recruiters speaking in code, giving sensitive input to a search firm, and more

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

1. “I will” versus “I would” in cover letters

I’m currently writing a cover letter, and I’m wondering if it’s better to say (for example) “I will excel in this role because…” or “I would excel…” I want to sound confident that I’m the right fit, but not presumptuous, so I’m leaning towards “would,” but what do you think?

Yes, definitely “would.” “Will” is too salesy and, frankly, inaccurate. When you’re just at the cover letter stage, you’re not fooling anyone by saying “I will…”; they know you’re just expressing interest at this point.

But also, your letter will probably be stronger if you don’t use language like “I would excel in this role because” at all and instead just talk about why you’d excel at it. In other words, instead of saying “I would excel because of my experience with teapot research,” it’s stronger to say something like, “I love teapot research. I’ve been told by multiple managers that I have a knack for bringing order to the chaos of teapot labs, and in my last role tackled daily some of the biggest teapot challenges in the field, such as…” In other words, show, not tell.

2. Should I give sensitive input to the search firm looking for our new CEO?

Our organization is going through a search for a CEO, and they have hired a search firm. One of the steps the firm wants to do is to interview current staff from the director level to junior staffers. There will be a group interview of junior staffers which I will participate in next week.

Through my years of working for the organization, I’ve witnessed instances of abusive behavior by directors towards junior staffers. By that, I mean yelling, demeaning treatment, bullying, and retaliation. The junior staffer would eventually tell the higher ups all the way to the CEO (it is a small office of less than 30 people). And the CEO would not really do anything substantive. He would talk to the junior staffer. He would also talk to the director. But the director would remain on the job. The abusive behavior would subside for a while, but it would recur again until the junior staffer left the organization. The pattern that I see, therefore, is that senior management tolerates inappropriate behavior by directors over a long period of time and did not handle complaints by junior staffers adequately. In more than one case, abusive directors remained in their jobs for years, despite a pattern of complaints.

So as far as feedback I’d like to give to the search firm for a new CEO, I’d like to tell them that I’d like the new CEO to be someone who won’t tolerate this type of stuff and who would put anyone who is abusive under proper disciplinary action. But how to do that without getting in trouble? Is this worth being candid and direct about?

I don’t think that’s the kind of thing they’re going to be looking for. This isn’t an interview to make internal improvements or for 360 feedback or anything like that; they’re not going to be in a position to change what you described, and they’re not going to prioritize that input over whatever direction on hiring they’re getting from the organization’s higher-ups (who hired them). So it’s unlikely to have much impact, unfortunately, and I wouldn’t take the risk.

3. Was this recruiter speaking in code?

I have a question about an interview that took place six months ago. (Yes, it still haunts me). It was with a recruiter with the employer.

Now, back then I hadn’t read your site and I didn’t realize that the first interview is not the time to talk about salary – if so, I would have demurred. At the time, however, I didn’t know. He asked me what sort of salary I’d request and I said $X. He said, “That’s a little much,” so I parried with $Y. He wrote it down on the paper he was taking notes on, and we continued the interview, which went well.

The next morning, however, he called me at 8 a.m. I was confused as to why he was calling so early, and confused in general (I’m not a morning person when I’m out of work). He said, “Yesterday, I think you said that your salary requirement was $Y, but I didn’t write it down (yes he did), so I can’t remember. Am I correct? That is it?”

I said yes, and he said, “You’re sure? OK. Just checking.”

I didn’t get the job. My mother and boyfriend said I clearly missed the signal he was sending out – like, if I had said, “No, actually a lower salary is fine,” I would have had a better chance. Unfortunately, I’m someone who tends to take people at their word, and quite literally – not always a good thing. What do you think was going on?

It’s possible that your mother and boyfriend are right and that’s what he was doing — but that would be a pretty weird move for him to pull, weird enough that it wouldn’t be the first thing I’d assume. I’d be more inclined to take what he said at face value and think he couldn’t find it in his notes or the way he wrote it wasn’t clear.

Recruiters have a lot of experience saying, “That’s out of our range. Would you consider $Z instead?” It’s not a conversation that they generally feel awkward about or that they need to cloak in code; they generally just say it straight out.

4. Temp agency is handling our temp’s payroll wrong

I work at a charity, and recently, for the first time, we contracted with a temp agency to bring in an office employee to cover a permanent staff member’s leave. She’s working out great! But I have some concerns about the agency’s payroll compliance. I’ve come up against something that is more serious, and I’m wondering where my responsibility lies.

In my jurisdiction, overtime pay kicks in at either >8 hrs per day or >40 hrs per week, unless there’s an averaging agreement. The temp is on 37.5 hours/week, and on one day last week, she worked a total of 12 hours.

The payroll person at the agency says she’s only getting 2 hours of overtime, because the rest falls under 40 hours! I confirmed with our in-house payroll person that this is incorrect.

I’m mulling whether to just warn the temp and leave it with her, or to contact our sales rep at the agency, or to reply directly to the payroll person (who frankly is as thick as a truckload of telephone poles) or to just leave it. The temp is from another country and young, and I feel a moral obligation not to let her get ripped off.

Please say something! You have an ethical duty to speak up, and it’s important that this payroll agency hear from clients that they want things done legally. (And if, as likely, the person you’re dealing with there just doesn’t know the law, it’s good to educate her.) It doesn’t have to be a big deal; you can just say something like, “Actually, state law requires overtime pay for any hours over eight in a single day, so in this case she’s owed overtime for four hours. Can you confirm that correction on your end?”

5. Manager’s scheduling is interfering with my schoolwork

I’m still in high school, and I started a job at Burger King. I told the manager that I couldn’t work past 8 p.m. and only three days a week, to which he agreed. Unfortunately, I could tell things were going to be bad right off. The new manager (he was transferred just before I was hired) was extremely incompetent. The largest schedules he got out were only one day ahead, and so if you didn’t work that day, you wouldn’t know when you worked next until you were late, as he would oftentimes change my schedule or schedule me without even letting me know. The only time I would figure it out is when one of the lower managers (who were great, but also upset) called to let me know once I was late. Also, right out the gate, he had me working much longer than we had agreed.

So today, I told him I wouldn’t be able to make it because I had four days of homework piled up, as I hadn’t been able to work on it out of my small amount of free time I had in school, and he told me that if I didn’t show up for work today then I wouldn’t have a job. I ended up not showing up, as I’m not going to put my Burger King job over my education, even doubly so if the manager is absolutely terrible. So here I am tonight, angry, annoyed, frustrated, stuck with lots of homework and jobless, and my mother having most of the same emotions. So I wanted to ask if he’s allowed to hinder my education and hold me accountable when I decline to come in because doing so would harm my grades. Monday marks the end of the grading period too, which gives me little time turn in late work (as I will have plenty).

Well, yes. Your employer can indeed require you to work even if you have homework or otherwise need time for school. Good employers that want to hire students will be flexible with them to a point, but even good employers won’t be thrilled if you call out the day you’re scheduled (without more advance notice) because of homework. They expect you to figure out how you’ll balance work and school before you take the job.

That said, this guy sounds horrible and I don’t blame you for disliking the way he operates. But your beef here should be with the bad scheduling and the ignoring your agreed-upon hours, not with his telling you to come in on a day you were scheduled for.

{ 209 comments… read them below }

    1. Charityb*

      It really cheeses me off when I see bad puns like that in blog posts. Lettuce move past this kind of thing and behave more professionally in the future.

  1. Jenniy*

    My issue is with him not giving you schedules until the day before. That’s just bad business.
    I mean, on top of scheduling you outside of agreed upon availability.

    1. Scotty_Smalls*

      And not giving the schedules unless you worked that day. Although I guess he expects you to call in and check if you are scheduled everyday. (Still awful)

      1. TootsNYC*

        Why do managers do that? It just seems so labor intensive and disruptive! Wouldn’t EVERYONE’S life be easier if the schedules came out earlier, and people could check when they were in for their shift, and if their shifts were predictable?

        But especially wouldn’t management’s life be easier? I have NEVER understood this.

        1. Charityb*

          Scheduling is a skill. It would be easier for most people to have it done well and done early, but if you’re not good at scheduling then it’s actually easier to cram it down people’s throats and deal with any complaints as they roll in. The thing is there are a lot of different factors that go into scheduling for a retail store. Your payroll budget changes every week or every month depending on what your corporate office estimates as projected sales volume (they usually have a ratio that they like to use — X% of total sales can be allocated to payroll expenses).

          You also have different things going on like promotional events, inventory deliveries that have to be unloaded, restocking, etc. — things that are frequently cancelled, accelerated, or rescheduled with little notice. You also have people calling out at any time, new employees that have to be trained, trying to keep people part-time or below the over-time threshold, inspections, and other issues to balance.

          I definitely have more sympathy for the retail worker who has to put up with such capricious and unfair scheduling practices, but it’s not exactly simple to put together a schedule very far in advance. It’s like putting together a jigsaw puzzle where the pieces can change shape at any time. I think there are ways to fix the problem but it will require a serious rethinking of how retail stores currently operate.

          (Making you come in or call in to get your schedule is probably a symptom of last-minute scheduling. The manager doesn’t want to post next weeks’ schedule today because they know they will have to correct it a few times… That’s no excuse though, and it’s very unfair to the employees.)

        2. Terra*

          Some companies have an official or unofficial but widely known policy of making sure that workers schedules are not predictable because it prevents them from taking a second job which in turn makes them more dependent on the company and more likely to accept bad/unfair treatment without complaint.

        3. manybellsdown*

          My daughter’s first job did this and it was so frustrating. She’d work Wednesday and see she wasn’t on again until Saturday, they’d change the schedule Thursday morning (when she was at school) and then call her all upset that she didn’t come in Friday afternoon. How was she supposed to know she was on if they don’t tell her they’ve changed it?

        4. Collarbone High*

          So true! My first job was a Burger King that also did this — a lot of times the schedule for a Monday-Saturday week would be posted after midnight on Sunday. That meant every employee would be calling in during the Monday breakfast rush to see if they were scheduled for Monday lunch. The same manager who delayed posting the schedule would get furious about the call-ins, too.

    2. Jen S. 2.0*

      Yeah, there are several issues here, but … no, in general your work doesn’t have to care about your outside commitments. It would be nice if they did, and you may find one that does, but in general, your schoolwork is your problem, not theirs. If you are old enough to be working, “But I have to do 4 days’ worth of homework” generally will not be an acceptable excuse for not working.

      Also note that someday you may have to replace “outside commitments” with: other job, boy/girlfriend, weekend trip, children, commute, insomnia, whatever. You’re expected to manage and organize your life such that you can, in general, be working when they need you to work. If you don’t like that, you always have the option of not working there**. As I often note, there is a critical difference between things that are wrong … and things you just don’t like. (…Kim Davis, I’m looking at you.)

