asking for a higher raise, my manager wants me to start telemarketing, and more

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

1. My manager wants me to start telemarketing

I work for a small financial firm, and a lot of our business comes from referrals and leads from other types of businesses in the area (insurance companies, etc). Lately work has been kind of slow, so the owners of the firm (a husband-wife team) hired someone specifically for “telemarketing” – cold calling people to ask if they’re interested in our services.

Before they hired this person, the husband asked me if I would be comfortable making calls like this, and I told him that I would not. I consider myself a financial professional and don’t think it’s in my job description to be a telemarketer (I wouldn’t like it, and I wouldn’t even be good at it). I thought the problem was solved since they made the hire, but yesterday the wife pulled me aside and insisted that I start making these calls too. She gave me a list with hundreds of names and phone numbers, and didn’t even give me a chance to say no. Basically, I was told rather than asked.

I don’t know what to do now since A) I have zero interest in being a telemarketer for them, and I extremely dislike the idea of it, and B) they hired someone specifically for this role, so I don’t understand why I have to be forced to participate as well – especially since it’s so outside my job description. If I wanted to be a telemarketer, I’d work for a telemarketing company! Is there any way that I can tell them that I don’t want to do this? Or am I obligated to “do as I’m told”?

You always have the option of pushing back if your job changes in ways you don’t like. Say something like this: “I’m really not comfortable making cold calls, and it’s far afield from the work I came on to do. My understanding was that we hired Jane to focus on calling, so that I could continue focusing on X and Y, which is my professional focus. I’d like to continue keeping my focus there — is that possible?”

From there, it’s certainly your employer’s prerogative to say, “Sorry, I hear you but this is how we’re doing it now” — in which case you’d have to decide if you still want the job under these changed conditions — but often a simple conversation will resolve the issue.

2. I just got a raise — can I ask for more?

I’ve been in my current job for a year, and just had a positive performance evaluation. I didn’t ask for a raise in the evaluation meeting because, to be honest, I wasn’t sure how the evaluation was going to go. I had lots of evidence that I excelled in my position, but my boss isn’t forthcoming with feedback and is frequently out of the office, so it wasn’t clear to me how she felt about my performance until we sat down to talk about it. Now, two weeks later, I received a notice via mail that I’ve gotten a raise – which, while appreciated, was lower than I was planning on requesting. Is it bad form to negotiate it? I’d like the chance to at least make a case for a higher percentage, but I don’t want to overstep a boundary.

If it matters, I sit in on the budget meetings, so I know the range set for raises. My raise was on the lower end of that scale.

Sure, you can go back to your boss and make the case for more, explaining why you deserve more. (Leave your knowledge of other people’s raises out of it, though — it can be background info to inform your thinking but shouldn’t be part of the case you make to your manager.)

Keep in mind, though, that your window for renegotiating this has probably passed. In many organizations, you would have needed to do this before raises were finalized; at this point, the budget might be set. (That’s especially likely in an organization that notifies people about raises by mail. Nothing really screams “bureaucracy” like conveying big updates by postal mail.) But there’s nothing wrong with having the conversation and finding out.

3. My coworker keeps cc’ing my boss on minor issues

I have a peer who always CC’s my boss when asking me to follow up on minor issues. I get along with this person really well and have a lot of respect for them, but this really makes me feel like I’m not being trusted to get something done. What’s the best way to approach this?

“Hi Jane, I noticed you’ve been cc’ing Percival on minor issues. It made me wonder if you have concerns about my responsiveness. Is there a reason you’re looping Percival in as well?”

4. Did HR mishandle my sick coworker’s resignation?

A coworker recently quit because of health issues.She was unable to give notice because she no longer had any vacation days or sick days left and was too unwell to continue to work. HR said that because she quit without notice, she was not allowed to say goodbye to anyone. She was shocked and very sad about this. She was allowed to clear her desk, but then had to leave the office immediately.

This sort of procedure is usually what happens when someone is fired. Her leaving came a surprise to many people when it was announced a day later by email which didn’t explain the circumstances. There is a feeling that HR behaved in a very mean way. What would be a normal procedure if someone quits without notice?

That’s ridiculous. While quitting without notice is usually a Bad Thing, there are certain types of situations where it’s totally understandable — like health issues that make it impossible to continue. The appropriate response to that is sympathy for the person with the health issues, understanding of the circumstances, and wishing them well. It’s not to treat them like someone you’ve just fired, which is what your HR department did. Someone on that team has a misunderstanding of some very basic concepts.

5. I flubbed an answer to a recruiter

I just had a call with a head recruiter, and I mispoke regarding where I was in the process with other companies I have been applying to. I wasn’t used to being asked about whether or not I was actively interviewing elsewhere. I corrected the mistake quickly. Later I discovered one of the companies I mentioned had decided to wait and regroup before continuing with any candidates (it’s a small but promising startup). I let the aforementioned recruiter know via email, but it all feels sloppy. How much does a recruiter weigh into final hiring decisions? I have an in-person interview at the company next week and now I am frazzled. The phone interview with the hiring manager went well, and the call with the recruiter, which followed the in-person invite and was really about prepping for the in-person interview, is the first call I felt I didn’t sound my best. Now I am wondering if I should be worried or anxious about what role he may play in the final hiring choice.

Should I be concerned about the fact that I flubbed a bit and was flustered by the question? (I’ve been prepared for others, but this caught me by surprise) Was it a bad move to share the information about the other company that decided to wait? Does that make me seem undesirable, honest, none of the above?

You’re over-thinking it! First, it’s not a big deal at all that you didn’t have perfect info about some other company’s hiring process; no one would expect you to. (And in fact, you didn’t need to follow up and correct your answer afterwards.) Interviewers sometimes ask about where you’re at with other companies because they want a sense of whether they might have to move you through their process particularly quickly or not. Your answer doesn’t need to be precise, and even if it is, it’s common for things to change.

Second, recruiters aren’t usually a major voice in final hiring decisions; their decision-making is much more at the start of the process, where they decide who to interview and who to move forward to the hiring manager. They might still give input and relay info back and forth, but it’s highly unlikely that something like this would factor in at all.

{ 174 comments… read them below }

  1. EngineerGirl*

    #4 – Leave it to HR to turn guidelines into rules. This inflexibility is why people hate HR.

      1. PJ*

        …and are insulting to us HR folks who do not behave in this way. Some HR professionals are more skilled than others, which is true in all walks of life.

        1. Jamie*

          Almost without exception I love HR people – warning for broad generalization ahead – but they tend to have great people skills so they are a great counter measure to me. :)

          Although I did learn from The Office that HR is a breeding ground for monsters…but even Michael Scott married one in the end.

          Seriously though, done well it’s a really important job and often a thankless one. And it attracts a nicer than average type of person ime.

          1. Laura2*

            I worked for a small business with no HR and just getting information about benefits, changing my home address, etc. was a huge pain.

        2. EngineerGirl*

          If HR really wants to be treated like professionals then they need to hold each other to high standards. Right now there is little accountability among HR folks and that makes it ripe for abuse. Are there good HR people that are HR professionals? Yes. But there are a lot of people out there that are in HR because they supposedly “like people”. That isn’t what HR is – they are there to keep the business compliant with the law and there to make sure the business attracts the best and brightest by creating a fair and reasonable work environment.
          Look – engineers get treated as professionals because there are a base level of standards that engineers have to meet. It’s difficult for someone to just market themselves as an engineer because other engineers would out them if they didn’t meet a base level of standards. HR professionals need to do the same thing. Have a core set of competencies proven by a degree/testing/etc. Get rid of the incompetents by having minimum standards and guidelines. When I see that taking place I’ll know that HR has arrived.

          1. PJ*

            “It’s difficult for someone to just market themselves as an engineer because other engineers would out them if they didn’t meet a base level of standards.”

            In most enginerring organizations, engineers work with other engineers and the incompetent ones are easy to suss out by their peers. There are MANY instances of entire companies who have one-person HR departments. Add in that many organizations don’t value HR and think of them as specialized clerical help, and you can see how easy it is for a bad HR person to have a thriving career.

