does salary reflect the type of candidate an employer is seeking, my former coworkers aren’t allowed to talk to me, and more

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

1. Does salary reflect the type of candidate an employer is looking for?

I’ve seen a job for which I seem to tick all the boxes, but the salary is high — a lot higher than what I am currently making. I am now doubting whether I am right for the job. Does the salary reflect the type of candidate that should apply?

Sometimes. But sometimes it turns out that you’re currently underpaid, or that the new place is particularly generous, or that you just don’t have a good sense of what the market rate is for that type of work. So if you really think you’re a strong match with what they’re advertising for, I’d go ahead and apply. The worst that can happen is that you don’t get the job; the best that can happen is that you end up getting a huge pay increase.

2. My former coworkers aren’t allowed to talk to me

I was a transportation manager over a team of about 30 individuals. I hired and trained the my team during the implementation of a new regional office. I was let go a few months ago due to disagreements about the ethics of withholding payments to contracted vendors. I believed it was unethical to withhold payment when services had been rendered my director and direct manager felt it was standard procedure. Shortly after this disagreement I was let go with no reason given.

I wondered after I was let go why so few employees and supervisors from my old team reached out. We had grown quite close during my time there and I considered some to be friends as well as coworkers. I later learned that the team had been ordered not to speak to me or about me. Have you ever heard of this before?

I now work for a large state vendor that continues to do business with my prior employer. When I called my prior employer’s office, I spoke to a very uncomfortable customer service agent who told me she was not allowed to speak to me or to transfer my call to a supervisor or any member of management. Is this standard in anyway?

I wouldn’t say it’s standard, but it’s not unheard of. Particularly petty employers are sometimes fond of silly maneuvers like this. It’s not reasonable or wise, but your old employer isn’t the only one to try it.

But they’re refusing to talk to you when you call in an official capacity from your current employer, trying to do business with them? That’s especially bizarre (and short-sighted).

3. Recruiter asked me to tell him where else I apply for jobs

I just met with a recruiter at a staffing agency, and he said that I have to let them know which jobs I’ve applied to directly so that the agency does not send in a resume as well. He claims that companies throw out resumes that come both from an agency and directly.

Is this true? My thought is that he probably doesn’t want me to work with them directly because the company can claim they got my resume from me directly rather than through any agency and therefore, would not have to pay any finder’s fee to his agency.

Am I being overly suspicious? My initial reaction was horror; I don’t know if the other agency I was working with was putting in my resume anywhere (which probably means they haven’t been), but if they did and I applied to the same places also, did I shoot myself in the foot? Is there some sort of industry standard where the HR person would dump both my resumes?

Yeah, recruiters generally have contracts with employers that state that a candidate is “owned” by whoever finds the person first — either the the recruiter who submitted them or the company if the person applied directly with them first. That means that recruiters usually don’t want to work with you on jobs you already applied for directly (because contractually they wouldn’t get paid if you were hired), and employers usually don’t want you submitted twice. Some employers do refuse to consider candidates who come in from multiple sources because they don’t want battles over commission, but the bigger issue here is probably that the recruiter doesn’t want to do work on your behalf that he won’t get paid for (which isn’t unreasonable).

4. Can I be forced to wear painful shoes to work?

Is it legal to be forced to wear shoes that are hurting you at work? I work retail and am assigned shoes to wear. We are forced to wear these. From closed shoes that make you bleed to high heels for 8 hours. I am now diagnosed with inflammation in my bone marrow and hip bursitis for life. Is it legal to be forced to wear shoes that are painful and visibly painful? Do I have a case here?

It sounds like that you’d be covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), although I can’t say for sure without knowing specifics. Regardless, though, the first step is to talk to your manager or HR department about the situation: Explain that you have a medical condition that doesn’t allow you to wear the assigned shoes without serious pain, and ask for a medical exception to the policy. If they refuse, that’s when I’d take a look at the ADA and how it might apply to you.

5. Thank-you notes after a panel interview

I just interviewed with a panel of five. Do I send a thank-you to all five or to the head of the committee?

Sending individual notes to all five is the more gracious move.

{ 106 comments… read them below }

  1. Steve G*

    I don’t like being the first to comment, but I worked late, so am wired, so….

    “Does the salary reflect the type of candidate that should apply?”

    I have to say, mostly no, from my experience living in NYC. I would say that Salary = Revenue and Profit of company.

    I have many examples of friends/relatives making $40K in positions that other friends/aquaintances/family made $70K just because they are in different industries. Just going through a merger, I see that my equivalent at the other company made $32K more than me, and I thought I was well paid! It seems random, but the other company simply makes more money….so they pay more…even at the lower levels…and even for mediocre employees (which we learned because someone accidently sent out the entire company’s salary list….and I saw that their entry level people were paid as much as our 4-5 yr experience people).

    So I’m in the same boat as you. I used to use salary as a filter on job search sites, but that isn’t accurate, we are selling ourselves short thinking that way.

