I have no idea what salary to expect, I want to stop covering the phones, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. Covering the phones is interfering with my ability to do my job

I’ve been at my new company for about three months now as a social media coordinator. When I interviewed for the position, there was no mention for the occasional need to cover for the position to cover the phones, but I’ve been asked to “watch the phones” multiple times a week. Our new receptionist leaves every day at 2 pm and my coworker and I are being repeatedly asked to assume her duties. However, I am now in a position where I’m involved with multiple projects and don’t really have the time to answer phones or walk to the back of the office to let someone know he has a call on Line 2. Furthermore, I’ve noticed that they’ve only asked the female employees (there are 7 of us) to cover the phones.

Is it appropriate for me to say something along the lines of, “Hey, I understand you need someone to cover the phones after Sally leaves at 2 pm, but due to my work with Chocolate Teapots, assisting with Vanilla Teapots, analyzing Peppermint Teapots, and writing copy for Butterscotch Teapots, I’m afraid answering the phones will interfere with my ability to get work done for our clients. Also, as I haven’t been trained on how to use the phone system, I’m not comfortable with being given the task of answering the phones.”

I wouldn’t say it like that, because your wording is too close to “I’m telling you what my job is.” You want wording more like: “Covering the phones after Sally leaves makes it hard to get client work done, especially projects that require focus. Are there other solutions we could use instead?” (Say this to your manager, even if it’s someone else who’s asking you to cover the phones. Your manager is the one most likely to resolve this.)

And if you’re told no, then you say: “I’ve noticed phone coverage is only split between the women at my level. Could we include Bob and Apollo in the rotation as well?” (Note: Bob and Apollo must be the same professional level as you; if they’re more senior, this isn’t reasonable to ask — and isn’t a gender issue.)

2. I’m entry-level and have no idea what salary range to expect

I got a call about a job I applied to where the hiring person said they were impressed with my cover letter and resume, and they wanted to know what my salary range was. I told them I didn’t know what a reasonable salary range was because I didn’t have direct experience and all the similar jobs I’d looked at that listed hourly rates required a high school diploma while this one required a BA. They kept pressing me to tell them what salary would make me happy, and I kept saying I wasn’t sure what was reasonable and thought I’d lowball myself since the other positions I’ve been looking at had a different education requirement. (I’m a recent grad and I’m entry level, so I’m not sure why they needed a salary range anyway. Shouldn’t someone who’s entry level not need to negotiate salary?) They dropped it and moved on to other questions. I realize I screwed up and don’t expect to hear back from them.

For future reference though: Is there any way to say you don’t know what a reasonable salary range would be because you just don’t know what is typical for a specific job, but are open to hearing what they’d be willing to offer, without getting rejected? Or is it better to just throw out a random number even if you have no clue? (I know you’re supposed to research salary levels, but I’ve been looking at a wide range of jobs outside of my field of study and can’t become an expert in All The Jobs overnight.)

Well, first, the person you talked to was being silly for insisting that you name a range when you’d made it clear that you had no idea what range you’re looking for. That said, saying “I have no idea what a job like this should pay” doesn’t look great either. Ideally you want to have some idea going into the conversation (even just talking to people who work in that field can help).

In any case, in the future I’d say, “I’ve seen a range of salaries for this type of role. Can you give me an idea of the range you’ve budgeted for it?” If they refuse (and some will, which is an unfair double standard but very, very common), then you can say, “I’m sure you’d make me a fair offer, so I think it makes sense to keep talking.” Hell, you can even say, “As a new grad, I’m honestly not sure what range is reasonable here. I’d love some guidance from you.” Most people are going to take pity on you, or at least stop pushing you for an answer.

3. Do I need header info in my cover letters?

If applying for a job online, do you still need to include all the info (sender’s address, recipient address, date) you would if you were physically mailing a letter? The example letters that are posted don’t have this info. I don’t know if this is because you redacted it, or if the author omitted it originally.

If you’re sending the letter in the body of your email, you don’t need all that header info; the convention with email is not to provide it (partly because of some of that info is in the email headers already) and it would look weird to put that stuff in. The first line of your email would be “Dear whoever.” If you’re attaching the email in a separate document, then yes, you’d include it there, because that’s the convention on separate documents. (Although then even there, you can skip the addresses if you want.)

4. Should my resume mention that I’m legally authorized to work in the U.S.?

I am new to the states and have had a hard time looking for a job so far. While I have a good career in the Middle East, my luck is not working very well in the states so far. My question today, however, is regarding my residency status and sponsorship requirements.

I have been turned down blatently since hiring managers think I would require sponsorship. But I am authorised to work in the USA for any employer. Should I include this information my cover letter or my resume? My husband disagrees since I have declared it on the online application form.

Yes! Put it on your resume. It’s pretty common to do that if you have a foreign work history, and it won’t look weird. Hiring managers don’t always look at the online application form if they have the choice of looking at the resume instead.

5. I accepted a job offer but am not sure if I’m supposed to be waiting to hear from HR before it’s final

After months of searching and interviewing for jobs, I finally got an offer! I recently received a verbal offer from the person who interviewed me a few weeks after the interview. We discussed salary, but my start day was up in the air. The hiring manager wanted me to start in 2 weeks (which I could if they wanted me to). But I had a pre-planned trip the following week, so I would have started the position one week and taken a vacation the next week. I told her that I really wanted the job and it was up to them if they would like for me to start the week before my trip or the week after. From the conversation I had with her, it seemed fine. She asked me to come to a meeting the next day to meet with the rest of the team I will be working with. After the verbal offer, I sent a thank-you email to confirm that I accept the position. When I met with the team the next day, everyone knew I had a vacation planned and they where all okay with it. The hiring manager also noted that she received the acceptance letter and HR would be contacting me in a few days.

It has been 72 hours since my verbal offer has been given. Is it okay to contact the hiring manager or HR to see what the hold up is with a written offer letter? I don’t want to be a nag, but I do not want to quit my current job until I am sure of their intentions. (However, I don’t actually know if HR is going to send a formal written offer or if they’ll just be sending new hire paperwork.)

Yeah, that last part is what I was thinking — you don’t want to call the hiring manager up and say “I’m waiting for the written offer” if she thought everything was wrapped up. But you could email and say something like: “Just wanted to check with you — should I be waiting on a formal written offer from HR, or are we all set? (I haven’t heard from them so just wanted to verify before I give my notice over here.)”

That way, you’re getting clarification without alarming her if it’s actually all set and done on their side and HR is just planning to send you a package of first-day forms.

{ 164 comments… read them below }

  1. Feed Fido*

    I wonder if there’s a standard way to note you are authorized to work in the US. If not, I’d start out line one with your eligibility or you may get screened out fast.

  2. Abbie*

    #4. I’ve seen it a lot with just a simple sentence at the bottom. Permanent resident or Legally authorized to work in us or no sponsorship required. I encourage putting it. Sometimes you’d rather pass than waste a bunch of time screening someone who may need sponsorship but doesn’t tell you til later.

