forgetting your salary, dressing up for second and third interviews, and more

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

1. My company uses short-term rotations instead of promotions

I work for a large company at a call center. I’m fairly compensated for what I do and I love almost all aspects of my job. There’s one thing that’s bugging me a bit. There are decent opportunities to moving up in the department or getting a better paid position in another department, but the thing is that most of these are just rotations. That means if selected, you do the work of that department for typically 6 months, but your official salary and position stay the same. Sometimes that rotation becomes permanent and then you get an official promotion. Sometimes they just needed head count and it’s back to your original position.

I realize this is great for your résumé but it just strikes me as a bit shady in terms of lack of a raise. The company is definitely not hurting for money.

I was very lucky to get promoted within the department with just a week rotation. My colleagues did 7 months to a year rotation before an official promotion. There’s a new position that now open for rotation. The position is eventually where I’d like to be in my career and I’d love your insight. Am I right to be a little bit frustrated with that process? I don’t want to be frustrated at that when I love everything else at my company.

It seems inefficient to me — they’re training people to do work and then sending them away right around the time most people are feeling like they finally know the job — but hey, it’s their prerogative, as long as they’re up-front with employees about how it works, which it sounds like they are.

As for whether you should apply for the position you want, I’d say to go for it if you’re comfortable with what they’re offering: a role that’s maybe temporary, and maybe more long-term, with no change in pay for at least a year. It’s up to you whether that’s an offer you’d be willing to take.

2. Factoring a recent degree into a salary offer

I have two applicants for the same position, both with similar backgrounds and number of years of experience. The first got his bachelor’s 20 years ago, while the second got an associate’s 20 years ago but recently upgraded to a bachelor’s through an online school. Typically I would offer a recent graduate a salary at the low end of the pay scale, but in light of the second applicant’s experience I’m wondering if he should or should not be offered the same pay that I would offer to the first applicant. All things being equal, I prefer the second applicant because of his personality, so the question in a nutshell is whether or not they are entitled to equivalent pay. The second applicant’s salary history is of course much lower than the first, but I’m sure he didn’t go through the trouble of getting a better degree so that he could make the same salary.

Of course they’re entitled to equivalent pay for the same work. When you refer to the salary you’d normally offer a recent grad, you’re thinking of someone right out of school, without much experience. But this is someone with years of experience, so that doesn’t apply. If he got an associate’s 20 years ago, he most likely has at least 20 years of work experience — why would you care about the degree at all at this point? Pay based on his track record of performance in his career, which at this point is far more relevant than what he did in school.

Degrees are shorthand that tell you what people are likely to be able to achieve, at a time in their lives when you don’t have much real data on their work performance yet. That’s not the case here; you already have the data on him that matters — his 20+ years in the work world. Pay accordingly. (And please ignore his and all applicants’ salary history, which is irrelevant to what their work will be worth to you.)

3. Should you be more dressed up for the first, second, or third interview?

Should you be more dressed up for the first, second, or final interview? Say I have three interview outfits. One is the most dressy/professional/conservative, one is a bit more colorful although still conservative, and one is less conservative still. When do I wear the most conservative and when do I wear the least conservative? Or, buy more interview clothes?

Start with the most conservative, and move down from there — always staying reasonably formal, of course, and keeping in mind the principle that even fields where more casual dress is the norm still generally expect people to dress more nicely for interviews.

And of course, if you’re in an industry that always expects formal dress, then you would stay at that level of formality, not decrease it with successive interviews.

(And as always, this is a case of needing to know your own industry. If you’re in a field that never expects you to dress up, even at interviews, this wouldn’t apply — but I doubt that’s the case for you, since you’re asking the question.)

4. I listed my salary incorrectly on a job application

I accidentally listed my incorrect salary on an application — I was $1,000 over what my actual salary is. Should I:
a) wait to see if they actually double-check, but risk being accused of fraud and getting myself into one of those nasty potential-job-offer-revoked, current-job-lost situations
b) preemptively tell them I was incorrect and offer the correct amount, but risk that they’ll see me as sloppy, especially for a position that requires detail-orientation and for which I emphasized my accuracy
c) state that I was including my employer’s 401(k) match amount in my compensation (which works out to about $1,000 and would be fairly accurate)

How often do employers double-check current salary and if I’m off by $1,000, how likely would they be to tell me to hit the road?

The majority of employers don’t verify a new hire’s previous salary, although enough do that people absolutely shouldn’t feel safe lying about it. That said, the odds are on your side that they won’t check it. If they do, though, $1,000 isn’t a significant enough amount that they should pull your offer over it; you could simply explain that you hadn’t double-checked it when you filled out the application or that you were indeed including that 401(k) match (which isn’t something you should normally do when asked about salary, but not a massive crime). I wouldn’t worry about being seen as sloppy; you’re not required to know your exact salary at all times.

(Obligatory disclaimer that there are crazy employers out there who will do all manner of crazy things, but what you’re worried about is unlikely.)

5. Should employee disciplinary information be confidential?

When you write up an employee, is that information confidential? Might there be certain people that you can share that information with?

Legally, you can share it with anyone you want — coworkers, clients, even the UPS guy who delivers to your office. In practice, though, that rarely happens. Typically disciplinary information is shared on a need-to-know basis, so if you’re talking to an employee about performance problems, you might share that information with your boss, your assistant manager who also oversees some of the person’s work, and — in some offices — HR. There are times that it might make sense to share it with someone else to, but there should be a reason for it — it shouldn’t be information a good manager shares casually or without reason.

6. Can our company force us to use company cars instead of driving our own and getting reimbursed for mileage?

Our employer pays us mileage (.57 per mile) for the use of our personal vehicles. The company is now in a position to give company vehicles to all employees instead of having us use our personal vehicles. Are we required to take the company vehicle?