      That said, your manager sounds terrible. Disgraceful. Disorganized, last-minute, inflexible, unreasonable, and poorly trained does not make for a good manager. When I said that you’re expected to organize your life such that you can be working when they need you to work, it is MORE than fair for you, in exchange, to be well aware, well in advance, of when they need you to work, so you have time to organize said life.

      **Re having the option of not working there: This is why, when you are interviewing for jobs, it is super-duper important to be evaluating them as much as they are evaluating you. If the job won’t suit you, you have the option of declining it, and it’s better to decline a poor fit than to quit or get fired a few weeks in. Not a morning person? (Me! Me!) Don’t take a job that will require you to be there and smiling at 6:15 (my worst nightmare). Struggling with plantar fasciitis? Decline that place where everyone has a standing desk. Independent worker? Say thanks but no thanks to the place where it’s all open-space teamwork, all the time. Do your best to solve those problems on the front end.

      1. Lionness*

        You made me spit my chocolate out at “Kim Davis, I’m looking at you.”

        I love this site.

      2. Colette*

        And even jobs that support you having commitments outside of work won’t remain supportive if those commitments come before work at the last minute, except for unpredictable emergencies. They’re hiring you because they need someone on that job.

        (And yes, that manager sounds terrible.)

      3. Lindrine*

        Sure. But many US states have laws about how much and when children can work, even if they are in high school. Especially if they are in high school. The manager has to take the hours the student is available to legally work into account.

        1. Juli G.*

          If he/she is under 18 – otherwise high school or not, manager doesn’t have to care (but should!)

          1. Chocolate lover*

            In some places it does matter if they’re in school. My husband is a restaurant manager, and while students are in school, they can’t work past a certain time of night, or above a certain number of hours. But when they’re on summer or other breaks, they can work more.

            1. doreen*

              But does that apply to 18 or 19 year old high school students or only those under 18? In my state the law specifies the number of hours and the latest hours a minor may work, and they differ based on whether school is in session or not. But they never apply to those over 18, even if the 18 year old is still in high school.

              1. Chocolate lover*

                That part I’m not sure about. I was responding to Juli’s comment about being under 18 specifically – it does matter if they are in school or not.

                1. Charlotte Collins*

                  The OP should look into the child labor laws for his/her state. It’s possible that in addition to being just a terrible manager in general, some laws are being violated in terms of hours/times that s/he can work, as well as number of days.

                  OP – There are jobs for teens where concern is shown for your education. Libraries, local museums, and other public agencies often don’t pay well but treat their HS staff great. Also, boutique-type stores with limited hours tend to have more set schedules in my experience. Good luck!

            2. EmmaBlake*

              Yes. This! When I was in high school, we had to be clocked out by 9:00pm. My senior year, our teachers went on strike, and I didn’t go to school for over two weeks and instead worked the entire time. The corporate office actually called my manager and asked why I was working. I had to send an official statement that I was out of school due to a strike.

          2. Karowen*

            Sometimes not even then. A decade ago in NJ the had to limit your hours if you were 15 or under. As soon as you hit 16 my grocery store job would start scheduling you 8 hours on the weekends.

            1. Witty Nickname*

              It was that way in MS 20 years ago when I was a teen too. I was careful not to mention it to my job when I turned 16 because I didn’t really like my job and didn’t want to be there more (or have to work until closing).

              They could have found out if they had wanted to, but I certainly wasn’t going to tell them myself!

    3. The IT Manager*

      School is not a magical legal get out of work free card. So what happened was perfectly legal.

      However I would have suggested you quit your job because of your manager’s extreme unreasonableness so I don’t think you should be upset about being fired. Here’s why you should have quit: (1) Your stated availability is being ignored and you’re being pressured to change. You were clear on it up front; the business should honor it or they should not have hired you. It doesn’t hurt for you to be somewhat flexible with about it if you can, but not to the extend your manager wants. (2) Only posting the schedule a day in advance is terrible for every employee. No one can make any firm plans. Also changing the schedule with no notification and blaming you for not knowing is also terrible. This manager sounds terrible. Your better off not working for him. Once you get caught up with work you can find another job hopefully with someone who’ll honor your availability.

      1. John B Public*

        “School is not a magical legal get out of work free card. So what happened was perfectly legal.”
        As several commenters above have suggested, it may be exactly that.

        The laws that might apply in this case exist because there is an overriding societal need for an educated workforce, and the short-term needs of a business cannot be allowed to stunt the long-term growth of the community.

        We no longer have a job market that is kind to people with just a high school diploma. It is imperative that everyone be allowed, even encouraged, to reach the highest education they can attain in order for our country to compete on a global scale.

        Ultimately you have priorities, OP, and following them is what you need to do. Ideally you and your manager communicate about this, and your manager acts in a responsible way.

        I agree with the rest of your post though!

        1. Anna*

          My attitude, right through college, was that my education was my first priority and my job was my second. I was fortunate in that I never had to make a choice (which would have been pretty easy) and I was always very clear about what my schedule was. I don’t know if I was just extremely fortunate or if my confidence about my schedule helped my managers decide it wasn’t worth pushing back on. Either way, my employers and I seemed to come out pretty well.

          1. davey1983*

            I had the same attitude. My job/school schedule was only an issue once. I ended up quitting on the spot when a manager insisted I work through a class and a group project I had scheduled (I had purposely scheduled everything after my scheduled shift). I explained my school commitments and that I had intentionally scheduled these things outside of my shift, but the manager insisted I stay and work an additional 4-5 hours or I would be fired (the manager had forgotten to take into consideration that there was a basketball game that night, and decided to force everyone to work extra hours– not the first time it happened, but the first time it happened to me).

            I look back, and I hate that I had to quit without notice (the only time I have ever done that), but I feel I was forced into it.

      2. TootsNYC*

        Here’s why you should have quit:

        Sometimes you should quit. You are NOT obligated to keep working at a job just because you have it.
        It’s a two-way street, a contract in which BOTH parties must keep the other happy.
        Sort of like a romance, actually–so keep this in mind for that as well.

        It has to work for both of you. When it stops working for ONE of you, it should be over.

        So really, you should have quit well before, back when it was clear that your manager was not going to be a reasonable human being.

        Remember that you have agency. You can quit a bad job (if having an income is crucial, get busy and find a new one before, but DO it, so you can LEAVE). You can break up with an annoying or unsatisfying boyfriend/girlfriend (you don’t have to wait until they do something “wrong”; as long as it’s not enjoyable anymore, you -should- be getting out).

        Partly because once you quit (or in the case of income-critical situations, once you decide you’ll be leaving), you have mental energy and logistical “room” to find something or someone new. (And the other side does as well–your manager can find someone to put on the roster who doesn’t have as restrictive a schedule; your now-ex-sweetheart will have Saturday evenings available to date someone else.)

        But also because your life should work for you.

        Be proactive!!

    4. ZSD*

      Note that San Francisco has passed a law requiring early notice of schedules (among other fair scheduling practices), and there’s a bill for federal action, the Schedules that Work Act, has been introduced in Congress. Links to follow in another comment.

    5. Stranger than fiction*

      I’m sure it varies by state, but in CA, I believe there’s some sort of law/rule that a schedule is supposed to be posted 48 hours (2 days) in advance. My memory is a little fuzzy from my restaurant days, but I seem to remember there may have even been a couple class action lawsuits regarding this. And, Op, I can totally sympathize because several of the restaurants I worked at were similarly crappy about posting the schedule on Sunday that began the very next day on Monday. The best I ever got was the schedule on Saturday for Monday.

      1. Anonyby*

        Yeah, I have a friend who has been working in fast food for years (and so she knows the laws regarding that) and she’s mentioned something about it having to be posted early. It still makes trying to plan Mon/Tues things a pain in the rear, but at least she’s not blindsided by them.

      2. a*

        If that’s true, I wish I had known about it when I was working my first job. They did the schedules exactly in the way that OP describes. I doubt that me telling them would have caused them to change things though.

  2. Tara R.*

    Ugh, I saw so many students get caught up in this crap. Put your schoolwork first, as long as the money isn’t absolutely crucial to you. Apply for every scholarship you’re even remotely qualified for, and look for another job that doesn’t disrespect your schoolwork. Sometimes slightly more formal jobs– I did an internship at a bank, for example– are better about the school/work balance, because hiring students is part of PR for them and it looks bad if they overwork you. It sounds like you have good boundaries; remind them of them as soon as they’re being broken. “Boss, we agreed that I would only work three days a week, but you’ve scheduled me for five. Which three would you like me to come in for?”

    1. Tara R.*

      Also this is “Tara” who is in her first year of university (if anyone is following my life story on here, lol), I noticed another Tara around!

    2. Evil*

      This is so very relevant to me right now. I’m actually quitting my part time job because my second year of university just started and I’m overwhelmed with schoolwork. Thanksgiving is this weekend and I work the whole weekend, 15.5 hours in total, but it’ll feel like more because it exhausts me so much. Then I work 3-8:30 the day before a midterm at 9 AM next Saturday. I work in nine hours and I’m actually planning to give my notice today!!

      My manager was quite flexible with school at first but now something’s changed and it’s no longer the case, which is bleh. I was gone over the summer and maybe she just hired a bunch of people she has to be strict with but I’ve been there two years and I can’t work as much as I’ve been doing, plus I don’t absolutely need the money so that’s it, I’m quitting. I hate it there anyway. I’ve fantasized about quitting since my first day back in September.

      I agree with Tara – focus on your schoolwork! Your school is your future and your crappy part time job is not. I’m so fortunate in that I don’t absolutely need my job, because I have some savings piled up from my summer job. I hope that’s the case for you. Your manager was awful and I think him firing you was probably a blessing in disguise. Busy season in fast food and retail just happens to coincide with everything being due in school, too, so I probably won’t look for another job for a while. Maybe a seasonal thing next year, but I might be transferring to a more difficult program at a different school anyway.

      1. Tara R.*

        I lucked out with a 3.5 hours a week work study job for the year. I might pick up something else with just a day on the weekend, but this is sooo good. Some pocket change, and 100% manageable even with class and volunteering with the Pride group 2-3 nights a week. I know our work study positions cap at 10 hours a week and pay really well, so I keep encouraging everyone I know to check them out! (Although I did apply for 15 and only got the one interview. Ah well, they hired me!)

        Employers don’t understand how hard it is to work late when you have class the next morning. It’s not as if you go home and go to bed! There’s getting home, then dinner, and errands, and studying and readings and homework, and if you’re working until 10 you can easily be up until 2, and then getting up at 7:30 or earlier to start class at 9! Not sustainable at all.