    1. Cassie*

      I’ve also seen CVs with a line about citizenship/permanent resident status – being a STEM dept at a university, many of our students & researchers are foreign-born and while some will need sponsorship once they are done w/ school, others have obtained green cards and don’t need sponsorship. And some don’t currently have legal authorization to work beyond school, but are in the process of obtaining it, or whatever.

      I can’t quite remember what phrase they use though, but they do usually just come out and state their citizenship status.

    2. Cath@VWXYNot?*

      I put mine right at the top, just under my name and contact info.

      When I first moved to Canada I was on a work permit tied to a specific employer and job; after that I was a permanent resident (equivalent of a US Green Card) and could hold any job. My CV line at the top was simply “Status in Canada: Work Permit” and then “Status in Canada: Permanent Resident”. I’m in a field where it’s very, very common to hire foreigners, so no further explanation was needed; in another field, I would have added “(visa transfer would be required)” or “(authorised to work for any employer)”, respectively.

      Now, the line at the top of my CV says “Citizenship: Canadian and British” (yay!)

    1. James M*

      A few employers will let you know in the job listing. I am also curious about the “convention of etiquette” regarding attaching a cover letter v.s. copying its text into the email body.

    2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      FWIW, in my world, it works much better sent as a pdf. If we circulate to several people via email, the original email gets pushed down with the email trail + we attach the documents, not the original email, to the outlook invitation for first and second interview.

      Basically, the only person who reads cover letter in email is the original person screening. Doesn’t count against someone to not have a cover letter circulating with their stuffs but it doesn’t work for them.

    3. Elysian*

      What a good question, I have no idea. When I’m sending email applications I always put it as the email body itself. It seems way to awkward to me to write a short email along the lines of “Attached are my materials,” especially when my cover letter already says that. I always though that the point of the cover letter was to be up front, and to introduce yourself. I understand what Wakeen’s Teapots Ltd. means about it getting lost if you forward the email around, but I just can’t bring myself to have to write two things to introduce myself (my cover letter, and an email introducing myself and my cover letter).

      But, I may have been doing it wrong all this time. Who knows.

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

        I hear you.

        I have seen it repeated, in email and also in a PDF attachment and I find this handy for my purposes but I have no idea if that’s general good advice.

      2. Fiona*

        I usually send as a separate attachment, mostly because in the type of work I do, it’s a subtle way of demonstrating I know how to correctly format a business letter.

    4. KayDay*

      I’ve screened a lot of applications that come in via email and I find it easiest to get the cover letter and resume as two separate attachments. It just makes things easier, since we generally save all the applications in a shared file. If it’s an email I have to print it to a PDF and save that–not a big deal for one, but it gets annoying when I have to do it for a lot of applications. (But if different instructions are given, always follow those.) In the body of the email, when I’m applying for jobs, I usually just send a short note (2-5 sentences) that says what position I am applying to, that every thing is attached, make sure all my contact info is included, and make a note of any relevant special issues.

      1. fposte*

        Seconding KayDay. We circulate these materials to our committee, and it’s a lot easier to circulate documents than to copy, paste, and deal with the weird formatting of in-email text.

      2. Cat*

        Same here. We usually print out the application packet (cover letter; resume; writing sample) and distribute it to the various reviewers in hard copy. A PDF cover letter is usually easier to read in hard copy than is an e-mail one.

    5. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Unless an employer tells you otherwise, it does not matter.

      I’m going to repeat that, in bold:
      Unless an employer tells you otherwise, it does not matter.

      Different hiring managers have different preferences. But they’re just preferences. No one — and I mean no one — is going to be rejected because they did it one way over another.

      There are enough things to stress about in job searching. This is not one of them.

    6. Felicia*

      I generally do it as a separate attachment, which is my personal preference. I have no idea if that’s considered the best way to do it or not, but i’ve gotten enough interviews doing it that way to determine it’s not terribly wrong.

  3. Jessa*

    Regarding OP1 – if you have a more than one line phone and do not have an intercom/intraoffice call system on it, the first thing that needs to happen is for that to be brought up. Because really – nobody on the front phone should have to “get up and find someone in the back to tell them they have a call.” You should be able to ring them and if you don’t get them ship it to voicemail.

    The last time I worked anywhere with a multiline phone without some kind of intercom was around 1970 and it was my grandfather’s business he had two lines and was close enough once someone was on hold to yell “pick up the phone.” He ran the company out of his basement. And if he’d lived past oh 1975 I’m sure he would have had an intercom on it.

    My own house phone has an intercom on it. It cost us 120 bucks for a 5 handset system. We have a handset in every room of the apartment.

    If you have to answer while working on something the expectation needs to be set that you’re not going to get up and hunt for people. You’ll call their desk and if need be push to voicemail. And if the receptionist/front office person is doing this, it’s seriously inefficient.

    And on another note you don’t say how many calls you get after that time. And if the phones can be transferred to an extension, then they should be parked at the covering person’s desk. Also barring being off ill, holiday time, etc. If there are 7 of you, you shouldn’t have to do this more than once a week. Work out a rota.

    1. ChristineSW*

      This, a thousand times this!! My first post-college job was like this, and it drove me bananas! This was back in 1997-1999, at a time when a simple intercom system could’ve been set up.

    2. Felicia*

      I wondered if the OP didnt know how to work the intercom system or transfer calls. The last place I work it wasn’t entirely intuitive, and only the front desk receptionist needed to use it regularly. I could have gotten through my job without being taught to use it, and I imagine if I had suddenly been told to answer the phone without being taught to use it, I would have been similarly lost. It wouldn’t have taken long to learn, but there were apparently no manuals, so someone would need to show new people to use it.

      1. Kelly L.*

        I had a job like this and there was a manual, but the manual lied. Transferring a call using the printed instructions would result in a dropped call. You had to figure out through trial and error what the real right way was–and then it still sometimes didn’t work.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          The manuals still LIE. The problem I am seeing is that manufacturers make version a, b and c of the same model. Each version has major changes. But they give you the instructions for model a. If you have version c- you’re on your own.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          When I did this, and the manual lied, I wrote my own manual. And I left the instructions for everyone to find so if they had to cover me at the desk, they could actually use the phone.

        3. FiveNine*

          Our phone system is so crazy non-intuitive that a young guy savvy in tech actually recently said, on the phone, to the person on the other end, he was sorry, he didn’t know how to transfer without dropping the call, and gave the direct number to the person the caller was trying to reach. If IT ever distributed sheets or manuals, they are long gone, and IT never bothered to send out anything, either when we did an upgrade about a year ago.

          1. Felicia*

            Sounds like the phone system at my former workplace, no one could figure it out without being trained on it specifically and in detail! I wouldn’t mind being asked to cover the phones, except if I had no idea how to use them I’d feel uncomfortable answering the phones and I’d figure the company wouldn’t want me to because i’d make them look bad not knowing what i’m doing

          2. Jennifer*

            I always tell people I drop calls and here is the number. I have never, ever successfully transferred a call outside of my office. That thing is anti-intuitive.

