board member keeps bringing her kids to meetings, unofficial salary offers, and more

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

1. Board member keeps bringing her kids to meetings

I am working with a group of parents who are organizing a charter school. The school opens in September, so we are in the middle of dozens of different projects. As the board president, I never bring my son to board meetings, as I need to focus on the agenda. One other board member, who is also a friend, frequently brings her children to board meetings. They are 6 and 7 years old and are frequently loud and disruptive during these meetings.

This parent is on the orientation committee for the school principal, who starts working next week. Today she told me that she will be bringing her kids to the orientation meeting. The meeting will include reviewing the employee handbook, explaining policies and procedures, and reviewing the employee’s work plan. It will be a long and intensive meeting. Because our site is undergoing refurbishment, we have no choice but to meet in a coffee shop at a private table.

Keeping in mind that this person is also a friend, and is also quite sensitive, how do I tell the parent that it is inappropriate to bring her children to this meeting?

“Unfortunately we can’t accommodate kids at this meeting; it’s going to be long and intensive and we’re really going to need everyone focused, and having to do it in a coffee shop is already going to make that challenging.”

That’s a completely reasonable thing to say, and you shouldn’t let her being sensitive deter you from saying it.

I’d also think about whether you want to take on the broader pattern of her bringing her kids to other meetings too. Do you want to allow kids to accompany parents to these meetings? Are you willing to allow it only if they’re quiet and not disruptive? Only in rare emergencies? Not at all? I don’t know what your preference is, but if you do want her to start handling this differently, tell her! It would be totally reasonable to say, “Imogen and Falcon are great kids, but it’s turning out to be distracting to have them at meetings. Can you make other arrangements?”

However, I would brace yourself to hear that she can’t attend at all if she can’t bring them and decide ahead of time how you’d want to respond to that. Are her contributions worth the price of the distraction of the kids? Are they worth having other attendees annoyed that they presumably arranged child care and she didn’t? Her contributions very well may be significant enough that they trump those concerns, but I’d think it through beforehand so you’re prepared if that’s where the conversation goes.

2. Responding to an unofficial salary offer

I am currently a candidate for a job with a state government agency. I interviewed 2 months ago, and since then, have just been waiting for bureaucracy to grind along. The supervisor for the position just called me to say that she is not yet authorized to make an offer, but she wanted to unofficially float the salary past me to find out if I was still interested before she sunk in time (possibly multiple weeks) pursuing approval to possibly make me an offer. The salary is at the low end of the published range, and is much lower than I am currently making, although the cost of living difference would make it fairly comparable.

I asked for some time to think about it, but I am troubled. If I say that I would consider taking that amount, am I ruining my chances for negotiation when the offer actually comes? If I say I wouldn’t take that amount, I think I will be out of the running completely without her being able to check with HR to make sure that they couldn’t meet my counter. Do you have any thoughts about this situation?

I’d say, “That’s lower than I was anticipating, so I’d need to give it some thought. I was hoping for something in the $X range — is that possible?”

Basically, you’re starting to negotiate now and talking about what salary you’re looking for, without saying you absolutely wouldn’t accept the first number.

3. Finding a job after multi-level-marketing sales

One of my friends got heavily involved in selling a multi-level marketing (MLM) product (Beachbody/Shakeology). She quit her job to be a “coach” and described herself as an entrepreneur and small business owner – neither of which was even close to true but she swallowed the company line, hook and sinker. Anyway, she was successful for a time but ultimately realized that the company/business was not what it was cracked up to be and she started to get suspicious about the business model.

Now she wants to return to the workforce, especially since her revenue is diminishing. How can she re-enter the workforce and characterize her time spent involved in an MLM? I was thinking something like “independent sales consultant” but even listing the company name might be a red flag (like with the University of Phoenix discussion).

Any advice for her? Also, any words of wisdom for people thinking of getting involved in an MLM? We tried to warn her, but so many of her friends were involved. And I’m seeing more and more people I know getting involved in these things.

All she can really do it is own it — list it, and list the achievements she had while doing that work. If she was good at it, she should be able to demonstrate sales, marketing, and/or customer service skills. Most employers will be more interested in those things than in the product she was representing. (But she shouldn’t oversell what she did either; it should be straightforward, not inflated. That means that she should not list herself as an entrepreneur or small business owner, but rather as a salesperson.)

Which isn’t to say that no one will raise their eyes at the MLM aspect of it; some people will. But I think it’ll matter less than you’re worried it will. It’s far more annoying to her friends than to an employer, as long as she’s not still pitching the products when she’s talking with/working with them.

4. Interviewer asked if I’d be willing to work unpaid overtime

At a recent second interview for a database analyst position, the interviewer stated, “This is a contract position – no benefits,” then asked “How do you feel about doing unpaid overtime?” with a clear verbal intonation suggesting the “right” answer. The interviewer was unable/unwilling to state how many overtime hours, how often overtime is required, or offer any other relevant details on which to make an informed decision.

Is there a way to answer this without being immediately dismissed from consideration? Can one negotiate how many “standard” vs. “overtime” hours one is willing to work? Is this even legal to ask? I know the tech industry is exempt from overtime rules but still…

If it’s an exempt position, they’re not required to pay overtime, and thus there’s nothing illegal about asking, essentially, “are you willing to work long hours?” On the other hand, if the position is non-exempt (and there are non-exempt tech positions; I don’t know if this was one of them or not), asking someone to work unpaid overtime is announcing you plan to break the law.

I’d respond by asking, “Can you give me a sense of how many hours people in this position work in an average week?” If the person refused to answer — which I think is what you’re saying happened here — I’d take that as a massive red flag. It’s basically an announcement that they’re going to wildly overwork you and not even do you the courtesy of having an honest conversation with you about what your work life would be like there.

You asked how to answer without being dismissed from consideration, but there’s no reason to want to stay in the running at that point. Remember you’re supposed to be interviewing them right back and deciding if you even want the job, not just waiting to be chosen.

5. I feel insulted by this email from an employer

I am currently a VP of IT in a small business that is part of global public business for last 14 years and previously I have been in a director position for larger companies and had more than 20 direct reports. About a month ago, I was interviewed for a director-level position for a big company. Today I received an email from their recruiting partner, saying the following:

“I wanted to follow up with you and let you know where we are with our search. I realize there has been a long delay so my apologies. As of now, we have interviewed two candidates for the position on-site – you and another candidate. The overall assessment from the interviews was that both you and the other candidate may be a fit for Sr. Manager level, but not Director at this time. Part of this has to do with comparisons to other Sr. Managers in the organization. We are in the process of trying to determine whether the position can be filled at the Sr. Manager level or not. I will do my best to keep you posted, but that is where we are as of now.”

I am wonder if I should even answer this email or not. If yes, what should I say in my email? That is somehow an insult to me, telling me I am good for a lower level position, while I have been interviewed by seven VPs and directors there and noticed they are not that good. That is why they have 400 tickets open for just customer service issues.

Yes, you should answer the email. I’d say something like “Thanks so much for the update; I appreciate knowing where things are, and I’ll look forward to hearing back from you once things are moving forward.”

I don’t read their email as insulting. They’re being honest about where they are in their deliberations; most candidates would love to get that kind of transparency from employers. And it’s not insulting that they think you’re a better fit for manager than director; they just have a different structure than what you’ve experienced in the past. But you can certainly ask questions to get a better understanding of their thinking if they do end up asking you to move forward.

{ 260 comments… read them below }

  1. AnnieNonymous*

    #3: I’ve noticed that a lot of people who get into MLM stuff tend to talk about it in terms of “I started my own business.” I’m sure the companies promote that kind of language in order to convince more people to sign up, but I doubt that traditional employers would be impressed by this; couching a MLM in these terms may even cause an employer to develop a bias against an applicant who did that. Everyone knows how MLM works. In my opinion, listing it as anything other than a sales job would make me raise my eyebrows.

    How long was OP’s friend involved in this? Again, this is just my opinion, but I’d sooner leave it off the resume altogether than try to find a way to make it look like a legit job. Are there other factors at play? If she got into MLM so she could stay home with the kids for a few years, she could mention that in her cover letter, but I don’t think it would look great on a resume,

    1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      I concur.

      MLM looks bad on a resume. The more you dress it up, the worse it looks, because it gives the impression you are still drinking the kool aid.

      I suppose if I were unscrupulous it might say, hey here’s a rube who will work hard for just promises.

      1. jmkenrick*

        “The more you dress it up, the worse it looks, because it gives the impression you are still drinking the kool aid.”

        Exactly. I think if she was thoughtful and upfront about what she expected, what she learned, what skills she was actually able to acquire…particularly if she’s not that experienced, it doesn’t necessarily reflect too negatively on her.

    2. Katie the Fed*

      I’m the one who posted the question. She was doing it full time for maybe 6 months. I’m afraid she’s still drinking the kool-aid/shakes/whatever, unfortunately, despite realizing that she needs more of a steady income. Still talk of of managing “coaches” underneath her (downlines in the pyramid model), etc. It’s not personnel management in any traditional sense, but she presents it like a team leader/manager type of thing. And definitely the “starting her own business” language.

      I’ll pass along the advice. I’m seeing more and more of my otherwise intelligent friends getting involved in these things and it’s 1) annoying and 2) concerning.

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

        Me too, Katie and I don’t get it.

        Running a sales org I think to myself, good god, if I made kool aid and could get people to drink anything half as strong, I’d have an empire!

        So I’ve really pulled apart some of the methods and materials and spent brain cells on how on earth these MLMs get otherwise intelligent people to pour themselves into bad math and empty promises.

        I still don’t get it! The cash money outlay, wth? Could I charge people to come to work? Does that somehow motivate them, to be charged money to come to work?

        1. Meg Murry*

          Now, to be fair, there are a handful of people who kick-a$$ at the MLM sales – and they are the type of people who also would kick-a$$ at sales and marketing in general. There is a woman in my area who has made a very successful career out of running a Mary Kay business (and recruiting people to work under her) but she does it with very traditional sales and marketing techniques, she treats it as a 40-60 hour a week job (and never sugar coats it as “we have parties with friends and its oh-so-much-fun in addition to making some money on the side”). But like I said, I think she would also have been an amazing sales and marketing director at a regular company (and I think her path was sales job ->stay at home mom->Mary Kay), not someone who is just dabbling in it on the side with no experience and nothing but the marketing materials given by the company to go on.

          As far as OP’s friend goes, I think she would be better off just admitting that she left her previous job because and she had been trying to make a go of Beachbody sales but has decided that she is better suited to a regular job because . Same way a person might explain taking time off to be a stay at home parent, etc – they thought it was a good idea, but they actually aren’t suited for it, so now they want to get back in the workforce full time. If she actually did have major achievements as a MLM sales, she could put that down, or if she did it more as a personal trainer, she could put down that she worked as a personal trainer for X clients, etc.

          I think this is a good case for the 2 part experience resume: Up top, the Header is Experience and she lists previous job and others related to that field. Near the bottom is Other Experience, and that is where 1-2 lines on Beachbody goes, and any other jobs she’s had that show work experience but not in her specific field. That way, she’s not trying to hide her time in MLM, but she’s not leading with it loud and proud as if it is some kind of amazing experience that makes her qualified for the jobs she’s applying for – it just shows “this is what I’ve been doing in the past 6 months”. Either that or she should leave it off her resume entirely – if the company has been burned by employees spending more time selling MLM at their jobs than they should be or using aggressive marketing techniques on other employees they may want to stay clear of anyone who is still involve in MLM and it will hurt the applicant more than help.

