I was promoted without warning in an all-staff meeting, how to explain a firing when interviewing, and more

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

1. I was promoted without warning in an all-staff meeting

I’ve been promoted twice in the past 8 months. The first time it was pretty standard fare — I was promoted in a meeting with my manager and his manager, I negotiated for a raise (probably not as hard as I should have, but some) and moved on. Then I, along with another colleague, was promoted a few days ago with no warning at all, in an all-staff meeting.

Putting aside the ethics of them promoting us in public without advanced notice, I’m wondering about if and how I can ask for another raise. I know that I’m making less than some colleagues with my former title (my manager’s manager told me so directly, and gave me advice on negotiating for the future) so I do think I should get a raise, but given that I got a 10% raise less than a year ago and a big end of year bonus, it feels inappropriate to ask again. Any advice?

If they’re promoting you to a new role with more responsibility*, it’s absolutely reasonable to renegotiate salary at the same time. The fact that you got a raise less than a year ago and a big year-end bonus doesn’t come into play here now; that was compensation for your old position. I’d approach your boss and say something like this, “Since I’m taking on a new role and increased responsibilities, I wanted to talk with you about the salary. What did you have in mind for the position?”

* The exception here is if it’s not a promotion in the “new role/new responsibilities” sense. If the change is more about the title and not the work (like getting a title bump from Teapot Maker to Senior Teapot Maker with no change in actual work), then it’s harder to justify an increase.

2. How to explain a firing when interviewing

I was fired from my last job for breach of confidentiality. When I asked my employment counselor how I should approach the “Why did you leave X company?” question in an interview, she suggested that I stick with a generic answer such as, “We were going in different directions.” In all honesty, we were and I suspect that had a lot to do with my termination, but I feel like that is lying. The fact that I feel nervous to say that and then have a potential employer find out the exact reason is a pretty clear indication to me that it would be wrong to use that explanation in the first place.

I am not thrilled about having to tell a prospective employer why I was let go, but I’m also not that person who lies or dances around the truth. I’m human, I made a mistake, and I genuinely feel like honesty really is the best policy. Anything but that would make me feel like I can’t be trusted because I wasn’t open about it in the first place. What would be your advice on how to handle this in an interview?

My first advice is to get a different employment counselor because your current one doesn’t understand anything about how interviewers think. If your answer is “we were going in different directions,” your interviewer is going to question you about what that means and what the nature of the parting actually was (voluntary or a firing); she’s not going to just accept that initial vague answer and move on to the next question. Moreover, when the employer checks your references, she’s likely to discover the truth, and the lying is going to be more of a deal-breaker than the fact you were fired. So get rid of that counselor.

Anyway, as for what to say, your instinct to be honest is the right one. Keep it brief and don’t sound defensive, but a clear, non-defensive, non-obfuscatory statement of what happened and what you’ve learned from it is going to serve you best. I have more detailed advice here.

3. Interviewing when I’m happy at my current job

For the first time in my career, I’m being recruited by an exciting new company with a lot of potential, and I wasn’t looking at all. I enjoy the work I do, the people I work with, and heck, I’m even getting strong recognition from my manager. My current company is also exciting, with a lot of potential.

After a few email exchanges, I spoke to the recruiter, and she was essentially selling her company to me. We now have an interview set up during the time she’s in my area, and I’m not sure how this all works from this point. The only other time I’ve interviewed for positions, I’ve been actively looking and wanting a change. Now, I’m happy where I am, but open to at least knowing more about the opportunity. I was very honest with the recruiter, letting her know exactly that, and she still wants to move forward. What’s your best advice for approaching an interview, being in the position I’m in? The job would be a lateral move, although I think the work would be structured differently.

It’s fine be straightforward about what you said here: You’re happy in your current role and not actively looking, but open to hearing about other jobs. You don’t need to hide that or pretend you’re eagerly looking. In fact, candidates are often the most attractive when they’re in your position.

That said, I’d be really cautious about leaving a job you really love for a lateral move. It can be hard to find a job, boss, and coworkers you like, and I’m not sure I’d leave that without the move being a significant step up.

Read an update to this letter here.

4. My boss wants me to work a double shift while I should be sleeping

Is there a tactful way to tell your boss that you can not fill in for another shift? Specifically the one that happens when you’re usually asleep? I work the late afternoon to middle of the night shift on weekends. Someone on the morning shift that starts three hours after I leave has had an emergency and I may be scheduled to fill in, in addition to my regular shift. I’ve looked and learned that there are no laws that say there’s a minimum time required between shifts, but common sense suggests time to sleep. Would it be reasonable to point out that this would have me on the road driving when my body is usually asleep and will be begging for it if I have to do this?

Absolutely reasonable. More than reasonable. Your boss just might not have thought this through, and it might be as simple as speaking up: “I’d be glad to cover for Jane while she’s out but I can’t work two shifts in a row when they cover the time I’d normally be sleeping; I wouldn’t trust myself to drive safely afterwards. Would you rather me take her shift and have someone else cover mine, or just stick with mine and have someone else cover for her?”

5. Putting roller derby coaching on my resume

I’m trying to update my resume. I also am a coach for my roller derby league two days a week — I come up with lesson plans, work one-on-one and in groups to help students learn new skills, coordinate with coaches who teach different levels to make sure that our practices flow together, etc. It’s a lot of work, and a lot of organization, and I’d like to put it on my resume.

Is that inappropriate? I’m not paid for it, so it’s not a job, but it does showcase my organizational and people skills pretty well. The jobs I’m applying to — mostly administrative assistant and personal assistant jobs — require both, so I feel like it’s relevant.

It’s not inappropriate at all. I’d put it in a separate section (volunteer work or community involvement or something like that), and call out the specific activities that you mention here so that someone unfamiliar with roller derby can picture what you’re doing and see how it might translate.

{ 213 comments… read them below }

  1. Dan*


    “* The exception here is if it’s not a promotion in the “new role/new responsibilities” sense. If the change is more about the title and not the work (like getting a title bump from Teapot Maker to Senior Teapot Maker with no change in actual work), then it’s harder to justify an increase.”

    AAM, I’m a little lost at the distinction you’re trying to make here. On the one hand, I get it, but OTOH, it’s a distinction without meaning.

    In my professional career, I’ve never seen a “title bump” not associated with an increase in pay. The companies I work for aren’t in the business of assigning meaningless titles — you generally don’t have “Jr X” and “Sr X” at the same pay grade. Any two individuals could share the same paycheck, but the bands themselves have different endpoints.

    Also, in my line of work, you don’t get the promotion and then increased responsibilities; generally, you’re working at the next level and the promotion is recognition of that.

    1. Artemesia*

      I have seen places that use ‘promotions’ in title as a way to avoid properly rewarding people and where promotions don’t necessarily command raises. I have also been in that position of receiving a promotion in title without a raise in a very raise poor environment. It is a moment to have the conversation for sure.

      1. Dan*

        Just on the subject of titles in general, my all time favorite is the “senior” designation. Some places you can’t get it until you’ve been there ~10 years, and others will give it out to anybody with a degree higher than a BS.

        1. Persephone Mulberry*

          My company has a Senior Admin Assistant…and no junior anything. I’m not sure what they were going for with that, except to try and convey that they weren’t looking for someone with entry level skills.

          1. California Anon*

            I used to work for a place that gave out annual cost of living raises, but any other sort of raise had to be tied to a change in job. In that case, the Junior Admin Assistant would become a Senior Admin Assistant as a way to be able to pay them more/recognize that they had more experience/duties, even if there were no Junior Admin Assistants.

      2. Brett*

        +1 on this. I see this all the time. Not only is it an attempt to avoid properly rewarding people, it also is a bizarre way to “uncompress” salaries by moving people with more experience to a different job class so that the salaries are not directly comparable (even though you then end up with a situation where a person with less experience and a lower title is making the same as someone with more experience and a higher title). In the latter situation, the new title will often be difficult to compare, e.g. Lead Teapot Analyst versus Teapot Coordinator rather than Teapot Analyst versus Senior Teapot Analyst.

      3. Katie the Fed*

        It happens a lot where I work. There’s been rampant inflation of titles in the last few years because real promotions are really hard to come by due to budget constraints. The problem is that they hand out so many ridiculous titles they become meaningless and/or people with inflated titles start getting a little big for their britches.

        The responsible thing would be to not inflate titles and just say “the budget is terrible, and d0n’t expect promotions for a while.” It’s rough, but at least it’s honest.

    2. Aknownymous*

      I have worked at companies that promoted or enhanced titles only as well. Both to make employees feel more important, and also to make the company look bigger to outsiders.

      1. Joey*

        I always get the feeling that non profits do this. Why non profits like to use titles that include “director” when the rest of the world uses “manager” is beyond. I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen a “director” get hung up on the fact that dont want to go “down” in title even when the position is equivalent or higher.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I think it’s usually because the directors are reporting to the head of the organization and are truly directing the work of an entire key area of the organization (communications, outreach, etc.).

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              But not if they’re reporting directly to the CEO, generally and have broad responsibility for a key area’s strategic direction. That’s usually VP level.