    3. Kerr*

      This stood out to me, too. I’ve never worked anywhere where you couldn’t directly speak to the call’s recipient before transferring. Walking back for each phone call – such a waste of time! OP, is it possible that there is an intercom system, but nobody gave you instructions for it? Unless the receptionist is doing this herself, I’d ask her how to work the phones the next time she’s in.

    4. Mints*

      I didn’t even get a manual! IT sent me a PDF for the wrong model, so I have to google “polycom ## how to [whatever]”
      It’s so annoying

      1. Suzanne*

        I had to laugh at this. I’ve been in the “I can’t figure out how to work the phone/fax/copier and there are no, or bad, instructions” too many times to count. It always kind of surprises me, though. Do businesses realize how much time is wasted every day because of this?

        1. Poe*

          Or with just crap phones. I was so upset in my first week because I was doing everything right, but still dropping about half of the calls I transferred. Turned out the button was broken so I had to MacGyver a solution with blue-tack and a part of a paper clip that I had to jiggle to successfully transfer (can’t give out direct numbers due to the nature of our business). When we finally got new phones I had to hold back tears of joy! But apparently the phone had been like this for TWO YEARS. Really? That’s just silly!

  4. Is.This.Legal*


    I think #3 meant applications where you have to type or copy and paste cover letter into the system. In an email you don’t have to put the hearder and address etc. I could be wrong but that’s how I interpreted the question

  5. Is.This.Legal*

    #4 – this I’ve heard differing schools of thought from veteran HR people (E&Y). They argued, in this day and age there are many people with foreign sounding names who are American citizens who were born here. Even Barack (No punt intended) is the president of U.S. with his name. Bottom line—it doesn’t matter. That will not strengthen or weaken your candidacy. You might as well use the white space. You might not be getting a job for a whole other reasons and your foreignness is the least of them.

    1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      Yeah, I’m uncomfortable with this. Hopefully this isn’t about the name sounding “foreign” but the rest of the resume (education, where employed previously) is overseas. Screening out people because of their names sucks.

    2. Fiona*

      My take on the letter was that it had nothing to do with a foreign sounding name and everything to do with a non-US work history.

      I also wouldn’t stick it at the bottom. If you have any kind of summary/profile at the top, I’d put it with that info. Get that question off the table as quick as possible.

      1. Felicia*

        That’s what I thought from this letter too! If all your education or work experience is from a different country, then it’s reasonable to assume you’re not originally from the US and be unsure if you can work for any company. Not sure where in the letter indicated it might have anything to do with a name.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      A big caution about these though: They’re often wrong. They generally don’t account for the fact that job titles frequently represent wildly different scopes of responsibility, so you can get numbers that are way off. It’s usually more reliable to ask around in your field.

      1. OP #2*

        My personal problem is I’m looking at entry level jobs outside my field, so I don’t have anyone to ask about it. =/

        1. Ruffingit*

          Ask here! Alison, would there be a way to do a posting where people share their titles, years of experience, general geographic area, and their salary range? I realize not everyone would want to put that info out there and that’s fine, but I think it would be really helpful to have such a resource here.

            1. Jaimie*

              That would be helpful for me, too– I’m looking at a title change and while I’ve done salary surveys on line, I’m not sure what to expect.

            1. Felicia*

              I’d love that! and I’d hope a lot of people from around here might answer! Or at least some fellow Canadians:)

      2. Felicia*

        This. I’ve noticed the title “Marketing Assistant” can mean a million different things depending on the company, including vastly different job duties and different career levels.

        I’ve found my best resource for this was having friends that have about 2 more years experience in the field as me, as well as the rare similar job that lists a salary range. I wish salary ranges weren’t so rare on job ads.

        1. Fiona*

          Ugh, marketing is the worst. Assistant, coordinator, specialist, and my favorite, “manager (entry level)” are all used interchangeably with no real correlation between level of responsibility or experience.

          1. Felicia*

            Yup, it seems like assistant, coordinator, specialist , associate and manager can all mean the exact same thing when it comes to an entry level job. And what a marketing person with any of those meaningless titles does can vary just as widely as salary and experience needed. The worst though is titles that involve something like ninja or super star.

            1. voluptuousfire*

              Or to throw yet another word in there : “analyst.” One job I applied for was essentially a recruitment assistant but they titled it recruitment operations analyst. I guess it sounded more senior than “recruitment assistant.”

              It’s pretty amazing how titles and positions can vastly differ between companies. I remember looking at two jobs I applied for and the skill sets/job descriptions were pretty similar but one was considered entry level (which I found out after speaking with them) and the other was mid level. Essentially the same job but a 10k difference in pay.

    2. Anon*

      I always recommend payscale.com for that, because it lets you plug in more information based on your actual work history.

      1. OP #2*

        Whoa! Cool! I like that it takes so many different factors into account. Very interesting. :]

        This and the Indeed link from Chris are going on my bookmarks.

      2. Felicia*

        Wow payscale .com is so cool! And it works for Canada too:) I’m going to recommend it to everyone.

        1. AnonymousCanadian*

          Wow, that is cool! I didn’t negotiate at my current job because I thought minimum wage was standard… clearly its not. Now I know for next time. :)

        2. CC*

          Well, the median salary for my specialty and experience level on payscale.com matches what my professional organization’s salary survey says is the median for the same. So I’m guessing reasonable accuracy.

    3. OP #2*

      Thanks! This’ll be good just for getting a starting idea when I have nothing to base a salary range on. I tried it with a specific job, and the median range was higher than what I’ve been seeing in job listings, so I’ll keep in mind that a lot of things (like experience, education, etc.) are factored into salary ranges.

  6. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*


    Are we not over pink collar YET? (I’m a woman in my 50’s who has been at this work thing for a long time and I get cranky when evidenced that these issues persist. )

    There’s nothing wrong with being asked, especially in a small office, to take a turn at answering the phones, even regularly. Phones don’t answer themselves (okay they can, but that’s not great service) and if they can’t hire or budget for an additional receptionist, it shouldn’t be below anybody to take a turn at answering the phones.

    Making sure PTB knows this impacts your productivity on other projects allows them to make the choice, is this a good use of our resources (your time). If their informed choice is for you to continue to pitch in on the phones, you pitch in on the phones.

    The gender thing though….if there are men at your job level who are not being asked to pitch in, please bring this up. Answering phones is not women’s work, and I will be dead soon so I please hope that this will all go away shortly. In other news: men are quite good at making coffee also.

    1. Jill of All Trades*

      Not just men at your job level but also below your job level should be included (if there are any).

    2. Chinook*

      I understand why everyone thinks that OP #1 has been assigned phone coverage because she is female, but the key question is if everyone above her is male or if there are any men at her level or lower. If that is not the case, it is not a sexism issue but the reality of the positions and following Alison’s advice is perfect. If it is a pink collar issue, though, the following up question then needs to be asked of the manager as they may not have consciously realize zed what they are doing.

      1. Victoria Nonprofit*

        Well… if all the women are at low level positions, and all the men are at high level positions, there’s probably something gender-related going on. But you’re right, it’s not within the scope of this question.

