tactics. My solace….I am not them (the crappy manager); I am hard worker who produces a great product despite the morons. Do a good job and they’ll want to keep you around (generally) to take credit. :)

  14. Anonymously Anonymous*

    #6 reminds me of one of my first job at a major retail chain. I worked the children’s dept during the Christmas season by myself. We couldn’t leave the store until ‘everything’ was in it’s place and all dept were zoned. No one could leave. The store manager would get on the intercom after store hours and announce how this dept and that dept wasn’t clean. Then he would walk from dept to dept giving them the thumbs up or down (but no one could leave). Whenever he got to mine it was always a shirt on the floor, ten packages of underwear and socks opened and tossed all throughout the dept. Every night no matter how much I cleaned my dept it got totally trashed by the end of the night. He would comb through the shelving looking for items out of place or not pulled forward. My dept was huge because it contained baby items, children knickknacks and clothing)Some people would help out and others would just stand around and look at you like why the hell can’t you hurry up so we can go… I hated that place. I only lasted 4 months. When I went to my next dept store job it was so different and the experience was so much better.

    I think this company got in trouble for some these practices later because in some regional location employees were asked to clock out but weren’t able to leave the store until all depts were organized.

    1. Anonymously Anonymous*

      I think this company got in trouble for some these practices later because in some regional location employees were asked to clock out but weren’t able to leave the store until all depts were organized.

      *and they were chipping in to help people get their tasks done*

      1. KellyK*

        That is *beyond ridiculous.* If you’re required to remain on the worksite, it doesn’t matter if you’re helping someone else or not. You are *working,* and you deserve to be paid for every minute of it (or every 15 minutes, or whatever your time system rounds to). I’m glad they got in trouble over this, and I hope it prompted some change.

    2. Jen*

      It certainly gave me flashbacks to my first job in food service. There were a group of senior workers who had been there like 10 years and the power had completely gone to their heads. They would just scream at you until you cried and berate you constantly. The verbal abuse was so extreme that I actually had the shakes by the end of the summer and was extremely anxious and jumpy. If I messed up anything I’d burst into tears and I had absolutely no confidence. My mom told me I couldn’t quit because job hopping looked bad for my resume. If only I’d known that the part-time high school job was not going to go anywhere near my resume. I lasted 10 more months and quit.

    3. louise*

      When I worked for JCP in college, all depts would be instructed to descend on whatever area was trashed the worst at closing time. With that many employees, you can really knock out zoning pretty quickly. There were complaints from some, I’m sure, when their own dept was clean yet they had to stay late to help elsewhere, but overall, it was a good system that got us out quicker–and we were all on the clock!

      1. Chinook*

        “all depts would be instructed to descend on whatever area was trashed the worst at closing time. ”

        To me, this is the only logical solution to the problem, whether it be from the management of employee side. We all want out quickly but can’t leave until the work is done and no one wants to pay someone for doing nothing. I honestly don’t understand why someone wouldn’t want to pitch in if it meant leaving that much sooner.

        1. Anonymously Anonymous*

          I think the part of the problem was some just rode the clock for the OT, some just didn’t want to help you and some did help and I was like 18 year and flustered because every single night my department, besides the toy dept, was the one that everyone had to come and help clean.

          It feels weird going in the store because a lot of the same people are still there working and it has been at least 20 years ago. I feel like they are saying ‘yeah that’s her “….

          The second store was Belks and the store closed at 9:00 and by 9:05 everyone was in their cars. I remember standing around and waiting for the zoning to begin—everyone was hitting the clock.

  15. Felicia*

    #1 – you’re lucky they put the salary in the ad. Usually you don’t find out until the interview, and then you feel like going to the interview was a waste of time.

    1. Anon Accountant*


      And there’s been many interviews in which if the salary had been posted, I wouldn’t have applied and we wouldn’t have wasted each other’s time.

    2. Portia de Belmont*

      Total agreement! Ads with salary ranges make so much sense, and they make the ad seem more legitimate and serious. One my pet peeves is the four line long Craigslist ad that tells you nothing important about the job or the company.

    3. Brett*

      Or better yet, they advertise a range, and then you found out at the interview (or first offer) that the upper 80% of the range was off the table from the beginning due to budget.