    1. Lizzy*

      Do you think it works both ways, for low paying jobs as well? That someone shouldn’t get hung up on that? I’m working on a job offer now and it’s very low. Not just because I want more but I’ve done the research and it’s very low for the area (25% less). I asked if there was any flexibility and my manager said it comes from corporate and her hands are tied. I can do the job but am concerned because I bring so much more to the position than they are asking for, and the manager wants to ‘energize the office’ given so many there have been there 20 and 30 years and aren’t very tech savvy, very set in their ways, that they are really getting a bargain if I take it. I knew I would take a pay cut leaving NYC but a lot of employers I’ve encountered are really low balling. Blame the economy?

      1. MK*

        If you mean that a low proposed salary doesn’t mean the position is entry level, I would say yes; it could be that the company is stingy or generally underpaying their employees or that they are in a location where that’s the market value for the job.

        But this doesn’t sound like that to me. You say “I bring so much more to the position than they are asking for”, which sounds like they are not asking for someone with your skill level at a low salary, they are just asking for someone with fewer qualifications. This probably means you are overqualified, not that they are low-balling you.

        When a company states a salary and says it’s not flexible, it would be wise to believe them. It could mean that that’s the highest salary they can afford, but it certainly means it’s the highest they are willing to pay. Does it matter to you which is true? If you won’t accept a salary so low, there is no point in thinking about it. If you would be willing to accept it, as long as it’s the best they can do and not just them being cheap, well, I am not sure there is a sure way to find out.

        1. Lizzy*

          Thanks for the feedback. I am overqualified, I was concerned in the interview, my last position was closer to the role of the person interviewing me, my manager, than the role I’m trying to get hired for. I knew the salary would be low but I was surprised just how low. Low for this role in this area. In the past I was able to negotiate for more and get it but I got the sense the manager was being sincere about her limitations. Don’t want to push it and not get it. Not having a degree has been an issue now that I’m not in NYC. I’m considering asking for a review in 6 months. At this point I’ll take it, even being low, and this role had some other positives I’m taking into account.

          I guess my issue is that they really are looking for someone to do more than the current position involves. But I’m not sure corporate is aware of that. The manager was very clear that she needs something different to grow the office and increase production and was grateful someone was retiring to open this role to someone new with new skillsand a new attitude.

          I guess I’m a little sensitive to being taken advantage of. I’ve been through layoffs when I got two people’s jobs and other situations where you work well so you’re given more and more work but not always paid for all the extra efforts . I once made so much overtime that a job put me on salary to take my overtime away. A small bump in pay that wouldn’t cover even 6 months of overtime. I guess after awhile you just get tired of the nonsense.

          I have a second interview coming up so we’ll see. Thanks again!

          1. MK*

            Hmm. It sounds to me as if the problem is the company: there is a disconnect between what corporate has approved of (hiring an entry level employee to replace the one who retired) and what the manager wants to do (hire an experienced person to make significant changes), so the manager is trying to do what she wants without corporate backup. Are you sure you want to get caught in between them?

            “The reward for a job well-done is a more difficult job”. Been there, done that.

            1. Lizzy*

              Exactly, there seems to be a little bit of a disconnect going on and I’m not sure if I can negotiate my way to more money given the way things have been explained to me. Second interview tomorrow complete with tests on Microsoft Office so hoping to get more info then. I’m trying to tell myself it’s a ‘bird in the hand’ but I haven’t made this little since the late 90s when I was inexperienced and that’s hard to swallow to be honest. Thanks again for the feedback.

        2. Sans*

          And sometimes it’s a mystery why it’s so low. I once interviewed at the main competitor of a former employer of mine. Mirror companies in many ways. Same product, both huge, etc. When I told them what I had made in my old job, the hr guy actually laughed. He said that was more than the manager of what would be my dept. made. And I wasn’t especially highly paid at my job. My salary was in line with what others were making in my company, and across industries for my position. How the other company got away with paying people literally half of the going rate, I have no idea. But they did. And still do, I guess.

            1. Cindi*

              Nope. I interviewed with them, and talked to people in the dept, not just the manager. Same job, working on same type of product in same industry. Both companies are among the biggest in their industry. It was weird how out of sync the salaries were.

      2. jamlady*

        I recently had an issue with a company wanting to pay about 75% lower than the average rate for the position in question. The position was a 2+ years experience plus an MA that paid less than Dairy Queen. When asked if it was negotiable, I was given a flat out “no”. I told them I needed a week to consider it (jobs in my industry are pretty scarce and I figured maybe it’d be worth it for a short time just to keep my resume full). They agreed… and then spent the next 3 days calling me several times a day to see what my answer was. Even if they hadn’t been difficult to deal with, I would have ended up turning down this position. I spent a long time in school and previous positions working up to a level worth more (by a huuuuge margin) than what they were willing to pay. I feel like being undervalued that much would lead to a gross lack of appreciation. I’ve seen many companies do this in my area (I’ve only found fair salaries about 60 miles out) and it just doesn’t seem worth it to me.

  2. PEBCAK*

    #3 — It’s not necessarily that a company would throw it out, but it is a hassle, and you don’t want that to be a tiebreaker when they are deciding among five great candidates but only plan to bring in three.