      2. OP #1*

        OP here! There are, in fact, may men (in a company of 50, there are 43 men and 7 women) who are at my level as well as below my level who aren’t being asked to answer the phone. In fact, one such male actually sits closer to the phone than I do.

        Part of what bothers me about the request is that I’m not an entry level employee. As my current manager is being transitioned to another department, I have been tasked with his responsibilities and am being called into larger meetings as the “social media expert” to provide advice and direction for a client’s digital marketing strategy. Still, there seems to be an assumption by several co-workers that, because I work in social media, my work isn’t as legitimate or that I have that much to do. When I’m asked to cover the phone, I feel like that idea is reinforced and I can’t help but be annoyed that they would hire someone who could only work until 2pm. I’ve been struggling with ways to present my situation without (as Alison said) telling them what my job is and coming across as hostile/annoyed.

        So, all the advice is much appreciated!

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I think your boss needs to weigh in with what he expects you to be doing. Start on a low key plane- you can escalate later if your worst fears are true. But just ask the boss “um- did you know x is happening? How do you want me to handle that?”

          IF you get an answer that goes something like “NO how, NO way do I want you answering phones” then be on the spot ready to say “OK. Would you pass that word around to other people?”

          It really needs to come from the boss.

        2. FiveNine*

          I will admit, that the shift ends at 2 p.m. had me raising my eyebrow. I didn’t say anything before because from your post it was possible to think that maybe this was a very small staff, say maybe 10 people tops. But the subject of whether the shift should cover business hours (or whether there should be two part-time workers) is its own can of worms.

        3. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd*

          Still, there seems to be an assumption by several co-workers that, because I work in social media, my work isn’t as legitimate or that I have that much to do

          C’mon, you’re just hanging out on Twitter and Facebook all day. :p

          Actually, this relevant to one of my current challenges. We’ve expanded our SEO, SEM, and social media team. Almost nobody knows “what those people do all day”, which, in the short term doesn’t matter and in the longer term does matter because good teamwork and natural information share happens when everybody understands things like somebody’s basic job function.

          I’m setting up some things including that team leading a “what the heck it is we do” presentation for virtually everybody, in small groups, with discussion.

          If you like that idea, you might see if you could get your boss on board for that.

          1. Becky B*

            What a fabulous idea.

            I receive this impression from people covertly and overtly. I keep plugging away at it to show that I’m not just a Facebook-sitter, but my internal eye-roll has already maxed out for the next decade.

            1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

              Social media is multi-disciplinary – marketing, advertising, sales, customer care. The person who fronts social media has to have good input and cooperation from a bunch of different teams in order to be effective.

              So I figure, step 1 is getting the rest of everybody else on board and engaged.

              Best of luck! Try not to get your internal eyes stuck that way.

    3. EE*

      On a related note, I am so fucking sick of a meeting where it’s all men in the meeting (fair enough, no women high up enough) but a woman is asked to bring in water jugs or go out and get sandwiches for them.

      Indeed, some women just seem to have been brainwashed by society into thinking that’s their role. In a recent job where quite a few meetings like that were happening, a woman who technically ranked higher than either the Group Financial Accountant (female) and me (contract accountant) just did all this as if it was her job.

      Oh, and she answered phones too.

      1. Seattle Writer Girl*

        @EE – AMEN, SISTER!

        Here is a short list of ways I’ve been pink collared at my current job in since 2010 (I’m not entry level, nor the youngest, just happened to be youngest female):

        1. Asked to run out and get coffee just 5 minutes before a Board Meeting I was invited to sit in on.
        2. I was the only person ever asked to go out and buy birthday/sympathy/celebration cards (before this was assigned as a duty to one specific employee)
        3. Asked to go out and buy food for an Open House we were hosting, then had to set up the platters alone as my boss had recently bruised his ribs playing Ultimate Frisbee and therefore “sorry, can’t help with that!”
        4. After being chewed out by my boss for not organizing the team for this year’s charity run with only 2 weeks to event, I had to remind him that I was not in charge this year because I was 7 months pregnant and couldn’t physically walk the course.
        5. Criticized for not bringing a homemade dish to company party. I brought an expensive, store-bought item, but apparently more was expected.
        6. Was literally told, “hey, why don’t you deal with this yourself?” when I explained to my boss that our 1 toilet to 20 women office situation violated state OSHA laws.

  7. JM*

    Do you have a US address? If so, there should be no question that you don’t need sponsorship but ma he mention in your cover letter that you’re eligible to work in the US.

    1. Jen in RO*

      I don’t think this reasoning is valid. A friend of mine did an internship in the US for 2 years, so she obviously had an address, yet she couldn’t get a permanent job after that because her employer couldn’t prove that they needed a foreigner as opposed to an US national.

      1. Judy*

        When my company sponsors ex-pat employees from our locations outside the US, they do sponsor a visa for the spouse and children, but it’s not a visa that allows the spouse and children to work in the US. Very seldom (maybe less than 5%) does my company “localize” an ex-pat after their 2 year term is up, making them a US employee. When they do that, they’re changing from a visa to a resident status, and then they do help the spouses get their work approval also.

    2. Gallerina*

      I’m moving to the US shortly because I’m getting married to an American, so I’ll be legally in the country on a K-1, have an address and a social security number, but won’t be eligible to work until the I-765 form has been approved and I can’t apply for a Green Card until after I’m actually married.

      There’s a whole grey area between being legally in the country, so it’s probably a good idea to clear things up, up front.

  8. Elysian*

    #2 – I’m a recent grad and I’m entry level, so I’m not sure why they needed a salary range anyway. Shouldn’t someone who’s entry level not need to negotiate salary?

    I’m going to disagree here. Maybe someone who is entry level doesn’t need to negotiate, but entry level candidates would benefit the most from negotiation. Yes, it is certainly the hardest for them to do so – its harder to get information about salary, and they’re coming from a lower bargaining position. But most raises are based off a percentage of what you currently make (ie. a raise of 10%). Some future jobs will try to base your salary off your salary history. In other words, negotiating early will benefit you for a long, long time – like compound interest. So maybe you don’t need to, but you really should try.

    1. One of the Annes*

      So true.

      On a related note: NPR had a story on how research shows that those who enter the work force during a recession stay behind (salary-wise) those who enter the workforce during better economic times for the duration of their careers (i.e., even after the economy recovers). Kind of depressing.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      It’s true that new grads have less standing to negotiate, which might be where the OP was going. But they still need to be prepared to talk salary, and you want to have some idea of what you should expect to earn.

      (Easier said than done at that stage, I realize. I don’t think it occurred to me that salary discussions were anything other than one-sided until my second job.)

      1. thenoiseinspace*

        On that note – when negotiating, how big a range should you give? The ranges I’ve seen were all around $10K (like saying “50-60K”), but if the starting salary is much lower, should that range be smaller? For example, say I wanted to make around $34K based on some field research. What should my range be?

