agreeing to negotiate salary in 6 months, badgering people into not taking sick leave, and more

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

1. Accepting a job with an agreement to negotiate salary after six months

I recently started a new job. When I was offered it, the pay was a bit lower than I was hoping for so I asked HR if I could discuss it with someone. I was told that I would get a chance to negotiate salary after my six-month trial period was up. At the time I said ok because I didn’t want to push, but now I’m wondering if that is typical. Also, do you have any tips for negotiating pay at that six-month point?

Well, first, it’s not inappropriately pushy to negotiate salary. It’s a very normal part of business.

The thing about these promises for six-month reviews is that if you don’t have a firm commitment in writing, there’s nothing binding — and that could mean that your salary stays at a level you’re not happy with. So I’d only ever advise agreeing to that plan if (a) you’d be okay with the salary if it stays as is and/or (b) you get a firm agreement in writing to raise it to $X in six months assuming good performance (not just to discuss raising it — because they can discuss it and then say no).

But none of that helps you now, so here’s some advice for negotiating a raise. In addition to the normal raise advice, you should specifically say, “I accepted the job at a lower salary because I was told we could revisit it after six months.”

2. Employer is badgering people into not taking sick leave

I work in a small public library, and we have lost so many staffers lately that we are operating with a very small crew. Everyone is doing the job of at least three people.

Lately, when anyone tries to call in sick or leave early because they are sick, they are met with badgering from the management — phrases like “Are you sure you’re sick?” or “Are you going to the doctor right now?” even when it is night time and no doctor would be open.

At first, I thought it was just me, but I am hearing the other staff discuss it as well. What can we say in these situations? I have noticed a lot of the staff coming in sick because they don’t want to get in trouble. What are our rights in this scenario?

Legally, your employer is allowed to ask whatever follow-up questions they want, unless the medical condition is one that’s protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act. (More on that here.) If it’s a condition protected under the ADA, they can’t push you for information beyond questions that are “job-related and consistent with business necessity.”​

But that doesn’t mean they should. What they’re doing is rude and it’s bad management, and it’s going to result in people coming to work sick and getting other people sick.

If you’re up for it, you and your coworkers could point out this new behavior and ask that it stop. You could say something like, “Since we’ve been short-staffed, it feels like there’s pressure on us not to take sick time even when there’s a genuine need for it. It’s leading people to feel like they’ll be penalized for taking legitimate sick leave or that they need to come in when they’re not well enough. Is there a different way to handle this?” Or, even if your coworkers don’t want to speak up with you, you could address it on your own with your manager (keeping it just about you in that case, not about others): “Jane, when I called in sick the other day, I got the sense you were pushing me to come in anyway. I know we’re short-staffed, but I hope you agree that I’ve always been responsible with my sick leave and that I wouldn’t call in if I didn’t truly need to.”

3. References when you didn’t work closely with your manager

When providing references, I understand that managers are preferred. But what if you never really worked directly with your manager and instead had a team lead, or at least someone more senior who you worked with daily?

For example, my past supervisor was often traveling and rarely in the office. I worked with a senior administrative assistant who had been there eight years and went to her with most questions I had, so she is the one who would know better how I work. Who would be the better person to list?

I’ve also come across applications that ask for personal references instead of professional (they requested three people who were not past managers and who were not related to you). I wrote down three people who were not past managers, who I’ve known for 10+ years, but with whom I’ve marginally worked with throughout the years on projects (mainly theatre and other nonprofit volunteering). Would you suggest anything different?

I’d list both your manager and the team lead and include a note explaining the situation. (“While Falcon was my manager, I worked most closely with Cordelia on day-to-day assignments and feedback, and she likely can speak to my work with the most nuance.”) In other words, don’t make the call for them; explain and let them decide who they’d rather talk to. If you don’t list the manager at all, I’m going to wonder why.

In most cases, personal references are a silly thing to request, but if they’re asking for them, the way you handled them is good — people who you’ve worked with a colleague-like situation without actually being coworkers.

4. Cutting pay during training

My mother-in-law (and former boss) is a director at a gym. She is currently training new coaches for the summer. There is a lot of training (some of which I’m helping with) that is required, and they are paid for. For one part of their training, they are required to shadow current coaches. During this time, they are paid half their rate. Is this legal?

It’s legal as long as it doesn’t take their pay below minimum wage, and as long as they agreed to it in advance. (If they didn’t, she can’t retroactively change their pay.)

However, that assumes they’re employees. Some gym employees are 1099 contractors; if that’s the case, then this wouldn’t apply, and the pay can be whatever they negotiate together.

5. Should I reapply for this job that I haven’t heard back about?

I was contacted about 6-8 weeks ago by an HR professional at a very large company via Linkedin regarding a job that hadn’t been on my radar. She asked me if I was interested in applying and did a quick phone call, not an interview, primarily asking about salary and availability. I followed up with her and with an overseas manager who I was told was the decision maker (I got this information from other employees at the company who I know).

I only got a terse “you’re still being considered” response from the HR person. Today I noticed that the job has been re-listed. I am tempted to reapply, officially through the site instead of via the random HR contact. I just don’t know if reapplying will make me look desperate and blackball me from all jobs at this company. My other thought is to contact her again and see if there’s anything I can clarify in regards to my previous application, I have a diverse skillset and wonder if she couldn’t understand it.