            I started when HR was all about helping people, and have grown with the profession. I’m coming to the end of my career now, and I agree with you — we’ve come a long way but we still have a long way to go. It’s very hard to be taken seriously as a professional when there are so many who do not generate professional respect.

            1. EngineerGirl*

              There’s another side of it too. Engineers have professional engineering organizations (think IEEE) that work to standardize basic competencies. They work to get these competencies part of an accreditation standard. So an accredited university has graduates that meet a minimum standard. You can’t certify yourself as an engineer unless you’ve met your PE qualifications. The engineers made sure that it was incorporated as law to make it stick. In short, standards developed by the engineers themselves (not management) that are so good that management has now adopted them.

              If things are to change then change has to come from professional HR organizations themselves. If HR is truly a professional career track then it deserves to be a degree/certification. That will filter out an awful lot of the horrors because right now anyone can call themselves HR.

              1. PJ*

                “If things are to change then change has to come from professional HR organizations themselves. If HR is truly a professional career track then it deserves to be a degree/certification.”

                Do NOT get me started on the nonsense that is going on at SHRM!

              2. CdnAcct*

                I believe there are professional HR certifications, but I don’t know how necessary they are to get jobs in HR. HR covers so many things, I wish there was more specialization in qualifications:

                * Recruiting
                * Hiring
                * Onboarding (technical/legal/etc. setup)
                * Training
                * Resource Management
                * Performance Reviews
                * Compensation (regular and bonuses)
                * Severance

                It’s almost impossible for someone to excel and be knowledgeable on all of these things.

              3. Ask a Manager* Post author

                There is an HR certification: the PHR.

                But I don’t think certification solves the issue. There are plenty of bad HR people with their PHR and there are plenty of good ones without it.

          2. Jamie*

            Wow – this was incredibly harsh.

            Not every position needs some regulated professional test or specific degree. I want my hairstylist to have a license, but that doesn’t mean I need the AP clerk at my doctor’s office to have one.

            Not all engineers are professionally regulated – some are, some aren’t. Depends on the industry and the type of engineer – it’s a broad scope.

            And if you think you can rid any profession of incompetents by enforcing professional standards then I strongly disagree. A lot of people who do very crappy work in a plethora of fields have all kinds of degrees and valid certifications.

            HR may not be about “liking people,” and yes, I agree their job is to help run their part of the business with compliance. It’s also about communicating policy and explaining benefits (often to vastly different audience of education, first language, and sometimes literacy), overseeing training programs, being a liason for troubleshooting insurance issues, working with people struggling with performance or personal issues like FMLA…the list goes on.

            For most of those things liking people helps a whole hell of a lot. People skills are required to a greater degree than in some more technical fields. Because they aren’t nice to have, they are absolutely necessary for the job.

            Saying they “supposedly “like people”” as if that’s not a professional and needed skill in that position – I don’t get that. Technically they don’t need to like people, but they need to present as if they do and that’s really hard to do if you genuinely don’t.

            Everything you said about HR applies to IT. We’re not required to meet a regulated set of standards, it varies by company – and if you’re talking about being treated professionally in the work place I’d stack IT professional status against engineers any place I’ve worked. There is absolutely respect given.

            The unfortunate truth is that people generally show more deference and respect to people who have skills they don’t have – and don’t understand. To a lot of people engineering and IT are these complicated technical realms and so are held in more esteem by some than others, like HR, where on the surface it’s easier to understand and hence easier to underestimate.

            The talent it takes to skillfully represent your company at a labor hearing, or to properly administer benefits, etc. to employees while simultaneously maintaining policy and protecting the company’s liability is as worthy of respect as any technical skill set.

            But if professional regulations cleared fields of incompetents then we wouldn’t have lousy doctors, lawyers, and accountants out there – and they exist in every field in every industry.

            1. Colette*

              I also think it’s easy for HR to be the scapegoat. (Benefits changing because the company decided to cut the budget? Blame HR. Have to go to a mandatory training because a new law is coming into effect? Blame HR. Layoffs? HR is the one to sit with management and deliver the news.) HR is every bit as varied as engineering, and, like engineering, some people have professional certifications and some don’t. (Most of the engineers I’ve worked with were designing software. Very few of them have their professional designation.)

                1. Colette*

                  All an engineering degree tells me is that the person with the degree passed a reasonable number of classes. Some of my favourite people are engineers, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t engineers who are incompetent or poor communicators or who focus on sucking up to people above them on the food chain – just like in any other profession.

            2. EngineerGirl*

              Anyone with an engineering degree from an accredited university is accredited Jaime. And while accreditation doesn’t completely rid us of incompetents, it reduces the probability of it.

              HR needs to be accredited for many reasons:
              * They need to comply with multiple state and federal laws
              * They are in a position to truly hurt a human being if they mess up. They could actually permanently impact someone’s ability to ever work again.

        1. Jamie*

          I think I’m missing something – I don’t see a letter. Just a post from someone who wrote a book about why everyone hates HR and says she has the answer…but when you click on an excerpt it just takes you to a link to buy the book.

          I don’t know what she’s professing to say – because what she states about it being bureaucratic can be said of a lot of departments (HR is never the only overly bureaucratic department in a company) and that it’s full of middle-aged women who like cats?

          I have no idea what her point is – just a lot of catchy jargon to make you read her book. Is there a link I’m missing?

    1. Pete*

      HR does what Management has instructed them to do. Management is always happy when others are blamed for the decisions made by Management.

      1. MW*

        This is a common perception, but it’s wrong. Most of the time, Management isn’t issuing orders. They’re flying by the seat of their pants, just trying to get through the day– just like everyone else. In fact, that’s precisely why this type of thing happens.

        I’ve worked at the top of several large organizations in the corporate, nonprofit and public sectors. Employees (and the public– in the case of public sector organizations) often think there’s a grand conspiracy. To hurt employees. To break the law. To do (whatever). Generally speaking, there isn’t. There may be a few bad eggs, and yes, there may at times be a couple of people who actually are conspiring to some end, but Management is not a big, faceless block of people that moves completely in lock step, like evil overlords.

        1. PJ*

          “Management is not a big, faceless block of people that moves completely in lock step, like evil overlords.”


          1. nyxalinth*

            Except for when they are! I think like anything else there’s always just enough of the bad sorts in management and HR (I’ve encountered great ones in both groups, which is good because my first ever workplace with HR people… most of them were rather snotty and thought they were better than us ‘lowly phone peons’ but since then I’ve experienced some wonderful HR and management people) for the stereotypes to come about. But in reality, most are great, or at least not intending active malice. Not every manager is The Pointy-Haired Boss, and not every HR person is Catbert!

    2. Noah*

      Which is why good managers will sometimes ignore bureaucratic HR processes and policies. Thankfully where I am now as a wonderful HR department that fully supports managers and employees. In this case the manger should’ve told HR where to shove it and let the employee say goodbye.

  2. maarko*

    #1 maybe start looking for a new job. That is a very desperate move on the owner’s part, financial services and telemarketing? Oy. If that is where they are thats not a good sign for the health of the firm..

    1. GrumpyBoss*

      I read it as cold calling to build the book of business. Telemarketing is very common in the financial industry. My spouse has had stockbroker and financial planner jobs, and this sort of cold calling gets sprung all the time. Like the OP, he hates it and starts looking for another job.

      1. maarko*

        ok, I can see that. So much of the financial services business is relationship based, in my experience. When I’ve seen cold calling it’s usually in conjunction with other desperate moves- reliance on “lists” and a portent to get out.

    2. nyxalinth*

      I’ve never exactly had #1 happen like that, but I did once go to apply for an office job, only to found out it was really cold calling commission only telemarketing. Neither exactly puts me off, but the fact that they blatantly lied to get applicants in the door, figuring they could get at least one or two people desperate enough to stay.

      (I know they lied because I told the receptionist that the ad was for office work and said nothing about telemarketing and she bluntly said, “that position doesn’t exist, actually.” Told me all I needed to know. I thanked her nicely and left before the interview. I’m pretty forgiving, but do NOT lie to me about what the job is!)