        1. Diane*

          I’d ask for $30-$38K is reasonable–$3 or 4K on either side, as long as you’re comfortable with the lower end.

          1. Fiona*

            I wouldnt go as low as 30k in my range. That invites them to offer 30, and its a leap, IMO, to negotiate up from 30 to 34. I’d go with saying “mid thirties”.

    3. OP #2*

      Most of the jobs I’ve been applying to state in the job listing that it pays $x/hour, and ones that don’t generally say “we offer competitive pay based on experience.” Since I don’t have relevant experience and I’m just starting out, I think I can negotiate at all. =/

      1. EntirelyOutThere*

        Right but you should still be negotiating. You have been earning a work history while in college. My first entry level job I accepted minimum wage and was pleasantly surprised to realize my current workplace pays me far more than my first job did. However, I started to realize you need to negotiate this once you’re accepting a professional job. It is not the same as working retail.

        You need to figure out what a living wage is and negotiate a salary that would make you enough. This isn’t a job you will be holding for only 6 months to 2 years while going to university. This is a salary you need to live off. You need to be more confident.

        1. OP #2*

          I’ve been job hunting for several months and I just need a job. I have to take whatever someone would be willing to pay me. I have to be realistic. =/

          1. Jaimie*

            I think you’re probably more in control of the process than you think you are, but I also think I had a similar attitude when I was entering the job market.

            Can I suggest that you make a budget? At least be fully aware of how much money you need to cover your expenses. If it turns out that your initial job can’t keep you comfortable, then really focus on wowing them for the next 12 months. When the year is up, start looking again. You have much more leverage when you already have a job and some experience.

        2. Laura*

          This is stellar advice. At some point while desperately job hunting and feeling trapped by salary questions (don’t want to knock myself out of the running!), I realized that taking a position that didn’t pay enough to cover my expenses was dumb and would only mean having to find a second or third income stream later. So I did what you suggested: made a list of every expense I had (rent, utilities, cell phone, food, car payment, debt, savings, entertainment, etc) and then experimented with different percentages *over* that amount until I had a range that looked reasonable with the positions I was researching and applying to.

          And during phone interviews, I would have a piece of paper nearby with those salary ranges (plus equivalent hourly wage) so I could quickly check to see if what the company was offering was acceptable as well as be able to pitch my preferred range “on the fly”.

          Good luck! Hang in there! You can do this! Other positive platitudes! =)

      2. Fiona*

        Quick and dirty math for hourly to annual and vice versa is to multiply (divide) by 2000 – standard full time is based on 2080 hours but thats a lot of math for me to do in my head, so I round it off. For example, to get your desired 34k, thats a little less thsn $17/hr. If an ad say $12/hr, that’s in the ballpark of 24k and change.

        As for the ads that say competitive based on experience, that really means less about how much you can negotiate and more about the level of experience they’re willing to pay for.

        1. OP #2*

          Ha! Next time I’ll ask if I can take a minute to find a calculator and figure out the salary from that. :]

            1. OP #2*

              I would want to do 2080 since I’m working with low pay rates and wouldn’t want to jip myself by several hundred dollars.

              1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

                Hey! A friendly note (that many have learned thru AAM, so you are absolutely not alone if you don’t know this), but ‘jip’ or ‘gyp’ is a racial slur (based on Gypsy, which is itself a slur for the Roma).

                The more you know (cue rainbow). :)

                1. Anonymous*

                  I tried to tell a friend/coworker this after she used it frequently in the office. She decided that it was too ingrained in her vocabulary to bother deleting it from usage. Ugh.

          1. jennie*

            It would be much better to be prepared with a calculator ahead of time. Or just know both the minimum salary and hourly wage you’d accept.

  9. Jim*

    Thanks for the info about the header. I’m probably going to remove the addresses from attached cover letters as well, because that info is either on my resume or on the employers website somewhere. In an age of electronic communication, just seems a little redundant.

  10. Fiona*

    #5. If it’s been 3 days since the offer was made, then it’s been 2 days since the on-site meeting and HR was going to contact you in “a few days” from that point – which to me means, sometime within the next week, so the poor HR person still has a little breathing room, IMO.

    It sounds to me like you have an offer, an acceptance, acknowledgement of the acceptance, and – presumably? – a start date. Congrats!

  11. Brett*

    #1 One tricky aspect of this for social media managers…
    their job level is rarely well defined. So it might be very unclear if Bob and Apollo are a higher, lower, or the same professional job level. The LW might have to compare to the other female employee covering the phones instead.

    Phone training would make a big difference here. We have an antiquated phone system, and I can still cover the phones completely from my desk without every going to the front desk or going back to anyone else’s desk.

    Because everyone in our office has phone system training, no one person ever covers the phones for the admin assistant. We all do. If a call comes in on the main line, you pick it. First ring if you are available. Second ring you pick up unless you are not near a phone. If you don’t pick up on the third ring, you better be stuck in the bathroom. With this system, senior level does not matter.

    1. Chinook*

      That is the best way to do coverage – everybody is trained to answer by the third ring. Really, nothing impresses clients and vendors more than a boss who answers his own phone (when the businesses employee under 100 people or are small in scale. In big companies, the phone should be ringing enough to justify full-time phone coverage).

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I’m going to disagree! Particularly in a context like a nonprofit, where callers can reasonably pass judgment on whether the organization is using its resources wisely. The executive director shouldn’t be spending their time answering phones — bad use of her time.

        Even in other contexts, highly paid people or people whose works requires focus shouldn’t be expected to answer the phones on a regular basis.

        1. QualityControlFreak*

          I work for a small nonprofit, I do work that requires a great deal of concentration and I still have primary responsibility for answering the phones. We have a receptionist but they are often absent. Aside from that … I like covering the front office. It’s our command and control center – everything comes through there. I find it places me in a better position to evaluate our customers’ needs and concerns and assess how our policies and procedures are doing in meeting those needs – because I’m hearing it first-hand. Yes, when I am working on a particularly complex process it can be extremely distracting to have to stop and take overlapping phone calls, and yes, that does happen. But in my case, I feel the benefits outweigh the negatives. (Full disclosure – I am a wicked multitasker who thrives on being fully engaged All. The. Time and while I would appreciate some reliable back-up, this is a duty I would not want to have taken away from me.)

          Honestly, I think the resistance many people have to covering the phones/front desk stems from the feeling that it is (or should be) beneath them. I do get the argument that having higher level staff answering the phones may not be the best use of their time and the organization’s resources; however as has been mentioned here before, particularly in smaller nonprofits, people often have to wear a lot of hats.

          I agree that ideally our executive director would not be answering the phones or waiting on the front desk, but that has happened here on occasion, because we have limited staff and people do have to use the restroom from time to time! I think a lot of this would depend on the culture of the organization, its mission and core values, but here I think ED views this kind of interaction with our clients to be valuable in terms of assessing their needs and predicting industry trends.

          So, not disagreeing entirely, just another perspective.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          Hmm…so if I called a lawyer (in New York, even) and that person answered her own phone (to be fair, she said she was hovering over it expecting a conference call), is that a bad sign? Maybe her assistant only works part-time or was out sick?