The reason I ask is that one employee has racked up $12,000 in mileage so far and we have four more months left in the year and our employer says that it would be better for the company to put everyone in a company vehicle versus paying us mileage. Also, if we take the company vehicle, we would lose that extra income on mileage on top of our hourly wage. Is our employer obligated to make up the lost income for our mileage?

Your employer can absolutely require you to begin using company vehicles so they don’t need to pay you mileage. They should pay out any mileage that you’ve already accrued, but beyond that they have no obligation to “make up” the income that you were getting through mileage that you won’t now be receiving.

Mileage payments are intended to reimburse you for gas and wear and tear on your car. They’re not intended to be extra income.

7. I don’t want to tell my boss where I’m working next

I’m wondering if I am required (ethically or legally) to tell my boss about my new job when I resign. I’d like to avoid dealing with the barrage of questions that will come with announcing where I’m going next (what will you be doing, who will you be working with, how did you find out about the job, etc.). I’m leaving to work for an organization that my current boss would love to have connections to and I’d like to avoid his asking me to make introductions to people there. I don’t like or trust several of the people I work with, including my boss and executive management, and I’d like to sever all ties, starting with not informing them of my next employer.

Am I required, ethically or legally, to tell my current employer about my new job? If not can I gracefully exit by just saying I’m leaving to pursue other opportunities, without saying what those opportunities are?

No, you’re not required to — certainly not legally, and not ethically either. However, it’s so common for people to share where they’re going that it’s going to come off extremely oddly (and badly, frankly)if you refuse. You can certainly start by giving a vague answer — “a tech firm” — but if you’re asked which company and you refuse, you’re going to look pretty strange and probably sour the relationships just as you’re leaving.

However, if your concern is that your boss will try to milk you for connections, there are easier ways to avoid that — just say something like, “Let me get settled in there first and get the lay of the land.”

{ 116 comments… read them below }

  1. Wong

    In two of Asia’s financial centres that I’ve worked in, it’s actually common for people who have resigned to keep their new employer’s identity a secret until they have started at their new employer.

    1. FiveNine

      I’m not sure what’s going on — one worker (the OP?) has $12,000 in mileage coming with only three quarters of the year banked. That’s 21,000 miles. Maybe that’s … typical? Do employees typically “bank” that much in mileage and go for an entire year without being reimbursed?

      1. SB

        I don’t think they’re going without being reimbursed. I took it to mean, he’s already traveled that many miles (and has gotten reimbursed).

        I know several people that travel that much. One is a baseball scout for a professional team. One is a salesperson whose territory covers 1/4 of the US (and whose company only allows flight on trips longer than 5 hours), and who travels pretty much Monday-Friday.

      2. Not So NewReader

        A family member was reimbursed at the rate of $7-8k per year. And that did not cover the expense of having a vehicle that was doing 500-700 miles per week. This was back when gas reimbursement was a lot less that it is now. Insurance goes way up. Oil changes happen every 6 weeks, etc. There is a constant parade of new tires….The hidden costs add up quickly.

    2. Josh S

      The only downside to the company vehicle is if you also get the advantage of using it for personal use, in which case you get a tax burden for it.

      But otherwise, I’d definitely go for that, since paying for insurance when you use a personal vehicle for work can get pretty expensive (and if you only tell them about personal use, and you get in an accident on company time, it is a MESS)!

      1. FreeThinkerTX

        Another downside to a company vehicle would be if you first had to go the office to get it each day. I had to do that for a while in my last job and I hated it. I was a sales person that covered a major metropolitan area encompassing 8 different cities. The office was about 40 miles north of my house, and half of my territory was south of my house. Ugh. 80 miles a day just to pick up a vehicle that I hated (a smelly Prius with fabric seats). Thankfully we hired a second sales person and he got stuck with the Prius because my personal car was in better shape than his (a late-model Acura vs a late 80’s SUV).

  2. Elizabeth

    #6, you’re not actually losing anything financially by driving a company car vs. getting reimbursed, at least not if you’re driving a fairly average car. The reimbursement rate is calculated based on the cost of gas, maintenance, and how much resale value your car loses as the odometer climbs up. Here’s a link explaining it: http://www.companymileage.com/howmileageratedetermined.html

    So at the end of the year, if you have less in cash from reimbursements, the trade-off is that your car is worth several thousand dollars more than it would have been if you’d been racking up the miles, and you’ve spent a lot less on gas & maintenance.

    It does vary by car – if your own car was a older but high-MPG compact that didn’t depreciate as much because it was already old, maybe you’d be doing a little better with reimbursement. But if your car is a newer SUV, the opposite would be true. At any rate, your coworker isn’t losing $12,000 a year. He’s just getting $12,000 in savings instead of $12,000 on his paycheck.

    1. KellyK

      Very good point. At the very tail end of that, you might lose out if you were driving a car so ancient and high-mileage that more miles don’t really hurt its (incredibly low) value.

      But even in that case, using a company car means you’re not risking that elderly car breaking down catastrophically while on work travel.

    2. Anon

      Yeah, I was thinking about how much a company car would save you in tires, brakes, oil changes, internal wear and tear on the car (the upholstery, etc, etc).

    3. Anonymous

      Unless of course you are driving the parental unit’s car, then heck yeah it is extra money in your pocket!

      1. Elizabeth

        In my opinion, anyone old enough to hold a job driving enough to get thousands of dollars in reimbursements is *past* old enough to pay his/her parents for the use of their car.

    4. Ed

      There are multiple ways to look at it. I had a company car before and we were allowed to use it for personal business because some people get rid of their own vehicle to save money. I forget the specifics but we only had to pay for gas if we drove over like 100 miles in one trip (ex. – a vacation). Otherwise, all gas was covered and oil changes, etc. My only issue is I didn’t have the guts to get rid of my private car so I was still paying the same insurance, car payment, etc. for a car I didn’t even use. In that situation, it would have been a bigger savings to use my own car. At another job where we had bulk layoffs, it was the saddest sight I ever saw to see dozens of sales people lined up outside HR with a parade of taxis out front to take them home after they turned in their company car with no notice.