Don’t reapply and don’t contact her again to ask if there’s anything you can clarify. They know that you’re interested from earlier, and if they have questions for you, they’ll contact you. Reapply will look weird, like you forgot that you’ve already talked to them about it.

They may just not be interested, or they may be focusing on stronger candidates, or they may be dealing with higher priorities. Acting on the assumption that they’re not contacting you because the HR person couldn’t understand your application isn’t going to lead you in the right direction. I mean, maybe she didn’t — but there’s no reason to assume that, and nothing you can do about anyway. (Actually, one exception to that — you mentioned you know people there. If they know you well enough to be able to vouch for your work, you could mention to them that you haven’t heard anything. If they think highly enough of your work, they may take upon themselves to see what’s going on.)

{ 90 comments… read them below }

  1. Mando Diao*

    OP2: Do you and your coworkers have actual banked sick leave? Or do you just call out as things come up? Because if people are calling in before their shifts or cutting their scheduled shifts short by a few hours, I can see how this would escalate and make management wonder why people aren’t finishing their shifts. I apologize if I’m off base here, but the phrasing of your email is indicating to me that there might not be a sick leave policy. Is there a way for you to approach your boss and propose setting up a policy? Do you feel comfortable asking if the library intends to replace the employees you’ve lost?

    This is in no way shifting blame to you and your coworkers, but there’s a quirk of phrasing that seems to be sticking with your boss in a way that’s leading to these mini confrontations: Are you actually sick when you say you’re sick? Or are you tired/burned out from he workload? It’s totally reasonable to ask to leave early if you’re run down and not feeling well, but the language of “I’m sick” is what’s causing part of the issue IMO. I’m not sure if there’s a good way to say, “Actually we don’t technically have medically recognized illnesses, but we’re burning out and we need you to hire more people,” but…maybe this perspective can help you figure out a solution for your particular context?

    Forgive me for digging into this even further, but the situation of working for 6 hours and not being able to finish the remaining 2 hours (or however the math works out) isn’t something that happens all that often. Sure, we’ve all cut out early here and there, but if it’s becoming a common thing where people are routinely not able to finish their shifts (to the extent that this specific angle of the sick-time issue is its own problem) that’s worth investigating. Are the shifts inordinately long? Is there always a huge pile-up of tasks at the end of the day? Like, if it’s getting to the point where you need a policy on “Here’s what we do when people need to leave 2 hours early,” you need to figure out if it’s a staffing issue, a workload issue, a shift length issue, or if there are one or two staffers who simply aren’t great fits for the demands of their positions.

    1. AcademiaNut*

      I suspect that people might be coming in when they’re moderately sick, hoping to make it through the day because there’s so much work to do, but then feeling so terrible that they have to leave early. I’ve had that happen when I’ve had the flu, and gone back to work before I was recovered enough – I had to take a nap in the break room before I could get myself home.

      If they’re down to a half or a third of their regular staffing, but trying to keep things running as normal, I wouldn’t be surprised if that stress is leading to more illnesses than normal, too, particularly given that they dealing with the public and exposed to everything going around.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I’ve done this as well, for jobs where calling in sick would have been problematic either because management were dicks or I had no coverage until later in the day. It sucks, really. I think the bigger problem here is that the OP’s workplace doesn’t have enough staffers. She didn’t say why, and that makes me wonder if this badgering management is doing other things that compel people to leave.

    2. Liane*

      Actually lots of illnesses can have sudden onset. I have headaches that start with severe nausea that come on in a matter of minutes, for example. Many types of food poisoning are like this as well.

      1. Mando Diao*

        I’m not gonna get into “not everyone can have sandwiches” territory with this one. I stand by my statement that “so-and-so went home early” shouldn’t happen frequently enough for this to be a problem.

        1. Jadelyn*

          You already took us into “not everyone can have sandwiches” territory by auditing people’s reasons for working only part of their shift – Liane is just replying to a line of discussion you introduced. And for the record, I see leaving early for illness reasons pretty often at my workplace. People with headaches that come on later in the day, or stomach upset post-lunch, or they were sick all day but thought they could push through the full shift anyway, only to run out of steam partway.

    3. Kit*

      My employer discourages sick days (which are unpaid, btw), so the culture dictates that you go in (unless you can’t walk or be away from the bathroom for five minutes) and either wait to be sent home or beg off after a few hours. Two weeks ago I woke up feeling a little iffy, on the walk to work realized I had a fever, worked for five hours with intense back pain and abdominal cramps, and was finally sent home (actually I was asked to do one last thing and had to say, “Sorry, no, I’m walking home while I still can”). I had dysentery!

      When your boss makes it clear that sick days count against you, you’d be amazed at how much you can get done. And how suddenly you can need to leave.

      1. OP 2*

        I do think that stress is definitely a factor for a lot of my coworkers.

        I thought I would ask it because I had worked in an academic library that was well-staffed and had the same issue. So I am wondering if this is a common occurrence. I think I just have to chalk it up to poor management.

        1. Marian the Librarian*

          I work in a currently understaffed public library, too, and our management is generally very generous about sick leave even when it isn’t ideal for people to take time off. So I think you’re probably right to chalk it up to poor management, unfortunately, and not the library culture in general.

