job candidates who won’t talk salary, demoted after maternity leave, and more

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

1. Job candidates who won’t share what salary range they want

How do you respond to applicants who won’t give you their desired salary range? I had two open positions recently, and when I called two applicants to discuss the positions, I asked each for their salary range. One applicant just flat-out refused to answer. Her application indicated she was currently making over $100k, and this job would pay $40-50k a year, so I wanted to be sure that would work for her, but she kept refusing to even give a range – not even to say, “I’m currently making X, but I’m open to something in the Y-Z range.” She just kept saying, “Well, it all depends on the job responsibilities…” I kept saying that I understood, “but the range is A to B. Would that work for you?” She kept dancing around the question.

It’s like they were thinking that if they agreed on a range, then they’d have no room to negotiate. I was clear with both that we couldn’t go higher than $50k, no exceptions, and when I asked if that was acceptable, they kept replying, “Well, I think that if you bring me in to interview, you’ll see all that I have to offer your organization.” And I’d say, “That may be; unfortunately, our salary range isn’t negotiable. Is this something that would work for you?” And again both applicants would tell me about all the experience they have, and wouldn’t commit to an answer.

I’ve been burned a couple of times with bringing candidates in, going through several interviews, and having them ultimately reject the job offer because it wasn’t in line with what they were looking for. I don’t want to bring a candidate in without knowing this info, and frankly, this applicant’s refusal to answer resulted in my moving on to other applicants. What are your thoughts?

Yep, I’d move on to other candidates too, and I’d let them know why. It’s absolutely understandable that candidates don’t want to throw out a number first, because they don’t want to inadvertently undercut themselves if you would otherwise have offered them more. However, you were already telling them what you planned to pay and simply wanted to know if that was prohibitive for them or not. The refusal to answer that is obnoxious, especially combined with that crap about “if you bring me in, I’ll wow you so much that your budgeted salary range won’t matter.” You were being straightforward with them, and you have just as right to be annoyed by this as candidates do when employers play salary games with them.

It’s reasonable to confirm that you’re on the same page about salary before spending your time and theirs on lengthier interviews — as long as you’re willing to share your own range, as you did. (It’s not reasonable when employers want this to be one-sided, with the candidate giving a number while the employer stays silent.)

2. I was demoted after my maternity leave

I had a baby a few months ago and just returned to work after 8 weeks of short-term disability, followed by 5 weeks of PTO. Just prior to my leave, a replacement was hired to take over my position as supervisor of a small department of hourly workers. I knew she was being hired and had agreed on a new role with my general manager. I do not get anything in writing, but several other members of management were aware of the change.

On my first day back, I was informed I would be assuming the duties of one of the employees I used to manage. I no longer have an office and since I’m breast feeding, I have to utilize the file room to pump twice a day. The assignment is supposed to be temporary, “to help fill a void,” and after a month I will transition to my new role. To add insult to injury, some of the personal belongings I left in my old office (because I was under the impression I’d be returning to it) have gone missing. The new supervisor boxed my things up and dumped them in a supply closet.

Is it legal to return from maternity leave and be temporarily demoted? My pay has not changed and I am still considered part of the management team. I have not escalated the issue to HR or anyone at a higher management level because I am concerned it will hurt me more in the long run.

You’d need to talk to a lawyer to be certain about the details in your case, but in general, no, it’s not legal to demote someone upon their return from maternity leave — unless the employer can show that the demotion was unrelated to the pregnancy and leave. (For example, if the employer can show they would have demoted you anyway, because of performance or other issues, that’s not pregnancy discrimination.) Absent unrelated reasons, they must return you to the position you held before taking leave or an equivalent position. And that doesn’t just mean pay, but also job status (like authority, responsibilities, and prestige). That said, I’m not sure how the fact that this is a temporary, one-month arrangement might impact the legality here, and you’d need a lawyer to tell you for sure. (But either way, since it’s only for one month, I suspect that you’re right that raising it would hurt more than help you in the long run.)

Read an update to this letter here.

3. My manager didn’t show up for a conference call so we proceeded anyway

I recently scheduled a conference call with myself, my boss, and a few coworkers who work remotely. After a few minutes, my boss – whose presence was not crucial to the conversation – had not dialed in, so I decided to proceed with the call with everyone else on the line. A few hours later, he forwarded the meeting notice to me with a note that he had been waiting for me to come to his office and had just realized the meeting was a conference call. He is now asking me to reschedule; I guess he thinks we tabled the meeting without him. What would have been the proper thing to do? Ask the others to hold while I track down my boss, or proceed as I did?

It varies by culture and by manager. Some managers would have assumed you’d proceed without them; some would be shocked that you didn’t. Absent any information about the culture and taking you at your word that your manager’s presence wasn’t needed for the conversation, there’s nothing wrong with proceeding without him; it might have made a ton of sense to do that. But there’s really no useful answer here without knowing more about your manager and culture, because those are the determinative factors in how this kind of thing is perceived.

As for what to do now, I’d simply say, “We figured you got tied up with something else and went ahead and talked over X, Y, and Z. In the future, would you like us to reschedule if you don’t join the call, or move forward like we did here?”

4. What does this email from a hiring manager mean?

I finished my final interview on December 17 and it felt perfect. The conversations went very well and I felt confident with each of my answers. I realize that in late December things slow down a bit for the holidays. The employer let me know of this and had told me that she hoped to be in touch before the new year.

I ended up reaching out to check in and this was her response: “Happy New Year! Thanks for reaching out. I was hoping to be in touch this week with our final decision on filling the position but unfortunately, there have been some delays. I will follow up with you next week (if not sooner) with an update. Thanks so much for your patience.”

My question is how to interpret this. Why would it take so long to hear a simple “we are pursuing other candidates” or “we have decided to extend you an offer”? I would greatly appreciate your insight.

You should interpret it as meaning that there have been some delays and she hopes to follow up with you next week with updated information. In other words, it means exactly what it says, no more and no less. It doesn’t say that they’re rejecting you or making you an offer, because they haven’t decided either of those things yet.

They might be waiting to interview other candidates. They might be checking references. They might have an offer out to someone else and be waiting to hear if it’s accepted (and you might be their second or third choice if it’s not). They might be resolving questions that came up about the position itself. They might not be working on anything hiring-related at all right now because they have other priorities. Who knows? All we know is what her email said, and you should take that at face value.

5. Disciplined for comments made off the clock

Can an employer write you up for comments made off the clock on a break and outside of your building ?

They sure can. An employer can write you up because you wore a green shirt while you were home on your couch last weekend, if they want to. That’s not likely, of course. More practically speaking, when people get in trouble for off-the-clock behavior, it’s usually because the employer believes the behavior impacted work in some way, such as harassing comments made to a coworker outside of work, representing the company poorly to customers, etc.

{ 235 comments… read them below }

  1. Ann Furthermore*

    #1 – As a hiring person, I would find that annoying too. But on the other hand, perhaps those candidates have been burned before by discussing salary too early in the process. Who knows? Even so though, a firm number was given, which should have eliminated all that dancing around. This is why I think that salary ranges should just be included in job postings. It would save so much time for people on both sides. Candidates won’t apply if they’re not satisfied with the range, and employers don’t have to spend time interviewing people who may end up turning down offers because the salary is not in line with their expectations.

    #2 – This really, really stinks, and I would be so upset. If I was in the OP’s position, I would have a frank discussion with my manager about what was going on, and ask him or her what the formal plan was, along with the timeline. Then I’d send an email as a follow-up, to have something in writing.

    But I wouldn’t approach it with a “this is illegal” vibe. I’d just be open and say something along the lines of, “I’m a bit perplexed and concerned about the current situation, and I’d like some clarification. Is the plan still to move me into the new role we discussed before I went on maternity leave? And when do you see that happening?” And then, based on the response, I would decide what to do next, whether that would be to just sit tight, escalate the situation to HR, or something else.

    And I’d also throw in something like, “My personal items that I left here seem to have gone missing. Jane said she packed them up and put them [someplace], but I haven’t been able to find them. Have you seen a couple boxes floating around with my name on them?” Because it is possible that your replacement did put your stuff into a storage closet, and then a facilities/maintenance person moved them.

    But….I would never, ever do that to someone! At most, I would box up their stuff and put it in a corner of my (their old) office until the person returned to work, and then say that once they were situated in their new workspace, that they could come and get their stuff. And I would do it not because someone else’s stuff was invading my space, or because I didn’t like having it there, but because I’d feel better if framed pictures, coffee mugs, and so on were stored safely. It would be just my luck to break something, and it would probably be something with alot of sentimental value for the owner. Really….how much room do a couple boxes take up? I just think that what the OP’s replacement did with her personal items is incredibly rude and inconsiderate. What is wrong with people?

    1. Anon Accountant*

      “salary ranges should just be included in job postings. It would save so much time for people on both sides. Candidates won’t apply if they’re not satisfied with the range, and employers don’t have to spend time interviewing people who may end up turning down offers because the salary is not in line with their expectations.”

      I wish more employers did this. It’d save time on both sides.

      1. Lisa*

        I always hated ranges, because I’ve been confronted with HR people telling me that the range is x but with the caveat that they will never offer above the mid-point even with the max years specified for experience except in extreme cases (implying that no one is worthy of more). Why have a range at all if you have a history of never going above the mid-point or in 2 cases for me, tell candidates that they don’t go above y even though the job says the range is x – z?

        1. Joey*

          A few reasons:
          1.So you have room to grow your salary when you are actually in the position. If you’re at the max (or very close to it) when you start there’s no room for salary growth-no room to reward you for performance.
          2. Salary alignment with other employees. Bringing in someone in at a higher salary than a proven employee is taking a huge gamble that the new employee will quickly outperform existing employees.
          3. The market. Because there are plenty of qualified employees who will accept less.