              1. Joey*

                That’s true, but overseeing few people and a relatively small budget is on par with most folks in the market who have much lower titles.

    3. Helen*

      I agree with your last line. When I’ve gotten title changes in the past it was to reflect the extra responsibility I had already taken.

      1. Lindrine*

        I have had the same thing happen to me. I think it was just a timing mistake, and they did give me a nice raise, but I was still a bit shocked they announced it during a department meeting without talking to me first.

    4. Felicia*

      There are a whole lot of companies that are in the business of assigning meaningless titles. Like Ninja. Or more reasonably, coordinator, administrator, specialist and manager , all meaning the same thing at different companies.

      1. Helen*

        On the flip side, I once was hired as a “[dept] assistant” but very quickly took on a more advanced role. At my annual review, I asked for a title change. The owner said, “we don’t put much stock in titles here.” Thankfully after I pushed back I was able to change it.

        1. Felicia*

          This is similar to what happened to me – I am doing much more and more advanced things than what i was hired for. I love it, in fact I prefer it, but my title doesn’t reflect what i do. It reflects about 10% of what I do I guess.

    5. MK*

      In my profession specifically, this type of promotion (to senior X), comes with a set of privileges, like getting first pick in projects, vacation time, etc.

    6. No to Stella and Dot*

      This happened to me early in my career. I was an Assistant Teapot Maker and was promoted to a Teapot Maker. It was the type of company where junior employees would work for a year or two, get some experience, and move on. It was a good company overall with good people/management but at the time was having some financial problems (they had lost of a couple of key clients = loss of revenue in my industry). In fact, around the time I was promoted, all employees had to take a 10% paycut, with the higher-ups taking larger chunks. I knew better than to ask for a raise when I was promoted.

      I ended up staying there for about a year and geting a ton of great experience before moving on to a much higher paying (40% increase!) and higher-up-the-food-chain position at a different company.

      All that being said, I definitely think it’s wise for the OP to have a conversation or two in their case, especially if this means more responsibility. In my case, I know my company really didn’t have the money to pay me (and others) but wanted to “reward” us with a title bump and (in a roundabout way) make us more marketable in our industry when we did decide to move on.

      1. no to stella and dot*

        Fwiw, this was a smaller company (less than 100 employees) with only one HR person.

    7. JC*

      Huh. In the places I’ve worked, the management structure has been flat and promotions in title have always been accompanied by a 10-15% raise. I’ve never been promoted to a different job with new responsibilities, but have been promoted in title and salary a couple of times. OP, what is it like where you work? I would think that if you work in a place where promotion in title=raise you would know that, and in that case it is entirely appropriate to ask about the new salary.

      1. Iro*

        WOW! A 10 – 15% raise for a titel change? When I got promoted to a role 2 pay grades above the one I had been in, I only got a 12% raise and was told I”m lucky to get that. In my old company, a raise to the next tier (e.g. Jr Teapot Analysts to just Teapot Analyst) would only net you 3%.

        1. Koko*

          That strikes me as so narrow! Here, everyone is assigned a grade from 1-9, and each grade has a midpoint and then a range which is +/- 20% of the midpoint. There may be some overlap in ranges, but there’s no way that you could leapfrog over an entire grade without at least a 20% bump (and that’d be from the top of grade 5 to the bottom of grade 7, for instance, not the middle of one to the middle of the other).

          3% is a cost-of-living increase, not a raise!

    8. Cheesecake*

      I agree and i did not see this “title boosts” either. What is the point for the employee? The only one that comes to my mind is it can help with external job hunt. But on your CV under a cool title you still list “non-sr.” work.

      1. Ash (the other one)*

        Depending on the field, I think it also lends itself to credibility… I get more respected for my expertise and experience being “senior”

      2. Brett*

        Well, the point of a raise, benefits, etc is to retain employees by showing them that they are valued. A title boost tries to do the same thing, even if it is a pretty weak and very cheap way to do that.

    9. Ash (the other one)*

      This is actually making me rethink a move I just made —

      I was promoted (in both title and responsibilities) at the start of the year, but told since I had only started at this org in August of last year I would have to wait until this year (2015) review to get the associated salary bump. I thought this was reasonable but now I’m thinking I should have spoken up.

      As for the OP, getting promoted in an all staff meeting sounds very awkward indeed. My manager and I carefully crafted the announcement of my promotion as to not upset anyone, so to have it sprung like that would’ve been really bothersome….

  2. Dan*


    Oh yeah… I’ve driven on the road fatigued to the point where I was so impaired that I’m surprised that I didn’t end end up in accident. I’ve driven through red lights asleep. And yeah, I worked midnights then.

    We spend a lot of time talking about other types of driving impairment; we talk very little about fatigue.

    1. Hlyssande*

      Same here. It’s happened twice to me in the last year, in the last stretch of freeway before I get home. I blinked once and was in the other lane. Terrifying.

    2. Nashira*

      The only time a cop has ever pulled over my husband was for fatigue, during a cross-country trip. We were trying to make it to the nearest hotel, in the middle of farm country, and the storm we were fleeing meant my migraine-ridden posterior was worse off than him.

      We now have a rule where we schedule hotels before we leave, or else I will have a quiet epic meltdown (with many reasonable, wince-inducing words) akin to what his grandmother used to do.

      1. Nashira*

        And, shoot, those migraines are why I don’t drive. There’s minimal warning, and even with prophylactics and abortives I will have a couple hours a week where I have no balance, can’t see out one eye, and fall asleep at the drop of a hat. Even in the middle of driving. It sucks being a non-driver in an area with no public transit, but I’m not gonna cause accidents. That’s a win for me.

    3. Revanche*

      Please please bring it up. Driving while fatigued under bad personal circumstances (we’d just been up for 24+ hours at the hospital) killed my cousin. He was the best driver I knew but driving while that tired is riding on sheer luck and it still hurts to this day that we were all too stupid-tired to tell him to nap first before getting on the road to go take care of the dog. Another hour might have meant an accident in the house but could have saved his life. No one else was hurt, thankfully, but it’s hard to take comfort in anything when it was so preventable.

  3. JAL*

    #2 – Can we just agree that career counselors should be people with actual experience in interviewing and managing people instead of people who generally do not have this experience?

    *note: I’m fully biased. I had one that did not grasp the concept that I was looking for a professional job and cold calling was inappropriate.

    1. Mallory Janis Ian*

      They even need to have areas of expertise. For example, the counselors at our university’s career center gear their advice mainly toward the business, engineering, and law colleges and have no idea how to advise design students. The design school has taken to having students advised, instead, by members of its professional advisory board (which is great — they are professionals who actually hire interior designers, architects, landscape architects, and graphic designers, so their advice is spot-on). I’d still like to see the university career center hire someone with expertise in the design disciplines, though.

      1. Artemesia*

        It is a rare college career center that is of any use at all. In plush times, they coordinate interviews with companies coming onto campus to try to hire grads. But they are fairly useless when it comes to helping students get jobs from preparing resumes to finding openings. I worked in an undergrad program once where our college paid heavy ‘taxes’ to the central admin to support such things as libraries, central admin bloat, and the career center. We had to literally duplicate the career center in our own program because they were utterly useless. So we taught students how to do resumes, to interview, to network and how to package their experiences in the program in ways that made them desirable for hire. We also had a full time full semester internship requirement with a strong placement office and a powerful reflective/academic component (e.g.not just scut work and a paper at the end of the semester.) Our students had a much higher job success rate than peers in other colleges within the university but we constantly got pushback about ‘duplicating’ the efforts of the useless career center. (we didn’t do the job listing part, only the preparation of our students to market themselves part.)

        1. Melissa*

          My grad school career center was one of the rare ones, but I think that’s because nearly all of the career counselors were people who had had other careers for many years (often hiring and managing people) before coming to work in the career center. For example, the two people who managed the PhD-level career counseling were both PhDs who had worked in non-academic job fields for 15+ years. The other thing that made them very successful is that rather than handle everything themselves, the bulk of their career programming was bringing back successful recent alumni to give advice/feedback to students about various careers. I heard from a LOT of PhD-level alumni who had gone into non-academic careers doing all manner of things. The career counselors usually attended these events without saying anything.

      2. INTP*

        I agree with this. I recruited engineers and software/IT people. I’ve found that a lot of my observations don’t hold true for recruitment in non-technical areas at all. (For ex, I never ever saw a candidate rejected for a terrible cover letter or even for not having one at all.)

    2. Graciosa*

      I would add that this should be true regarding unemployment counselors as well. In my state, in order to claim unemployment you can be selected to have to go through job search training and have your resume reviewed – by someone with absolutely no clue how to advise an experienced professional. You can also be required to prove that you’re applying to a sufficient number of jobs each week – even if you work in a niche field which does not have weekly openings.

      And if you don’t jump through those hoops, you lose your unemployment benefits. Fortunately for me at the time, the person reviewing my resume had sense enough to realize he was way out of his depth and just passed me without comment, but their canned advice for job seekers was truly terrible.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I ran into this as well. The quota means you’re applying to wildly inappropriate or low-paying jobs just to fill the requirement. If they make an offer to you, you’re expected to take it!