      1. Chinook

        Actually, if you only used your car casually, you should have been paying cheaper insurance vs. what you were paying when you were using it for commuting or business purposes (or atleast that is how auto insurance in Canada works). Also, depending on how the insurance for the company car works, those who got rid of their personal cars could be considered “new drivers” by the insurance company if they aren’t listed on someone’s insurance during that period, costing them more in the long run.

  3. Chocolate Teapot

    For the interview outfit, I would err on the formal side, at least until you have had the first interview and have a better idea of the company dress code.

    If you have a 3 piece suit, then wearing the jacket with a skirt for one interview, and with trousers for another is a good way of going about it. Also if funds are lacking for new interview/work clothes, it’s a good way of reusing the same outfit.

    1. ProcReg

      I am an accountant, a profession that screams “conservative”. I wore my navy blue suit to an interview recently, and the President of the company looked at me and said, “You look nice today, and I appreciate that… We’re a small company; we don’t suit up here. Are you sure you’d be happy here?”

      If your hiring decision is based on wearing a suit, you’re a bad hiring manager.

      1. BCW

        But what about the opposite? If someone didn’t wear a suit, but was a good candidate, I’m sure people would think not hiring that person, or at least thinking twice about it was fair because they are going against typical interview attire. How someone looks/dresses is a normal thing that people look at.

      2. Colette

        If you’re in an industry where the norm is wearing a suit and you don’t wear one to the interview, I would expect the manager to have concerns about how you present yourself, especially when dealing with clients. That’s a legitimate thing to take into account.

      3. Heather

        Wow, that’s bizarre. Assuming that because you wore a suit to a JOB INTERVIEW, you wouldn’t be comfortable dressing down more?

        I’m picturing the company president asking an athlete at the post-game press conference if he’s sure he’s happy to be playing football, given that he’s wearing a suit and football players normally wear a football uniform ;)

      4. Elizabeth West

        That’s weird. I would probably have just said, “Oh that’s good to know. I like to dress a bit more formal for interviews than my everyday business casual,” or whatever they’re wearing. But it’s weird. It’s an interview–what did he expect you to wear, a burlap bag?

          1. Tax Nerd

            Totally weird. I’ve always worn suits to job interviews, even though most firms are business casual. But I do wear a suit for clients, and the point of dressing up for the interview is to let the firm know that I know how/when to dress up.

      5. Vicki

        ProcReg – I’m confused by what seem to be two separate points in your comments. Are you suggesting that company pres. was making a hiring decision based on your suit? (I think he was asking a sensible question relating to culture).

  4. WWWONKA

    # 3 I always dress in a log sleeve shirt, tie, nice slacks and shoes. The last interview I just had was with a panel of three managers that would be one level above my position. They were ALL in shorts, tennis shoes, and polo shirts. I want that job.

    1. WIncredible

      I am on a hiring committee and recently a candidate came in in dress pants, tie and long sleeve shirt. With the sleeves rolled up. We do dress casually, but for an interview, maybe leave the sleeves down. Also, he would not (NOT!) make eye contact with me (only female interviewer on this panel). That was much more of a red flag and a whole ‘nother topic….

      1. Jessa

        There are cultures where it is incredibly rude to make eye contact with women you are not married to. I would not necessarily hold this against someone. Unless I knew where he was from or whether perhaps he was from one of those cultures/religions.

        1. Bobby Digital

          What happens when he doesn’t look the female client in the eye if hired?

          I mean, I don’t normally go around engaging in conversations about my hopes and dreams to men I don’t know. But I -do- do that in a job interview.

  5. EngineerGirl

    #2 – I want to agree with Alison. You should not pay more or less because of a degree. You should not pay more or less based on salary. You pay what the job slot is worth.
    As far as the recent graduate, my only take would be that the person does have the tenacity to go after their dreams even if they are long term ones.

  6. Jessa

    #4, honestly? For $1000? It’s practically a typo. Nobody is going to care for a $1000 error unless you make such a tiny amount that it’s a significant portion of the salary.

    1. Anon1

      One question I always have with salary is (assuming I disclose anything) how to deal with fairly significant benefits. Our place has a dc pension plan where the company kicks in x percent upfront plus a small match to encourage employee contributions, and has a bonus program that is designed essentially as variable salary. For me it has been pretty variable – from 2 percent to 26 percent – but it still makes up a decent portion of salary I’m making.

      1. Windchime

        I am not job hunting, but I wonder about situations like this: Say my salary for the first 6 months of the year was $30k. Then I got a bump to $40k. My salary at the end of the year is 40k, but that isn’t what my W2 would show — it would show that I earned 35k for the year. (15k for the first half, 20k for the 2nd half). So would an employer think I was lying if I said I was earning 40k, but my W2 only showed 35k?

        1. AnonHR

          If anything, they’d likely asking your old employer to verify your salary, and not trying to dig up your tax documents. With job applications, they’re usually asking what your ending salary is, which is where you’d give them that $40,000 number.

          1. FreeThinkerTX

            For the majority of high-dollar tech sales jobs that I’ve seen over the years, you are required to provide the interviewer with copies of your W2’s.

        2. KellyK

          I would just give them a heads up if and when they ask for W2s that your raise was mid-year (assuming you’re okay with actually giving them the W2s to begin with).

      2. annie

        I also have this issue – my salary is low and my benefits are fairly significant, but its hard to find a way to explain/word that. I would never take a salary even close to the one I have now, because right now the benefits make up for the low salary. Bottom line, I hate this question from potential employers.