              1. gd*

                Yes, I expect so, but I no longer care about the employer perspective. After being treated as a fungible item for so many years, I care only about my perspective.

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  No is suggesting that you care about the employer’s perspective out of kindness or altruism. Rather, it makes sense to understand it because doing so will help you make better decisions for yourself.

            1. HR lady*

              gd, if you start at the top of the range that means you probably wouldn’t get any raises for years — until the range gets adjusted (increased) to allow for a small raise. It’s not a fun position to be in.

              1. gd*

                Yes, but I will have been making more money all along. I would rather make $100K a year for five years than make $75K and get a raise every year.

                1. jennie*

                  But an employer is going to assume you won’t be happy staying at the same salary for 5 years so they’re not going to take that risk. They will hire someone they think they can retain within the salary range available. Even if you assure them you’ll stay and be happy without a raise for 5 years, most employers have seen that backfire and won’t take the risk.

          1. Zahra*

            You should always post the starting salary range, not the range for the position, regardless of experience. So a position with a range of x-z has effectively a starting range of x-y. Well, you should write x-y on your job posting, not x-z.

            1. Joey*

              That’s debateable and poses problems. I might not apply to a position if I didn’t know I had room for significant salary growth.

              1. esra*

                I think you could still mention growth outside of the listed salary range. Or list the range as “Starting salary range.”

                1. Joey*

                  I bet that would be confusing to a lot of people. So this is the salary range, but I have the opportunity to go above it? Is that the official salary range? Wait, I know people there who make more. Are you trying to deceive me? This other job has a higher max salary…

                  See where this goes.

              2. Zahra*

                Huh. I always understood that posted salary range was the range at hiring, not the range for the position. I would be pretty pissed off to hear that the middle of the range is effectively the max I could hope for at hiring (because I would negotiate/expect a starting salary according to the whole range (and my qualifications), not the part that was starting salary and not explicitly posted as such). It would feel like false advertising.

                1. Joey*

                  Frequently yes. That’s why its important to clarify with the hiring manager.

                  You really shouldn’t be negotiating based on how large the range is. Try to align yourself appropriatly by looking at where others are considering their experience and company.

                2. Zahra*

                  The employer should decide how much the position is worth to them. If it’s worth more than in other companies, their posted salary range will be larger and it would be foolish to negotiate market range when you can (and should) get more.

                  You can’t always get salary information from other people at the same company, even if you have contacts, since salary is such a taboo subject in North America. Just getting a range seems like pulling teeth.

                3. Joey*

                  I’m trying to help you understand the rationale. Employers decide what a job is worth to them in large part based on what others are paying. Sure they have to consider their own budget, but their budget will be adjusted if they can’t keep people or they get surprised they’re paying way more than everyone else.

                  Look, employers don’t decide based on what anything is worth to them. They decide based on what the market will bear that’s within their budget. If it’s not within their budget they have to adjust quality/quantity, speed, and/or cost.

                  The best thing you can do as a job applicant is to look at the market, because good business make decisions on what the market is doing and where they want to be in it.

          2. Julie*

            I still don’t see a reason to inflate the range. If it realistically is x-y, then don’t say “it’s x-z, but we never go above y.” The only reason I can think of for doing that is to get people to apply by thinking they can get z. Why does an applicant need to know what the employer won’t pay? The interviewer can explain the details about “growing into the range” or whatever during the interview. It just seems like an unhelpful (to all parties) bait and switch.

            1. Zahra*

              Exactly. Some companies are willing to pay more, regardless of fair market salaries (and some less), having the real starting range helps candidates self-select out before applying, saving the hiring manager the time to screen for expected salary and the dashed hopes of having a strong candidate saying “No, thanks” when she hears the real starting salary range. After all, you can’t miss what you haven’t heard about.

              Growth into the position is expected and should be covered in the interviews. After all, some people will move into other positions, so making the whole range public pointless. Just the starting salary will give a good indication about the kind of salaries your company will pay.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I think part of the problem is that there’s a difference between “the possible range of salary we would offer to someone being hired right now for this position” and “the possible range of salary anyone in this position could possibly earn in the foreseeable future”. To me, the former is what is being referred to when applying for a job, and the former should be a subset of the latter, but I think many hiring managers may be referring to the latter.

      Does that make sense?

      1. Lisa*

        Yes, but I would be mad that the range is stated as 50 – 100, with 50 being the real starting salary and 100 being what retirement / end salary in 20 years looks like? I think its ridiculous to talk potential earnings when the majority of people think its a starting range.

        1. Joey*

          That’s why especially when you see larger ranges its important to clarify, although I would clarify regardless because hiring managers can have vastly different personal philosophies too.

      2. Marcy*

        That’s why I always list both when I advertise. I’ll put something like “Salary range: $35,000-$70,000 Hiring range:$35,000-$50,000”. I wish everyone would do that. It doesn’t always help, though. I still get applicants putting $75,000 as their minimum acceptable salary.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          If that job was within my range, I’d come work for you in a heartbeat, Marcy! Seriously, an ad like that shows planning and forethought, and would definitely make me predisposed towards the hiring company.

  2. Felicia*

    I’m glad #1 was up front about the salary range. In my experience it’s far more common for employers to ask candidates for their desired salary range without saying a thing about what they’re willing to pay or even all that much about the job. At first I thought that was the case here because it’s so common, but when I realized the OP was honest about the salary range up front, it seemed pretty obvious that those candidates think they can magically make budget considerations go away.

    1. Chinook*

      I agree. OP. #1’s candidates don’t seem to understand that salary ranges are based on a budget and think that their wonderfulness trumps other budget needs. If I were the OP, I would follow AAM’s advice and have a hard time not spending slightly gleeful at pointing out that they shot themselves in the foot by playing their game (which is probably why I would make a horrible manager).

      1. Jennifer*

        I wonder if those folks were told by someone else that this was a good way to get a higher price, to “show their worth.”

        1. Ethyl*

          Yes, I was going to say it sounds like more of that crummy career center advice — cold call! show up in person! disregard salary ranges! Yeah I can see that….

          1. De Minimis*

            Recruiter gave me similar advice once. I’d say I lost out on at least a couple of job opportunities before wising up.

      1. Jan Arzooman*

        OP #1 “Her application indicated she was currently making over 1$00k, and this job would pay $40-50k a year, so I wanted to be sure that would work for her, but she kept refusing to even give a range – not even to say, “I’m currently making X, but I’m open to something in the Y-Z range.” She just kept saying, “Well, it all depends on the job responsibilities…” I kept saying that I understood, “but the range is A to B. Would that work for you?” She kept dancing around the question.”

        I guess I’m confused by the wording of this question, because it sounds to me like there was withholding of information on both sides. The OP said the interviewer kept saying, “It all depends on the job responsibilities…” I feel like that’s an important point. If a hiring manager isn’t clear on what the responsibilities are, then it’s hard for an employee to say, “OK, I’m all right with this salary.” A person who makes more money in a current job (or made more in a previous job) might be OK with a lower salary, but maybe not for the same job, or one with more responsibilities and stress.

        If the responsibilities were made clear, then yes, the job candidates were being foolish.

  3. Amber*

    #1 I don’t even apply for a job without having first determined a salary range because that’s almost always expected to be asked during the pre-screen phone interview.

  4. Chocolate Teapot*

    3. In the past I have sent an email/instant message along the lines of “We have all dialled in, are you joining?” and then it’s up to the Boss to respond.

    It depends how long it takes, but often the start of a conference call is just everyone making their presence known and making sure they have a clear non-crackly connection. (The worst is when people dial in and don’t bother to say who they are!)

    1. Jen in RO*

      This was the standard for my ex-company too. Then, depending on the importance of the missing person, the meeting would go on or not.

    2. AVP*

      My boss always forgets about conference calls, so I send him a text 5 minutes before and then again if everyone has dialed in and we’re stills airing for him.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        Having reminder settings on email meeting invitations is a good idea too, then a little message pops up stating that your presence is required.

    3. Vicki*

      My thought on #3 was “A few hours later, he forwarded the meeting notice to me with a note that he had been waiting for me to come to his office”

      Seriously? He waited in his office, she didn’t show, and he did … nothing… until a few hours later when he “realized” the meeting was a phone call??

      OP, you have more problems than whether or not to schedule a second meeting.

  5. Elizabeth*

    #4, you asked, “Why would it take so long to hear a simple “we are pursuing other candidates” or “we have decided to extend you an offer”?” – but though those are both simple sentences, hiring is usually not a simple decision. There are so many reasons that the process could have gotten delayed that have nothing to do with you, and at this time of year (when lots of people take vacation, even at companies that don’t shut down altogether) a little delay could get stretched out. Best of luck, and take a few deep breaths when you get stressed!

    1. majigail*

      For a lot of places, the holidays stretched through the end of last week. I just this week have everyone in the office again. And- of course- we’re closed today due to the weather!
      Honestly, December 20- January 3 barely count as workdays, it’s hard to corral people together with so many being out on vacation. Add the weird weather in several parts of the country and you’ve got a recipe for zero productivity.
      I’d wait at least two weeks for them to get back up to speed and get their ducks in a row.

    2. Ash*

      I’m in the same predicament as number 4. It is really nerve wracking since the timeline has gotten stretched so much, at least in my case. Here’s hoping we both hear something in the next few days!

    3. fposte*

      I think that a lot of job hunters can’t help believing that delays are all delays in notification, rather than delays in the actual decision process. And aside from the crap hirers that never tell anybody, it’s usually the decision process itself that gets delayed, much to the frustration of the people trying to hire.

    4. Josh S*

      I think a lot of candidates view the hiring process through a binary lens of [They want to offer me the position] vs [They do not want to offer me the position]. Businesses, on the other hand, view the hiring process as a spectrum of “How do we find the best candidate for the position, while considering the cost of searching, the challenge of keeping the position vacant while the search goes on, the opportunity cost of missing out on the (hypothetical) next candidate who might be ‘perfect’, etc.”