      2. BananaPants*

        My husband encountered this with the state Department of Labor career centers. As part of receiving unemployment he was told that he should attend a resume writing seminar and a job hunting seminar. The job hunting seminar seemed to be geared only toward obtaining minimum wage/unskilled work and included helpful hints on job searching with a felony conviction, along with the advice to “just walk into the place you want to work and ask for an interview.” In the resume writing seminar they gave more bad advice, pushing functional resume formats and gimmicky suggestions like using clip art, an eye-catching font, or a different color of paper. When reviewing my husband’s resume one-on-one, the career counselor told him that since he has a bachelor’s degree, he should be able to find a job with no trouble and had no further advice.

        His reaction was to wonder if anyone employed by the state as a career counselor has had to actually search for a private sector, professional job in the last couple of decades. He also wondered how he could get one of these jobs (complete with state employee salary, benefits, and job security!) since he felt that he could probably do a better job than the counselors that he dealt with.

        1. Anna*

          When I was laid off, I got out of this by having a frank conversation with the counselor I met with. Part of getting unemployment was meeting with the counselor, but I asked if it was really necessary for me to go to a resume writing workshop/interviewing workshop, etc, when I had been laid off from a professional position, was looking for professional work, and had a fairly decent resume. He looked over my resume and said, “Yeah, you’re good to go.”

          1. Stephanie*

            Ha, that was exactly my experience as well.

            Employment Counselor: “Wow, this resume looks really good. Did we teach you to write this?”
            Me: “No, I just put that together myself.”
            Employment Counselor: “Well, you shouldn’t have any problems landing anything with this! You don’t need our help!”

            Cut to a year-plus of unemployment later…

      3. Decimus*

        I ran into this as well. I am a trained archivist with some legal education. I went in and the counselor insisted I needed to apply for a fund raising position because the ad indicated applicants should be able to understand the law (or something to that extent). I tried to explain that but the guy didn’t even seem to realize it WAS a fund raising position, because the title was something like “program manager.” But the description made it clear to anyone with a knowledge of not-for-profits they were looking for someone to schmooze with donors.

        Still, I needed the benefits, so I accepted the referral. Needless to say I wasn’t called to interview.

    3. I'm #2*

      I would have to agree. Throughout our conversations she had mentioned a few times that she has worked in HR so I have been fairly confident in her for the most part. However, when I broached the subject with her and she said that my first feeling was relief. Then I got home and spoke to my husband about it and told him I just didn’t feel right giving an answer like that. The more I thought about it the more it didn’t make sense. Yes, I can admit my mistake and the fear of having to tell someone that in an interview has kept me from looking for a job. But I can’t say that I have changed (which I feel I have) and then knowingly lie about it, or not tell the whole truth. There are some other things she has done that I have not been very happy with but what can you do? It’s a free service so it’s a take-it-or-leave-it kind of thing. I figured I should put the question to the blog and see what happens! :)

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        It would be interesting to tell her that you spoke with people with experience hiring and they all said that advice was way off-base. Hearing that might help her rethink her approach with other people in the future.

        1. I'm #2*

          Yes that would be interesting indeed. I don’t have another appointment scheduled with her as of yet but I’m sure I will see her again at some point for a follow-up. All this business has me worrying about my resume now too. I think I will find someone else who didn’t work on it with us to look at it and offer up some constructive criticism.

    4. Suzanne*

      I have to wonder how much gets lost in translation between career counselors and clients. I am a career counselor at a state agency and I have clients completely misinterpret what I say quite regularly. Sometimes when people are in stressful situations (fired, job seeking), they hear what they want to hear or don’t function at their normal level. I’m sad to hear about the negative experiences people have had at state agencies; we’re not all bad!

  4. Connie-Lynne*

    #5 – FWIW, I have my time as a lighting designer for my roller derby league on my theatrical resume. The thing to remember is, as huge a part of your life as derby is, and as mundane as many of your coaching tasks may be, it’s going to be exotic to a lot of people.

    That’s good because it will pique interest, but bad because dome folks will dismiss it because it’s out of their realm.

    As Alison says, treat it like any other volunteer work. That includes in the interview: it’s cool to let your passion show through but be sure to emphasize the job-relevant parts of coaching.

    1. The IT Manager*

      I was thinking that this is a true and more importantly RELEVANT interesting fact that will catch someone’s eye. Unlike being Time magazine’s 2006 Person of the Year.

    2. PEBCAK*

      For me, it would depend on the role the OP is applying for. If it were some sort of training or project management role, great, but for a coder? I could care less.

      Which is to say, it’s exactly the same as all other volunteer work I’d see on a resume :-)

      1. Rosh*

        I’m the OP, and I agree! It’s less that it’s cool (which it is), or that it’s my passion (which it also is), but that it showcases things that are listed on job openings that I’m interested in. It actually seems more useful than putting that I am the cochair of the league, but people have told me I should do both.

        Also — lighting design for roller derby? Now I’m super curious. What league did you do that for?

        1. Helen*

          I used to perform in an improv group, and I list that on resumes for jobs that involve public speaking, or ask for a sense of humor, etc. I almost always get questions about it when I include it.

          1. grasshopper*

            I also include improv in my “other training/education” section, since I do think that it trains you to think on your feet, have a good sense of humour, group work, etc.

            And I would try to include roller derby on a CV (in a relevant way of course) since it does provide a bit of a conversation starter.

          2. Stephanie*

            Another (former) improv person here! I’ve included the training curriculum before (it’s off the current version). I thought it could show I had good communication and presentation skills (which is a bit against type, given my engineering/information science background). But I definitely kept it to one line and didn’t conflate it with a degree or job experience.

        2. INTP*

          I would emphasize league cochair over the coaching – list your coaching duties for sure, but the “cochair” title sounds more impressive.

        3. Connie-Lynne*

          LADD — we converted several previous spaces into arenas for our banked and flat tracks, and the lighting needed converting/changeover.

          What league are you coaching for? I was thinking how interesting (and nice) that your coaches actually talk to each other and plan together.

          1. Rosh*

            Oh man, no wonder. LADD is so very much bigger than we are. I coach for Pioneer Valley RD. We’re small and still rebuilding, so there are only 3-5 coaches altogether, and we split the WFTDA skills into assessment and teach on a rolling enrollment basis. (Instead of fresh meat classes, which is the way most leagues seem to do it).

            Our head coach is pretty amazing — she has organized us so that we all know what’s being taught every week, and we can build practice plans for different days and levels around general goals. It’s pretty great!

      2. Mike*

        > but for a coder? I could care less.

        I disagree. A lot of what they listed would apply to a good SWE. You’ve got knowledge sharing, time management, group coordination, etc. All of those are relevant skills.

    3. Rosh*

      Hm, whoops, I wrote my question in the wrong space. What derby league did you work with? I’m super curious, mostly because our “lighting design” is “turn on the lights”.

    4. INTP*

      Yeah, I was concerned about it getting the resume dismissed as well. I know nothing about roller derby besides what I see on TV, but could care less if someone chooses to spend their time that way. But I could see someone in a more conservative company culture or just a particularly conservative hiring manager finding it a turnoff.

      The question for me in including volunteering information is “Does this demonstrate a skill or experience relevant to the job that I can’t show through my job experience?” If you’re a recent grad, this might show leadership you’ve never had a chance to demonstrate at work. If you’re a project manager with years of experience, you don’t need this to show that you can handle organization and leadership.

      1. Rosh*

        Right now I am a current-ish grad who is trying to get out of retail and into more professional work. I have plenty of work experience, but this shows more leadership and organization than any but one of my current/recent jobs, so it seems useful.

        If I put “co-chair” along with coach and just list my coaching experience, is that acceptable? There’s not a lot you do as co-chair that’s easily broken down, even though it sounds more impressive.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I actually would rather see details about what you did, and don’t care so much about the co-chair title (which in many volunteer orgs could mean very little). Point to the concrete stuff that really shows your skills.

          1. Rosh*

            That’s good to hear! I didn’t want to put it on my resume because if asked, there’s nothing that I do in that capacity that’s particularly relevant — whereas I’m quite comfortable talking about how coaching gives me valuable people-management skills.

  5. Ruth (UK)*

    4. In the UK you legally need 11hours between shifts. So if you finished at 9pm they can’t make you start until at least 8 the next morning.

    In actual fact one of my previous employers pretty much ignored this but not as badly as your employer is. Basically, they would schedule exactly 11 hours between shifts but if your shift overran cause you were asked to stay late, you were still expected start the next one on time. It was a bit iffy cause they called a close finishing time 12am on the timetable but it was mote realistically like 1:30am..

    I am a little surprised there is no usa law on this..

    1. Stephanie*

      Yeah, I don’t think there is. When I was out for a couple of days, the morning woman covered for me at nights and also worked her morning shift, which only left 6-7 hours between shifts in the best case scenario (my end time varies a bit).

    2. GH in SoCAl*

      There are union contracts, at least in some industries, that govern turnaround. Another reason to love unions.