  16. ExceptionToTheRule*

    #6 – Retail sucks, but it’s a great place to learn how to NOT be a manager and how NOT treat people. The lessons you’ll learn in that regard are priceless.

    Have no worries. In a couple of weeks, you’ll be an expert shirt fold-er and jeans sort-er and you’ll have figured out where everything goes. Good luck!

  17. Anonymous*

    #1 don’t do it. I did this, I really needed a new job so I interviewed with jobs below what I really needed to survive and far below what I had been making. One of the jobs was wonderful, working for a great organization, doing really Good Things, they said there would be room to grow, some cool new things I’d do. They really wanted me too, they hadn’t expected to have anyone with grant experience etc. But it was a totally nonnegotiable salary and I really couldn’t take it. It will just be frustrating, especially if you find out the job is really something you want. Unless you are willing to take that 30% pay cut close that browser window and move on.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      That happened to me too–it was a government job, and I was really excited about it until I found out that the low starting salary WAS the salary, that there hadn’t been raises for four or five years and probably wouldn’t be anytime soon, and–deal breaker–mandatory 4% retirement deductions from each paycheck. That last one would have left me with around $14 to live on after all my bills were paid, and only allowed me a miniscule amount for food. I wasn’t planning on retiring here, and there was no way I could cover even a small emergency on it, so I regretfully had to turn it down. If I had had another income in my household and just needed a job, I would have taken it but I’m on my own and there was no way.

  18. LV*

    OP #6, you get a big sympathetic hug from me. The problem here isn’t you, it’s that you work with a complete jerk who has let the small amount of authority she has as an assistant manager go to her head.

    At one former retail job I had, one of my daily tasks (I was a cashier)was to calculate the sales clerks’ daily sales quotas. One day one of the AMs came to complain that I had messed up the calculations and I had to do them over OMGRIGHTNOW. I explained that (a) it was another cashier who had done the calculations for that day (b) that cashier would arrive in an hour and could do them over at that time (c) I already had enough on my plate right then between ringing up customers and catching up on a pile of weekly and monthly sales reports that had to be submitted to head office and that the store manager had “forgotten” to do for ages and then dumped on me at the last minute.

    The assistant manager got really pissed off and stormed away to tell the store manager that I was “refusing” to do my job. I’d hoped the store manager would side with me, since I’d worked there for 2 years by that point and the assistant manager only for a couple of months, but nope. I quit shortly after that.

    1. Mo*

      I agree that the AM let the power go to her head. I’ve worked in various retail shops, and though I had some really crappy managers, not a single one would have ever purposely destroyed my work just to have me redo it again. That’s really unnecessary and a sign of a really terrible manager in my opinion.

      But one of my good managers would have said something like “it’s your second day so maybe we haven’t shown you how to fold them yet. let me show you just really quick and then you can head on home.”

    1. Jen*

      It does make me frustrated (not at the posters – at the overall work/life situation) that this is an issue that’s come up twice this week – once with the woman who was going to turn down the next level because of the travel and this person who is afraid her childcare pick-up time might be a deal breaker.

      I say go for it, I say mention it if they offer it to you. My husband works in a creative field (advertising) and occasionally has to do the childcare pick-up and it’s fine. He works with moms in marriages and single moms and single dads and they find a way to make it work. True that when the client needs you, he/she needs you but at the same time thanks to skype and e-mail and cell phones, there’s no reason you can’t get your children and then finish up on work. I know

      I sound like a broken record with this book but lean in and don’t take yourself out of the race if you don’t have to. If you try and they end up saying “Sorry, but that’s a dealbreaker” that’s fine – at least you tried and you know. But they might say “You know what? Sally over there has to do the same thing and that’s fine. We’ll find a way to make it work.”

      1. Victoria Nonprofit*

        I’m also super frustrated by this gendered problem. But I didn’t think we knew the gender of the writer who considering how to handle the potential travel?

        1. Steve*

          I was thinking the same thing. In fact, from my own experience with the word partner, I imagined it as a gay MAN.

          1. Forrest*

            I agree but honestly, I can not recall someone writing in and going on about how being a dad, and having kids, and blah blah…

            1. fposte*

              And I would guess that even if the questioners have been male it’s not 50/50. Some of that is questioner-skewing as well as child-care skewing, since more women than men ask questions here (and, I think, on most advice blogs), but some of it is I’m sure what we’re talking about–administrating the kids ends up being the woman’s job in most families.