      From the candidate’s perspective, it seems like it should be a simple yes/no answer to the question, “Will you offer me a job?” but from the employer’s perspective, that “yes/no” is dependent on dozens of other factors and information, some of which the employer might not have yet.

      It’s a hard paradigm to shift among job seekers.

      1. Ash*

        See, but this is exactly the frustrating part. If this is indeed the delay that OP4 is facing or that I am facing, clearly they don’t see the ideal candidate, so why not just say so?

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          It’s rare that a hire is the “ideal candidate.” It’s all about making trade-offs and finding the person who’s the best fit, even if not ideal. It’s not so binary as yes/no once you get to the later interview stages.

          If they know they’re absolutely not going to hire you, they should tell you that. But more often than not, you’re still being considered and compared to others.

        2. Josh S*

          Would you *really* like a hiring manager to call you up and say, “Well, you’re among the best of the lot we’ve interviewed so far, but we think there’s likely better candidates out there. So we’re going to keep interviewing others to see if we can find someone better, until such a point that we decide we’re spending too much on the process.”

          Would either of those make you feel better?

          Cuz if it were me, I’d be reluctant to take the job after that point, since I wasn’t their immediate first choice and felt like leftovers that they scooped up because there wasn’t a first tier candidate.

          And honestly, I’d rather be in the running as a ‘pretty good’ candidate than hear that they won’t offer me a job because I’m “not ideal.”

          1. OP#4*

            Perhaps it’s because I am recently out of college and have been applying to many positions within my grasp. It may also be that I am very confident in my ability to perform the responsibilities of this role, and it would be a fantastic company to work for. Regardless, I wish there was a bit more transparency in the process. It wouldn’t hurt my feelings to know that they are waiting to hear back from another candidate whom they extended the offer to. Or, it wouldn’t bother me to know that I am out of the running. What I, and I am sure other job seekers, find difficult is just sitting in the dark waiting. I wish I could simply turn off my brain and forget the interviews ever happened, but when you begin to stress about finding a job it proves to be very difficult to not continuously check your phone for that email.

            I have never been on the hiring side of things so I am unaware of what exactly goes on behind the scenes. Thanks to those who have posted here I have a tiny bit of a better understanding.

            Anyways, thanks for the comments.

            1. V*

              It can be frustrating to not know what’s going on, but to be honest, there isn’t anything you can do about it anyway if you did know, until you hear a firm “Here’s the offer” or “Sorry, we went with someone else.” It may be that they haven’t made a decision because someone had a relative pass away, someone’s in the hospital, someone just quit on the spot, etc. There are SO many things that could’ve happened that it wouldn’t make sense to tell job candidates because it would be TMI.

              I don’t think you’ve been left in the dark either. She responded to your email, with an update and timeline. How many times have we seen people who went to multiple interviews and never even got a courtesy rejection?!?! Hiring is a lengthy and confusing process and it’s often best for the company to just not disclose too much at times.

              Just hold tight. You’ll get a job sooner or later!

                1. Josh S*

                  It’s VERY hard. I’ve been there the past 2 years. I was employed as a freelancer, but seeking out, applying for, and interviewing for several ‘corporate’ positions. The number of instances when I heard nothing back, or that the ‘timeframe’ whooshed by without a word only to get a rejection months later, or whatever else…it’s frustrating as anything.

                  Patience is one thing. But it’s that ability to immediately forget what you just did and keep plugging ahead anyway because the decision is (almost) entirely out of your hands…that’s the real skill that’s needed by job-hunters.

                2. Marcy*

                  It could also be that there is a delay in HR. I usually know who I want to offer the job to right away once the interviews are over but I have to wait for HR to decide salary for the offer, to fill out all of the paperwork involved, etc. I am not allowed to tell the candidate that I am planning to offer them the job until HR tells me I can. That may be what you are running into and with the holidays, the HR person may be out on vacation.

                3. Josh S*

                  @Curious: Yes–I got a job offer on Dec 30 and accepted Jan 2. I start Jan 20 at a great position on a premier team at the industry-leading company in my field. With more pay and vacation than I was hoping for.

                  I couldn’t be happier with the start to my new year. Well, if Chicago would thaw a bit…

  6. PEBCAK*

    #6) I’m assuming this is NOT the situation here, but for the record, you can’t be disciplined if the comments are related to union organizing and the like. Some states have additional protections around discussing wages and things like that, and so on.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      It would have been interesting to know what the comments were about. Since the OP didn’t say what they were, I wonder if it was something unpleasant that got back to his/her boss.

    2. Natalie*

      My understanding is that any discussion about wages and/or working conditions is protected, provided one is covered by the NLRA (most people are). It doesn’t have to be a discussion specifically about starting a union.

  7. PEBCAK*

    #1) Not only would I expect a candidate to say a salary range was acceptable, but I’d expect her to have a pretty darn good reason why she was looking for a job at half the salary before I’d even consider bringing her in.

    1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd*


      Plus, our internal recruiter sometimes comes back and says, I have a good looking candidate who is in a range 20% above what you are looking for, do you want to bring her in?

      My answer depends on whatever won’t waste all of our time. If I know I can’t find the extra money to offer, we’ll end it there.

      To the LW though, I’d never call someone in the $100k range for a $40-$50k job. That’s an immediate discard for me. I feel they either didn’t pay attention to the range on the posting or they are going to waste all our time trying to negotiate a salary double offered.

      1. Julie*

        Or, if she WOULD accept a 50% pay cut, she should explain that in her cover letter (or at some point during the phone call, if the communication has all been verbal).

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Yes, she should. There could be a reason like career change, lifestyle changes (less pressure at this job, etc.). If she does have one and doesn’t mention it, people are going to wonder.

      2. Joey*

        You are likely missing out. Plenty of people are willing to take large salary decreases for all kinds of legitimate and reasons.

        1. Josh S*

          Yeah, but the recruiter isn’t asking what the candidate *made* at the last position (which would make your scenario plausible), but what the range is that they’re *looking for*.

          If the range they’re looking for is 20% above the range of the position, it’s extremely unlikely that they’re willing to take that kind of salary decrease.

        2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd*

          Well I was talking about asking ranges. The prime example is one area where we hire relatively frequently, but only at entry level position. We post at $14 to $16 an hour and receive applications/resumes with $50,000 or $70,000 a year asking ranges. The Easy Button on job sites creates a lot of noise for employers.

          Generally though, you may be right about missing out. I’ve had so many time wasting or bad experiences generally from people who want substantially more than the job can pay (by that I mean any job, not just that particular job), I may well filter out people that I should look at more carefully.

          Other people who do front line hiring internally aren’t as jaded as I am in that respect.

          I do like receiving responses in a higher range than we’ve posted because it can help me see if we’ve budgeted wrong for the position. I’m not going to call the people unless I can rebudget, however.

    2. OP #1*

      How do you respond when a candidate is really trying to convince you that they’re willing to take such a big pay cut, and you’re just not buying it? This particular candidate had a law degree and was making $100k. All she would say regarding her current position was that she was “ready for a change” and that she “certainly didn’t expect to be making $100k” in this position.

      I just kept thinking that she’d take this job until a higher-paying one came along, and I didn’t want to waste my time if she wasn’t going to be around in a year.

      1. Cat*

        It sounds like this particular candidate was shady but law is a field where people are routinely willing to take enormous pay cuts in exchange for better hours and/or more meaningful work. If this is a government, in-house, or non-profit position and you’re interviewing candidates from firms, I would t be surprised of many of them were genuinely fine with the pay cut (especially if you’re in a lower cost of living area – that would still be really low for a coastal city).

        1. PEBCAK*

          But I would still expect some pretty solid reasons, e.g. “I’m really looking to move into the non-for-profit sector, because I care so much about (insert cause)” or even a more candid, “Big law is burning me out and I’m looking for better work-life balance” or something. Just “I want a change” isn’t enough.

          1. Sydney Bristow*

            I agree with this. The candidate likely assumed that the potential employer would infer that a better lifestyle with less demanding hours was the real reason, but she should make that clear. It can feel awkward to admit that out loud and there are some legal career paths where it is just understood, but in this case I’d definitely give explicit reasons.

          2. Cat*

            Sure – as I said that candidate sounded shady. Just if someone does give a thoughtful reason it will often be a sincere one.

        2. Rosemary*

          Cat, you hit the spot.
          That is me.
          I had a corporate job, my 100k++, lots of responsibilities, looooong hours and no life outside the office. It all became a bit too much to handle.
          I decided to quit, get a job with a non-profit and settle for half the pay. I have my life back, good work-life balance and the energy to enjoy my new job.
          The number on the pay-check was not worth my peace of mind.
          When applying for jobs I had to make sure the interviewer/s understood why I was fine with such a pay cut. Those were reasons I could have not left unsaid.

      2. Julie*

        I don’t think she gave you enough (any) explanation about WHY she was OK with taking that much of a pay cut. I would make the same assumption you did. It’s not your job to draw it out of her. it sounds like you did the best you could to get the information, and she wasn’t able to/going to give you her reasons. It’s too bad she doesn’t read AAM!

        1. Ash*

          What kind of explanation would work here that would be believable though? I know, for instance, that a job I’m awaiting a response on will likely pay less than my current position. When they asked me to submit my salary history (ugh, missed AAM advice not to send it) I simply said “I am not tied to my current salary” but don’t know if that is sufficient or not…

          1. fposte*

            I think it depends on how huge the difference and whether other contexts are clearly at play (if you’re moving from New York to Omaha, I think you need to do less explaining, for instance, or if you’re considering changing fields, as in Jubilance’s example below). There are times when your comment would be fine, and times, as in the OP’s example, where that’s not enough to assure a hiring manager that a $50k drop in salary is genuinely something the candidate would be satisfied with.