      1. Joey*

        Sucks though if you’d rather do a double shift for the extra pay and a union contract prohibits it.

        1. Whippers*

          You may want to do this, but that doesn’t mean it’s safe for you to do so. Rules don’t generally make everyone happy but they are often necessary.

          1. Xay*

            Exactly. See the recent laws around truck drivers – you may want to drive 20 out of 24 hours per day, but is the safety risk worth it?

        2. Linguist curmudgeon*

          We don’t always get what we want, especially when it’s actively mortally dangerous to other humans.

    3. Dan*

      “I am a little surprised there is no usa law on this.”

      In the USA, you can pretty much assume there are no laws protecting workers rights, and you’ll be right far more often than you are wrong.

      My background is in aviation, and most carriers (union or not) only consider a pilot to be working when the aircraft is full of passengers and not at the gate. Yes, that means the time the pilot spends flight planning and preparing the aircraft for departure is not considered “working.”

      For the longest time, pilots were required to have eight hours “rest” between shifts. So, if you think about the pilot flying the last flight of the night and going to the hotel, his “rest” period included deplaning passengers, shutting down the aircraft, waiting for the van to take him to the hotel, checking into the hotel, getting dinner, finally getting a little sleep, showering + getting dressed in the morning, eating breakfast, waiting for the hotel shuttle van to take him to the airport, doing his flight preparation activities, and boarding the passengers.

      Yup, all of that was to be done in 8 hours of “rest.”

      1. Nina*

        I didn’t realize pilots weren’t paid for that time. When I worked at the airport I would see them maybe getting a cup of coffee, but mostly work related stuff like checking their flights and getting the proper paperwork. I always thought they were on the clock.

        It’s scary that that so many jobs in transportation try to have these employees going on little to no sleep when they’re working. Truck drivers, pilots, train operators, etc. I keep thinking of that CTA train crash in O’Hare airport last year because the operator fell asleep after her shifts overlapped.

        1. fposte*

          Pilots are generally exempt, though, so it’s not that they’re not paid for the time–it’s about what’s considered work time for the unposed of union regs and other rest period requirements.

          1. fposte*

            Actually, it looks like I’m wrong and that regional airline pilots, at least, might be paid hourly. So your regional First Officer, who is also a co-pilot, may be making all of $23k per year for the privilege. Those would be the “as operated by” flights that have become the workhorses of domestic travel.

              1. Stephanie*

                Yes, this. Frontline had a special a couple of years back about regional airlines’ labor practices and it was a bit terrifying (especially once you realized it was nearly unavoidable with the “operated by” flights).

            1. Dan*

              I’m not sure what data you’re looking at, but every commercial airline pilot that I know of is paid on an hourly basis (Southwest is a bit different, but absolutely nobody that you will buy a ticket on is paid salary.)

              And yes, those guys at the regionals are very much make <$25k their first year on the job. Bumps to $30k the next year.

              Most pilots are limited to 8 hours of flying (aircraft moving) and 14 hours (could be 16, I forget which) of "duty" each day. So that regional airline pilot could be "at work" for 14 hours, just to get 8 hours of pay. That's not just a theoretical — when most regional flights are less than 90 minutes, they're flying 6-8 flights a day. Add in that layover time associated with so many flights, and it's a LONG day.

              These long days make it hard for regional pilots to hold down a second job. Major airline pilots get paid more per hour, plus have more "efficient" schedules, giving them more down time, and less need to make extra cash.

        2. blackcat*

          I believe the new regulations for pilots are 12 hour of rest overnight, which is much more reasonable. Some airlines have had the 12 or even a 14 hour policy for a while beforehand (I know this was true of Delta. I have had morning flights with them that they explained the delay was because our pilot needed X hours of time between flights. I’d rather be delayed than have a sleep deprived pilot.). I also remember JetBlue pitching a fit about the new rules, as the implementation corresponded to bad weather on the east coast. I think they preemptively canceled a bunch of flights citing the “onerous” new regulations. JetBlue pilots have since unionized–Delta’s regulations had been in place due to the union contract.

          There are also now many more regulations for long haul trucking, which is also good. The fact that they don’t exist on a national level for train operators is a huge problem.

          1. Judy*

            I think the FARs (Federal Aviation Regulations) classify “Flight Time” and “Duty Time” differently for determining Rest Time. Duty time would be non-flight working, while Flight Time is the actual flying.

            I don’t know much about what the pilots are paid for, but I’d expect that there is some sort of differential based on when they are the pilot vs copilot and flight length. I’d doubt that they are salaried, with pay constant no matter how much they work.

            1. fposte*

              My very sketchy investigation suggests that the manner of pilot pay is too complicated for me :-). It looks like it’s commonly measured both ways, as well as a “bid period” rate, so it’s hard to tell from overviews what the actual pay method is. The discourse leans more toward per year in the majors and per hour on the regionals, but that may reflect a bunch of things–unions, aircraft, flying time, etc.–other than the actual method of pay.

              tl;dr: I dunno either.

              1. Dan*

                There’s lots of moving pieces. They’re paid based on flight time, but if they don’t fly a lot, there’s a minimum guarantee. Then they’re paid “per diem” for the time they’re on duty. It’s so complicated that most pilots can’t tell you what they should be paid in a given paycheck without having additional software to do it for them.

                I haven’t seen anything to indicate that major airline pilots get paid on salary (annual) basis as opposed to hourly. Everybody is on the hourly rate. (Corporate and charters are different, this is just in reference to people who you can go to expedia and buy a ticket on.)

      2. HSP INFP*

        Yeah in the film industry, if you’re working union the required turnaround is 12 hours for crew and for actors. Actors full day is 8 hours before OT kicks in, Crew, i believe is 10. Even if not union, though, this is a standard we try to keep for safety purposes. Not that everyone follows it.

    4. Anonna Miss*

      The things that aren’t illegal in the U.S. when it comes to employment law are surprising to Americans, too. Having someone work a “clopening” (closing shift followed by an opening shift the next morning) is ridiculously common.

      But then, so is firing someone for no reason at all, no guaranteed paid sick leave or maternal leave, no mandated paid vacation, almost no privacy protection from employers, no right to dignity at work, unpaid internships etc., etc. I would say that the U.S. is practically a third-world country when it comes to how it treats workers, but many workers in actual third-world countries have more of a pretense that they have rights.

      1. Stephanie*

        Ugh, clopening shifts. I remember those from working holiday retail. My managers figured out that I was relatively fast on the register, so I remember working a few shifts where I’d close and leave at 11, only to come back at 6 or 7 am the next morning to open.

        1. Kelly L.*

          I second your UGH. In addition to the sleep deprivation, there’s just something demoralizing about it, something about going in for that morning shift and immediately undoing everything you did at the end of the night shift. It really makes the whole thing feel futile.

          1. AdminAnon*


            Though at one retail job I had in college, I was sometimes able to begin certain portions of the morning prep while I was closing, which made opening much easier and more pleasant. Plus, I had the added benefit of knowing that everything would be properly set up the next morning, which wasn’t always guaranteed when other people were closing.

      2. UKAnon*

        I think that what’s really surprising is that working hours, breaks etc are considered Health and Safety, so it’s the equivalent of employers not having to provide a safe working environment, or fire exits, or heating.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          The health and safety of the employee is not much of a consideration here in the US. It’s really the liability of the employer that prompts legislation. Working 24 hours straight at a physically demanding job and driving home? That’s your own damn problem. Working 24 hours straight driving as one of your job duties? Nope, you might kill someone on the clock, exposing your employer to liability, so there are rules about driving and rest time while on the job, although as Dan pointed out even the safety regulations we have are not very stringent.

          1. OhNo*

            That’s a really good way to put it, and an important distinction that seems to show up in a lot of US laws. Of course, it’s also depressing as #$&*.

            1. The Cosmic Avenger*

              Yep. Every human being deserves better than that, but unfortunately we have to demand it or we’ll never get it. I put up with some bullshit early in my career, but only rarely, and only on the little things. Luckily for me I know exactly how to make someone sound and look like the shitheel they are when they are intentionally trying to save money by bending rules that are there to protect peoples’ health and safety. They might fire me for it, immediately or after finding a better excuse, but they will not be able to pretend that they care about their customers’ or employees’ health and safety.

      3. kristinyc*

        I had one Black Friday when I was in college and worked retail where I had to work an opening shift (5 AM – 1 PM), and then come back to close the store (4PM – 11 PM) all in the SAME DAY because all the seasonal employees hadn’t been trained on opening and closing procedures, and I had been working there a few months. Even though I was able to go home in between the shifts, with the holiday traffic, it was only for about an hour. Absolutely absurd.

      4. Joey*

        Exactly how would you legislate dignity at work?

        And just to clarify no one really gets fired for no reason at all. People who are a benefit to the business just aren’t randomly fired for no reason. It’s just that it’s legal to fire you for a good or silly reason as long as it’s not an illegal one.

        1. UKAnon*

          I think that the UK constructive dismissal laws would come some way to legislating for ‘dignity at work’. Not saying it’s perfect, but it certainly covers some of the US-lawful behaviour that gets written about on here, so it might be one starting place.