  3. louise*

    #2 – I suspect the former company would allow their employees to speak to the former employee when it regards the business relationship of the new and old employers. I think the person who refused probably didn’t realize that she definitely should transfer the call to a manager.

    But then, they were silly enough to make the initial mandate, so they just might be silly enough to carry on with it even when it really doesn’t make sense, or to tell get new employer they aren’t willing to deal with that associate.

    1. MK*

      It could be a revenge strategy. If the OP is banned from communicating with anyone at his old company, they basically cannot do their new job; which could be a real problem if the old company is a major client of the new.

      1. Beezus*

        He stated that he worked for a transportation company before, and a state vendor now – his old company would likely be a client of the new company, or a client of his company’s customers. If it is the former, that changes the power dynamic quite a bit. I work in supply chain – you do NOT want to be the transportation company that failed to move something for me over a petty dispute like this.

        1. MT*

          With the shortage of drivers and the low bids for routes, I wouldn’t want to lose a great transportation company either.

        2. Cman*

          It’s a bit complicated but it goes like this. I worked before for a state broker that purchased transportation services on behalf of the state. The state paid 2 million a month to the broker with the understanding that if the 2 million was spent no further reimbursement would be provided.
          This incentivizes the broker to negotiate unreasonably low prices to providers and to also find any reason possible to not pay the provider of services. The understanding is that the broker must utilize the existing network of transportation companies within the state. While the broker is a national company they are required to use state level companies within the state to provide transportation for state eligible members. The broker pushes state mom and pop businesses out of business and replaces them with large national transportation companies. Then the broker returns to the state and says essentially “your state was not equipped with a suitable network of providers so we were forced to replace them”.
          I now work for the state.

          1. CAA*

            Are there any conflict of interest laws involved here? You’re trying to do business with your former employer, who happens to be a private entity contracting with a public entity.

            This case may be pretty small stuff that’s not covered by such laws, or your state’s laws may be weaker, but on the Federal level, there’s a two year time period where you’re barred from participating in government business with your former employer.

            1. Judy*

              It sounds like the OP was working for a vendor, and now is working for the state. I’m not sure there are any conflict of interest laws about that.

              1. CAA*

                There are at the Federal level. People moving into government jobs from private industry can’t show favoritism towards their former employer.

                1. De Minimis*

                  Even more than that, I don’t think they are even permitted to have the opportunity to show favoritism–I believe they have to do some kind of self-removal if there’s a decision to be made that could possibly be interpreted as showing some kind of favoritism–like if the former employer is up for a contract the former employee would not be allowed to participate in the award process.

                  I think there’s also a “cooling off” period when someone leaves the government and goes to work for an employer/vendor that does business with the employee’s former agency. I don’t think they can directly solicit business or get awarded contracts for a certain time period after they leave their government position.

                  Of course, this is all just from my vague memory of the online ethics training that we have to do each year….

                  No idea if that’s what the OP’s situation is about, although I suspect the former employer may be using something similar as an excuse.

            2. Cman*

              No conflict of interest laws that I am aware of. I was surprisingly never asked to sign anything saying I would keep information secret or a non-compete.

    2. Graciosa*

      Occasionally there are ethics rules that come into play. I have worked for companies that prohibited the assignment of any former employees to that employer’s account (representing either customers or suppliers) for specific periods of time after the employment ended. This was part of your agreement when you worked for that employer, and was applied consistently regardless of whether or not the former employee was eligible for rehire.

      It doesn’t sound like the case here, but it is worth thinking about – not all prohibitions on dealing with a former employee in a new professional capacity are totally irrational.

  4. Mike*

    Re #3:

    I once applied to a company and then the next day talked to an external recruiter. One of the companies they sent was the one I applied to the day before. I told them about it but gave them permission to represent me. I got the phone screen and interview in a few days. I got an automated response from Jobvite about a month later rejecting my application.

  5. Stephanie*

    #1 – I totally had Imposter Syndrome when putting in desired salary on a job application. That may be some of what you’re experiencing. I had gone through a few rounds of interviews, so this was the long-form thing requesting seven-year history and all that for a background check (if I got and accepted an offer). I even asked a friend who worked a similar role in the same industry and location and based my request on her input. I still put it in like “Whoa. No way. This is too high.” I thought about calling HR to ask if I could amend my application, but realized how crazy that would have sounded.

    So it may be that the company is doing really well (and can pay well), pays really well to compensate for something sucky (like long hours, lots of travel, difficult assignments, retention purposes, or high COL to name a few), or starts you out high (and gives small or nonexistent raises).

    Also, lowballing yourself might be as bad as the opposite. It can denote a lack of confidence (or that you didn’t do your research). I gave my salary range once during a phone interview and the recruiter was like “Oh. Why is your range so low?”

    1. Megan*

      What’s the proper response to that? Like ‘oh I must not have researched properly?’ Or ‘in the case my new range is $$$heapsmore?’