  3. Ann Furthermore*

    #1: I have no additional words of wisdom beyond Alison’s advice. I just wanted to say that I really feel for the OP. Cold-calling/telemarketing is a miserable job, or it is for me, anyway. I spent the summer between high school and college doing phone sales and it really was dreadful. It was the only job I was able to find, and I was desperate. If my current job suddenly changed to have this included as part of my regular duties, my only option would be to find something else and resign as soon as possible.

    The only upside to that abysmal summer is that since I know, first hand, what a crappy job it is, I’m always very polite to telemarketers when they call. If my experience is anything to go by, someone trying to make a living doing cold calls has been unable to find anything else. So even though I’m never interested when they call, I do sympathize with them, because they’re only trying to eke out a living, just like the rest of us. So I always say, “I’m not interested, but thanks for the call and have a nice day.”

    1. EngineerGirl*

      There’s a limit though. When I’m on a Do Not Call list and they continue to call I challenge them. I find that most telemarketers refuse to correct the situation. My basic statement is “I don’t do business with contractors that violate federal law.”
      Just this week I filed complaints with both the FCC and Attorney General because one company in particular kept calling me 2-3 times a week. What part of “NO” don’t they get?
      While a person works for a telemarketer, I still expect them to go back to their boss and confront them when they are breaking the law.

      1. snapple*

        People like you are the reason why I could only tolerate 1 week of telemarketing during college (I was desperate for money). The people actually making the calls have no control over what #s to call and what #s are on the lists they receive.

        1. GrumpyBoss*

          Me too. I lasted 6 weeks though. I needed the money. But I sure spoke to some hateful and bitter humans.

          The experience has left me very tolerant of the worker bees in hated companies/industries. It’s like the TSA. We may all hate it, but Jane over there is just trying to pay the rent. It’s not her fault I have to get to the airport earlier.

          1. Cautionary tail*

            And so to not insult the telemarketer, and to not get into a spiral conversation like yesterday’s Comcast recording that went viral, I simply state in a professional polite way, “I’m not interested, take my name off your list and have a nice day.” Click.

              1. nyxalinth*

                BIG thank you’s to you and Cautionary! I’ve done cold and warm calls, and I would sooner just have someone tell me no and hang up than force me to go through the required to keep my job process off rebutting their objections. I would far rather just move on and find someone who is interested.

                Outbound sales is never a job of choice for me, though if I do have to take one, I do my damndest to be with a well-known company. At least then I know the product or service is for real, as far as I can tell.

        2. Kelly L.*

          I telemarketed for about a month and my most distinct memories are:

          (1) The ridiculous bathroom policing, which is really a matter for other threads, and

          (2) The time the computer got stuck on calling Hawaiian numbers. From Missouri. On Sunday morning. We were calling these people at 4 a.m. their time. We realized it and asked the managers what to do, and instead of stopping everything until the issue was resolved, they told us to just keep calling while they tried to fix it. o.O It took about an hour.

        3. Waiting Patiently*

          But what are we suppose to do when they are using the phone to harass people. I with Engineer Girl I get my attorney general and the FCC involved. The problem I’m having is a debt collector agency calling my phone looking for my ex. The debt is solely his, we are divorced and I know they have his number because his number is public and they threatened to serve papers to our old address. Now I feel they are just trying to harass me. I have asked them numerous times to stop but the have continued for well over 2 years. I know the people behind the phone are just trying to earn a living but when you harassing me over someone else’s debt…I’m not too kind..

          1. fposte*

            Debt collection would be FTC, not FCC; that’s covered by the Fair Debt Collections Act rather than Do Not Call.

            1. Waiting Patiently*

              Right, thanks for the correction! I actually filed a complaint to the FTC after after receiving a phone call, I asked the gentlemen(sounded like a 19 year old’s first day on the job) the company’s name, address and phone number. He gave it to me.

              Anyway that was pretty much useless because the FTC thinks it’s scammers whom they can’t physically track down. I don’t know but I’m sick of the phone calls!!!

              1. fposte*

                Yeah, people trying to defraud you (like good old Rachel from Card Services) don’t really care much about a distant possibility of an FTC fine.

        4. Nichole*

          Made it less than one day. Work from home gig to help out a relative (and make some much needed cash). Called him halfway through the list to tearfully quit. I think that experience is what tipped me from general preference for e-mail to outright hatred of the phone. I got that busy businesspeople don’t always have time for my pitch, but it would have really helped if they could have been polite about it. Of course, I wasn’t pushy or making repeated calls, and would have seen it as within their rights to respond more firmly if I was (within reason).

        5. EngineerGirl*

          “People like me” drew the boundaries ahead of time by registering with the FCC. I’m not rude when I politely and firmly enforce those boundaries that are being illegally violated. When I say “please put me on your do not call list” and they fail to do so they’ve lost any right at that point for tolerance. When I’m at home I get 3-4 calls per day from telemarketers. It distracts me from what I’m working on.

          1. nyxalinth*

            The whole thiing sucks for both sides. People like yourself get hassled because someone didn’t do their job or beecause the calls are outside of the DNC rules like charities, people you already do business with (like phone or cable company) and even then someone drops the ball somewhere and you don’t get removed from the list and people get hassling calls still, and then the next poor sap who has no control over the call list or dialer gets a face full of hell from the person they called.

            It does suck both ways. I refuse to work in places that want us to squeeze out a yes before putting someone on the DNC list and it sucks even worse when they economy is such that telesales is all there is sometimes. and it sucks when I’m at home and my room mate gets the fifth call of the day and it interrupted whatever I was doing.

          2. CA Anon*

            The problem is that you’re punishing people who have no control over the situation themselves. The callers don’t have your call history or any way of knowing that you’re on a DNC list. All they know is that your number popped up on their screen. Be nice to them–as pissed as you are, they hate it 100x more than you do.

            Things to do:
            1. Calmly hang up on them. This isn’t rude, it’s a blessing.
            2. Ask to speak to a manager and then railroad them about the DNC list. They’re the ones who can actually check call history and such, not the callers themselves.

            (If the caller is actually rude, though, please feel free to say whatever you please–they’ve given up all rights to compassion.)

            1. EngineerGirl*

              Real life consequences are that people suffer when they work for an employer that breaks the law.

              I’ve done what you’ve stated **several** times. I’ve found that:
              a) They refuse to let me speak with a manager and then hang up
              b) I can’t hang up because their robo-caller has locked up my phone.

              So I don’t do it any more. I just go straight to the FCC and report them

        6. Zillah*

          Sure, and I can understand why employees don’t push back… but it’s really frustrating to put yourself on the Do Not Call list only to have companies repeatedly ignore it. I don’t get nasty at the people calling, but I do tend to cut them off, say I’m not interested, and hang up.

      2. CanadianWriter*

        The person calling you hates it just as much (probably more) than you do. Confronting the boss isn’t an option, for obvious reasons.

        1. Felicia*

          I hated my 1 month as a telemarketer sooo much, probably more than the people I was calling. If I went off the stupid script, I’d get in trouble, if I confronted the boss for not being pushy enough. I had no choice but to call the numbers on the list and follow the script (unless I wanted to be fired, and I needed money). So I’m always nice to telemarketers. The person you’re talking to probably has very little power to do anything, and this is probably the only job they could get. Very few people want to do telemarketing. Some people I guess, but most people dont.

        2. Koko*

          And more than that, most telemarketers work for firms contracted by clients, not for the clients themselves. The person sitting in a cubicle on the phone with you doesn’t even technically work for the company they’re calling on behalf of. For all you know, they hate calling for Chocolate Teapots Inc because they know that CTI’s lists often have more people claiming to be on the DNC list than other clients, and they’ve provided that feedback to the call center manager and the call center manager has relayed it to CTI, and maybe CTI doesnt’ care or maybe CTI has some data clerk somewhere who is ultimately responsible for providing a bad phone list. But the person on the phone with you is so far removed from that mistake and that decision-making process that it makes no sense to punish them with anger or rudeness.

        3. fposte*

          Right, it’s a sucky job. But if both of us hate it equally and I’m not the one getting paid to hate it, I’m still the loser.

          1. Koko*

            I’m not so sure about that. You get to hang up the call you hate and go do other things. The other person has to keep dialing and doing the thing they hate for hours after you hang up. I’d say they’re the loser in that situation.