    4. Observer*

      The most likely explanation is that the combination of cuts and management badgering is what’s causing this pattern. eg OP is feeling sick (not just “tired and run down” but genuinely sick) one evening. She REALLY should stay home, but she knows that if she calls her boss to say she won’t be coming in she’ll be subjected to a ridiculous grilling which makes no sense. So, she comes in but then can’t make it through the day. And, because everyone is so stressed, and unable to take the time they really need to deal with minor illness they are getting stuck hitting a wall more often.

      Also, note that they are getting this kind of thing when they call in sick in advance so it’s much harder to say that it’s about people cutting out because they are too tired.

    5. themmases*

      I really don’t get any of that from the letter, or see the point of picking apart the OP’s phrasing re. their exact illnesses and PTO policy.

      Flu season can go as late as May some years, and allergy season is gearing up now too. It’s pretty reasonable to think that all of the OP’s coworkers could have been sick by now, even if they were all normally in perfect health, and especially since there are so few of them. Depending how long this department has been bleeding staff, people who have since left could also have gotten sick and been affected by their manager’s poor attitude.

      Having to go home during the day really depends on the person, the illness, and the work environment. I know many exempt people who would try to go in to work in the morning to get a few things done and plan to leave a little early. The OP and their coworkers may have had that flexibility before, or they could be trying to work half days when they feel terrible just to help out, to then be given a hard time about not doing the full day. Some people think they can push through until they can’t. Some illnesses just manifest quickly once they’re symptomatic.

      Even if the OP and their coworkers didn’t have sick leave to cover these illnesses, that need only affect their pay for the time– not whether they are disciplined or harangued for being sick.

  2. Kiki*

    Re #2. Ha ha good luck. I worked under a matrix management TQM system. I never had a manager other than the guy who had nominal responsibility for making sure I filled out my time sheet. Sometimes I was the project manager…sometimes the CEO was. Which means, sometimes I reviewed him.

  3. Library worker*

    Op2, I feel we are in a similar situation, short staffed and having anyone else calling out sick is hard on everyone. People are asked of they could work half a day or a couple hours to cover opening or close. Just so we have a body in the building, even if that body is hacking up a lung or obviously running a fever.
    It actually doesn’t help though, the sick person takes longer to feel better, and everyone else gets sick. Colds, flu, stomache and regular, and even strep have gone through the library. Another hazard of working with the public. They also will not supply hand sanitizer or Clorox wipes. I’ve brought in my own, but mostly becuase I just can’t afford to keep getting sick. I have the leave, just a lot of commitments outside work.

    1. KR*

      That’s atrocious – how are you cleaning your computers, the circulation desk, ect. Cleaning supplies are a business expense. I’m sorry your work does that.

      1. the_scientist*

        Also, my germophobe brain tells me that libraries are probably filthy although I haven’t looked for any research to back that up. Think about it: people are coming in and out all day, touching the computers/books/DVDs. There are a lot of programs for kids at libraries and we all know that little kids are germ vessels. My local library branch is in an economically depressed part of the city and most of the patrons are homeless or marginally housed, and many have mental health or addiction issues. The last time I was at the library (this weekend!) there was a patron there who was clearly high, most likely on cocaine….so if patrons have hygiene issues or are vulnerable to contagious illnesses due to homelessness, they are bringing those into the library. It would not surprise me to learn that library staff have higher rates of illness than average, comparable to people working with kids……and by guilt-tripping staff into coming to work when ill, management is contributing to this problem.

        1. hermit crab*

          Oh totally. I volunteer at my public library, processing recently returned items. Some of the stuff that comes back is quite gross, and that’s only the visible/noticeable grime — who knows about the microscopic stuff. We have a giant supply of disinfecting/general de-grubbing supplies at the check-in desk and we joke a lot about how the long-time staff and volunteers must have immune systems of steel by now.

          1. Nada*

            The “microscopic stuff” reminds me of the Belgian study that found traces of the herpes virus on library-owned copies of Fifty Shades of Grey. Ew.

        2. themmases*

          Haha, I thought the same thing in response to this question! I love how the sick leave questions bring out the epidemiologists. :)

        3. Marian the Librarian*

          Yep. We actually had to call a meeting at our library to address hygiene issues because so many of the Children’s Librarians were calling out sick so frequently it left us way understaffed. And the librarians are extremely fastidious–kids are just extremely gross. It’s rough, especially during flu season. No amount of hand-washing can save you.

          I went to the doctor to get a flu test, once, and she asked if there’s anywhere I could have caught it. I told her I worked in a public library, so I could have gotten it from anyone. She looked at me with horror and replied, “Oh, yes. You could have gotten it from ANYONE.”

      2. J*

        I once worked for a library that expected the employees to provide Kleenex FOR THE PUBLIC. They insisted state law forbade them from buying tissues with taxpayer money. (It does not. Obviously.)

        1. Case of the Mondays*

          Federal money cannot be used to buy tissues for employees. If you buy tissues for the public there is no way to police if the employees are using them too. It is absolutely absurd but my husband has worked in two federal agencies and the only way the public gets a tissue is if an employee shares one from their personally purchased box.

        2. Library worker*

          Yes, I gave up on the Kleenex wars. I also have my own wipes for my desk, but it is not enough when having to cover at the service points. Sadly, the computers and desks are only getting wiped down a few times a year, when we do “find” wipes, or they will buy it once, but not enough for the whole fiscal year.