  6. Knitting Cat Lady*

    Re #2:
    I seriously hate the ‘standard practice’ of withholding payment to contractors when services have been rendered already. It’s unethical as hell and is often the reason small companies go bust. It’s theft, pure and simple.

    It’s ‘standard practice’ in the sense that many large companies and all levels of government (world wide, I might add) do this. Doesn’t change the fact that it’s wrong.

    Your previous employer sucks for doing this. And is silly as hell for giving the directives it did regarding contact with you.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      The only time I have seen companies withhold payment is if they could not pay. I read where some companies make a creditor wait 60-90 days for payment but these companies could pay and just had a highly encumbered bookkeepping system. Barring these situations, I cannot imagine a company just refusing to pay for no reason, it seems obvious that is a really bad plan.

      I have had bosses that would forbid/micromanage coworkers visiting or talking with each other during off hours. Yes, while both coworkers were still employed by the company.( That micromanagement got worse if one employee left the company.) These bosses would drive by employees homes to see whose cars were parked in the driveway.

      1. MK*

        Sometimes, when it’s a supplier of goods, it’s a way of ensuring quality. A vendor is much less likely to try to pass on sub-par products or refuse to change them if their payment is still outstanding. It’s not a bussiness practice I approve of, but there have been cases when a company lost thousands when a vendor supplied them with duds and then refuse to acknowledge responsibility, or worse disappeared on them.

        1. Happy Lurker*

          This situation specifically is transportation, not goods.
          Back in the 80’s the ICC was set up with 15 day payment terms specifically because Joe the truck driver couldn’t wait 60 days to be paid for his load. He couldn’t put fuel in his truck. Back then (and now albeit less and less) many truck drivers are DBA’s.
          I abhorr the idea of holding payment, especially to those that work so hard for it.
          Someone posted above about pushing out the Mom and Pops and this is it exactly.

          1. Cman*

            I posted the original question and the comment you referred to. I began my journey towards transportation management by being a driver. I drove in what felt like circles for 3 years while I put myself through college. This may be why I advocate for the drivers. I understand the management position I have been doing it for a long time but there will always be a part of me that’s 20 years old and driving a truck with a PB& J on the dash and the country station on the radio.

      2. Apollo Warbucks*

        It’s not essentially an encumbered bookkeeping system that causes delays in payment.It all comes down to the credit terms agreed to. If you have a supplier who was happy to extend credit for 60-90 days then that’s when they’ll get paid. Working capital lock up costs real money so there is no incentive to pay soon and harm your cash flow.

        Not paying when contractually obligated to is fundamentally wrong , but making the most efficient use of credit terms is good business sense.

        1. MK*

          I pay all my bills via e-banking. I authorise the pay Kent as soon as the bill comes in the mail, but the money stays in my account, though bound, and gets paid out on the day the bill is due. I hardly think that’s unethical.

            1. Iain Clarke*

              I was picturing my neighbour, Kent, being puzzled but happy at this random money that appears in his account.

          1. AVP*

            What you’re doing makes sense. I think above posters are referring to this practice that major companies have lately taken up, where they move their payment terms to 120 days and then you have to call them to remind them twice and only then do they cut a check, which sits on someone’s desk for three days because only one executive can sign it and he’s doing a pitch across the country, and then he gets back and signs it and it goes back to accounting and THEN they all and ask if you want to send a messenger to get it or maybe they can put it in the mail?

            Sorry, I’m a little bent out of shape about that this holiday season as all of my clients have suddenly started operating this way and managing cash flow is a new full-time job!

        2. Natalie*

          We run into this all the time. Our standard contract is net 30, and since we’re frequently contracting for construction we need a number of other bits of paperwork too (lien waivers, warranties, blah blah blah). Definitely a pet peeve of mine when a vendor starts following up with me about payment at net 10 and without having forwarded the documents I requested. Reading is fundamental!

      3. Beezus*

        What Apollo Warbucks said. Payment terms are a common financial strategy in larger companies. I’ve worked for companies before who had standard 120-day payment terms (yes, four months!) for materials suppliers. They had time to make the materials into final product, sell it, and get paid, before the bill for the materials was due. It has the same effect as getting a 0% interest loan to cover your inventory. They also had a contractual policy that allowed them to deduct the value of substandard product from payments – it made cost recovery easy for quality issues. They had plenty of money and paying vendors on time would not have been a financial hardship, but making them wait made the bottom line look better. (Now, most suppliers had to take out loans to cover the gap, for which they paid interest, which they had to recover in the price of their product….so really it’s just a shell game, but all of the finance world looks like a big shell game to me :-)

        1. AVP*

          The other thing written into all of my contracts lately is called sequential liability – so like, no matter what the payment terms are, if my client bills their client and that client doesn’t pay on time, they don’t have to pay us. And every other client back in the chain from there has the same thing, so one delayed payment from a major multinational corporation (which happens all the time) means that everyone else gets paid later and later…and the tiny companies at the end of the chain are the ones essentially making a 0% loan to the gigantic ones. And we have to pay our payroll and our vendors because we know them and they’ll be homeless if we don’t. ugh.