            1. EngineerGirl*

              But you don’t get to hang up the call. Many of these telemarketers lock up your phone so you can’t hang up in spite of multiple tries.

              1. nyxalinth*

                Unless someone physically reaches across the lines… there’s no way to do that. Unless you mean how often they call, or for people who have trouble just hanging up?

                I have no qualms hanging up, and I work in inbound/outbound call centers for a living. I figure I’m doing them a favor so they don’t have to keep trying, and can move to the next call/take their break/go home.

                1. EngineerGirl*

                  They won’t release the line. I can’t get a dial tone.

                  Yes, they absolutely can lock up your line. Yes, it is illegal.

            2. fposte*

              I’m actually going to repudiate the contest notion anyway, but the fact is, only one side consents here and only one side gets paid here, and while the callers may have additional suckage in their situation, so do many of their callees.

          2. Felicia*

            They have to do it much longer than you though – they’re doing it over and over again for 8 hours, while you have maybe a minute before you can hang up (most of my calls doing this lasted a minute if they weren’t interested). And I got paid very poorly to do that.

            1. fposte*

              It still was time I didn’t consent to, while you did, and you may have been the only you but you weren’t the only caller.

              Look, there’s no doubt it sucks as a job. But that doesn’t translate into the person in the sucky job automatically being the harder-done-by party at the moment, whether you’re a guard at Rikers or a telemarketer.

          3. Rose*

            It’s hard to believe that you hate getting an occasional telemarketer call as much as someone else hates being in a miserable job getting treated like crap all day for crap money.

            1. ChiTown Lurker*

              I would say that hate is pretty intense. The telemarketer gets paid. I get those stupid automatic dialing calls that wake me up in the middle of the day and make it hard for me to do my sucky evening job.

    2. Boo*

      Sometimes, though, they can be so rude. I once had a call from Sky which I only answered as I was home sick, and they proceeded to grill me about why I didn’t have Sky, how come I couldn’t afford it, didn’t I have a job? Unbelievable. If I hadn’t been slightly off my face on meds, I wouldn’t have attempted to answer their questions or be remotely civil.

      1. Sunflower*

        While it’s annoying, realize that the majority of the time they’re required to follow a script and if they don’t, they can get written up. And often times its in the script to keep you on the phone and continue asking questions. That’s why the best thing to say is ‘Sorry I’m not interested’ and hang up.

      2. nyxalinth*

        I apologize on behalf of everyone in this field that you had to deal with such a dick.

    3. OP #1*

      Yes, I can imagine how miserable it is. I don’t have much skill (or desire) in calling random people and trying to push something on them, especially when I don’t know how to respond to angry or confused questions. Dealing with that constant “rejection” call after call is extremely annoying and I feel like it’s a waste of my professional time.

      1. John*

        OP, I was in your shoes. Early in my career I was hired to do marketing for a financial planning firm and telemarketing had not been part of the discussion (I was hopelessly naive), as the owner did radio spots and needed my writing ability, or so I was told.

        When I discovered that I would spend most of my days cold-calling, I was sick to my stomach. My poor assistant, it just tore her up to watch me gripped by fear and dread.

        On the day that I quit after a few months, my assistant gave me a huge hug. Then I literally ran out to my car to escape.

        If it makes you as miserable as it did me, I hope you can get out of there as quickly as possible.

        1. Ann O'Nemity*

          On my last day as a telemarketer, I also literally ran to my car. It felt like I was running for my life.

          And ever since that job, I’ve hated talking on the phone for any reason.

          1. John*

            A kindred spirit.

            Actually, I left out the part about my assistant staging an intervention to encourage me to quit because of how miserable I so obviously was.

            I’ve done all kinds of scut work in my day — scraping floor, working on assembly lines, etc. — but telemarketing is a bridge too far!

            1. Kelly L.*

              I don’t think I have the feet or knees for food service anymore–but I’d work food service again a million times before I’d telemarket again. Even though I got to telemarket sitting in a chair.

              1. CA Anon*

                Replace “food service” with “retail” and I’m with you 100%.

                The worst part? I did cold call fundraising in college for the university that I was attending. Of all the cold calling you could do, that’s the easiest because you actually have some connection to the alumni you’re calling. And I still would never go back.

      2. Zahra*

        One other thing that Alison hasn’t mentioned: there’s always the old stand-by of :

        “If you want me to do X, I cannot take as much time for tasks Y and Z, so they will take longer to do.” (or something like it, I don’t remember Alison’s exact wording).

        1. TheSnarkyB*

          That’s true, but it sounds like in this case the firm isn’t getting enough incoming business, so I don’t think the OP can pull off “busy” when the owners know they need incoming work more.

      3. Elizabeth West*

        I hate it because I don’t really give a crap whether they buy something or not. I kind of feel that’s up to them. So when I’m required to push it, I don’t, which makes me terrible at it. Telemarketing bosses don’t want you to say “Okay, have a nice day!” on the first no. Sales of any kind is not really my thing.

        1. Mints*

          Same. I had a brief stint of cold calling while I was supposed to be doing admin work, and I was terrible at it because someone would kind of hem haw “Oh I don’t think I’ll be able to make it” (cold calling invitations to an event) and I was like “Okey dokey bye” just relieved I could check “No” and move on. I did the script, but was not at all interested in pushing further

          When I’m on the answering end, I usually say “No thanks!” (hopefully cheerfully) and hang up

          1. Mints*

            For the OP, assuming you stick it out a little while looking for a new job, I suggest framing it to yourself as completing calls as the drudgery to get done (not actually scheduling appointments) just get through the scripts

        2. dawbs*

          A bit of a spinoff on this…I worked at an (incoming, so not telemarketing) call center for years–so if the OP can’t get out of it…my experience:

          I *hate* calling people. Hate hate hate hate hate hate hate. A lot–and I did a lot of the outgoing calls for a while (“hi, this is D. from Blahdeblah customer service, calling about your balance with internetprovider. Please contact us at 1-800-bankruptcy to ensure there is no lapse in service”)–and I also hated sales–I am not good at hardball and that’s what they wanted me to do.

          I found that as long as there was a script (NOT a line-by-line script that was exactly what to say, but, a general ‘patter’ that I created myself. It’s hard to put into words, but you get so you say things rote, while listening. it gets easier–a lot easier. it still can suck, but if there is a reasonable ‘in’, run with that.
          (Cold calling from the phone book is awful. Calling and saying, “Hi, I’m X from *company you deal with*. I wanted to check and see if you’re happy with the service and/or having any problems” is more bearable)

          I actually found that not caring about sales worked really well for me. So the required ‘push’ signoff at the end, where I had to say “Alright, we have done X, Y, and Z for your account. WOuld you be interested in the Overpriced-add-on to protect you from future 900# charges today? No, Okay, then you are are all set–please if you have any problems or questions, call me back and I’ll be happy to help, myname is d, and I’m at extention 999”, a larger-than-you’d think percentage would either say “wait..what was that thing you mentioned?”. And a larger percentage than you’d think would call back the next day.
          I went from “I hate sales” to one of the 5 the top sales folks by ignoring every ‘hardball’ tactic they tried to teach me and going with helpful and nice.

          I still hate making phone calls. And I still cringe at doing sales–but if you find that the service you’re offering is a worthwhile thing to buy, you might not find it as awful as you think.

        3. Kelly L.*

          And so many of the people who say yes, you get the impression, are gullible people who would buy anything from anyone. I felt like a fraud when people said yes.

          As for the other call-ees, the constant rebuttals to their no are guaranteed to make them angry if they don’t just hang up before you do it.

  4. MK*

    #4: I may be paranoid here, but I wonder if there’s more to the situation. Apparently the company “didn’t explain the circumstances” of this employee’s leaving, so I am assuming the OP got their information from their co-worker. Considering that HR followed the procedure that happens when someone is fired, could it be that the co-worker actually was fired/asked to resign and then told people that she quit due to health reasons to save face?

    1. GrumpyBoss*

      I felt the same way. I am always weary of questions that involve closed door conversations that the OP wasn’t part of, especially when the perception is so one sided. There is often more than meets the eye.

