my new employer lied to me about salary, do we need team meetings, and more

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

1. My new employer lied to me about salary

I recently started a new job, which pays me pretty laughable amount but I accepted it because I was told it was at the mid-range point for the position, and I was offered a mid-range wage because of my experience. Well, today I was finally able to access financial documents for my institution that outline salaries for all positions, and lo-and-behold I discover that I am NOT being paid mid-range, but am in fact paid pennies above the bottom 25th percentile. What can I do?? I am extremely upset by this – what I’m being paid now barely covers rent/utilities/health insurance/and other living necessities. The mid-range salary would help so much it’s insane.

What angers me the most about this is that I’m basically being paid as if I came in with NO experience, which is not true in the slightest. They explicitly offered me the position because I had so much relevant experience. Please help me – is there a way I can approach my supervisor/HR and talk to them about this?

I’m not normally a fan of trying to renegotiate salary soon after you start, because you agreed to a particular salary, presumably found it fair or at least acceptable, and need to stick to that agreement (just like you wouldn’t want the employer to come to you a few weeks after you started and say that they’d like to pay you less). However, in this particular situation, it sounds like they gave you wrong information — or at least that they conveyed something different than perhaps they intended to. (Who knows, maybe they consider “mid-range” to be everything between the 25th and 75th percentile. Or maybe the document you saw is wrong. Or some other explanation.)

It’s reasonable to seek clarification and find out what happened — not necessarily to renegotiate (which is very hard to do once you’ve accepted a salary and started the job), but to get some clarity on the situation. I’d say something like this: “My understanding was that you offered me a salary in the mid-range for this role, but document X makes it look like I’m actually in the bottom quarter of the range. Can you help me understand?”

2. Do I need to set up team meetings?

A year ago, I took a new job and find myself formally managing a small team for the first time. (In my last job, I ran project-based teams but this is my first permanent team).

Because I’m face-blind, I can come off as a bit cold – if your cat died, and you tell me that, I will be sad and sympathetic like anyone else; I’m just not likely to notice that you are upset unless you say something. So I’ve always asked a neutral colleague to check in with my team occasionally to remind them they have to articulate their feelings, and make sure I haven’t missed any emotional elephants.

At our last catch-up, my guide mentioned that several of my team are feeling disconnected from each other, like their work life happens in a little bubble and they never know what anyone else is doing. My guide suggested I start having team meetings to address this.

My instinct is that five people who sit within 10 feet of each other (with email and instant messaging, a shared trello board that maps all the team’s current and upcoming work and who’s responsible, and tons of local lunch spots for all budgets, including free) should be able to just talk to each other – which is what I would do – but clearly they’re not. Admittedly, this office in general is full of people with lousy social skills, but my team don’t seem to have trouble making friends at work outside our team.

I’m at a loss what to do – I’m not against the idea of team meetings, but I’ve never worked in a team that had them (I guess I’ve been raised professionally by wolves?) and I have no idea what to say or where to start. How do I help my team communicate better among themselves and feel more connected?

I wouldn’t assume that team meetings would solve it, at least not without actually talking to people and hearing first-hand how they’re feeling and what they think would help. So that’s where I’d start: Talk to the people on your team. It can be useful to have your colleague sharing her impressions of how people are feeling, but that’s really just a tip for you to alert you that there’s something you should be checking in with people about; it’s not the full information. Talk to people, ask how connected they feel with the rest of the team and how connected they’d like to feel (they may feel relatively unconnected but not really see it as a problem), and — if they do see a problem — ask for their input on ways to address it. You might find out there’s no real problem, or that it could be solved by something simpler and faster than team meetings (like “we need a better system for logging project updates”). Or maybe everyone would love meetings, who knows.

But ask.

(I will also add that the bit about having a colleague remind your team to articulate their feelings worries me a bit. I’d rather have you talking to people directly, inquiring how they’re feeling about things if you’re not sure and you think it’s relevant, and being up-front about the face-blindness and what you need them to do to accommodate it.)

3. Can I submit writing samples that were edited by others?

I’m currently applying for a few positions in writing/communications that ask for writing samples. The sort of job I have now does involve a ton of writing, and I generally write the first drafts of everything, but since I’m a lower-level person at my organization, the things I write are often edited by people higher up on the chain who make decisions about what is printed, mailed out, etc. The edits are often minor and mostly involve word choice changes and maybe a few additions, so the majority of the work is mine, but not all of it. Can I submit the final versions of these writing samples, or do they need to be the first drafts that weren’t touched by anybody? Or can I submit the final versions and indicate that edits were made by others? Several of the things I’m considering submitting were printed in magazines, so the PDFs of those pages just look more professional than the Word document drafts I have.

Well, it’s not really a sample of your writing if it’s been edited by others. Submit stuff that only you worked on.

With published clips, where some of the value of submitting them comes from the fact that they were published, it’s worth noting when you submit them that were “lightly edited” by someone else or whatever the case may be. They can ask you for unedited work at that point if they want to (or have you do a writing exercise, which they should do anyway).

Note: Everyone in the comments disagrees with me on this. I called this one wrong, and you should follow the advice of everyone else on this, rather than me. Please also see this post.

4. When my older work history is more relevant, can I put it at the top of my resume?

I have a question about the order of my work history on a chronological resume. I’m currently a teacher, but used to be a journalist. I want to go back into the journalism profession.

My current position is as an ESL teacher/program coordinator at a school. I am also currently a freelance reporter. In 2012, I was a reporter for a small news organization in Massachusetts.

Currently, I’m applying for a journalism job. Naturally, I want to put my 2012 experience up at the top so that the hiring manager can see my relevant experience first. But, it’s in 2012, so technically it should be lower in the resume since it’s an old position. Right now, I have freelance reporter at the top (because it’s until the present), and I have my teaching position next (because it’s also in the present). Next, in a chronological order, would come my reporting position.

Can I put my 2012 reporter position right after my freelance position so that it comes nearer to the top? It’s not chronological, but it’s relevant. I don’t want to do a “functional resume” because I hear that’s bad for most cases. I don’t want people to think I’m “hiding” something.

Divide your experience into two sections: Relevant Experience (or you could just call it Journalism Experience) and Other Experience. Put the first at the top. That’s a really common way to do it and won’t raise any eyebrows.

5. Asking an employer if a position is still open

Can you ask HR if they are still hiring/if a position has been filled when you applied for the position two weeks ago and haven’t heard anything back? It did not say no inquiries.

I wouldn’t. You applied, they know you’re interested, and they’ll reach out if they want to interview you. If you’re antsy to know if they’re still hiring, it’s a sign that you’re thinking about this job too much; you should mentally move on after you apply, because you gain no advantage by waiting and agonizing and wondering and letting it take up space in your mind — over a job that you might never hear back about — when the part that you control (your application) is already done and over.

{ 281 comments… read them below }

  1. jesicka309

    OP #2
    Our team had a similar issue – we all get along really, really well, however our roles mean that we are often working in silos for a period of time without any knowledge of what anyone else is doing.

    I know you’re reluctant to have team meetinsg, but what works for us is an 8.30 am meeting on a Tuesday morning. We sit in our little work pod and go around the table, sharing what’s in our diaries/what we are working on for the week. It only goes for half an hour max (there are 9 of us) but it means that we all hear what we are all doing and keep us in the loop of the wider activities the team is working on. It also means we can congratulate each other on big achievements (eg. wow, well done on that proposal, it’s great to see it’s getting pushed through), but we also get some visibility into our manager’s schedule (I’ll be out until 2 in meetings on Wednesday, Agnes is as of Tuesday so I’m covering her sales updates, etc.). It also gives us a chance to keep on top of each others workloads (my diary is pretty clear this week, so if you need any help with that proposal Jenny, let me know!).

    Some teams might find it onerous, but the regularity of it and the short time frame keeps it brief. Plus we understand each other’s work a lot better now.

    1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

      It’s a challenge. We have so many irons in the fire.

      Meetings didn’t work for us. People felt they were a waste of time, plus, I found that team members were curiously inarticulate about what they were working on. Maybe it was just they hated meetings so didn’t want to say much.

      I see being Principle Conduit of Information as my job, and this seems to work, mostly. Example, every Monday morning a do an email report with the products that were added the previous week. It doesn’t take me long – maybe 30 minutes. I include pictures of highlights, who is working on what line, couple funny comments here and there. Easy and fun to read.

      I kinda know everything that’s going on everywhere so I can tell Pearl that “hey, Ruby was just working on something like that, see what she says”, and because I kinda know everything and am open to being the conduit, people shoot me emails for connections frequently.

      IDK if this is best method but it works better than other methods tried and I enjoy knowing pretty much everything that is going on and helping people make connections.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        This has always been my preference too. I’m sure it doesn’t work in every context, but in mine it’s been pretty easy for me to have part of my job as manager to be to function as the hub of the wheel and spot stuff that would be useful for others to know and tell them about it, connect people who should be connected on a particular project, etc.

        I so much prefer that to additional meetings, especially meetings that are essentially just “here’s what I’m working on” updates.

        1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

          Probably has something to do with our personalities, also. Obviously we gravitate toward being conduits of information generally. :-)

          I had to adjust as the business scaled. I used to be way more involved in the details and I had to adjust as the business grew so now it is about connecting people and not having a hand in every pie.

          I also have a mental tickler list re things I’ve identified need connections. Fred started a video project 6 months ago and people forget about Fred all the time. I periodically send email reports on the cool new stuff he’s posted (I know, Fred could do that but I have the darndest time getting people to toot their own horn I don’t know why), and I remind people to send XYZ to Fred because it would great for a video, as things come up. He plugs away on his own but he’s a billion percent more effective when people send him source material.

          (I don’t know why it is hard to get people to brag about their own work but they seem happy when I brag about it for them.)

          1. UKAnon

            This seems like it works quite well but (having never experienced this and so being one of the Uninitiated) what happens if/when you leave? It sounds like it would leave a pretty big communication hole that your replacement isn’t going to be able to fill immediately – or anybody else at the organisation if you haven’t already trained them and given them an up to date list of Everything in the Universe periodically (unless you have?)

            1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

              In a coffin? :-)

              I started my division 25 years ago by myself, on a photocopier. In my case, there’s only one way out.

              Generally what would happen to the method if somebody left, I don’t know. There’s no list. Companies do run into big knowledge gaps when experienced people leave. I don’t know what a good alternative is.

              1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

                mmm, it’s not a knowledge thing though. At this point, most all knowledge is dispersed. It’s the connection thing.

                1. Judy

                  But it is the knowledge of who knows what to make the connection.

                  I worked somewhere with lots of “tribal knowledge”. My manager would push back on me when I didn’t check with Jane because 4 years ago she did something similar, even when he didn’t mention anything in the project kickoff. I learned to ask a co-worker who had been there for 20 years if there were any employees who might know about X. How was I, as a new employee, supposed to know what everyone in the division had done for projects over the last 25 years?

          2. OP #2

            And this has always been my preference, so I raised the question because I was surprised to hear that my team felt differently….maybe I’ll start being a bit more effusive in my written updates, and see whether that improves things.

            1. KathyGeiss

              Before moving in that’s direction I’d ask them directly.

              That may be a super easy solution but you also may find that when they say they feel disconnected it actually means that something completely different is bothering them. Sometimes problems arise in mysterious ways and you need to ask some probing questions to get to the bottom of them.

              1. LBK

                And that’s something any manager would have to do in that situation, regardless of their ability to read facial expressions.

            2. Sigrid

              I’d second taking Alison’s advice and asking them directly. What works well for one team, or in one situation, might not work well for another team or in another situation. Ask them and find out what will be helpful for them.

            3. Kadee

              I know you’re not keen on meetings (I feel you on that front!) and you don’t seem to understand why they feel the way they do, but there is an element that’s possibly very positive to this. If the message is accurate, it speaks to having a team that cares a great deal about belonging and being connected and that they are interested in what’s going on with other members of the team. I’d suggest that you approach it from that mindset rather than “Why can’t these people who sit 10 feet from each other just talk?” You seem to have little need for team bonding and development but, as a manager, it’s important that you learn how to manage people who are different from you and not just manage people as you would want to be managed.

        2. AthenaC

          Team meetings have worked great for us, and I think the reason why is that our work is more team-structured than individual-structured. Meetings give us a chance to recruit help, trade projects, or just compare workloads and schedules to see if things need to be shuffled.

          I can see why team meetings would be less effective in a more individual-structured environment.

        3. Decimus

          The only company that I worked at where I felt meetings would have helped actually had larger issues – specifically, our department head tended to be away for long periods of time doing on-site client work. In theory we were supposed to have one-on-one meetings following a full staff meeting every Friday, but as a practical matter those were cancelled 3 out of 4 weeks. As a result there was a lot of miscommunication or missed chances. A colleague from IT came on me and a coworker laborously hand-editing file names and asked why we didn’t use the special tool they’d created for that purpose – we had no idea it existed because nobody’d told us. Or I spent a week reminding my supervisor daily that I needed the specifications for our contract so I could make the file correctly and was told to just create it and it would be fixed later. Fixing it ended up taking me another two days of work. That job had problems…

          One-on-ones ought to be step one. If that doesn’t work, definitely ask the team what is going wrong and how they’d fix it. If they say meetings, ask WHAT the meetings would fix. If all your people act individually, they may not NEED to act as a cohesive team.

      2. LBK

        This is totally unrelated but I have to ask if your choice of names in your example is a Steven Universe reference or just coincidence.

    2. Evergreen

      Our team recently got a bit too big to do the type of thing you’ve described. Instead we implemented two things in a regular fortnightly catchup:
      – Any news from projects or industry (good, but some people don’t like to brag)
      – Pre-prepared 5 minute project updates from 2 or 3 people
      The hub-and-spoke idea would also be really helpful, but there’s perhaps too much going on for our manager to be across everything.

    3. Sunshine Brite

      I think this is a good idea for them vs an email check-in because they likely need to start talking to each other. The OP sounds very removed from the team and not just emotionally if the OP is encouraging another party to be involved with the team’s concerns. I know I feel most comfortable at the informal meetings, particularly for a small team like this.

      1. OP #2

        Was there anything your manager or team leader said or did during an informal meeting (or when putting one in your calendar) to help the conversation flow?

        My team talk to me all the time, but seem stuck when it comes to talking to each other. My biggest fear is taking them all out for coffee and an informal catch up and them all sitting around the table in silence, staring at their notebooks….