          2. Josh S*

            “I’m looking to move from my high-pressure, high-stress corporate lawyer position to a less stressful position. I recognize this will likely result in a smaller salary, and that’s a trade-off I’m happy to make.”
            “I’ve been working in consumer packaged goods marketing for 5 years, and I’m looking for something with a more meaningful impact on the world. I have long had an interest in [charitable field], even volunteering with [organization], and I’m hoping to put my skills to work to help [this cause] that I’m really passionate about. I know the financial realities of non-profit work like this often means that salaries aren’t as high as the for-profit world, and I’m comfortable with that.”

            Basically, anything that shows that you’re aware of the discrepancy between the salary you’re making and the one offered by the position, demonstrates the reasons you’re willing to take a pay cut, and shows that you’re not going to jump ship the first time a higher-paying offer comes along–that’s what you want to say. And tell the truth about it!

      3. Me*

        This candidate sounds either ill prepared or naive – neither of which I want on my team. So I wouldn’t consider her further.

        There are a hundred answers that I’d find acceptable. How about this one? “The compensation at my last job was high because we typically had to work 70+ hours/week to meet billable hours targets. I’m looking for something with more standard work hours (say, 45 hrs/week or less) and expect to take a significant paycut accordingly.”

        1. AB*

          I am of two minds for this. On one hand, perhaps the candidate was concerned that saying they were looking for something less stressful would be considered a red flag that the person was lazy or couldn’t work hard when required. On the other hand, even using those examples, some people still won’t believe you.

          I previously has one of those “once in a lifetime” type jobs. It was an awesome job, and people were very impressed when they learned what I did for a living. However, after a few years it was time to make a change because the work was very stressful, the hours were erratic and there was no room for me to learn new skills or advance. I was very hesitant to bring up the first reasons (erratic hours and stress) because I know that every job has some level of stress and would like employees flexible enough to take on extra hours when needed. I didn’t want to give “negative” reasons for leaving a job. However, I encountered a lot of push back for the other reasons I was offering. No one seemed to believe that I would be willing to give up such an awesome job for a more mundane one (that would however offer at least most of what I was looking for in work-life balance and rooms to improve and advance).

          1. Joey*

            The key is to provide context. It’s okay to say the job is stressful with erratic hours if you can say its significantly moreso than the job you’re applying to. I’ve hired people that worked “crazy” hours because I knew that the crazy hours they worked would never resemble the hours required for me. And I didn’t see it as a negative, I saw it as a positive- that I hired a person who would see my occasional and rare crazy periods with long hours a breeze.

        2. OP #1*

          That would have been a completely understandable response, and it would make sense. Everyone has their own reasons for being willing to take a pay cut – but the candidate wouldn’t give me any specifics to work with.

      4. Joey*

        Id say something like, “even after your explanation I’m still concerned that you are willing to take such a large pay cut and might leave for a higher paying legal position. What exactly do you mean when you say you’re ready for a change?”

          1. Joey*

            FYI- if she hims and haws after asking this and still doesn’t give specifics that ease your concerns Id write her off too.

      5. Jubilance*

        It’s very possible that she’s sincere.

        When I was trying to leave my senior chemist position, I applied for a position at my alma mater, in the minority engineering recruitment & advisement office. The hiring manager called and let me know that it was a significant decrease to make sure that I was aware. I was truly interested in the position – I had numerous connections to the role (being an alum from the same engineering college, having a passion for working with students, etc). That wouldn’t be apparent looking at my resume but I did address it in my cover letter.

        Its very possible that this person really is looking for a change, and the salary decrease is something they can handle. Don’t write them off or assume they are insincere about it.

        1. S.K.*

          True, but it still should be the job candidate’s responsibility to explain it properly. OP #1 seems to have tried several times and got nothing but vague answers.

          I was in a similar situation this past fall, where I was willing to take a significant pay cut from my previous role due to the job market (I was also considering switching fields, so pay cuts there as well). I knew it would be an issue when it came up so I had a carefully prepared answer – being vague and hoping the subject gets dropped (ANY subject) is a good way to get your resume thrown out. Maybe your explanation won’t please them, but if so it would have been a bad fit anyway.

        2. fposte*

          In addition to what S.K. says, I think it’s an easier sell when there’s a big field change involved, like the one you’re talking about. When you’re staying within the same field, it requires more explanation.

        3. Josh S*

          Yes. You’re right that there are multiple reasons that the candidate might be willing to take that kind of pay cut. But the onus is on the candidate to adequately explain those reasons. Being vague and saying, “ready for a change” doesn’t cut it.

          At worst, it makes me think you’re hiding something. At best, it tells me that you’re a poor communicator who thinks that such a vague answer contains sufficient detail, especially after repeated questioning on the topic.

      6. FormerLawyer*

        I have a law degree and am transitioning into another career now. Please, please, please do not take a law degree and a previous high salary as indicative of someone who will jump ship as soon as they can make more money. Law has a lot of people leaving, it’s a rough field with long hours, a lot of contention, a lot of stress. I personally know a lot of fellow attorneys willing to take huge pay cuts to escape the stress of this profession.

        It may be that your candidate said she was “ready for a change” and that she “certainly didn’t expect to be making $100k” in this position” because she was trying to be diplomatic. She may not have wanted to say “I need a better work/life balance” because she has no clue what your work/life balance feelings are, just that almost anything is better than Big Law work.

        All I’m saying is that if you get a current or former lawyer who is making $100k and looking to get out, you can almost be guaranteed they are not waiting for another job to make the same amount of money that they will leave you for when they get it. Sure, some people might be shady in what they say, but with lawyers, a ton of us are trying to get out of this profession and we’re being blocked because no one believes that we will take a $50k a year job just for the sanity factor alone.

        1. fposte*

          But the onus still lies on the candidate to make this point. Good hiring managers aren’t satisfied with assuming, and this hiring manager has pressed the point without getting a satisfying response to the very legitimate question.

          If you can’t articulate the reason for change, a hiring manager would be unwise to assume a reason, and would be unwise to hire without one.

          1. FormerLawyer*

            I agree that the onus is on the candidate to be clear and to give an answer to the whether she will accept the offered salary. Not disputing that. I’m addressing this that OP1 stated she said she was “ready for a change” and that she “certainly didn’t expect to be making $100k” in this position and OP indicated that she didn’t believe it.

            All I’m saying is, when you’re dealing with lawyers, believe it when they say they don’t expect to be making $100k in another job. Sure, this candidate could have fleshed out the answer, but I’m simply advocating for believing a person when they say they know a $100k salary is not going to be on the table. Many lawyers are willing to trade in the salary for having a life. So yes, the candidate should perhaps flesh out their answer more, but the interviewer shouldn’t automatically dismiss it as someone who’s just waiting to get another $100k job.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              I am hearing the same thing from lawyers around me. The stress and the burn out is a force to be reckoned with in the legal field. A female lawyer once told me that there are lots of women out there with JDs that do not use the degree in their current work. Because Big Law is that much of a killer. She explained it this way, you cannot have a job as a lawyer and have a life. It is one or the other, not both.
              Had I not had this conversation, I too would be skeptical about someone who had a $100k income applying for a lower income job. But I have changed my mind on that especially, with former lawyers.

        2. OP #1*

          I agree 100% with what you’re saying – I just wish the candidate had said what you just did! Then I could understand where she was coming from.

  8. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd*


    I’d have a lawyer on speed dial but give the situation room to play out a bit longer.

    The workplace doesn’t go into freeze frame while a woman is on maternity so, benefit of the doubt, they had to make some short term changes for you to adapt to and then all will be back to normal shortly.

    Regarding space, our most recent mother (gave birth on New Years Day, early enough in the AM to be “the first baby of the New Year” in a small region, yay!), specifically asked if her space was going to be used while she was out and if she should box her belongings. That’s an awfully prepared new mom, huh? We decided it was safer for her to box her stuff because who knows what happens in three months.

    I never thought of that before but I’ll recommend it in the future unless I think the person I recommend it to might take that the wrong way. O.o

    1. Judy*

      I didn’t ask that, but I did both times clean the top of my desk well. No papers, I did leave the few nick-nacks, but they were back in the “corner” on either side of my monitor. I do have a small clock radio ipod dock that I have on my desk, too. I only keep one drawer that has personal-personal things, mainly a one gallon ziplock with emergency toiletries, etc. I didn’t care if anyone got in to my desk’s lap drawer where the pens were, etc. Beyond a dozen or so books on the shelf, everything else in my cube is company property, either equipment or binders and files for projects. Although any more, the files are mostly on the network.

      I had some notes left on my desk thanking me for letting them use it, it was pretty much used as a “hotel” for travelling people while I was gone.

      1. OP #2*

        I was told the new employee would use my office temporarily but ultimately move to a different spot. I made the work space usable for her but did not box up my items. I made multiple trips to the office over my leave (including twice within the first 2 weeks) and was never asked to gather my stuff up.

        1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd*

          Hey OP#2!

          I am sorry this has been so stressful for you. It sucks to come back to work and not be able to find half of your stuff.

          I hope things get better soon.

          We do a lot of maternity leave in my place of business. (Procreation seems to be a core competency!) We’ve gotten pretty good at smooth transitions, but I’m going to take a page from your book and make sure that there’s some arrangement for people’s belongings before they go out. Maybe the employee might want to pick a friend to be responsible rather than box up, but some kind of “just in case”. It’s a simple plan that can avoid bad feelings on a return, so thanks for that.

  9. Pete*

    #1 – This is s place for questions like #4. There are plenty of places for managers like you to learn their trade. There are few places for employees to gain insight into dealing with hiring managers, like you.