        2. Emily*

          “all of the finance world looks like a big shell game to me”

          Ain’t that the truth. Money flows to the party that has the power. Any appearance of it doing otherwise is an illusion.

        3. ThursdaysGeek*

          I worked at a place where they wanted to be paid at 30 days, but didn’t pay for 90. Month-end kept getting later and later each month, too. That was one of the reasons I left.

      4. Hlyssande*

        Not necessarily. AP people at the giant multinational industrial company I work for are instructed to delay as long as possible past the payment terms date…or at least they used to be.

        I’m in the AR department and I can’t tell you how many times I heard the collectors kvetching about how it’s really hard to collect on Net 30 terms when we don’t pay on Net 30 terms and the customer is also a vendor to us.

        That may have changed by now, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s a standard practice for many large companies that can afford to pay.

        1. Liane*

          Something similar went on at one of my husband’s previous jobs. Employer’s Accounts Payable worked on 90 days, but many of their suppliers expected 30 or 45 days, no idea which timeframe was in the contract.

          1. Chinook*

            Sounds like my employer. They agree in writing to 30 day net with vendors but, to them, it means the next cheque run 30 days after the invoice date if the invoice has been entered into the computer system ina timely manner. As my “warm fuzzies” are for my local arm of the company and our local vendors and not the multinational (who cannot move the asset I work for as it is well buried), I have no problem telling vendors who complain to charge late payment charges (if they are mentioend in their contracts) and I ensure that those go through as well.

            They even do this to us Net 0 contractors and I have seen them be up to 3 weeks late in payment for those of us who have them as our only client (i.e. this is our pay cheque) even when I hand delivered them to A/P (which is what happens when a new employee thinks I am hand delivering one giant invoice not stapled together instead of 6 one page invoices and doesn’t actually read the documents). Needless to say, when I went from temp agency to independent contractor, I made sure the fine print included clear late charges.

          2. Hlyssande*

            Yeah, that’s my understanding of how the AP group was instructed to work at the time. It may have changed as that was at least 5 years ago, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it didn’t.

            Even if the agreed terms were Net 30 they were told to push it out and delay as long as possible.

            1. Judy*

              I don’t know if they were instructed to do this, but it certainly seemed like they might have at my last big company. I would hear things from vendors at times which led me to believe it was systematic rather than a random issue.

              1. Chinook*

                If our A/P system is typical, I suspect it is a combination of unwritten policy and overworked A/P paper monkeys who can only enter so many invoices into the system with in a given amount of time. If said policy was not in place, then they would hire enough people to do the work. Instead, TPTB can say with a straight face that A/P is swamped or inefficient (thus throwing the paper monkeys under the bus – which is a shame because our A/P data entry workers work their butts off and are way understaffed).

      5. RVA Cat*

        “These bosses would drive by employees homes to see whose cars were parked in the driveway.”
        Wow that is seriously crazypants — they are pretty much stalking their employees. What’s next, tapping their phones and hacking their wifi? I hope the drive-by bosses were driving employees away.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          The first thing I thought of is “who has the TIME to do this stuff?”.
          They had a terrible time keeping help, no surprises there. I moved on to another company and the boss there did the same thing. The boss felt that you could tell a lot about the ethics of a person by the way they kept their house.

          Okay, whatever. I have a neighbor that works all day and then spends the bulk of her time taking care of two sick parents. Her house reflects that. She is one of the people in my life that I would hand my credit card to and KNOW for a fact she would only purchase what we agreed on- her ethics are alive and very healthy.

          1. RVA Cat*

            NSNR, are they putting crazy in the water where you live, or do bosses there just have a huge “no boundaries” policy?
            For some reason this made me think of the Wichita, KS city official who supposedly went around measuring people’s grass with a ruler. You may have heard of him – he’s rather infamous as the BTK Killer:

          2. Mike C.*

            I just despise the idea of “secret morality tests” like these. It’s always some jackass on a power trip who thinks they can divine some aspect of their employees through a completely unrelated test because they’re the boss and only they know that one weird tip for knowing who they should really fire.

            1. RVA Cat*

              This. Of course, the only real knowledge that comes out is that *the boss* is the one who should be fired.
              I do wonder if sometimes the bizarre indignities unique to the American workplace are a legacy of the long-ago days when employers either A) literally owned you, or B) you were disposable due to the endless stream of cheap immigrant labor. Sadly the bad economy (and offshore outsourcing) seems to have revived option B a bit, though at least putting dead employees in the sausage is frowned upon these days…

    2. Cman*

      Thank you. I agree. On a business level it is understood that the market economy works on the principle of mutual exchange. When the exchange is not mutual the economy breaks down. It’s unethical at its core.
      On a personal level we pull our group of friends and acquaintances from the community around us; when our business practices are unethical when dealing with that community. There is no reason to believe that our personal relationships could be any more fruitful.
      I suppose I look at the prior group as complicit in the unethical practices. This is just not something I am comfortable with.