        1. Sunshine Brite

          We work remotely so there’s more of a natural tendency to catch up with one another. But they do ask lots of open-ended questions, invite discussions about things that go well, any current concerns or patterns we’re noticing, etc. The ideas tend to bounce off of one another.

        2. Mike C.

          How about just going around the room? Have folks talk about what they’re working on, any successes/help needed that sort of thing.

        3. jesicka309

          Our manager usually is last person top contribute ‘around the table’ but there is no reason why you can’t be first!
          Things that can help start the discussion: print out your outlook diary and go through your important meetings for the week. Bring up any big projects or deadlines that you’re facing. Share 1 or 2 long term projects that you’re still working on.
          The team will pick up the gist of what you’re doing and can contribute themselves. It doesn’t have to be every single task on your to-do list, but it helps the team understand your major priorities and learn to communicate what theirs are. Plus, it helps the team realise that you care about their big projects too (even if they’re small scale compared to yours).

    4. Mallory Janis Ian

      I love that the meeting is on a Tuesday morning. We used to have staff meetings first thing Monday morning, and I hated it. I always felt like my most productive part of the week (first hour of Monday morning) was being taken from me and also like I was on the spot to come up with something to report when I didn’t spend my weekend thinking about it. A Tuesday morning meeting would let the team have a productive Monday and spend a few minutes on Monday afternoon preparing for the Tuesday morning meeting.

      1. Soharaz

        The worst thing about our Monday meeting here is that it is at 10. I get in at 7.30 and the rest of my team gets in at 9.45 so while the meeting for them is before they have fully settled in, I always have to pull myself away from something to attend. It is nice to get the weekly feedback on what’s going on though.

      2. jesicka309

        We start work at 8 am, so I spend the first 30 min reviewing for the week and preparing for the meeting.
        We originally started with Tuesdays because that was the day our part time employee was in, but kept it on because it worked! We tried it on a Monday, but most people had tied everything up on Friday and most updates were ‘so….haven’t really looked at my diary yet, I guess I’ll be checking the status of x y and z and plan from there’. Tuesdays resulted in better discussions and less ‘well, I’ll know what I’m doing once I check my email/diary’ updates.

    5. Ad Astra

      We do something similar at the beginning of each week, then meet again later in the week to update the status of everything and get whatever info our manager picked up at his managers’ meeting that day. To be honest, it ends up being a bit of a time suck and I’m on the fence about whether or not they help the team.

      I think the OP should ask her employees if they think a team meeting would help.

      1. Windchime

        Yeah, our huddle is kind of a time-suck too. We have a huddle mid-morning every day and it’s supposed to be quick, but will often be almost 30 minutes. We also have a team meeting twice a week for an hour to talk about technical issues and do design review, but that one is canceled about half the time. Fortunately, our team is small and pretty good at communication.

    6. Not the Droid You are Looking For

      We had meetings like this, but since our projects were really siloed it turned into a “let’s complain about my project group” meeting (members of my team where assigned to a project group for each client that had 5 people from different departments).

      I transitioned the weekly meeting to a bi-weekly meeting and turned it in to a training session. I would use the first 5 minutes for company updates and then we would do an activity (job related). This became a really great team building/skill builder, as after the first few, I started asking members of the team to lead a session (typically after they went to a training or some other outside activity). These really helped my group feel more connected and not feel like they were “in another meeting.”

      1. OP #2

        That’s really helpful, NtDYaLF…I really like the idea of asking each team member to bring a skill to share. That way, there is a kernel of purpose to the meeting and everyone has to participate.

        1. Not the Droid You are Looking For

          It was really helpful for us :)

          And my team was 90% introverts, so it was a good way for them to get comfortable presenting information.

    7. Turtle Candle

      My team has a similar weekly meeting. Part of it is that half of us are remote workers, and a short meeting helps compensate for the lack of “incidental” conversation, but the silo thing is the other reason. It’s blocked off on the calendar for half an hour, but rarely takes more than ten or fifteen minutes, and it works beautifully.

      I think whether it’s a good idea or not depends hugely on how the team feels about it, but in our case it very much isn’t a waste of time–I generally hate meetings, and yet I’d really regret losing that one.

      So yeah, I think there’s a huge amount to which the nature and personality of the team determines whether this is a good idea or a waste of time.

      1. jesicka309

        I honestly miss the weeks where we don’t have one due to illness or people OOO. I feel like I lose ‘the pulse’ of the team and feel a bit isolated.

  2. Bend & Snap

    I’m confused by the answer to #3. Almost all writing in comma roles is edited by someone else. I’ve never heard of anything going straight to publication without going through an approval process first, unless it’s internal. That doesn’t mean it’s not an accurate representation of writing.

    If the pieces were being heavily edited, that would be different, but according to the OP that’s not the case here.

    1. Buffay the Vampire Layer

      I’m also confused by that response. I’ve always put a cover page on my writing samples with a little paragraph saying here’s what this is, if it’s an excerpt from a longer document, how much it’s been edited, and whether I had the last review of it.

      My hesitation might be because I’m a lawyer, and so I feel very uneasy sending a rough draft of anything. For writing samples I almost always send a file-stamped copy of a motion, so there’s no concern about violating privilege, even if it’s just revealing my own pre-filed work product.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        That’s fine though — you’re not presenting it as your own unedited work. But when you are, or when that’s clearly what’s being requested, it should be solely your own work or you should note that it’s been edited by someone else.

        1. UKAnon

          Might one option be to present the edited final version and also the first draft that the OP worked on alone? I think that would be quite useful as it not only shows OP’s skills but also where editing of OP’s pieces happens, the styles and standards of OP’s current workplace etc… It might turn out that they dislike the way OP’s editors write but think the part OP did on their own would fit really well in the role.

          1. Elysian

            I would guess that would be too much though – I wouldn’t want to be sitting around comparing two the two writing samples to figure out what’s what.

        2. misspiggy

          I think there’s a difference between editing for content and copy editing (grammar, spelling, minor cuts to fit the format). If I’m sharing published work that has just been copy edited, I’ll claim it as mine. I think it’s generally understood that material for publication will have some editing that doesn’t need to be credited.

          If others have provided information which has changed or added to the content, I’ll flag that as appropriate.

        3. Felicia

          I’ve never actually asked for work that’s unedited. Generally I’m asked when I apply somewhere for a comms role they ask for samples of published works. Which are always somewhat edited, in fact a big part of my role now is editing the work of others for publication. I wouldn’t still say the work I edit is 100% the person’s who wrote it.

          When they just say writing samples, I provide published ones and don’t note that they were edited by someone else, because I assume the person hiring for that type of role should know that (shouldn’t everyone know that?)

          Generally when places want to see what my first drafts look like, they ask me to do a 30 minute writing test after an interview.

          1. FormerEditor

            Exactly. Anyone in the field knows published pieces have been through some editing process, and you really can’t tell how extensive. A writing test is the only way to answer that question. I would never send unpublished draft writing samples nor would I expect to receive them.
            If I received samples and someone noted they were “lightly edited” I’d think they didn’t know the business or were hiding something or both.

            1. Ask a Manager Post author

              I would never send something in this context without noting what had been done to it outside of my own work. Have written professionally for 20+ years, including jobs where the entire work was writing.

              I can imagine it being different if you’re an actual journalist, but most people aren’t.

      2. Elysian

        To avoid this I’ve just been using something I did in law school, even though I’m a few years out of school now. I know its not ideal, but when my firm doesn’t know I’m looking I can’t get permission to use more recent work, so its kind of a rock and a hard place. Even the least edited file stamped piece I have had quite a few edits, and I would feel weird using it without permission anyway, so… now I’m left with a law review piece. I really hate having to give lawyer writing samples, though I understand why they’re so important. It’s just so tricky.

      3. Sans

        I agree. There is no way ANYTHING goes through that isn’t at least, lightly edited. I’m a copywriter and if I went to an interview and said, oh, this piece was lightly edited, they would look at me like, duh, of course it was. That’s the nature of the game. If they edited to the point where it significantly changed the tone or the approach, that’s different. But it is extremely, EXTREMELY rare to not have one word touched.

        And I’m a good writer. I get great reviews. At every job I’ve had, people request me for their projects. So I’m not some hack. That’s why copy managers exist. They look at copy. They make edits.

        1. KT

          Same. I can’t imagine ever saying a published piece had been edited—of course it has! I think saying so would make me look very green and out of touch.

          1. Anon the Great and Powerful

            Yeah, I would never say this. It’s not the way things are done.

            1. Anony-moose

              Even my blog is lightly edited by my partner, who is a copywriter. I don’t tend to publish anything that doesn’t have at least one other set of eyes on it. Too many rogue commas otherwise!

              1. Ad Astra

                My personal blog is the closest thing to “unedited” you’ll find with my name on it, and even that has been edited once or twice by me.

          2. Chloe

            Seconded … I have a portfolio of magazine and newspaper clips that have obviously gone through a line-editor. It would be bizarre for me to show unpolished work in an interview because I could have just made it up. I bring the whole “clip” to show that my name has been a part of an established brand, etc. That being said, almost all my jobs have included writing tests (editorial >> marketing), and I would expect them to.

      4. AnonyMiss

        I’m a paralegal, so literally none of my work goes unedited. I always use copies after final attorney review, and only use those that didn’t go through an extensive editing process. And to further preserve privacy, I then redact every name or identifying detail. If it went out under the bar number of anyone but my immediate supervising attorney, I redact the attorney name/number as well – that may not necessarily be always wise, but I’m more comfortable with it, I never received any push-back, and if I did, I would probably give out the attorney (just not the defendant, victim, etc.).

    2. Christine

      As a copy editor, I’m also utterly baffled by this answer. I guess for a writing sample you’d want to give the prospective employer a sense of where your skills are without editing so they know how much additional work your pieces might need, but the way the answer is phrased makes it sound like if your work has been reviewed by a copy editor you can’t claim authorship. If a writing sample is something that’s been published in a magazine, I wouldn’t even note that it’s been edited– that’s more or less implied by the mere fact of it being published.

      1. Artemesia

        I have published books and articles and the editing that occurred was extremely light. In fact with the book I mostly had to push back on editing that undercut what I was trying to do so the book ended primarily copy edited and not edited for style. Articles are copy edited but anyone who gets a copy of a published piece would know it had gone through that process. It involves virtually no changes in text, just punctuation and such. If I were asked for a writing sample (when I was asked for these) I just would include copies of published pieces.

        If the writer is so inept that massive editing has occurred than this would I suppose be dishonest but most people don’t get published if their work needs that much editing.

      2. Erin

        I am very baffled too. If Alison didn’t specifically have a background in writing I might question it more.

        If I’m submitting work that was published in a newspaper, wouldn’t the employer assume it was somewhat edited? What piece goes to publication completely written as is? Has a writer ever turned a piece in and was told, “This is great! It’s going to print just like this!”

        I feel like if I was submitting published material it should be assumed it was (lightly) edited. If I’m directing them to something I wrote for my blog, or did a writing assignment for them, then it should be assumed that’s unedited.

        Right? Maybe not. =/

        Something I’m going to think about going forward, for sure.

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          I think plenty of stuff gets published without changes, if you’re turning in clean copy.

          I admittedly don’t look at my published stuff now that closely to say for sure about it, but when I was publishing far less frequently, I definitely noticed that the the pieces I published in the Washington Post as a freelancer were published without edits, so it’s possible.

    3. Asker of Question #3

      Thanks to Alison and everyone here for the responses. I don’t know if it makes a difference, but I work in higher education, and the things that were published were put in a campus magazine. The people higher up in the chain who edited my pieces were the VPs of Marketing and PR. I don’t work in that department, but I quite a bit of work that they use because my university is small and we’re perpetually short-staffed. So my situation isn’t exactly the same as working for a newspaper or marketing firm or what have you, but it was still work that went through an editing process and into print.

      The edits in my pieces weren’t huge, but they weren’t as small as typos either, so that was where I got hung up. I didn’t know where the line was between “still my work” and “edited too much to say it’s my work,” other than a gut feeling. (Like, “Okay, they added a short sentence here and a phrase there — does that mean I can’t claim this is my work anymore? How much editing do journalists and professional writers get in their pieces that they still submit as writing samples? Can I estimate a percentage of how much of it is mine and indicate that somewhere in my application?”) Honestly, it’s been an ongoing frustration of mine that many of the things in my pieces that don’t need to be edited are edited by the VPs just as a power trip — otherwise I might have things in print that really were subject only to minor typo edits. I’m sure this isn’t unusual, though.

      I ended up submitting 100% unedited pieces that were later put to print, just to be on the safe side. I wasn’t thrilled about submitting Word documents instead of nice PDFs, but I think the pieces are good enough that they should speak for themselves. It sounds like standard practice in various industries is fine with edited pieces, though. Having worked only in higher education and not out in the journalism/marketing/media fields, I really didn’t know where I stood.

      1. themmases

        I worried about this when applying for jobs because there will always be collaborators on my best stuff– scientific journal articles– and my spot in the author list didn’t accurately affect my work (hence the job search).

        I handled it by writing one piece not for publication that was all me. In my case it was a simple research protocol, but it could be anything where you’re confident of the content and format and would normally be the one editing others. I consider it fine to accept copy editing on this piece, but you could also write it far enough ahead of time to do basic copy editing yourself. In my cover letter, I pointed out what exactly I did in a couple of key publications (e.g. I did all the reference management for this one).

        I supplied that to a job hiring someone to write and do literature reviews/citation management, and got called back and hired really quickly.

        Another source of public work only you touched is blogging. A blog can be a great repository for when you occasionally have a topic on your mind. There’s nothing wrong with having a professional looking blog as a hobby that only gets updated infrequently. I’ve had really good responses to blog posts I wrote on medical research topics.

      2. Beth

        I think you would have been fine sending the final published pieces. A phrase here and there is not much in a whole piece, and it would have looked nice and shown that it was published (if you didn’t mention that elsewhere). That being said, the writing will speak for itself, like you mentioned. Good luck!

      3. Ad Astra

        That’s helpful context, because VPs of Marketing and PR can make more drastic changes than, say, a copy editor at a newspaper. Since the piece is meant to be strategic rather than informative, the responsibility to tell things exactly as they happened is a little lighter (but still there!).