    #2 – I am, predictably, a little bothered AAM’s wrap-up, “raising it would hurt more than help you in the long-run,” leaving one with the impression, contrary to the earlier suggestion, she should just sit quietly, be a patient, loyal employee and trust everything Management has told her. The OP has been hurt already. Raising it to HR will do nothing because they’re hard at work for Management making a legal case for the demotion. If OP loves her old job and the employer she should over the next month, at the least, work on her resume and interview good employment discrimination lawyers. If there is another delay of even one day, hire the attorney. If the job is just a job, though, I would recommend hiring the attorney to take action immediately. Do not let them get away with any discriminatory actions, period.

    1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd*

      I don’t think it’s *actually* discriminatory yet. She knew they were hiring a replacement and she agreed on a new role. When she came back, they weren’t ready for her to step into the role so she’s in flux, still making the same amount of money, etc.

      Evidence that this is being poorly handled is contained in how it’s made the LW feel, I’m not defending that, but it’s not crazy to ask an employee to sit tight for a month while transitioning to a new role.

      What happens after the month is the tell.

      1. What You Said*


        I just came back from maternity leave 3 weeks ago. Due to some restructuring the tasks I was doing before I left have been reduced in scope such that it’s probably only about a part time job to do them. This was clearly the right thing for my company to do – I’m all in favor of it. However, it took several weeks to identify what my remaining time would be used for. I was involved in this and could help shape it, which was nice, but even if I hadn’t been, there is no reason to think anything shady or illegal was going on!

        I’d definitely reserve judgment to see what the next few weeks bring and act accordingly.

      1. PEBCAK*

        Yes, this dude has an axe to grind against management. He did the same thing on a post two or three days ago. Just ignore him.

        1. Liane*

          Must have missed the ax grinder’s previous comment. Until I saw PEBCAK’s, I assumed the guy meant it was great to have a post with a manager’s POV but mis-typed.
          I think it is great to have both hiring managers and job seekers posting here. That way each group can see how what they say and do appears to members of the other group–but no one is losing out on a great candidate or job because one person said/wrote/did something that didn’t come off the way they intended.

      2. MissDisplaced*

        OP#1 It was a perfectly valid question to ask here and I’m glad you did! As a employee I would much rather have the hiring manager give me a budgeted salary range first in the prescreen… rather than asking me what I currently make now (because it can be tricky for me to explain a higher wage but no benefits).

        The candidates you spoke with were idiots! I’m all for learning more about the position duties, but at some point you need to stop dancing around the issue.

        1. A Cita*

          Yes, and for me it’s hard to explain a lower salary but truly incredible benefits (aka golden handcuffs :)

      3. pgh_adventurer*

        OP1: I second the above comments, I like hearing from employees but especially appreciate hearing directly from hiring managers, especially around tricky questions like salary negotiations. Thanks for submitting your question.

      4. Ellie H.*

        One of the things that stands out to me about this blog is that it gives advice regarding management, not just about job seeking and issues of employees. Even though it doesn’t all apply to me I really like the mix of topics. Also, everyone can learn from greater exposure to the perspectives of and issues faced by those in different positions.

    2. Colette*

      Part of the way employees get insight into what is important to hiring managers think is through questions like #1, so I’m not sure what your point is. I also don’t see any reason to restrict questions to employees only – it’s in everyone’s best interests for managers to have a place to go to get insights into how to be better managers.

      Based on your comment in #2, it seems like you expect an adversarial relationship with management, which is often not appropriate and will hurt you in the long run.

    3. Katie the Fed*

      Pete, I’m pretty sure it’s Alison who determines what kind of place this is, not you. And if she saw fit to print Letter #1, then it’s clearly the kind of place for those kinds of letters.

      FWIW, I’ve learned a lot as a manager by reading this blog. I started reading it right after I got promoted to my role and it’s helped me understand my role and how my employees think about things a lot better.

    4. Ask a Manager* Post author

      1. I routinely run questions from managers. I’m not sure why you think this isn’t the place for it. It is.

      2. As Wakeen points out, it’s probably not actually discriminatory yet. But regardless, “hire a lawyer if there’s a delay of even one day”? That’s terrible advice. Lawsuits take years, are hugely expensive, and take enormous amounts of energy. Reasonable people don’t file them over a delay of a day.

      1. Pete*

        It sounds like AAM is recommending the employee delay her response which affords management, who have attorneys on staff or on retainer, to get their ducks in a row. “Don’t get an attorney involved, Ms. Employee, you don’t have the time, energy or money to win against our attorneys!”

        I’m not an attorney, and so I’d be worried about what I don’t know. Does accepting this new position equal accepting the demotion? Did management use language that allowed OP4 to infer it’s temporary but it’s not. If they aren’t willing to put anything in writing then I’d be doubly worried, and I’d definitely consult an attorney.

        The kicker was that her manager did not protect OP4’s belongings. That’s the top clue, for me, that her manager does not want OP4 working there at all. I had an employee out on disability for 8 months last year before she chose to resign. Pictures of her kids moved only to be dusted even as a temp sat there the entire duration.

        1. fposte*

          If the company has the attorneys you suggest, their ducks are already in a row–that’s what they’re there for.

          I mean, sure, the OP can talk to a lawyer privately. But if you bring a lawyer in communication with the employer at this point, what you’re seeing as “speed” is actually jumping the gun. The employers have stated a reasonable short-term plan, and turning things adversarial before treating things with good faith for a month is going to hurt her job more than spending a month doing less will.

          1. Julie*

            I agree. I had a payroll issue with my employer at one point, and I consulted an attorney – privately – to find out what my options were. He gave me excellent advice, and I was able to use the information to handle things at work without involving him at all. One of the things he told me is that when you threaten legal action against your employer, they generally fire you, and it wasn’t worth that to me. Also, I had a Workers’ Comp case previously, and it was so stressful and time consuming (and did I mention stressful?), I would be glad if I never had to deal with a legal situation like that ever again (but that’s just me – not everyone will feel the same way). And I suppose if I felt strongly enough about something, I would pursue it, but I hope I never have to worry about that.

          2. Not So NewReader*

            I totally agree with the wait and see approach.
            I was in an accident years ago and lost six weeks at my brand new job. (ugh) The folks at the state employment office told me that the employer had to hold A job open for me but not MY job. I could find that my new job is cleaning toilets with a toothbrush. I was warned to paste a smile on my face and get through it.

            So I went in with my pasted smile and did whatever they asked me to do. It was not that bad, but it was not the work I originally had. My point here is because I did not make waves I actually ended up better off than before the accident. I liked my new work better and I was able to develop it and grow it.
            I am not intending to compare my situation to OPs but sometimes it is easy to forget that big wheels turn slowly.
            And sometimes if you just do your best each day everything lands in a good place. I did not know what went on behind the scenes on my situation, I have no clue what hoops the company had to jump through to make it all work out for me. Yeah, I was scared/nervous but the wait and see approach worked in my favor. I think if I had gotten a lawyer or gone to the labor board I would have really made a mess of things.

    5. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      In addition to all the things everyone else said, am I the only one that thinks a delay of one month is not a huge deal? If the requirement is that she get her old job back or an equivalent one, and they deliver after a single month of delay (during which she is receiving her full pay and title, just doing lower-level work while they make their preparations), is that really such a horrible thing?

      I mean, yeah, if after a month they aren’t delivering, it’s time to take additional steps. But there’s nothing here that sounds untoward to me. All kinds of things could have happened to delay the creation of the new position, and if you have an employee without work to do (but whom you obviously have to continue paying, as they will be transitioning to a new role), and you have a coincidental “void” that needs to be filled, why would it be so horrible to have your workless person fill that void for *one* month?

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd*

        See, I don’t think so either. I don’t think the actual problem is the facts. I think the actual problem is how management handled it (or didn’t handle it at all). This entire situation would have read differently to the LW if she’d been welcomed back, hadn’t found only half her stuff in a supply closet, and had been kept looped in about the transition period.

        Sometimes you can skate by with poor management. God knows I have. But when you combine poor management with a legally protected area “comparable job” and someone whose rest of her life has changed big time (hello, baby!), now you’ve got somebody thinking about lawyers.

    6. Jillian*

      Pete, I respectfully disagree. This blog address all kinds of issues with employees, managers, hiring managers, supervisors, job seekers, etc. If you don’t like it, you could start your own “job-seekers” only blog.

  10. Chinook*

    #3, I would give them the month and, if things don’t change, approach them from the perspective of confusion to clear up if the demotion is permanent. If it turns out to be, definitely find out their reason and consult a lawyer because their tactics are spineless and illegal.

    1. Katie the Fed*

      Although, when approaching from the perspective of confusion, it wouldn’t hurt to throw in a few phrases like “FMLA” or “legal protections” so management knows they’re in a legal minefield.

      1. fposte*

        Though she might not have had FMLA–she doesn’t mention it, and the total number of weeks out exceed it. (She may be in California, though, based on the “disability” reference, and if so the state law is more protective.)

        1. Katie the Fed*

          Oh ok. But some employers will require you to use your accrued paid leave as part of your FMLA leave, so it’s not clear. I may have mis-spoken.

          1. fposte*

            No, I think you’re probably right–it’s just that the timing and the phrasing made me wonder if it didn’t include FMLA.

              1. fposte*

                Wow. That’s pretty unusual that they didn’t require it for such a long absence. I can’t tell if they’re generous or uninformed–it makes me wary.

  11. Not So NewReader*

    The above advice is why I soooo appreciate Alison’s forum.

    For OP 1- how sad. It sounds like the candidates could not digest a single sentence you said. It makes you wonder what they would do with the boss’ instructions. Alison has gone over this a couple times by saying the candidate needs to volunteer the reason why they would take a 50% pay cut. (I have seen many people do this simply because they need to reduce the stress in their lives. They are willing to make the necessary adjustments because of the lower pay rate.)
    The advice to be vague has been out there for decades. I never understood how people got that to work FOR them. To me it just seemed to lead to a circular conversation at best.