      3. Diane

        In salary negotiations, you should talk about the total compensation package: Salary, bonuses, health insurance, retirement, profit sharing, tuition reimbursement, and other perks. Many employers do calculate total compensation (especially if the base salary is on the low end of average).

  7. Neeta

    #7) I’d say it depends on how you think this information will be handled.

    When I left my first place of employment, I was utterly miserable and just didn’t want to tell them anything. So, whenever people asked I would just say “I’d prefer not to disclose that information, yet”.
    I did get some odd looks, but otherwise I don’t think it made my working relationships worse.

    I’m currently in my notice period at another company, and did tell my colleagues up front where I’m leaving (if asked). For the most part, it was OK. My boss does, however, like to make mean little jabs about how much worse my new place of employment will be. Even though he claims he’s just joking, to me it still seems very childish.
    It definitely makes me regret having told my colleagues the place I’m leaving for.

    1. Cat

      But your boss would make mean jabs about something if you hadn’t told him too – probably about the fact that you hadn’t told him. Mean people will find ways to be mean.

    2. ProcReg

      An old boss became much meaning to me once I told her I was going to graduate school. Very unhappy person, which is out of your control.

      Wrote me up twice in a month, before I left for school.

    3. Yup

      If someone talks down your new job, just consider it more confirmation that you’ve made the right decision by leaving. Good, reasonable, mature bosses don’t take jabs at your new job — they say, we’ll miss you and best of luck in your new endeavor. Anything negative reflects poorly on them.

      1. Elizabeth West

        This. Although my first thought was more akin to a Grumpy Cat reaction: why should she have to tell? It’s none of their business.

        1. Cat

          My feeling is that 99% of the time, your job is in the category of something that is public information. Taking steps to make it private is going to look weird; it is other people’s business because it is something the world at large can reasonably expect to be knowable, and that’s that.

          The other 1% of the time, you have a serious security concern, which is not to be trifled with, or you work for the CIA. But in the latter case, I’d expect them to provide you with a cover story.

          1. Colette

            Agreed. I think about it as the same kind of question as “Where do you live?” If I’m talking to a stranger from the same city as me, I’d say “I’m in the west end”, a co-worker would get a more specific answer, and someone I’ve invited over would get my actual address. On the other hand, if I responded with “I prefer not to say”, that would be unfriendly and bring the conversation to a standstill as the other person tried to figure out where to go from there.

            Similarly with a new job, it’s fine to be vague, but treating it like it’s a secret (when where you work is usually public info) comes across as at least mildly hostile.

  8. MJ of the West

    Regarding #7…

    Also consider that if you use LinkedIn (and you should), or any other form of social networking, your boss will eventually find out where you went anyway. If nothing else, someone you know will probably mention it someday.

    So you’ll have to deal with all of the friction from not disclosing it up front and still probably won’t be able to keep it a secret forever anyway.

    1. Neeta

      I for one, didn’t have any intention of keeping it secret forever. I actually sort of promised I’d let them know once I was settled in at my new job (I actually did, when they asked later).

      Aside that, I’ve heard that some people are contractually bound to secrecy anyway. I.e. you’re not allowed to tell people until you start here. So as a last resort, you could always offer that argument to nosy people.

  9. Brett

    #6 Who is paying insurance on the company cars and business use of personal cars? I suspect for the latter, no one right now. Most employers are much better off reimbursing because it significantly reduces their auto insurance costs (not completely, but does reduce it).
    Meanwhile, for the employees who think they are making $12k a year, have they informed their insurances that they are driving their vehicle that much for business purposes? The extra insurance costs eat into your reimbursement quite a bit.

  10. Lily

    #1 This policy sounds like a way of avoiding the Peter Principle. Do not promote people until after they have proved themselves, which means that the company can avoid demotions which are very difficult for employees to deal with. This sounds like a good policy for companies which do not want to / are not allowed to fire people. Please note that I do not think I am contradicting Alison’s advice, since we generally assume employment at will.

    1. Sophia

      I thought so too. I understand the company’s rationale, they want to make sure they give the promotion to those who succeed and everyone has a chance to “prove their worth” so to speak. And like above, I’m not contradicting Alison’s advice, but in context where it’s a call center, that I presume is a high turnover industry, it makes sense the logic they’re using

    2. Anonymous

      I agree. I work at a call center where it is extremely difficult to fire anyone or even demote them. We will often bring people from one area to another area on a special project, if they work well with the team and seem like they can handle not just that little bit of work but a full position then we extend the project until the paper work can go thru to get them transferred. Generally when we bring people in we are hoping they’ll work out, but if they don’t it is much less strum und drang than it would be if they’d gotten promoted and then had to be demoted.

      OP you may have gotten the promotion really quickly because they went HEY! This person is great we can’t let them go! And your coworker may have not been a good fit, or may have not had as much need for the position, or may have been showing up an hour late every day.

      I would certainly apply and do what you can to stand out. It does sound like they do promote people so you aren’t just getting sent to a new department with no chance of ever getting promoted.

      1. Elizabeth West

        I agree. The OP can rotate in and learn about the position. If no promotion is forthcoming or the pay doesn’t rise, she can always take that experience elsewhere.

    3. Josh S

      It’s also a way to cross-train employees. Call center work is inherently highly variable and typically has high turnover among the workforce. Having employees who can shift from Team A to Team B is really helpful for staffing purposes.

      Because if you’re decent on Team B during the temporary/seasonal spike in call volume, but there isn’t room to justify another FT permanent employee there now, we’ll send you back to Team A without over-stressing their budget by giving you a higher salary. Inevitably, there will be openings again on Team B, and when you make that move permanently, you get the salary and title bump (and a high likelihood that you don’t have to go back to Team A).

      It kinda sucks that they’re cross training you in a way that would be a promotion, but that also doesn’t come with the title/salary bump that a real promotion does.