          She was really nice, if that makes a difference!

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Totally depends on other factors. Is she the head of a large firm and she answered the main switchboard during the day? That would be unusual. If it’s a small practice, not so much. If you called her direct line, completely normal.

            But that’s different than the head of an organization answering the main phone line.

          2. Contessa*

            I am an attorney at a large-ish firm, and it is a specific rule that we have to answer our own phones. So, it may not be a bad sign about the lawyer, but it may say something (what thing that is, is up to you) about how the firm manages its attorneys.

            (it’s super annoying, actually–if I’m working on something with a deadline of OMG ONE HOUR FROM NOW!!! the last thing I want to do is chat with someone every fifteen minutes)

      2. Brett*

        If you are doing an “everyone covers” system right, the boss is only going to be answering the phone in extreme situations. Presumably they are not picking up until the third ring (or later) anyway, then that means everyone else in the building is on a call right then.
        We had had situations like that. We have had 200 calls in 30 minutes for just 6 people, or situations where there was only one person covering the whole building, so it does happen. But it should be rare.

        1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

          Though if we’re talking extreme situations, I’d still say in some cases it’s better for one in every 200 calls to go to voicemail than for a senior level person to answer it. Especially since most systems allow you to record a different greeting if the line is busy versus no one picking up (thank you for calling Chocolate Teapots Unlimited. Due to unusually high call volume, we’re unable to take your call right now. If you leave a message, we’ll call you back in just a few minutes.”

    2. thenoiseinspace*

      Well, even if the levels aren’t well-defined, OP’s only been there for 3 months. It could very well be that the newbie covers the phones and when the company hires someone else, they’ll take over the task.

    3. Is.This.Legal*

      I don’t like the idea that phones should ring to every receiver. Everyone will be constantly disturbed by the phones.We recently switched phones and tried “ring all” for a week it was crazy phones ringing in every office. The managers realized it was a bad idea and changed it.

      1. Feed Fido*

        Constant ringing drove me mad. Now I forget to ever answer because I blocked it out for months. Plus I hate answering and not having a clue where a call goes, then being responsible for caller and message. Eats away at productivity…..yeah, why we need receptionists.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          This right here is another good reason why people do not like manning the phone lines. What do you tell people for this or that question? You have to track down someone to explain so you can relay it to the caller. This can get very encumbered very fast. No, it is not a three minute task. It’s just not.

          1. Jennifer*

            “I have a quick question….”
            No, you don’t. They never are.

            I despise answering the phones because we literally get completely random questions that have nothing to do with our business. I am obligated to be an instant expert in things I have never, ever heard of, I am not allowed to say I don’t know, I have to answer it perfectly or lives are at stake…and I can’t ask anyone else because they are also on the phone. I keep praying to find a non-phone job (yes, this one they originally said no phones either, HAHAHAHAH LIE), but no luck. They’d rather I get nothing else done but answer a phone too.

    4. Windchime*

      Under this volunteer system, there are always going to be people who refuse to answer the phone, and a few select others will step in because it’s the right thing to do for the customers and the business.

      Much better to have a delegated person to answer, it seems to me. This makes me happy that I work in a place that is big enough to have a switchboard team who answers most incoming calls. The only phone I’m responsible for answering is the one on my desk, which rings maybe once a week.

  12. AdAgencyChick*

    #5 — since the hiring manager is hot for you to start, I’d just mention it politely to her. “Hi, Jane, just wanted to let you know that I’m really excited to start with you — I’m waiting on the written offer from HR, though, before I can give notice where I’m at now.” If I were the hiring manager and got an email or phone call like this, I would immediately put a bug in HR’s ear to wrap up the formalities so we can get the employee in the door faster.

    You can also simultaneously let HR know the same thing — but they won’t have the same sense of urgency as the hiring manager.

  13. ChristineSW*

    #5 – Just out of curiosity, how would you handle this if the employer were a small agency/company without an HR department? Several years ago, I got a verbal job offer and accepted right then and there, and even got a start date. Everything was done with the Hiring Manager, who was to be my direct supervisor. After a few days, I hadn’t seen the formal written offer, so I called her to see what was going on (I don’t remember my exact wording, but I think I did directly reference the written letter). She was actually okay with me asking and even explained the delay and emailed me the text of the letter. I got the hard, signed copy when I arrived for my first day.

    I should note that I didn’t have a current employer to give notice to, so I wasn’t too panicked in that sense.

    1. Anonymous*

      YMMV based on role and industry, but I’ve worked only with small companies and never had a formal written offer letter. Believe you me, having started reading AAM, in the future I’m at least going to start confirming verbal terms via email (haven’t gotten bitten yet, thank goodness), but particularly in a smaller organization I can see it not occurring to them to put the offer in writing, if it’s been verbally extended and accepted.

      1. Fiona*

        Doh, that was me. And also, I forgot my point. Which is, as AAM said above, I wouldn’t phrase it as “where’s my offer letter?” but more as “WILL I be receiving a written offer letter?”

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Yeah, not everywhere does written offers unless requested. If they don’t explicitly say to you “there will be a written offer coming,” I wouldn’t automatically assume there would be. In that case, I’d say, “Will you be sending over a written offer?”

      If they say they don’t do them, then you can achieve the same things by writing up all the terms in an email and saying something like “to make sure we’re on the same page, this is my understanding of the offer…”

    3. Jeanne*

      We are a small but rapidly expanding non profit and because we only have one HR person so far, sometimes it can take a few days to get the offer letter out. As a hiring manager, as soon as an offer is accepted I email the candidate and put all the details in writing – that the candidate has been offered and accepted x position, that the salary is x, and the start date (and anything else we negotiated – moving stipend, vacation days, etc) I copy HR and say that the offer letter will be in the mail shortly but that this email is considered binding. It buys HR some time and hopefully gives the candidate the assurance they need.

      1. ChristineSW*

        Thank you Jeanne and everyone else who replied. I sure am learning a lot from reading this site! Any possibility we could magically travel back in time to 2007 when I got this job?? I think I’d very likely still be there if I had AAM’s wise advice and that of the commenters!!

  14. Anonymous*

    #2 – Say something like between 35 and 45k. That’s a pretty average entry level salary range for a BA (in the northeast). 45K being pretty high for an entry level job. Or, say that you are looking for a salary around 40k.

    …and if you are offered a job that pays only 30k, i’d still take it.

    On a side note, back in my glory days, entry level salaries were pretty much non-negotiable.

    1. Anonymous*

      I find it hard to believe that there’s a “universal” salary for new grads, without even knowing what the job duties are.

      1. E*

        Yeah, it depends enormously on what the job is and the industry. My friend went into ibanking and I went into non-profit development – she was probably making three times as much as me (and neither of us were in that range).

      2. EntirelyOutThere*

        There is not an universal salary for new grads. It depends on your field. My field makes more starting out than the “average” grad and if I accepted the average, I’d be underrating myself based on my skill level, my field and what I have been doing during university. It also depends on your GPA, what you’ve been doing while in university and your skill levels. I am in a very technical field.