          Could you possibly broach it to your friend as “I know you have done a good job with this position, but so many other people have ruined the reputation of MLM sales that you might be better leaving it off?” The same idea as the UofP letter – yes, it is true that it was a good experience for you and you got a lot out of it, but its a hard fight to prove that you are the exception, when so many other people have sullied the reputation.

          1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

            I’d throw an exception out for Mary Kay. I get that Mary Kay can also be exploitative (and cult like) but I agree that there are people who have had long running successful relationships and made a career, with actual money, out of it. If someone ran a Mary Kay downline for 10 years, successfully, I’d put that on the resume.

            1. Kelly L.*

              Mary Kay is pretty bad too (Pink Truth is an interesting read). There are some people who really were good at the selling end, and I could see that translating to other sales. That’s not where the big money is, though. The big money is in continually getting other people to sign up and making commission off the inventory they buy (usually way too much inventory for what their demand will be). The basic gist is that the real customer is the consultant, and the upline’s real job is selling huge inventory packages to the consultant that the consultant doesn’t need, and corporate doesn’t give a toss whether anything is ever sold to an end user. They don’t even track sales to the end user.

              1. Kira*

                You know, this actually explains a lot. I work at a nonprofit that focuses on women’s issues. We get so many product donations from our local Mary Kay and Avon representatives. After reading this, I bet they’re offloading old product.

                On the plus side, it means lots of low income women are getting make up.

            2. Jen*

              May Kay and Avon are both MLM companies. You have to recruit others to join as sales ladies under you in order to get anywhere. You have to have a team of woman and a level of sales to ear the cars, etc. Yes, people are successful at it but it’s not an exception because the concept is still the same. I think people (especially woman) are probably more accepting of it than a shake drink but its still the same thing. And if you did go get a regular job it can help you. A friend of mine sold Mary Kay and was really successful but then she had some family issues and because she couldn’t keep up the recruiting she lost her “business”. She is now a manager at a beauty supply store. So yes her Mary Kay helped her but it was really quick how fast it all fell apart.

              1. UK Nerd*

                Avon’s the one MLM company that I consider even vaguely respectable, since their business model still seems to be about actually selling products to customers, and the selling tactic of all the Avon representatives I’ve encountered was to leave the catalogue in the break room.

                1. Kelly L.*

                  Sadly, I’ve heard that in recent years even they have gotten more pushy with the recruiting. They actually have some products I like, though, unlike any of the others (I’ve tried the MK stuff and hated it, for example).

                2. Elizabeth West*

                  Yes, and they actually have decent products that aren’t wildly overpriced. My only beef with them was that they had a new catalog every week–I can’t afford to buy that much beauty stuff. And it was so tempting because OMG NEW CATALOG WITH SHINY AND FUN THINGS IN IT.

                  I wish they’d go to a straight mail-order model and just sell stuff off their website. Nobody makes any money selling it so they quit, and then I can’t get the stuff I want because everybody bailed.

                3. Meadowsweet*

                  @Elizabeth West – a friend of mine became an Avon rep pretty much because she wanted to buy things for herself :)

                4. Stephanie*

                  Yeah, I tried Mary Kay once and also hated it. (The makeup didn’t last at all and the foundation barely covered anything, despite being labeled as full coverage.) I didn’t get what all the fuss was about.

                  And then it took forever to shake off the consultant after I didn’t do any repeat orders and avoided her entreaties to join her downline.

            3. Lily in NYC*

              Mary Kay is one of the WORST MLMs there is. I second the recommendation for people to visit It’s a great resource for anyone considering joining an MLM (not just Mary Kay). The articles are pretty hair-raising.

              1. MegEB*

                Thank you for the recommendation – I’m looking at the website now, and this is all mind-blowing to me. My next-door neighbor growing up sold Mary Kay and I had no idea it was like this.

                1. Jeanne*

                  I’m not sure if it was as bad when we were young or not. It might have been easier to sell back then because of a lack of internet. Now the market is oversaturated.

              2. LawLady*

                On the one hand, yes, I know how horrible Mary Kay is, but on the other hand… I do love the product. It works on my skin. It’s an ethical conundrum.

                1. dawbs*

                  There *used* to be a site ( touch of pink, I believe) where former consultants could unload their (unused) inventory (whatever wasn’t returnable), to recoup some costs–but there was a lawsuit and Mary Kay won.
                  (and has also allegedly sued several other resellers, and former consultants who ebayed their products)

                  (I seem violently allergic to their products so I’m out of that ethics game :)

          2. Stranger than fiction*

            I agree exept for the two part deal. Just list it like you would a regular sales job with the title Alison mentioned “independent sales rep” and put her accomplishments like any other job. Fwiw i had no idea beachbody was even an mlm, theres so much health stuff out there these days, maybe some of the companies hiring wont know that either. Then when interciewing she could simply say she wants to get back to a regular employee situation

        2. StarHopper*

          It feels like ALL my mom friends are pushing Jamberry now. From Facebook ‘parties’ to actual bait-and-switch parties, it is getting tiresome. (Pro-tip: don’t invite me over because “it’s been so long!” and then make me sit through a sales pitch. I don’t care how much booze you provide, it is annoying.)

          1. Looby*

            What is Jamberry? I keep getting FB invitations for these parties but the people live on the other side of the country so I just delete the invitation without even looking at it.

            1. Pam*

              Jamberry are these decorative nail-wrap things. And it seems like half my friends are selling them. I’ve had people, who aren’t even my FB friends, who I haven’t seen since high school (almost 20 years ago!) messaging me saying “Let’s catch up! I really want to let you know about this great product!” and it makes me mad since I know it’s just for this Jamberry crap.

          2. Hlyssande*

            Ugh yes, Jamberry.

            I really do think some of the styles are super cute, but I am totally turned off of all the parties on FB (and the price, honestly).

          3. TootsNYC*

            I keep thinking, One of the selling points of Jamberry is that the wraps last longer than polish. So, if everybody’s selling it, and they last a long time–how many can you, personally, sell?

            1. StarHopper*

              The one I applied at the sales pitch party peeled off before the week was out. Of course, I didn’t find that out until after I’d already ordered a $15 sheet of nail decals.

              They’ve also started marketing bottles of regular old nail polish, so I’m not sure what the appeal of their stupid wraps is.

              1. Anna*

                I don’t know anything about Jamberry, but Espionage Cosmetics makes nail wraps and they’re amazing. Last forever and super easy to put on. Espionage Cosmetics is also not an MLM company, but an actual cosmetic company that sells products to people who buy them.

          4. Windchime*

            This happened to a coworker. She was contacted by an acquaintance who said that she wanted to make some more women friends, and could they meet for coffee? Coworker agreed and suggested a nearby coffee shop, but Acquaintance wanted to meet at her own home. Coworker went and, instead of meeting for coffee and chatting, she was subjected to an hour long lecture about weight control (Coworker is a slim marathon runner) and was given a nasty, gross shake to try. It was a sales pitch disguised as a friendship meeting.

            Don’t these people know that this kind of sales tactic is one of the things that turns people OFF about MLM?

          5. Nancie*

            That explains why their website is such a nightmare, then.

            I canNOT keep regular polish on my nails for more than a day or two, and removing gel polish destroys my nails. I finally got some Jamberrys to try, and they actually lasted over 10 days. And they weren’t bad to remove! Too bad the application process was so annoying that I don’t want to repeat it.

        3. BananaPants*

          My cousin has been a Beachbody “coach”/Shakeology shill for a couple of years now and recently reached the 1 year mark of quitting a very highly-compensated corporate job to do Beachbody full time. She’s a multiple diamond coach and now has several diamond-level coaches in her downline. Her downline is so big because as part of participating in the fitness challenges that she runs, you have to buy a workout program and Shakeology – and wouldn’t it be nice to get the discount by signing up as a Beachbody “coach” yourself? She has zero formal education or training in nutrition, fitness, etc.

          She isn’t really selling exercise videos and shakes – she’s selling a lifestyle. Her Facebook page and website are all about aspiring to the life she already led before she ever heard about Beachbody. They were already upper middle class, living in a beautifully-furnished luxury home. She already had the photogenic family and she was already slim and in good physical condition. She sells the workout videos and the shakes to overweight people, Type II diabetics, etc. with the claim that they will do for them what they allegedly did for her. She specifically targets mothers of young children to join her downline and be active coaches by selling them on the idea that they too can have her lifestyle, that they can get out of the rat race of corporate America and be at home with their kids and still have nice things.

          I’ll give her credit, she’s making a boatload of money by Instagramming her meals and workouts, Facebooking fitspo memes, by running her private FB challenge groups, and by posting a new recipe every day on her blog. She’s a slim, well-heeled, upper middle class suburban soccer mom, so she can actually sell that lifestyle. I’d like to not be an overweight and exhausted working mother whose husband’s career has been in the toilet for 2 years, so her spiel was tempting at first. But then I realized that no one would buy the Beachbody sales pitch from me to begin with because I’m overweight, not particularly attractive, and not affluent. I love her, but I won’t get sucked in.

          I really wonder what she’ll do in another 5 years if the downline dries up or if Beachbody goes out of business (it’s happened before to MLMs). She would have to go back to work doing something but I think she’d struggle to re-enter the workforce.

          1. Kate M*

            That’s the question I have about this – do people really think this is going to be their job until retirement? These 20-something I keep getting Jamberry invites from, do they actually think the company is going to last 40+ years? I mean, I know no company is guaranteed to last any time, but I just don’t understand drinking the kool-aid to that extent.

            1. Arlow*

              Honestly, I don’t think any millennial expects to have the same job until retirement age. These particular young people signing up with Jamberry either think sales will be a good way to make money for as long in the future as they’re looking, or they’re hoping to be in the .01% who hit it rich doing MLMs. I doubt anyone expects to still be selling at age 60.

            2. Kira*

              I always thought that people viewed these things as side jobs. When I was growing up, all the women would gather at an aunts house or something for a tupperware party or to look at magazines of fancy candles. No one ever seemed to treat it as a professional career thing, just as a fun one-off theme for their social event.

              1. Ruffingit*

                Yeah, that’s the impression I had when I was a kid too. My mother hosted a couple of parties for friends – tupperware, some sort of lingerie company, and then something to do with crafts. She had a full-time job, plus some side jobs too to make ends meet as a single mom with four kids. She hosted the parties for friends, but never got into it herself. I think it was more a social thing than anything else.

      2. Marzipan*

        That actually raises another concern, because it sounds as though she intends to continue with ‘her business’ and just wants an income while she does that – which isn’t necessarily a terribly attractive proposition for people thinking of hiring her.

        I know someone who was involved with one of these things (though I think she’s given it up now; the Facebook posts about how life is wonderful ever since she started her business seem to have dried up) and what really got me is that she went on very expensive international trips to their events – trips which must have cost far more than any profit she might have made from selling the products – yet still thought of it in terms of ‘her business’ and being an entrepreneur.

        1. Sunflower*

          That’s what I’m having trouble with too. Seems like she still thinks she can make this work and just needs a steady income while she gets things back up and running and THAT is gonna do nothing but make employers run as far away as possible form her. She’s gotta separate from the company completely before she can make her case for a new job.

        2. Katie the Fed*

          Yeah I’m not sure what her plans are, but I don’t think she intends to abandon it which IS a problem.

          I think because it’s beachbody and they do make good exercise videos, there’s a bit of legitimacy to it and she can focus on the fitness and coaching aspect of what she was doing. But Shakeology is complete and utter overpriced crap.