          Custodial is a different department, and they barely have enough time to keep up on the bathrooms/trash.

  4. Liz*

    My sympathies, OP2. I had a manager who was like that, and she eventually escalated to calling a GP to ask if Wakeen REALLY had a broken arm. (Needless to say, the doctor’s staff sent her packing.)

    Anyway, I second Alison’s advice. And maybe remind your manager that you deal with the public (including, I assume, children), and shouldn’t be cavalier with contagious diseases, even those that are very minor for an otherwise healthy adult.

    1. Temporarily Anon*

      I used to work in academic libraries. At one, you had to find one of the other employees to cover your shift; at another, I once called in sick and my supervisor was so angry that I went in every day for the rest of my rather extended illness, despite a 101-102 degree fever, afraid I’d be fired if I ever called in sick again. Unsurprisingly, other staff and students ended up with what I had. I understand needing staff, especially someone to staff the desk in a public service position, but sometimes people really are sick and managers should plan for that.

          1. Temporarily Anon*

            Alas, he did not. Nor did the coworker who saw me struggling to move furniture while I was feverish and short of breath from coughing and didn’t lift a finger, but then two months later when I was fine told me I couldn’t move furniture because I was female.

    2. KR*

      I think this is a really good way of looking at it and that it would be valuable for the OP to bring this up. Babies and children and elderly all frequent libraries in my experience – and by coming to work when you’re sick you pose that risk. Also, if you7 stay out one day and rest, you’ll be able to get better quicker than if you push through and I don’t think the OPs managers get that.

    3. Masked Protester*

      I think this is just me feeling a bit fired up; but if I had to work while sick I’d wear a mask to hinder my illness spreading to others. In Japan (perhaps other countries too?) it’s the norm to wear a mask while sick, its just considerate to others. Here, I have a feeling it’d come off as a passive aggressive protest against the boss, and that might not be ideal.

      1. esra*

        I really wish those masks were more popular in North America. I’m on an immune suppressant and public transit/my workplace are total crapshoots for communicable disease.

  5. Nobody*

    #5 – I think this is a tough call. I’ve worked at two large companies, both of which have highly regimented hiring processes. One of the quirks at both companies is that there are deadlines — e.g., you must conduct interviews within X days of when the posting closes and you must make an offer within Y days of completing interviews. If the hiring manager misses a deadline, the posting is considered expired and the hiring manager has to start over, get re-approval for posting, re-post the job, get a new pool of candidates, etc.

    At my current company, when this happens, at least they are smart enough to reach out to previous applicants they liked and ask them to reapply, but at my old company, they didn’t do this. The manager would just bemoan the fact that they got a bunch of great applicants the first time around, and none of the good ones reapplied when the job was reposted.

    The fact that this is a very large company makes me think there is at least a slight chance that something similar may have happened here, and if you don’t reapply, they may assume you’re no longer interested. Based on what I’ve seen from large companies’ hiring processes, I doubt they would find it weird if you reapplied, and the hiring manager probably wouldn’t even realize it, because HR’s role is usually just to collect applications/resumes and forward them to the hiring manager (and maybe do some basic screening, such a eliminating people who don’t meet the educational requirements). I’m not a manager, so take this with a grain of salt, but I can’t imagine eliminating a candidate just because she applied on the company web site after already having talked to HR.

    I do think you should avoid saying or implying that the HR person didn’t understand your qualifications, because that is kind of insulting.

    1. Nico m*

      I dont see the harm in emailing the hr person to politely inquire whether a) you are still under consideration b) you need to formally reapply or c) you are out of the running.

      1. Nobody*

        Well, that could come across as too pushy, since the OP has already contacted HR to inquire about the status of her application. This HR person is probably involved in filling several positions, and it probably takes some effort to look into the status of a specific applicant, so the HR person might be understandably annoyed by repeated inquiries.

        It seems less intrusive to go ahead and submit an application on the company web site, because the worst case there is that, when HR is compiling the applications to forward to the hiring manager, they will see that they already have the OP’s resume and just discard the duplicate.

        1. Mad Hatter*

          That’s not the worst case. Worst cases is that the OP is still in consideration, but they get the duplicate application and think that the OP doesn’t realise they already applied, and form negative judgements about the OP’s ability, organisation and capabilities accordingly. And then they decide to remove the OP from consideration.

          It’s going to look pretty clueless to reapply. I think your past experiences with a couple of companies with terrible hiring practices may be affecting your judgement here.

          1. Nobody*

            Well, sure, that would be worse, but it seems unlikely to me. HR doesn’t usually make the decisions on applicants, other than basic screening for minimum qualifications. I just have a hard time imagining HR being so disgusted by the duplicate application that they would use that as the basis of a decision not to pass along the OP’s resume to the hiring manager.

            You’re right that not every big company will have the same terrible hiring practices that I’ve experienced, but I think at large companies with many openings and many applicants, there is a higher likelihood of a candidate slipping through the cracks, especially in a case like this where the OP originally applied outside of the company’s normal system. It would be a shame for the OP to miss out on an opportunity because, say, the HR person forgot to add her previously-obtained resume to the new applicant pool.