      1. Janis*

        This reminds me of every book I read as an English major years ago. Upper class toffs run up huge gambling debts, wouldn’t pay their tailors, bought expensive horses, and never paid their bills. Sometimes the most egregious of them would get a servant girl in trouble. Why did they get away with it? Because they were upper class toffs of course! (A word I have actually never used or written before today, but I’m feeling very Anglophile-y.)

        “Right is right, even if everyone is against it, and wrong is wrong, even if everyone is for it.” (Quaker leader William Penn)

      2. Chinook*

        “On a personal level we pull our group of friends and acquaintances from the community around us; when our business practices are unethical when dealing with that community. There is no reason to believe that our personal relationships could be any more fruitful.”

        This here is why I get frustrated when our head office has policies in place that hurt our local vendors – TPTB don’t have to go to the same grocery store or have kids in the same school as said vendor, so they don’t experience the immediate reprecussions of delayed payments. We, the local peons, on the other hand, know the name of the guy whose payroll the vendor is struggling to cover because someone decided they didn’t like the layout of vendors new invoice. I think that is why the national head office I work at feels so disconnected from the multinational – we live where we spend the money, not where the decisions are made.

  7. Apollo Warbucks*

    #1 I managed to negotiate a 30% rise when moving jobs, I knew I was under paid but was surprised to manage such a jump. The work is actually less demanding than I was used and I settled into the new job well.

    Put together a strong application and see what happens.

    1. HeyNonnyNonny*

      Yes, this– I once got a huge raise for moving jobs. I knew that I was underpaid before, but I hadn’t really understood by how much until I got the new offer. Go for it!

        1. Koko*

          Ditto here! When I was trying to escape my first job, a toxic workplace that was in the process of imploding due to some big mistakes made by the leadership, I would have accepted any reasonable offer that looked more stable. I actually went on a job interview where I was interviewed by the woman whose position I was interviewing for, who was leaving to get married and make an international move. When she asked about my salary requirements, I didn’t want to price myself out of the job so I told her my current salary and said I was hoping to get a few thousand more than that. I had inadvertently low-balled myself, and apparently asked for a number so far below what she was making in that role that she just said, “Hmm…We’ll just say you asked for $X…” which was 20% above my then-current salary!

          I ended up getting and accepting their offer, and although I later found out I probably could have easily gotten even more than that, I was practically gleeful about the huge pay increase I was getting…especially when layoffs were announced at my company the very same week I went on that interview, and I was able to negotiate a severance package on top of the pay increase I’d be getting at my new job!

  8. GrumpyITGuy*

    #1 Salary ranges may depend on the size of the company, they are also different based on the location. It may also be the case that you are applying to a job in the private sector and currently working in the public sector, since private sector jobs usually pay much higher. If you look into an employer review tool, like glassdoor, and compare salaries in your area, you could get a better sense of the salary range of someone in your position in the job market. It is also important that you include the benefits in the salary analysis. Sometimes we get blind by just looking at the salary, but when you take out the taxes and benefits deductions from the paycheck eventually all evens out.

  9. Illini02*

    For #2, I’m not going to pull out “Is it legal”, but is it really enforceable? I mean, assuming its an at will job, I know that can fire you for any reason. But, can a company really ban you from doing something on your own time? I understand if they are not wanting someone to email from their work email or something like that. However, I just don’t see how you can really enforce this. Send spies out? Tap your phone? Plus, if you were to actually punish someone for this, it seems like it would blow back on management more than anything.

    1. Dan*

      Short answer, I think it’s enforceable through the exact means that you mention.

      There’s been cases where people have been at conferences or whatever, and been fired for after-hours antics.

  10. Monika*

    #2 Good riddance ex-employer! I’ve been working as a freelancer and it always was a real PITA when a customer would pay up in a timely fashion, sometimes I had to go to the german version of small claims court to get my money. Kudos to you for standing up to your unethically behaving ex-employer. Blocking your ex-coworkers to talk to you… not really a surprise, but they might just shot their own foot with that.

    #4 While I can see the idea of creating a look for the retail employees, it’s somewhat stupid to make no allowance to the differences of human anatomy. 8 hours in uncomfortable/ill-fitting shoes, just thinking about that makes my feet hurt. Shoes that make your feet bleed? Sounds like assault to me! A reasonable employer would allow reasonable accomodation in your case.

    1. MK*

      Also, I think it’s a bit over-the-top to take it all the way down to shoes. No one is going to notice what the salespeople wear on their feet.

      1. Allison*

        Agreed! I’ve worked in plenty of places that required plain, black shoes, and had specific requirements regarding heels, whether the shoes could be sneakers, etc., but we supplied our own shoes. Granted, it was sometimes a pain having to run out and buy black work shoes with only a few days to spare, but I managed. My fault for not already having suitable shoes.

        If a company is picky about what people can wear, they can always partner with a vendor and give people the option of ordering work shoes or clothing through them.

        1. Kelly L.*

          This. I think it’s one thing to dictate a color and style, and another to dictate the exact shoes.