      That being said, this is pretty stupid. Even when I’ve fired people for cause, I’ve worked with HR to let them go to their workspace and grab their things (with an escort to make sure company property and data is not removed) and say goodbye to their coworkers. The only exceptions I’ve seen that are like the OP’s situation is when the person leaving is bad news, and there are concerns of a scene/outburst/potential violent incident.

      1. MK*

        Yes, I don’t understand why even someone who was fired would be forbidden to say goodbuy to their co-workers, at least those working close to their desk. I get that a boss would not want a fired employee making the rounds of the building and exchanging long-winded farewells, but a quick “I won’t be working here anymore because of X, it’s been great working with you” would be less disruptive to a working day than someone silently coming in and taking their belongings.

        1. HM in Atlanta*

          It all depends on how disruptive the person is (and what they’re being terminated for). The person that we wouldn’t let return to the building because people were scared of him – we boxed up his stuff and had it couriered to him. The person who tried hard, but just couldn’t get work completed, he said goodbye to people and packed up his desk.

          1. Jamie*

            I agree. IMO the only valid reason to scoot someone out and not let them engage is if there is concern over a scene or worse.

            Otherwise it’s decent to let people box up their own hand lotion and lip gloss and say goodbye to their immediate team.

          2. Karowen*

            I’ve luckily never been in this situation, but to some extent I’d prefer if someone else boxed up my stuff if I were to get fired. I would be so ashamed that I had failed so miserably at my job that the thought of facing anyone would be mortifying. It was bad enough the one time I was laid off. I had a sense it was coming, and I was only a part-time worker, but to have to walk back into the office and pack everything up made me feel so very low.

            1. Jamie*

              I’m with you. It’s never happened, but I’m a stress/anger cryer and no way would I want to walk back to my office to grab my stuff.

              I’d fully trust that they’d ship my lipgloss, exedrine migraine, and HK hand sanitizer to me safely.

              Looking around I can replace all the personal items in my office for under $25 – the personal mementos from work …well if they fired me I wouldn’t want those anyway.

        2. ChiTown Lurker*

          This is standard practice at a lot of large companies, especially for IT people. They also handle it the same way for layoffs and resignations. Your manager stands at your desk while you box up your stuff and then escorts you from the building. There is no communication allowed with your co-workers and sometimes no e-mail goes out either. I doesn’t matter if the employee was stellar or a conniving thief.

      2. Red Librarian*

        When my supervisor was let go it was all very hush-hush and he was basically just sent out the door. NOBODY knew until the email was sent out an hour later by his immediate replacement, who was also the person who informed him he was no longer needed.

        All kinds of awkward.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Conversely, maybe they did not want her mentioning to anyone that she just lost her health insurance. Perhaps they don’t want people thinking about that aspect of the situation.

      1. CartoonCharacter*

        heh….look what happens when you get sick….how do the GREEEAT benefits look now?

      2. Artemesia*

        Of all the arguments for detaching health care from employment this is one of the most obvious and best. I have known people with increasingly serious chronic illnesses who lost insurance because they lost their job. Get sick; lose medical coverage. Genius plan. And while we can appreciate COBRA, it is get sick, lose income, pay way more than you can afford for insurance since you now have no income.

        1. Rebecca*

          At my company, I learned that the COBRA payments would exceed the amount of unemployment I would draw if I was laid off or downsized. So while offering COBRA falls within the letter of the law, it’s not much good if you can’t afford the payment.

          1. CAA*

            COBRA is the same insurance coverage that you had as an employee at the same price (plus up to 2% admin fees). The thing you lose is the part of your premium that your employer was paying for you. Most people don’t realize how big that number is because it doesn’t show up on your paycheck as income, so it’s a big shock when that amount suddenly lands on your own budget as an expense.

            What would really help is if COBRA didn’t have to be the same insurance provided to employees, but if companies were required to offer a bare bones plan at minimal cost. Although, I suppose now that you can get insurance through the ACA marketplace, COBRA may eventually go away.

            1. dawbs*

              Not to take things to far afield–and I am NOT an insurance professional in any way, if people find themselves in this position, it’s the time to ask for a group-conversion-plan.

              When I got fired/laid-off once upon a time, we had amazing-over-the-top BCBS insurance from my previous employer. We called our ins. agent for other stuff, and everyone we could think of, and our agent told us to contact our previous insurance company and ask about a group conversion plan.

              My previous employer’s HR said they had no idea what I was talking about. My first call to BCBS resulted in CSRs who said they had no idea what I was talking about, but we persisted, talked to a supervisor, and eventually, I was sent the info on ‘group conversion plans’–basically converting from a group plan to an individual plan.

              It still had no lapse in benefits (so no pre-existing BS), and gave us the option of basically taking a catastrophic plan for less than 1/4 the cost that COBRA would have been.
              (and we did end up using it, because my spouse developed a life-threatening-food allergy while we were on it–and it did work how it should have)

              It’s not a perfect solution–heaven knows the morass of insurance is far deeper than this post will go–but it is a little bit of a solution as a stop-gap measure.

        2. arjumand*

          In my country (which is not the UK, but which spent some years as a colony of the UK), we have a state based health care which everyone who works pays into until retirement (payment rate is about 10% of salary). If you don’t work you can choose to make payments (and it makes sense because people like that are pretty much screwed once they reach pensionable age, because if they haven’t made enough payments, they won’t get a pension).
          So if I get sick and have to take time off, as a teacher I am entitled to around 6 weeks of sick leave – my employer will still pay me, and after the third day, my employer will be reimbursed by the state.
          I also have the option to get free treatment by any type of medical practitioner at the state hospital or the local state-run clinics. However, no system is perfect – there are very long waiting times for serious treatments, so many of us also have private health insurance, so that we can be seen more quickly by a doctor of our choice.
          When I look at the US health care system, it just makes me shudder. In 2002 I contracted pneumonia and I had to stay at home for about 4 weeks, and I still hadn’t burnt through my annual sick leave entitlement. I can’t imagine what I would have done otherwise. Oh, and pensioners get free medication – generic, of course, but still.

          Maybe it’s easier to set up such a system in a small (tiny!) country?

          1. LBK*

            I really don’t want to derail this into a completely different conversation, but suffice to say – I think the issue in the US is less that’s unmanageable for the size of the country and more that there are very ingrained attitudes and misconceptions about what universal healthcare looks like and what it means that make it hard to get anything enacted. There’s still a HUGE contingency in the US that basically believes they shouldn’t have to pay into anything that might cover someone else’s bills.

              1. Jamie*

                I really don’t think we should go down this road here.

                It’s not a black and white issue and all systems have problems. I am on a forum for a health issue and I read every day posts about people struggling to get specialized treatment approved, or even routine treatment in a timely manner under universal systems – and others who are well served under the universal system.

                Some people here in the US struggle with coverage and some people from places with universal health care come to the US to get treatment they can’t get in their country and pay out of pocket to do so.

                It is a very nuanced issue and it’s usually presented here in very cut and dried terms. I usually skip past these comments because the lack of nuance bothers me – but I just wanted to say it once that I really feel this topic is done an injustice the way it’s presented here whenever it comes up.

                And with that I’ll go back to not opining about this out loud (in type.)

                1. LBK*

                  Fair enough, and I agree that there’s a lot to discuss. It’s just often baffling to people outside the US that this hasn’t been enacted here, and what I really meant by my response is that it’s not enacted here because a lot of people are still opposed to it. It’s not necessarily that we couldn’t do it, it’s that the citizens at this time aren’t even close to united in wanting it.

                2. MK*

                  Yes, all systems have problems, but I would think that the provision of a minimum of health care is not a matter of “nuances”. Certainly universal systems can be clogged with red-tape, but from what I have read people in th U.S. also have similar problems with health-care providers trying to restrict their costs as much as possible.

                  In any case, all countries with universal systems also have private health care available for those who can afford it. People don’t have to go to the US to get treatment just because their health system doesn’t cover it; if they can afford a trip to the U.S., they can afford a private clinic. If they choose to go to the U.S., it’s usually because they believe (rightly or wrongly) that they will get better care there and money is no issue for them. If it’s something they really can’t get in their country, it’s probably some sort of new and/or experimental treatment. Al these are pretty unusual circumstances.