            1. Colette*

              They may have already passed the OP’s application to the hiring manager, and the hiring manager could easily drop the OP when she gets a duplicate.

              1. Nobody*

                But will she? Would a reasonable hiring manager really say, “This candidate was my top choice, but now that she has submitted an online application in addition to talking to HR, there’s no way I will hire this idiot!”?

                I wonder if it would mitigate the awkwardness of a potentially duplicate application if the OP were to mention in her cover letter (assuming the application system allows attaching a cover letter) hearing about this position from Vanessa Warbleworth from HR. Maybe that would show that she didn’t forget she had already spoken with HR — she’s just following up on the discussion by submitting an official application.

                1. fposte*

                  Maybe not, but it’s plausible for a reasonable hiring manager to say, “Jane told us she answered all these questions last week, and apparently this candidate doesn’t trust our organization. I’m not feeling her for the next round.”

          2. Kimberlee, Esq*

            You can easily solve that problem by stating in the second cover letter “I applied to this job previously after speaking with HR Person, and decided to throw my hat in the ring again when I saw it re-posted.” I find Nobody’s argument about it being a big company compelling. I used to work in small nonprofits and would definitely notice someone applying twice to the same position, and would agree with Alison’s advice. Now that I work for a much larger, and growing, company, the hiring process is totally different. There are gazillions of duplicate applicants, and that number increases the longer the position has been posted. Its’ totally nbd for a person to apply again in this situation.

      2. Raine*

        I think that would get the OP disqualified. The OP literally just got these questions answered by this same HR person.

    2. AndersonDarling*

      I second that this is a tough call. When I see something like an Administrative Assistant position re-posted, I assume that it is a different role and you should apply a second time to indicate you are interested in that role as well. Some systems are so bureaucratic that you won’t be considered for the same position in a different department unless you go through the application system a second time.
      But if the role was “Senior Teapot Handle Designer- West Division” then I would assume it is exactly the same position and not apply a second time.

    3. Stranger than fiction*

      This is true (or at least it can be). My daughter recently got hired at a retail vet chain and by the time the hiring manager at our local location was ready to make her the offer, the original posting had expired and she told my daughter she needed to reapply so she could hire her under the new req number since the old one wasn’t available any longer for her to select to hire her under.

  6. Jules the First*

    So related to OP3, would you still offer the manager if they didn’t manage your work? For example, I have a line manager who approves my timesheets and polices my working hours, but probably hasn’t the faintest idea about my work (he hasn’t shown up to a weekly team meeting in months, and I’m not sure we’ve even spoken in the last six weeks); I’m responsible directly to the board for the quality of my work. I was planning on just giving a couple of people from the board the next time I need a reference, and maybe HR since they oversee my work as a people manager. Would you still give the nominal manager?

    1. Nico m*

      To me “manager” in this context means “person(s) with oversight who can confirm your qualities”. So as long as the board members will reply “jules did x y and z and they are great” not ” er well we arent officially their manager” then it must be ok.

  7. OP1*

    Thanks for the advice! This is my second job and I didn’t negotiate pay on the first so this time around I psyched myself up for up and did my research but the wind was taken out of my sails when I got such a short email back from HR completely shutting down the possibility. When the six months are up I will be much more firm and see what I can negotiate.

    1. Mona Lisa*

      I read your question and thought, “This is what happened to me!” At my second job, I went into it planning to negotiate the salary, and they told me they were planning on raising their initial offer by $2000 to compensate for my experience. This was still a lot lower than where I wanted to be, but they said at my six month review I’d be eligible for a raise and that we could discuss bumping up the salary then. Being young and naive, I didn’t notice some other red flags during my interviews, and wouldn’t you know, when six months hit, no one was available to do my six month review so I couldn’t get the raise that was discussed. Eventually I was given a raise around the 9 month mark because I was promoted into another position, but it didn’t even bring me within the bottom 10% of salary range for that type of position for non-profits in our area. I ended up taking it as a learning experience and finding a new job a few months later.

      Make sure you get everything in writing and follow up on the six months with e-mails so you have a paper trail. Hopefully they’ll be able to help you then. I wish you good luck and hope your experience turns out better than mine!

    2. Master Bean Counter*

      My cautionary tale is that people who usually do this kind of action are tools. While tools can be worked with and manipulated, you need to find out what’s in this job for you. Usually places that do this also let you stretch your wings and take on things well above your pay grade. So soak up the experience for all it’s worth. I’l make a great platform to take the next step in your career.
      I had a similar situation and got enough experience out of it that my next step in my career was huge. A step that might have taken me 4-5 years longer to complete if I had followed a more traditional path. I was ready in 1.5 years with that job.

    3. themmases*

      I’m sorry that happened to you OP. Unfortunately there are a lot of questions on here where people have had similar issues. People have trouble getting that 6-month review, or find out the hard way that it’s just a review and not a promise to raise your salary at that time.

      I actually went to a great talk about salary negotiation the other day that I am still thinking about (if you Google Claudia Telles Business Insider, the steps in that article are basically the presentation). A big take-away for me was not to ask permission to negotiate… That time before you sign the offer letter *is* the negotiation! And of course if the offer doesn’t work for you, you never have to sign. Part of the employer’s side of the negotiation is of course going to be to try to make it sound like the salary is non-negotiable, or to not open the negotiation themselves. Your part is realizing you don’t have to accept the job if it doesn’t work for you and making sure you get all your concerns addressed before you sign anything, just as you would with anything else.