          And unfair dismissal covers a whole other host of US-lawful behaviours on here, like firing for no reason!

        2. Artemesia*

          Someone fired for rooting for the wrong football team or because the manager doesn’t ‘like them’ etc etc sure feels fired ‘for no reason.’

          1. Joey*

            Think about that for a moment. Wouldn’t you want the ability to fire someone if you felt it just wasn’t going to work?

            For example, I once worked with someone that just wasn’t a fit for our team. It wasn’t that she said anything condescending it’s that her tone and demeanor felt overly fake. She was the nicest person but rubbed a lot of people the wrong way because they felt like they were being talked to like kindergarteners.

            I also once worked with a guy who made it clear he wasn’t going to have his managers back in front of clients. Although according to him he felt he was fired because he wouldn’t lie.

            Why wouldn’t it be okay to fire those folks if they’re having a negative impact on the business? And shouldn’t the business get to determine whether or not someone is helping or hurting their business?

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                But it’s often legitimate too. If you have someone who’s overly processy in a team that isn’t, or someone who’s overly social in a team that’s very heads-down and focused, or someone who takes a salesy approach in a organization that doesn’t, or so forth, those are all legitimate issues that point to the wrong fit.

                1. neverjaunty*

                  Oh, absolutely. In law people call it the “two a.m. rule”, as in, if you were working on a deadline and you were pulling an all nighter, would you want to be working in the office with this person at 2 a.m.?

                  The problem, though, is that it is often *not* legitimate. People like people like themselves, and even if they’re not consciously hostile, it becomes very easy to reject and shut out co-workers who aren’t ‘one of the guys’.

                2. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  I agree that sometimes that’s the case. But often it’s not. I don’t think the answer is to ban employers from being able to make those judgment calls.

                3. Melissa*

                  True, but “culture fit” is sometimes used to terminate or penalize women in male-dominated workplaces, racial/ethnic minorities in predominantly white workplaces, older people in predominantly young workplaces…it cuts both ways.

                  I don’t think the answer is to ban employers from being able to make the call, but I do certainly disagree with Joey in that people are sometimes fired for no reason at all – or often less than legitimate reasons.

            1. Kelly L.*

              Actually, I do think firing the first person would have been over the top, at least without a conversation with her about how her demeanor was affecting others. And I say this as someone who haaates kindergarten-talky people. It’s a huge pet peeve. But I think a lot of people don’t realize they’re doing it, and since you could tell that underneath it she was nice, and if her work was OK, then I think firing her might well have been a mistake.

              The second one, depending on the magnitude of the “not having the manager’s back,” it might well have been more writeup-worthy, or it might have been firing-worthy, I don’t know without the details. But that’s a disciplinary issue, and I don’t think anyone is saying “don’t fire for disciplinary issues.” That’s kind of the opposite of what people are arguing, really.

              1. Joey*

                Ideally yes, you would adapt when people perceive you poorly. Unfortunately when we’re talking extremes the chances of success become a lot slimmer.

        3. neverjaunty*

          It is true that people are almost never, if ever, filed for many of the silly example reasons people use to illustrate US law, like “you wore a tie with a left stripe rather than a right stripe”.

          It is not true that businesses are universally smart and only fire people when there is a sound business reason for it. This should be obvious when you consider that businesses are run by human beings, and human beings are not always rational.

          1. Revanche*

            Yeah I think it’s more the exception than the rule when people are fired for laughably unreasonable reasons.

            Though, depressingly, a state deemed it OK to fire someone because they were too attractive to the employer who apparently couldn’t be trusted not to … Be attracted to her. That’s just a gross situation.

        4. GPHR*

          I spoke with a Brazilian labor law judge once who said that Brazilians have a constitutional right to dignity at work. So if your boss yelled at you, and it affronted your dignity, you could take it to special labor courts to claim unemployment. Or something like that. I’m not sure how much was legislated and how much was his opinion. Here, I’ve had bosses that yell and curse and throw things, but as long as it was at everyone, and no physical harm was done, it was considered allowable. I think there’s a happy medium somewhere between those extremes.

    5. Cristina in England*

      I did not know this, but I’ve never worked in a job that required me to stay very late. A friend of mine who works in the UK for an American bank is regularly at work until 11pm, then comes in for 9am. Once she was there until 5am and then came in for her normal shift. I doubt she even knows there is a law! Thanks, I shall tell her.

      1. Apollo Warbucks*

        The law also stipulates minimum rest days per week that are required to be given.



        There is also EU law such as the working time directive, which caps the number of hours that can be worked at 48 per week, averaged over the previous 12 weeks.

        Although for some reason there is still and opt out for employees to sign if they want to work longer hours, I’m sure the UK is the only country I. Europe.

    6. NewDoc*

      In residency we’re required to have eight hours off between shifts (“should be ten hours, must be eight hours”)…but then, we also work 28h shifts at times. Also, lots of programs break the rules or stretch the “to provide urgent patient care” exception.

      …and that’s how I learned to like caffeinated beverages…

      1. Cristina in England*

        What is the justification for such long shifts? I can’t imagine that any doctor would still retain good judgement and be fully competent after even half that.

        1. NewDoc*

          Theoretically, it’s so that you can see the evolution of disease courses…we mostly do our 28hr calls in the ICUs nowadays, and so being there for the first 24 full hours after a heart transplant, for example, or with a patient who presents in shock, you understand more about the disease evolution than you would if you went home and came back to listen to a verbal sign out report, like we do with night float systems on the wards.

          I will say that you often get to sleep for a little on 28s, more so than on night float. I’m not sure if that’s due to more experienced nurses in the ICU or due to their knowledge of the fact that we are working 28s, probably a combination. And the last four hours is rounding and handoff of care, so you’re not really responsible for decision-making anymore at that point. But yeah, they’re the worst.

          1. Cristina in England*

            That’s interesting. UK doctors got different working conditions a few years ago (fewer hours, no mandated weekends, can’t remember the rest) and when I was in the emergency room last year, you could really tell that there was no continuity of care.

          2. Summer*

            My husband is a 2nd year resident, so I’m very familiar with the laws surrounding how much doctors can work in residency! I remember thinking it was outrageous how many hours they are expected to work, especially in the ICU, and not understanding how it wasn’t dangerous to patients. Then my husband explained continuity of care – the more times you hand off care to another person, the more likely it is there will be mistakes. The question is, which causes more mistakes: tired doctors or increased hand offs? That’s a question that many studies have addressed, with many different outcomes. So at the moment, hospitals and residency programs try to balance the two the best they can – try not to work doctors too hard (they no longer have to live at the hospital, which was why it was called “residency”), but still reduce the number of times a patient’s care changes hands.

            1. Revanche*

              Yeah I remember residents grumbling about the new restriction to 80 work weeks. I understand the need for continuity of care (having experienced it first hand as a patient) but it’s also worrisome when they’re punch drunk with fatigue and making important decisions. We say there’s got to be a better way but no one’s come up with it yet :/

              1. Koko*

                Setting aside the impact it would have on cost of care, I wonder if they’ve ever looked at assigned two MDs to each patient with staggered shifts, so when a new resident B comes on shift they’re with the previous resident A for 6 hours before that person is replaced by a new resident A. It wouldn’t solve all the problems, but it at least gives you 6 hours to remember things you want to tell the new shift about how the previous shift went instead of trying to do a single hand-off at one point in time where things might be forgotten.

            2. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)*

              I’ve seen timesheets for doctors who have worked 15-hour shifts, fourteen days in a row. 208 hours in a fortnight. That’s really scary.

        2. Apollo Warbucks*

          It seemed counter intuitive to me but, I remember reading an article awhile ago talking about restrictions on working hours having a really negative impact on junior doctors learning and development, and they were encouraged to opt out of the 48 hour working week in case they were not getting enough training and experience to treat patients safely.

          The Department of Health wanted trainee surgeons and doctors to complete their training outside normal working hours as, doctors working less than 48 hours per week , In particular, doctors training to be surgeons were warned that cap on working hours per week meant they have lost 3,000 hours of training time by the time they qualify, the equivalent of 128 working days.

          1. misspiggy*

            But given how much of that training time would have been done in an exhausted, sleep-deprived state, does it make that much difference?

            1. Heather*

              And the expected hours have got to be keeping a lot of potential doctors out of the field. Even if I’d wanted to become a doctor, there is just no way I would ever be able to function, let alone learn, on a schedule like that.

        3. NewDoc*

          Current law in the US restricts us to 80hr work weeks; I typically average between 60 and 70, though I’m in a non-surgical field. When rotating through surgery, I hit 80 pretty much every week.

          There is lots of talk about making residency training even longer because we’re not working enough hours…fortunately I think I will be finished with my training before such changes take place.

        4. neverjaunty*

          It’s a combination of hazing and cost-cutting. Medicine in the US has a long and hallowed tradition of “breaking in” new doctors by forcing them to work ungodly hours on the pretext that you can actually avoid the effects of sleep deprivation through practice. Also, forcing one person to work long shifts is cheaper than having two people work sensible shifts.