          1. Grant Girl*

            Have to disagree with you on one point. The actual Shakeology drink is not crap. Expensive I agree but it is only $4 per serving and if you are are spending the 5-6 bucks at starbucks or another place (which I was) every morning you are spending the same thing. I would never sell it but I did buy it to try it out. I make a breakfast smoothie with it for my drive to work. So far it is the only protein drink that I actually like and since I have been drinking it I have lost 15lbs and my A1C went down half a point. Have not changed anything else but having the shake for breakfast. Breakfast is the hardest meal for me because I get up really early to leave for work and don’t want to cook. Again, I would never sell it or encourage anyone to buy it. I don’t even tell people that it is Shakeology I am drinking I just say it is a breakfast smoothie. But the product itself is not bad at all. I will say the woman I bought it from does all the things people have been saying FB posts, Beachbody promotion etc. I didn’t buy into that stuff because it is a total sales gimmick for sure but I would not call the actual product crap. I know it is not a miracle product but it has helped me reduce my calories and I like the taste. I did a lot of research to see if I could find anything bad about the product and I couldn’t find anything. I may not continue with it after I finish the bags I purchased but I am satisfied with the actual product.

      3. NickelandDime*

        I don’t get it either. I know times are hard, and the promise of extra money is alluring. But, as pointed out, you have to pay into these MLMs to get started doing them. And most people DON’T kick butt doing them. Most are just coasting along, hoping that it will work out, and bugging their friends, family and coworkers to tears with this stuff. I’m also not sure telling anyone she quit her job to do one and six months later she’s moving on AGAIN, would sit well with an employer. I wouldn’t put it on the resume. Is there some volunteer work or something she did during that time that she can talk about instead? I guess I kind of disagree with Allison with this answer (which I almost never do). I wouldn’t put this on a resume. I would just drop it.

        1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

          The worst is that many MLMs truly are a scam. They are set up so that the people involved are incented to buy their own products in order to make the next goals. It’s not just that people are duped into working for nothing, it’s that vulnerable people are duped into going into massive debt. And the MLMs are set up to take advantage of that element in some people’s natures.

          1. Anonymous Me*

            My sister fell into this when she was unemployed. One of her “friends” recruited her. It was definitely brainwashing someone who’s desperate to not lose her home. Every time she didn’t meet her goals, it was because she needed to buy more training materials (“You don’t believe hard enough!”). She really did work hard at it, but it wasn’t the kind of profession that she could ever be successful at. I still get mad when I think about how much money she wasted, and her very painful disappointment when she finally realized the truth. (MLM formerly known as Amway – I’M TALKING TO YOU!)

            1. JB (not in Houston)*

              Yeah, that was what I was going to say, people who do MLMs are often very desperate, and that’s when you start grasping at too-good-to-be-true straws.

              1. Kelly L.*


                A few years ago I was in a tight spot and actually considered it, even after being a long-time reader of Pink Truth and knowing these things were a scam. And then I realized no one would buy my crap except my mom, and my mom would just help me anyway if it got really bad, and I wouldn’t need to involve overpriced face wash at all.

          2. Katie the Fed*

            They’re really predatory with military spouses (wives) especially. This stuff is rampant on military bases.

        2. Stephanie*

          I live in an area with lots of people doing MLMs. I don’t even bat an eye at the window stickers anymore and I’ve dodged requests from neighbors. I’m not in Utah, but our demographics are similar (lots of Mormons). I think some of it is that there’s a lot of pressure for the women to be homemakers, and MLMs sound like a nice and flexible way to make extra cash.

      4. MegEB*

        My very first job out of college was with a MLM-type company selling insurance. It wasn’t a “scam”, exactly, but there were a LOT of similarities. I worked for them for about six months before seeing the light. After I quit, I was determined to get that job off my resume, because I figured that prospective employers would see it and wonder. So I took a job waiting tables, and busted my ass until I got back on my feet (I lost a significant amount of money working that job, as well as racked up some credit card debt). I then signed up with a staffing agency, got a temp job as a receptionist for six months, and erased my old insurance salesperson job from my resume forever.

        Times are tough, and people sometimes have to take whatever job comes their way just to stay afloat. But I think most employers are far more understanding about waiting tables and/or temp work than they are about MLM schemes. If she’s looking for more steady income, I’d recommend either of those as long as she doesn’t mind not having great benefits. Hours are flexible, and at least with waitressing, the money can be really good

        1. NickelandDime*

          Here’s the other thing no one really wants to say – out loud, at least: Most people who get into this MLM crap aren’t SUPER motivated. Waiting tables, while good money, is also hard work. Temping – steady work stream – also not easy. It’s easier to buy stuff and bug people you know in the hopes of making money, than to go out and hustle for a job like waiting tables.

        2. A nony cat*

          I think recent grads may also not really understand the scam-my nature of MLMs, or how to spot them before they get sucked in. I had one acquaintance/facebook friend, younger than me, who got what at first looked like a really good entry-level job that turned out to be MLM (but not with one of the really well-known MLMs). (It was different from the direct sell-to-your-friends types. The company did door-to-door sales aimed at businesses, had an office, and people worked 9-5 (but…”the more hours you put in, the more potential for return”), but at the end of the day it was MLM). I looked at the job posting and I could totally see how an intelligent person but with limited business experience could get wrapped up in it.

          I was actually really tempted to write in here asking if I should warn her, but eventually decided that I should mind my own business since she we hadn’t spoke in a long time.

      5. That Marketing Chick*

        It’s not a Pyramid. A pyramid exists when you aren’t selling an actual product. MLM is exactly what it says: multi-level marketing. You make diminished commissions on the levels below you. There’s nothing wrong with this model – it allows people to be paid based on how hard they work. Most normal companies are actually pyramids – can you ever make more money than your VPS or CEOs?
        I am in a similar MLM (It Works…skinny wraps…yes they really work), and have been while working full time the entire time. I have had monthly commission checks close to $7000, earned a $10,000 bonus, and helped my husband (who I built under me) earn a $10,000 bonus. If you have a good product, and BeachBody is a good product with great marketing and a good comp plan (I buy their workout videos), she has nothing to be ashamed of.
        I put this experience on my resume, and it is in my LinkedIn profile. I’m very proud of my accomplishments. In fact, when I chose to look for a new job last year, proof of my entrepreneurial spirit played into getting the job I have now.
        Yes, I considered quitting my day job at one point, but know that most MLMS are cyclical and very few can ride it forever. I chose for it to be extra income that we used for other things.
        She just needs to position it correctly and “own it” on her resume and be proud of it…or leave it off all together if she feels the need to explain herself or apologize for it.

    3. Artemesia*

      Women can get away with dropping out of the workforce briefly to care for a family member etc and I’d rather claim a gap in work than have to say I am the kind of gullible person who fell for MLM. And the whole ‘small business owner’ thing is exactly what these scammy operations push; I seem to run across them on airplanes a lot and they always have fancy titles or are ‘business owners.’

    4. VictoriaHR*

      UGH. I make and sell homemade soap and lotions and thus have had a true business of my own since 2012. One of my husband’s coworkers (who is a Facebook contact) started the ItWorks! crap and started pestering me to “support her business” and “support local small business owners” and such. Lady, if you haven’t brought yourself to buy a $5 bar of soap from me in the past 3 years, then you’re not really all about supporting local small business owners and I don’t have to buy your $60 worth of plastic wrap.

      1. NickelandDime*

        Don’t do it. I knew someone that couldn’t bring themselves to spit on me if I were on fire, but the minute they started doing this MLM crap, they were bugging me to buy stuff from them. I never did it, I think they were offended and it sped up the demise of a dying friendship.

        1. Traveler*

          I almost think that alienating your friends/being a complete jerk is part of the MLM philosophy. I’ve had people involved in it say some nasty things to me because I didn’t want to become part of their down stream.

      2. Kelly L.*

        Oh yeah, some of the worst are the “improve your body” MLMs, whether wraps or shakes or whatever–at least Mary Kay gives me an insincere compliment when they try to sell to me (You have such pretty eyes! You should “model” our Coastal Colors!”), while the sales scripts for the weight-loss ones basically boil down to calling all your friends fat.

      3. Jen*

        So true! True friends support one another. She is probably just using a sales pitch they taught her.

      4. Elizabeth West*

        I hate when family and friends get into that and you never hear from them unless they want you to buy something. They literally don’t care about you as a person–you’re a customer to them. Bye bye.

        1. Kelly L.*

          If I had a nickel for every long-lost high school acquaintance who suddenly wanted to be my BFF because she now sells Thirty-One bags…

    5. grasshopper*

      If I saw MLM, I would think that the person could be naive or gullible. It might represent a lack of critical thinking to get involved in a pyramid scheme.

      1. Anon369*

        Agreed. Something like 90% of people lose money selling MLM things, and it’s not a secret. I’d question their ability to make good investment decisions for themselves.

      2. Traveler*

        While I agree with the sentiment, I’m not sure its entirely fair. A lot of these MLM’s take advantage of people who are missing out on something in their lives – money, confidence, friends, socialization, etc. Many of them are guilty of what amounts to brainwashing. I’ve seen plenty of people I wouldn’t normally consider “naive” fall under the sway of it all.

    6. Dynamic Beige*

      I once did a meeting for one of these companies. I had never heard of it before and I haven’t heard of it in a long time, so I’m not sure if it’s still in business (yes, it is I just checked). It was sad and kind of creepy because the company was launching a new product and all these sales associates or whatever they were called were there to learn all about it. They were asked to shout out the product name at certain points, but it wasn’t fever pitch enthusiasm. At one point, they trotted out the “superstar” of their business, one of the women who had got in on the ground floor 20 years previously and she showed them photos of her house, which was a huge mansion in Colorado I think. She talked about all the wonderful things she was able to do with the income she was afforded by working for the company. She actually talked about her first “party” or whatever, she had made the stuff wrong, I think she put more in than the directions said to and it was really tasty… so when people were calling to buy it, she didn’t tell them it was wrong, and when she made it the way it was supposed to be, it wasn’t as good. She was, to be honest, a bit of a ditz. But the audience was rapt. From what I saw of them, they were mostly recent immigrants and that was the kind of life they were dreaming of — and she had done it, so why can’t I? In the control room, they had some of their other products out so I tried an energy/protein bar and it was awful, I couldn’t even eat half of it. A few hours later, I had a stomachache, which I mentioned to one of the other people on the job (I had never worked with this client before) and they said “You don’t eat the client’s food!” To which I apologised and said that they were just out, I didn’t know. But then he corrected me “Because it’s crap! You never eat or drink anything these people have out at one of these things.” I guess it’s also not unheard of that they will attempt to rope the crew in, but that didn’t happen to me.

      I was told that there is a local company who made their entire income for one year on erm… the Pink one’s AGM, which is from what I understand hugely extravagant. The person who has been doing it for a couple of decades now is facing an end-of-life condition, so the business went out to RFP to a few companies. I “assisted” on one of the pitches. I don’t think they got it because I haven’t received any congratulatory e-mails and confess I am greatly relieved by that.

  2. TC_Seattle*

    As a mom and active community volunteer – school PTA, playground development, community food bank – there are a number of volunteer activities that are kid friendly with parent involvement. Board meetings and staff orientations however, don’t fit the kid friendly model. Knowing childcare can be challenging to organize and expensive, would also offer up the suggestion to your full committee the option to pool resources and have childcare available (at a neighboring park, coffee shop, library until the school is ready). Might even have a teen amongst the other board members that could need community service hours for graduation requirements.

    1. daily reader*

      Meh, I think “loud and disruptive” kids are unwelcome, as are whoever brought them. Parents have it rough ‘n tough but also get a ton of perks from multiple angles. Thus… kids should not disrupt business, period. Not cool, and the OP should absolutely speak up.

      1. neverjaunty*

        It could be that the kids are just loud and are going to be a problem no matter what; it could also be that they’re just bored out of their little skulls with nothing to do. The issue is disrupting the business process, not that parents “get a ton of perks” (whatever that means). If there’s a reasonable way to arrange childcare – which would also let other parents participate in the activities – that could be an option.