          Diet Coke Addict has a good point that some stores will want you to be wearing shoes from the store (but I must say it doesn’t speak highly of the store if all their shoes hurt this much!). It sounds like maybe they make the OP cycle through a series of their shoes?

          1. Allison*

            Ah, good point! I’ve never worked in clothing retail, so it didn’t even occur to me that OP may have to wear shoes from the store.

            Different shoes feel different to different people, it’s all about how someone’s built I guess. Also, some shoes need to be broken in before they can be worn comfortably for long periods of time, and it seems like poor OP isn’t given time to do that.

      2. Diet Coke Addict*

        In most retail, no. But in higher-end shoe stores and in luxury retail, absolutely people will notice. If the OP is working at Payless or Target, you’re right, nobody is going to care. But if she’s working at Tory Burch or Fendi or another luxury retail store where the salespeople are expected to look fashionable, on-trend, and on-brand, they will certainly be expected to wear shoes that reflect that and stores enforce that like any other part of the dress code.

        This sounds extreme in that the OP is forced to wear shoes that are causing her pain, but I think the request on its surface is not that unusual in some branches of retail.

        1. Muriel Heslop*

          People absolutely notice. I worked part-time in luxury retail during grad school and my first ten years of teaching. We were provided with an extremely generous discount + occasional freebies with the express expectation that we would dress head-to-toe (or as close to “the look” as possible) in the store’s clothing. Feeling very grateful right now that our shoes were relatively comfortable, but eight hours a day on a polished wood floor took its toll. I was always grateful for boot season.

          1. Koko*

            Not even luxury retail – check out the rigorous dress code that mid-range brand American Apparel expects from their staff:

            In high school I primarily worked food service and just had to wear dark pants and a company polo, but my friends who worked in retail clothing stores were expected to wear clothes currently on the floor in the store…they also got a ~30% employee discount, but the stock changed frequently enough that they were re-investing a substantial portion of their earnings back into the store every couple of months. I always figured it was a great deal for the employee if it was your favorite store and you would have wanted to buy all those clothes anyway and now get them 30% off, but a great scam for the store otherwise to funnel payroll expenditures right back into sales via employee dress code policy.

            1. Sans*

              Exactly. My first job out of college was a part-time retail job. I got maybe 15-20 hours a week at $3.35 an hour (long time ago) and yet was expected to dress in their clothes, which even with a 30% discount were $30-$40 each. I would have had to spend my whole paycheck on their clothes. Umm, no. Yet the manager just couldn’t understand why I wasn’t always wearing their stuff. Yeah, that job didn’t last long …

        2. Former Cable Rep*

          Not even high end, I worked for two of the mid-priced “comfort” shoe retailers and both of them required me to purchase that season’s shoes and wear them on the sales floor. One brand had me wear athletic shoes or heels depending on the dress code of the day. I was lucky in that I got to pick the style of shoe, but I maintain to this day, nobody makes a truly comfortable high heel. Full time and minimum wage was not worth the constant pain I was in.

          First ask for accommodation for the medical issue, then try to figure out if this is a situation where workman’s comp applies. If the required shoes caused the medical problems, then I’d say it does but I am not a lawyer. Hopefully much of the OP’s pain can be relieved by a flat soled shoe in a larger size and a prescription orthotic.

          1. MK*

            Yes, you are more likely to find a unicorn than a comfortable high heel, or at least one that is comfortable to wear for hours. There are just some that qualify as instruments of torture and others that don’t leave your feet in pain for hours/days.

        3. Mike C.*

          So what if they don’t make shoes in your size, or you’re a man selling women’s shoes or something like that?

          1. Mike C.*

            And not to be all “eww those shoes are for girls” but rather, “I’m not sure those heels come in a men’s 10EEEE”.

            1. Diet Coke Addict*

              Men would probably be expected to wear a dress shoe of comparable formality–and at any luxury retailer, a male employee would be probably be wearing a suit, so suit-appropriate shoes.

              For women where the shoes may not come in their size–it’s a management judgment call. Either the employee has leeway to wear shoes of a similar formality/style available in their size, or they wear more casual shoes and ramp up the style in the other parts of their outfit.

  11. Hlyssande*

    #4, is it the shoes that caused you to be diagnosed with the bursitis and the bone marrow inflammation? If so, because you were assigned those shoes as required for your job, wouldn’t that mean you’d be eligible for workman’s comp? Anyone?

    It seems like there should be some recourse in that respect.

    1. Leah*

      I was just about to post this as well. OP should start by discussing this with management. Workers Comp would be the next stop to get the medical needs resulting from the injury properly covered.

      1. Hlyssande*

        If the bad shoes have truly caused lifelong conditions, I’d hope she could get more than just Workman’s Comp also, but I’m probably just being optimistic.

    2. AndersonDarling*

      I recall some kind of lawsuit being filed against Bebe because their staff was forced to wear 4″ heels all day. I don’t remember what came of it, but I agree that any injuries that come out of wearing the shoes should be a slam dunk Workmans Comp case.