      But it makes some business sense.

      1. Josh S

        And if you do end up taking your experience to another employer, it looks pretty good to say on your resume, ” I worked on Team B (which is higher/better/more prestigious) while only having Team A title” or “Worked as seasonal Team B” or whatever. It shows that you’re on an upward trajectory in your time with the company–not just stagnant as one of the mediocre folks that cycle through and turn over quickly.

  11. AdAgencyChick

    #7 — it’s actually not uncommon in my industry for people resigning not to say where they’re going, although it’s a small enough industry that everybody finds out within a few weeks of the person’s departure anyway. (And when I hear “I’d rather not say where I’m going,” I immediately assume that means “I’m going to an agency with a competing account, so if I say where I’m going, I’ll be escorted out of the building immediately.”)

    That being said, if it’s not common practice in your industry to do this, I wouldn’t do it. It sends a message of “I don’t want to have any contact with you after I go,” which will damage any future references from this boss.

    1. jesicka309

      You know, sometimes I dream of telling my media company that I’m going to a rival. Four weeks pay without having to work sounds like bliss to me. :)

      1. Tina

        Does your company generally pay for a notice period even if they’ve escorted the person out? I believe it’s come up in a previous thread somewhere, that most companies don’t (and aren’t required to) pay you for the amount of any notice you’ve given them, even if they ask you to leave early or escort you out.

        Though personally, I like your option better :)

        1. Ruffingit

          Also, not everyone is in the US. I recall a discussion recently here where notice is paid in some places in Europe.

        2. jesicka309

          I’m in Australia, so things might be different here. In my compant, if you quit, you have to work the next 4 weeks. However, if you’re going to a competitor to work in a related department, you’re escorted from the building. This holds particularly true for sales, advertising and programming departments, where people are taking knowledge with them. Some companies will actually have clasues in their contract about ‘gardening leave’ – the company pays them for 1 to 12 months, but they are not allowed to work. It happened here when the managing director of one TV station went to another – his old job sued him, and he had to take ‘gardening leave’ for a year before he could commence his new job, as the sensitive information he was privy to would be an advantage to his new job.

          I also wonder if disclosing your new job is an ethical thing – if you know you’ll be escorted from the building, isn’t it shady to keep it a secret?

          1. Ruffingit

            Paid leave for a year? Wow, that’s amazing. Is that at the full salary or what? Nothing like that would ever happen in America. I could totally use a year off with pay. I need to move. :)

            1. jesicka309

              I don’t know if it was at full salary, but he was paid for it. If he had wanted to go work in a different industry (let’s say, magazines, newspapers, or a regular agency) he could have gone straight in, but because he went to a direct competitor, he had to take ‘gardening leave’. Makes sense.

              1. Tax Nerd

                Makes more sense than the U.S., where such a person probably would have had a non-compete agreement, and been sued if they tried to work at a competitor in town for a certain length of time, often a year or two.

                I’ve heard enforceability varies, but the idea that someone would have to either move out of the area or leave their industry in order to make a living is bonkers, to me.

                [I’ve been escorted out of the building when I went to a competitor, but I knew to expect it. My new company expected it to happen as well, so they had my start date set for the following Monday. I didn’t get time off, but I did get double-pay for two weeks.]

  12. JC

    At my last job I didn’t want to say which company I was leaving to go to so I just said ‘you probably won’t have heard of them, they sell xyz’ which made it clear I didn’t want to give the name of the company, one person did push for the name so I gave the name of the brand that they sell rather than the actual company name which is totally different.

  13. Audiophile

    There’s only ever been one time, where I had a second interview. It was the next day and so I wound up wearing the same suit. There wasn’t much I could do. As soon as I left the first interview, they called me about scheduling the second one. I hadn’t even left the parking lot if I remember correctly. In hindsight, I would have preferred a break in between, of at least a few days to a week.

    1. Brandy

      Hard to tell if you’re male or female. But for males, same suit but clearly different tie/jacket (and maybe even shoes) would be totally fine with me.

      Females, too, same suit with totally different shoes, shirt/accessories/hairstyle would be fine. If you know the company is more casual, you could always keep the same suit pants and swap the matching jacket for a blazer.

      1. Audiophile

        Brandy, I’m female. Not much I can do with my hair to make it a totally different hairstyle. But since then, I’ve bought other suits to make sure I have additional possibilities, should I have second or third rounds in the future.

        1. Brandy

          But was it the totally same *outfit*? Or just the same black suit with all the trimmings changed up? I think the latter is totally fine, especially in an industry that is more casual and the suit is clearly interview-only. (I work in the tech sector…where suits are for interviews, funerals, and Massive Client Meetings only).

          1. Audiophile

            I honestly don’t remember. It was definitely the same suit – jacket and dress pants. I likely was wearing a different shirt though. It was so long ago.

            And I just remembered, right after graduation I had a two round interview for an Ameircorps position. But these were spaced at least a week apart, so it was easier to plan out what to wear. The one I referred to above was less than 24hrs apart. Really no advance notice.

      2. Zed

        I only have one interview suit, but about a year ago I had a two day interview. So the first day I wore the full suit, and the second day I wore the suit jacket with another pair of dress pants. It was slightly less formal without being casual, which was nice because the second day was shorter and involved some travel.

    2. Jen

      I have one suit – it’s a black pants suit. Actually I have a few more suits but with having children I have some size issues where not everything in my closet fits me at the same time so right now I have one suit that fits. I had two interviews for my current job and fortunately they were with different people.

      For interview #1 I wore my black suit, heels, red button down shirt and some clunky silver jewelry.

      For interview #2 I wore the same black suit, bright blue crew neck shirt, different black heels and minimal jewelry.

      The collared shirt the one day and the crew neck shirt the second made it seem different enough.