        I do a program for kids that runs from 5:30 – 7:00, and I’m usually there until about 7:30, which is the latest I would want to be! If I run late then I miss the dining hall and end up eating crackers for dinner again.

        1. Anon567*

          Work study is a federal program and people only get it if they qualify through the FAFSA. So some people won’t be able to use it because their families make too much.

          Also, at my alma mater, lots if people only got it their first year or two. I got it every year, but I qualified for Pell.

          I worked 8-10 hours a week and was officer of 3 clubs and graduated early. Work study was how I paid for rent and food. Do homework in between classes, that really helps, and on weekends. I only stayed up late when I had a major assignment due that I had underestimated how long it would take to complete.

    3. Evil*

      But also, yeah, I forgot to mention the boundaries but that’s good. Don’t let your manager be crappy to you. Some highlights when I got back:

      Me: Hey, so I’m not available Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday during class and since I have an early class on Tuesday I’d like to be scheduled no later than 8 PM on Mondays. Other than that, my availability is totally open.

      Manager: What time is your class?

      Me: 9 AM.

      Manager: What? That’s not early. You can’t do that. I have girls coming in who don’t want to work late because of 7 AM classes. Didn’t you have 8 AM classes in high school?

      Me: Well yeah, but it killed me to work until 10:30 on some of those nights and I’d rather not do that again.

      To which she sighs and says fine. Then I asked if I could just have 2 shifts instead of 3 (11 hours instead of 16.5). She told me she needs me to work three but she’ll try to get me two. And I’m just thinking, like… you have 40 cashiers, and I’m pretty sure that a lot of the high schoolers want to pick up extra shifts. Why is this a problem??? School is hard work!

      Maybe I’m being unreasonable but just ugh. I’ve been there two years and I’m being treated like I have no idea how to operate in a workplace. Such bull. My mom wasn’t too impressed either, although she said of course manager has to be strict, she’s dealing with mostly idiotic high schoolers. BUT STILL!!! I’m going to regret quitting once I no longer have a weekly paycheck but I don’t think I’m going to regret the stress.

      1. Myrin*

        Stories like this one make me so glad that my part-time job isn’t like that at all. I mean, what made it so attractive to me in the first place (other than, you know, being an available job, something I need) was the fact that the ad listed they’d need someone for Sundays and holidays, both days where I’m generally not going to have any uni obligations. I was able to pick up quite a few more shifts during my semester break but that wasn’t something my boss expected, she just asked me and when I said I’m sorry, I already have another obligation on x day, it wasn’t a problem at all. Now that uni starts up again next week I’m back to only Sundays and my boss actually needed someone in for Tuesday but the only thing she said to me was “You won’t be available on Tuesdays anymore, right?” and I said yes and that was that. It’s such a pleasure to work for and with reasonable people!

        1. Joline*

          I felt so lucky with my part time job while going to post-secondary school.

          I worked Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights (so Fridays were a bit rough since I’d go straight from school to work). I was a cashier in a big arcade so after about 10pm on the Friday and Saturday my work would be pretty quiet even though I worked until 2am. The big positive positive with that – they let me study at work. Their position was that as long as I was paying enough attention peripherally that I could respond quickly to customers that they didn’t see that reading textbooks was worse than doodling or whatever else people do to pass time.

    4. The Aryist Formally Known As UKAnon*

      I agree with everything you say, but I also don’t think it’s quite as simple as that. I’ve been voluntarily in education part or full time for the last decade because I love learning, and I’d love to be able to say “Education comes before all else”. It is SUCH a privilege.

      BUT. IME, OP is going to get any kind of a job afterwards without connected parents/work experience. I think there has to be an element of balance here, and OP will need to find boundaries (and definitely do stick to them) which balance with work too.

      1. Tara R.*

        This changes as you get older and completely responsible for your own finances, but OP is in high school. Burger King is unlikely to be a point in her favour when she’s looking for professional employment later on. When you’re in high school, school really is your “job”– or at least, it should be as much as possible. I grew up in a small town with limited youth employment, and even there if someone was personable enough to land a job at one fast food place they ought to be able to replace it without too much trouble. It’s not as if OP is asking for something unreasonable– three nights a week is a lot! I couldn’t have handled that last year. My parents stopped paying for hair cuts and clothes and school fees and the like (except very occasionally) when I was in Grade 10; I worked summers, Saturdays during the school year throughout Grade 11, and otherwise lived on my savings. I wasn’t about to risk my academics and scholarships for the sake of some extra pocket money. I was just careful to budget appropriately.

        Now that I’m responsible for my own housing and food, I can’t exactly prioritize in the same way. But I would strongly, strongly push back against the idea that high school is the place to start ‘balancing’ work and school in a way that is detrimental to school.

        1. Tara R.*

          And I should add– it is a privilege. There are many families where kids have to contribute to rent and food. But it doesn’t sound like OP is in any kind of dire financial situation.

    5. Punky*

      I don’t know… I had to work during high school if I wanted to go to college– and that was with my first two years’ tuition fully paid by scholarship with lots of little $100 scholarships thrown in over four years. So I worked 24-30 hours a week during the school year and 40 during the summers. Also, I was responsible for my own car insurance payments/gas/repairs, so I needed the money there as well (the only reason I even had a car my junior year was to go to my job– my parents wouldn’t let me drive anywhere else). As far as my parents were concerned, schoolwork and the job were both priority number #1, and I couldn’t shirk either.

      1. Cucumberzucchini*

        I was in a similar situation. I worked 35 hours a week and went to school full-time the first two years of college. Those core classes weren’t academically rigorous so while it wasn’t easy it wasn’t impossible either. I wasn’t concerned with straight A’s since grades didn’t matter for my life after college. I still felt like I had a ton of downtime.

      2. M*

        Yeah, if you are able to make high school or college the sole priority in your life, you are very lucky, but that’s just not reality for many people. I worked 20-25 hours per week starting at 16, and all my friends did the same thing. We balanced sports and band and AP classes and working because that’s just what you did to put gas in your crappy car and save for college. It wasn’t just that our families lived paycheck-to-paycheck – it was the whole mentality of our little blue-collar town. I ended up getting a full ride to a local state school, but of course I didn’t find that out until spring of my senior year.

        It was a tough balancing act, and I did have to push for a lighter schedule at certain times (and it was crucial that my manager was willing to work with me there), but I just had to find a way to make it work that didn’t involve calling off for scheduled shifts. (Urgh, this is coming off really “in MY day…”, I’m sorry.)

      3. Ann O'Nemity*

        Yes, this. Some of us absolutely did have to work in high school. In my case, some of the money was saved for college, but I also needed to help with bills. Unfortunately, that meant that sometimes my crappy part-time job felt more important in the short-term than extracurriculars or even studying.

        Still, I found that some employers/managers were way more accommodating of students with school schedules and responsibilities. There were a few times that I had to quit jobs simply due to scheduling.

    6. Not The Droid You are Looking For*

      As someone who used to manage students, I would say that part of your education is learning to honor the commitments you make and learn how to balance your time.

      (I do want to clarify that I think the OP’s manager is *really* bad.)

      I too had student try to call out because they had too much homework, “forgot” that the big report was due, etc. and I would hold them to their commitments. Yes, it was “only” a work-study job to them, but if someone didn’t show up to there shift, work didn’t get done.

      1. Anon567*

        One of my work study jobs had a nice online system where you could trade, drop, or pick up shifts. You were responsible for ensuring that your shifts got picked up, but it was nice because if you had a meeting at a different time or were going away for the weekend, you could get the time off usually. And if you needed more hours, you could pick up shifts. It was at my college gym, which was staffed for 12 hours on weekends and 19 on weekdays.

        1. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

          I was *so* excited when we got this system! It made it so much easier for my student workers.

          We always accepted shift trades, and I was happy to help my students problem-solve arrangements. We also set the schedule at the beginning of each semester so people knew when they were working and could plan long-term.

      2. Jennifer*

        I think campus student jobs are probably the only ones that actually account for a student schedule. Unfortunately, the behavior with the OP’s job is typical for what I’ve heard of non-school shift work: doesn’t matter what you say no to, you will get scheduled whenever and get fired if you’re not there. Everyone is disposable, so why care about keeping someone on?

    1. Evil*

      Actually, unrelated, but I’m quitting my part time job because I can’t handle school and work right now. It’s just too overwhelming. (And I may possibly have some health issues which I’m getting tested for adding to the mix, which isn’t exactly helping with the stress.) What should I say if I ever look for a new one? Just, “I had a health issue which has since been resolved?” It’s not exactly a truth, but not exactly a lie either. I can’t tell them I couldn’t balance school and work since then they’ll be skeptical of my ability to do it again. Since my summer job will probably hire me back though I’m not sure that’ll be an issue, but still

      1. INTP*

        I would just say that the schedule requirements began to conflict with your classes and schoolwork. I wouldn’t phrase it like you can’t balance school and work at the same time – some people might see that as you being lazy or easily overwhelmed – but most will understand that sometimes class schedules conflict with work shifts and sometimes schedules aren’t as flexible as students need.

    2. NutellaNutterson*

      She can say that the management had difficulty with creating schedules in advance or that respected her availability, and so she needed to focus on school.

      1. Evil*

        Oooh, can I steal this? It’s why I’m having such trouble balancing school and work, my manager isn’t being great about it either.

        (Sorry for word vomiting all over this thread, Allison!)

      2. The Zone Of Avoidance*

        management had difficulty

        Yeah, this would work well with me, at least. I don’t know why, but fast food management tends to attract some of the very lowest caliber of humanity. If I saw Burger King or Taco Bell on a resume, I most certainly wouldn’t waste my time trying to call the management there – I mean, what are they going to tell me that is worth my time to listen to them? Really, all I get from seeing Burger King is an indication that someone really, really wants to work (which may be indicative of a good work ethic).

        1. MK*

          They could tell you about the candidate’s work ethic, qualities, personality, ability to work with others, etc, just like any other manager. But, sure, be a snob about them (lowest calibre of humanity?) and hire someone entitled who thinks they are too good for working these kind of jobs.

          1. Charlotte Collins*

            Although I don’t agree with the wording, I think what The Zone Of Avoidance is trying to get at is the low quality of management some of these places have (I didn’t read that the person who had worked there wouldn’t be hired but that the management wouldn’t give anything like a reasonable reference). My understanding is that some of this has gotten better since I was a HS student, but I know that my parents specifically told me not to apply to those places because they never liked seeing how the staff was treated (esp. the teen staff) in most fast food places. They were OK with other kinds of food service and McJobs, but they didn’t want their kids to go through what OP is going through. (There was a lot more open yelling at staff in the 70s and 80s, too…)

            I knew plenty of people who worked those kinds of jobs in the summer when they just wanted to shifts and to earn money then got other jobs during the school year.