      3. Emily K*

        Most people I know who graduated with liberal arts degrees started between $30k and $40k. Folks I knew who graduated with applied/science degrees seemed to vary wildly from the same $35k all the way up to $60k not being uncommon. I think the reason many liberal arts degree whether it was English or Psychology or History all fall within such a narrow range is because their degree didn’t train them to do specialized work. The job could be in marketing or administration or insurance or education but if any liberal arts degree will satisfy as a qualification, the skills used daily by entry-level employees are probably the same no matter what type of skilled work is being done by the senior-level employees: spreadsheets, internet research, drafting documents in the appropriate style, providing office support to senior-level employees, etc.

      1. CAA*

        According to NACE, the average starting salary for 2013 grads with bachelors degrees is about $45K, so there are a whole lot of entry level jobs that pay more than $40K.

          1. Elysian*

            I don’t know what these things are like in Canada, but in the US that could be 40k from which you pay 25-30% taxes and still have to cover your own health insurance costs. Also, rural area vs urban area would change the whole equation. Your boss’s boss might make less but could have a lot more spending power, if your health insurance is covered, your taxes are lower, and you’re in an area with a low cost of living.

            That’s why no one can really say what an appropriate “entry level” salary is without a lot more details.

            1. Felicia*

              We pay roughly the same percentage of taxes in Canada, Ontario at least, expect we don’t have be pay for our healthcare costs due to universal healthcare (other than dental, eye care, and most prescriptions). I’ve actually noticed salaries tend to be less in rural areas – maybe because more people want to live in the big urban areas and there’s more competition, while they need extra salary to entice people to move to really rural areas. Here you could never live off minimum wage, but you could quite decently in other parts of the province.

      2. Felicia*

        I know right! In the types of jobs I’m interested in, it’s more like 30K for a new grad with a BA. People with science or engineering degrees can of course accept more. 40K for these types of jobs, around here, would be way too much to accept. I know my internships mentor didn’t make 40K until she had slightly more than 5 years experience.

      3. Felicia*

        It really depends on the industry. If you work in entertainment, for example, you’re going to get 24K for an entry level job if you’re getting paid at all rather than doing years of unpaid internships. If you want to work for a cause based medium sized non profit (i’d love to!) you’d get about 30K. If you work at a big for profit company you might get around 37K. If you have a BSc or a BEng you’ll get significantly more money than if you have a BA. In some cities, you’ll be offered less money than others (which unfortunately doesn’t always correspond with cost of living). It depends on so many things.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          And even within nonprofits, there’s huge variation. I’ve seen nonprofit starting salaries for entry-level jobs ranging anywhere from $30K to $45K; mid-level nonprofit salaries ranging from $40,000 to $90K; and senior-level nonprofit salaries from $50,000 to $200,000+. *

          So it’s really hard to give general ranges — in all sectors, but especially in nonprofits, where it’s so dependent on the organization’s size, funding, and general philosophy about pay. (On that last one, some nonprofits believe in putting as much money as possible back into their programs, and some believe that you pay competitively to get the best people, which in turn gets you better results toward your mission. I’ve always believed the latter when dealing with senior enough positions that it’s going to impact the quality of who you can hire.)

          * I should note those are D.C.-area numbers. Another variable in all those is geographic location.

        2. Lindsay J*

          TIL that people with “real” (office-type) jobs don’t get paid as much as I’d imagined, and I’m doing quite okay for myself in my hourly retailesque positions.

    2. CAA*

      Wow, that’s way too low if you’re an engineer! You just can’t generalize across all professions that way.

      1. EAA*

        Depends on the engineering field. Son is a structural engineer, started at 48K which was a little high but how else to you attract some one to southern Georgia? Due to the economic issues got no raise for 4 years and then took a pay cut when he took a new job in Richmond. Friends who started working at the same time he did were taking 10% paycuts to stay with their employers in Richmond.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Depends on where you are in the north east. Where I am the belief is that Bachelor’s degrees max out at 32K. Entry level probably around 26-28K.

      The first thing I said was why would anyone get a BA/BS? You can’t pay off college loans on that.

      If I had no other resource for comparison I would check out jobs on the county-wide level. I would see if I could find a range for the county area. Some ads do disclose a range and it does take a bit of doing to find those ads.

      1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

        This is fascinating to me. So the prevailing wisdom where you are is that if you want to make more than $32k, in general, you should be pursuing a higher degree?

        (I’m in DC, and was hired at $35k to star, and have gone up significantly from there. I’m wondering if there is a single company or industry that dominates your city?)

      2. Windchime*

        NSNR’s numbers sound about right, and I am in the northwest. My son graduated with a BA in 2010 and spent the first couple of years out of college dealing poker. He is now working in his first professional job and is making about 27k. It’s difficult to pay his loans and live on that amount, but the job has good potential for growth so he is sticking it out. He made a lot more money as a poker dealer, but there isn’t a lot of future there.

      3. Ask a Manager* Post author

        NSNR and Windchime, I think you’re talking about starting salaries, right? Not later-career salaries? Either way, though, I’d think there’s too much variation in degree and jobs to make big categorizations like that … although I don’t know your geographic area so perhaps I’m wrong. But I’ve never seen it work like that — averages for different degrees, yes, but not ceilings.

    4. FiveNine*

      Yeah, no. College grads start at $30,000 on Capitol Hill as staff to members of the U.S. Congress.

        1. Artemesia*

          My daughter took a job like that in DC and never received a dime of parental support. She lived in a house share and otherwise managed her lifestyle to match her income. She even managed to put a little away. Those are lousy wages, but if there are health benefits it is a living wage if you don’t expect to live like your parents do after 30 years working.

          1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

            Exactly. Its’s not a horrible or unthinkable thing to have to have roommates; a ‘real job’ is not required to pay you enough to have a one-bedroom apartment. And most people, in my experience, at the entry level in DC have roommates/significant others to split housing costs.

            And I think $27k is a bit closer to the starting pay of congressional staff right out of college, though that might be splitting hairs… :)

    5. T*

      I think a lot depends on what field you’re in. I’ve been applying for jobs all over (including the northeast) and many of them offer pay that might cover the cost of living if I don’t mind getting a housemate. And many of these require a higher degree than a BA. I’ve seen jobs in other parts of the country that also want a graduate degree and experience (and may come with some management duties) that pay in the $25-$35 K range.

      Don’t forget to factor in cost of living for a particular area when determining what would be an acceptable salary.

  15. Dan*


    AAM is right, you should have *some* idea of what appropriate compensation is for your position. She’s also right when she says salary calculators aren’t very accurate. But you’re also right when you say you don’t think you have much standing to negotiate. Entry level really does pay what it pays, and you will have your best leverage if you have a competing offer on the table.

    While I did negotiate a recent offer that I ultimately rejected, both jobs I’ve had in the last five years I didn’t negotiate. And I was quite happy with my starting salary both times.