      If I’d had a third interview I likely would have at that point worn a black skirt and collared shirt.

  14. Jazzy Red

    I have to disagree with Alison on this one.

    You are under no obligation to tell anyone where you’re going when you leave your job. Who cares if it’s the norm? You don’t TRUST these people, so don’t worry about being thought of as strange. If pressed, tell them you’re going to work at the Happiest Place on Earth (and it just might be, for you).

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      Sure, you’re not obligated. But it’s about social norms. If you refuse to tell, you’re likely going to sour the relationship and even potentially affect future references, if you make your coworkers’s last impression of you a chilly one.

      Still no obligation to tell, of course. But there are consequences to that choice.

      1. Mike C.

        I’m curious how you’d respond to the comment below talking about a CEO of a company having the offer of a leaving employee rescinded due to sitting on the board of the new company.

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          That is awful, of course. Doesn’t change the reality, though, that you’re usually going to sour most relationships if you refuse to answer questions about where you’re going.

          1. Elizabeth West

            I guess it really depends on the industry and the job itself whether or not you have any relationships after you leave. When I worked food service and very low-level office positions, you didn’t see anyone ever again if you changed jobs, unless you were friendly with them outside work.

            It may be a social norm, but I dislike that someone in a really crappy job with a horrible manager would have to feel obligated to share this information.

      1. Mike C.

        There have been a few letters here about old bosses trying to call new employers to “sabotage” the employee leaving. While it doesn’t usually work I can see where an employee trying to leave a bad situation doesn’t want to take the chance.

        While I appreciate that it’s the norm, I can understand why some folks just want to keep their mouths shut until they get to a better place.

        1. Colette

          That could happen – but the vast majority of the time it won’t, and if your former manager tries it, most of the time they’ll come off as unbalanced.

          If you act like where you’re going is a secret, on the other hand, you’re likely to hurt your reputation – not just with your boss, but with your coworkers.

          1. Cat

            Plus, in most industries, everyone’s going to find out who your new employer is relatively soon anyway. If you’re switching careers or locales, or you’re in a completely internal job where you never interact with anyone outside your company, maybe. Otherwise, you’re just delaying your co-workers finding out anyway, so you’re damaging your reputation needlessly.

            1. Mike C.

              In cases where someone can actually harm you by starting out in your new job you can establish yourself at the new company, qualify for unemployment if something crazy happens or at least be out of the toxic environment.

              Folks need to understand that just because something happens “most of the time” doesn’t mean that the variability isn’t high (it is) and that some of us have had to deal with some rather extreme and abusive situations. When leaving these environments, your reputation doesn’t matter because the mere act of finding a new job has burned all of your bridges.

              1. Ask a Manager Post author

                Then those people would presumably make the calculated decision to not tell and deal with whatever fall-out there will be — but they still should understand that there will likely be fall-out from refusing to tell.

          2. Mike C.

            “Most of the time” isn’t a useful metric here. Most people don’t care about giving out this info, so I’m willing to bet that the few folks who don’t have a reason for not wanting to do so.

            1. Cat

              Sure, but having a reason does not necessarily mean that it’s a good enough reason to act on. And since people are asking the question, they’re looking for advice so it’s reasonable for everyone here to give it.

              Take the reason often given when people ask that question here: I don’t like my co-workers and don’t think it’s any of their business. That’s not an illegitimate rationale per se, but it’s one that could hurt them if they acted upon it.

              And I’d argue that it’s often true even in the case where they worry an evil co-worker or boss will try to sabotage them if they learn where they’re working. Because in that case, the evil boss is still likely to find out where the new co-worker is working and the conversation will then go like this:

              New Company Contact: Oh, your former employee AAM Poster X just started working for us; she’s delightful.

              Evil Boss: AAM Poster X? She refused to tell me where she was going and now I know why! She’s a horrible person who will steal from you! Fire her now!

              And Evil Boss suddenly looks more credible than if he called up New Company Contact out of thin air. The fact is, people who are trying to screw you are going to try to screw you: the calculus has to be what is going to give them the least ammunition to do that. In this case, I think it often (but not always) involves disclosing where you’re moving to.

            2. Colette

              “Most of the time” is actually the way you should make decisions.

              Some planes crash – does that mean you should never fly and instead drive, which is far more risky? Of course not.

              Similarly, the choice here is to provide (possibly vague) info and run the low risk that someone might try to sabotage you or treat information that is normally public like it’s a huge secret and run the much higher risk of souring your coworker’s view of you.

              Now, if you have reason to believe that your boss/coworker will sabotage you (i.e. she did it to the last 3 people who left), maybe you shouldn’t tell anyway – but you should do so knowing there is a cost to that.

              1. Mike C.

                I work in aerospace and have a background in statistics, so lets rumble. :D

                Yeah, I understand how safe flying is. But, it’s not equally safe on every airline. There are plenty of airlines which have such terrible records that they’re banned from flying in many areas. There are other situations like weather or active volcanoes or terrible weather that make flying less safe than it should be.

                The question to ask isn’t “whether I should fly” but rather “does my specific situation fit into the narrow exception where flying isn’t actually a good idea?”

                So back to the topic at hand. Yes, the advice applies to most people, but for the ones it doesn’t, it really doesn’t. There might be a cost of making that choice, but the risk associated with going the other way might really screw you over.

                1. Colette

                  It’s true, the probability of someone misusing the information is low, but the potential cost is high.

                  I think we actually mostly agree – if you have reason to believe that the risk is high that someone will misuse your info, you should be vague or even, as a last resort, refuse to answer – but if you do refuse to answer, the probability of it affecting your relationship with that person is high, but the impact is probably low.

                2. Anonymous

                  But that’s like telling everyone not to fly because in some very narrowly defined circumstances flying isn’t a good idea. Because yes in your very narrow set of circumstances it is a bad idea but unless you know exactly those set of circumstances and are only talking to that one person then you want to address that broadly flying generally a fine thing to do.