      2. UKAnon*

        I may be mis-reading it, but I read OP as meaning that they volunteer for this – meaning that the parent isn’t getting paid. In that situation, I think TC_Seattle is correct that you should be offering some options for childcare (even if all of the parents involve try and cover each other, eg with SOs offering to take any children on a rortating basis) It’s different from “business” in the classic sense.

        1. GreatLakesGal*

          If these children are going to be students at this charter school, that adds a whole ‘nother level of inappropriate to the situation!

          Does the school want students to be privy to sensitive issues such as salaries, disputes,legal complications,or staff/student discipline that may very well rise to board-level discussion in a new charter school?

          I shudder to imagine :” Now, Fergus, remember, you are not to talk to the other first graders about how Miss Apple said Mr. Pear keeps asking her on a date, and why it’s a problem because Mr. Pear is the Vice-Principal and Miss Apple is a student teacher? Tell Mommy again that you understand what ‘confidentiality’ means.”

          1. UKAnon*

            I agree that could be an issue. It also sounds like it’s possible, though, that they’re far too busy running round causing havoc to be paying attention, and presumably if they are attending than any meetings after their start date can be held in school time.

            I’m not saying that they should be allowed at meetings or that the situation as it is is ok; I just thought daily reader was a tad harsh in their reply, particularly so if the parents are volunteers and could be left out of pocket trying to accommodate the school.

          2. Elkay*

            The head teacher at the school my mum worked at brought her kids (students at the school) to governors’ meetings, that’s crazy as far as I’m concerned.

        2. The Cosmic Avenger*

          Well, I agree that it’s considerate to try to accommodate child care in general, but many board and committee volunteers are often selected competitively, meaning you have to submit a resume and/or be interviewed. It’s not quite the same as trying to get people to volunteer to sit at a table and solicit donations, or to clean up the school grounds or something (things that I have done and I know are very needed, but require much less autonomy and decisionmaking). In my experience this level of volunteering usually requires more professionalism and diligence, so I feel like it’s slightly less excusable for a board member to disrupt meetings like this, as the volunteering aspect carries more responsibility.

          1. UKAnon*

            Interesting. From my (very limited) knowledge of UK schools and parents, it seems to be that individuals or a group of parents get together and try to change things for the better or open new schools – I hadn’t thought of it as being that formal.

          2. Jen*

            I agree! Paid or not having these board meetings is at the level of any meeting one would have in their professional lives and so kids are not allowed. I once worked with someone who refused to get daycare for her son. She was only part time and ran her own business with the rest of the time and so she didn’t feel the need to find a sitter when she was working as an employee. Her son was 2 years old and a huge distraction. He would run around and there were times when she would just ignore him. I always thought it was very unprofessional but unfortunately we had a supervisor change and she lied about what the old supervisor allowed so she got away with it.

            1. Windchime*

              I actually stopped going to a certain restaurant because the small child of one of the owners would run around in the dining room, yelling and playing. He would often run up to our table, stop, and watch us eating intently. And because he was a toddler (maybe three years old, max), he sometimes had meltdowns and had to be carried, kicking and screaming, out of the dining room. I did notice recently that the restaurant had changed hands, so I’m guessing that other patrons quit going as well. Too bad, because the food was great.

          3. mskyle*

            But it’s also a community organization that, as a school, specifically partners with parents. If you want a robust and diverse board, I think there’s a clear benefit in reaching out to people who may not have as easy a time getting childcare.

            1. The Cosmic Avenger*

              That’s true, and I don’t know much about starting up a charter school. But boards for civic associations or other local associations are basically local political or nonprofit positions, just appointed and unpaid.

        3. Kira*

          UKAnon, in the USA a Board of Directors are the owners of a nonprofit. So they’re the ones ultimately responsible for making sure this new school succeeds.

    2. A*

      This librarian suggests not bringing loud and disruptive kids to be cared for in a library please!!! Especially during summer (our busiest time!).

    3. Coffee, Please*

      If childcare is truly hard for her to arrange, perhaps it would be better for her to participate by conference call.

      I have been on volunteer boards and committees that met across the country, or at times when I absolutely had to be home with the kids. In those cases, I participated by phone call, with liberal usage of the mute button to mask the kids noise. This worked very well.

      The orientation meeting is probably a must be in person situation that requires her to arrange other childcare.

    4. AnotherFed*

      #2 – Could you plan meetings around ways to keep the kids occupied and just let everyone bring their kids?

      It’s been a long while, but I remember my mother and bunch of my classmates’ mothers being part of a board for our school – it was a private religious school in working class area. Since everyone involved was involved because they had kids at that school and most people worked full time and did this as unpaid volunteer work, their solution was to hold as many of the meetings as they could at places like a McDonald’s with a play place attached. For ones that needed more privacy and/or formality, they used the school and would have someone take all the kids to the gym to play basketball and then read Bible stories to us once they’d run some of the energy off.

      1. SchoolFounder*

        This is the OP. Thanks so much for reinforcing my thoughts on this. I am worried that the kids will be privy to sensitive information if they attend the meeting. I’m also concerned about first impressions and do not want our first paid employee to perceive us as simply a group of frazzled moms. This needs to be professional. Sadly, the mom in question does not trust others to watch her kids, so that adds to the issue. A conference call might be the only option.

        1. Annalee*

          Providing group childcare is often more complicated than folks think (Asking an untrained teenager to watch a group of kids of varying ages who don’t necessarily know each other or how to play safely with each other is not a good idea). But in this case, it sounds like issues around getting qualified child care providers are moot.

          The board needs to make it clear to her that this position requires that she be fully present during meetings and able to give them her undivided attention. If she’s unwilling or unable to do that with reasonable accommodation, she can’t hold a position that requires her to supervise staff.

  3. Aphrael*

    For #1, are these kids going to be attending the charter school? Might be a problem having them at board meetings where sensitive topics related to the school and its staff are being discussed (depending on the state’s open meetings laws).

  4. Engineer Girl*

    #5 – I hate to say it, but I don’t think you realize how it works in really big companies. Leads manage up to 15 people. Managers manage 10-4o people. Sr Managers are over 100+ people. Directors are over hundreds (plural). VPs are in charge of entire lines of business for billion dollar projects.
    It sounds like the level they are offering you lines up with your experience. Don’t get hung up on titles so much as the actual job. They could indeed be offering you a step up.

    1. Apollo Warbucks*

      That was my first thought, potentially being offered a different job is not a snub and the same thing happened to the other candidate. If I was the OP I’d want to find out more about the new job and the responsibilities that it come with before makeup a decision about if I’d accept the job if offered.

    2. BRR*

      This is what I was thinking. I applied for a job where their titles all seemed a step above industry norms. So I applied for a director level position where it would be an assistant or associate director title else where.

    3. Sarahnova*

      Yes, I agree. They are being honest with you. The fact that you’ve held a Director-level title before does not entitle you to one in a much larger organisation. And linking this to the leaders you’ve met being “not good” and their open customer service tickets… presumably the leaders didn’t start being “not good” when you got this email, so if you had concerns about the quality of their leadership beforehand, do you want to work for this organisation?

      1. Stranger than fiction*

        But Op said she’s a VP currently and was a director before…while i agree at some companies people have over inflated titles for their skill level, this is like a couple levels down for her. But, also curious how they got tonthis point without a further understanding of the job description, as in how many reports she’d have for one thing

    4. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      Well, that’s not always the case. Your point is a good one – different companies have different structures – but you’re making some wild generalizations. Different companies have different structures, period. A director can have no direct reports, or they can have hundreds,

      1. Judy*

        Beyond really small places, I’ve not ever heard of a director having “20+” people. I think the OP should ask about the responsibilities, rather than title.

        When I changed companies, I thought they were offering me the promotion that I was about to get at my old company. But even between 2 F50 companies, the titles were one level off. Old company, highest individual contributor title was “Senior Engineer”, new company it was “Lead engineer”. These roles might have project management responsibilities, but not people management responsibilities. Old company, a lead engineer had a team of 10-25 engineers working for them, that was a manager in new company. In the end, a director at the old company had 200-1000 people working for them, and the new company had 70-300 people working for them. Yet my current small company has 3 directors, and none of them have more than 20 people working for them.

      2. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

        My friends was a “Senior Director” at an organization because she had a direct report. But there were a ton of one person departments that were all Directors (many of whom had 1-3 years experience).

        1. Stranger than fiction*

          Gaah thats a perfect example of a company that gives over inflated titles. Sometimes they think that gives off good appearance to potential investors or theyre looking to get bought…directors should be managing managers (at least two) then managers have however many reports

          1. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

            It was an arts organization, so I think they felt it gave their people prestige when they called on folks saying, “I’m the PR Director/Marketing Director”

            But it always made me giggle that last month’s intern was now a “department head.”

        2. Kira*

          I was thinking about this because I’ve worked for such small businesses. When the whole company is about 30 people, we have the #1 person and everyone the step below that is a Director. Then you get supervisors, then line staff. So, for us, a Director is more about how close you are to the #1, not about whether you’re managing anyone.

    5. Me*

      The 2 ‘directors’ of my dept. together oversee a dozen people. And there are at least 6 layers of management over them. They’re basically 1 step above the worker bees. Why no, this company isn’t top-heavy, why do you ask?

      1. Jerry Vandesic*

        Just to provide a bit more variety, I once worked for a company where the VPs all worked under the directors, which was the opposite of every other company I worked for.

      2. JC*

        Yep. In my organization, “directors” don’t manage anyone. They instead are the lead individual contributor in an area of work. Above them are VPs and Senior VPs.

      3. M*

        I can commiserate. In my OldCompany, in our accounting department we had two/three worker bees -> team lead -> accounting manager -> controller -> Sr VP of Finance -> CFO.

    6. YandO*

      In my OldCompany hierarchy went this way: analyst-associate-VP-Sr. VP-Director-Managing Director -Executive Managing Director – CFO &CEO. No managers.

      The company I am interviewing with right now seems to have structure more similar to what you described, where analysts are on the level of directors pay-wise.

      This si to say that the hierarchy and structure is heavily dependent on company and industry.

    7. Anon For This*

      Yes, my title includes Senior Manager and I am responsible for over $1B in revenue each year (at a very large company). There are Presidents and CEO’s of smaller enterprises who would be thrilled to be handling a billion-dollar business regardless of the title.

      When we’re hiring, we’re comparing responsibilities much more than we’re comparing titles, and with good reason.

    8. grasshopper*

      Yeah, it seems like the OP is taking it as a personal slight against her and viewing the title rather than the real job responsibilities.

    9. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

      In my industry titles vary like crazy, which can make interviewing when you are first starting out nerve wracking. I remember seeing for an associate-level position for an organization I would have *loved* to work for, only to realize they wanted 10+ years experience and it was really an executive director-level position. It was such a bummer, but a totally eye opener that titles mean very little.

    10. ThursdaysGeek*

      But the OP said ’20 direct reports’, not just reports. Directors in large companies don’t have hundreds of direct reports: they have a few handfuls who each have have a few handfuls who each have a few handfuls, which add up to hundreds. So we don’t know if any of those 20 direct reports are also managers with people under them.

      The OP did say small company, but small can still be a few hundred employees.

    11. Another HRPro*

      What really matters is the work and the comp package, not the title. Some companies have inflated titles and others have deflated titles.