                3. EngineerGirl*

                  some people from places with universal health care come to the US to get treatment they can’t get in their country and pay out of pocket to do so

                  I can’t tell you the number of times my Canadian cousins stayed with us while they got treatment they couldn’t get in a timely manner at home.

          2. Carrington Barr*

            “When I look at the US health care system, it just makes me shudder. ”

            That sums up the response of 98% of the developed world.

        3. Mimmy*

          Such a good point. Yes, the individual marketplace is supposed to cover that gap, but from what I’ve heard, those plans are often cost-prohibitive.

      3. MK*

        I don’t understand what you mean. If the wo-worker resigned, surely she automatically lost her health insurance because of that? (I don’t know how benefits work in the U.S.) Why would the company worry about that?

        1. Sunflower*

          The majority of people in the US get their health benefits from their employers. Once their job is terminated, so are the health care benefits.

          1. LBK*

            Right, but it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that if someone quits, they lose their benefits…I mean, that’s kinda how benefits work.

            1. Monodon monoceros*

              I think it is just such a stretch for people in some other countries to comprehend our health care system. I live overseas now and when I talk about how my health care worked in the US, people are flabbergasted. Health care is not a “benefit” here, it is a right. So even though MK used the word “benefit”, that might be why they are unsure of how it works.

          2. MK*

            Well, yes, that was my understanding too. What I don’t understand is what Not-So-NewReader meant by saying that maybe the company didn’t want her to mention that she “just lost her health insurance” and “people thinking about that aspect of the situation”. Everyone saw her leave, so they knew she had just lost her insurance, she didn’t have to say anything. And, since it was her own decision to resign, it’s not the company’s fault. I would understand it, if they had fired her because she was sick; then they probably wouldn’t want the rest of their employees to know about it. But the OP said that the company didn’t offer any explanation, so I am assuming that it was the employee herself that told the OP why she left.

            1. Shana*

              Yes, but it doesn’t really sound like the employee “resigned” so much as the employee had no more sick or vacation days and could not physically return to work. If not covered by FMLA, then basically they were forced out. Company didn’t technically “fire” them, but they also didn’t offer to keep them on while they recovered. Probably why HR didn’t want the employee talking to anyone.

              When my Aunt was dealing with cancer she worked for a small company. Her biggest relief was when they came to her and said her job was safe and there for her no matter how long recovery took.

        2. Lynn Whitehat*

          You qualify for COBRA regardless of why you left a job. COBRA is just you keep the insurance you had, but you have to pay for the whole monthly premium instead of your employer paying most of it. It might be more than you can or want to pay, but it’s not the same thing as losing it.

        3. HR Pro*

          Typically the employer stops paying their portion at the end of the month, though, so it’s not like it ends immediately. And then the ex-employee would have the opportunity to elect COBRA, as others have mentioned.

          I’ve worked at companies where we specifically planned when to do layoffs or let someone go so that it would NOT be close to the end of the month. If you do it at the beginning or middle of the month, it gives them a little more time to use the insurance (while employer is still paying) and figure out if they can afford COBRA. (Then again, the law gives you 60 days to decide if you want COBRA, so it’s not like that decision has to be made quickly, anyway.)

    3. Observer*

      If that’s what happened, it’s just as bad, if not worse. Stuff happens, and people need to be fired for a lot of reasons. I can’t imagine a legitimate firing scenario, though, that would make the company / HR look worse than this one does.

    4. OP#4*

      #4 OP here, just to clarify. Her direct manager and department director have both confirmed that she was not fired. The information came directly from the co-worker in question. She recently contacted me by email to say a belated goodbye and explain why and how she left. She was not fired; she left by her own choice and was clear about that.

      We are located where there is government health coverage, so concerns about health benefits aren’t an issue.

  5. James M*

    #1: Be prepared for your boss to retort with a high-and-mighty “your job is what I say it is!”. Also, please send us a follow up letter when things settle down.

    1. Noah*

      Oh yes, the “other duties as assigned” boss. I remember one conversation that devolved into a tantrum when I asked my boss what “other duties” I should prioritize since I could not complete both those and my primary role in the timeline he desired. He marched around the office for a good hour slamming things and muttering about how no one ever does what he says.

  6. Not So NewReader*

    #1 I believe every single number has to be checked against the DNC registry. Should the company be investigated for violations, the company must produce the copy of DNCs that the employees are using as a reference to look up each number. (Probably each employee should have one at their desk/computer/whichever.)
    I could be mistaken but I believe the fine is several thousand dollars.

    Maybe this is a misread on my part but it sounds like they are asking you to sell insurance. It could be that you are just setting up appointments for insurance agents. However, if you are selling insurance and other financial products you need licensing and CEs.
    Conversely, if you are just setting up appointment for agents, then you should be given a verrrry narrow script of what you are allow to say in order to remain in compliance with state/fed regs.

    Personally, the way I would approach the bosses is to say that I am concerned about fines (against the company or myself) and possible jail time (for myself) because I do not have enough training to know for a certainty that I am working within regulations. And you have two areas of concern- DNC and financial regulations.

    Am shaking my head. Just because someone is an employee of a financial firm does not mean they can swap roles over night. Today I am working in HR/bookkeeping/etc tomorrow I am cold-calling. no-no-no. It’s just not that simple.

    Even if you LIKED cold calling, you should STILL be leery of doing this. This is way more involved than average retail sales. You are not calling people to ask them if they would like to buy copier paper.

    I am hoping others with more current knowledge than what I have will jump in here to help arm the OP with information that will keep her/him in a legally safe place. My background is not current, but from what little I know OP is walking a fine-fine line here if s/he attempts to do these cold calls.

    1. KerryOwl*

      I don’t think she’s being asked to sell insurance, or set up appointments for insurance agents. She refers to insurance companies as an example of another type of business. They do financial services FOR other businesses like insurance companies.

    2. vox de causa*

      On the other hand, if these cold calls are to businesses rather than private persons, I don’t think the Do Not Call list applies.

    3. OP #1*

      Thanks for your input. I did ask my bosses if it was even legal for me to make these calls since (as you said) I’m not licensed (I hoped they would back off at that point), but they assured me that nothing that I’d be saying is illegal since I am only going to try to setup appointments for them. I’m shaking my head at all this too. No offense to telemarketers, but that is one of the last jobs I could ever imagine myself doing :/ The job search begins!

      1. Meg Murry*

        Could you make suggestions for other ways you could do some marketing for the company, other than cold calling? For instance – updating/maintaining the website & social media, joining the Chamber of Commerce, Rotary or other local networking groups, contacting existing customers who haven’t been in the office for a while to update their info/plan.
        Cold calling is no fun, and if business is down enough that you need to do it, I agree that it’s time to find a new job.

      2. AndersonDarling*

        90% of those appointments won’t show up (if you get any appointments). If people get stuck in a telemarketing conversation, they will set up an appointment just to get off the call. Telemarketing is miserable! To get anywhere with it you need some really talented people with tons of specialized training making calls and an intelligent, focused call list.

        If this is the company’s only marketing strategy, then the owners should be taking some of the list and making calls too. Either way, if you can hold out for a month, the owners should see that it is a waste of time and either outsource the telemarketing or give up.

  7. Chloe Silverado*

    #1 – I work in the Commercial Real Estate industry, and the real estate brokers are expected to cold call. It does vary from company to company (some companies do have a dedicated cold caller, or only require junior associates to make calls), but my company is small enough where even the company President participates. This is a common practice in real estate/finance/insurance type fields, and while I certainly understand not wanting to do it, if the company has decided to make cold calling part of their business development program the OP may need to participate or find a new job. If one of our brokers went to our department head and said “I don’t want to make the calls, it doesn’t feel like it should be part of my job,” he would start looking for their replacement. I also think the rules on this are different when it’s a business calling a business, rather than a business calling your house (true telemarketing). The OP’s case sounds like business to business.