    I see #2 and #4 as being trust issues.
    For the returning new mom, have you tried discussing the plans with your employer? It could be that a hundred things came up while you were gone and they want to get you set up but just have not had time. It works for you to give them a benefit of the doubt at first then lawyering up if they seem impossible, later on.
    I am not clear about your things, were they in the supply closet when you went to look? It could be that your replacement is a witch with a capital B. Or it could be that she is a klutz and was afraid of breaking something or spilling coffee on it. Ordinarily, I move other people’s stuff out of my immediate workspace because I am a klutz.

    The biggest point that bothers me here (and my ignorance is going to show) WHY did they hire someone “to replace her” when they were supposed to hold a similar position and pay open for her? I am not comfy with the entire set up here- perhaps it is because I do not have a clear understanding. I can see them hiring a temp worker OR temporarily moving someone into her position. But “replace”???

    But there must have been something OP saw because OP agreed to this set up. Where did you think they were going to put you when you came back, OP? What position do you think they had in mind? Not being snarky- if it were me, I would not be comfy with how vague the plan is. If they said you were going to be doing X over in Y department then that would relieve my concern because you were told something specific.

    It’s because of situations like this that people do not trust employers in general and leads to questions like OP 4. At some point most of us learn that there is a code and we need a code breaker to figure out what is being said. My life became much easier when I decided to take what is said at face value and go about my day/life- as Alison advises. I expect people to take me at my word so I must learn to take people at their word. This in spite of the huge numbers of times I have been mislead or out-and-out lied to. All I can do is control my responses and make sure my walk matches my talk. And really, if an employer is lying or misleading do I actually want that job??? Oddly, deciding to follow Alison’s advice has lead me to better quality employers and bosses. Never anticipated that outcome. I hope both OPs have a good outcome.

    1. Jax*

      #2 – Yes, what did you agree to before you left? It sounds like you agreed to step into another role. Also, did your availability change?

      I have this same situation going on at my office. My senior co-worker wanted to step down to receptionist duties a couple months before her due date (with the same rate of pay). During pregnancy, her work ethic was flaky, she spent hours online, she frequently called off and important projects collected dust on her desk. She also acted entitled, like it was only HER decision as to where she would end up post leave. The entire office felt like we had to grit our teeth and just deal with her because she had an employment trump card.

      She left with no info on what she planned to do after leave: part-time, full-time, quit? It was completely up in the air. We put her things in a box in a corner of the room, moved a temp in, and worked like she may not come back. She did come back, but with modified full-time schedule.

      Management told her that with her new schedule, her old job is no longer an option. (And they did that holding their breath, because if she fussed they would have caved in to her rather than risk a law suit.) She went back her receptionist duties and was told to “hang on” while the company expands and she is moved into a new position equal to where she was before. She no longer has an office or the prestige (yet) but she is still making the same pay rate.

      In her case, I know her attitude, work ethic, and ASKING to step down in the months before her leave played a huge role in where she is now.

    2. Josh S*

      The OP was away for 3+ months. I don’t know many managerial/supervisory positions that could go that long without someone stepping in.

      It’s entirely possible that the company hired someone to take on that position on a long-term basis while moving OP to another equivalent position upon her return. Things shook out a bit differently than expected and the new position isn’t ready yet (because of budget, a delay in establishing a new department, whatever), so they’re keeping OP on to work where needed until the situation develops to where things are ready for her.

      1. OP #2*

        This is correct. I never expected to return to my previous role. I knew someone was being hired to take over the reigns and I would move to a new position.

  12. ew0054*

    Ok let’s talk about point 1. The job applicant is always in a position of weakness. In this case, the applicant is playing smart, and being chewed out for it. I say good!

    How many times does it play out this way: the salary for the job is $100k, but the candidate doesn’t know that. “How much are you making at your current job? How much do you make, how much do you make? If you don’t tell me, you don’t get the job.”


    “Great, here’s an offer for 50k, take it or leave it.”

    Think about it this way. Applicants invariably get screwed by hiring managers. It’s nice to take the fight to the enemy’s territory for a change.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Sorry, but that makes no sense. This is a hiring manager who was direct and up-front with the candidates about salary, so I’m not sure how this applies. And it’s not “taking the fight to the enemy” to act nonsensically and get taken out of the running as a result.

      1. PoohBear McGriddles*

        If only more hiring managers were like OP#1, giving the range up front and letting the candidates know up front that they would not be offering $0.01 more than that to anyone.
        However, we must remember that there are all kinds of “experts” out there doling out all kinds of advice to job searchers. I have certainly seen advice in the past to do exactly what these candidates are doing.

        1. Ash*

          Agreed, and I think even AAM has pointed out that sometimes even if a company has a range in mind going into the hiring process, for the right person they might bump that range. Perhaps that’s what the candidate in OP 1 is counting on…

          However, I think OP 1 is pretty clear that’s not going to happen.

          1. fposte*

            And I don’t think AAM has ever suggested proceeding with a candidacy where you know you wouldn’t take the job for the clearly firm range on offer.

          2. Laufey*

            There’s also a big difference between bumping up a salary, and doubling it (as appears to be the case of the $100k candidate).

        2. Felicia*

          I’ve seen advice out there that says to do what these candidates are doing as well, as if you can make budget considerations disappear with your awesomeness. I didn’t follow it because I didn’t understand the logic behind it, and it also just didn’t feel right, but i’m sure lots of people think that advice is right

    2. fposte*

      Is the fight for the right never to say what you want to get paid, or is it a fight for getting the actual job? This candidate is hurting her chances at the job by handling this poorly, so unless it’s more important to her to avoid mentioning a desired salary than to get the job, this isn’t a fight she’s winning.

    3. Yup*

      I disagree with “always” and “invariably.” The hiring market has been exceptionally bad since 2008, for sure, but that hasn’t been — and won’t always be — the case, and it’s not the case every single time. Employment is a two-way street: I can quit my job at any time, just like my employer can eliminate my job at any time. I can reject a job offer for any reason at all, just like they can offer it to someone other than me for any reason at all.

      I can’t control whether an employer is going to make me an offer, but I certainly hold plenty of cards too: my skills, my experience and track record, my ability to adapt to change. Just because they’re doing the hiring doesn’t mean I never have any say in the process. Heck, I’m choosing as a candidate whether I want to apply to a job at all!

  13. J*

    Strange that they refuse to make a range. In the past I always did a range but then found out that employers don’t want ranges, they want ONE number. As this one usually is not what you will get put first point of negotiations.
    I also can understand the candidates that they want to make best possible. But also in some companies the salary structure does not allow that. If I apply for a job I always check commercials first. I know that lot of companies can’t afford – friendly speaking, don’t want to afford my salary expectations. So I give them a high number and show how they react.
    It they are still willing to talk to me, fine. Also if I don’t start at the number I asked for. They and I know then what I expect for the (near) future.

  14. Katie the Fed*

    #1 makes me think of people on online dating sites that use really outdated pictures. Like, oh I figured once you got to know my stellar personality you wouldn’t mind that I gained 60 pounds since this picture was taken, even though you said you preferred a slender body type.

    Always best to be up front in negotiations, says me.

    1. Jubilance*

      Great analogy! This actually happened to me once – met a guy online & when we met in person I didn’t even recognize him! I told him it was false advertising to have up those old pictures.

  15. Katie the Fed*

    #2 – out of curiosity, are you still being paid your former salary while you’re taking on the role with less responsibility?

  16. Joey*

    #2. I think its incredibly critical to understand the rationale behind the temporary demotion, their plans for transitioning you back, and the timeline for doing so. Personally, if I felt they were taking steps to get me back to my position fairly quickly and the rationale made sense to me I’d wait and see. Of course Id only wait and see if they have a history of keeping their word.

    1. Katie the Fed*

      Yeah, I agree. I prefer to give people the benefit of the doubt. Keep in mind that while the OP was out, life went on at the employer and they had to fill the gaps in her absence. To her it’s as though work time stopped and now everything is suddenly different. They had to figure out how to fill in while she was out, so it’s understandable to me that they have to adjust now that she’s back. If, after a month, things haven’t been resolved, then I’d raise it.

  17. thenoiseinspace*

    #4 – Reminds me of myself at age four. I had just discovered mysteries (thanks, Olsen & Olsen Mystery Agency) and I was convinced that intrigue was all around us. What’s that? A plain old leaf? Perhaps. Or maybe…(whips out detective hat and magnifying glass) A CLUE! What could it MEAN?

    But yeah, I know that feel. It’s tough when it takes so long, but now that I’ve seen the hiring process from the other side, I totally understand. Hang in there! A “not yet” is much better than a “no.” :)

  18. BCW*

    I’m not a woman, nor do I have a pregnant wife, so I don’t fully understand the laws regarding maternity leave. I guess though I don’t get part of it. If this person was in management, then gone for 13 weeks, well they then need to have someone fill your role (which you were made aware of). Assuming that person does a great job, are they just supposed to then demote them because you are back? What if they did the job better than you did in that time? It sounds like you are still getting the same pay, but you are mad that some of your perks have decreased. I guess I can kind of understand it, but from a company perspective, it puts them in a bind, because they may have to lose a better employee (your replacement) because you aren’t happy with the different role, even if the pay is the same.

    1. esra*

      Yes, they are just supposed to demote them now that a person returns from mat or pat leave. It’s pretty anti-woman to be thrown to the wolves if you have a kid.