                  And if you are talking to a room of 10,000 people and you have 2 minutes you don’t get to explain every single situation that will apply to 2 of them once each. You talk about how generally flying is safe and this is why.

        2. Jazzy Red

          I did have a boss like that. We always thought that he’d had at least one stroke, because his behavior changed. He would think NOTHING of calling someone’s new employer and “jokingly” tell them terrible things about the person. We all learned to never tell him anything except business things.

          I realize that this is the era of oversharing, but I can’t believe people really think they’re entitled to know every darn detail of everyone’s life, and will trash someone’s career if they don’t give it all up. That’s just nuts.

          1. Ask a Manager Post author

            I don’t think anyone is saying that people will trash someone’s career if they refuse to say where they’re going. But if you act chilly (and this will generally seem chilly), it will of course change your relationship with people.

            1. Cat

              I think a key fact is that the main reason cited for not telling people where you’re going is that a given person may be a psycho who calls your new boss to trash you. Thus, when you refuse to tell an individual where you are going, you are, in essence, telling them you think they might be a psycho (or in league with psychos) who will trash you to your new boss. I don’t think anyone thinks about it that explicitly or on a conscious level, but yeah, it’s going to have a chilling effect on your relationship with that person.

            2. Not So NewReader

              I agree with Alison and think this is great advice. I have seen it happen too many times, if an employee leaves without saying where they are going then everything changes. And relationships that might have been okay take a permanent down turn.
              I think OP’s main concern was that Old Boss wanted to use OP as a connection to New Boss for some type of gain.
              It would be more to the point for OP to address that question. There are a few routes you can take with this OP:
              “Well, with me being new, I think I should probably keep my mouth shut rather than giving them advice or asking favors for now. New Employer is going to expect me to be in learning and observing mode.”
              OR
              “Well, let me see if this is okay. I don’t want to do anything that would be seemingly unethical or even in a gray area and I am not clear on what the rules are for the new company.”
              OR my fav:
              “When I have a chance I will try to ask.” Then I forget. I actually do forget- starting a new job is huge and fills up a lot of brain space.

              I think Alison’s main objective here, OP, is to save you a bunch of trouble later on. For example- not being able to use Old Employer on your resume because the relationship soured so badly. If you can find a set of words to help you side step the boss’ question then that would be the best route to go.

  15. Erin

    On interview outfits, doesn’t it matter who you’ll be meeting with? For example, interview 1 might be with the would-be direct supervisor and head of the office, and interview 2 might be a “fit” interview with your would-be peers. In that case, I’d wear the slightly less formal outfit to the second interview. However, interview 1 might be with peers and supervisors, and interview 2 with the head of office. In that case, I wouldn’t dress down for interview 2.

    It seems silly to dress down at all in my opinion. You start with a navy or charcoal suit. Interview 1, you add a white shirt/blouse. Interview 2, you wear a light blue shirt/blouse. If you’re a woman, you wear one set of jewelry to the first interview and a different set to the second (e.g., gold with the white shirt and silver/pearls with the blue). If you’re a man, just switch up the ties. Voila! Two outfits for not much extra money.

    1. RG

      I agree – The type of suit you typically wear to an interview is not meant to be distinctive , so I don’t see any reason not to wear the same suit to multiple interviews. If it is a place where you would be wearing suits everyday, then I’d consider having a second full suit, if only to demonstrate that you know the dress code. But in most cases, switching up the shirt/accessories is sufficient.

      1. Chocolate Teapot

        I shall forever remember attending an interview on a Friday afternoon, dressed as smartly as possible (impoverished graduate with one suitable suit for interviews – you get the idea).

        My jeans-clad interviewer, whilst making conversation on the way to the room where the interview was to be held, cheerfully remarked that “I decided not to bother dressing smartly today”.

        I couldn’t help thinking what would have happened if I had turned up in my jeans and said something similar.

        1. HR lady

          I get that it’s frustrating to have an interviewer cheerfully dress down for the interview, but I don’t think there’s a social or business expectation for an interviewer to dress up. There definitely is an expectation for the interviewee to dress up.

          In fact, sometimes what the interviewer is wearing can help clue you in to the dress code standards at the new place, which I think can help you identify how you might fit in. (It’s not foolproof, though, because some interviewers will purposely dress up for an interviewer and some won’t, so it doesn’t always tell you about their company.)

          1. Anonymous

            +1 for this.

            When I interviewed for my current company, I was just leaving my first ever job out of University which had been very corporate (full suit, 5 days a week, yes, even Fridays).

            My new company is very creative (a division of a well-known photography firm) and e-commerce based, so zero customer or client interaction in the office. Both my interviewers were dressed nicely, but were wearing jeans and casual shoes. Observing that, combined with a tour of the office, helped me figure out what was an acceptable form of “dressed-down” when I started working for them.

      2. Jane Doe

        And as long as your suit isn’t dirty, wrinkled or smelly, I doubt most people would even notice or care about someone wearing an ordinary black/grey/blue suit, especially if the interview is only for 1-2 hours and not a whole 8-hour ordeal.

  16. Mason

    #1 – Dollars to Donuts says you work at Apple – been there, done that. What I learned from going through the exact same thing is that they are definitely trying people out instead of making the “wrong” hire. Your best bet is to go in and really do your best while you’re in the rotation – however, a week’s rotation is just a coverage thing, and it’s unlikely you’re getting scrutinized during that time frame.
    For me, I made a gaffe during my time as “temp” manager and my supervisor never forgave it. I ended up having to leave to move up (but that’s not uncommon, leaving to move up in the world).

    1. Victoria Nonprofit

      Ha – I had another company in mind. OP 1, are you at a large mutual funds company based in suburban Philadelphia?