    2. KellyK*

      Probably not, that’s what they have wives for. Yes, this is me being really snarky—it’s not directed at you. You just pointed out a huge part of the problem.

      1. Chinook*

        “Probably not, that’s what they have wives for.”

        Or, to be less snarky, the men who do take care of childcare issues and have to leave at a certain time don’t see why it would be a deal breaker and don’t worry about it ahead of time. The men I know who do this type of thing literally treat it like any other appointment and work their schedules accordingly.

        1. KellyK*

          True. They also don’t take the same hit to their credibility and assumed professionalism as women do the minute they mention childcare.

          1. KellyK*

            That is, mentioning it matter-of-factly is a good thing, but it’s not that women are worrying for nothing.

    3. Brandy*

      Interestingly, my husband is the one in charge of child care. I travel often so he has to be at daycare by 6:30 and traffic can be brutal.

      He knows this, cares about it, and is relatively up front about it. I’m about to over-generalize, but I think perhaps women tend to over-worry about the issue and ask for advice. DH just said “on certain days, I need to make sure I’m out the door in time to beat traffic and do daycare pickup.” The company/hiring manager had the “out” then to say it was a deal-breaker. Now DH leaves early/ on the dot when he has daycare duty, and that often means he’s up working until 9pm or later from home. Between that and my west coast clients, we have quite the exciting nightlife.

  19. Ruffingit*

    #1: Don’t apply there. The company has been good enough to give their salary range in the ad (something a lot of us here would like all companies to do). Don’t screw around with them, letting them waste their time interviewing you. That’s crappy.

  20. Bea W*

    This is a typical question, and one that is reasonable to ask so that your employer can plan resources and coverage around your leave. If you are taking leave under FMLA, HR usually documents this and needs to know when you expect to return. They may also need that information related to coordinating any short and long term disability benefits that might kick in while you are on leave.

    They don’t need to know any personal details, just an expected date of return. Ask your doctor how long s/he expects you will have to stay out of work recovering after your surgery. If it is 4 weeks, pick a date about 4 weeks after your surgery. If something changes, you can adjust the date as needed. You are not locked in to returning on the date you first give.

    Wishing you a speedy recovery!

  21. Joey*

    #3. I’m sensing that you feel like leaving at 5ish is a reasonable request- because of course mothers need to care for their kids. I don’t know if you know this, but making that sort of request in a field that has things come up late in the day….well, is not going to get you a whole lot of success.

    You’d get much more success if you did what other mothers and fathers do-find alternate childcare that allows you to work later. I know that’s not always possible and if that’s the case you need to be aware that your options will be limited. I don’t know what the expectation is the interior design field, but if you can get another 1-2 hours of availability it will become a non-issue in most fields.

    1. De Minimis*

      I agree, this is pretty common in any field that involves client service. Flexibility is key to performing this kind of work.

  22. B*

    #3 – Child Care. I would not mention because you have the responsibility of caring for a child and for the rest of the night. That is very dismissive to those of us who may not have children but still things we care for. Instead you could state that you must leave at 5:00pm every day. Or ask if you could do a flex schedule of 8:30-4:30.

    However, I agree with AAM that a firm that has last minute requests that must get done and your work schedule do not seem to fit together nicely. Best to apply to other companies.

    #6 – Deep breaths. It was your second day on the job, you are bound to not know how they like everything yet. If the assistant manager keeps acting this way then they are on the power trip. It is not your fault.

    1. Chinook*

      “I would not mention because you have the responsibility of caring for a child and for the rest of the night. That is very dismissive to those of us who may not have children but still things we care for.”

      I think this is what was bothering me. I have commitments in the evening that involve other people and would horribly inconvinence them if I had to cancel last minute (whether it be an executive committee meeting or a class I am teaching). These commitments are important to me and do require me to leave by a certain time if I am to make them. Just because I don’t have childcare issues doesn’t mean that I am free to be the one who works late every night. And, if I was told to be free for those extra hours and I was salary, I would most defintiely expect to be compensated for the difference in flexibility from my coworker due to the limitations this would place on my personal life.

      1. fposte*

        There are also probably co-workers who *do* have children and who have made arrangements that allow them to work later, so they’re not going to be thrilled either.