      1. BCW*

        Where do you get throwing them out to the wolves? If they are making the same money they were making before, its not throwing anyone out. Just keeping a better person in the position. And please don’t make this a sexist matter. For all we know the replacement is a woman with kids herself.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          The replacement could be a woman with kids and it would still be problematic. The idea behind the law is to make sure that women can have substantive careers even if they need a few months off to have a baby. If they can’t do that, women who have children will often be relegated to lower status, lower paying jobs. The idea is that you shouldn’t get kicked off the ladder for taking maternity leave — that when you return, you resume your place where you were when you left.

        2. Mike C.*

          It is a sexist matter, because the person leaving to have children is a woman. You can’t eliminate sexism from this issue because the demotion is a textbook example of it.

          1. BCW*

            The reason I don’t think its sexist is because my thoughts would be the same if a man in management had to take 3 months off for surgery and recovery, and the replacement was great. Again, I’m in no way suggesting firing, but giving them a new position with equal pay doesn’t seem like its that bad.

            1. Katie the Fed*

              Equal pay AND equal responsibilities.

              And you’re required to under the FMLA. It’s not a pregnancy issue. It’s FMLA.

            2. esra*

              I think if the employer really wants to keep the amazing contract-worker who covered the leave then they need to find a different role for them, not for the person returning from leave.

            3. Joey*

              You might want to read the fmla. Your position might not be sexist but it flies in the face of fmla.

              1. Katie the Fed*

                Exactly. This is an FMLA issue, not necessarily sex discrimination for reason of pregnancy. Best to avoid either and do the right thing.

            4. Victoria Nonprofit*

              I’ll answer in a couple of ways:

              1) A job with fewer responsibilities/lower rank/etc., even if it has the same pay, reduces the employees ability to get future jobs at higher levels. In my case, for example, I am at the Director level of my organization. If I were demoted to Manager, I’d have to work my way back up to Director before becoming Senior Director or Vice President – and if I left the organization, my resume would show a downward trajectory rather than an upward trajectory, which wouldn’t accurately reflect my capabilities.

              2) Both women and men can have surgeries (or family crises, or etc. etc.) that temporarily derail their careers. Because pregnancy and childbirth is exclusive to women, allowing women to be demoted as a result of maternity leave is inherently discriminatory. Pregnancy and childbirth is also much, much more common than other health issues that require multi-month leaves of absence (e.g., for my personal anecdata, in my family – parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc. – nobody has ever taken more than a few days off for any health reason other than having children) – so if we allowed employers to demote women as a result of their maternity leave women as a group would suffer much more than men would suffer from similar demotions following other health crises.

              1. LondonI*

                Good point about both men and women needing surgery. The fact that a man may need to have surgery is really irrelevant, as a woman may need surgery too. (As well as potentially taking maternity leave.)

            5. Mike C.*

              The issue is that pregnancy has been a traditional method of removing women from the workplace, where a three month surgery for men has not.

              1. Josh S*

                well technically, you’re referring to a 3 month recovery from surgery. A 3 month surgery would be…well, drastic.

            6. LondonI*

              I rather suspect that the number of men taking x amount of months away from work for surgery is statistically lower than the number of women taking the same amount of time away from work for maternity leave.

              Therefore, the notion that the average male employee is in the same position as the average female employee is just not correct. Women are at a major disadvantage here. The threat of demotion after prolonged absence hits women harder than men, because most (though obviously not all) women will have a baby at some point in their working life and this has all sorts of consequences – pay gap; women in lower-paid, more junior positions to men etc.

              Also, as another poster has pointed out, maternity leave has been used as an excuse in the past for companies to bring in a cheaper employee to take over the role of the demoted mother. Many countries have laws to protect new mothers from this sort of discrimination.

        3. esra*

          The problem is it is intrinsically tied to sex, until men can start having children. I know you have trouble with issues related to gender discrimination in the workplace, but mat leave protections exist for a reason.

    2. Joey*

      Generally, according to the law, yes. They should have made the fill in role temporary. It’s the equivalent of demoting you because you needed to take fmla for a surgery.

    3. S.K.*

      Re BCW: Yes, either you hire someone on a contract basis for the specific term you need and that person leaves when the time is up (the most common practise in my experience), or you try what they seem to have tried here: replacing the role the OP was in, immediately and permanently, and transitioning the OP to a brand new equivalent role when they return. This is much more complicated, obviously, as we see here…
      At my old office a new position was actually created just as a superstar account executive was about to leave for her maternity leave. They promoted her AND advertised the contract position for the time she was off, then announced both promotions (the permanent and temporary one) simultaneously. At the end of the 9 months the “contract manager” went back to his old account executive role, but since he had impressed everyone with his work he ended up getting promoted later that year. Handled properly this can be a great situation.

    4. Katie the Fed*

      the protection is actually part of the FMLA, but after someone returns from 12 weeks of protected FMLA leave (which is what many women take for their pregnancy leave), they must be given an equivalent position to the one they occupied before they went on leave.

      If you have someone filling in for that time, then you need to make sure they understand it’s only a temporary situation. They’re not being “demoted” when they go back to their old job, the job is being held while someone is out on FMLA. If the new person does a better job, that’s a performance issue you need to raise with the incumbent of the job.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        In theory, but that doesn’t really apply here since it sounds like her leave was approved.

        I mean, essentially you’re talking about a company saying “oh sure, you can take that 13th week of leave. HAHAH gotcha! We can fire you now.”

        1. Judy*

          It can depend on how it’s counted. I think a company can choose to count FMLA as any 12 weeks out of a rolling 12 months or they can count it as 12 weeks out of a calendar year. The company just has to state which is the policy.

          (My company with my first child did the 12 weeks out of a calendar year, so since he was born in November, I was able to take 6 weeks in that year and 12 weeks in the next year. With my second child, the company had moved to 12 weeks in a rolling 12 month period, so I only took 12 weeks. Which required me to have a temporary babysitter because in our state, you require extra certifications for a day care to take kids under 3 months of age. And due to the calendar, 3 months was 4 days longer than 12 weeks.)

    5. Just a Reader*

      Ummm since when is keeping the job you were promised, not having your stuff disappear and being given the LEGALLY REQUIRED accommodations of FMLA a “perk?”

      Workplace equality is a perk? Keeping the position that you earned is a perk? Being treated with a modicum of respect is a perk?


  19. A Jane*

    #3 – Conference Call

    I had a similar situation last week. My boss is chronically late to meetings now, and it’s personally frustrating when I’m hosting the meeting. If I know the meeting is something she requested or interested in, I’ll do a quick walk around the office to check and then send an email or chat to let her know we started.

  20. some1*

    AFAIK where pumping goes, your employer only has to provide you a room with a door that locks. At a former company, only VP-level and above had offices so women had to use the employee shower room.

    It does suck though if you based your decision to nurse on the expectation of pumping at work in your private office.

  21. NonProfiter*

    #2 Is it really appropriate that they make her pump in a file room? Aren’t there laws around what accommodations have to be made for nursing mothers?

          1. esra*

            Really! Pumping is an issue for a lot of women, to have to worry about someone knocking and needing a file every 5 minutes would be a huge pain. If you have an office, you can relax and still work if you’re having a problematic pump. A busy filing room? That would be so frustrating.

                1. fposte*

                  Yeah, it’s annoying to lose an office, especially if you were counting on it for pumping, and I can see why the whole situation made her raise the question, too. But most breast-feeding women don’t have offices, so it’s not like she’s falling below some overall workplace standard.

                1. Josh S*

                  That’s both hilarious, probably accurate to how the woman feels, and mildly offensive to the process. LOL!

                1. some1*

                  My very large company has two or three small rooms available with couches for moms. Other companies I have worked in, the moms who didn’t have offices had to use the employee shower room or a conference room or some other multi-purpose room.

                2. fposte*

                  It depends where they work. Obviously the options are more limited in retail/restaurant work, where there aren’t usually a lot of lockable rooms, than in an office space where you can employ a file room or borrow an office.

            1. some1*

              People can and I have knocked on private office doors where the woman inside was pumping, without realizing what they were doing.

          2. Jamie*

            Actually – the access to a room when needed is important and the bathroom analogy doesn’t work for a lot of women.

            Let me preface this by saying all women are different and not everyone has these issues, but many women have difficulty keeping milk production at needed levels if they delay much from their scheduled pumping. And once things start to diminish it can be really hard to get the volume back without spending a lot of time on demand feeding.

            A lot of women have to work to maintain an adequate supply when pumping – even those who have no issues nursing – it’s harder with pumping so the waiting until later thing would be a big deal for many women.

            And of course most women don’t have offices, and depending on the file room it could be okay – you just need a clean place to sit, a comfy chair, and some privacy.

            1. Julie*

              I think the person was saying that if someone needed a file s/he could wait until later when the pumping was finished.

    1. LondonI*

      I’d be irritated if I needed to use the file room and couldn’t because someone was pumping. I wouldn’t be irritated at the mother, more at the company.

      Obviously it is tough for small businesses though – I get that too.

  22. Em*

    #2: My understanding is that FMLA protects your job for up to 12 weeks. That is, if you are approved for FMLA, your employer must return you to an equal position assuming you return to work within 12 weeks. The employee took 13. Technically, I don’t think she’d fall under FMLA anymore, and so there should be no legal issue here if they chose to demote, or even fire, her.

    1. Joey*

      Wrong. They could have fired her for taking 13 weeks if men who were out on fmla were treated similarly, but they didn’t. That ship has sailed. They can’t penalize her now that she’s already back because of the pregnancy leave, period.

    2. fposte*

      If she’d simply been a no-show after twelve weeks, that’s true–she could have been fired for being a no-show.

      But this was, from what it sounds like, an approved leave period with no dispute about the additional week (which may just be bad math on the part of the OP, who knows). To discipline or hinder her for an extra week that they themselves approved would be completely transparent as a de facto violation–there’s just not room enough in the loophole you’re proposing to get this through.