        Still, I think in the future it would be better to send the PDFs of published content. Pretty much all of my experience is at newspapers — coincidentally, in cities with major state universities — and the expectation has always been that published pieces were edited.

        1. Koko

          Yes! OP, you can search for and download a free program called CutePDF. It will appear in your list of printers, so if you want to save a Word doc as PDF, use the File > Print option and then select CutePDF as your “printer.” When you hit Print a Save As… dialog will appear allowing you to name the file.

          I’m sure there are also other free programs that do the same thing. I’ve used CutePDF for several years and I always use it for resumes because the visual formatting of a DOC can change so much from one computer to another, especially if one party is using Office for Mac, LibreOffice, OpenOffice, etc. instead of MS Office.

          1. techandwine

            You don’t actually need a separate program if you’re on a Mac. Just hot the print command and then in the window choose the option to “save as PDF”.

      4. Christine

        Ha, I’m a copy editor (and sometime copy writer) working in higher ed too, so I get where you’re coming from. I still think that because you wrote the piece, it’s definitely still yours, even with what I would consider slight edits. I too have been victim of higher-ups wanting to review my work; our office director once sent me back a piece that he claimed to have made minor edits to, and I opened it only to find he’d completely rewritten it. That e-mail I wouldn’t claim as my own work any more, because it bore so little resemblance to my original draft. But changing phrases or adding short sentences is part of what copy editing is. What a lot of people think of as editing– correcting punctuation, grammar, typos, etc.– is actually proofreading. Copy editing is a more involved process that does involve things like changing words or phrases, suggesting rewrites, sometimes even moving whole chunks of text around… but it’s still the original author’s work. I mean, if someone publishes a novel, it’s been very heavily copy edited, but everyone still treats it as representative of the author.

        Anyway, the short version is, I think you probably made a fine choice given your concerns, but in the future, I don’t think anyone would bat an eye at you submitted published pieces that had undergone review, unless the job post specifically asks for unedited work.

    4. writer/editor/fundraiser

      yes, this is the first time I’ve ever disagreed with Allison! I’ve never heard of anyone in a professional context asking for an unedited writing sample, and I agree with those who have said that pointing out that it’s been edited will make you look like a rookie. Please don’t do that. And don’t send a first draft. Just submit something that you wrote that you’re proud of, which you feel you can claim as your own (i.e., your colleagues didn’t change the structure or revise whole paragraphs or something along those lines). If it’s for a very writing-intensive job, they should have you do a writing test on site or via e-mail within a short period of time, so they’ll get a sense of how your first drafts look.

      I work at a nonprofit and I can’t think of any piece of writing I’ve done that hasn’t been touched at all by at least one of my colleagues, unless it’s a simple e-mail as part of back-and-forth with a donor or something like that. It’s not just a matter of copyediting. I’ll send materials to our program staff to make sure I’ve got the facts straight about their work, and they’ll make corrections to clarify.

    5. Sinjin

      “Edited” can also mean different things. If published copy differs from the draft, it doesn’t mean the original work had mistakes or bad grammar. Clients, bosses, peers, etc… often make/suggest changes that are subjective. My guess is that many commenters have had an experience where (they felt) the draft was actually better than the finished product!

    6. Writer/editor/journalist in a former life

      Yes, I agree with Alison about 95% of the time, but there’s no way I could provide a professional writing sample (which is what’s usually requested) that’s also unedited, because most professional writing goes through a series of edits before publication. Since part of my professional best practice is to ENSURE any of my writing gets reviewed, because the best writers also know they can’t effectively edit their own work, I’d have a hard time providing a sample that was unedited. A writing test is about the only way to know you’re getting unedited work.

    7. part-time article writer

      Agreed. I am a part-time freelance writer and credit for my published work are mine. My name is on the byline. I don’t feel the need to add “lightly edited” even though my editor looked them over and changed a few sentences before publication. I don’t think OP needs to worry. I think adding “lightly edited” is overkill and selling herself short. But I agree with Alison that if they want an unedited sample, a potential employer should ask applicants to write something during the interview process.

    8. Anonathon

      Agree. If they piece was published, it’s implied that someone edited it. Even if he or she didn’t catch anything major, a copy editor likely still looked at it. My job involves a ton of writing and I’d never put something out into the world that wasn’t reviewed by at least one other person. When I’ve been working for a long tine, I really need an objective second reader! If it was the OP’s job just to do a quick-and-dirty first draft, but the style and the voice were someone else’s, then I’d say not to submit it. But that doesn’t sound like case here.

      (I’m also married to a novelist and books can go through months and months of editing and revision! But the writer is still the writer.)

    9. Heather

      As a professional writer who has submitted as well as asked for writing samples, whether or not the work was edited by someone else is never asked because it’s almost always assumed that your work has been edited. In fact, good writers love their work being edited because it makes it better. I’d be wary of any writer who would submit something that no other eyes have seen. That’s a sign of an arrogant writer who can’t accept constructive criticism and use it to improve. Having work edited does NOT mean someone is a bad writer. Needing your work entirely rewritten is another matter altogether.

      A better way for employers to get a grasp on whether the applicant is a good natural writer who doesn’t need heavy editing is to give them a writing test. Then you can be assured you’re seeing the raw materials.

    10. Lizzy

      It looks like Alison updated her statement to admit she might be in the minority on this, but I agree with everyone here. I am in marketing/comm./PR and I always submit the final draft for my writing samples. A good bulk of what I submit are press releases and lots of employers I have dealt with want to see the final product formatted correctly, dated, and with the organization logo attached. It is definitely cleaner to read and since I was a freelancer, it gave some legitimacy to my work (granted, you could doctor a press release).

      1. Recent Grad

        I’m a writer, and I think there’s a difference between edited and hijacked. Editing in most cases for me is occasionally changing a word for copyfitting, fixing typos, and addressing “You could develop this more”/”I don’t know what you’re talking about” types of questions. Hijacking, on the other hand, is when someone else rewrites whole paragraphs, or makes other significant edits without your input at all. I probably wouldn’t submit a hijacked piece as a writing sample. Even as a young writer, I think noting that a piece is edited is strange. Employers will want to know that you’re open to constructive criticism and not married to your work to the detriment of the organization.

    1. Erik

      First thing I would do. However, this is also a great reminder on why you do your homework before accepting a bad offer in the first place.

      1. misspiggy

        In this case the OP wouldn’t have had the information at the time she was making a decision. Maybe the takeaway is not to accept an offer that doesn’t meet your financial needs, unless circumstances are forcing you to end your job search.

        1. Stranger than fiction

          I’m not so sure about that, I was assuming because the pay grades were published internally, this might be government or something where they’re also published externally, but she hadn’t thought to check and took them at their word…but I could be totally wrong.

          1. rory

            If it’s government, the range would very likely be on the job posting itself, or easily found on the website (ex: this is Grade 1, and Grade 1 is listed on the Grade Table under Salary & Benefits as being between X and Y). Since the OP had to hunt around for the info, I assume it wasn’t made available to applicants.

    2. JenGray

      I agree that it is possible that OP1 needs to resume her job search but I think she should also perhaps find out what is going on first. It is possible that perhaps she is being paid mid-range based on U.S. Labor Statistics data but not for the company. I think she needs some clarification. I understand how she feels at my current job I was lowballed in my salary. It is more than my previous job but the person before me made $2 more an hour and she doesn’t have the experience I had. When I accepted the job I thought I was taking a salary that was more the mid range too and that was based off of what other employers advertise jobs for and labor statistics. I also didn’t know the previous persons salary. When I discussed it with management I was told it would be taken under advisement and then I just got the standard raise like everyone else. It sucks but this is what some companies do.

    3. T

      I would talk to HR but I would be careful to stick to the pertinent facts and not get worked up about it. “I was told my $52.5 salary was in the middle of the salary range for my position and then I found out the range is $50-60K. Does mid-range not mean $55K?” But where the salary falls in the range has nothing to do with it being an acceptable salary in general. OP stating to HR that they can barely live on the current salary just muddies the waters. That says “my salary is too low” vs. “my salary doesn’t seem to match where it falls in the range”.

      Personally, I would go into that meeting expecting no resolution. “We never said you would be exactly at 50% of the range. Mid-range is a general term meaning not at the top nor the bottom”. Like AAM suggested, some places probably consider mid-range to be everything between 25-75%.

      But I can sympathize. My raise last year was not life changing (and not really more than COL for me) but it provides an extra $80-100 a month of wiggle room which is really nice. That’s an electric bill, a couple tanks of gas or a week of groceries. I felt it immediately in my budget.

  3. AnnieNonymous

    #2 is an interesting conundrum. I’d argue that being able to identify tensions and emotions is a key part of being a good manager; the whole point is that a lot of people probably wouldn’t pick up on these things and wouldn’t provide valuable insight if asked about them. It’s up to the manager to identify the issues that other people can’t see yet. Can OP2 provide more information about this situation? Forgive me if there’s something else going on (and the OP certainly isn’t obligated to disclose), but I would be put off if my manager couldn’t read my behavioral cues and had to rely on someone else to tell him if anything was amiss. If anything, it would make me guarded and even less likely to be forthcoming if asked directly about it.

    I’m really sorry if this is offensive, but that’s just how I would naturally react to something like that. It’s no one’s fault, but it’s an inherently uncomfortable scenario. I wouldn’t want someone else giving her interpretations of my behaviors and emotions to my manager and having my manager make judgments based solely on that. The manager is managing based on someone else’s assessments. I would also be put off by a manager who sent a go-between to “remind me to articulate my feelings.” I just don’t think that belongs in a work environment. Or maybe this is one of those things that happens to strike an odd chord in me. I think the OP needs to work on this trait himself instead of toying with holding meetings or continuing to ask a colleague to run interference. There’s no big to-do about this. Just talk to your employees.

    1. simonthegrey

      I’m face blind. I can read behavioral cues just fine; I just might not remember you if I saw you again. For example, as a teacher I have my students create a seating chart and explain that I need them to stick to it for the year. Most of my students have similar hair styles, clothes styles, and are generically “midwestern-looking” so I can’t tell them apart for quite a while. Situationally I can reach a point where I recognize them. However if they came up to me in the walmart I might not. They would look like any other young adult/late teen person. I can see really clearly if someone is upset, hurt, angry, etc. What this OP is calling face blind sounds a little more like Asperger spectrum to me.

      1. AnnieNonymous

        I had a similar thought (re: your last sentence) and didn’t want to throw it out there in lieu of nothing. It sounds to me like OP has worked out a system for himself that allows him to avoid basic interactions with his team, and he’s not going to be able to tell that it isn’t working. I’m fairly good at reading people and situations, and the scenario being described in the email would stress me out so much. OP either needs to develop tricks for taking his staff’s emotional temperature, or he needs to forge ahead with the work without any lip service to emotional acknowledgements. I’m lightly suggesting that he should consider disclosing (if applicable) to his employees, because 1) otherwise the situation (using someone else as a messenger) is wildly inappropriate – more inappropriate the more I think about it (and this is probably the sort of thing that OP would appreciate being told), and 2) the employees probably already have their suspicions anyway.

      2. katamia

        Yeah, my understanding has always been that faceblindness was just what you’re describing.

        1. Matt

          I didn’t know the English term “face blind”, but that’s what I have too – probably in a mild form, since I recognize the people I know well … but I don’t recognize people I only see once in a while, like certain neighbors or coworkers I don’t see regularly – I can just guess where I know them from depending on the location (if it’s around my apartment, it will be a neighbor, if it’s at my workplace, it will be a coworker …), if I run into someone at a neutral location, it gets difficult and sometimes embarrassing … I just greet everyone back friendly who greets me, this can’t be wrong :)

          1. OP #2

            I’m the original letter writer. My neurologist calls it face blindness, and yes, I do have difficulty recognising faces, but my primary problem is identifying the meaning of your expressions. If you say something sarcastic, or sound upset, I’ve got no issues catching that and dealing with it. Something obvious, like a quizzical eyebrow is also not a problem. We’re not sure where the wiring went wrong, because I’m looking at the right parts of faces, I’m just not intuitively making the connection between the facial expression and what that should mean. When they decided to promote me into management, my last (awesome) employer and paid for some one-on-one training in microexpressions, which was enormously helpful, but I still miss the more subtle expressions, especially if I’m tired or stressed or in a large group.

            To clarify – I talk to every member on my team at least daily, one on one. I consider my face-blindness (for lack of a better word) a disability, not an excuse – it’s no different than having a manger who is actually blind (which I have had) and it doesn’t relieve me of the responsibility for checking in with my team and interacting on a regular basis. I am absolutely 100% upfront about it with my team members; the colleague checks in with my team every couple of months to make sure there’s nothing they didn’t feel comfortable approaching me with because, as AnnieNoymous notes, it can feel awkward to have to articulate things until you get used to it.

          2. Kelly L.

            Yeah…I wonder if I have a bit of it too. Most recent embarrassing case was when I didn’t recognize one of my former bosses (he retired a few months after I came on) when he dropped back by the office. He’d grown his hair out and grown a beard, but still, I had seen this guy every day for months! Once I do learn your face, I’ve got it, but it takes a while, I think.

            1. OP #2

              One of our managing directors, Paul, used to have really distinctive grey hair – the kind of thing that people describe as a ‘mane’ of hair. After I’d been working there about six months, he got a very short haircut….and after a week, I went up to a colleague to ask who had been sitting at Paul’s desk all week, because he’d been really friendly and I should make the effort to remember his name. She looked at me like I was nuts….

              1. Kelly L.

                Oh, and a friend of mine and I have both had the same experience from the other end and have shared stories about it–we both have long hair that is usually tied back, and people will fail to recognize us when it’s down and ask who the new girl is.

              2. Tau

                Oh, I feel you. I’m mildly face-blind and I still remember the time nobody in the room could understand why I’d thought the two fellow students who were both tall, lanky guys with dark-rimmed square glasses, red hair and beards were in fact the same person. “But they look completely different!!” How is that ‘completely different’ are we even speaking the same language???

      3. Artemesia

        I agree that there are two things here. Inability to read social queues is not very compatible with management and one might want to focus on different areas of expertise that are a better fit.