    At my first professional job, I was re-locating back to an expensive COL area. When I asked about my salary requirements, I hemmed and hawed. The manager told me he wanted to make sure we were in the same ball park. I responded, “OK, in that case, $80k is too much for me!”

    He started laughing. I asked him why. He said nobody has ever told him that before, they all name the bottom number. I responded by telling him that I can give the national averages for a position like this, but it’s expensive out here, so if I’m held to the bottom end of that range, I’m not going to be happy.

    They came back with an offer higher than expected, and something a competing offer couldn’t match. I did not attempt to negotiate it, and don’t regret.

    I was laid off recently, and again had two offers to choose from. I negotiated a slight increase above job 1’s opening offer, which was at the very bottom of any possible range we had discussed. I told job 2 what job 1’s offer was, and they beat it by a few grand plus an extra 7% on the 401k match. (Job 2 has awesome retirement… job 1 matched 3%, job 2 matched 10%). I didn’t know how to negotiate job 2’s offer, as they made me a very nice one.

    All in all, I got a 22% “raise” at job 2 compared to what I was let go from at my previous job. So, this all goes to show that one can do pretty well without negotiating :)

    1. OP #2*

      I’m looking at more like $20K – $25K if I can get a full time position, so I’m kinda feeling like I can’t do well no matter what. =/

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Just a quirk of mine, but I like to chose unusual numbers so why not say 21-26K? Using this as an example, I would be happy with the middle number around 23k. Now start thinking about things that will make you more valuable later. Can you get special training, licensing, something extra while you are working there that would allow you to grow in some manner?
        It can help you to feel a bit better about the starting pay IF you know you can grow that paycheck.
        When the job feels like I just stepped onto a hamster wheel that is when I feel the most defeated.

        1. OP #2*

          Unusual numbers sounds interesting! Kind of like “psychological pricing” where products are priced at odd numbers (like $9.99) because odd numbers are perceived as being cheaper even if they’re not. Is that what you were thinking?

  16. Ruffingit*

    I think the answer in number one should read “Note: Bob and Apollo must be the same professional level AS you.” At the moment it reads “Note: Bob and Apollo must be the same professional level than you.”

  17. Artemesia*

    On the phone thing, I really agree about going to the manager with a productivity problem and framing it as a ‘how do we solve this as these interruptions are getting in the way of producing for clients. Then having a plan 1. upgrading phones if necessary. 2. rotating among all of the office staff at the OP’s level so each is only disrupted one afternoon in X days.

    Managers who let this sort of thing drift are bad managers and so having a production oriented plan and a problem solving attitude is they key. I managed to get lots of what I wanted back in the day when I didn’t whine about the problem and how it affected me, but focused on ‘what I need to deliver on the job’ and had some idea of how to do that.

  18. Elizabeth West*

    I have to man the front desk one hour a week (they pull from the admin pool). I wouldn’t want to do it more than that, because I did it for so long before that now I’m just sick of it. I’m glad I got my current job, because it’s much more the kind of thing I enjoy doing. Plus, like the OP’s job, there are tasks that require a higher level of concentration than I can sustain with a constantly ringing phone.

  19. Lily in NYC*

    #3 – If you are applying through a company website, I would definitely add your info to your cover letter (email at the very least). Taleo is so glitchy that we often have a cover letter come through but not the resume. If there is info on the cover letter, then I am able to contact the person and ask them to resubmit (or to email it to me directly). We recently hired a guy that would have been lost to the ether for this very reason. I was able to reach him and his resume was fantastic, and he was so grateful that I made the effort to get in touch.

  20. Kimberlee, Esq.*

    Regarding the protocols for the ‘business formatting’ on cover letters, I’d also tend to say keep it if you’re attaching a separate doc.

    One thing that I’ve found really handy in my partner’s job search is including that sort of header… Really, for purely aesthetic reasons. As has been discussed here before, many employers don’t like a full page of cover letter. My partners has had a much higher rate of response I think in part because this fancy formatting results in a cover letter at looks like a full page with nice white space, but in reality is closer to 3/4 of a page. I think this has served Jim well!

  21. Jessa*

    I keep seeing this conversation about salary requirements when interviewing. I HATE to give the number, because I’m always worried I’ll price myself too low. However, my current employer requires that the number be given in cover letters and on the application. If you don’t give a number, they won’t even bother to interview you. If your number is too high, by even 5K, they won’t bother to interview you for certain positions. It’s a really tricky situation that we hate, but that HR refuses to change. Our HR is terrible, for the record. They have literally laughed at candidates (internal and external) that have tried to negotiate their offer.

  22. anon-2*

    #4 – I have had the following line in my name/address area at the heading on my resume – for the last 30 years = “U.S. Citizen, current valid passport”. I suppose “U.S. Green Card” would be apropos as well. Cut to the chase.

    If they have doubts about whether you can work in the U.S., they might not call you in at all. Employers aren’t supposed to ask you that info until they complete the interview/offer cycle, or at least during my interviewing days. I once interviewed a gentleman – he asked ME – “Do you sponsor?” I told him we usually did not. He terminated the interview and I wished him luck.

    #5 – NEVER NEVER resign from your current position until you have the offer letter in your hand. I once had to come close to rejecting a job I really wanted because the HR group dragged their feet – it came down to “Can I pick up the letter tonight at your office so I can give my notice in the morning?” They obliged.

  23. Poe*

    I’m sure dozens of people have mentioned this upthread, but for the person with the foreign work history: talk about it in your opening paragraph. I don’t know about how US work visas happen, but when I was applying to jobs in the UK (I am Canadian, all work history is Canadian), I wrote “I have a UK work visa that does not require a sponsor, valid from DATE to DATE. It is a VISA TYPE, and is not restricted to any industry or role.” If different visas are restricted to different kinds of work, include that. I had several comments on how clear this was. I put it right after “I am writing to apply for JOB TITLE with COMPANY.” It read a bit stilted for a first paragraph, but it got the questions out of the way immediately.

  24. Jules*


    Well, I moved to the US with overseas experience only as well.

    From my experience, some company are more international savy and some are not. Try applying to bigger companies as they usually have more international experience dealing with a global workforce. The problem is that when you are a smaller company and have a decent pool of local candidate, unless the position is technical, you’d probably don’t want to go the extra length to contact the other side of the world for reference.

    It took me almost one and a half year to get a permanent position. It’s probably not you or them, it’s just that the current market is the way it is. But eventually, hopefully, you’d find a company which needs you skill set. Good luck and hang in there!

    PS: I personally don’t think it hurts to put a line about your work eligibility but I would state it on the cover letter instead.

  25. Audiophile*

    I almost always say $35-$45, but sometimes I’ll say $40-50. It depends on the job, the requirements/wish list they’ve given and how I compare against that, occasionally I’ll throw in numbers based on Glassdoor, but that is rare. I like Dan’s answer though.

  26. Tara T.*

    I agree with OP #2. If a person is out of work for many months or longer, it is better to bring the salary requirements down and just GET A JOB! You can always hunt for a higher-paying one later.

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