      2. MARA*

        Are you kidding? Unless you are caring for an elderly or disabled person, then no, your commitment is not as important. I know it’s not fair that single people are asked to work more than parents, but I am trying to combat the all too prevalent idea in this society that taking care of your kids is something akin to a tennis date or an interview. No. It’s more important than that.

        The idea that kids are just another thing that can be pushed back is what’s led to the flippant attitudes of employers toward important family commitments and employee time in general. This mother is your ally in the fight to recognize your personal time as valuable. If employers will ignore her needs, which are life or death, then why should they give a shit about the class you are leading? Your comment is divide and conquer thinking.

        1. Jamie*

          I totally disagree. As a mother of 3 I made the choice to have children and with my then husband decided on how to make sure they were cared for.

          Co-workers should not have to suffer the consequences of our life choices, nor should society as a whole.

          Of course caring for my kids was more important than a tennis date or interview – to me. Which is why I didn’t take jobs which would require that other people alter their schedules or work harder so I could care for my family. We’re not entitled to their free time.

          1. Anonymously Anonymous*

            “Which is why I didn’t take jobs which would require that other people alter their schedules or work harder so I could care for my family. We’re not entitled to their free time.”

            Agree 100%

            I was a single mother before I was divorced because my ex traveled a lot with his company anyways I was upfront about the hours I could work during the interview and if a job required more than what I could work, I didn’t apply or accept the position. I recalling scaling back my hours at one place as well as asking for a shift change–all which were granted because of the hard work I put in first.

            I’ve done the graveyard shift (at times hauling sleeping kids to my mother’s house), weekend auditing, and subbing.

        2. Wren*

          I would say that caring for your children is the most important thing in your life, but it isn’t important at all to me and probably isn’t to your prospective boss.

        3. BCW*

          That is the exact arrogant attitude that makes the workplace a childless vs. parent war zone. In essence there shouldn’t be a difference between how I’m treated vs how you are treated because you have kids. Yes, your kids are the most important thing to you. That doesn’t mean that your job has to accommodate that though to my detriment.

        4. B*

          Are you kidding me?! Your children are important to you and you alone. It’s like a wedding…nobody cares about it as much as you.

          I have my own responsibilities so how dare you say they are not as important. I should not have to put in extra time, do more work, or be more accommodating, because you think your children are the be all and end all. That is horribly selfish of you.

        5. KellyK*

          Yes, in the grand scheme of things, making sure that children (and anyone else who can’t take care of themselves) are appropriately cared for is more important than a tennis match or a book club. However, that doesn’t mean that every commitment involving kids trumps every commitment that doesn’t involve kids. Volunteering at a food bank may well be more important than being home to meet the school bus when the 12-year-old gets off it. (I’d argue that it usually is, at least for most 12-year-olds.) For that matter, even if the childless person’s commitment doesn’t have any huge social impact, having a social life is a key to physical and mental health. Not having kids does *not* mean that your own needs are unimportant, and that you should never get to make evening plans because you’re perpetually covering for your coworkers with children.

          It also doesn’t mean that it’s the employer’s job to judge employee commitments based on their overall value to society. Things that affect someone’s work schedule should be judged primarily on whether they negatively affect the organization’s ability to get done what it needs to get done and keep its customers happy. It should have much more to do with the nature of the work than the nature of the commitment. (The exception being emergencies, where sometimes you decide that it’s okay to take a temporary hit to productivity, knowing you’ll do better in the long run by treating your people decently when things come up.)

          Yes, in general, the world of work is still pretty much designed for men who have a wife at home to take care of the kids, and things need to be shifted to accommodate the new reality. And it is pretty demeaning to have people talk about children as if they were a hobby or a pet goldfish. But not every job *can* accommodate someone who isn’t available for random last-minute work, and parents aren’t the only people whose commitments are important.

  23. Bea W*

    #6 – Your assistant manager really handed that badly. Instead of being telling you the shirts were folded wrong and then acting like a totally jerk by not being helpful and just messing them up, she should have showed you the correct way to fold them and simply asked you to redo your work. If she were really on the ball, she would have shown you how to fold the shirts, then had you try one or two yourself while she watching to make sure you had learned the right technique and help you to learn to correct anything you were doing wrong. It’s your second day. You are still learning. I’m guessing you may not have been trained how to fold the shirts in the first place or you hadn’t had enough practice arranging the displays. If this is your first retail job in a clothing store, you may not even have realized there was a specific folding method or way to set up displays. If you haven’t had adequate training on folding and displays after only a day, it’s not your fault.