    I totally understand your concerns OP (I wouldn’t find this fun either), but I’d really try to find out how serious the higher ups are about cold calling as part of business development before you approach them. If it’s key for them, you may have to suck it up and deal or move on.

  8. MT*

    For OP #1, how full is their plate at work? If they are scrounging for work 1-2 hours a day, I don’t see any issue with cold calling. If there really isnt enough work to keep busy all day, then there probably not enough work to justity the head count.

    1. MT*

      When there isnt enough work to fill the day for my employees, I can always find them something to do.

      1. LBK*

        I hope that doesn’t often involve doing things completely outside their scope of work and their talents. Having people do work that’s not what they signed up for and that they’re not good at usually ends poorly for everyone involved.

        1. GrumpyBoss*

          I’m not defending the employer here, because telemarketing sucks. But I don’t think a case can ever be made that helping your employer attract more business is outside of your scope – especially when you are in a small firm like the OP is.

          I agree with you on the “good at it” part.

          1. LBK*

            But if the person isn’t good at whatever method you’re trying to use to attract business, then they aren’t helping you do that.

            If your company’s main goal is to push a big boulder 100 feet and you tell me to stop guiding the boulder and help push even though I’m not anywhere near strong enough to make any difference in pushing the boulder, I’m not helping, even though ostensibly having me push too is “for the good of the company”.

            1. MT*

              If you are not willing to try, and you are not willing to grow your skill set. That is on you.

              1. Colette*

                I think it’s totally valid to say “this is not something I want to do” – but it has to result in either doing it (after having raised your objections and being overruled) or quitting.

                Not everyone is interested in developing every skill, nor should they be.

            2. Colette*

              I agree it’s not likely to be effective, but if that’s how the company has decided to proceed, that’s their call. The employee has the choice to do it or find something else.

    2. AB*

      Except, being successful at cold calling is a very specific talent. Forcing someone who is not good at it and reluctant to do it will do more to hurt your business than help it. If a business cold-calls me, I’m far less likely to think well of that business, and would be more likely to strike them off my list when I do actually need services they provide.

      If work has been slow, there are other ways to fill time. And, some places simply have that type of cycle. I worked for a construction company and there just wasn’t much work in the winter. We would clean up files, do training and paperwork, but even then there just wasn’t a ton of work to be done.

      1. Jamie*

        This – I also think poorly of a business that cold calls me.

        Contacting me through a reference is a different thing – but I don’t do business based on a cold call.

        1. LBK*

          When it comes to financial services, you would honestly be amazed how receptive some people are to it. I think it’s because it’s one area where a larger percentage of the population doesn’t already feel confident about their knowledge of it. For example, if an internet provider cold calls me, I have no interest in talking to them because I already feel comfortable with my ability to make a decision about which provider to use. People often have no concept of retirement planning or insurance, so if someone calls them up and says “I’m an expert on this subject if you need help with it,” they’re more likely to respond favorably.

          I actually worked in a department that’s specifically designed to answer questions for people about 401(k) products *that they already owned*. You’d be shocked by how little people understand their own retirement accounts.

          1. fposte*

            Ah, you’ve hit my hot button! Yeah, the local Edward Jones rep literally went door to door in my neighborhood. Given that they charge something like a 5% commission, it could be worth it to the guy doing the walking, but seriously, how much confidence does that instill?

            1. Kelly L.*

              Ugh! yeah, nothing says “prestige financial firm” like selling it the same way scammers sell encyclopedias. :D

            2. Jamie*

              Doesn’t everyone have someone cousin, in-law, or acquaintance that is a finance broker?

              If I didn’t have a privacy thing about people who know me knowing how poor I am I’d have several to choose from. Ditto insurance.

              Why don’t I know anyone helpful like painless dentists who don’t want my money, contractors who do beautiful work and just want to be paid in beer, or doctors who will give me antibiotics for an ear infection without requiring an appointment?

    3. Erica*

      “If they are scrounging for work 1-2 hours a day, I don’t see any issue with cold calling.”

      Let me tell you, as an introvert – if my boss asked me to clean the bathrooms one hour a day because we didn’t have enough staff, I might do it. If she asked me to deliver pizzas, I might do it. Cold calling? She would have my resignation the next day. I can always find temp work and I would rather stab my eyeballs with a fork than do something so patently unsuited to my personality. Not to mention I would SUCK at it and fail to generate any business. If you are the sort of person who is well suited to sales maybe you really don’t understand that some people simply can’t do it?

      1. MT*

        Just like it is your ability to quit, it’s the ability of the employer to change the job discriptions whenever. Just becuase a person doesn’t want to do a certain task, doesnt give them much leverage in not doing it. I’ve had to have the “Sorry, I hear you but this is how we’re doing it now”, converstaion many times. Its a hard one to have. I have had to let people go who refused to get on board with the new program. This just maybe one of those situations either get on the bus or get out of the way.

        1. Erica*

          I understand the job can legally change for any reason, but: well, let’s say your staff was entirely composed of professional, experienced salespeople. The next day they wake up to find the job has changed to require their doing complex mathematical analyses, which they have absolutely no qualification or aptitude for. How well do you think they’d do? How long would they last? And why on earth would you assign someone so ill-suited this responsibility?

          It’s not that different for strong introverts (which financial professionals tend to be) asked to suddenly transform into thick-skinned aggressive salespeople. I do think there’s a certain element of people who are good at pressuring people truly not understanding what it’s like to be awful at it, and that being able to take rejection in stride is a talent not everyone has.

  9. Clementine*

    #3- Other way of thinking of things- I’ve had those people who constantly cc’d their boss on even the tiniest of things and I always chalked it up to them being slightly ‘difficult’ or even akin to them ‘telling’ on me when I was making mistakes.

    …And then I had a boss who expects to be cc’d. on. everything. It’s not a performance issue- she wants this from her whole team. Her reasoning is ‘if you’re ever out for some reason, I need to know what was going on’. While I respect this line of thinking, it still drives me bonkers and worries that I’m coming off as difficult.

    Alison gives a great way of framing a non-confrontational conversation that also solicits feedback. Honestly though, sometimes people just do things because that’s them, and you need to let it go.

    1. TotesMaGoats*

      I was going to say your second point. It could entirely be that the other person’s boss wants to be cc’d on everything. I had a boss like that for a while. It makes you feel so small. And I doubt the other person would say “my boss micromanages and doesn’t trust people, so I have to cc her on everything.”

      1. Lynn Whitehat*

        I had a boss like that. HATED it. I used to bcc him so the real recipients wouldn’t get paranoid about why I was copying him on every flipping thing. Every once in a while, I forgot to do it, and he would flip out that I was “going behind his back”. We used Thunderbird for email at that job, and I looked into a plugin that would add the bcc every time, but there isn’t one. I guess there aren’t a lot of these control freaks.

    2. Colette*

      My thought is that the coworker does it when they’re following up – so why are they following up? Is the OP responding and letting them know when they’ll be able to reply with the information/complete the task and then following through, or is it a black hole where they send requests and never get a response?

      If it’s the second case, that’s probably why they’re copying the manager – they need a response. There are some people who I know from experience will only respond if I copy their manager – so I copy their manager early on.

  10. Jess*

    #3 I’m afraid I may have been unwittingly guilty of this in the past. I work in a large organization where it’s often not really clear what a person’s role in the hierarchy is. I’ll just need something done by a certain department and I know these two or three people work in that department and are usually helpful, so I’ll email them both.

    1. A Jane*

      Yeah, I’ve been guilty on this before as well. There wasn’t a clear path to resolve something, and both parties were involved anyway. It eventually just became a part of the culture to CC everyone.

    2. SherryD*

      I remember making the “cc the boss” mistake at my first office job! It was totally innocent; I just figured the boss would want to know. Luckily, the coworker I overstepped had no trouble being forthright with me. I apologized, said I hadn’t known better, and never did it again.

  11. B*

    #4 – If it was for health reasons she resigned than HR really cannot and should not say anything about that. Perhaps you know, but she may not want everyone to know and/or they do not want to then start explaining why and how each person left.

    It is sad she did not say goodbye but hopefully there can be a lunch or people can email her directly to do so.