    12. Student*

      This varies by industry dramatically. In the financial industry, especially banking, some (large!) companies make virtually everyone a VP, even if they oversee no actual people and are little more than a high-end customer service rep. In some industries, everyone wants to believe they are getting “special attention” from a VP, is the theory, so everyone who’d have to interact with people at that level is a VP of Some BS Department of Only One Person so that they get the VP title credibility when they talk to their snobby customers.

  5. Cambridge Comma*

    For #1, I would suggest a gentler approach if the friend is a single mother.
    If not, perhaps the LW could involve the friend in the scheduling — “Is there an easier meeting time for you in terms of scheduling childcare?”

    1. Diddly*

      It sounds like everyone is a parent – they must each have some sort of child care arrangement, wonder if they can offer to pool child care. Especially if she supposedly is the OP’s friend. You could say Mark and Lucy would love some company why don’t your kids stay with mine etc. Or whoever is able to offer the childcare arrangement, if there’s a cost you could split it (if cost is why she isn’t getting child care.) – something to offer to soften the blow of Alison’s script. Or maybe you should ask why she’s bringing them along?

      1. Meg Murry*

        I was going to ask the same. OP says she never brings her kids, but arranges childcare. What is the care? If a sitter, could she offer to have the 6 and 7 year old over to her house? That wouldn’t work if OP has her kids in a daycare, but it would be worth suggesting. Or as others have mentioned, chances are a lot of people on the committees have kids and have made other arrangements – it seems plausible she could pair up with them, or as a group they could hire a few high school/college aged kids to play with the kids nearby. That is what we do for PTO meetings – parents meet in one room, kids in the gym with a few high school students and it works out fine.

        I think Alison’s wording might come off as rather harsh to a friend who is volunteering for this position, as opposed to a person doing this as a job. What about something along the lines of “This meeting is going to be long, and really boring for Susie and Bobby, and I really need your focus. You’ve been a valuable part of the committee, but I know it’s hard for you to divide your focus when you are trying to keep an eye on them. How about we arrange a sitter for them? My kids really like Jane and she’s great with them, let’s give her a call and see if she’s available?”

        I’ve found that telling people “we can’t accommodate your children” is a good way to get them in a huff and have them say “well then I’m not coming!” Which is all well and good for a child-free wedding, but if a person is on the orientation committee, that means she needs to be there at orientation.

        Long term, I think it would be worthwhile to do what other commenters have suggested, and make it clear that part of the commitment to being on the board is arranging alternate childcare. Again, with my PTO example – we all agreed that we wanted our meetings to be quick and efficient, and therefore we would have 1 hour meetings with no kids, as opposed to meetings that dragged into 2 hours because we were constantly stopping to deal with the kids.

        1. UKAnon*

          This. I think Alison’s approach is fine for a workplace setting, but if she’s volunteering or it’s otherwise very informal and friendly I think a different approach might be better.

          1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

            Just because it’s volunteering doesn’t mean it’s very informal or friendly. Boards of directors can be very serious and professional. Not all of them are, but it’s common.

            1. UKAnon*

              I think that possibly what’s giving me the vibe of informal and friendly is the fact that she’s been bringing children for this long – I would have expected somebody to speak up after the first time, or maybe at a push the second. We need more information from the OP though!

              1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

                Gotcha. I read a hint of that too, and my thinking (and maybe I’m making a leap here) is that the school and board are newer and haven’t had the chance to make a lot of clear policies. It is really common for this type of board to have a policy that kids are not allowed at meetings. It’s often MORE important to make rules about this stuff for volunteers because they aren’t employed and may not assume professional norms. Normally, as organizations get established they get more and more formal. So while it might feel very friendly and informal at the start, things tend to go in the opposite direction (sometimes pretty quickly) as time passes. Otherwise, the same issues are discussed at length over and over again as members rotate.

                All that said, charter school boards (or co-op preschool boards and the like) do sometimes remain less formal than boards where high-level professionals from the community are recruited to govern a prominent community nonprofit.

        2. Judy*

          I know on some committees at church, I’ve responded to meeting requests, “I’ll get back to you on my attendance, (husband) is teaching that night, I’ll have to arrange childcare.” Some times, I’m assuming because others have said the same thing, I’ll get back an email saying “(teen) is willing to watch all the kids during the meeting.”

          Many of our Girl Scout leader meetings offer childcare as a way to get the parents to be able to come.

  6. Apollo Warbucks*

    #1 I wouldn’t worry about speaking to your friend about not brining her children to the meeting, it is not typical to be able to able to bring kids to work with you she needs to make other arrangements. I like Alison’s script but I would leave out the bit about it already beign hard because it’s in an coffee shop, as that only address the issue for that meeting and it seems that this is a larger pattern that needs addressing, not being clear and direct about the expectation or her arranging child care for all the time she is working could cause some confusion later.

    1. Artemesia*

      I am reading this as a volunteer board where the people are not being paid; it doesn’t make it appropriate to haul kids there but it does make it trickier as the person may not be able to afford child care. She probably needs to drop participation on the board.

  7. Blurgle*

    #1, your friend is not sensitive. Sensitive people are those who understand other people’s feelings. Your friend is self-absorbed.

    1. Christy*

      Oh my gosh, I love this. Can you comment this on every advice blog everywhere? It’s basically genius.

    2. Diddly*

      Yes… But has anyone asked why she’s bringing the kids. She may be a single mom who can’t afford childcare and doesn’t know how to ask for help. Or she could be being difficult but if OP doesn’t ask or state that children aren’t allowed then this woman doesn’t ‘know’ she’s doing anything insensitive.

      1. Bend & Snap*

        Eh. I’m a single mom and I think you have to be pretty obtuse not to realize where children aren’t welcome. If I don’t have childcare for something like a meeting, I don’t go.

        1. ThursdaysGeek*

          And maybe she wasn’t sure it was ok at the first meeting, but no-one said anything, nor at the next meeting, so now she knows it’s fine, because no-one has every said it wasn’t. If it wasn’t ok, wouldn’t they have told her a long time ago?

      2. Purple Jello*

        It’s not just single moms who can’t afford childcare. I was a married mom, and there were times I couldn’t afford a sitter. And if my husband was at his 56 hour a week job, I couldn’t leave the kids with him either. No local family available to pitch in, and didn’t know anyone willing to “swap” childcare time.

    3. Julia*

      Came here to say the exact same thing.

      That person is sensitive in the same way people who rightfully complain about racist/Sexist/etc. remarks are ‘sensitive’.

    4. Artemesia*

      This 1000+ The world is full of ‘sensitive’ people who are utterly insensitive to everyone else’s needs and feelings.

    5. Monodon monoceros*

      Wow…mind blown. I am rethinking about all of the “sensitive” people in my life. Thank you!

    6. kozinskey*

      This belongs in the “Best of AAM Comments” hall of fame. (Does that exist? It should.)

    7. Hiring Mgr*

      I think that comment is a bit unfair. The friend has been apparently doing this all along, and nobody’s said anything about it yet, so what else is she to think? And as far as we know, the OP is the only one who has an issue with this.

      As others have suggested, maybe there’s some sort of pooled child care that can happen.

      1. jmkenrick*

        I agree, based on what we know, I’m not sure we can conclude that the friend is self-absorbed in this particular situation. (She may well have been misinformed by someone else in the group, or expectations may have been miscommunication, or whatever.)

        I’m just impressed with Blurgle’s comment because rarely do you hear someone call out these euphemisms in such a clear, concise way. And it’s true – there are definitely people who use the term “sensitive” as a bit of a personality excuse for overreacting when other people are upset with them. Lord knows I did that all through much of my adolescence.

    8. Chickaletta*

      Maybe. Maybe the friend has low-self confidence instead, so that any suggestion that what she’s doing is wrong could crush her. Yes, she probably needs to learn to buck-up and be open to criticism and see things from other people’s perspectives, but if she has a personality where she takes things really hard then the giver of the criticism needs to be sensitive to that as well, make sense?

      Also, you guys, childcare is damn expensive. For two children, a three hour meeting could be costing her $60+ a pop depending on where they live. And if this is an volunteer job than that money is coming straight out of her pocket. We don’t know her financial situation. A good strategy might be to offer group babysitting, or meeting at a location where the kids can be entertained (like at that persons’s house, or a park, or a community center…)

      1. bearing*

        It may be worth the organization’s effort to find a solution that would allow people with childcare needs to serve on the board, especially since the organization is one with families in mind. I serve on the board of a large local organization of homeschooling families, and our board meetings are sometimes held in meeting rooms without children present, but at other times we hold them in board members’ homes precisely so kids can come along if necessary and hang out in the rec room. Pretty much everyone in the pool from which we draw board members is a mother with young children, so we have to set reasonable expectations for that group. We can’t always keep board meetings child-friendly, if they need to be especially long and focused (although nursing infants are welcome always), but we try to do it when we can. (Under 3 hours, so that the meeting doesn’t turn into a “food event.”)

        1. bearing*

          (Adding to point out that if we required board members to pay for their own child care in order to attend board meetings, we could not expect single parents or low-income parents to serve on the board in as great numbers as high-income parents from two-parent households. This would be a real problem.)

      2. Student*

        She’s an adult. The board is not her self-help group or her therapist. They do not need to consider her self-confidence personal issues (if any exist) when they ask her to modify her behavior to meet very normal professional (or volunteer) norms. My brother had these kinds of issues, and I actually found he only improved his behavior when he was no longer surrounded by people who would tiptoe around his “sensitive feelings” and “low self-confidence”.

        And sometimes, if you can’t afford childcare, it means you can’t afford to do certain things. That’s sad, yes – but it’s reality; serving on boards is a privilege and not a right. Maybe she can’t afford to be a board member, just like maybe she can’t afford to go to Hawaii on vacation this year or buy an extra box of cereal at the grocery store this week. That’s not the board’s issue to solve either.

  8. Fish Microwaver*

    People like the “friend” in #1 really burn my brownies. They use their “sensitivity” to blackmail people into putting up with the unacceptable, in this case children inappropriately at meetings. They are usually not sensitive at all but rather have the hide of an elephant. They inflict their bad manners and socially inappropriate behaviour on everyone else and make people uncomfortable about saying anything. Definitely speak up LW.

    1. Ad Astra*

      I appreciate the term “burn my brownies,” and will be working it into my regular speech immediately. But I don’t think we know enough about OP’s friend to suggest she’s being manipulative.

      Bringing kids to charter school meetings sounds pretty normal to me. If that doesn’t work for the OP — which is perfectly reasonable — she needs to address it. But there’s no reason to be unkind.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      Agreed. I read “sensitive” as “will throw a fit if anyone says she can’t do something.” So what the OP could mean is that no one wants to piss her off.

      1. Meg Murry*

        I read “sensitive” as “will give me that sad face like I just kicked a puppy and look like she’s about to cry and then I’ll feel like the meanest person ever.”

        Either way, we don’t know the OP or her friend, but I agree she needs to do it tactfully, kindly but in a way that says “this is not ok”

    3. Student*

      She’s probably not really as fully as involved in the board meeting as she would be if her kids weren’t there, either.

  9. Apollo Warbucks*

    #2 Treat this as the salary negotiation starting now, if the process is as full of red tape as it sounds like, have your salary requirements worked out going in and don’t expected to be able to alter it later as if things are that rigid it might be hard or impossible to increase the offer later.

    1. J.B.*

      In government this is likely the only chance to negotiate salary. Understand that if the manager goes to bat for something, there is no guarantee of success. There can be a lot of time invested to have HR say “sorry, no, that would be inequitable”. If the manager comes back and then you try to negotiate, good will is gone.

    2. thg*

      #2 Needs to know the state and the agency. In my state/agency there is really no negotiation of salaries, everything is set by the unions based on a formula including the number of years of experience you have.