    Don’t be too hard on yourself. Everyone makes honest mistakes when learning a job. Alison’s suggestions are great.

    1. Kerr*

      All of what Bea W said, OP #6. The second day of any job is going to be tough, you’re going to make mistakes, and folding shirts is hard to get right immediately. Someone should have shown you how to fold them properly, and then let you practice. (Who knew there were so many different ways to fold and stack different types of shirts? I certainly didn’t before working in retail!)

      Is anyone else bothered by the fact that the assistant manager told the employee to finish folding the table of shirts before they could go home? That’s not a two-minute project, and the OP’s shift was over.

  24. HR Competent*

    #3- “stable interior design company”
    Must make for some happy horses but my guess is not a lot of room for growth in that field.

  25. MARA*

    #3 is so disheartening. Society needs the next generation to keep existing, but we (at least in this country) punish people for doing their part to keep society going while ALSO contributing to the economy.

    I was that kid who was stuck at the day care. My parents got fined constantly for late pick-ups. I got to know my ‘yard teachers’ quite well as we were often alone at the end of the day, maybe with one other kid whose parents had to work. We, including the staff, all wanted to go home as it became 6 or 7. We wanted to eat dinner and relax. My school day started at 7am! Should a 7 or 8 year old be ‘working’ 12 hour days? Can an interior design client really not wait another 12 hours? It’s not a damn hospital.

    My parents didn’t have ‘high powered’ jobs either, they just both had to work to get us out of the ghetto. I never begrudged my parents for working, but I do question a society that makes us choose between caring for our children and being able to support them. And my parents are college educated. Heaven forbid they had some shitty retail job where they never knew their hours!

    1. Forrest*

      Actually, it could be for a hospital. Rich people aren’t the only ones who use interior design firms.

      And sometimes things go wrong but you have to keep to deadlines. “Deadlines” to pick up your kids aren’t the only ones in the world you know. And your logic can be applied backwards – why can’t kids just wait longer, why can’t teachers stay later, its not life or death.

      Bottom line: just because its a priority to you doesn’t mean its a priority to everyone else.

      1. MARA*

        You’ve completely missed the point of my comment. Children should be an overall societal priority. If someone’s interior design trumps a child’s need to be home, then those priorities are WRONG. And not only wrong, but selfish. In many countries, the workday ends at a reasonable time. In many countries, there is socialized healthcare and daycare. Because those countries have their priorities CORRECT. They embrace the reality that it takes a village to raise a child. However, in this country we say that only parents are responsible for children then chide the parents when they drop out of the workforce or cannot make ends meet or do not supervise their children properly so they commit crimes and do not excel in school.We want the benefits of a well ordered society and healthy, well educated citizens but we are not willing to change our priorities to acquire these things. We want the economic benefit of having both genders contributing to the workforce, but continue to pretend every worker has a stay at home wife taking care of everything for them.

        And by ‘hospital,’ I meant an actual life or death situation. Hospitals tend to be underfunded in a society where children are such a low priority so I doubt a hospital client would be clamoring for the interior design to be done at 7pm.

        1. Forrest*

          “Children should be an overall societal priority.”

          I would love to know when we all voted on that. I would argue in this economic times, work and not children (and creating more children) should be the overall societal priority.

          Again, just because its a priority to you doesn’t mean its one to everyone else.

          Look, I’m a massive feminist and argued the point that the workforce (and society) is unfair to working moms compared to dads. That doesn’t negate that work needs to be done. Again, if what if a hopstial can’t open until the interior design is done (hard to have patients without bed and hard to paint around patients.) What if something doesn’t show up on time for the deadline?

          Stuff happens and sometimes little Johnny is doing to eat dinner later or be picked up by the neighbor. It even happens in those countries where work life balance is perfect and people leave work at a specific time.

          But it doesn’t matter because your priority is not everyone’s priority.

        2. Forrest*

          I would also argue that you’re missing the real problem with your parents working 24/7 – its not that you had to wait for them or didn’t always eat dinner with them. Its that the cycle of poverty is real and hard to get out of.