    3. KM*

      That’s my question, too. From reading the letter, it’s not clear to me whether OP#4 now has medical problems BECAUSE of wearing these shoes, but if that’s the case, then, definitely workers’ comp. Or sue them or try to charge them with something, if there’s evidence that they knew this was injuring people and continued to do it anyway.

  12. Former Recruiter*

    I worked in staffing years ago. My former agency asked applicants where else they applied to learn about job openings that we weren’t working on. We would then solicit those companies.

    1. Lily in NYC*

      Yes, this is what I was coming here to say! I never tell recruiters where else I am applying because this happened to me a long time ago. I told the recruiter about an interview a different recruiter got for me and the first recruiter called the company and tried to get them to interview some of her candidates. Now I simply say: You are not the only recuiter I’m working with and I’ve been asked to keep this information confidential.

    2. CAA*

      Right! The correct way to handle this is for the recruiter to contact you before submitting your resume to any opening. Then if you’ve already applied or been submitted by another recruiter, you can tell him so he doesn’t waste time submitting you again.

      From a hiring manager’s perspective, it is a pain to deal with outside recruiters and their candidates, and I avoid it when I can and limit it to a single recruiter when I can’t.

      1. Mike C.*

        It really just sounds like recruiters serve no benefit to those looking for work and you should avoid them at all costs.

        1. LBK*

          Yeah…I’ve never really understood the point. I suppose if one has a great reputation and good connections that could be useful but I’ve never heard a story about a recruiter who was that good. They all sound like middle men for resumes I could be sending in myself.

      2. baseballfan*

        I have heard this sentiment before but don’t really get it. I understand some companies may not want to pay the fee, but I don’t understand how it’s a pain, unless negotiating the contract is what is a pain.

        A recruiter is going to save me a lot of time, and time is money (although, maybe not *that* much money) by prescreening candidates and only sending over people that fit. I am constantly amazed at the applications we get on our website and otherwise not via recruiters who are wholly unqualified for the job.

        From a candidate’s perspective, I have definitely found more opportunities via recruiters than elsewhere, and I’m pretty good about hustling.

        Of course, not all recruiting firms are created equal.

        1. CAA*

          In my experience, they really don’t save a lot of time (in fact, they usually take up time) and they cost a lot of money. If I’m hiring for a Sr. Dev role that pays $120K, I will get about 50 resumes. I can screen those down to the 5 people I want to interview in 30 minutes. If I get those same 10 resumes through a recruiter, I’ll spend less time reviewing them, but I’ll pay $30K when I hire their candidate. Plus, recruiters don’t save me any time at all on writing job postings and they consume lots of time discussing what I’m looking for in this particular position, what intangibles might benefit us, etc, and then selling me on their favorite candidate whose salary requirement is always at the very top or above our range.

          The one thing a recruiter can provide that I can’t get on my own is access to candidates they represent exclusively. They may also be able to reach out to people who aren’t looking to move and entice them into coming for an interview (that’s how I’ve gotten several jobs myself). The question for me is whether the additional cost in time and money of using a recruiter is worth the slim chance that I might get a candidate I couldn’t otherwise reach. Occasionally it is, especially when I’m looking for a highly specialized skill that’s not common in my area, but mostly it isn’t.

  13. YouSaucyMinx*

    For the salary question, take into account industries too. For instance, I worked for a nonprofit in marketing and made a pretty small salary, but because it was in marketing, I thought it was pretty standard since many of my marketing friends made similar amounts.

    Then I switched to a pharmaceutical company in a job I was very qualified for, and they offered me triple. I was dumbfounded, but it’s just the industry standard.

  14. Elysian*

    #4 – The OP mentions high heels, so I wonder if there’s a gender issue involved, too. Do the men get assigned shoes? Is the only option for women a high heel?

    Also, from experience, I have to wonder if some of the problem is because the shoes are ill-fitting. Maybe a different size, or an orthopedic insole or something would help, if nothing else can be done? I hate being micro-managed, I can imagine that it would be very frustrating to be told to wear shoes that aren’t working for me.

  15. Juni*

    #4 – It sounds like she is saying that the shoes she was forced to wear CAUSED her disabilities. If that’s the case, she needs to consult a lawyer, and figure out worker’s comp, disability, and get a doctor’s note in the meantime specifying what accommodations need to be made for her bursitis.

  16. Silent Raptor*

    For OP #1: I’m changing fields (museums to libraries) with my new job starting Monday, and my new position is nearly double my current income. I’m moving up in positions (half what I used to do, half something slightly new), but normally that would mean a few more dollars per hour, not doubling my income! I was qualified for everything, and because this is government, there is a preset salary range. So yes, apply, especially if you’re qualified. You might get a healthy surprise.

  17. Meg*


    Could be a number of things – job leads for themselves (new companies to recruit for), a sense of urgency/competition.

    However, make sure that you are clear with them that they may only represent you for THAT specific job opportunity. If you get hired by other companies you’ve applied at directly, they don’t represent you for those roles. If they try to claim your candidacy for all jobs they represent, whether you applied directly or indirectly (through them), abort mission and find a different recruiter.

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