            1. Charlotte Collins*

              Oh, and “lowest caliber of humanity,” really? I think we can all agree there are people in the world doing way worse things than messing up some teenager’s schedule. (Although to a teenager new to the workforce, that might seem like one of the worse things in the world.)

              The quality of management and jobs in fast food really varies from place to place and chain/franchise to chain franchise. (Where I live Culver’s is supposed to be a fabulous PT job for teens. But I don’t think I’d recommend they work for BK.)

            2. The Zone Of Avoidance*

              Thank you, Charlotte Collins! I was coming back to clarify exactly that point: I’d view it as a plus if an applicant had (non-mgmt) fast food experience on their resume. I wouldn’t spend much time on it – I’d just accept it as a sign that the person was willing to work. To quote Martha Stewart: “It’s a good thing.”

              But my experiences with FF management – during the 70s and 80s, btw, when I worked my fair share of those kinds of jobs – has left me thinking them the lowest of the low. When I think about the adage that the best way to find the measure of a person is to give them just a bit of authority, and then watch what they do with it, it brings back a flood of memories of truly terrible FF bosses that I (or friends of mine) had to deal with. I wouldn’t call a FF manager as a reference because I wouldn’t trust them to tell me the truth: they’d see it as a chance for some kind of petty pay-back revenge. Heck, I used to know a guy who ran an escort service, and he was a better manager (and even a better human being) than a couple of Fast Food managers I’ve known.

              Those of you who have known good Fast Food managers: more power to you, and to them. But my experience has been different. And, frankly, I’ve seen so many “low-cal” FF managers that I think the stereotype rises to the level of a useful heuristic. I mean: I actually pay attention to these people when I encounter them[1]. I think that there is less overt yelling at employees going on these days. But I’m not at all convinced that there’s been some sea-change that has magically transformed the Fast Food managers of the world into wise and benevolent task-masters. I think most of them are (still) jerks who enjoy picking on teenagers.

              [1] and hence I wouldn’t advise anyone to work at my local Culvers. YMMV.

        2. Apollo Warbucks*

          I worked fast-food and big box retail and warehouses for a few years and it taught me loads, and I worked with some great people as well as some of the most incompetent jerks ever but I’d never look down my nose at someone for having that sort of job on their CV, it pays the bills provides flexibility in hours and shifts that other employment options don’t.

        3. Colette*

          I suspect that fast food management deals with a lot of employees who treat the job as a pen optional activity, as well as a lot if demanding, entitled customers and complex scheduling problems. I’m sure some of them are terrible and some are great – as in every other industry

          1. Not Today Satan*

            Yeah, I do not envy managers of low wage employees. Most just don’t care, and you can’t really blame them.

        4. Lionness*

          Whoa. I take serious offense to this. While I am not a manager in food service, I am in an industry that is often derided as being filled up with unambitious, uneducated people – which is an ugly, untrue stereotype.

          Some people enjoy food service. Some people are very good managers in that industry. Some people suck at management no matter what industry they are in. Some people in professional jobs suck at management.

          You should not group everyone together. It really only makes you look classist and snobbish and gross.

        5. Chocolate lover*

          That’s harsh, and untrue. My husband is certainly not in the “lowest caliber of humanity.” He works hard and is good at his job.

          And news flash – it’s a poorly paid industry that often pays and treats it’s managers as bad or worse than the crew. Not many people are a glutton for that punishment.

          Also, as a college advisor who manages relationships with employers who hire our students as interns, many DO care about those jobs. They show work ethic, discipline, time management, and the likely ability to deal with obnoxious people that comes with most public facing jobs at some point.

          1. catsAreCool*

            I worked at a fast food restaurant for a while. Some of the managers were great. Not all of them were, but none of them were actually horrible.

        6. Not Today Satan*

          Yikes. My brother manages a fast food restaurant. Retail/restaurant management can actually be a great career path for those without college degrees (although some do have degrees).

          1. some1*

            The gas station/convenience store chain I worked at in high school back in the 90s required a Bachelor’s Degree for store managers.

          2. Anon for this*

            In 1979, my family emigrated to the U.S.A. and my mother’s first job was cashier at a fast food place. Back home she was a high school chemistry teacher (she has a BS degree). She had great work ethic and stuck with it a year and was promoted to a supervisor, then moved to another fast food company and was promoted to manager after 6 months.
            My parents eventually started their own business (not food related) in 1985. My mother always said that working at the fast food restaurants helped her with: practicing her English, learning about managing people, sales, marketing, etc. She used her experience (working in fast food) to work hard and make her own business more successful!

        7. Not The Droid You are Looking For*

          When hiring for an entry level client facing position, I often looked for long stints in food service.

          I could have two recent graduates who were neck-and-neck academically, and I would *always* chose the one who had food service on their resume. It shows me that they can handle a lot!

        8. Lana*

          Yeah, no. I’ve known employers who are far more likely to toss an application right in the trash if the high school graduate has NO work experience.

        9. LBK*

          Uh, wow. I’ve had some phenomenal managers in food service and retail, ones that taught me everything I know about being a good leader and generally a good employee. I’ve worked for much worse in office jobs. Like everywhere, there’s good people and bad people – sure, there may be some more bad people because there’s people that don’t take the job seriously, but let’s not pretend every office worker is the pinnacle of work ethic and intelligence either. I’d gladly replace some of my current coworkers with some of the smart, dedicated people I worked with in retail.

        10. MashaKasha*

          What? Why? I worked everywhere I could while in college. And I actually think it’s a useful experience, because it helps one develop empathy for those working menial, low-income jobs; as well as the drive to work on one’s skillset and study and otherwise improve oneself to move out of that vicious circle, where you work yourself to death, come home exhausted, crash, rinse, repeat, all for a pay that’s barely enough to live on. It is hard, thankless work. The customers are, well, some of them apparently think that the workers are the very lowest caliber of humanity. I’d say if one can handle that kind of customer, who have that kind of attitude, and leave them satisfied, that says a lot about this person’s people skills! I honestly think it would help if everyone could put in a year or two working at that kind of job. It really changes one’s outlook on life.

          1. The Strand*

            Perfect comment. If you don’t develop a thicker skin, a tougher work ethic, and compassion after working in fast food (or construction, or cleaning – two other undervalued jobs), you have bigger problems than where you work.

          2. catsAreCool*

            Yeah to everything MashaKasha said.

            Working at fast food motivated me to do well in college. Being treated by a lower life form by some of the customers (most of the customers were OK though) reminded me to never do that to anyone else.

        11. The Strand*

          I worked in fast food, and I don’t find the statement degrading to all managers. I had a really wonderful manager who was hard-working and caring, and I had another who was a pompous clod, who would routinely clock us out and make us work for free (this when I was age 14 and something like 20 years before Ask A Manager was around).

          The nature of fast food is that it gives chances to people who really want to work – so when I have hired I keep that in mind. It also gives chances to people who probably would not survive in other retail or office settings.

        12. TootsNYC*

          I wouldn’t love “management had difficulty”–it sounds too blamey for you to say to someone you don’t know well yet.

          I’d say, “the schedule didn’t work with my need to finish my schooling.”

      3. INTP*

        I wouldn’t say “Management had difficulty with” – that makes the OP sound defensive or accusatory. I would say something like “The schedule demands changed and began to conflict with my schoolwork, so I had to leave to focus on school” or something. It just never works well to try to convince an interviewer why your previous employer was wrong or bad ime.

        1. Monique*

          I don’t think there’s anything wrong with making it clear that the schedules were released too late for her to be able to manage things effectively though. It seems an important thing to clarify, cause it otherwise sounds like the OP just couldn’t manage school and work at the same time, when it was the lack of notice that really did her in.

          1. legalchef*

            This. If she says something that implies that she had trouble managing the job and her schoolwork, then an employer is less likely to hire her, because they will think that she will leave them because she will have trouble again. It’s better to say something like “We weren’t given the schedule for each day until the day before, and therefore I wasn’t able to plan accordingly to give both my schoolwork and my job the appropriate prioritization.” This would also be a good way for the OP (or the interviewer) to weed one another out, since if that’s how it works at this potential job, they would realize it won’t be a good fit.

          2. INTP*

            I think it would be okay to say that, I just wouldn’t phrase it like you had a bone to pick with the management, kwim? But you would need to specify that it was one day of notice, since “short term” doesn’t convey whether it was truly unreasonably short or a typical short notice for that industry. And she definitely shouldn’t mention that she couldn’t know she was scheduled until she was called for being late, because that will make an interviewer wonder why she didn’t just call in on her days off to ask if she was on the next day’s schedule. Ultimately, though, I’m not sure that giving the extra detail will really help you, because it’s pretty common for service industry jobs to have rigid or irregular schedules that don’t work with school. (The exception would be if OP thought the employer was likely to call and be told that the OP was fired, in which case she the one day notice detail would help.)

  3. The Zone Of Avoidance*

    #3: while I agree that it’s likely just the guy confirming his notes or something, I once had a manager who would do stuff like this. It was like I was being given a chance to set the record ‘straight’, that I agreed with her and always had. It was kinda creepy and felt like something out of organized crime.

  4. PriorityZero*

    I would start with the Payroll person you spoke with and try to get it resolved but if it doesnt get resolved VERY quickly I would contact your Sales Rep.

    Say to the Sales Rep that you have been very pleased with their service and their temp but you cannot support a company who blatantly ignores labor laws. They need to know that you have noticed and are unhappy.

      1. JGray*

        Outright hiring the temp might not be an option. In my area, if you are hired/placed through a temp agency you have to put in a certain number of hours before the company can outright hire you. Most temp places require about 6 months of work. So I agree with you that this is a good solution but might not be possible.

    1. Chinook*

      “I would start with the Payroll person you spoke with and try to get it resolved but if it doesn’t get resolved VERY quickly I would contact your Sales Rep.”

      There is another reason to contact your sales rep – the payroll person is costing the temp agency money. If that agency works like the one we use, then OT costs are passed on to the customer with the agreed upon markup (say 90% if temp’s take home). So, if they are only paying her OT for 2 hours versus the 5 hours she deserves, that is 3 hours of OT markup the agency is not able to bill for. On the flip side, if they are billing for the 5 hours of OT instead of the 2 they are paying the temp, then they are misrepresenting to you what the temp is being paid for (i.e. you could assume she gets paid OT wages when you ask her to work OT).

  5. Cambridge Comma*

    I thought from #5 that she didn’t necessarily call out the day she was scheduled with no advance warning, but that she may only have received the schedule then and immediately said she couldn’t make it or shortly afterwards.
    I agree with Alison that you can’t expect your manager to care about your schoolwork, and you definitely can’t call in at the last minute just because of homework, but for a job to be compatible with school, the manager will need to stick to the agreed hours and schedule a reasonable time in advance. This manager caused the job to not be compatible with school, so it would have come to an end if not this week, then next, or next month, so I wouldn’t lose sleep over it.
    There will be another job out there for you and hopefully more reasonable managers in your future.