      I hope you get what you want in 6 months, but if you don’t, it’s a big advantage in your next job search to already have a job. You aren’t obligated to take the first thing to come along– you can wait or negotiate for something that is actually an improvement.

      1. Artemesia*

        This. When the 6 month mark hits and you discover no one remembers agreeing to review salary or you are told you are doing great but you won’t be eligible for a raise for another six months or whatever, THEN begin a slow careful process of finding the next job. You are not in a rush and can be deliberate. And then give these tools exactly 2 weeks notice preferably in the busy season. The ‘we’ll discuss this later’ bit is a common ploy by hiring managers who have no intention of paying you what you deserve.

        And maybe your boss is an exception. I know people who have worked for organizations that do follow through on their promises, but ‘later’ cited at the hiring moment is likely to be just a way of saying ‘no’.

        1. Stranger than fiction*

          In agree it does seem that’s the case, that more often than not they totally blow you off when you ask about it. But the Op will then have a good reason when asked why she’s leaving her current job.

        2. CMT*

          “And then give these tools exactly 2 weeks notice preferably in the busy season.”

          That seems unnecessarily harsh. OP can learn from this experience and move on, without deliberately trying to burn bridges.

  8. ashleyh*

    OP5: as an internal recruiter, it is one of my biggest pet peeves when candidates assume/think/say that I don’t understand their skill set. Sure, I don’t know every nuance of every job I hire for, but I know enough and it is MY job to evaluate you to see if you are a good fit. Don’t assume that because we don’t do the job ourselves we can’t figure out what it takes for someone else to do the job.

    Now I’ll get off my soapbox

    1. The Alias Gloria Has Been Living Under, A.A., B.S.*

      I think the reason people have this perception is that often managers themselves don’t understand the work their employees do (I know that’s not always the case but it is often enough) and the only people that HR talks to about what a job needs is management.

    2. Judy*

      Nearly every manager I’ve worked for has screened all applicants for the positions. At one company, I was told that I was the catalyst for this, since I had applied on the careers page for a position, but also had my resume sent in by a former colleague who worked there. HR had screened my resume out. Even though I had significant directly relevant experience in both the desired language and desired microprocessors. I did not have the exact degree typical for that position.

      It’s certainly one thing for HR to screen for new graduate hiring programs, but once you’re at an experienced level, I’m not sure how HR would understand how to screen for experienced engineering positions, when they support many departments and skill sets. As a software engineer, I could probably screen for most software positions, but hardware, mechanical, electrical, structural, etc would be pretty hard for me to screen, even though I’ve worked with people fulfilling all of those roles.

      1. happymeal*

        I think the nuance here is that a good employer should have HR screen for fit and someone from the team screen for technical skills.

      2. Jadelyn*

        If it was the specific degree that removed you from consideration, I wonder if their ATS might have automatically screened your resume out before a human even got their eyeballs on it.

    3. Allison*

      I feel that. I might not get -every- aspect of the job, but if the hiring manager has told me they want to see senior-level candidates with strong backend experience and strong Python skills, and you’re a junior web developer, you’re probably not what we’re looking for even if you’re willing to spend a few weeks picking up Python for the job.

    4. themmases*

      Ehh, I think it’s great that you personally are good at your job but that stereotype doesn’t come from nowhere.

      I’ve worked with HR people who were willing to hold up someone’s promotion to a job they were already doing because they didn’t meet the letter of a job description that should never have been written that way in the first place. Or post and recruit for jobs that went against not only the market, but the company’s own policies and common sense (e.g. contingent summer-only research assistant– masters degree preferred!– for a scope of work that was more like a lead coordinator). That’s clearly not unique if you read job descriptions posted by many companies. I don’t think it’s that weird to assume that someone from internal HR, who may represent many different types of roles, isn’t that knowledgeable (or able to make less obvious connections) about the market and qualifications for every single one.

      I have a special example because I have a very misleading job title in my work history. The job title is a very common name for something else if anyone had bothered to Google it. Now recruiters who clearly never read my profile help compound the error by contacting me on LinkedIn based on just that one stupid job title.

  9. Question Mark*

    #5 – do we think the HR person became annoyed when OP went around them and reached out to the decision maker directly? I’m assuming the decision maker just forwarded the information right back to HR. Perhaps OP was still being considered at that time, but is now deemed too pushy for contacting someone they didn’t know, after they had already talked to HR. I know people do this all the time when they know the hiring manager personally or have a referral from a connection, doesn’t sound like this was the case here. I would let it go.

    1. Kate M*

      That’s exactly what I was going to say. I would never reach out to someone at a company I was applying to if I hadn’t already talked to them. (Maybe if I knew employees there, they could put in a good word, but I wouldn’t reach out myself.) I could see the scenario working out where OP sent an email to the hiring manager, and the manager forwarding it to HR being like, “who is this? why are they emailing me?” The hiring manager might only be meeting the final few candidates. Don’t try to circumvent the hiring process they put in place.

  10. The Alias Gloria Has Been Living Under, A.A., B.S.*

    #5 It’s also possible that they have someone internally that they wanted and it’s taking longer than usual to move them into that role, meanwhile company policy states that they have to keep the posting active.