        I laughed at your description of how hard it can be to tell apart a dozen students with the same straight blond hair and sunny looks at age 20. I remember having that difficulty with a couple of students. I remarked on it to my GA and she said ‘you do realize that Ashley and Kayley are identical twins?’ No I didn’t know that. They looked very similar to 10 other girls in the class and I hadn’t realized just how similar. It usually took me about 10 days to get it sorted. I would learn the names of the red heads, minority students, people with curly hair or other distinctive hair, most of the guys (the classes were always mostly women) i.e. those who were distinctive looking — and then slowly get the nearly identical brunettes and then the nearly identical blonds with the long straight hair.

        1. simonthegrey

          I had a pair of identical twins split across two different classes. For the longest time I couldn’t figure out which of my dozen blonde girls between the two classes were twins!

          1. Ask a Manager Post author

            Yeah, I’ve concluded I’m being myopic. With the type of writing I do/have done and the type of writing I generally hire for, it’s easy to have writing samples that aren’t edited by others. But reading the comments here has made me realize that there are loads of situations where that’s not the case. I’ve updated my answer in the original post to reflect that I’m the only one taking this stance.

        2. BeenThere

          Is this why the redheads get called on more often? I swear in every university lecture we are talking 200+ students here) I would get called on in the first week.

    2. AcademiaNut

      I’m a bit confused about the term “face-blindness”. My understanding of the word is that it refers to prosopagnosia, which is an inability to recognize faces, so people who suffer from it can come across as rude because they literally don’t recognize you by appearance, no matter how long and well they know you.

      OP#2 sounds like it’s more an inability to detect emotional context – they won’t pick it up if someone is angry or sad or frustrated, or being sarcastic or joking, unless they are explicitly told so, so they miss a lot of the subtext and subtleties of verbal communication.

      I agree that this could be difficult for the employee being managed, if they’re expected to provide verbal emoticons as part of routine work interactions, or are having their emotional responses interpreted and communicated to their manager by a third party.

      1. katamia

        I would find it exhausting to have to explain my emotions constantly, honestly, and depending on who the neutral third party was, there’s a lot I wouldn’t want to share with them that I might (or might not, depending on our relationship, although I suspect I would find having a manager like the OP difficult) be willing to share with my manager.

        I understand that not all people are equally good at detecting different kinds of emotional context, but this sounds like something the OP really needs to work on. They may not ever be great at it because some people are just naturally better at it than others (as is the case with every other skill in the world), but I find it very difficult to believe that with time and effort they can’t improve at all.

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          Yeah, I’d love to know more about exactly how this works. I mostly skipped over it because I ended up thinking it wasn’t the core part of the question, but I do think it’s an interesting question in its own right.

          I could definitely see enlisting a colleague in the “hey, I know I have trouble picking up on this kind of thing so would love a second pair of eyes” kind of way — similar to what you might do if you were in a different location from the rest of your team. But I wouldn’t want it to replace direct communication and direct inquiries, and I wouldn’t want to urge team members to use that other person as a proxy for me rather than talking with me directly. (If the issue is really just about having trouble reading facial expressions, I’d think a solution could just be prioritizing explicit conversations and making sure that staff members knew not to expect her to read nonverbal cues?)

          1. OP #2

            This is absolutely what the colleague does (second pair of eyes)- from working with a manager who was actually blind, I learned that sometimes there is no substitute for having a working pair of eyes that picks up on facial expressions (she used the same technique).

            I don’t rely on her judgement or expect her to manage by proxy, but I do find it very useful for my team (and team members in the past have agreed) to know that they have someone they can go to if there’s something they don’t feel comfortable raising with me directly, especially with new team members who will definitely have an adjustment period while they get used to how I have to communicate.

          2. LBK

            To some extent, that’s what I would expect employees to do anyway – be explicit with me about what they want/need/feel/think rather than expecting me to infer it. I’d think fostering an environment where people are comfortable being really direct with feedback or communication in general is important for any manager even if you’re the most empathetic person in the world.

        2. AnnieNonymous

          My issue with the situation as it’s presented is that the OP has an expectation of being privy to information from his employees’ private lives. If (as in the example given) my cat died, I might be sad, and I’d hope that people would notice and give me some space, but I probably wouldn’t talk about it with my coworkers. You can read someone well and identify an emotion and still never know what’s behind it. I see the OP’s interest in meetings as coming from a desire to glean personal information from employees that I would be very uncomfortable sharing and that I would not expect a good manager to ask about. IMO, the OP’s insistence on having this information, to the extent that he’s dispatching someone else to get a feel for the room, more left-of-center than the inability to read emotions at all. Lots of people are oblivious to other people’s moods, and I see that as typical and expected. Most people don’t think it’s perfectly polite and necessary to ask for details of my emotional state.

          1. OP #2

            Oh, and the example about the cat was intended to be relatable….I would never expect a team member to tell me anything about their private life (though I’m always happy to listen if they do want to talk about it).

            To continue with the example of the cat, if you are sad and feel like you need a bit of space, and I come in with a load of things that need to be done asap, then I need you to mention that you need a bit more space today – I don’t need to know why and I would never ask, but just like a physically blind manager, I can’t pick up on that from your facial expression (though I might get it from your body language or your tone of voice). From a more work perspective, if one of your colleagues has made you angry and you need me to deal with it, you need to say something – I’m not likely to pick up that you’re angry and ask if you need to talk about it.

            My employers and I are also upfront from the beginning that this is necessary, and (because we recognise that many people take time to get used to doing this), we make it clear that my guide is available to convey the message if you’re not comfortable saying something directly.

            1. YaH

              I come at this from the other end, which is that people need to Use Their Words if they’re upset about something. I may notice someone’s facial expressions, but I’m not going to try to interpret what they’re thinking or feeling. If someone seems upset but doesn’t say anything, I’m going to assume they don’t want attention called to their expressions or reactions, or that they’re not bothered enough to speak up. My caveat is that I am not in a management role, so I don’t have the same kind of natural psychological boundary that someone would have to overcome in order to speak up to their supervisor.

              1. Trillian

                I’m the same. I’m an adult. I expect to manage my own emotions and use my words, and I expect that others will do the same. Mood oglers make me twitchy, and people who decide what I’m feeling without actually asking me and hearing the reply annoy me.

                1. fposte

                  Yes, I’m wondering if the OP might be overcompensating without realizing it. Most managers really aren’t going to check in with body language to see if an assignment’s going to be well received, so it’s not like she’s behind there.

                2. Kelly L.

                  Oh, this too. I’ve known people who were really keen on jumping to “You’re having a difficult time with this” based on, I guess, a facial expression I wasn’t aware I was even making. I guess I have RBF or at least Concentrating Sad Face.

                3. BananaPants

                  It does sound like OP might be over-compensating. I’m a grownup and I don’t want or need my manager to try to interpret facial expressions and body language in some profound way. If I’m having a challenging time due to a personal issue and it’s impacting my work I’ll tell him. I’m at work to work, not to have a supervisor trying to psychoanalyze me and make sure I’m feeling validated or whatever. If he went to the extent of having someone else “check in” about my feelings I’d be looking for a new boss or a new job.

                4. Former Diet Coke Addict

                  Oh my gosh, yes. I have Resting Tragic Face–I almost always look sad or forlorn–and I get questioned fairly frequently with “is everything okay?”or “come on, cheer up!” Or the worst, “Smile! It’s not that bad!” But usually nothing is wrong, and I hate having to reassure people “no no, I really am fine! no, really!” This happens probably once a week.

                5. cv

                  It’s possible that the OP may be overcompensating, but reading facial expressions and mood is something that most people do instinctively and unconsciously. Even for those who don’t want their managers and coworkers using unspoken emotional cues, it may be happening and smoothing those interactions and relationships without you realizing it.

                  In past threads a lot of people have expressed how much they hate using the phone for business for reasons that include not being able to read the person’s non-verbal cues. I think most people understand that there are additional challenges that come with managing a remote team – including the fact that it’s harder to build a rapport with someone and that people don’t always raise little concerns – and it sounds like the OP faces some of those challenges managing in person.

                6. Ask a Manager Post author

                  Hmmm, yeah, I’m agreeing with others here that this might be overcompensating. By all means, explain to people that you might not catch facial expressions and so if there’s something they want to convey to you, they need to use words to do it … but I don’t think I’d want my manager to have a “guide” I could check in with or who would check in with me. It feels like putting a focus on emotions and non-verbal communication that almost feels … insulting or condescending to your staff. Why not just trust that they’ll use words to communicate with you, especially since you’ve explicitly told them that’s needed, and that you can explicitly check with them about how things are going?

              2. Elizabeth West

                I kind of feel the same way about this. If you want to tell me why you’re upset, fine–I WILL notice but I feel like it’s prying to ask. I might ask, “Are you okay?” if you’re very obviously distressed, for example if you look like you’re crying or ill. If you don’t want to talk about it, that’s fine too.

                I also don’t expect my boss or coworkers to notice and ask if I’m upset. But then, I’m pretty open myself, so if something stupid or awful happened, I’m likely to tell the coworkers I’m closest to about it anyway.

            2. AnnieNonymous

              You’re coming at this from a sunny vantage point, but all you’re doing is defending these methods. This is emblematic of the issue at hand: you’re being advised to stop doing this, and nearly everyone here is stating that they don’t like it, and you’re not reading between the lines to realize that you need to stop operating this way.

    3. TheLazyB (UK)

      Which is funny, because if I’m upset about something and haven’t told my line manager about it it’s because a) it’s not affecting my work and b) I don’t want to discuss it. I would be nervous and not happy if my line manager said ‘you seem upset, what’s going on?’.

      1. techfool

        As a kid I was bullied a lot so I developed a very neutral hard-to-read expression. I know at work people find it intimidating.
        If I’m upset or angry at work THE LAST THING I want is someone asking me about it so not everyone wants their microexpressions to be read. And I think it can be easily misread.
        I figure if people care enough they will speak up. If they’re not speaking up they either don’t want to tackle it or be tackled about it
        I think that what I’m trying to say is that the face blindness referred to may not be such a big deal in an office environment. Or I’ve been working with two-faced people for too long.

        1. eee

          see, here is what I think a lot of people are missing–from my interpreation, it’s not like “ohh I see that Brenda pursed her lips when I said we were no longer going to do the process she suggested, her ego is likely bruised and I will go out of my way to make her feel appreciated, because she must be handled with kid gloves.” It’s more like “In a meeting, I mentioned that we were going to stop doing A and start doing B. Everyone made an expression in response to that. I have no idea whether people were pleased, upset, angry, confused, or neutral. I have no way of knowing this unless I ask someone else what their facial expression was.” In that second example, knowing what people’s expressions mean is incredibly valuable–if you knew everyone looked upset, angry, or confused, and you were not expecting that reaction, you could ask whether people had reasons to believe that was a bad idea, and then you could learn that process B takes twice as long, is way less accurate, and is incredibly expensive.

          1. OP #2

            Exactly! Thank you, eee, for so accurately expressing what it’s like!

            (If you don’t mind, I’m going to stick your comment in my notebook and use your words when I need to explain this to new team members!)

  4. Michael Wilcox

    #3: If by “positions in writing/communications” the writer means jobs in public relations, journalism, marketing, advertising, or similar fields, then editing is standard practice. When hiring managers in these careers ask for writing samples from your professional history, they are fully aware you will submit work that has been edited. You should submit published clips, including those that were edited. If the hiring manager wants “raw” writing samples, they would make that clear, or (more commonly) would ask you to write one during an hiring exercise.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      I spent years working as a professional writer and I’ve hired a bunch of writers. I’ve always only submitted unedited samples (or if published clips, noted if they were edited). And I always specify that I want unedited writing samples when hiring. (I also give writing tests, of course, but that’s generally later in the process.)

      I’m perfectly willing to believe there’s variation on this, but I think it’s far safer to submit unedited work. You don’t want to end up in a position where the writing you produce before editing isn’t aligned with what they want from you.

      1. Michael

        Fair point on making sure expectations are clear, certainly no harm in that. I went to school and worked in the journalism field, and you’re right, it probably is different from book publishing. But in journalism and related fields, published edited clips are very normal to submit when asked for writing samples.

          1. Bend & Snap

            If it’s heavily edited, it shouldn’t be submitted. But for a normal piece, the interviewer will know that there was an editing process. That distinction isn’t important in communications, in my experience. What’s more important is where the idea came from, how it supported key marketing priorities and what the results were.

            1. Sinjin

              I worked in media for 20+ years, then 2 years in PR, and it works the same. It’s understood that work will make editing rounds, or reflect a client’s input.

              1. Sans

                I’m going to agree with everyone here. Alison, from my experience, and the experience of everyone I know in marketing and advertising, your approach is unique. No one asks for or provides unedited copy. There’s no such thing. If they want to see my unedited copy, then they’ll ask me to do a writing test.

                1. KT

                  This–perhaps technical writing or publishing is different, but in marketing or public relations, of course an editor/legal/whoever has reviewed and edited.

          2. s.b.

            I just have never, ever heard of a job application that asks you to comment on how much your clips were edited, or been asked to note that when submitting clips.

        1. Ani

          I would have to produce a new writing sample. Literally every published article I have written has been edited; also, not even journalism competitions request information about the extent to which a submitted piece has been edited.

          1. Sinjin

            If a job applicant sent me published writing samples along with the original drafts — or notes clarifying what had been edited — that would strike me as odd. I’d assume she/he wasn’t familiar with industry norms.

            1. Sans

              I agree. I have concerns about advising people to do this. I’ve worked for over 30 years in marketing and advertising for a variety of companies. I have many colleagues and friends in this field. I can tell you including edited and unedited copy would be considered really, really odd.

            2. MsM

              Me, too. Also, if you need another sample that should be the recipient’s own work and can’t do the writing test for whatever reason, the cover letter is right there. If it’s significantly different from the other writing provided, that’s probably a sign the person needs a lot of help from others before they can turn out something presentable.

          2. Sinjin

            Just want to be clear that in my other comment I was agreeing with you and piggybacking!

      2. CMT

        When you request unedited writing samples, do you mean edited for content/ideas or any editing at all, like proofreading to catch typos?

          1. Brigitte

            This might depend on context. I’ve worked at 3 PR agencies and am the founder of a boutique agency now. At all of these organizations, editing rounds are the norm.

            I think a good compromise is a light explanation, depending on industry. In PR, I’m assuming that any finished product I see had been edited.

          2. short geologist

            I literally don’t have an unedited writing sample since college 15 years ago. My grad thesis was revised per review. In my experience in science and consulting, not only are all drafts reviewed and revised by others, but any “me only” rough drafts would be legally dicey. I provided a bunch of different published links/citations when asked.