    1. TootsNYC*

      Yeah, it’s totally appropriate to quit in this instance, and I think it’s appropriate to quit with short notice.

      It’s just that the principles are such that you, as the other party to the contract, are expected to show up.

    2. Not The Droid You are Looking For*

      I read it as a call out, but given what we know about the manager, your read makes a lot more sense.

      For the life of me, I have never understood why retail can’t have a set (or semi-set) schedule!

      1. Doreen*

        There can be semi-set schedules- but certain types of jobs (which include but aren ‘t limited to retail and fast food) require adjustments when employees take a time off or their availability changes. Let’s say Wakeen is the closing manager at Wendy’s. He is normally off Mon and Sat, and a different manager closes those nights. One week, he wants to take Sunday off, or maybe he wants to take a weeklong vacation. The work schedule of other managers will have to change to allow this-maybe Fred works Sunday and Wakeen takes hisj Monday shift. Or Percival who normally works a 12-8 shift as a second on -site manager works Wakeen’s schedule for a week to allow his vacation. Or Priscilla always worked Tuesdays but now with the new semester starting , she can’t. It doesn’t have to be a completely new schedule every week, but there’s really no way to avoid changes completely.

        1. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

          That makes a lot of sense.

          I worked small store retail (like the owner hires a high school student to work Saturdays, so they don’t have to work 6 days per week) so my schedule was pretty set. So I am always surprised when I read stories on here about people who work for big corporate locations that see their schedule change weekly and aren’t notified until the day before.

          1. Elsajeni*

            Yeah, with big corporate stores, there’s a lot going on — district management sets your payroll budget, and it changes week to week; you have a lot of employees with various schedule needs that might also be changing week to week; you regularly have special promotions or events that require different staffing; etc. Basically, you could try to make a consistent schedule, but you’d be making exceptions so often that it becomes easier just to abandon consistency altogether.

            You can do that without leaving it until the last minute, though. That’s plain bad management.

  6. Elder Dog*

    If you’re still in high school, you might also still be a minor. is a chart at the US Dept of Labor’s website that gives the laws state by state covering not just how many, but which hours children under 18 are allowed to work. The rules are even more restrictive for 14 and 15 year-olds.
    You might check and make sure your manager was following the laws in your state as well as the federal laws.

    I think your mother is showing uncommon restraint not calling the corporate office and telling them what specifically about the manager’s behavior has resulted in her resolving never to patronize that place again, and telling all her friends.

  7. Ruth (UK)*

    #5 I sympathise with this. I’ve complained a number of times before on here about an old job of mine in fast food. I was full time after I finished uni for several years. I had always worked part-time in kitchen related jobs since I was 16.

    It wasn’t burger king, but same story. The weekly schedule was published online on Sunday (sometimes as late as 10pm). Until then I didn’t know what I was working on Monday (and it could be as early as 4am). The store was 24 hours except on Sundays when we closed at 11:30pm to customers so we could do more involved cleaning (incl. inside of milkshake machines etc).

    The scheduling was a nightmare. My shifts were sometimes changed online during the week without asking or even informing me of the change. I had to re-check the schedule each night to make sure I was really working what I thought I was working the next day. They regularly ignored the fact you’re meant to have 10 hours between shifts or whatever it was. I could work till 2am and be expected in at 9am the next (I mean same) morning.

    On shift we couldn’t do anything (drink water, go to the toilet, sit down on anything) without explicit permission from a manager which was rarely granted.

    I was typically working 45-50 hours weeks but with the odd shift timings and so on, it felt much longer. I now work 40-hour weeks on normal office hours and it feels like half as much time at work, not just 5-10 hours less per week.

    If you had the choice, I don’t blame you for just quitting. Unfortunately I saw a similar story with many students in 6th form (last 2 years of high school) with the same problem (post-16 education being compulsory here is EXTREMELY new and wasn’t the case then). Except sometimes they needed to prioritise the job over their education as they could not afford to lose it. When classes clashed with work, they’d come to work. They’d stay till midnight (under 18s weren’t meant to work past midnight) when they had school the next morning. Their schoolwork suffered, they missed class, and in many cases I saw, eventually dropped out in favour of being able to make money as their parents were unable or unwilling to support them and they were like 17 and had no other form of income or place to live.

    Vent… over.

  8. Apollo Warbucks*


    The only thing I can see the OP could have better is being more proactive about finding out which shifts they were down for, it’s a bad idea to wait on a phone call from the shift manager asking why you’re running late, getting a co-worker to text you or taking the initiative to call in after the shifts are posted or even suggesting a shared Google doc would have been better.

    I can not agree with Alison saying employers “expect you to figure out how you’ll balance work and school before you take the job.” it sounds to be like the OP did exactly that when they talked about availability and they told the manager that they couldn’t work past 8 p.m. and only three days a week, to which he agreed. It baffles me that the employer can just unilaterally change an agreement and that’s considered acceptable.

    I think the OP did the right thing by setting some boundaries and I really don’t think they did anything wrong by declining to come in for the shift, they agreed a particular shift pattern and I assume kept up their end of the deal, the manager should not have put them down for more hours without at least asking first.

    So yeah I’d be pissed about the poor management, bad scheduling and the ignoring the agreed shift pattern and then being told to hours in addition to what had been previously agreed.

    1. Tyler*

      I was the OP of #5. I had kept my end of it and that time I had called in to miss was my first time I had called in.

  9. SanguineAspect*

    #3 – Another possible explanation is that he simply misplaced the paper he’d written on during the interview. While I’m not a recruiter, I have had an unfortunate occasion where after a client meeting, I left a paper with some dates/times of their availability scribbled on it in the office on my desk while I was working from home the following day. When I went to schedule the meetings, I KNEW I had the informationbut couldn’t access it (one of the many reasons I now try to take ALL of my notes on my computer). I had to email the client, apologize for making them repeat themselves, and ask for the dates again in order to schedule the meeting.

    1. #3 OP*

      Good point. To be honest, I didn’t get *too* paranoid about it til everyone around me started saying stuff like, “Ooooh, you missed the sign, etc.”

      There can be a lot Monday morning quarterbacks in one’s circle of family/friends when you’re looking for work.

      1. Natalie*

        Oh, yeah, that’s annoying. Even if it was some kind of ploy, what would that tell you about him as a manager? Would you have wanted to work for someone like that?

        It might help to stop sharing details, especially if you tend to second guess yourself.

        1. TootsNYC*

          well, he was a recruiter–not the actual manager (hiring manager) of the job. So you don’t always want to assume that a recruiter is reflective of how things will work at the job.

      2. SanguineAspect*

        I TOTALLY get that. And if the case was indeed that the recruiter misplaced your printed resume, he also could have just been honest about it, which would have seemed less fishy. Since, as you mentioned, you literally saw him write the number down during your meeting with him.

        1. some1*

          I’m not even ready to assume the recruiter even remembers writing it down, he could very well have interviewed multiple people and didn’t organize his notes properly.

          1. SanguineAspect*

            Completely fair point on that as well. It hasn’t occurred to me that if the recruiter was in the middle of doing pre-interviews for a client that he’d be screening many people for the role, probably over the course of a few days (but of course he would be).

          2. Kylynara*

            Other possibilities: The recruiter can’t read his own handwriting and is ashamed to admit it. What is written doesn’t jibe with what he remembers (ex. he wrote 78K, and remembers you saying 87K), or he added or subtracted a zero by accident and wants to be 100% certain it was by accident.

            Nonetheless, even if he was fishing for you to give a lower number, would you have been happy to take the job at a lower amount?

      3. Stranger than fiction*

        I don’t know, Op. I could totally see it being a tactic to get you to lower your asking salary. Like he was really saying “Is $X your final answer?”. I agree with Alison normally recruiters would have no reason to use such a tactic, but people are weird sometimes and like to play power games.

    2. The IT Manager*

      I think it’s weird to assume he was talking in code. The recruiter still holds a lot of cards and could just straight out say “that’s more than we have budgeted for the position.” And you could even agree to his high limit at that point (if he were willing to tell you what the range was.) That said, you already came down from X to Y. Did you really want to come down further?

      If you are still early in the interview process, though, I think it is best to give a range and not just a single number. “I’m thinking between X and Y depending on the details of exact responsibilities and benefits.”

  10. Three Thousand*

    The fast food industry pioneered the concept of hiring teenagers in school, underpaying them (because they probably don’t have bills to pay and don’t “need” money), and mistreating them (because they might not have the option to work somewhere decent or think they can do better). They’ve been doing this for decades and have it down to a science.

    1. Colette*

      I don’t think this is true. Fast food employees make minimum wage, and since the industry depends on keeping prices low, that’s unlikely to change. How much are you willing to pay for a hamburger or a taco?

      And I’m sure there are some places that mistreat their employees, but there are also plenty that don’t. The work isn’t easy, but many jobs aren’t.

      1. Lionness*

        Actually, most research says even wages doubled it would increase per item pricing by less than 10%. That means that your $1 burger would now be $1.10. I’d pay that to ensure a decent wage for the workers.

        1. Colette*

          Even if the next place over sold the burger for $1 less or get a sit down meal for the same price? Many people wouldn’t. I mean, there certainly are places where raising the minimum wage makes sense, but that’s a different discussion than paying fast food workers considerably more than minimum wage.

          1. Lionness*

            I think most people would pay 10% more if they knew the difference was a livable wage vs abject poverty. You just have to get the message out about why your prices are higher.

            People that wouldn’t pay a tiny amount more on already cheap goods are not people I choose to associate with. That says a lot about their character.

            1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

              Or it says a lot about their finances. Which is not necessarily to say that raising wages is a bad idea, but do know that some people eat dinner off the dollar menu at McDonald’s because that’s what they can afford. Which is another set of problems that our society should be doing more about, IMO.

              1. Lionness*

                Nope, sorry. If you can’t afford 10 cents more on that burger, you can’t afford to eat out. And? When wages go up for one group, they go up (albeit over time) for lots of groups. Because the first group contributes to the local economy more.

                1. INTP*

                  I actually read an interesting article on Business Insider that showed that cooking similar items at home tends to be only nominally cheaper than purchasing the cheapest things on dollar menus, not including cooking and cleanup time. In that case, it shouldn’t really be considered “eating out” as a luxury you can or can’t afford so much as “eating.” (Of course, you could make the argument that someone who can’t afford ground beef and hamburger buns ethically should be eating rice and lentils, but if we’re going to make the argument that money is never a justification for eating in an unethical way, no one should be eating at most fast food places period. However much they pay your cashiers, the employees of the CAFO and slaughterhouse where your burger originated are probably not working in the most ethical conditions. There’s a whole chain of people involved, the cashier is just the one you have to look in the face.)