      Years ago there used to be a way to match your current salary (determined by the last 12 months of pay), but you had to basically be the only warm body on the employment list in order to actually get the match. Being asked if salary/benefits is negotiable is fine, but trying to negotiate once you get a no is hugely irritating.

      Once you pass probation, subsequent salary adjustments are done on a yearly basis and based on merit.

  10. Apollo Warbucks*

    #3 Your friend is going to come off as more than a little naive in trying to pass off this work expirance as running her own business or being an entrepreneur. I do think that the role has a place on her CV, as long as the whole way it’s presented is down to earth and realistic.

  11. Apollo Warbucks*

    #4 Run for the hills, it’s the sign of a massively disfunctional work place not to mention completly disrespectful to you not to have a sensible conversation about the working conditions you’d be signing up for.

    If you needed to stay in the running then I’d have answered the question by saying something like whilst I value my time out side out side of work, Im committed to doing a good job and I understand that involves working overtime when nessecary to make sure the service we deliver to the business stays up and running, and owing to the type of job this is, that on occasions work needs to be planned out side of core hours as not to disrupt the services we provide to out users.

    Trying to strees that you understand the needs of the job and will deliver what is needed might help, and if not theyve even more crazy then I first thought!

    1. Sunshine*

      Your second paragraph exactly addresses what I think this interviewer was trying to get at. Ineffective (or just inexperienced) interviewers sometimes shy away from mentioning things that might scare off candidates, but want to somehow get the point across that they need someone who won’t be a 5:01 clock watchers. I think the guy just fumbled the question a little.

      1. NacSacJack*

        Where I live, contractors are not exempt employees and must be paid for every hour they work. Is that not true everywhere? I read once that as a contract employee you come and go as you please (within broad guidelines), work the work that is needed, and if one week you only work 35 hours, the next week you might work 50 hours and you get paid for what you worked. So one week your check is smaller than norm and the next week it’s big (honey lets buy that car now!). The tradeoff is the fluxuating hours and higher rate of pay with no benefits and immediate termination if they don’t need you or want you anymore.

        1. S*

          Not true everywhere. I’m a contractor working at a state agency and we have to follow the rules of the state bureau we’re working at. While my pay rate is high(no benefits), I still work 40 hours a week on a set schedule with two 15 min. breaks and a 30 min. lunch at an assigned time. My husband is a contractor for a different company but same project/location as me and he gets paid a little less but has full benefits. We both follow the same schedule/rules given to us by the bureau.

        2. fposte*

          I’m guessing the OP is looking at a W2 contract, not a 1099 contract. They’re very different kinds of contracts, so it’s unfortunate the word is the same.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Yep. And with a 1099 contract, it would depend on what the contract said; you could be hourly or you could paid to do the job but not by the hour.

    2. the gold digger*

      A recruiter asked how I felt about “long hours and tight deadlines.”

      I answered that sometimes they are necessary, but if they happen all the time, it is a sign of incompetent management. I actually did get to the next round of interviews.

      1. AmyNYC*

        Hear hear! This is how I feel about staff routinely staying until 9pm – it’s a sign of a bigger problem

      2. Tris Prior*

        I recently heard that Ex-Job is asking candidates, “What’s the most hours that you’ve ever worked in a week?”

        Gosh, I wonder why they might be asking that. :P (My answer would be 90 hours – and yes, it was there!)

  12. Brett*

    #1 I am not sure if it changes the answer at all, but a charter board member is normally an elected position. You might need to approach this from the bylaws and rules of order you use for meetings. (Just be aware that rules you pass now, will apply to public meetings down the road where you will likely have a lot of parents wanting to bring children. Ban children now, and you might have a lot of backlash from your parents later.)

    #2 For state and local government, the published range is normally the grade range for that position, not the hiring range. Everyone in the org in that grade, regardless of experience, is making in that range, not just the new hires. The discretionary hiring range will be a much tighter band at the bottom of the published range; sometimes it will only be the number at the bottom of the range. Not every state and local government works this way, but for us, to increase the discretionary hiring range for a candidate we have to go to the county council and have a formal vote on a budget amendment (and obviously that voted-on amount is then the only offer we can make).

    In our salary negotiations, we generally make a final offer and it is up to the candidate to turn down the position. We probably lose about 60% of candidates for professional positions because we cannot agree on salary, so it is pretty common for the candidate to break off and reject the offer. We very rarely take a candidate out of the running because of their counter offer. The only time I can every think of that we did, the candidate counter-offered $140k to our initial offer of $70k, which was already the top of our discretionary hiring range.

    1. Christy*

      That’s what I was coming here to say (but for Feds) regarding OP2. Most everyone gets hired at or near the bottom of the range. There’s some flexibility, but not that much.

      1. Brett*

        Basically, that person was coming from out of state. They were one of the top, if not the top, people in the industry in that state and were a perfect match for every skill and experience set we required to lead a massive transition project. If we could choose from everyone in the country, there were probably only a handful of people like them.
        They applied to our job because they had children living in the area and were basically looking to work for us for about 5 years then retire. Doing this meant selling their home and moving in the middle of the housing crisis and taking a big hit on their retirement at their current job.
        Honestly, his level of proven experience and skill was such a perfect fit that he would have been worth $140k for 5 years. But it was institutionally unfeasible to pay someone that much (all our salaries are published after all).

    2. T.R.*

      Thanks, that’s very helpful and consistent with my past experience as a job seeker. I have successfully negotiated with state and local governments in the past (with an official offer), but haven’t gotten a huge increase.

        1. AnonyMiss*

          Hi there! Depending on your particular government just, there may be a lot of variables.

          1) Is this a management-level job? If so, you may have salary bands rather than salary steps, and have more negotiating power. Otherwise, you’re most likely looking at steps. If you are a really desirable candidate and have enough experience in the field, you may be able to negotiate what’s called an “advance step hire” – essentially, starting you not at the bottom of the range at Step 1, but usually at Step 3 (in most agencies, there’s a 5% differential to steps).

          2) Is this a union position or unrepresented? Union may be harder to broach the advance step, because it goes against their current members who worked to get to that step; unrepresented, you have more leeway, but your cost of living adjustments may also be smaller. At the agency I work at, our biggest union regularly negotiates anywhere from 3-5% annual COLA raises; unreps like me are getting our first COLA in about five years, and it’s 2%.

          3) Unrelated related: You mentioned that you have worked with state/local governments before, but as a service to the kind readership of AAM, let me put this out there. Most government agencies require an extensive probationary period, anywhere from 6 months (13 pay periods) to two years (52 pay periods). Often, you are not allowed to take any vacation or sick leave during this period. Even unpaid leave days are frowned upon in many an institution.

  13. Dan*


    There is a lot of title obsession going on. Does the pay and responsibility line up with what the op wants? It’s so, take the job, if not, negotiate or move on.

    1. NacSacJack*

      Some people might look at the history of job titles and think he took a demotion not realizing that the positions in both companies were equivalent. We place a lot of emphasis on the first glance of that resume’ and if it looks like you got demoted, that can impact your future prospects and pay.

      1. Judy*

        But that’s why your accomplishments include things like “Managed a team of 25 and a budget of $1.2M”

      2. Mabel*

        It sounds like you’re saying the OP shouldn’t take this job only because the difference in titles might affect his/her resume in the future. But there are a lot of other factors that go into deciding on a job offer (if there is one). When I was hiring, I barely looked at the titles; I wanted to see what they had done at each position. If a title seemed strange, I could ask them about it if they were otherwise someone I would bring in for an interview.

    2. Jen*

      I agree. I would focus more on what the job actually is. What is a Sr. Manager in one organization is a director in another. I think getting more in formation. I would probably add to what Allison said and maybe ask if/how the job will change if it is a Sr. Manager and not a director. I know is probably being very forward and they may not be able to answer the question but it is worth asking. When I got my current job the person before called herself an Executive Assistant and I am an Administrative Assistant. I asked how the job had changed- the answer nothing. I am actually more along the lines of an office manager/office administrator so they aren’t really sure what to call me but to me the title doesn’t matter. I did joke for a while that I was going to call myself an Executive Administrative Assistant (split the difference) but I think that as long as the job is a step forward for the OP than the title doesn’t matter.

  14. Stephanie*

    #2: Ugh, I said I’d be ok with some comically low salary for a job I’m currently interviewing for. I didn’t know what to say that wasn’t “What the f*ck? How much?”

    #3: Yeah, tell her to leave out any mentions of entrepreneurship or running her own business. Many people know that’s a lie with those MLM sales jobs, so she’d just sound naive. Instead, tell her to list numbers if she can. It sounds like she’s one of the exceptions and was somewhat successful at it. Saying something like “Highest grossing salesperson in the Red River District covering Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas for 2013 and 2014” will sound better than saying she ran her own business (when she was really an independent contractor).

    1. NickelandDime*

      But if she was so good at it, why is she quitting after six months? I’m worried that employers will see: “I had a full time job, then I quit that job to sell shakes, now I’m looking for work again.” It seems flaky, and they don’t know her to think otherwise. I’d just leave it off completely.

      1. Stephanie*

        Ah. I missed the quitting after six months part. I read it as she had been at it for a while and was good at it. Yeah…that’s different.

  15. a*

    #5: Saying, “I have been interviewed by seven VPs and directors there and noticed they are not that good” seems a little … presumptuous; after all, you haven’t actually worked with them. I don’t really understand why you were so insulted by the email, but I feel like your feelings of outrage might be altering your perception there.

    1. A Dispatcher*

      Yep, that really rubbed me the wrong way too. Make sure you get that venting out of your system before moving along in the process OP. You don’t want that showing if/when you meet with these people again.

    2. Just me*

      I don’t know about that. When I interviewed for my current position, I was able to realize the director and VP were insanely smart. I knew I would learn from them. I’m currently looking again due to restructuring and am looking for those same qualities. Currently, I am working for people who are nice but will do nothing in terms of my professional growth. That is my biggest metric for determining my fit for new roles. In my opinion, if you can tell people are awesome, you can also tell if they are not.

      1. Sarahnova*

        My issue with this is not having a view on the awesomeness of potential future bosses/leaders or not – it’s the fact that OP#5 didn’t seem to have a problem with these leaders until informed that she benchmarked at a lower level than she expected.

      2. Colette*

        Based on the OP’s justification (400 open tickets) for deciding everyone she talked to wasn’t that great, I don’t think she’s being objective here. Maybe there was more to it than the tickets, but that doesn’t come across. I really doubt all seven VPs are responsible for customer service, and that number of open tickets may not even be a problem. (If they have forty customers, it’s not good. If they have forty thousand customers it is.)

        If she really believes management is not good, she should look elsewhere.

    3. Graciosa*

      I’ve been noticing this as a trend lately – candidates taking offense to what I see as perfectly ordinary practices. For example, the individual who was offended by voice mail and email messages setting up and confirming an interview.

      Here we have a candidate outraged after getting a status update. I suppose it is at least is a change from the candidates who suffer from not receiving updates, although I think they have more cause to take offense.

      I really struggle with these, as I am strongly tempted to suggest that the offended individuals respond by removing themselves (politely) from consideration. It’s probably not the most helpful way to educate them about what is and is not cause for offense, but it does solve the problem.

      If the company truly did something offensive, losing good candidates should be punishment enough, and the individuals are saved from working in a bad environment.

      If the company did nothing offensive, losing the job opportunity should be punishment enough for the candidate, and the companies are saved from working with an individual who is too ready to take offense without cause.

      In all cases, people can stop stewing about the slights (real or perceived) and move on with their lives.

      I hope I’m not overreacting here, so from a perspective of full disclosure I will add that I recently had a telephone interview with a candidate that did not go well. After a brief intro, I started with what I consider a softball question to let the candidate warm up (tell me a little about your qualifications and what interested you in this position with our company).