            I have taken in-interview writing tests, and I’m sure it’s one of the first questions asked of my references.

            1. HeyNonnyNonny

              Yes, I have this problem too. I probably can’t send anyone unedited work, even if they requested it, because it hasn’t been cleared to leave.

            2. themmases

              I have the same issue due to working in research. By this standard your best/published work doesn’t count as your own work! As an incoming grad student looking for RA jobs I was worried about it.

              I wrote a research plan for a topic that was un-stealable because it was being explored already in the literature at the time and my group had no plans to work on it. I also had a blog where I wrote about science news and research ethics without drawing directly on my group’s work. Those were both well received although I’m not sure I’d bother to do it again now.

          3. Oryx

            When you say “unedited” do you mean unedited by an outside person or first draft and not even edited by the writer?

      3. Miss Betty

        What did people submit to you? Old college papers, journal entries, blog posts? I’m not being sarcastic or facetious, I’m genuinely curious. What professional writing samples would people have that they could submit to you in an unedited form? Did you ask for their rough drafts? Those might not even exist anymore. (And considering what some rough drafts look like, I don’t understand how they’d be remotely helpful to you.)

      4. Beth

        Sorry Alison, I have to agree with everyone else on this one. Unless they SPECIFICALLY ask for work that was unedited, like you clearly do, I would never hesitate to submit edited work. You say “or if published clips, noted if they were edited” – but really, I feel like there’s almost no such thing as a published clip that’s NOT edited, unless it’s something more “informal”, like this blog or something else online and not through a publication/agency. And I agree with others that submitted unedited work from a previous job is also not OK, as it’s not been cleared for release. I’d assume lightly edited is fine and expected unless told otherwise. That’s what writing tests are for, and most people would have to create a whole new writing sample for an “unedited” piece of material. Now, I wouldn’t submit the paper that I and 4 of my colleagues worked on together, but I’d definitely submit the paper I wrote solo that went through a few rounds of approval with copy editing.

      5. Ad Astra

        This is so interesting because I’ve never heard of anyone doing it this way. I don’t think I even save my rough drafts. But I have more experience editing than I do writing, so I guess my sample size is small. Huh. Who knew?

      6. Turtle Candle

        This is really interesting to me. I’m a technical writer, and have been involved in hiring other techncial writers at my workplace, including reviewing samples. In my industry, I absolutely assume that any sample that’s an actual tech writing sample (that is, not “I’m a recent grad and here’s my senior thesis to prove that I can string words together,” but technical writing samples themselves) will have been fact-checked and copyedited. It’s not standard to do more in-depth editing than that, but those two things I absolutely assume. (And in my experience this isn’t just true of where I worked; it’s industry standard.)

        And indeed, in this industry, it would *not* be safer to provide an unedited sample. If you tell me that it’s unedited, okay, but my immediate response is going to be, “Er, why?” And if you don’t tell me, since fact-check and copyedit is so incredibly standard, if I do notice the kind of small errors that a copyedit would catch, it’s going to make you look careless in a way that will make me hesitate to want you on my team.

        The way we determine an applicant’s unedited writing ability–to see exactly how much work is required to edit them, and also to catch whether they potentially had someone with higher writing skill write their sample for the–is to have them produce a short piece of writing during hte interview. But the samples they submit, I always expect to be edited, and it would be strange at best and downright bad for them at worst to submit an un-copyedited sample.

        I wonder if this varies based on type of writing and industry.

      1. Elizabeth West

        I’m fascinated too, especially since I copyedit technical reports at work. I had to do an editing test to get this job, but I can’t imagine having a sample of my day-to-day work, because everything I edit is confidential.

    2. Techwriter

      I worked as a technical writer for a very large financial services firm for more than 15 years, and had a good reputation within the company for being a very prolific and accurate writer. My writing was mainly educational or procedural. Never have I had a document published without review and editing by multiple people, and there were often rewrites to add information or change direction from earlier drafts. That said, there were few documents that I would not consider my own writing.

      One thing few have mentioned is the way that proofing and editing are treated in your organization, and how that influences whether you consider a document as yours. In my company, for my own writing, I owned the document from the moment the topic or outline was dropped in my lap. If a reviewer believed a major rewrite was needed, they told me, and I did the rewrite. That said, for several years I also supported a couple departments where subject matter experts wrote a first draft, and then turned it over to me. If major rewrites were needed, I consulted with them, and they had to approve my changes, but any writing from that point was all mine. Depending on the amount of work those projects needed, I might consider those documents as written by the originator, by me, or as written jointly by the two of us. If editors in your group did rewrites, rather than suggesting changes, that might influence whether you consider the output your writing.

  5. Anne S

    #2 – This is something that I’ve said to managers in the past, so I spent a little bit of time thinking about what I was trying to get out of those requests, and I think what I wanted was a better way for me to keep track of my teammates’ areas of expertise. I do work that’s project-based, and our projects can go in unexpected directions that cause us to do a fair bit of research or experimentation.

    While I generally know what my teammates are working on, I usually know something like ‘Jon is on the white chocolate project, Arya is working on the caramel one.’ It’s sort of at the same small talk level that I know that Arya is looking for a new apartment, and Jon just got a dog. I might not know that Arya’s project has caused her to test six different caramel attachment methods. As a peer and not a manager, I feel weird about interrogating my coworkers to that level of detail in small talk, especially when I’m trying to keep my own Hermione Granger tendencies under control.

    But if I don’t know what Arya’s done, when I take on a new project that requires spun sugar attachment, I treat as it something that requires novel research, because I don’t know that I could just check with her. (I could ask the whole team, of course, but if my work often includes research and testing it’d feel odd for me to ask every time I encounter everything new.) Or, if I give a quick status update in a team meeting, ‘Going to start researching attachments’, then Arya has a chance to mention she has some results I could look at. Could something like this be what your team is looking for?

    1. OP #2

      Anne, thanks for taking the time to think about this….that really makes sense.

      So rather than worrying that they aren’t talking to each other, when I give Arya a new project, I should mention that Jon might be able to help her get to grips with the latest teapot lid designs since he’s been working on a new white chocolate teapot design, and as we keep doing that, they’ll start to develop a feel for everyone’s area of expertise.

      1. misspiggy

        Definitely, and Anne S has put it beautifully. But Jon might also be worried that if he’s not getting updates direct from Arya, she could intentionally exclude him so that she gets all the credit, and the project will be weaker as a result of not using his expertise.

        Plus celebrating successes and sharing learning as a group is often an important part of people’s job motivation – it can make the difference between hating your job and delivering the minimum, and giving it your all.

        1. misspiggy

          Just to add that if you really don’t want team meetings, casually inviting Jon into your check-in discussion with Arya every so often would be good. ‘Jon, have you got a minute? Arya just mentioned she’s not sure which type of white chocolate would harmonise with salted caramel. What do you think?’ (Gets discussion going) ‘Well, that sounds great – why don’t you two keep discussing, or find a time to go over it in more detail, and I’ll let you get on’ (moves away).

          I’m also a big fan of quarterly review and celebration/learning meetings, as a motivational tool.

          1. OP #2

            That’s a great suggestion, misspiggy, to try facilitating conversations between them, since they’re not happening organically…

            1. Judy

              There’s a fine line as a co-worker between getting knowledge someone MAY have or giving knowledge someone MAY need and nosing into other peoples projects. It can be difficult to know where that line is.

              Sometimes managers are information hoarders, also. They don’t want their teams to talk because they want to convey the information.

  6. A Dispatcher

    #1 – Call me cynical but the fact that it is mere pennies above the 25th percentile makes me pretty certain this company knows exactly what it was doing calling anything between 25 and 75 mid range… I’d ask and see if you get a decent answer (I doubt it), but I’d be job searching again right now. You can barely live on the salary anyway and the company’s behavior seems very shady to me.

    1. Mallory Janis Ian

      That was my first thought, as well: they’re paying OP just enough (by a pennies-thin margin) tho day that it is in the mid range, which they define as the middle two quartiles. So to say that her pay is in the mid range is technically true, but not in the spirit of what she was expecting. I’d look for another job if the conversation around this isn’t satisfactory.

    2. Op 1

      Hah this made me laugh. Love technicalities so much. I’ll be searching for sure – this isn’t the only example of poor conduct by them either. Thanks for your response!

      1. Stranger than fiction

        But definitely call them out on it! I.e. have the conversation Alison suggests, although we can be a bit cynical here , you never know they may give you a bump in pay

    3. Ad Astra

      I was thinking the same thing. I suspect if the OP asks for clarification, the manager or HR will say “You’re at the 26th percentile, which is mid-range.”

      1. The IT Manager

        I agree. They used the term “mid-range” which will be a range. I do think it’s disingenuous to call the 26th percentile mid-range, but maybe that’s their definition. IF what you discovered is true then I’d say that used a hard sell negotiation tactic with you, but you do want to make sure that the document you discovered is accurate and you’re not misinterpreting something about it.

        I think about the only thing you can do is take it as a lesson learned for future negotiations though. You need to do your own research and not rely on the people you’re negotiating with to tell you if their offer is fair or not. You accepted their offer; it’s a done deal until raise time comes around. If you can barely live on it, you should have negotiated a higher salary or walked away.

        I think your options are to live with it or leave (keep looking for new job). I don’t think talking to them now will get you a raise right after being hired because you’re not making what you’re worth.

  7. notaquilt

    #2. Wow.

    “I’ve always asked a neutral colleague to check in with my team occasionally to remind them they have to articulate their feelings, and make sure I haven’t missed any emotional elephants.” This is… so far beyond the pale I can’t even fathom how someone could come up with the idea. It’s completely inappropriate. I’ve never heard of someone doing this and I would be instantly and thoroughly put off by someone who did it. If I had a personal issue I certainly wouldn’t share it with them. I wouldn’t trust the neutral colleague or the manager from that point on.

    I agree with the poster above who said that it sounds like the OP is assiduously avoiding any type of emotional interaction with his team. “My instinct is that five people who sit within 10 feet of each other… should be able to just talk to each other – which is what I would do” – only he’s avoiding speaking to them, to the point of finding a neutral colleague to do it. They’re not having team meetings and he’s sending an emissary to check in with them. I suspect that the team and/or the colleague is being diplomatic and they mostly feel disconnected from him.

    With all due respect, if the OP is face-blind and can’t read non-verbal cues, then he has to put extra effort into the verbal side of communication. That means engaging in conversation and asking more questions to make up for the deficit, not washing his hands of it and passing it off to a colleague. He’s making excuses to avoid doing something he’s not comfortable with. None of this bodes well for his managerial potential.

    All that said, this is not a complicated problem.
    *Have a short weekly team meeting where everyone gives a quick update of what they’re working on. If they’re working on a thorny issue, this is a good time to ask for input.
    *Have a short weekly or biweekly one-on-one checkin with each employee. Talk in more detail about their tasks, ask if there’s anything you can help with, ask if they have any ideas, questions, concerns, issues, PTO requests. Go down the list each time so you both know what to expect and they have a prompt to discuss things rather than having to bring things up themselves.
    *Take them out to one of those local lunch spots for a monthly team lunch. Not to have a working lunch, but to chat and get to know each other a bit.
    *Look into something like HipChat, so that one-on-one IMs can become group conversations. Encourages collaboration and integrates with task management software too.

    1. OP #2

      Woah! Clearly I did not explain this guide thing very well!

      To be absolutely clear: I talk to all of my team members one on one at least daily (and usually more often). We do fast-paced deadline-based work, so if we weren’t talking this often, I’d be crap at my job and would deserve to be sacked. The problem is that my team do not talk to each other!

      When they check in with my guide, it’s a question of her planning to bump into them at the water cooler or in the line for the loos every so often to ask how everything’s going and to volunteer a private coffee or chat if there seems to be something on their minds. We also let them know from the beginning that I’m not great at reading faces, and that if they ever feel there’s anything they can’t raise with me directly, they are welcome to go to her either for advice on how to raise it with me, or to ask her to raise it with me on their behalf.

      1. BRR

        I think we just needed to know some of what you are currently doing. Also in your question the first part is about your reading of emotions when your question is about your team not talking to each other (I think I have that right, haven’t had my coffee yet) and that seems to have thrown a lot of people off.

        And notaquilt could have gone a little softer. The “wow” should be used sparingly.

        1. OP #2

          Thanks BRR – I wrote my question to Alison about six times and ended up bringing in the reading emotions to try and explain why I’m hearing about this request from someone else, without making it seem like it’s because I’m a crap manager and I don’t talk to my team….but the reaction in the comments has at least given me some additional perspective on how we explain this arrangement to new hires, so I’ll be changing some things there as well!

          1. BRR

            I went to reread it and that’s only when I found out your question is about your team not talking to each other. The first time I read it I thought it was about you not connecting with your team. That’s on me for not reading it but I think a lot of people are missing your actual question.

            Also it’s great that you’re here to follow up so we can get more information. We do team meetings sparingly because we found out we weren’t needing to meet as often as we were. We start with whatever house keeping and end with saying what we’ve been working on. My team also does a fair amount of activities so maybe that would help. Team lunches. We work at a university so we did a walking tour of the university.

      2. Intern Blues

        So I guess I’m confused why you can’t do those check ins? I work with a lot of people who aren’t good at picking up on other people’s emotional cues (facial and otherwise). It’s not a deal breaker or something they need to outsource. Knowing how they work is part of working with them and they can likewise find ways to get the necessary parts of information they don’t naturally intuit. You’ve already told your team how they work, you can pick up on tone of voice and other body language cues, and you can do explicit check-ins where appropriate. Yes, picking up on facial cues may smooth over some interactions but it’s not a prerequisite.

        I guess I’m concerned because having someone else monitoring my face for my boss would make me very uncomfortable. Adults can express when they’re feeling disconnected to their coworkers to their boss when and if they want to.

        I’m wondering of you’re assuming face blindness carries more disadvantages than it does?

        1. LBK

          Agreed. It sounds like the OP is overvaluing being able to read facial expressions and/or undervaluing having these kinds of check-ins regardless of that ability. Having a proxy to get around the “my employees don’t feel comfortable talking to me directly” issue is really alarming to me and would be regardless of the reason – they need to be able to talk to you, period, and (as I said above) I’d expect them to be direct in those conversations even if you were a master of reading expressions because that’s what adult employees should do when they need something rather than expecting their manager to infer it from visual cues.