    1. LBK*

      That doesn’t mean they had to treat her like she was fired. The issue isn’t whether they told everyone why she was leaving or not, it’s that they didn’t even let her decide – they marched her out and blocked her off from everyone else, as if she had been terminated rather than resigning.

      1. B*

        “Her leaving came a surprise to many people when it was announced a day later by email which didn’t explain the circumstances. There is a feeling that HR behaved in a very mean way. ”

        That is the part I was referring to.

        And for all we know maybe she was terminated. It’s a closed door conversation that nobody knows the true answer to except for the person who is sick and HR.

  12. Purr purr purr*

    OP#1, I can totally understand your reluctance to do any telemarketing, especially since it’s not in your job description. I was asked to do the same thing by my company in early 2013, even though I hate talking on the phone (partly from a uni job where I had to cold-call people and was frequently sworn at and also because I’m not yet fluent in French). However, I did it because things were slow for the company just like work is slow for your small company. Maybe you’re being pushed into doing it because things are getting more desperate financially and the company need new clients and projects ASAP. Perhaps your own job security is being threatened by the reduction in work, even if you’re not aware of it, so participating in telemarketing and getting new clients would help you in the long-term. It might sound extreme to go from slow company to losing a job but after myself and another geologist were forced into telemarketing and were unable to find new clients due to an industry downturn, ultimately our department was closed and we were all made redundant… A reduction in work can be serious for a small company.

    1. Purr purr purr*

      Oh, I should add we weren’t all made redundant at the same time. As the work decreased, we were made redundant one-by-one until the company decided to just shut our department.

      1. Purr purr purr*

        Yep, definitely can’t hurt to see what else is out there, especially if it doesn’t involve telemarketing! ;)

  13. Elysian*

    No love for #2 today, eh? I’m actually really curious to know more about this – maybe it would make a stand-alone post? My company doesn’t really do formal performance reviews. Last time I got a raise, they actually forgot to tell me (I noticed the increase in pay and checked to be sure it was right). In these kind of haphazard circumstances, what is the best way to negotiate a raise? It seems designed for “this is what you you get, and you get it when we give it.” I feel like it would be presumptuous to approach my boss before and say “I presume you’ve started thinking about raises… can we talk about mine?”

    1. Noah*

      My last company did that all the time. You would just get a raise without any discussion about it at all. Sometimes it was nice, but it also made it very difficult to negotiate because whenever you brought it up it was “we gave you a raise x months ago”. They were also horrible at actually doing performance evaluations, so there never was a right time to have the discussion.

    2. Bry15*

      My current company does this as well, we are usually given our raise (if any) paperwork at the end of our only face-to-face performance evaluation, so clearly already decided. Every other year or so the company plays tricks with “scheduling realignments” or something, so we only end up having like an “annual” evaluation every 18-24 months. Raises are given in a “this is what you get” manner with a sub tone of “and you’re lucky to get that.” The raise process is totally unknown above the brief interaction with your supervisor, making it difficult to try to get any info or make requests to higher authorities. I’ve also struggled to find any way to reasonably address this and realized that if the company is doing things like this, it is most likely an intentional, calculated practice designed to cause confusion and uncertainty just like we are experiencing.

  14. JuniorMinion*

    For OP #1 –

    I saw upthread that you mentioned that you aren’t licensed. I work on the institutional side of things and know that you are not allowed to speak to investors without a series 7 or 63 and now are not allowed to deal directly with clients on the investment banking side without the series 79 (I have all three). The rules for speaking to investors are especially strict (7 covers selling general securities sales or “stockbroking” and the 63 covers uniform securities laws). I realize this may seem like an arcane post but I am pretty sure to speak to potential clients at all in the guise of selling advisory services you need a series 65 (the Registered investment adviser test) and possibly also the series 63. One way to maybe spin this to your advantage could be to tell your employers you are willing to make these calls, but if they are offering investment services you think you might need to take the 65 / 63. If they will sponsor you and maintain your registration ( even every time you switch banks your new bank then has to maintain your registration) that could be a potential upside of all this for you and open you up to additional job opportunities I would imagine.

    Just trying to perhaps find a silver lining for the author out of this, but if none of this is applicable, then I agree that you should speak with your employers and if they won’t budge make the calls while looking for a new job.

    1. Anonymouse*

      My info is outdated, but I think this is correct.

      If you are new to the financial advising fields and you haven’t looked into passing the tests for these licenses, then you really aren’t a ‘financial advisor’. You can call yourself whatever, but you are not legally authorized to do certain things without these certifications.

      1. Anonymouse*

        P.S. Are they bait-and-switching you? If you took the job assuming you were to become a financial advisor, then you need to be actively working on these certification.

        Otherwise, you’re either glorified support staff (or telemarketing support) for the licensees, or you’re doing work that you should not be doing without direct supervision by the licensee.

        It’s my understanding that even paraplanners may have to pass some kind of training/licensing process.

        (Again, my info is way out of date, so do your own research.)

  15. MaLea*

    #3 – I had a coworker like this. He was new and I noticed he would cc the general manager and the director on every email, even on trivial issues. We were pretty chummy so I straight out asked him. I was going to tell him to cut it out because even though neither one had outright disapproved, I’d worked there longer and I knew about their preferences. This guy’s answer was that he’d gotten used to doing it at his old job so it was just his “habit” to “CYA” (cover your a–). It smelled like brown nosing to me, and I was about to leave that miserable job anyway so I didn’t care. He eventually did prove to be a brown noser and except for the two silly bosses, who have successfully been buttered-up, nobody likes him. Ha!

  16. Just saying*

    If I had to choose between prostitution and telemarketing, I think I’d choose prostitution. At least then people want what you’re selling.

  17. Hooptie*

    #1 – Telemarketing – do you just have names and phone numbers, or do you have addresses and/or email addresses too? If so, you may want to propose an email blast or postal mailing…it is generally a much more effective use of time than cold calling.

  18. Danielle*

    #1 – If they push back and tell you that it’s now part of your job, why don’t you suggest some different options for gaining business, other than telemarketing? You could suggest holding or attending networking events, a referral bonus from current clients, implementing a newsletter or social media content, etc etc. It’s unlikely that telemarketing will drum up the type of business they’re looking for, so this might be a good way for you to save the day AND avoid these crappy new responsibilities.

    If money/time is an issue for any of the things above, try making a case for an intern. Local college students need the experience and are usually great at those type of outreach projects – and you might be able to hire them for course credit.

    1. Cath in Canada*

      I was going to say the same thing – there’s more than one way to find new clients, and one of those ways might be a much better fit for the OP’s talents

  19. OP#4*

    #4 OP here, just to clarify on comments above. Her direct manager and department director have both confirmed that she was not fired. The information came directly from the co-worker in question. She recently contacted me by email to say a belated goodbye and explain why and how she left. She was not fired; she left by her own choice and was clear about that.

    We are located where there is government health coverage, so concerns about health benefits aren’t an issue.

    1. Lauren*

      It does sound to me like they actually cruelly here, and I’m really sorry on her behalf. That is horrible for morale. Depending on your relationship, it might be nice to send a get well card from your department, just so she knows everyone is thinking of her kindly.

  20. azvlr*

    #2 Shame on your manager for putting you in this predicament! Evals should never be a surprise. However, knowing this might happen in subsequent evals, you must be proactive presenting your case for a raise as well as a number.

    Also, would it be helpful to have a conversation with your manager and explain the how this is impacting you?

  21. manager anonymous*

    Did HR mishandle my sick coworker’s resignation? I don’t think so.
    This could have been someone from my group. She had been on Performance Review for almost a year. Took FMLA leave when it became apparent that the next step was termination. While on FMLA , unfinished, incomplete, inaccurate work were uncovered as well as financial issues. She returned to work. Another investigation. At the summary meeting with a union representative present, she handed in her resignation in a letter that she had prepared in advance. HR and one of her supervisors walked her to her desk to gather her things. She told people that she ran across during this time that she had been forced to resign because of her medical issues. No one who really knew what happened could say anything except that she resigned. Allow her to walk the building sobbing about how unfairly she had been treated. That would have been a bad idea. I applaud our HR for keeping a lid on the situation as well as respecting her privacy.

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