          The idea that practices which harm patients should be changed is a relatively new and not entirely popular one in the U.S.

    7. UKAnon*

      I’m not an expert, but from some reading around I *think* it’s slightly more complicated than this.

      http://www.lra.org.uk/index/employment-questions-and-answers/working_time_regulations.htm – The Labour Relations Agency says that you have to get 90 hours of rest a week (11 hours between shifts and one day off a week) but that if you have to work through part of a rest period that’s ok if your employer compensates you as soon as possible.

      So if you were getting a two day weekend I guess it was ok. In either case, it sounds like even if they’re in the UK OP may not have cut and dry legal protection on this.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      Here in NY you have to have 8 hours between shifts for certain jobs. BUT. If it takes you an hour to go home and an hour to drive back in then (this happens A LOT.) you are only home for 6 hours. You might get five hours sleep if you push it. (How many people can go home from work and go straight to bed???)If your car breaks down or you have other things come up then you are pretty much hosed.

      In short, just because you have to have 8 hours between shifts does not mean that much.

      One job I had, my boss frequently drove while being very fatigued. He would tell stories of being all over the road and so on. The company did not care. At all.

    9. Mike C.*

      I am a little surprised there is no usa law on this.

      Stick around, this feeling won’t go away for a while. ;)

      1. Chinook*

        When it comes to mandated rest periods between jobs, some places are just as fre-flowing as the US. In Canada, it can truly depend on your province and your industry. DH’s job as a national cop isn’t affected by any provincial or federal laws (they are answerable directly to Parliament) so he has worked as a beat cop with 12 hours shifts as norm and then, if somethign happens at the end of the shift (say he has to take someone to the hospital for mental health evaluation ), he then has to wait with them in the ER until they are seen and taken into care. The shortest gap between shifts that he has had is approx. 4 hours (though he was lucky in that he could spend much of his 2nd shift in the office doing paperwork as long as nothing major happenned in town). But, if they are in a 2 or 4 man detachment, this could be the norm.

        The only advantage is that he makes a killing in overtime when he works those shifts.

    10. Student*

      Yeah, no US laws. I was surprised when I found that out the hard way. I was usually a late-night-shift worker at a grocery store, and then I’d suddenly get scheduled to do the adjacent early-morning shift or prior afternoon shift. They always manage to avoid overtime pay for that kind of thing, though.

  6. AdAgencyChick*

    #3 — second what Alison said. I’ve been in your situation before and when the interviewer asked, “Why do you want to work for us?” I have been very blunt and said, “You called me, and I’m open to this opportunity, but I’m also doing well in my current position and I’m not actively looking to move.” I got offered the job…

    …which is why I second Alison’s advice about thinking hard about whether you want this job. It’s a significant risk to take a new job. The boss could be horrible; the company culture might not be compatible with how you work, etc. You might be able to suss out some of this during the interview process, but it’s not all going to come out (especially if your interviewers have been told to really sell the place to you and minimize any frustrations they have with the place). That risk might be worth taking if you’re unhappy in your current job, but if you’re happy, IMO it’s not worth it without a significant salary bump (and maybe not even then). Can you tell I ended up hating that job I took?

    In your shoes, I would be grilling the recruiter about salary and benefits, and saying “I don’t want to waste your time if a number that could get me to move isn’t in the realm of possibility.” (I did say something to that effect the first time the recruiter from that job called me, and it certainly didn’t stop them from trying to recruit me.)

    1. Brooke*

      Thanks AdAgencyChick and AAM… Good advice that I’m sitting on. Interview is this afternoon!

      I’m open to this particular job and company because of what their culture looks like from the outside, although I still have tons of questions. What’s also attractive is that while this company is relatively new on the scene (under 5 YO), they have strong brand recognition, and I get the sense that I could be involved in a lot of growth over the next 3-5 years. That said, I’m also not blind to downsides of quick growth… My current company is 15 YO and I’ve been there for 4.5 years. At this point, I think I have to weigh growth/instability/excitement with stability/what I know/slower career growth.

      At what point did you bring up salary and benefits? Right now, I’m not comfortable with how this conversation looks, but I want to be.

      Thanks again for all the advice.

      1. TOC*

        In this case I think it’s appropriate to ask about salary and benefits pretty early in the conversation. After all, you’re essentially asking them to sell their position to you. Compensation is usually going to be a very significant factor in convincing someone to leave their great job for a lateral move. I’d be surprised if they don’t bring it up themselves pretty early on.

        1. AdAgencyChick*

          100% agree. They called you, so you’re in the driver’s seat.

          The way I did it when I was recruited the last time was that I flat out said, “I make $X and I have four weeks of vacation here. I just want to know that we’re playing in the same sandbox here, because I wouldn’t want to leave without a significant bump.” I was already making good money for my job title, and I also did not define what “a significant bump” was.

          The recruiter, with whom I had had contact in the past, said he appreciated my candor, and they indeed offered me a good salary jump to move. Like I said, I still hated the job, but at least nobody’s time was wasted interviewing me if the job wasn’t going to be worth moving for.

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        If you can, I’d say it to the recruiter who contacted you. It’s not a terrible faux paus to say it to the interviewer, but since there’s a recruiter involved, they’re often the best one for that conversation.

  7. BRR*

    #4 I’m not sure what you do but you could also point out that you won’t be very effective at work on a schedule like that. Definitely different wording but if you usually make 100 chocolate teapots turing a shift and you’re covering for someone who also needs to make 100 chocolate teapots you’re likely not going to be able to make that second hundred after working a full shift and they may not be as high of quality chocolate teapots.

  8. Brandy*

    #1- Assuming you are getting a bigger / higher calibar workload, your change in pay should reflect that. I was promoted twice in (or 9) months AND had preveiously gotten a huge merit raise/bonus. IT went like this:

    Rolling into 2014, I made $x, with an 8% bonus target
    March 2014: got a 10% merit raise, and got a bonus equal to 12%
    April 2014: promotion; got a 12% bump in base pay, plus my bonus target was raised to 25%
    December 2014: promotion, got a *twenty five percent raise*; my bonus target is now 30%.

    In part, the 25% raise happened in order to make sure I fell into the appropriate pay band; the first promotion put me at the bottom (ish) pay band for that role, so I had to essentially jump an entire salary band for the next one. Most people are in that role for a long time and merit-raise their way up over several years. I’m just psyched that HR didn’t try and screw me with some kind of raise cap—I would have laughed them out of town (which I told my boss, who absolutely fought for me — someone said in a previous thread that no job beats a great boss–my boss isn’t the smartest, most industry-leading person….but she is a people person, and well liked internally, and LOVES me. So I won’t be going anywhere any time soon!).

  9. Joey*

    #2 I don’t mean to be a smart ass, but I crack up inside when people tell me generic reasons for leaving as if I won’t see right through them. Some other ones I’ve heard are:

    “It was mutual”. In other words,you agreed that you should be fired or they were relieved when you quit.

    “My position was eliminated.” Doesn’t work when they replaced you- that’s YOU were eliminated.

    “Lack of advancement”. When you quit without another job lined up we know there’s probably much more to the story

    1. Rat Racer*

      Hi – I agree with your except for excuse #2 (“my position was eliminated”). It’s common for job needs to change, and for someone to be laid off not for lack of performance in the job they were hired for, but the wrong skillset for the job’s evolutionary path.

      I’m about to eliminate someone’s position for just that reason, and I’ve been there myself before. I was hired to be a grant writer, but my boss opened up a new inner-city charter school and needed someone who could substitute teach and act as a hall monitor. Not my skillset. That was a mutually agreed upon parting of ways, where my position was eliminated and my boss brought someone on who could write grants AND convince middle schoolers to get their butts to class.

      1. Joey*

        I don’t think I’d ever suggest using “mutual” just because its used so much as an excuse.

        And just for clarity, I’m talking about when folks only stick to the hazy and vague statements. Absolutely explaining that the skills needed changed for business reasons is perfectly fine.

    2. Ann O'Nemity*

      “My position was eliminated.” Doesn’t work when they replaced you- that’s YOU were eliminated.

      Eh, I wouldn’t automatically be so harsh with this one. Companies sometimes do this when (a) the skill set needed for the role shifts and they’d rather re-hire than re-train, and/or (b) they want to replace a higher paid employee with someone who will work for a lot less.

      1. some1*

        C) there was a merger/acquisition & the company decided they didn’t need to keep all the redundant employees.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Yeah, I have seen people that were told their position was being eliminated and then “oh, btw, we are fading it out so Sue will be doing it after you leave, but only for a short while”. It’s bogus. No one had the guts to say, “the problem is YOU” or “we have decided we like the CEO’s daughter better”.

        This would not be a red flag for me if it were the only thing out of place.

      3. Mimmy*

        Rat Racer and Ann O’nemity – Your responses just gave me a whole new perspective on my layoff several years ago. I was working part-time taking I&R calls and doing intakes for a separate program. After about 10 months, they told me that they were “eliminating” the PT job and replacing it with a full-time position doing the I&R calls and going out in the field to do presentations and expos. They gave me the option to apply but I knew that I didn’t really have the skill set for the fieldwork component (I don’t drive anyway), so I just chose to let them lay me off. I’ve been so bitter about the whole thing, but now I see that this is a fairly common thing.