  11. RVA Cat*

    One thing for OP#2 to consider – since they’re a library they work with the public, including children and the elderly who may be more vulnerable to whatever germs sick employees bring with them. (Of course that doesn’t stop people from having to work sick in food prep, with obvious consequences….)

    1. Manders*

      Unfortunately, like you said, jobs involving face-to-face work with the public can sometimes be the worst about pressuring employees to never take sick days. The boss may even believe it’s in the public’s best interest to be around a sick employee rather than lose whatever service that employee is performing in this short-staffed library for the day.

      On the flip side, a short-staffed library is probably going to be reluctant to fire employees because then they’d be even more short-staffed. The librarians have more room to push back against this short sighted policy than your average restaurant worker.

      1. Jennifer*

        I’ll be honest: we’re short staffed here and people are resentful of anyone who calls out sick. I wouldn’t call out sick at this point unless I was dying (the last time I was out sick I had surgery), because we’re freaking desperate.

  12. Allison*

    We occasionally get people re-apply to our jobs through different mediums – maybe they apply through Indeed, then apply to the same job on AngelList or TheLadders that same day, or 3 weeks later. I don’t know if they do it because they think it’ll better their chance of getting picked for an interview, or if they’re just not paying attention to what they’re applying to, but I find it irritating.

    I don’t reject people because of it, but I can’t think of a situation where I’ve said to the recruiter “hey, this person applied again on AngelList” and had the recruiter say “oh wow, I totally missed that they’re perfect for the job AND now they’ve shown they have the gumption we’re looking for!”

    More often than not, the recruiter flagged them as a “maybe” but wanted to see more candidates before rejecting, or they rejected the candidate in their head but forgot to send an e-mail, and all the re-apply attempt does is prompt the recruiter to officially reject the candidate.

  13. Recruit-o-Rama*

    I wouldn’t assume that they “posted the job again” either. I leave all my requisitions open until our new hire starts because I don’t want to lose time with a pipeline of new applicants if something falls through at the last moment. Many systems automatically refresh job postings at set intervals so I wouldn’t make much out of a reposted job, it’s more likely just the same post, refreshed.

  14. Sherri*

    OP 2, I am sorry you have to deal with this. I’m guessing this attitude is what’s also contributing to some higher turnover? It’s probably also time to start asking, Hey when are we replacing Jane, and Sue, and Bob? If management is dragging their feet and trying to save some money, then you could also ask what can we stop doing for a while until some more bodies are here. Keeping the doors open for posted hours is always going to be tough when short staffed though necessary, but hopefully you could find ways to cut buck on any other projects that might wait.

    On another note, when I started working the reference desk I was one giant head cold from October through May for the first three years or so. I rarely get sick these days, so hopefully things will get better!

    1. OP2*

      They have actually made it clear that they are not replacing any of the people we have lost. So this just means we re going to lose good people.

  15. Mockingjay*

    #3: Aside from managers, can colleagues or teammates be offered as references? I’m thinking of complementary fields, not my technical writer coworker who does the same thing as me.

    For instance, I work with engineering and technical staff. They can provide a lot of information on how well I produce software artifacts within engineering processes, for example. This is not something my remote manager (another state) would be able to discuss, but would be important for a hiring manager for a software project to have a sense of. I don’t report to these staff, but they do provide my workload.

  16. MaggiePi*

    OP #3 mentioned them asking for “three people who were not past managers and who were not related to you” as references. I’ve seen this too and I am not sure what hiring managers are looking for here. Personal references? Co-workers? Clients? Any of the above?

    1. Ayla K*

      When I’ve been asked for non-manager and non-family references, I usually pull from any of the following, in this order:
      -People who are senior to me at work that I’ve worked with on long-term projects (not my manager, but can speak to my work style and quality)
      -Direct reports (if applicable)
      -Peer co-workers at my level (can give the most true sense of my work, I think, since they understand it best)
      -Someone I’ve volunteered with (not for, say, one weekend of building houses, but over the course of several months or years)
      -Long-term client for whom I’ve gone above and beyond. Preferably, they’ve recently reached out telling me so (we’ve never had service like this! You’re the reason we chose ABC Company for this account!) and I can thank them and ask for a reference.

      I stay away from listing friends. I feel like hiring managers can tell, and they wouldn’t be able to answer the kind of questions about what I’m like in an office environment.

      1. MaggiePi*

        Thanks to both of you. This is about what I figured, but sadly just doesn’t help me much. The company I’m at is *tiny* and while I am very thankful my boss is willing to be a reference when I job search, I am not comfortable telling my coworkers, and he wouldn’t want me to either.
        There is no one else above me or above anyone other than boss man, and I’ve been here for quite awhile so old job coworkers would be pretty old.
        Clients in our industry aren’t long-term or closely worked with enough for that to make sense.
        I’ll have to think about volunteer supervisors. Maybe I need to start volunteering more…
        Just makes it so hard when applications ask for this! Downside of a tiny workplace :-/

    2. Calliope*

      I work as an employment consultant for a non-profit agency. I advise my clients to choose well respected community members they’ve worked with even if perhaps only in a volunteer position, managers in departments that were not in a supervisory role over you but you’ve positively impacted their work, clients, and yes, even coworkers. But in that order of preference.