      The response was an outraged “YOU called ME!”

      Well, yes, I did. At the time scheduled for our interview. Which I hope you wouldn’t have scheduled if you didn’t have *some* interest in the job I’m trying to fill.

      I did finish the interview as scheduled, and part way through the candidate realized that this was a heck of an opportunity and scrambled to recover – sorry, too late.

      So I suppose I’ve come full circle – if you think you’ve been insulted as part of the interview process, just politely remove yourself from further consideration.

      I promise not to take offense.

      1. Anony-username in progress...*

        I would SO love to read your candidate’s letter to AAM. “Dear Alison-I recently had a phone interview that did not go well. I’d been working with the world’s worst recruiter, who was constantly springing phone interviews on me with no notice for jobs I had no interest in. When Graciosa at Awesomesauce International called about my dream job, I was already agitated and didn’t realize exactly what the job was until I’d already completely blown it. Completely. It was bad. Later I found out the recruiter never sent me the meeting request. Can this be saved? And is what my recruiter did legal?”

      2. Engineer Girl*

        Oh, this. This! I see a lot of things where people are getting so wound up and insulted over minor slights. Then they want to retaliate against the person instead of talk to them about this issue. Look, most issues fall into two categories. 1) It is small potatoes. Blow it off and walk away. If it becomes part of an annoying trend then talk to the person about it as a pattern you are seeing. 2) It is a big enough issue where you talk to the person about it. Yes, YOU. You are an adult, so please don’t look for someone else to do this for you. Only after you talk to them about it do you escalate.

  16. John Vinall*

    #5 – I’m going to take the opposite tack to most of the commentators. I’m working on the assumption you’ve applied for an IT Director role or equivalent.

    Yeah, I think it’s perfectly reasonable to be a bit insulted. Unfortunately it’s common in big businesses to make job role more about how many people you manage than about the role you’re actually doing (which I suppose for a lot of roles is appropriate) but when it’s IT you’re not just managing people you’re setting technical direction, you’re involved in both tactical and strategic decisions and you’re making significant plans for the future.

    What this e-mail is saying to me is either a) they don’t think that your experience doing those above things is necessary for the role (which is just ridiculous when as you say there’s a bunch of open CS tickets – it suggests the current incumbent is not capable of dealing with it, or b) they prioritise management experience of a large number of employees over the experience you have – which is slightly less ridiculous but still rather insulting.

    I would be a bit steamed – although I’d follow that up by saying that once they re-evaluate the role, if they’re willing to offer the right salary to manage the right number of people in an organisation you should think about whether or not being classed as a “Senior Manager” as opposed to a “Director” is that important to you.

    1. Sarahnova*

      But making tactical and strategic decisions and managing 30 people IS different to making tactical and strategic decisions and managing 200+ people. Having tactical and strategic experience is great and important, but you can’t deliver your strategy unless you can appropriately marshal and direct your people. Managing such a large number of people is significantly more complex than managing a smaller number and requires different skills.

      1. jen*

        but IT involves managing critical technology as well as people. and the technology can be worth more than the salaries of all the people put together, and it can have an effect on the entire org, not just the people directly reporting to you. You can’t deliver anything, no matter how many people you have under you, if you and they don’t appropriately know the technology. i’ve seen people in VP positions with entire departments under them that know less and are less effective than someone knowledgable in the same postion with 2 direct reports for the same size org. point is we can’t really know.

        1. Colette*

          Managing finances or legal also affects the entire company. IT is a different skill set, but it’s not orderS of magnitude more difficult.

      2. Graciosa*

        I agree.

        Yes, technology can be expensive and making the right technical choices is important – but that’s true in almost all business positions. Decision makers in marketing, sales, finance, and a host of other functions within a company can have just as big an impact as decision makers in IT.

        I don’t see anything in the email that suggests that the employer is not valuing technical experience – however John’s note does seem to place less weight on the importance of managing people than I would expect.

        As you move up in a large organization, people skills become increasingly important – the head of a 200 person organization (regardless of title) is not spending most of her time running cables or debugging code. Even strategic decisions about technology require buy-in from a lot of other functions – they are not made in a vacuum by an omnipotent technology czar who works in splendid isolation.

        Yes, the IT person needs to know tech – and the finance guy knows numbers, and the marketing guy knows about the markets, and so on. But at the higher levels, these are foundational matters rather than what sets you apart from your previous peers to put you in a position of leadership.

        Someone who doesn’t understand this probably needs a little more seasoning to be ready for that type of role. I don’t know if that was the issue with the OP here – we simply don’t have enough information – but if it was, the organization is making the right call in rethinking the level of the position.

  17. hbc*

    “when it’s IT you’re not just managing people you’re setting technical direction, you’re involved in both tactical and strategic decisions and you’re making significant plans for the future.”

    This is true of any director role, except replace “technical” with “operational” or “fiscal” or whatever. That’s why they’re called directors–they set direction.

    You can’t just ignore the fact that setting the direction for a division of 20 people in a 400 person company is different than setting the direction for a division of 200 people in a 4,000 person company. Even if you take away the management aspects, the scope of the direction-setting is vastly different. And I don’t say this as someone in a big company looking down on the littles, but as someone who has had the director role and responsibilities in a 20 person company and am by no means qualified for that role at even a medium-sized company.

    1. Sarahnova*

      Agree, as I said above!

      There’s nothing special about an IT director role in this regard.

    2. Hiding on the Internet Today*

      There are some people from a couple acquisitions that I desperately want to sit down with you and hope they absorb this when you say it. Yes, at your regional scale company you were the Director of Compliance, with a staff of just you. When the international company buys your company, you will no longer be a Director, you will be folded into the compliance department of a dozen (or a hundred) people and given a job that fits with your experience. It might burn your toast, but actually you aren’t qualified to run the department.

      And frankly, the times I’ve seen direct matching used in this case have ended up with someone in way over their head and unwilling to ask for help they desperately need to adjust for the new and larger scale of the enterprise. It’s not pretty or ultimately good for them.

      Judge the job not by the title, but by the responsibilities and compensation – is it work you want to do? Is it a fair package for that work that fits your lifestyle? Take the job.

  18. Cam*

    #5 is why so many companies are reluctant to give out any information about what they are up to during the hiring process. When they try to be helpful, like this company, some people interpret it the worst way possible.

    1. Sheepla*


      I would LOVE to get honest feedback like that from a company I interviewed with.

  19. Sunshine Brite*

    The title Beachbody uses is Independent Team Beachbody Coach, she should just use that on her resume and describe how many sales she made, how many customers, and her outreach skills.

    1. Sunshine Brite*

      Some also get certifications, lead trainings with their team, participate in test groups for the products, and teach group classes so she should also list those if applicable. Most run virtual challenge groups as well and she could describe the structure that she used for those.

      1. Sunshine Brite*

        Oh, but make sure she leaves out any ranks on the resume – while being a # Star Diamond is impressive for the company, it’s not anywhere else.

  20. jmho*

    I had a company offer me a position once that was a title demotion but with the same pay. While I’m not overly attached to my title, I wanted to understand why and they said they just felt that way. Big red flag to me. When I then asked what competencies I would need to improve upon to gain back that title, they couldn’t or wouldn’t give me anything. I ended the discussions at that point.

  21. TotesMaGoats*

    #1-My sister and I frequently went to work with both of my parents. Other than sitting quietly doing whatever we were doing, you would have never known we were there. And as we got older we were put to work. By older I mean 8, when my mom had me printing off class schedules for college students when they gave me their SSN. It doesn’t sound like these kids are being quiet and respectful or that the mom is at all concerned by the disruption caused. While there may be extenuating circumstances to their presence, the conversation still needs to be had. And I agree with the comment up thread. She’s not sensitive, she’s self-absorbed.

    #3-Ditto everyone’s comments. My concern as a manager is that this person would still be working this business while working for me and either doing MLM stuff on my time or pushing her products on her coworkers. Neither of which should be tolerated.

    1. fposte*

      ” . . .when my mom had me printing off class schedules for college students when they gave me their SSN.” Boy, that’s one of those “times have changed” things, isn’t it? My college also ran everything off of SSNs, but I’ve been so FERPA-indoctrinated since then I couldn’t help but recoil in horror at the notion.

      1. Jenna Maroney*

        I graduated this past December and my college was using SSN’s for everything (well, your “school ID number” but it was always the SSN for students who had one) until spring 2014.

  22. Nodumbunny*

    On #4, the OP says it’s a contract position so I don’t think exempt vs non-exempt comes into play, does it? They are just straight up asking OP to do work for free in exchange for nothing.

    1. Sans*

      That was my impression. I thought contract jobs were by their very nature, hourly. You’re supposed to be paid a decent hourly wage, since you’re not getting benefits.

      Of course, that was how it went originally. Now, companies just classify people as contractors so they can pay them poorly, give them no benefits, and let them go at the drop of a hat with none of the procedures or severance a permanent employee might get. But I still thought it was an hourly job and contracted employees had to be paid for all their hours.

      1. MicheleNYC*

        Actually with healthcare reform any employee, including contractors within an agency, that work over 30 hours must receive benefits. I am currently a contractor and have great bene’s through my company.

        1. S*

          Not true if you’re on a temporary contract. I’m working 40 hours a week on a 1.5 yr contract but do not receive benefits(I’m generously compensated though.)

    2. CAA*

      Yes, this is what I got too. If it’s a 1099 contract, then either you are paid a set fee to do set tasks and overtime is irrelevant; or you are paid by the hour and they’re asking you not to bill them for some of your hours.

      If it’s a “contract position” meaning it’s filled by a staffing agency, then they are asking you to not report all the hours you worked to your agency, which is cheating the agency and yourself.

    3. Meg*

      That’s how I read #4 too. If it’s a pay by the job situation, then of course, overtime without extra pay may happen. if it’s a pay by the hour situation then that’s wrong and OP shouldn’t agree to it.

    4. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Depends on what kind of contract. Fposte brought this up above, but it can be W2 contract or 1099 contract. If W2, exempt/non-exempt is still in play.

  23. Deb*

    #1 – The fact that this is a parent-led board for a charter school (translation: kids are at the center of it all!) necessitates a different approach, in my opinion. This scenario and the proposed response reminds me too much of people who want moms (and dads, for that matter) to work or be involved in other activities, but then aren’t willing to consider rescheduling a meeting set for the end of the day, when most parents have to go pick up their children from child care. Or aren’t willing to consider that a volunteer event scheduled on the weekend is going to be almost impossible for a parent to attend. Even worse when the actor is am organization that professes to have parents’ interests at heart (as I imagine the parents on this school board do).

    I like some of the suggested wording here about offering to partner on child care arrangements. It just seems hypocritical to me to have a flat “no children allowed and no sympathy for those of you who have children” policy in this child-centered context.

    1. A*

      I don’t think this is hypocritical? I am a parent of a small child (with another one on the way) and I would not dream of bringing my child to a meeting like this. I work in an organization that serves children and my role is directly child-serving. Some things are just for grown-ups. Part of offering to serve in a board capacity like this is being willing to make arrangements for your own childcare. It would be great if everyone in the group could arrange a child care pool since sitters can be hard to find, but the main responsibility is on the parents, especially on a regular basis. Emergencies are a whole other ballgame.

      1. Muriel Heslop*

        Exactly. I have two small children (2 and 4), and work for a child-serving company in a child-serving role. I don’t take on volunteer projects that conflict with my ability to take care of children and vice versa. Right now, I can mentor at the local elementary school and read at story time; my children are cared for while I am at work. Setting up a charter school is an enormous undertaking financially, politically, and structurally. It’s a huge commitment, paid or unpaid, and divided focus would be challenging.