        3. Jamie*

          You’ve completely missed the point of my comment. Children should be an overall societal priority. If someone’s interior design trumps a child’s need to be home, then those priorities are WRONG. And not only wrong, but selfish.

          I didn’t miss the point, I am disagreeing with you.

          The welfare of children should be a societal issue in that we should have laws protecting them, fund schools so they have free and appropriate public education, and (imo, although I’m sure others disagree) we need to do a better job making sure they all have access to excellent health care.

          I do not believe it’s the place of society to dictate how business should be run, or the hours businesses should require people to work, because some people need to be home with their kids. The function of a business is to make money – and they need to set parameters they need to in order to do that.

          My kids are older – I don’t need to be home early for them, but I need the money I earn at my job to pay for their college. My employer shouldn’t have to worry about being a village and raising other people’s kids…because that means less revenue and less money for those of us who depend on them for our living.

          We all have different situations and we have different obligations outside of work…but it’s not an employers responsibility to make sure everyone can leave at 5:00 on the dot just because some people chose to be parents.

              1. Ruffingit*

                I would also argue for the maxim that you can have it all, you just can’t have it all at the same time. If you’re in an industry that requires longer hours as a regular course of business and you have childcare responsibilities that those hours are incompatible with, it’s not the business that needs to change, it’s you. It may be that you cannot work in the interior design business until you have less responsibility in the area of childcare.

                Life is a series of choices. One automatically precludes some others. Having children closes some doors. Not having children does the same. Choices. You make them and you live with them, you don’t expect the world to accommodate your choices when the world has other priorities.

                1. Oi*

                  This +1. OP will need to prioritize her values, and that may involve exploring other fields or lines of work when it is not reasonable to achieve all of your goals simultaneously.

                  I want to be a self-made millionaire by getting paid to watch crime shows on TV while hanging out with a roomful of dogs I don’t actually have to take care of and eating candy while never gaining weight and also having a happy marriage. Unfortunately, I’m having to prioritize some of these goals….

        4. totochi*

          Wrong. It’s YOUR child and YOUR responsibility. As a single person, I’m already funding YOUR children’s education and healthcare and now you want me to work more so you can go home earlier? No thanks.

          ” it takes a village to raise a child” Really? So when I’m old and for some reason need support, can I move into your house and live off your children? Why not… since I pay tens of thousands of dollars to raise your children today.

          Think harder before you start calling other people selfish.

          1. totochi*

            And I’m typing this at my sister’s house in Portland. I took three days off work and traveled from California to “babysit” my nieces while both parents are traveling for their work (important out-of-state meetings).

            They didn’t b*itch and whine about other people’s priorities for their own career choices. If I wasn’t available, then they would have paid for an expensive overnight nanny. Or decline to travel and deal with the impact to their work.

            Life… it’s full of choices and responsibilities.

          2. KellyK*

            Unless you went exclusively to private school (without vouchers), I don’t think you have much justification for complaining about paying for education because you personally don’t have kids.

            1. Jamie*

              Right. But even if you did go to private schools, an educated population is in everyone’s best interest. We want IT people, and doctors, and accountants, city planners, and pastry chefs and not living in a society where illiteracy is the norm benefits everyone.

    2. Anonymously Anonymous*

      I feel for the childhood you. I see this, not in my classroom, our students are part-day (2.5 hours school day). I struggle with how I really feel about this as someone who works in the childcare field. I think it’s hard for child when their day starts at 6:30 am because they have to get up and out the house to be dropped of at 7 or 7:30. Parents need to work, kids need stability (and fortunately that’s where good day cares and preschools come in to help out parents out)

  26. Sadsack*

    #2 Where I work, if there is a move between departments, then there is an announcement within our part of the organization. Internal promotions are not announced so, going from Analyst to Sr. Analyst would not be announced. When I received a promotion from technician to analyst, it wasn’t announced, but I went ahead and changed my title on my signature lines and such right away.

    I wonder if they do not announce these so as to keep others in the department from feeling slighted, or if it is at least part of the reason. As long as they are paying me, whatever.

  27. Ruthan*

    3 — would you entertain the possibility of starting early, or doing some work from home after the kiddo is in bed? If so, that seems like it would be worth mentioning.

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