        1. Rat Racer*

          I actually love telling the story of “How I got Fired from my First Job out of Grad School.” Of all the reasons to be let go, saying “I make a really ineffective hall monitor. I was unsuccessful at flexing my authority with the inner-city youth of Baltimore,” feels like a safe response.

          But you know – no matter what the reason is, being laid off sucks and is painful. As a manager, I’m glad to have had this experience because it (a) makes me all the more empathetic when I have to let people go and (b) it’s a concrete example of how sometimes smart people get hired for the wrong job.

      4. Elizabeth West*

        I wouldn’t either. Exjob decided they didn’t want a receptionist and they laid me off–they hired an admin for the new exec. She sits in front of his office and deals with walk-ins, but she doesn’t answer the phone (it’s automated now) and as far as I know, the sales personnel do all the stuff I did for them on their own. So as I understand it, they hired someone who does less than I do.

        My coworker also was let go because they completely axed his position–he was working on marketing and they moved all of that to corporate.

    3. neverjaunty*

      Sometimes people really do get fired for reasons that have to do with the company or a manager, but following advice like AAM correctly gives, they know better than to show up at an interview and reply to your question by badmouthing the company in any way, even if it would be 100% accurate. Of course you need to dig deeper to find out more about what vague language means, but consider that what you may be “seeing right through” is something that would be right at home on WTF Wednesday.

    4. I'm #2*

      I have to agree. The field I came from and the field I’m going to are complete opposite ends of the spectrum so the interviewer is already going to see my change of direction and they are going to wonder how I got there. The more I thought about it the more I felt that I would rather be honest and lose my chance at a job. I can’t say I’ve changed then not be transparent about what happened. We all know that actions speak louder than words.

    5. Helen*

      Add me to the chorus of people confused by #2, especially with how common layoffs were recently. Do you ask them if they were replaced when they say that their position was eliminated?

      And what do you want to hear when someone leaves without a job lined up? When leaving a job due to a terrible boss/toxic environment/unethical behavior at the company/etc, unfortunately we’re often left only with BS reasons if we don’t want to speak negatively of the employer.

      1. Joey*

        I ask what happened to the duties they used to perform. Obviously if there was a restructure that’s where it would come out.

        If you left for a toxic boss Id rather hear you give the pc reason than some bs. Something like “I was asked to do some things I was uncomfortable with and as a result I decided to resign.” Or “I resigned because the environment wasn’t for me. I prefer an environment/manager that is x.”

        1. neverjaunty*

          You might want to hear those things, but a lot of hiring managers will interpret those very differently, and not in a good way.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            I agree with Joey on this too. There’s no universal answer that will please every hiring manager, so the best thing to do is to pick the answer that’s most likely to screen out bad managers and screen for good ones.

  10. C Average*

    In retail, the late close shift / early open shift is known as the “clopen.” I’ve done a few. Mostly in coffee shops, where at least there’s plenty of caffeine.

    1. CA Admin*

      When I worked in retail, I actually liked clopening because we were always on a time crunch at the end of the day to finish everything without going into OT. If I was the one opening the next morning, it didn’t matter if everything wasn’t exactly straight–I wasn’t going to yell at myself.

      1. Revanche*

        As much as I hated the latter end of the clopen, exactly this!! I don’t look for reasons to slack off but when I was going to be back in four hours, it felt OK to let a few non critical things slide.

  11. Case of the Mondays*

    #4 – know your industry before you complain. Yes, working sleep deprived is a safety issue but there are certain jobs where it is absolutely expected and you don’t go into that field unless you can do it. You would look absolutely tone deaf / special snowflake if you complained about your lack of sleep. The most common examples are corrections, police, fire and medical staff. I worked corrections, my husband was a cop. You can be forced to work two back to back shifts but not three. If you work 2-11 pm you can absolutely be forced to work 11pm – 6 am. Corrections is nice because everyone is sleeping during that time and it is a real easy shift. You mostly watch tv or read or something. Police work is obviously more active during that time. You would have to have the 6 am – 2pm shift off (in my state) but you could be required to work your normal 2-11 the next day. If you do swing shifts enough, your body does adjust though it sucks while you are getting used to it. It is a well known part of that job and if someone didn’t pull their share of coverage because they needed sleep they wouldn’t last long there at all. I’m not saying its right but you asked for advice and mine is to know your field.

    1. Case of the Mondays*

      Also, my corrections schedule included a built in “turn around” so you got a longer weekend. I worked three shifts of 2-10:30 and 2 shifts of 6:30-3. My work week would start with a 2 pm shift and end with a 6:30 am shift so I was off from 3 pm on my Friday until 2 pm on my Monday.

    2. Katriona*

      Even in retail, which is absolutely not life or death, it would be seen as very tone deaf to complain about lack of sleep (or otherwise acknowledge that you are not in fact a robot built to serve the company–can you tell I’m happy to be out?). My dad works for the evil empire, and last year he had all of four hours between his Thanksgiving shift and his Black Friday shift. Anyone who pushes back against something like that gets branded “unreliable” and is that much more likely to have their hours cut.

  12. C Average*

    I noticed that in the first letter, the OP seemed to have misgivings about not just the promotion without an automatic raise, but with the public nature of the promotion.

    How common are public promotions like this?

    About five years ago, I got a fairly large promotion and it was presented to me as a fait accompli in front of a fairly large group of people from the department. I was thrilled by everything about the promotion–the new responsibilities, the new title, the significant automatic raise I received, the switch from hourly to salaried, the work-from-home capability–but always kind of wondered how the whole thing would’ve played out if I hadn’t been thrilled about it and had wanted to turn it down for some reason. Or what if I’d just plain wanted to be asked in a private setting and given time to process the idea?

    A public promotion seems kind of like a public proposal: You’d better be darned confident the answer is going to be “yes.”

    1. Colette*

      That’s a good point. This is the kind of thing where the person announcing the promotion is thinking “this is great news” and the person being promoted might be thinking “crap, now I have to find another job”.

    2. Give me those Star Wars*

      I’ve sometimes pondered stuff like “highly public proposals” and I strongly suspect that in some fairly large number of instances, the public “yes” is immediately followed with a private “no WTF are you insane?”

  13. AndersonDarling*

    #5 There was a discussion last week about putting interesting things on your resume, and I was thinking about Roller Derby. I played for a year and I have it on my Volunteer/Other Facts section on my resume. As long as your resume is strong, I think this is great to add it.
    It’s always been a great talking point in my interviews. The interviewers love asking questions and finding out more about Roller Derby.

  14. Joey*

    #5 I just don’t see the value or relevance of roller derby on a resume other than trying to tell people you have a quirky hobby. It’s not much different than all of the other folks who volunteer coach t-ball, soccer, or any other sport, is a scout leader, teaches bible study, etc.

    And the thing with volunteer work is it’s really hard to tell how good you are at those things. Because after all most org’s that rely on volunteers are happy if you show up and don’t screw it up too bad.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      I think that depends on what you’re doing as a volunteer. If you’re selling concessions, that’s one thing; most of the time, stuff like that is just warm body stuff. If you’re planning lessons and scheduling and teaching classes and doing a lot of organizational things, those activities could absolutely be relevant. It still could go under a section on the resume other than work experience, however.

      1. Joey*

        The problem I have with it is it doesn’t showcase the quality of those skills and the expectations of volunteer coaching are usually really really low. as an interviewer you have no idea if she’s good at it or if she has no idea what she’s doing.

        1. Colette*

          Is it worse than not having the skills on her resume at all?

          Volunteer work is one of the ways you can develop skills outside of the workplace. There may not be the same standards, but there’s a wide variation in standards and requirements between workplaces, too. The interviewer can (and should) ask questions to determine what, specifically, the volunteer did.

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I think it really depends on how she presents it. If there are clear accomplishments she can point to, that’s not going to look like a warm-body kind of role, and in the interview, you can get her talking about it and further flesh out that impression.

        3. fposte*

          I’m with Colette–I think you’re holding stuff to a higher bar of utility than I would on a resume. The achievement’s interesting and it suggests some skills, so unless the OP’s resume real estate is really tight there’s merit in including it.

          1. Joey*

            maybe I’m blinded by the amount of volunteer coaches I’ve seen who are horrible yet continue to coach because no one else wants to commit.

            I’m just picturing it on a resume and thinking of it being similar to someone claiming organizational skills from being a parent with kids.

    2. M of the derby*

      So here’s where derby is different than most other sport, it’s completely managed and run at the league level by the skaters. It’s not like an adult sports league put on by the YMCA where you can just show up and skate. If you have a position in a league, it can easily take up as much time as a part time job. Trainers/Coaches are probably volunteering 10-20 hours a week.

      Members of derby boards do all the administrative work that comes with running an amateur sport’s league. So it is not difficult to believe that there are relevant skills to put on a resume. For example, I list my time as the Communication’s Officer since I do digital marketing and it’s relevant to my position.