  17. BCW

    For #7 I think its fine to not tell them. A recent example, one of my co-workers just put in his notice last week. He is going to work for a company that actually used to be a partner, so everyone at our companies know each other (we even shared office space for a while!). We provided similar services to slightly different audiences, so while in some ways they were a competitor, the 2 companies were not competing for the same users. Anyhow, this guy puts in his notice and let people know where he was going. The higher ups made his supervisor escort him off the premises immediately. It was absurd since the guy was always a great employee. Now he did get paid out his full notice period, so thats nice. But it was handled so badly, that I could see why someone else wouldn’t mention where they were going so that didn’t happen to them.

  18. Michael

    #2 to Alison: thanks for that answer. As someone without a degree and years of experience, almost a decade, it’s still a headache I run into often as if I still need to prove myself.

  19. EM

    #7 — I hear what Alison is saying, and I understand the social norms involved in this.

    However, I do think it can be wise to be as cautious as possible in some instances.

    In one of my former jobs, a co-worker put in her 2-week notice and disclosed the name of the company she was moving on to. It turned out that the CEO of our company was on the Board of Directors at the company he was moving to, and they blocked her hire.

    Our CEO put in a call to the other company and her offer was revoked. It was really horrible, and I don’t even know why a company would want to do that, as I feel like that employee would be even more motivated to move on after having something like that done to them.

    I don’t think this is normal, but I’m just saying…sometimes it is prudent to be cautious.

    1. Tina

      That sounds absolutely awful. I agree with you – could a company really be so blind that they they don’t see the long-term consequences of that kind of action? Fine, maybe it’s a valuable employee and they’re forced to stick around a little longer, but a)you’ve just completely soured the relationship and b)wonder what the quality of that employee’s work is going to look like now?

    2. AdAgencyChick

      That is HIDEOUS.

      What did your coworker end up doing? That is a horrible spot to be in — because not only has the company made the relationship completely antagonistic, but also the employee now has to escalate to a CIA level of secrecy in order to interview for anything else, because the boss KNOWS she wants to leave.

      I hope your coworker was able to find something else soon after that, and that if asked where she was going, answered, “Up Yours, Inc.”

      1. EM

        This was several years ago, but if I recall correctly — what the company did was move her to a completely different business unit (we worked together in one business unit and then they transferred her when this all went down) along with giving her a promotion/raise. I suppose it was the least they could do.

        I think she ended up staying on for awhile more — maybe a year and a half or so — and then left, but I don’t keep in contact with this particular person anymore, so I don’t know what exactly precipitated the final departure.

    3. A Teacher

      When people used to leave and still leave my former employer, you don’t tell anyone in management where you’re going. They take it personally when you submit a letter of resignation and went so far with some people, not all, to send out nasty emails department wide or talk about how awful former employees were, when they weren’t. I know when I resigned, I told some people exactly where I was going but when my boss said to me, its fine if you leave, you’ll never work as an athletic trainer again, I knew I wasn’t telling him where I was getting hired.

      1. Ruffingit

        That’s the work equivalent to emotional abuse in the dating realm: If you leave me, you’ll never find anyone else.

    4. annie

      This is awful, but I’d also argue that you should probably look up who is on the board of directors of any company you are interviewing with, so you might anticipate this sort of thing and could make an informed decision. Still does not excuse what this person did, but it’s one thing to look up when prepping for an interview.

  20. Elizabeth West

    3–levels of interview dress

    If you’re in a field that never expects you to dress up, even at interviews, this wouldn’t apply — but I doubt that’s the case for you, since you’re asking the question.

    I would still dress up a bit. For my current job, my first formal interview was a phone one. For the peer interview, the hiring manager told me not to wear a suit. The team members had on sweatshirts and jeans. I wore khaki pants, a turtleneck (it was cold), turquoise jewelry, boots, and a brown blazer. A suit or even a skirt would have been too much.

    Even if you’re going down a notch, it will help your confidence to know that you look good.

  21. Interviewer

    #5 – I have spent a good bit of my working career handing paychecks and mileage reimbursements to our company’s messengers. It’s a low-paying job, and most of them live paycheck to paycheck. No matter how I explain it, they treat those mileage reimbursements as part of their salary. I even had one come to me with an application form for a new apartment, and he wanted to know his income, including those mileage checks.

    Um, no. That is not income – it’s an expense reimbursement. If you bought a plane ticket for a company trip, and I paid you back, that is not income, right? Same with company use of a personal vehicle. Yes, the mileage rate is very high right now, and it seems like there is still a lot of money left over after buying gas. But that money is intended to (proportionate to the amount of time spent driving for work): pay for gas, buy new tires, make insurance payments, or get an oil change. Again, it’s not income.

    I always tell my messengers (who drive about 100 miles a week for work) to set up a separate account and put those checks in the account. After it builds up over a couple of weeks, they could keep that car in great shape, and never worry about where the next tank of gas is coming from when they get a surprise delivery to make that is 2 hours away.

  22. HR Manager

    I wonder if the situation in number one maybe has something to do with waiting until there’s a “real” opening. In large companies with a lot of turnover it would make sense to have people waiting in the pipeline that have experience in the job. That would explain the varied length of time people wait to get “promoted for real”. On the other hand it really doesn’t make a lot of sense not to advertise this fact or not to give at least a small increase in salary if you’re on secondment.

  23. Anony

    Re: 7. I don’t want to tell my boss where I’m working next

    Thanks for answering this question, as I was wondering the same thing. I once left a job where they were starting to push employees out, and I had no interest in telling my manager at the time where I was going bc of that. She asked but I answered very general and think that using the “let you know once everything is settled” response works fine.

    In a more professional office setting, everyone I know that has left has mentioned where they were going, so I do also agree that it is polite social norms to say so, unless there is a legit reason not to.

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