              2. boop*

                “some people eat dinner off the dollar menu at McDonald’s because that’s what they can afford…”

                … because they’re making minimum wage. ftfy!

          2. The Cosmic Avenger*

            Yes, if the place that sold it for $1.10 seemed to have smarter, happier, more attentive staff, I’d pick the better service in a heartbeat, even for a lot more than 10%!

            But unfortunately I think you’re right, that a lot of people would not make that same choice.

            1. Kelly L.*

              I stopped going to one place in part because they got new management and suddenly, the same staff that had seemed happy before seemed really cowed and skittish. Gave me the willies.

          3. SpyGlassez*

            But plenty of us buy fast food just for the convenience and not the price. One day a week, between teaching and tutoring, I have a 12 hour day. It involves a rotation between BK, McDs, and Arbys for lunch. Arbys is by far the more expensive of the three, but the employees there at the one near my work are so friendly and upbeat that it doesn’t matter. I know it isn’t the best life choice to have fast food so often but right now I am scrambling to feel like I’m getting by and my organization skills are basically nonexistent.

            1. Kelly L.*

              Yup. And food quality.

              Just this past weekend, I picked pricey Arby’s over cheap White Castle when they were right next door to each other, because in my opinion Arby’s food is better. Not haute cuisine, but better.

        2. Stranger than fiction*

          Really? That’s interesting, I need to google that because I’ve been wondering. I mean, how can you increase wages 50% and prices only 10%? Significantly lower profit margins is all I can think of. (Economist I am not)

          1. Kathryn T.*

            If labor costs are only 20% of the cost of the price of the burger, then increasing them by 50% will be a 10% increase in the cost of the burger, assuming it’s all passed along.

            To make the math easy: let’s say the burger is $10, and the labor involved in making the burger costs the company $2. If they increase wages by 50% and pass that cost along to the customer, the labor costs will increase to $3 (because 2 x 1.5 = 3) and the new cost of the burger will be $11.

      2. Three Thousand*

        I agree that the fast food industry has historically depended on keeping wages low. I’m not sure what I said that you think isn’t true.

        In N Out from California already pays workers at least $15 per hour and doesn’t do it by raising prices but by cutting into profits. They’re an anomaly in that they don’t seem to care about maximizing profits and will pretty much just do whatever they like, so the company is only valued at about $800 million despite having $600 million in revenues, because analysts assume their profits are lower due to their business practices.

        Other fast food companies can’t really be expected to do this, since they’re not set up to be lucrative family businesses but multinational public corporations. As people are saying here, it’s possible to raise wages and keep prices relatively low, but there is a real risk of losing at least some customers that way.

          1. Stranger than fiction*

            Totally agree, their fries suck! They’re kind of dry and tasteless. But the burgers and shakes = awesomeness.

        1. Jenna*

          I live in California and In-n-Out is one of the very few fast food places that I will eat at these days. They have a reputation for treating their staff decently.
          It also helps that I know that I can order a burger “protein style” and get it without the bun, wrapped in lettuce. It also helps that although I am celiac, I have not gotten glutened there(yet. There is always an unfortunate chance of getting glutened in restaurants if you are celiac. I take the risk because cooking every meal myself in my own kitchen isn’t going to happen). They don’t cut corners with mysterious filler ingredients. They have earned my trust.

      3. Xay*

        During the economic boom of the mid 90s, I routinely saw fast food restaurants offering $10-15 an hour wages because they had such a hard time finding workers. Just like any other business, they set wages at what the market will bear.

        1. Chinook*

          “During the economic boom of the mid 90s, I routinely saw fast food restaurants offering $10-15 an hour wages because they had such a hard time finding workers. ”

          Around here, 5 years ago fast food restaurants offered wages starting at $14/hour. Now they are min. wage ($11? I think). The price of the burgers was only a few cents more than the same restaurant down east that paid min. wage of $10 and change.

      4. Mike C.*

        Look at the price of a Bic Mac in places with high minimum wages, like Australia. Labor is only a small portion of the total overall cost of a fast food meal.

      5. GrittyKitty*

        I wish.

        Minimum wage was $2.10 an hour in 1975. The local Dairy Queen paid me $1.10 an hour because the owners (who had a son my age – 13) knew I had to have a job. I worked 35-40 hours most weeks (5-close week nights, day shifts on weekends). After taxes and any (full price) meals were deducted, I was lucky if I cleared $25 a week.

        At the time, I was grateful for any kind of job. Now, it makes me sad and I wonder how many of their son’s classmates were exploited.

        I gained customer service skills at that job. But I wish I had had someone to intervene on my behalf.

    2. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

      FWIW, our fast food experience at McDonalds (gasp!) has been good.

      My son (who happens to be special needs but was not hired as a special needs employee) has worked at the local for a couple of years now and usually gets 30 hours per week. His managers and co-workers are great. The only thing that bothers me is that he’s hesitant to ask for an entire week off, and I’d really like to go on vacation with him! He’s afraid he’ll lose hours to anybody who takes his shifts if he goes for a week. IDK if that’s real or in his head but his mom can’t call his manger to find out. :P :P

      We can talk about pay but as far as mistreatment goes, it’s been nothing but the opposite. He works with good people and for a good franchisee. Mistreatment, not universal.

      1. TootsNYC*

        With any business–it’s all about the managers who are actually managing.

        I’ve heard stories of two Targets in town, and one has pleasant staff, enough registers, and is clean; the other has grouchy jerks, never enough registers, and stuff is always off the shelves on the ground.
        The difference HAS to be the manager in the store.

        I do NOT understand people who do the schedule at the last minute, or who change it all around. I do a schedule, once a month, and believe me, I automate it as much as I can.
        I would give my core people the main shifts, so I can count on them being there then predictably. Sure, they’ll like it–but won’t it as well?

        Is it really that hard to tell two weeks away, that you need 4 people on Thursday night? Just slot the same 4 people for every Thursday night.

        You’ll need some floaters, but then you can try to get people who can cope with being a floater. And if you have someone who is always trying to change their schedule, you stop scheduling them and get somebody who’s less likely to create chaos in your schedule.

        1. TootsNYC*

          Oh–and in the case of the story about the two Targets–guess which one they shopped at? The one on the opposite side of town.

        2. Allison*

          “the other has grouchy jerks”

          off-topic, but grouchy jerks who work retail make me mad for 2 reasons: 1) it makes shopping there miserable, and I’m made to feel like I’m ruining someone’s whole day just by going in. 2) it’s not fair, I’ve had retail jobs where you’d be in trouble if you didn’t smile enough or if you weren’t the friendliest, most energetic person in the world, but in other stores people can swear at customers and keep their jobs.

        3. Persephone Mulberry*

          My husband works retail for a national chain that’s a subsidiary of a global organization, and has been in charge of scheduling at various points. It was fascinating to me to learn that it’s his faceless corporate overlords who actually decide how many total staffing hours the store is allowed to schedule, and that it can vary dramatically from week to week based on the store’s daily and weekly sales goals (also decided by the corporate overlords). So it’s not always as simple as knowing you need four people on Thursdays.

          1. ExceptionToTheRule*

            Yeah, any schedule that involves shift work or a human body physically needing to be present can quickly become a game of 3D chess depending on the number of hours you get from the overlords, people taking time off for various reasons, people being sick, etc… But, it can be done in a way that doesn’t force people to call the night before to find out if they’re scheduled the next day.

            OP #5, your manager was an ass of first rate proportions.

            1. Charlotte Collins*

              I think that’s why some McD’s are better places to work than others – some are chains and some are franchises. Franchises and local chains seem to treat their employees better (in general – I know there are always exceptions) and are more sensitive to their employee, business, and customer needs. I think it’s because they have more of an understanding that they’re part of the community and that the local community is what will help them survive and thrive; whereas a chain can just close up shop and open somewhere else if things aren’t working based on their model and how they do things.

              On the other hand, with less corporate oversight sometimes franchises can be run by people who seem to be complete lunatics. There’s one near my work that was run by someone who was… creepy. The store (and manager) weren’t clean and the staff was always rotating through. They lost money and sold to a lovely young couple who have really turned it around. They’re friendly, the staff seems happy, and the store is clean. And there is always a crowd at lunch time.

          2. Allison*

            Yes, this is definitely an issue. When I worked at Cold Stone and Borders, corporate often gave the manager an insufficient number of approved hours, so people were frequently being called in at the last minute, either because one person calling out left the store horrifically understaffed, or everyone showed up but the store was swamped and they had to call in additional people. What really baffled me was that, despite people being called in all the time and expected to show up ASAP or else, no one thought to implement “on call” shifts.

            1. Jenna*

              I know that running a business that close to the bone staffing-wise is in corporate fashion right now, but, does it actually save money long term? I mean, we see and have evidence of the chaos and turnover it can cause. Those are business costs. Are the costs of turnover and chaos just invisible, or is it being ignored because it doesn’t fit the narrative of cutting staff and saving money?

              1. Charlotte Collins*

                Actually, I don’t have the time to find it, but I read an article several months ago about how places that run slightly overstaffed actually are more likely to be successful. That way they have enough staff to take care of things when it gets busy but when employees have more downtime they’re more likely to work on big projects and process improvements, as well as coming up with creative new ideas that help the business. And having worked in retail and food service, I can verify that some pretty cool stuff gets thought up/implemented when people have time to stop and think, as well as make changes. (Especially when a lot of the staff are teenagers – employers should harness that energy!)

  11. AnotherFed*

    #2: It sounds like the recruiting firm is mostly trying to make the junior staffers feel included and get buy-in, but not somewhere you will have much real input. Additions from junior people might make it in as nice-to-haves, but won’t be true requirements unless they are also important to senior people. It is definitely NOT the place for any critiques of the previous CEO or current senior staff. If your organization in general values discussion, relationships, and inclusion rather than being more task-focused, I’d suspect its a feel good meeting and that’s it… But I also skew very heavily towards being task oriented, so take that for what its worth.

    1. Not The Droid You are Looking For*

      My initial thought was, could they maybe talk about some qualities that they wanted in the CEO that would get at the issues.

      Like, a leader who takes the time to get to know all levels of operation.

      1. Stranger than fiction*

        Yes, or just say things like “holds management accountable” if possible. Let them read between the lines, you needn’t speak about specific details.

    2. #2 OP*

      Thanks for the feedback! Looks like the wisest thing to do is not to raise the issue at all. The issues hit close to home as one of my close friends was on the receiving end of the bad treatment. But I agree raising the issue in this particular forum isn’t likely going to make a difference

    3. The IT Manager*

      I feel like the LW has a legit complaint, but it’s not really weakness that you could say that you want to avoid in the next CEO. The problem is not just the CEO who didn’t do anything but is also in the abusive directors and a culture that apparently allowed them to thrive or even encouraged the behavior. Occasionally someone will be hired to clean house (ie come in and remove the abusive directors), but that desire needs to come from the top and not from the bottom.