    2. Marissa*

      I don’t think the issue is about bringing children. I think it is about bringing noisy/disruptive children. How are these parents supposed to get some real work done, when they are being constantly interrupted? That doesn’t seem helpful to the overall initiative of organizing a great charter school. As a parent, if you are going to bring your kids with you, please adequately keep them entertained. Back a bag with some reading books or colouring books, or bring a laptop/tablet with a movie and some headphones.

      1. Artemesia*

        I agree that if it was a little Alice in Wonderland sitting in a corner reading a book, no one need be terribly concerned. My SIL’s child is often in her store and is put to work — she is 8. My daughter used to come by my office after school as a teen and would help us put together grant proposals or code data or whatnot. Other people had kids in the office occasionally but never small kids who needed lots of supervision or older kids who were disruptive.

        A charter school board might want to hire a sitter and let the kids do activities in the next room — of course there are liability issues they might not want to take on.

    3. Colette*

      I don’t think choosing to raise children deserves sympathy, nor does it mean that every venue or situation needs to accept children. Bringing children to an adult meeting is as inappropriate as going to a playground and being annoyed that there are children there.

      Since this is likely an organization where multiple people need to get childcare, it may make sense to arrange for group care. However, not having group care (or choosing not to take advantage of it) does not mean that the children should be there or that no one should object.

      1. Dana*

        Not only that, but I think it’s safe to assume she volunteered to be on this board–if you can’t commit the time sans-children to make sound business decisions, you don’t do it.

        1. Engineer Girl*

          Argh, my pet peeve! People give a pass for really bad performance because it is a volunteer position. I get that the standards aren’t as high, but they don’t need to be rolling around in the dirt either.

  24. Nea*

    #4 – Run! Run like a rabbit! Run like the wind! “No benefits” + “How do you feel about doing unpaid overtime?” = “We are going to suck the life out of you.” They want the value of your work without the effort of them providing anything near appropriate compensation for it.

    1. MissDisplaced*

      Agreed. If they’re saying this up front, they will expect blood and your life. RUN!

  25. LadyTL*

    I kind of worry with #5 about that they decided no one they interviewed for the position was worthy of being hired at the director level. It kind of feels like they want director level experience to put in Sr. manager positions without having to advertise for Sr. manager positions.

    1. Anonaconda*

      Bingo. I had that thought as well. If true, I could understand why the OP was put off.

  26. Marissa*

    #1 I have a similar situation, but it is in a non-work setting; so I have no idea how to approach the mother in question (if at all). I attend a half-hour weight loss meeting once a week, and one of the women in the group brings her noisy, often disruptive, six-year-old. I am fully aware that she is likely bringing her child because she doesn’t have someone to babysit for her; but this is a paid meeting, and I did not pay to hear a six-year-old stutter her opinions about her Barbie dolls. I am actually older than the mother of the child, but childless myself; so I don’t want to be told the, “You know nothing about kids. Just you wait until you have your own,” spiel. When I was a child, my mother brought me everywhere. However, I was quiet and brought a colouring book or something else to busy myself.

    Does anyone have advice on approaching someone in this setting about their child(ren)? Is this something one should approach a meeting leader about, whether it be work or non-work related?

    1. TotesMaGoats*

      It sounds like a weight watchers-type meeting. If a mom showed up to my WW meeting with a disrupting child, I would absolutely speak to the meeting leader. A sleeping new born? No problem. A kid who sits quietly reading or playing on tech with head phones? No issues. A kid who is not being controlled in that setting? Issues.

      1. Marissa*

        It is a WW meeting. I might speak to the leader next week. Thanks for the advice everyone :)

      2. Connie-Lynne*

        At my old WW location, they had two “Mommy and me” meetings. It wasn’t so that nine year olds could get on program, but so that everyone knew which sessions would be full of possibly disruptive kids.

        I’m child free, but it was my favorite session.

    2. Ariadne Oliver*

      Speak to the person running the meeting. Tell her your very valid concerns, and that you think children should not be allowed at the meetings. In fact, if this is one of those national weight loss groups, they probably already have rules, and not all the rules are being enforced. Check their website for information, then talk to the person running the meetings.

      When you’re paying money for something, you have rights!

    3. some1*

      I would approach the leader about it. Besides the disruption, I don’t think it’s appropriate for a child that age to hear about the body issues that come up in those kind of meetings. Also, the “you don’t have kids so you don’t get it” is such crap. It’s so dismissive to people without children, and it’s unfair to other parents who arrange for childcare so they can go to things like this.

      1. Laurel Gray*

        I agree. I am a parent and there are some things that I do not bring my small child to and I get annoyed that other parents do. For example, one of the reasons I have not been “faithful” to my regular nail salon is that they allow children who are not being serviced. Imagine trying to relax and enjoy a spa pedicure after a stressful week and there is a tween playing some loud game and their little sibling running around while they wait for mommy to get her mani-pedi.

    4. Engineer Girl*

      You paid for the meeting, so you should get the full value of the meeting. The child is keeping you from getting information and is also keeping you from asking questions. Approach the leader for her to deal with it. She’s getting paid (with your money) for just that situation.

  27. T.R.*

    I am LW #2. I just spoke again with the supervisor for this position. One thing I neglected to mention in my original letter is that she acknowledged to me that she felt the offer should be higher. I think she is being very straightforward with me to avoid wasting time on getting approval if I would completely reject the offer. She said that she has already gone to bat as much as possible to increase the offer, and it is unlikely that a counter would be successful. I appreciate what Alison and some commenters are saying about starting negotiations now, but since my sense is that she is contacting me without approval from HR and she is already advocating for a higher salary, I’m not sure it will get me anywhere.

    1. J.B.*

      You may need to move on then. The best thing you can do is to name the salary you truly want. If she can get it great, if not she’ll need to move on to other candidates. But being upfront now is the best use of everyone’s time.

      Sorry, that’s the game. Some departments or pockets of departments have better funding than others.

    2. Sunshine Brite*

      I think then it comes down to figuring out if you want that position. You said the COL would make it comparable, but I’d really look at that and see if you’re wanting to make the leap for comparable or if you want something else depending on how you feel about the work, future opportunities, etc.

    3. Brett*

      Pay close attention to/ask questions about their compensation policies too. Are there regular step increases? Merit raises? Cost of living adjustments? Is there a promotional path, or is this a terminal/single grade position?

      If these do not exist, then your initial pay is going to be an extremely strong determinant of your pay for the rest of your career there, regardless of your performance. Merit pay obviously gives you a significant opportunity to increase your salary later, but state and local gov have been abandoning merit pay over the last decade.

  28. Diddly*

    #5 I don’t think OP is being ridiculous in being hurt by this email, they applied for one job with certain skills and experience – were offered an interview, indicating their skills and experience met the expectations for role. Afterwards they’re told in fact they don’t have the right experience – neither, it appears does the other person they interviewed which seems weird… And that they’re now in the running for a less senior position to their current role. Personally I’d say there’s a red flag in that they told you both interviewees are now up for this less senior role. This seems v odd to me. Are they no longer hiring for that role? Did they not know what they were actually looking for?
    Think OP could ask for clarification/job description for this new role (which they didn’t apply for) – could simply say thank you for your feedback please could you provide me further information on this role to see whether I would like to proceed with the application process. And if you don’t like it don’t proceed.
    You don’t have to spell out that you’re hurt but there’s nothing wrong with OP feeling that way.

    1. IndieGir*

      I’m with you on this. To me it is a red flag that the company couldn’t find ANY candidate that they thought was worthy of the Director title. Really? With the job market we have now, not one person who applied met their criteria? It sounds like they either don’t know what they want, have mis-classified the job, or want to pay less for what they need.

      1. jmkenrick*

        Well, to play Devil’s Advocate…we don’t know where they are, how large they are, or how specialized they are.

        Similarly, maybe they DID mis-classify the job, or were offering too little. That’s not necessarily a terrible thing (perhaps it’s a young industry, a new role for them) as long as they’re being responsive to the feedback they’re getting from the market (sounds like they are, if they’re looking into changing the title).

        It’s certainly a red flag in that it merits close attention and more follow-up conversations, but not necessarily a glaringly bright skull-and-crossbones red flag.

  29. Alder*

    Re #1: For a school, you need to be open to providing childcare during board meetings. Hire someone’s teenage kid or pay a part-time employee to hang out and play board games with the kids in another room.

    Why? Because if your school is like most charter schools, many of the parents won’t be able to pay for their own babysitters for board meetings. So if you don’t provide it, you’re limiting your board to only the more resourced community members, which limits perspective and could result in bias.

    If nobody uses/wants the childcare, then don’t provide it that year, but make it clear prior to board elections that it’s an option.

    1. Case of the Mondays*

      You are correct and I’m one of those childless people that doesn’t “get” children. :) I’m also on the board of a federally funded medical center. We are required to have members from all demographics. In recognition of the burdens members of certain demographics face, we have the ability to pay for transportation and/or childcare to make sure we have a diverse board. The opinions of people in a variety of situations are so important, otherwise you just end up with an echo chamber of people who all want the same thing.

    2. Jenna Maroney*

      Yes, I agree. Have a conversation about this specific meeting if it’s not possible to set something up in advance, but IMO the board needs to make “accessible childcare for parents who can’t always set it up themselves but want to be involved” a priority in the future. It’s about much more than this one mom; it’s about communicating to parents in the future the extent to which they are welcome to be part of the school community.

  30. Bend & Snap*

    #5 I moved from a director role in my last company to an individual contributor role in my current one, and was then promoted to manager. The IC/manager roles are actually more challenging and require more skills than my former director role (and I make a lot more money).

    Don’t get hung up on the title. Pay attention to the role.

  31. Erin*

    #1 – Since she’s your friend, why not go the extra mile to suggest a good babysitter during these times? What do the other moms (and you) do? Maybe you could all go in together with someone depending on how many kids there are and if that’s reasonable.

    #4 – Yeah, red flag. If it were me, I wouldn’t mind putting in extra hours but I would definitely want to know some kind of idea of what that is before agreeing to it. An occasional late night when there’s an important project or deadline is fine – working consistent 60 hour weeks with 40 hour week pay is not. It could be anything in between those two extremes.

    #5 – I can’t really see how that’s insulting, to be honest with you. In fact I’m really impressed with their honesty. In any case, I would definitely respond to the email with what Alison suggested – there’s no reason not to be courteous and stay on good terms. Nothing says you have to accept the job if they do end up making an offer.

  32. Jake*

    In regards to #4,

    I’m very wary of how companies answer that question because I’ve always seem one of two results, 1. They lie or avoid the question or 2. The person answering the question unknowingly gives an inaccurate answer.

    For my current company I was told 50 hours a week with an occasional Saturday, and “we don’t work Sundays with (current company).” This was close to accurate for the first 8 months. Since then it has been not even close, and from talking to employees that have been here for years, I’ve deduced that this is a common and deliberate lie.

    I guess my point is that you need to do some independent research before listening to anything they say.

  33. Jessie*

    #3: I think everyone has a friend (or multiple friends) who have gotten into an MLM of some kind. Some really “drink the koolaid” so-to-speak (like your friend) and really see themselves as entrepreneurs. They’re constantly bugging their friends to buy the product or let them become their “coaches”. Others are much more casual. For instance, I have several friends who sell those scented candle things. They really like the product, so they use it as a way to get discounts for themselves and occasionally sell to friends. I think it would be best if your friend could make herself come across as the latter. “I really liked this product. I was interested in getting into sales so I tried becoming a salesperson for this product. I learned a lot of skills but decided it wasn’t the right fit for me.”

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