          1. Intern Blues

            Yeah, and to add an additional gloss – I have actually noticed that there are times where there are advantages to not picking up on nuanced social cues (or not thinking you can) since not everyone is in masterful control of the cues they give out. I’m someone who is always paying attention to social signals and there are definitely people who I react to as being hostile or unhappy who it turns out actually aren’t – they’re just people who come off that way and reacting to that makes it harder to work with them. People less sensitive to that do much better, and appropriately so.

          2. Tau

            Agreed. It sounds like the OP is overvaluing being able to read facial expressions and/or undervaluing having these kinds of check-ins regardless of that ability.

            I don’t know if this is the case for the OP, but…

            So I have Asperger’s and I honestly think that the way people talk about social cues in relation to it is really weird and ends up teaching us Aspies to overvalue them dramatically. It’s all “oh no! how will you ever be able to cope without this amazing tool that makes up 80% of all communication! microexpressions! Body language! Terrible terrible disability!”

            And when I was younger I took this to heart and went to great lengths to teach myself this stuff. I’d say I succeeded quite well in that I’d now sort myself into the “very good for an autistic person, mediocre to bad for a neurotypical person” range in terms of reading nonverbal cues overall, and it… wasn’t really worth it? I feel like the vast majority of the time I get by fine with the body language knowledge that I have and would be able to get by just as fine with less. And the bits of body language that I think do make a real difference aren’t the ones people enthuse about. Like, there’s some active-projection nonverbal stuff that seems to be so clear and obvious to neurotypical people that not responding to it gets interpreted as actively and deliberately ignoring it, and not being able to catch those things can be a real problem. But I don’t see those coming up in discussion about AS, it’s all this “you can tell how other people are feeling even if they don’t want to tell you! you can tell when people are lying!” stuff, and that? Really doesn’t seem to be that relevant, and as is being discussed is often actually inappropriate to act on.

            And yet, people keep talking about how important and amazing and necessary it is, and I keep side-eyeing the fact that not nearly the same amount of attention is given to certain other classic Asperger’s problems that cause *far* more issues in my daily life than the nonverbal stuff…

            Aaand I’m digressing, sorry. My point is that I too think OP is overvaluing this ability, just as I used to overvalue this ability, and that it doesn’t surprise me at all because I feel the way neurotypical people talk to and about people with disabilities like ours leads directly to this kind of overvaluation.

        2. OP #2

          The reason I ask someone else to do those check ins is that the inability to pick up on subtle facial cues tends to make it harder to come across as approachable – because I don’t pick up on and then mirror your expressions (which most human beings do instinctively and without being aware of it), most people have a sneaking feeling that there’s something a bit ‘off’ about me. Add in the ‘boss factor’, and it can make people uncomfortable saying the little things, at least until they get used to working with me.

          1. LBK

            That’s fairly normal for any manager, though, due to what you yourself describe as the “boss factor”. There’s always a transition period where you get used to how your manager operates and how to communicate with them – do they prefer casual or formal language? Do they like to jump right to the point or make small talk? Are they a detailed/technical person or do they prefer high level overviews?

            I really get the sense that you’re assigning your condition as the cause of a lot more of the situations than is applicable – everything you’ve described so far sounds like something every manager has to deal with. And I don’t mean that you’re using it as a crutch or an excuse, but that maybe you’re not realizing that you’d have to do things like foster an environment of openness or give employees time to get accustomed to your communication style no matter what. Those things are desirable for any team and don’t just naturally appear for managers who can read facial cues, either.

          2. BananaPants

            But have your direct reports actually given this feedback about you in the past, or did you proactively implement having someone else do these emotional check-ins because you think it would be a problem? Barring evidence to the contrary, if someone’s really pissed off about a decision you’ve made, then trust that they’ll get past the “boss factor” and let you know clearly.

            If the question is about how to foster communication between team members, then your inability to pick up on micro expressions really has very little to do with it. If the issue is really that you don’t think your direct reports feel you’re approachable, then that’s a different concern.

            1. OP #2

              The question was really about how to facilitate better communication between my team members; and I guess I probably should have skipped the face blindness (though I’ve had some interesting points raised on the subject by people in the comments, so I guess it was worth including).

              The emotional check-ins were instigated by my manager in my last job, when I started managing on a regular basis (though only projects, back then). We did a 360 evaluation at the end of a project and the feedback was that I was difficult to approach, so they arranged for me to work with a coach for a year or so, specifically on making me more approachable – we changed my wardrobe (apparently I’m scary in a suit!), worked on my RBF, and reorganised my desk, etc and it seems to have worked (although it’s still something I work on and ask for feedback about….). The check-ins were also the coach’s idea, and the feedback there was that it was very helpful for new team members, but got less important the longer we worked together.

              So in my new job, I proposed the check-ins, and the feedback has been good – when we first start working together, you’ll probably find me unnerving but can’t quite put your finger on why; having a neutral party there to offer some reassurance on both sides during that transition period is invaluable.

          3. eee

            Honestly I think that’s something that you can fix by just addressing it initially, “Just as a reminder, I’m pretty much blind to facial expressions. If I tell you to do something that you think is a bad idea, I will not be able to tell that from your expression at all. If I give confusing instructions, I won’t be able to tell that from your expression. The only way I know your reaction to what I tell you is if it comes across in your voice, or if you tell me. So, you need to be blunt and forthcoming with me. Tell me if you think something’s a bad idea, tell me whether something I say is confusing. I will really appreciate it, I promise. Because if I pop by your office and tell you to do something that’s a complete waste of time for reasons X, Y, and Z, and you make a horrified expression, I’m going to walk out of there with no idea that you feel that way.” Say that when someone joins your team, and remind people on a semi-regular basis until they get comfortable. And maybe give a very brief version if you have other cues to indicate they might be feeling something you can’t read, like “Barb, I notice you don’t sound that enthusiastic. I’d love to hear any thoughts you have.”
            And most importantly, follow it up by being really open and welcoming when people do share comments. I admit, if my boss couldn’t read my expression at all, that would have been a hard thing to adjust to. But I would do much better with my boss telling me that, and reminding me of it if my voice sounded hesitant, sarcastic, or whatever, and was really open to me speaking my mind. I would probably not do so well if I had some covert intermediary trying to assess my emotions.
            Another thought–in your one-on-one meetings, if it’s feasible, always end by asking them if there’s anything they want to share. That for me would be the hardest thing, esp. as a more junior/shy person, if my boss said “hey eee, do x, y, z. here’s how to do them. thanks bye” and I felt nervous speaking up. Just end with “is there anything you want to discuss?” even if the answer’s always “no”, you can know that you left them that space.

      3. Turtle Candle

        Just as a data point, if my boss said, “if you can’t raise something with me directly, you can bring it to Susan,” that would make them seem significantly less approachable, not more. To me, it would signal, “I don’t want to be bothered with this and need a go-between to handle it for me.” (I know you’ve mentioned elsewhere that you modeled this on a coworker who was blind, but when I’ve worked with blind people several times before, while they frequently say “I can’t see X; you’ll have to tell me,” the solution of “I can’t see X; Susan will have to tell me” is not something I have ever seen. Obviously this is anecdote vs. anecodote, but just, again, for a data point.)

        I don’t say this to jump on you (I really don’t want to be piling on) but because you really seem to be wanting to be more approachable, and it might be useful for you to know the potential fail mode of this method.

        1. OP #2

          And again, here’s me glad that I did include the face blind stuff in my letter, because you guys have thrown up all sorts of things in the comments that’s made me realise that we could be explaining this better to people!

          I’m happy to say ‘I can’t see X; you’ll have to tell me’; Susan’s role is less about ‘I can’t see X; tell Susan and she will have to tell me’ and more ‘I can’t see X; if you’re stuck on how to describe it, Susan can help you figure out the right words’.

          1. Turtle Candle

            Oooh, hm. That wouldn’t work for me either, I’m afraid–it makes it sound like Susan is playing an almost therapist-y role in helping me articulate my feelings. It would feel… uncomfortably intimate, I’m afraid. I’d feel held at arm’s length from you and at the same time encouraged to be weirdly emotionally involved with Susan.

            BTW, I’m really impressed at how open you are to feedback on this. It’s a hard thing to figure out and you’re handling the criticism really well, IMO.

            1. OP #2

              Thanks, Turtle Candle. I’ve never understood why people would ask for help and then get offended by the response….though I will admit I was pretty upset years ago when I got the results of the first 360 and the ‘adjective most commonly used to describe you’ was ‘scary’. (Almost more upsetting was going back to friends and asking if it was true, only to be told that yes, it was….)

              Is there a way I could let you know that Susan is there if you need a sounding board or there’s something you’re not comfortable discussing with me? Or something that your manager does that makes them approachable?

              Or are you just the kind of person who would take it up with me directly, if you thought it was important enough to discuss?

              1. Turtle Candle

                To be honest, I can’t think of a situation where I’d want to be given a second party as a communication fallback for my boss at all (short of very specific logistical things like, “I’ll be out of the office until Tuesday, if anything comes up talk to Joan.”). It just seems… strange.

                A second set of eyes who can say, “Your team is looking unhappy lately, you might want to see if anything’s up” seems perfectly fine, but being directed to bring issues to a second person (even just as an option) seems… I don’t know. Very strange and uncomfortable. It’s not the way it’s presented that’s a problem, I think, it’s the idea itself. It wouldn’t make a boss seem less scary; if anything, quite the opposite.

                To use a metaphor: imagine if someone said, “Feel free to pet the dog! And let me know if he bites so I can shut him inside.” Even though you’re ostensibly providing an advance solution to a problem that may not happen, what it does is put the idea in my head that the dog might bite. Being told “If you can’t talk to me, you can talk to Susan” makes me immediately wonder why I wouldn’t be able to talk to you. Should I not talk to you? Do you not want to talk to me; are you a scary person? What’s up with that? etc.

                (And honestly, it’s not that I’m all that direct a person. I’m a fairly indirect person, really, and have to work hard at being sufficiently direct. This would just not be a solution that would work for me to ‘intimidated by my boss.’)

    2. MashaKasha

      I’m not actually sure why I need to broadcast my “emotional elephants” at my workplace, unless they’re temporarily interfering with my ability to do my work, or unless they require time off, sick leave, bereavement leave etc. – in which case, I’d quietly go to my boss’s office, shut the door, and tell them very briefly what they needed to know. (“my partner of N years just dumped me out of the blue, so I’m going to be pretty scatterbrained over the next few weeks”.) Over the past five or six years, I’ve gone through major life changes at work, and most of my coworkers never noticed. I got divorced, moved out, bought a house, and people found out years later. My dad died and I didn’t get a card from my coworkers, because they didn’t know. My manager did know because I requested the three days off. I’d come into work, people would ask me how I’m doing, I’d smile and say, Fine! If a teammate started routinely checking with me re my feelings, he or she would get the same answer. Isn’t this the way to handle your personal stuff at work? how will I, or more importantly, my work, benefit from me having a regular heart-to-heart with a colleague? I’m super puzzled.

      Re team meetings I think they’re a good idea if implemented correctly – most of my jobs had a weekly or a bi-weekly one, where we’d go round the table and each of us would spend five minutes telling the team what they’re working on and maybe another couple of minutes if they were stuck and needed help or had questions for their teammates, or wanted to pick the team’s collective brain on something. Again, although I’d definitely reach out to a teammate if I needed their specific help or input, and would expect the same from them, I would NOT randomly barge in on a teammate to tell them what I’m working on, and I’d expect the same from my teammates; especially in a fast-paced deadline-based environment. That’d be hugely distracting and I am having a difficult time understanding why the fact that OP’s teammates don’t go around bugging each other in this way is considered a bad thing and “the team having lousy social skills and not talking to each other”.

      Basically I’m very puzzled and confused by the entire post I guess…

      1. OP #2

        I like to joke that my office door is always open….because I don’t have an office. We’re one of those radical open-plan offices where everyone from the CEO down shares the floor (awkwardly including HR!).

        By emotional elephants, I mean something more like ‘Theon is being a real prick and makes snarky comments about our timekeeping, which makes us feel belittled because that’s not his role’. Your major life changes are your business, not mine (I’m totally a private person and if you don’t want to tell me about your divorce or your dead cat, I’m totally not going to ask!)

        I’m mostly just confused because my team aren’t talking to each other, but have individually expressed (to a neutral party) their desire to talk to each other more….so I’m a bit stuck on how to fix that!

        1. MashaKasha

          Oh I see. I admit, the dead cat that was mentioned in the original post confused me.

          I’d be stuck on how to fix that, as well. Agree, this sounds weird. And it probably takes some creative work to manage to avoid talking to each other in a radical open-plan office!

  8. Anna Johnson

    #5 – I’m have a different take on checking in after applying. I feel like checking in after applying (not too often to be annoying and/or desperate) shows additional interest. It can also prompt someone to review your application when they may have not gotten to it yet or what have you. For example, I applied to a position about 10 days ago and left a msg yesterday to check on status and reiterate interest and today got an invite to interview. While I don’t know if checking in made a difference, it seemed that it prompted the hiring manager to evaluate my info and reach out.

    1. A Dispatcher

      Can you imagine if every candidate did that though? Hiring managers would spend more time fielding calls from applicants than reviewing their materials.

      1. Stranger than fiction

        So true plus two weeks is nothing really in the grand scheme. If Op thinks this is long they need to adjust their expectations.

    2. Worker Bee (Germany)

      Nope just for that you’d be at the bottom of my list bc it is annoying and shows that you don’t understand the hiring process and the work related to it. Yes I know that there idiots out there who will never get back to you and you might actually have them reconsider your application. But a halfway decent hiring manager will go through his pile and will get back to you telling you no or yes you are through to the next round.
      So I am totally with Alison and A Dispatcher on this!

    3. Dutch Thunder

      I wouldn’t jump to the conclusion that your checking and the interview are related – you may have just come in the pile of CVs.

      When I’ve hired for positions, there have been a huge number of candidates. The last thing I’d want is for those candidates to reach out to remind me of them. I know you’re in the applications, I’m working my way through the pile. If I’m interested, I’ll get an interview scheduled, if I’m not, you’ll receive a rejection email. I know you’re interested: you applied for the job.

      I can only speak for myself, but I would be actively put off if people checked in with me.