    3. David Gaspin*

      FMLA does indeed protect “the same or similar” job and pay for medical leaves (childbirth included) for up to 12 weeks. If the OP took more than 12 weeks, the letter of the law says that the company no longer has to give her the same job she had when she left.

      And all of this is assuming that she was eligible for FMLA in the first place (employed for 1 year and a minimum of 1250 work hours) which is never specified.

      I’m not saying that what the employer is doing isn’t necessarily crappy. Just it’s not necessarily illegal even if it’s a permanent change.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        If she had the 13th week approved, and it sounds like she did, I don’t see any way the employer could convince a court that she was demoted because of one extra week away, rather than because of the overall protected period of leave.

    4. Jamie*

      Yes, if they approved the extra time they can’t use that to exempt themselves from the protections of FMLA, but do we know if that kicked in right away for her?

      Some companies don’t start the FMLA clock until you’ve used up your PTO – I’ve seen it in cases where the protections start right away and the paperwork is done, but the countdown of the 12 weeks doesn’t start until the employee is out of vacation time.

      I did the FMLA paperwork when I had my surgery this year, but it never kicked in because I was only out a week unavailable and used vacation for that and I worked from home the rest of the time.

      1. Em*

        Everywhere I’ve worked, FMLA leave is taken concurrently with any paid leaves (STD, PTO, or otherwise). I imagine most employers do it that way, as it’s more advantageous for them.

    5. OP #2*

      FMLA was not utilized. Short term disability was 8 weeks, followed by pre-approved PTO (vacation, holiday, and personal time) with a set date to return work.

  23. Viv*

    #1- This is a timely question. I just read a job posting that said those who did not state salary expectations in their covering letter would not be considered. At the same time, though, the job posting had no indications of salary range, which would also be helpful, and save time for both the person hiring and those applying.

  24. Greg*

    #1: This is my problem with much of the salary-negotiation advice out there. It tries to impose absolutes, and leaves no room for adapting to specific situations. In this case, the candidates were being so dogmatic about what they had been taught that they didn’t realize from the recruiter’s frustration that they were sabotaging their prospects of getting the job. Never forget that negotiations (and that’s what hiring processes are, from the very first moment candidate and employer communicate) are not just about programming the best algorithm to achieve the maximum result, they’re discussions between PEOPLE, and you have to take that into account if you want to be successful.

    For the record, whenever I’m in a situation where the employer tells me the salary range and asks if I’m OK with that, my go-to response is, “Sounds like it makes sense for us to keep talking.” That usually reassures them while still leaving me room to negotiate at the margins later on. Of course, I only say that if it does, in fact, make sense to keep talking. If I’m looking to make $100K and they just told me it pays $95K, it makes sense to keep talking. If it pays $40K, it doesn’t.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      That’s the perfect answer. You’re not committing yourself to not asking for a bit over their stated range, but you’re saying that you’re in the same general ballpark.

  25. AB Normal*

    #1: “Well, it all depends on the job responsibilities…”

    I have to hire from time to time, and if I got this type of response from a candidate, my answer would be:

    “Thank you for your interest, but we decided to move forward with other candidates who explicitly indicated they are OK with the salary range we are offering. We only have a limited number of candidates we can bring in for an interview, so I’m sure you’ll understand the need for us to focus on the ones who confirmed they wouldn’t have a problem with the available salary if during the interview both sides confirmed the job was a good fit.”

    1. Judy*

      At my current position, I’m managing (on the technical side, not HR managing) a group of 20+ software engineers in 8 locations globally for technical content.

      If you want me to do that for 50k, I’m not going to do it. If you want me to write code for 50k, maybe, depends on other perks, how flexible, etc.

      It truly can depend on job responsibilites.

      1. Julie*

        Yeah, and I think that’s how this sort of advice got started. I honestly think that before I started reading AAM, I would have done what the two job seekers did with OP1, and it would have been a mistake. If you don’t really understand how the process works (and I didn’t entirely get it), you stick with what you’ve been told to do – NEVER talk about money early in the process and NEVER bring it up first, etc. But I’ve learned a lot on AAM!

      2. AB Normal*

        “If you want me to do that for 50k, I’m not going to do it. If you want me to write code for 50k, maybe, depends on other perks, how flexible, etc.”

        But see, it would be clear, from the job description (at least the ones I post), whether you are supposed to manage other people, or just code. I don’t ask candidates to tell me they *will* take the job at the stated range, only that they confirm the range is acceptable for them, under the right circumstances.

        If these 2 candidates are indeed willing to take a huge decrease in pay for less responsibility, then they should just explicitly say so in order to remain in the candidate pool.

  26. anonymous*

    #5 – AAM, I am confused. When I did a google search for off-duty conduct laws, there seemed to be a plethora of information about how employers cannot regulate what an employee does during their off-duty time. Isn’t being written up one way of regulation?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Some states have laws that prohibit employers from discriminating against employees for specific types of off-duty conduct, such as smoking and participating in political demonstrations. And some states, like California, have constitutions that include a right to privacy, which prevents employers from acting on their employees’ off-duty activity as long as it doesn’t affect their job. But in general, an employer can indeed take action against an employee for what they say outside of work, assuming that it’s not subject to one of these exceptions (or anther exception, like the protection on discussing wages and working conditions).

    2. Aisling*

      The LW for #5 said they were on a break, outside the building, which means they were still on work time, and presumably still either in uniform or wearing a name tag/badge for the business. When it’s in view of the business, so that potential customers/clients could hear, they can absolutely be written up. What a person does in their own home or someplace else far away is another story.

    3. fposte*

      Can you point to one of the laws you’ve said you found? They might be referring to specific kinds of action (like union formation, as noted above, or tobacco use, especially in tobacco states) or situations. Alison didn’t say that you can *always* be disciplined for off hour activity–she just said that it’s possible.

      In general, something is legal in the U.S. until a law says it’s not. The feds don’t have any law saying “You can’t consider anything people do during their off hours,” and I don’t know of a state that does either. What tends to happen is that certain behaviors get a legal protection. When I Google “off duty conduct laws,” what I get on Nolo and elsewhere are aggregates of those specific protected behaviors and then offer general advice. That’s not the same thing as saying “You can’t be disciplined or fired for what you do in your off hours”–it’s saying that there are protections in place that employers should be aware of when they take action based on what happens off duty.

  27. books*

    #4 – Hiring ALWAYS takes longer than implied. We’d like you to start asap so you can come to this meeting next month turns into we’re still working on the offer. Don’t assume it’s bad news, especially around the holidays, when hiring is held up. Sometimes it’s waiting on a contract that is supposed to come any day now …. and the hiring manager is telling HR the contract is on it’s way and HR says to you “we’ve had some delays.” Sometimes people aren’t organized enough to confirm salary ranges before they start to hire and have to loop back into that.
    Take Alison’s advice of putting it out of mind and you may get a pleasant surprise!

    1. OP#4*

      Thanks for the positive thoughts. Definitely attempting to put the potential opportunity out of mind…A lot easier said than done!

    2. AdminAnon*

      Seriously. My current position was posted in October of 2012 and I was told that they were looking for fill the position by Thanksgiving or the end of the year at the latest. I wasn’t offered the position until the end of March 2013. The other positions that were posted at the same time as mine weren’t hired until May. The position we are currently hiring for was posted in July 2013 and we were told there would be someone in place by October 1. Basically, hiring takes FOREVER and it’s not always the hiring manager’s decision. We know who we want to hire for the current open position, but every new hire has to be vetted and approved by 3 separate entities before an offer can be extended. It’s quite a process.
      Be patient, keep exploring other options, and take it as a welcome surprise if an offer comes! And who knows? You may find something even better in the meantime.

  28. Z*

    For awhile I’ve thought that we needed an AAM T-shirt saying, “I am in California. Is this legal?”
    Now, I want one that says, “A hiring manager emailed me to say that being in California is illegal. How should I interpret this?”

  29. Dan*

    I was on the job hunt. I’ve been living in a high COL area, and had two interviews (and offers!) here. I also applied to a couple of jobs outside of this metro area in much cheaper places. Man alive, trying to do those initial salary guesstimates was a pain.

    At one place, I gave a figure 10% lower than what I was making, figuring that moving to a place with a calculated COL difference of 25% less would actually be a quality of life increase. These guys never responded to me (they had asked me two additional questions in an email. I’m well qualified in the industry and certainly didn’t botch them.) So I took the non-interest to mean that I was asking for too much.

    At the other place, I gave a range that was between 10% lower and 10% higher that my previous salary. What’s my “real” number? With no other offers on the table, I’d take the bottom end. With offers on the table, it’s $10k lower than the best offer I can get locally. If I get great offers, then guess what, I’m passing on yours, no matter what I told you up front. I never committed to taking an offer at that level — all we did was agree that we weren’t wasting each other’s time by continuing the conversation.

  30. ew0054*

    Here is the issue I have with #1 that seems to be going over a lot of people.

    Every time I talk to a career advisor they say never talk about salary. Let the company give you an offer. Otherwise, you tip your hand.

    From what I gather, it is ok for the hiring manager to hound ‘me’ about salary, but I am not supposed to ask how much the job pays.

    Again, tell me where is the fairness in a typical scenario: The job really pays 80k, compensatory to my experience let’s say. Of course, ‘I’ don’t know this going in there. After much intimidation, I break down and tell them I made 40k. They then offer me 50k and expect me to be grateful and kiss their feet for the 10k raise.

    Three months down the line, I find out through the grapevine that I had been suckered out of 30k. Now I start looking for a new job. All of a sudden now I am the spiteful, disloyal one, must sneak around and hang my head in shame.

    I ask why does it need to be this way? Why not just be upfront with the people and pay what the job skills are worth, instead of trying to cheat people out of something?

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