      And, generally, I think if you do skate derby and put it on your resume, you’re not going to want to work somewhere where they dismiss you out of hand for listing it.

      1. Joey*

        youre absolutely right that it’s different from leagues where you just have to show up, but many orgs require volunteers to run the show, not just roller derby. Sure it speaks to some ability (or the show wouldn’t go on) , but probably more significantly it speaks to their dependability as a volunteer and familiarity with the logistics of making it happen.
        Will you find folks that see value in it on your resume? Sure. But To me, except for the quirkiness of the sport, it just doesnt sound much different(or significant) from the moms and dads who volunteer to be little Johnny or Susie’s soccer coach or scout leader and are largely left to their own devices.

        Granted running a big league in a significant capacity is quite different, but I thought we were talking simply about volunteering as a coach.

        1. M of the derby*

          Reading her question again, it might be better to think of it on par with the teaching a martial arts instructor does. This is, of course, basing it on how my league ran. It would be a multiple day a week commitment which involves both planning and instructing and possibly making long-term plans for how the instruction of the league will grow.

  15. Katie the Fed*

    What on earth is an employment counselor, anyway?

    And yeah, I agree with Alison’s advice. I have a finely tuned BS detector and if I detect BS, you’ve lost all credibility with me.

    1. Ash (the other one)*

      Someone taking advantage of the many people out of work or underemployed and job hunting…

        1. I'm #2*

          There were a lot of other circumstances surrounding my termination. Going through the application they ask you a lot of in depth questions and also contact your employer. I plead my case with all the information and they granted me benefits based on the information given. But you’re right, even here (I live in Canada) it is hard to get EI if you were terminated for cause. As for the office I am frequenting for job-related assistance, I took it upon myself to go (it is not mandatory) and have someone help me work on my resume. For the most part it has been beneficial.

          1. Chinook*

            Wow – OP #2 – if you got EI benefits after being terminated, I would think that there is more to your story than a mere firing for cause. The reasons for benefits are narrower than the US (laid off, terminated without cause, or seasonal slowdown are the only ones I can think of). If there was a way to drop the nugget that you are currently on EI and are working hard to get off, it might suggest that you weren’t the issue in the termination.

            1. I'm #2*

              It has been a very hard process for me, learning to take responsibility for what I did while dealing with what happened. The information I divulged was not brought to the attention of my employer until weeks later. Conveniently only 5 days after I had sat down with the Manager, as well as my boss (although separately) and discussed that I was on the fence regarding some decisions we had made in reference to my future at the business. I always had a very open and honest relationship with them (too open with the Manager, as I learned the hard way) so I felt safe divulging my concerns. A week later I was out of a job. Everyone was shocked, most especially me. Part of me felt like they saw me making an exit (which I wasn’t at that present time and hadn’t planned to for another year or 2 and even then, I was always open with them in the past about interviewing elsewhere) and took the opportunity to jump the gun. But then the other part of me has had to sit back and also realize that regardless of the reason or the circumstances or what I think *really* happened, a mistake was made and I divulged information to this person that I shouldn’t have. I allowed myself to get sucked into the office politics and drama and I compromised my integrity because of it. This was something I was trying to work on outside of my employment, as it was a flaw in myself that I despised and this situation was just proof of the bad things that can come of it. Lesson learned.

              1. Not So NewReader*

                I think you are doing a good job of explaining it and explaining what you learned. I hope you use this as your basis for what you say. Of course, shorten it down, but I think you have a mighty fine start.

                Most of us will step in some crap at some point. These things become life lessons. It something that we pass forward to help others, too. I am sure there are people reading here and thinking about how they can apply your method of explanation to their setting.

                1. I'm #2*

                  I thought the same thing after I wrote it. I shortened it, yes, and am trying to cut out/soften the negatives. Not long after I was let go I came across a quote that said something to the extent of, “Don’t worry. You are eventually going to drop a ball somewhere no matter how good you are. The smart ones bounce back up and the others, just sometimes roll into the sewer.” I laughed so hard and kept it as a reminder every day not to let this get me down. “Just bounce” I keep telling myself.

                  My problem with the explanation is that every time I practice it I end up going into more of the story which I don’t want to do. I am trying to find a way to make it short and concise. Talk about it and move on. #workinprogress

    2. I'm #2*

      I couldn’t agree with your second comment more. I have been doing a lot of interview prep and am annoyed at articles telling me to disguise a strength as a weakness. It is just so fake and transparent.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        It’s feels fake if it does not come from the heart/core of you.

        This part here:
        “But then the other part of me has had to sit back and also realize that regardless of the reason or the circumstances or what I think *really* happened, a mistake was made and I divulged information to this person that I shouldn’t have. I allowed myself to get sucked into the office politics and drama and I compromised my integrity because of it. This was something I was trying to work on outside of my employment, as it was a flaw in myself that I despised and this situation was just proof of the bad things that can come of it. Lesson learned.”

        That sounds like it’s resonating deep inside you. That’s what it sounds like to me, I could be wrong, of course, but I really doubt it.

        1. I'm #2*

          No you are very right. I hate generic answers to most interview questions. If I can’t be honest then I don’t want to work for someone who can’t appreciate that honesty. I lost a lot of myself along the way in that job and that’s what got me into this mess in the first place. I stopped being that blunt, honest, outlandish person that everyone knew me to be. I ended up settling a lot of the time to keep the peace and feared that things (particularly the environment) there would never change so what was the point? And instead of being that voice of change for everyone I just became exactly like them. Part of this whole process has just been trying to get back to normal, back to being myself. And so it has affected me on a personal level which is where these types of answers are coming from. They are truly me, not some version of me.

  16. De Minimis*

    Had a weird thing at my job, I found a letter on our facility website from the CEO saying I was designated as the “Financial Management Officer.” No one bothered to tell me about it, and it isn’t any kind of promotion or anything since the duties are just my everyday work tasks. The only reason I even found out about it was that the new employee phone director had me listed as that instead of my regular job title.

    The only positive is that I can put that I am the Financial Management Officer on my resume and the letter does provide a good description of my overall duties. My actual job title is Accountant so this at least gives more details as to what I do.

  17. Preston*

    The one thing that bothered me about your story is your manager stated to you that you make less then your coworkers. If he/she said that then negotiate for more. But for a manager to actually say that you make less is pretty stupid in my opinion.

  18. Ed*

    #2 I had to deal with this issue about 8 years ago and still remember it vividly. At first I tried to play games like your counselor is suggesting. Any interviewer that’s not an idiot isn’t going to buy some generic reason. A firing will not be an automatic disqualifier for most employers but they will want to establish there is not a pattern of whatever behavior got you fired. They also want to hear you take at least some responsibility and not blame your former manager. I found when I tried this strategy most interviewers would latch on like a pitbull and we might still talking about my termination 15 minutes later. I did one phone interview with Amazon and I just kept digging myself deeper and deeper to the point where I was relieved when she finally turned me down. Panel interviews were the worst. You at least have a remote chance to fool a single interviewer. Almost every panel member would start with “so…back to how you left your last job”.

    I finally made peace with being fired, thought about what role I played/what I could have done differently, what I actually learned from the process and then found a decent way to put it into words. I knew I was working in a dysfunctional environment but instead of leaving or just dealing with it, over time I decided to become a large part of the dysfunction myself. Yes, my boss was a jerk but it was my fault I got fired because I could have avoided it by modifying my behavior. I practiced over and over again until I was comfortable talking about my termination. The next interviewer didn’t give it a second thought and I was hired (at a bigger role for more money). I think my comfort level was as important as my explanation.

    Once you put in a couple years to re-establish yourself in a new job this is a much smaller issue next time you interview. Now it doesn’t even get mentioned because it was 3 jobs ago. But you need to be extra vigilant about keeping your nose clean for the the foreseeable future. It’s sort of like having a single blip on your credit report. You can easily explain it away if the rest of your credit history is spotless. But a missed payment here and a late payment there, even years apart, is a pattern.

    1. I'm #2*

      “I found when I tried this strategy most interviewers would latch on like a pitbull and we might still talking about my termination 15 minutes later.” This. I want to be able to formulate an answer that allows me to get it all out in the open so that this kind of thing doesn’t happen. Honesty and transparency is how I want to handle it. Part of me feels like I should bring it up before it is even asked. I’m not sure if that would hurt my chances more, or not at all, but I don’t want to be going through the interview with anxiety just waiting for it to be addressed.

      “I finally made peace with being fired, thought about what role I played/what I could have done differently, what I actually learned from the process and then found a decent way to put it into words.” This is exactly what I am dealing with now and it’s tough, but I realize that it’s part of growing, learning and being committed to making a real change.

      “But you need to be extra vigilant about keeping your nose clean for the the foreseeable future.”
      Or forever! :) Thank you for your words of wisdom. It is comforting to hear from someone who found themselves in the same position and came out on the other side.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Y’all, can we not nitpick people’s word choices? From the context, I read that as referring to it being a bad practice to announce promotions in public before talking to the person being promoted.

      1. E A D G B E*

        … can we not nitpick people’s word choices?

        What are you trying to do, Alison?! Break the Internet!?!?

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