      1. Artemesia

        It would not cause me to dump the application but it would annoy me mightily and in a case of all things being equal might nudge you down a notch. Every position I hired for had over a hundred applicants. I so do not want 100 people calling to inquire about their application if we haven’t shown interest. I was not HR — I had an actual job to do on top of being hiring manager.

    4. Jenn

      As someone else who hires staff, I don’t actually look up the resumes of people who call. I am already reviewing resumes and have a process for it so at best if I remember your name when I’m reviewing it’s neutral, but at worst it’s a piece of information that tells me that the applicant doesn’t respect directions, might have trouble with patience and impulse control, and therefor might not understand other professional norms and be much harder to train and manage. Depending on the level of the position I’m hiring for it can actually cause me to remember the caller negatively from competition to competition and so can actually impact future applications as well, although for a lower level position requiring less experience I’m more flexible than positions requiring more experience.

    5. Elkay

      I did something similar but only because the company specifically listed a timescale on their website, it was along the lines of “We aim to get back to you within a week but please feel free to contact us if we don’t”. I think I left it two and contacted them.

      1. Dutch Thunder

        That would be totally fine. My company sends an automatic email to everyone who’s applied stating we’ll get back to them within three weeks, and to please get in touch with us if we don’t. I wouldn’t think badly of anyone who took that to heart – if anything, it would demonstrate the candidate follows instructions well.

        1. Chocolate Teapot

          I have received automatic response emails including a phrase along the lines of “We are considering your application and if you do not hear from us within 3 weeks, then unfortunately we will not be proceeding”.

    6. fposte

      But you already showed interest by applying. Checking in when I’m still within my stated timeline does indeed put an applicant into the category of annoying, and it also makes me suspect them of being manipulative and trying to affect the process, which is not a good look for a candidate.

      You don’t have to go too far in the other direction and avoid asking any question ever about the process, but checking in when we’re still within my timeline is like checking with the pizzeria 15 minutes after placing your order to see how the pizza’s going.

      1. Ad Astra

        Domino’s has the pizza tracker that updates you when you order goes into the oven and when it’s sent out for delivery. Why can’t HR departments come up with something similar?

    7. Oryx

      But if every candidate did that, a Hiring Manager is going to have to deal with those calls or listen to those voicemails when their time could better be served actually looking at applications.

    8. Felicia

      For me, anyone who checks in after applying just gets me annoyed, and if I was considering interviewing them maybe but was not sure and had more people i was more sure about interviewing, that would move them from the “maybe, i’ll think about it” pile, to the “why are you calling me, no” pile.

    9. Allison

      I will say that if a candidate does follow up with me after they apply, I do check on their application and touch base with the recruiter on whether they’re getting a call. Usually they’ve been rejected already, and I want to know what I should tell them, because for some reason the recruiter didn’t want to send an e-mail. That said, if I was the one making decisions on who’s moved forward and who gets rejected, I don’t really care how “interested” or “passionate” someone is, so following up doesn’t really earn any extra points with me. Either they’re qualified and getting an interview, or they’re not qualified and they’re not getting an interview.

    10. Chocolate lover

      I’ve been on multiple search committees, and picked/scheduled candidates. Someone calling does not talk us into interviewing them if we did not intend to interview them. Calling doesn’t automatically rule them out either, if we planned to interview them. Unless they handle the call badly – uninformed, aggressive, etc.

      However, calling hr wouldn’t help much. I work at a large university, and until the job is officially filled, they usually have no idea where the office is in the process, who we picked to interview, if we’re already into second round interviews, etc. We don’t get hr involved until we’ve made an offer and need it approved.

      1. Artemesia

        Once we actually dropped someone from the interview list partly because he kept calling and making a nuisance of himself. He had been in our top 10 to consider phone screening and since he lived locally we might have interviewed because there was no cost beyond time. The finalists had to be flown in and wined and dined generally. Being insufferable is on our list of things we don’t want and after this guy had annoyed the fire out of the admin and then us, we just decided he was not someone we wanted around.

    11. BabyAttorney

      I find this thread fascinating. In law school it is PREACHED that you check in after a waiting period after sending an application. Maybe I should let the career office know to cool their jets.

  9. Ranges

    #1 – some companies structure pay ranges bottom-heavy, where very few people make more than 50%, to avoid having anyone actually hit the cap and become ineligible for salary increases. In that structure, 25% would be midrange compared to other employees, but not compared to the listed pay range itself, and 50% would be top of the pack. that might be one legit explanation for what’s happening here; it’s unclear what numbers you saw.

    1. BananaPants

      This is how my employer tends to do it, although in my role people usually make at least around the 50th percentile; pay grades are the same company-wide regardless of job function and make for huge ranges. HR does interpret “mid range” as anything between the 25th-75th percentile because it gives them and managers more wiggle room (some would say that less diplomatically…).

      At some point you max out your pay grade and can only earn more via a bonus. The only non-executive level that earns a bonus is the top level and usually the only employees from that group who are bonus-eligible are managers (which I have zero desire to be) or very elite individual contributors who have been selected for their skills. They’re never going to hire a new Associate Teapot Designer at 80% of the salary band because he won’t be able to be promoted for 7+ years and he’s likely to max out the pay grade with annual increases in that time. Employees whose pay is essentially frozen through no real fault of their own tend to get antsy and walk, so they try very hard not to have that situation happen to begin with.

    2. MAB

      This. My company advertises much higher but after 5 years I make what is considered the 25% for my job. HOWEVER after lots of salary research I discovered for the area of the country I am living that I am making smack dab in the middle. So during my exit interview I let HR know that. Yes I feel/felt underpaid but that is because I am under titled. They advertise that large of a salary range due to covering 6-7 states.

      OP #1 also screams of not doing their salary research until after they got hired.

      1. Op 1

        I couldn’t actually access the document showing salary levels until I was given an ID and password. Otherwise I did do my research and I did negotiate. I know I accepted my salary, that lies completely on me. I’m upset at what my employee did, however, as I was told base salary was lower than it actually is to make me feel like I was earning more than I actually was. I understand my salary is the same amount regardless, but the amount I make over base is different, which is what upsets me (as well as the whole 25-75 is midrange).

        1. MAB

          I didn’t know my salary range for my position either until it came open 2 weeks ago. Personally I would make an argument for a raise near your 90 day reassessment. Make sure they would want to keep you around due to your quality of work and your personable attitude in the office. Or ask for more vacation time if they won’t budge on salary. Vacation time is surprisingly cheep.

          One thing my company has always done is let you know where you stand within the department. Up until last year I was below the 90th percentile with the 100th percentile being the median salary in the department. So when I got bumped for the 92nd percentile last March I knew they were trying to push me up to the level that my coworkers get paid.

          1. Op 1

            Yeah, I like that idea. I’ll do my absolute best and see where I stand in a few months. I wonder if my company does something like yours, as that sounds really helpful.

          2. Ad Astra

            I will probably never know the salary range for my position, so it’s interesting that OP #1 was able to access that information so early into the job.

            I agree that the best course of action is to do great work now to build a strong case for a raise at the next performance review.

        2. Colette

          That document shows he salary it is possible to make in that job at that company, right? It doesn’t mean you’re not getting paid a fair wage compared to other companies in your area, because that salary range might include people in other locations or slightly different jobs. It’s possible that the companies low-balled you, but it’s also possible they didn’t. You need to compare what you’re making with what you’d make in the same job in another company in your area to know.

        3. The IT Manager

          Salary research considers similar positions, cost of living and locality. No one (except government employee) will know the salary ranges at a company until after being hired and even then very few people have access to that information.

          I feel like you were happy enough with your salary until you saw that file. Now you’re upset that you didn’t negotiate better and you’re feeling under-valued. I don’t think there’s a lot you can do, and what’s best for you may be to try and get over it so you don’t have these negative feelings which only came about after you were able to compare your salary to your colleagues salary.

        4. Graciosa

          I think the issue may have been misunderstanding the difference between mid-range and mid-point in the range. I will add that my employer does not generally hire people at or above the mid-point in the range (the “generally” is in case there’s an extraordinary situation I don’t know about, but I’ve never seen it done).

          We usually have a target salary for new hires which is below the median salary for current people in the same position (who will have, on average, more years of experience in the specific role). Even people who are experienced in our profession (usually a requirement to be hired in the first place) are not going to be instantly as effective as current employees who already know the ropes.

          We do extensive market research every year to make sure the rates are appropriate. I do want to make it clear that we do this fairly – we do NOT find out the market rate for a new hire with X experience and use that to set the mid-point of the range instead of the lower point at which we typically hire. People who perform successfully in role do grow in salary and move up in the range, but they don’t start at or above the mid-point.

          Part of the problem is that no one coming into a position with a salary range thinks that they should be in the bottom half. It doesn’t – and can’t – really work that way. It is not any kind of an insult to be hired at a rate below the mid-point of the range as long as the salary is appropriate for the market – but a lot of people have a negative reaction to it nevertheless. It can require a lot of explanation for people who don’t understand how this works (at least at large companies like mine).

          OP1, you have already indicated that there are other issues with this employer, so I’m not going to suggest that you give the specific employer any additional consideration.

          However, I would urge you to be more aware of these types of practices in future (and pay attention to precise word usage). Again, even an experienced hire would not come in at the mid-point of the salary range. This is not out of malice, but genuinely reflects the market value the individuals bring to the role.

          Good luck.

          1. HR Pro

            Well said, Graciosa. I have worked with compensation structures for many years and what you wrote is spot on. Of course some companies might handle it a little differently but you’ve described the general “textbook” approach.

    3. BRR

      My employer is the same. If you want to hire above 50% you need approval from someone high up in HR and possibly our VP (I can’t remember). We have some people who have been in the same role for 20 years and are maxed out. They’re not happy they’re not getting raises but they’re a good bit above the market range for their position.

    4. Aunt Vixen

      Yes. I’d guess the middle of the hiring range for a particular grade is well below the middle of the absolute range for the same grade.

    5. K

      I’m confused. The 50th percentile is supposed to mean that exactly 50% of salaries are below and 50% of salaries are above. If “very few people make more than 50%,” then it’s not the 50th percentile – it’s more like the 90th. When employers talk about these percentiles, do they mean theoretical salaries, not actual ones?

      1. Judy

        In my experience, companies say they set salary ranges for a position based on industry salary surveys. The 50th percentile is just halfway between the set maximum and minimum salary for a position.

        1. Ranges

          Yes, that’s what I meant. I’m referring to a job experience where the ranges and the actual salaries (commonly referred to as percentiles) paid are pretty different. It makes the ranges pretty meaningless to look at at face value.

      2. Stranger than fiction

        I think they meant hired in at the 50th percentile, so there’s room to grow…not positive

  10. BRR

    #1 There’s something off to me about this. I think when they made the offer you should have negotiated or rejected it. They gave you a number and it was in your court to either take it for now or leave it. I’m just not convinced that being told it was mid-range is a deciding factor as to whether the number was alright with you. Yes there are a number of possible scenarios but you ended up being ok with that number before.

    Also be careful if you weren’t supposed to have access to this document.

    #5 Don’t. You want to do it because you want the position and any communication feels like you’re moving forward in the process or that it will bring you to their attention. It doesn’t help your candidacy. It’s hard to wait, I get it (I’m waiting now on multiple I applied to, one I phone interviewed with, and one I had a first round in person). Assume you didn’t get it and mentally move on.

    1. Op 1

      Hey, actually I did negotiate at first, and the number I brought up was the true mid-range number indicated in the financial document (which I had no idea of at the time). I was then told that the base salary was X (when in reality is Y), which made me feel like their offer was more reasonable because it seemed like they put forth the effort to acknowledge my value.

      1. LBK

        I’m still kind of iffy that reasoning. Ultimately the number you want to peg it against is the market rate, not their defined ranges, so whether their base salary is $10k or $100k, the question is “Is this a fair amount for this kind of work and the value I can bring while doing it?”

        1. Op 1

          You make a very good point. I’ll have to really consider this, because to be honest I don’t know if I can answer that question currently. My position is really tough to find comparable positions to, so I’ll have to do some digging. Thanks!

      2. BRR

        Ahh that’s good to know. My apologies. I still think in the end they gave you a number (even if it was in bad faith).

        1. Op 1

          No problem! When I initially wrote the email, I was in an emotional frenzy because I was just so upset/outraged – didn’t even think about elaborating. Thanks for your response!

      3. Ad Astra

        It sounds like the detail that’s really bothering you is that they misrepresented the base pay. It’s possible they did that deceptively to make their offer look better than it was, but it’s also possible the document you found is outdated, or doesn’t reflect the salary budget for your specific opening, or something like that.

        I know your current salary is low compared to your expenses, but how do you think it compares to the market rate in your area? It’s not clear to me if you’re truly underpaid or if you just work in a low-paying field.

    2. KT

      Agreed-sorry OP, but I think you need to live with this. They gave you a number, and no matter what the context was in how they positioned it, you accepted is as doable. You know your budget, and it was up to you to decide if you could live with it.

      1. Artemesia

        S/he doesn’t need to live with it. Only need to live with it until s/he can get outta there which I hope will be sooner rather than later.

    3. I've_Been_There!

      “I’m just not convinced that being told it was mid-range is a deciding factor as to whether the number was alright with you. Yes there are a number of possible scenarios but you ended up being ok with that number before.”

      This is the thing I really, trully, don’t understand in these discussions. When I read statements like the one above it sounds to me like saying – “Well if you were alright with the number when you thought it was a fair represenation of how others in your organization are paid for that work at your skill/experience level … then why are you upset to find out that Jane who knits all day and Wakeen who has half the clients you are actuallyin making 30% more than you?”

      The theory to me that your wage is some intrisic monetary value that you should be able to glean and should be completely independent of what others in your role are making at the same organization makes no sense to me. In the few companies I’ve kept up on that are implementing wage transparacy, I can tell you that there simply are not the huge gaps in pay (which also disproportionately impact women and minorities) that we come across in the private/hush hush oranizations. A 3 – 5% or maybe even 10% if someone is stellar? Sure. But 30% – 50% or more when the underpaid person is actually a higher performer? Does not happen in wage transparent organizations.

      To me the fact that this is balanced when wages are public shows that the monetary value of your work is depenedent on the market. Which is to say the group of individuals in your area and organization set a value that you have every right to compare yourself to.