      AnotherFed is right. You’re focusing on what the previous CEO did poorly and critiquing current directors not on the hiring process. I don’t think the hiring of the new CEO is the place to bring these issues. It’s something worth being brought up but in a different forum. Perhaps once the new CEO is hired, he’ll request meeting or information from all levels and you can mention it that way.

  12. nofelix*

    #3: There’s no reason a recruiter would be cagey about suggesting a lower salary.

    When I tender jobs, the tenderers all have to compete on an equal basis and not be told what the others are bidding or the client’s budget. If I was dishonest and wanted one tenderer to win, I might say something like “Oh I didn’t write down your price, well why don’t you use the time while I get back to the office to refine it a little”. And even then, when they’re looking for hints about price they might not get this hint. They might also think I was just trying to negotiate.

    Basically, people just don’t work like this generally. Your relatives are maybe a little paranoid.

    1. nofelix*

      Oh and if they wanted to offer you the job and your salary expectations were too high, there’s nothing stopping them making you an offer.

    2. TootsNYC*

      Add to add to that: If this was a hint to drop your asking price a SECOND time–do you want that job? You had an asking price in the first place for a reason.

    3. Krystal*

      My husband recently had a weird experience with a recruiter who flat-out lied to him about the salary at a particular position – to the tune of $13k. He then went behind her back to negotiate with the company himself, since she lost his trust. The company met him in the middle of what she had promised and what they wanted to offer.

      His company then reported her to her supervisors for her dishonesty and lack of professionalism, and canceled their contract for future hires.

        1. Krystal*

          It was honestly a coincidence – he had to have a second interview with the CEO because the CEO was unavailable for the first interview. Afterward, the HR rep grabbed him for a quick check-in to start the paperwork (he met 5 or 6 others at the first interview), and brought up the salary figure. That’s when my husband said that the recruiter told him X number, not Y, and the HR rep was shocked.

          My husband then used it as leverage, because he was expecting the higher figure, and they met in the middle.

  13. TootsNYC*

    For #5, the student who just didn’t go in:

    Next time–flat-out quit. It’s not that cool to quit by not showing up; this isn’t a friendship.
    There is a contract situation here, so be crystal clear, and break/end it. I don’t know what sorts of information is kept about you in any corporate place (maybe w/ franchisees, it’s not national), but you don’t want “abandoned her job by not showing up” anywhere near your name. “Quit with short notice” is better.

    You: I can’t come in.
    Manager: If you don’t come in, you don’t have a job at Burger King.
    You: Truly? You won’t just shift the schedule around?
    Manager: No, I mean it.
    You: Well, that’s too bad. Consider this my resignation, then. I’m sorry not to be able to give you more notice. You can mail me my last paycheck.

    1. PontoonPirate*

      To be fair, he told the manager he couldn’t come in, and then the manager told him, “If you don’t, you’re fired.” He didn’t just not show up. He took the manager at his word.

      1. Karowen*

        True, but it could still be regarded as a no call/no show. I agree with Toots that the better option would be to say “I’m sorry to hear that; please consider this my resignation.” It’s all in the semantics of fired vs. quit.

  14. Krystal*

    Re: #5 – It has been my experience that in the service industry, especially fast food/family-style establishments, that bullies tend to be attracted to management. Not that all managers are bullies, but that a good lot of them are attracted to the job so they can have petty amounts of power over others. Like your manager, for not posting the schedule earlier. Come on.

    I’ve dealt with more micromanagement working at a movie theater (popular chain) and Denny’s than anything else in my life. I will never, ever forget my manager who used to stand over us while we were cleaning to make sure we were doing the four-fold on paper towels. He would even go through our trash to make sure we weren’t “wasting”; well, more specifically, he would go through the trash of his female employees, because he let the boys hang out with him in the bank and “count inventory”. On a happy note, he lost his career at our chain because he acted inappropriately towards young women.

    1. Not Today Satan*

      I have had many retail jobs, and know some retail managers, and while many were not perfect, I would say most came into that job through one of two ways: they entered a management training program after school because retail management was the most attractive of the few options for careers they had in this economy, or they worked at the store forever and got promoted. Of the latter category, many are sort of societal misfits who wouldn’t fit in with office culture. As much as I’ve disliked some of my managers, I really wouldn’t say any of the ones I’ve known targeted retail management positions because they like to bully people. The job is hard and for assistant managers (who most people think of when they think of their manager in retail) doesn’t pay well.

      1. Krystal*

        The theater chain that I worked at had a similar training program, and maybe it was endemic to the culture there, but most of the people who succeeded/moved through the program were what I would consider petty bullies. Dennys was far worse, but we worked at a franchise, not corporate, so I’m not sure whether it was endemic to the culture.

        I agree with you wrt societal misfits. I still have some friends in the theater industry, and they couldn’t handle a traditional 9-5.

      2. Stranger than fiction*

        I think in cases like this, they’re on a power trip and probably bitter they didn’t do something else with their lives, therefore take it out on the young staff who may not know better.

    2. k cat*

      I don’t know how much I’d generalize, but I’ve had a couple of managers like this as well. One kept telling us we would be fired if we shared salary info, and when I pointed out that not only is it illegal to do that, but against company policy (which I found out by asking an employee at another store) he got really red in the face and didn’t schedule me for a week. Another time he yelled at me for 15 minutes straight after I turned the thermostat up a few degrees (he kept it set at 65 and the customers were complaining of the cold).

      Another manager seemed to delight in keeping us as long after the store closed as he possibly could – especially, it seemed, when it was only young women left working. One night, in the middle of a snowstorm, he kept us 2 hours after close till 1 AM, just cleaning up tiny little things that would normally be ignored till the next day. I quit that job soon after.

    3. Charityb*

      I won’t deny that there are bullies in that sector (just like there are bullies pretty much everywhere), but I think a lot of it is also the high level of accountability that store managers have for their store’s success vs. the relatively low level of power they have over those metrics.

      Retail can be a pretty brutal environment and while I completely agree that nothing justifies or excuses the kinds of things you’re describing I think a lot of overly authoritarian or nitpicky managers are that way because of the nature of retail rather than because people who work in those jobs are intrinsically venal.

  15. k cat*

    On #5: My husband lost his BK job (which he’d had for 3 years) when they scheduled him while he had class, despite an agreement to the contrary. Retail and food jobs are so hard to reconcile with school, especially when one has a manager that’s bad at scheduling (which, unfortunately, seems like a lot of them).

    My favorite retail manager realized he was terrible at scheduling and finally delegated the responsibility to one of his hourly employees that loved that kind of detail work. Not sure if he was actually allowed to do that, but it ended up working out great.

      1. Stranger than fiction*

        Yep, at a few restaurants I worked at, when the manager didn’t want to bother with the schedule, he’d let a more senior food server/team lead/trainer make the schedule and it was always better when that was the case.

    1. VintageLydia USA*

      I was delegated part of the schedule when I had a manager who was especially bad at it. At the time I was the lead cashier and was trying to advocate for them a bit. I had a mostly open availability but a few of my colleagues had second jobs or school and they were often scheduled wrong. He dared me to write the schedule for him on a particularly tough week (only slotted very minimum hours) and… It worked well. None of the cashiers had a complaint about the scheduling. I just continued writing the schedule for that department for almost a year when corporate introduced an automated scheduling system (that sucked and took 3 managers an entire day to finangle into something so people didn’t have 2 hour shifts or were scheduled during school hours. It was especially bad at dealing with our minor employees still in high school. A friend of mine still works there and assures me it is still pretty terrible but the store management has gotten better at dealing with it.)

  16. NickelandDime*

    #5: Graduating high school is a little bit more important than whatever is going on at the Home of the Whopper and this manager’s inability to get scheduling straight. Find another job where they understand what this means, so you won’t one day be a manager unable to handle something like scheduling employee work hours. And yeah, yeah, yeah, someone will post about how it’s not easy to do, yada, yada, yada, but it’s their job to get it right. I’ve seen so many posts about this issue here! Smh.

  17. tango*

    Regarding #4: What is the reasoning behind paying someone OT for working more than 8 hours in a day when the weekly hours total up to less than 40 hours? So I work one 12 hour shift a week as a regular schedule and in that jurisdiction I get 4 hours of OT a week automatically?

    1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      I don’t know where the OP is, but this is the law in California. It is designed to recognize that working a lot of hours in a row is harder than working fewer hours a day over more days. It seems fair to me that someone who works, say, three thirteen-hour days in a row would get paid more than someone who works the same amount of time spread over five days.

    2. Mpls*

      Some jurisdictions have decided that’s how they want to do overtime. The idea of 40 hour work week is based on having five 8-hour days, so some states have decided that they want to give overtime to anyone working over 8 hours in a day as well as anyone working over 40 hours a week.

      So, yes – a 12 hour shift in that jurisdiction would always have 4 hours of OT. Which is probably why employers in that state would try NOT to schedule for over 8 hours in a day.

      1. Witty Nickname*

        And in CA, it’s not just OT pay after 8 hours…it’s double time pay after 12. That was nice a few times in my pre-kids, non-exempt days when I had a job that let me work all the OT I wanted.

  18. Kyrielle*

    #3 – Thank you!!

    #5 – before it got to that point, you should have told/reminded him about the agreed-upon hours (if you didn’t, it’s possible no one did!) and said you needed to return to those, could he do so. And if he could not, you should have given your notice and quit. Yes, he can fire you…but the way he was handling this, this is a job you needed to be out of, also. (Unless he was doing so in ignorance of the agreement, but even that doesn’t excuse the last-minute scheduling.)

  19. K*

    I agree, you can’t call in because of homework. Sometimes you get scheduled late on a school night, or before a big test is due. You just have to stay up all night and do the work after work. It sucks, but a lot of people do that (I did it for my last year of high school and all three years of college working more than 30 hours a week and going to school full time).

    That being said, there’s no reason you have to put up with bad management. Something I did for my managers is I would write up a sheet with everything and make it as clear and concise as heavenly possible. They don’t have a lot of time to look at wordy notes and they don’t really care anyway so it simplifies things for them. Another big big recommendation is to have one night or afternoon where you are completely unavailable. That way if you get stacked throughout the week, you have at least one free guaranteed afternoon to catch up on homework and if you manage to have other time to get your homework done it’s a night where you know every week you have it off the do whatever.

    1. Charityb*

      “That way if you get stacked throughout the week, you have at least one free guaranteed afternoon to catch up on homework and if you manage to have other time to get your homework done it’s a night where you know every week you have it off the do whatever.”