      (And I advise all my clients to volunteer somewhere as a way to boost their resumes, gain new skills and network but then I work with the unemployed population so volunteering fills in gaps that are otherwise seen as a negative.)

      1. Calliope*

        ~wish there was a delete button- I was slow to hit submit and Alya K was far more detailed. What she said :) ~

  17. non-profit manager*

    #2 – Are you in California? If not, then never mind.

    If so, then you do have rights under California’s paid sick leave law, passed in 2014 and effective in 2015 (Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014). This law addresses eligibility, minimum amount of paid leave, use of sick leave, and reasons for sick leave. In particular to your situation, if the employee has available leave time, the employer must provide it when requested; the employee does not need to ask permission and only needs to provide notice. Also, employers cannot do what your employer is doing if an employee uses or attempts to use available sick leave. If you’re in California and you’ve been with your employer for at least 90 days, check out this new law.

  18. happymeal*

    #5 – “Random HR person,” aka the one who will be in every meeting deciding on if you should be hired, fired, and what should be done with your comp.

  19. NarrowDoorways*

    I actually have a question about #2!

    When I worked at Stop & Shop, even though we had paid time off, often when you called management to say you were too sick to come in, they’d insist you come in anyway. Some of the time, yet, they thought you were lying, but other times they believed you and didn’t care that you were sick.

    My question is, for those who stand up for themselves, and refuse even when pressured, can they be penalized? On one hand, I’ve almost positive the answer is no as Stop & Shop is unionized, but what about other places too?

    1. DCGirl*

      Basically, unless the illness is covered by FMLA, employees have few protections when they are sick and need to stay home. Absenteeism can have adverse consequences, up to and including termination.

      Last fall, I fell down a flight of steps, sprained my ankle badly, and hit the back of my head on one of the steps as I fell, giving myself a concussion. My doctor wrote me out for a week, because of the concussion. My manager persisted in the belief that the doctor wrote me out because I couldn’t handle public transportation on crutches and kept calling to ask me to work from home. I ended up doing conference calls flat on my back in a dark room due to the concussion and complaining like heck to HR when I got back.

      My employer allows five unplanned absences (called incidents) before you are counseled. I think we all know that a bid winter cold/flu season (or even a run of bad luck) can easily put someone, who’s otherwise a great employee, over the limit.

      I once got two “incidents” in the same day from the same manager who made me work with a head injury. I called in first thing in the morning to let her know that my FIL had died in hospice care overnight, would be out that day to help my husband with the immediate arrangements, but would come in the next day for mandatory training as the funeral was unlikely to take place that day. While driving back from the mall where I’d bought a black dress I was sideswiped by an 18-wheeler. I called after the accident to let her know that I was going to half to miss the training, so that someone on the wait list for the training could move up, and her response was, “Well, that’s two incidents in one day, DCGirl.” After I returned to the office, HR explained bereavement leave to her in words of one syllable and made her dial both of them back.

  20. jaxon*

    I’m highly amused that employees who interact with large numbers of the general public at a library would be encouraged to come in sick.

      1. Turtle Candle*

        I had a friend who was once complaining about restaurant workers and grocery store cashiers who worked while ill. “It’s a health hazard! They should have some consideration! Blah blah blah.”

        Said friend had never worked anything but white-collar jobs with sick leave provided. I pointed out that not only do most restaurant workers or cashiers not have paid sick time at all, in many cases they will be fired for calling out more than very very occasionally. Even, sometimes, in dire situations. (I had a friend when I was younger who was fired because she broke her leg and required surgery; the fact that she physically could not stand up for eight hours, even on crutches, to perform her waitress duties did not matter.)

        My friend was boggled. The idea that the person with a head cold was bringing his chicken marsala or ringing up his escarole because they’d at best be unpaid (and quite possibly be fired) for staying home with their sneeze had never occurred to him. The idea that someone with the flu was making his soup because otherwise they couldn’t pay rent was totally new information. “We’re incentivizing exactly the wrong behavior!” he said, indignant.

        Well. Exactly. I do wonder sometimes how many people don’t realize that.

        1. Turtle Candle*

          (BTW, since I know this varies a lot, I am not saying that most cashiers/waitresses/cooks don’t have sick leave universally; I just know it was the case in the state and city I was in when this conversation happened.)

  21. ZSD*

    I just want to mention that if the OP is in one of the five states or ~24 cities and counties that have paid sick days laws, they might have additional rights. (I see that people mentioned California upthread, but California isn’t the only place with these laws!)
    Most places with paid sick days laws have anti-retaliation protection, so if the OP’s manager actually retaliates against these employees for using their sick leave, such as by cutting their hours or giving them less desirable shifts, that would be illegal.
    Also, in most of the places with these laws, employers can only require doctor’s notes if the employee is out for at least three consecutive workdays.
    I’ll post some relevant links in a reply.

  22. Melanie*

    Regarding #1 I accepted a job on that condition and even had it in writing. I got a glowing 6 month review, and afterwards asked about the promised pay increase. After hearing nothing for 2 days, my boss asked to speak with me in front of the operations manager, and proceeded to give me a much worse review, saying because of that they can’t grant me the pay increase. But would revisit after a year, of course they never did it, so i looked for another job.

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