  11. Allison

    5) I’m not totally opposed to people following up after a week or two, but if a company says “no inquiries,” they mean no inquiries.

  12. Stephen King's Constant Reader

    Re OP#1, I’m curious to know what others think he/she should do if it does turn out that the company was truly deceitful in how they laid out the salary range here. Allison has some great advice but it doesn’t say much about what to do afterwards. I also agree that renegotiating salary is probably going to be nearly impossible.

  13. hbc

    OP #1: “I recently started a new job, which pays me pretty laughable amount but I accepted it because I was told it was at the mid-range point for the position….” The amount is laughable whether it is the bottom, middle, or top. Unless they documented a structure of consistent raises or tenured-base increases or something, you have to own up to this being a bad decision from the start.

    “I am NOT being paid mid-range, but am in fact paid pennies above the bottom 25th percentile.” By some definitions, it is mid-range. I wouldn’t think highly of them (almost certainly deliberately) misleading you with that, but I wouldn’t call it a lie. Make sure you don’t accuse them of that when you initiate the discussion, because it will derail any useful conversation.

    “What angers me the most about this is that I’m basically being paid as if I came in with NO experience, which is not true in the slightest.” I wouldn’t assume this unless the financial information you have includes markers like “up to 25th percentile for 0-2 years experience, up to 50th percentile for 2-5 years experience or Masters, etc.” There are some previous posters who have structures where hardly anyone makes over 50%, so just looking at the range might not be useful.

    You should still go in and have this talk, but make it questions rather than accusations. “I’m confused about the pay band and where I fall. How does this work? What does someone who makes 50% bring to the table? 75%?” If you don’t like their answers (or even don’t get immediate action,) start looking for a job that pays better. Just remember that making a laughable amount at the top of the band is actually worse than making a laughable amount near the bottom, and you should never take an offer that makes you laugh.

    1. Op 1

      Thank you for your response, I really like your point about not accepting an offer that makes me laugh – will have to keep that in mind! I will use the framework you provided, and will come across as trying to learn/clarify rather than coming across as feeling slighted. I’ll probably still wait a bit until I’m more a part of the culture (rather than an outsider who just came in), but I will have this conversation soon. Thanks!

      1. BRR

        I’m not sure if this is your line of thinking but I know others think that they have to accept an offer. Even after negotiating people are free to walk away. I know someone who accepted an offer and a month later said they hated the commute and weren’t being paid enough. They should have thought about the commute while applying (they lived in this city their entire life) and the salary when they got the offer.

  14. CodeWench

    In #1, it says he/she found a document that containing “salaries for all positions”. What I suspect is that “all positions” means every employee in the company and what the employer actually offered was a salary that was mid-range for that specific position.

    1. Op 1

      I’m sorry, I don’t quite follow? The document lists every single title people are hired under, and they are specific in regards to “Technician I” “Technician II” etc. Could you please clarify what you’re saying?

      1. RVA Cat

        Are there different ranges based on geographic location? For example, there may be different ranges for the same pay band for an area with a higher cost of living (NYC, London, etc.).

      2. CodeWench

        I interpret the phrase “mid-range point for the position” to mean that of all the people who have a specific title, your salary is in the middle range of those. So if Jane, Rick, and Joe all have the position of Teapot Maker 1 and have respective salaries of 25,000, 30,000, and 35,000, then mid-range would be somewhere around 30,000. In that case, you should not include the salaries of Sam, Cindy, and Joe who are Teapot Maker 2 and make 40,000, 45,000, and 50,000.

    2. baseballfan

      This was my first thought. If this document lists salaries for all positions in the company, the OP may be near the bottom quarter because that’s in line with the position related to others in the company.

      In other words, one can be right in the middle of the range for a position but near the bottom when compared to everyone who is employed at the company.

      I also fail to see why this revelation makes the salary unacceptable. Either it’s acceptable or it isn’t. Apparently it was at the time the job was accepted?

      All this being said, I agree with the comments about approaching this with a tone of information gathering, not accusations. Accusing the employer of lying isn’t going to get anywhere productive.

  15. insert pun here

    FWIW, I would assume that any writing sample I received (for any purpose) had been edited by someone, unless I asked a candidate to write something onsite. I am an editor myself and I don’t send stuff out into the world without having someone else look at it.

  16. LuvzALaugh

    #1 this is definately a sign you need to keep looking. I am so tired of companies stagnating wages and low balling new hires. Dodged a bullet last week. Went on a job interview and paid close attention while there. While receiving a tour, I gleaned important information based on a comment made by an employee not part of the interview. From the comment and other info I gained, I was able to piece together that the reason that the position was open was the the current person in the role worked out a severence package for early retirement rather than accept a pay cut. If the only way you are able to stay in business is to underpay then by all means close up shop. It isn’t to stay afloat that most large companies (maybe a few small family owned or non profits may have a viable arguement here) underpay. Stop feeding us that line we all know it is the stock holders that you want to feed by starving your employees.

    1. Artemesia

      Or the C suite. I know a specific case where a promised bonus was not given to the worker bee who achieved the amazing result in increasing profits because a huge signing bonus was given to a new CEO which essentially sucked up the huge profit increase that had been achieved. i.e. the bonus was promised if the project generated X profit. It generated X profit a huge increase from last year UNTIL they took that profit and cut a check for a bonus to the new CEO and suddenly ‘no profit increase.’ It is common in even highly skilled fields for excessive pay to go to the very top while everyone else is starved. And it is one of the things stagnating the economy.

      1. Elizabeth West

        This needs to stop. How do we stop it? Revolution? Thunderdome?

        I’m at a loss, but I know it needs to stop, not just here but everywhere. It’s starting to feel like a medieval fiefdom.

  17. BabyAttorney

    I feel for OP5. My boof put in an application for a managerial type position at a really awesome up and coming and exploding Teapot Technology Design and Manufacture company back in January. Nothing came of it. About a month or so ago a recruiter reached out to him for a slightly lower position that fits his quals better. He has had 3 interviews now (recruiter, potential manager, district head) and had TWO more scheduled for later this week (sr vp for north America and again the potential manager) and I am chomping at the bit to know. I’ve been suppressing my breed top know because I want him to dwell on it. When he finally gave up earlier this year it seriously got him down in the dumps. But he never knew it’d come back until months later. Do as Alison says and forget about it…dwelling on it won’t help.

  18. Ad Astra

    Oh good, an opportunity to make bitter comments about journalism.

    OP #3: If you were only allowed to submit clips that hadn’t been through a round or two (or more) of editing, most of the reporters I know would be out of a job. I had one colleague who so routinely left out basic information (dates, locations, positions for athletes, titles for administrators and coaches) that it almost felt like I should throw “Ad Astra contributed to this report” at the bottom. If a company wants to know how your writing looks before it goes through an editor, they’ll ask you to do a writing exercise.

    OP #4: Why on earth would you give up teaching to go back into journalism?! I say that sort of tongue-and-cheek because I’m sure you have good reasons, but I find myself constantly wishing I’d gone into education instead of journalism. My husband makes more money teaching than I do in marketing, and he has all summer off and I’m just a jealous person by nature. Allison’s advice is solid, though. Good luck with your search!

    1. Aunt Vixen

      and he has all summer off

      More like he’s out of work all summer, but I won’t get into the whole injustice of how teachers are treated since it probably wouldn’t be long before you and I were singing the same tune. :-/

      1. Ad Astra

        The district prorates his pay so he’s making the same amount every month, whether he works or not. In our case, it’s a pretty good salary, so it feels like a vacation to him. He works at one of the “easier” schools (mostly nice kids with supportive parents who have the resources they need) within a large urban district that pays more than most of the suburban districts (because most of its schools have a more challenging set of students). So it feels a little like cheating. I realize not everyone has it as good as we do.

  19. Journalism, ESL OP #4

    As a journalist, I would like to urge OP #4 not to think of her ESL job as irrelevant to applying for a journalism job. Especially if that language you’re teaching with is Spanish. Some, even basic, understanding of a second language is a huge plus in a reporter. If you can communicate with non-English speakers, that’s huge. The newsroom I look for is often looking for someone to translate foreign news outlets articles so they can be sourced in our own pieces. So you’re talking about a dozen languages that are needed. And any newsroom I’ve ever worked in that covers the community or the nation or basically anything in the United States is looking for Spanish speaking reporters. It’s one of the most under represented skills in a newsroom. And will be seen as a real leg up in the hiring process.

    Don’t think of it as an unrelated job. Think of it as a distinguishing skill and experience that almost no one else will bring to the table. If it were acceptable — which I’m not saying it is — I would tell you to write in all-caps on the top of your cover letter I SPEAK ANOTHER LANGUAGE.

    1. Ad Astra

      That’s a great point! And if ESL teachers are in high demand in OP #4’s area (we don’t know that from the letter, but it seems possible), that probably means the population she’d be covering as a journalist would include a large number of people with limited English proficiency.

      Being able to communicate with the people affected by news is huge, especially if you’re covering something like crime, local government, or education — the officials all speak English, but they’re only one side of the story. Newspapers in many parts of South Texas, for instance, are always looking for bilingual reporters.

    2. Chinook

      But teaching ESL is not the same as speaking another language. I taught it in Japan for 2 years and didn’t pick up more than how to order lunch in Japanese until year 2 (and the company I worked for didn’t encourage their foreign teachers to learn Japanese either). Great ESL teachers have an understanding on how a first language interferes with the second language (pronunciation and grammar issues usually), but the only time you need to know the first language is when you are teaching true beginners who know no English. Once there is a basic understanding of the second language, sticking to that language only is the best way to acquire it naturally (which explains why I learned more Japanese in two years living there than I did in 10 years of public school French and conversations with my grandparents).

      One thing being a great ESL teacher can bring to journalism, though, is the ability to look at a concept from different perspectives and cultural backgrounds and be able to explain it using basic language. (please note I said “great,” good ones are developing this skill and bad ones should be run out of the classroom if they don’t want to learn new techniques).

      1. Ad Astra

        Oh, yeah, hmm. You’re right. I would love to know if the OP actually does speak another language.

    3. katamia

      I missed this earlier in OP4’s question, but absolutely. I have a CELTA certification and a bit of ESL teaching experience (part time and not for all that long because teaching was a miserable experience for me, so it’s nothing impressive). But over the last couple of years, I’ve managed to wangle that tiny bit of experience into getting hired in the field I actually want (although for me that’s editing rather than journalism).

      For the OP, I’d take another look at what skills ESL teaching and journalism have in common (writing/grammar ability, I’m assuming, and the ability to get along with people from many different backgrounds, for example) and do up a separate resume that really highlights those transferable skills rather than focusing on, I dunno, lesson planning skills (which I’m assuming are less applicable to journalism).

  20. Dasha

    #1 I think the best route would be to look for another job, unless like the other readers are saying the range is for all salaries within your company and not just your department or position.

    #3 I would think it would be OK to submit things that have been looked over by someone else but I’m not the expert on these types of matters. Maybe you could say something like the procedure in my current position is that I do x, y, and z involving writing different types of articles, press releases, whatever and then it is submitted to for editing which is mostly punctuation, spelling, etc. What is the procedure at ?

  21. I've_Been_There!

    #1

    Man I really feel for you! What’s interesting is that I wrote in with a similar question on one of the Friday open threads. In my case, during negotion, I was told that my requested Salary was “above the maximum range for this position” so I took the offer of a few K below that.

    Much like you I took the offer because it was implied that I was near the top of the salary range for that role. Also in my case the job was in a rural area with poor market data, that i was unfamiliar with. It seemed like a fair offer I was willing to take. Well I get there and it turns out they publish the min/mid/max for your position on your employee portal on the intranet. It also turned out in my case that I was no where near the top, or even the mid range, but I too was being paid near the bottom percentile. It really pissed me off!

    HR also lied to me about a number of other pay related items (from how benefits work, to bonuses, performanc raises, etc).

    I’ve only stayed with this company because it is a small town with few employers and I don’t want my first area job to be one I leave in less than a several years, I love my boss (it was HR who did all the negotiating and when I brought up my experience he was pretty miffed!).

    I think it’s easy to say “Hey you should know your worth!” but it’s harder to find that information for some positions/areas than others. In my case I have about 6 years experience in my field, but I’ve performed really well and have been rapdily promoted. I’ve never worked in big cities with reliable information on sites like Glassdoor, and since i’ve moved from my hometown I don’t really have connections for what is fair pay.

    The thing that helps me not get too bitter about it is to think what good position I am in for the next job. Once I stick this place out for a few years I will truly have the freedom to say no when offered a salary that is too low and I’ve gained thicker skin to prepare me for the next time I try and get a position.

  22. s.b.

    #3 – If you can’t submit clips that weren’t edited by anyone, no journalist (or book author, or ad copywriter, or…) would ever be able to apply for a job. To me it would sound pretty silly to mention that they were “lightly edited,” because basically ALL published work is edited.

  23. VictoriaHR

    #2 – our team does a “stand up” meeting every morning to go over the priorities for the day, and who’s working on what or who’s available to help others. No scheduling or conference room necessary. Since they all sit near each other, you could just stand in the middle and they can all turn around to face you for 5 minutes.

    1. Turtle Candle

      I was actually going to say this above and forgot: this kind of quick check-in is very common IME in software engineering. My actual team only does a once a week meeting, but the development teams that I work with have them daily. 5 minutes, 10 at the most (if there’s a blocker that needs to be handled). I think it’s common in software engineering because it’s such an odd combination of solitary work and deeply interrelated work, but it is common and works well there.

      1. OP #2

        That sounds like a good idea VictoriaHR and Turtle Candle – maybe we’ll try that for a few days and see how we get on.

  24. Dee

    I hired someone based on her writing samples. After I hired her it was clear someone was editing her copy. Heavily? Lightly? That’s subjective. I hired her based on the writing samples and her work did not reflect the standard she had submitted and I was not staffed to provide her with an editor or ghostwriter. I’m with the original response – submit your own work and ONLY your own work. No one likes firing folks and no one likes getting canned because their writing samples don’t live up to their actual ability to produce.

  25. KH

    #1 – Be careful rocking the boat on this one. It’s possible that you were put into a job title to justify the wage you asked for. That happened to me.
    I interviewed for a position but when I was hired, I was given the job title for one rank higher. I’m certain this was to get my salary past the hiring system. If they had input me into the system with the ‘correct’ job title, the salary would have raised too many eyebrows.

Comments are closed.