      This is good advice, but it sounds like the OP tried something like this (cordoning off days and times that she would work) and the manager pretty much ignored these limitations. The manager has the right to do that, but it kind of puts a working student in a bind because there are basically no days or times that the manager won’t take even if they agree on specific hours and days beforehand.

      This is something that also inconveniences adults out of school too. Because retail / fast food scheduling is so capricious, you’re basically on call all the time. It limits the time you have available to do other things outside of work; after all, you can be told for the first time Sunday night at 9:00 pm that you have to report in at 3:00 am on Monday (this happened to me when I was working at a Kmart during summer break from college). Some places make you check in every morning to see if you have to be there for work. Heck, forget about other social events — in this kind of set up it’s pretty hard to hold down even a second job.

      I get that managers need flexibility to ensure coverage, but some of these scheduling approaches are too capricious IMO.

  20. Cucumberzucchini*

    #3) I’m not sure why you wouldn’t talk salary in a first interview. I think that’s completely reasonable. I’ve never not discussed salary ranges at the outset regardless of it being an employer or a recruiter.

    1. #3 OP*

      Well, it’s just not happened before really in my case – I work in media but some of my jobs have hired me in a more casual way (like tryouts to see if you can handle the pace, actually produce, paid on a day rate for 1 week or month, then talk business). That’s been the case 3 times in a row.

  21. Dr. Pepper Addict*

    “But your beef here should be with the bad scheduling…” – no pun intended?

    OP #5 I know that has to be frustrating but believe me when I tell you, there are plenty of other fast food restaurants that hire high school kids and probably have better management. I personally paid my way all the way through college making/delivering pizza and every pizza place I worked at was very flexible with scheduling and had great managers – plus you can make some good money!

    1. NickelandDime*

      Agreed! There’s no reason to tolerate this crap. I had horrible managers at my first retail job, but the minute I could find another gig, I never went back. I got better pay, better hours and none of this “confusion.” I absolutely refuse to cut the manager any slack on not getting scheduling straight. None!

  22. HRish Dude*

    If #5 is a minor, most states have laws that prevent minors from working shifts past certain hours specifically for homework reasons.

  23. mno*

    #2 – I disagree. At the last leadership search, our company did the same thing – but we all expressed a need for a leader who could manage these things, as we had similar issues. It was taken into account, and now we have a good leader. It’s amazing how many things really are top down.

  24. schnap*

    I worked in a college town once (after finishing college there) and there was apparently this big problem getting people for low and minimum wage jobs because your biggest pool of talent was college kids but it was very difficult to work around their schedules. They wouldn’t be able to work during the day because of classes, and they frequently would demand multiple nights off per week due to studying for exams and all. And if you told them that they had to show up or they’re fired they wouldn’t care (and would probably just go ahead and quit) since their grades are (obviously) more important than this minimum wage mall job or whatever. They can go find another job like that in a heartbeat and also this (ideally) won’t be their real gig in life anyway. None of these jobs are going to go on a resume, it won’t matter one iota to an engineering firm that you did overnight shifts at Whataburger or whatever. As a result you had little old ladies pulling 60 hour shifts because there really wasn’t anyone else to choose from during the non-summer months. It pretty much sucked for everyone outside of the college students but thems the breaks.

  25. Q*

    #5 – When I was in high school I worked at a local grocery store. The shifts were 3pm-6pm or 6pm-9pm and I was usually on the later shift. When classes started back up and I had marching band practice every day after school I notified my manager that I would only be available for the later shift. Then all of sudden I was needed on the earlier one and every one of my shifts was exactly the same time I needed to be at school! I tried being reasonable with him and tried switching shifts with other people but eventually he told me that I needed to decide what was more important…my job or the band. Well, I was being graded on band so it was a no-brainer.

    I’m 40+ years old now, have an MBA, and am a supervisor for one of the largest asset managers in the world but it still bothers me how I was treated. I wasn’t asking for special treatment, just for my schedule to remain the same as it had for the past 3 months. Bottom line: Don’t let this power tripping moron get to you. School is more important than work. Do your homework, get good grades, and make a better life for yourself so someday you don’t have to be that jerk manager that harasses kids.

    1. AnonAnalyst*

      I had a similar experience when I was in college. I interviewed for a retail job that I was planning to start full-time as a summer job, and then cut back to part time when classes started again. However, it just so happened that they were faster with the hiring process than I had anticipated and offered me a job in my second to last week of classes before finals. During my interview (and on my application), I had clearly stated that I would only be able to start work after X date as I had finals coming up. However, X date was about two weeks away, so the person interviewing me said it was a non-issue.

      After they hired me, they insisted I come in for 3 hours of training one day the following week. I was able to find a time to make it work, but when I went in, I reminded both managers that I was going to be unavailable for about a week since I had to finish up my classes and finals. Both indicated this was no problem.

      Three days later, I get an angry phone call from one manager demanding to know why I hadn’t appeared for my shift (that I wasn’t aware was scheduled). I explained that I was taking a final at the time I was apparently supposed to be working and a) was unaware I was even supposed to be there, plus, b) I had told them, several times at this point, I was unavailable to start working until the following week. Apparently, this explanation was unacceptable and the manager started in about how they needed people when they were scheduled. Because I didn’t really need the job immediately (luckily), at that point I was totally done with this job and just said, “you know what, I don’t think this is going to work out. I think it would be better if you just leave me off of the schedule permanently. Thanks!”

      I still think about that experience every time I see this store or any advertising for that establishment. It’s left a lasting impression, and not a good one.

  26. Sualah*

    For #4, it might be that the overtime policy doesn’t apply to the temp. I worked for a company that just gave everyone who worked over 8 hours in one day overtime, but that is absolutely, definitely not an actual requirement of my city, county, state, country, etc. And temps through agencies didn’t qualify for that, only employees hired by our company (a temporary employee hired by our company would have qualified, but they never did that. Just got temps through agencies). The temp agency may only have to pay over 4o hours total. But it would never be a bad idea to double check that, and get her any overtime pay she is owed!

    1. Chinook*

      “For #4, it might be that the overtime policy doesn’t apply to the temp”

      That is a good point. In Alberta, if you work in oil & gas, you are subject to federal regulations but, as an office temp (regardless of the industry you temp in) you are considered office staff and fall under provincial regulations. This means that our temps get different paid stat holidays than the people whom they work with. It is something I have taken to pointing out to new to temping colleagues so they don’t depend on getting paid for the August long weekend or Boxing Day (Albertans get Family Day and Remembrance Day when it falls during a working day as a stat. instead).

  27. TootsNYC*

    In my jurisdiction, overtime pay kicks in at either >8 hrs per day or >40 hrs per week, unless there’s an averaging agreement. The temp is on 37.5 hours/week, and on one day last week, she worked a total of 12 hours.

    Are you sure there isn’t an averaging agreement between the temp and the temp agency?

  28. Izzy*

    Have worked fast food and convenience stores, and I wonder if some managers deliberately schedule you for the one time you say you’re not available. My daughter worked at Taco Bell while she was in college. Several of the staff were students, and they were asked for their final exam schedule in writing, in advance. Which she gave them. Final exam schedules are published at the beginning of the semester, so they had plenty of notice of the students’ availability during finals week. Regardless, she was scheduled for a shift at the same time as one of her finals, and when she pointed this out to the manager, he told her she needed to choose between her education and her job. He actually expected her to skip a final exam, and fail the course, to come in and work four hours at minimum wage. Let me see – college diploma? Fast food job? Hard choice…

    I ran into something similar in a 24 hour convenience store, not as a teenager but as a middle aged woman. My schedule was all over the place, and I always worked whenever – but if I asked not to be scheduled for one, two hour block of time in the whole week, 2 hours out of 168, that was when the manager would definitely schedule me, even if someone else usually worked then. I didn’t go to church for months, even though my church had four weekly services (two Sunday morning, one Sunday evening, and one Wednesday evening) because while my schedule was different every week, the one thing that was consistent was that it would conflict with all four services. Even if I was just scheduled for 15 hours. Sometimes I’d be scheduled to come in for just two hours Sunday morning (so the manager could do his paperwork) but those hours covered the last half of the early service and the first half of the later one. Then come back in that evening, so evening service was also out. Ugh. There were other employees who never ever worked Sunday morning. Let me stop now. I could write a book about fast food and convenience stores.

  29. MommaTRex*

    #5 – I worked at McDonald’s for two years while in high school, and I was usually very flexible in my availability. One time, I planned a vacation and informed the scheduler of my availability through the proper process, and yet he still scheduled me for a day I could not work. I told him I couldn’t work that day, and he told me I needed to find someone to cover the shift. I replied that I needed to rephrase it not as I couldn’t work that day but as “I will not be working that day”. He got the message: I was more valuable to McDonald’s than it was to me! If it meant I had to quit, I would quit. He wasn’t going to lose a great employee just because he messed up the schedule; he found someone to cover.

  30. Aisling*

    OP #5: As you have read in the comments, it is indeed legal to fire you for not showing up to work. Just about the only reason to call out is because you can’t do the job, such as being sick. Otherwise, every job you have will expect you to be able to juggle your outside commitments, whether it be school, college, or family. I worked all through high school and college, so I understand where you are. You’ll need to get very good at time management. If you know you have a huge paper coming up in 7 days, and you tend to always work the weekend shifts, start that paper as soon as you get the assignment. You’ll always need to do something like this.

    The good thing is this time management comes in very handy for your career! However, if your regular homework is more than a few hours a night, you may not be able to work right now. Jobs will hire you because they need the work done, not because they’re doing you a favor. If you can’t come in to do the work, they aren’t being mean by finding someone else to do it – their purpose is to get the work done. I know this is a hard lesson to learn – I had to learn it myself when I was 15 – but juggling work and school gets easier once you know it.

  31. Ruthan*

    LW 5 — sorry if this has been covered already, but my state has laws about how many hours employees under the age of 18 can work, and how many can be scheduled on weekdays.

    It doesn’t cover the issue of schedules being changed at the last minute, but something to look into for your next job (assuming you’re under 18.)

  32. Eric*

    #3 these are the kinds of games recruiters/HR people play to get you to commit to a lower salary. I think he was definitely trying to get your to lower your number. All companies should be up front and say the salary fro this position is $x. and go from their. This reminds me of the post 2 days ago where the HR person was mad that the candidate would not give a desired salary and it frustrated her that her time was wasted on a candidate that wanted way more than the job was offering. This is exactly why people do not like to say desired salary first. It can either price them out of the job, or they lowball themselves and the company gladly saves the money they were going to spend. I wish all companies would just post salary for a position in the job listing, but sadly low level fast food etc and government/university jobs seem to do this where I live

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