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guilt about applying for a new job, new hire didn’t negotiate, and more

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This post, guilt about applying for a new job, new hire didn’t negotiate, and more , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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

1. I feel guilty about applying for another job

I work in a department of three — me, a coworker with the same title and responsibilities as me, and our manager. Recently my coworker was out on maternity leave and was expected to return after five months. My manager really doesn’t know how to do a lot of the tasks we do and so a lot fell on me, although my manager did try to help here and there. Well, my coworker decided that she wasn’t going to come back at all. My manager has made some comments that seem to imply that we don’t need to hire someone else to replace her and that perhaps we can make some changes to ease some of my workload without hiring anyone else. There hasn’t been any discussions yet on what those changes would be and I’m feeling very burnt out.

I noticed a job opening with a different company that is very similar to what I do now. I’ve heard it’s a great place to work and they are transparent about their salaries, so I know I could be making at least $8-10K more per year if I were to interview and get the job. My guilt is holding me back from applying though. If I leave, my manager will be the only one left and there’s so much that he can’t do. I know he would be disappointed and upset. The thought of even telling him I’m leaving for another position fills me with dread. I like where I work. It’s a great atmosphere and I have a great manager, but I just don’t know how much longer I can sustain this. Do you have any suggestions for how to move past my guilt? It just feels like a crappy thing to do to leave my manager high and dry when we’re already understaffed but I also need to do what’s best for me as well. I’m really struggling with this!

Apply for the other job. If your manager is concerned about being left alone without knowing how to cover your work, he has lots of opportunities to mitigate that risk — like cross-training, ensuring your processes are well documented, and not removing the only other position that does what you do. But even aside from that, this is just not somerthing that you should control what career decisions you make. You need to do what’s in your interests, just as your company will do what’s in its. If your manager is in an inconvenient position when you leave, he will get by — people always do! He can hire temp help or all sorts of other possibilities. It’ll be fine. (And even if it’s not fine, it’s not a reason to put your career on hold. That is not the sort of sacrifice you are being paid for. But it will be fine.)

Meanwhile, though, in case this job doesn’t pan out, speak up about your boss’s plan not to replace your coworker! Say that covering for her has been difficult and you were willing to do it while it was temporary but it’s not something you can do much longer-term, and it’s important to you that her role is filled. (And if your boss doesn’t act on that, you should move forward with even less guilt!)

I am positive I didn’t used to get as many letters as I do now from people feeling guilty about leaving their jobs! I’m going to write a book called You Can Leave Your Job Without Guilt, and it will just be that sentence repeated in a variety of fonts for 200 pages.

2. New hire didn’t negotiate

I just hired my first-ever direct report. I’m very excited, but the process was not without bumps.

We offered the position to one strong candidate who tried to negotiate for a salary over 30% higher than what we had offered. That … didn’t work out.

But when we offered the job to our second choice (who was also an incredible candidate), she didn’t negotiate AT ALL and took the salary we offered her immediately. While I am extremely pleased that she’s going to be working for us, I’m wondering if at some point I should say something to her. We did have budget to pay more than our original offer (not 30% more, but a few thousand more). I don’t want to bring it up immediately, of course, and it’s awkward when I’d have a say over negotiating future raises and promotions, but I feel like this woman deserves a pep talk about arguing for what she’s worth!

It’s surprisingly common! A ton of people don’t negotiate when they get a job offer and just accept the first salary offered. More women than men, as we so often hear, but men too.

It would be a professional kindness to encourage her to negotiate at some point, but I’d wait until you have a natural opening at some point — a conversation one day about hiring in general, or a discussion of negotiating with a vendor, or whatever gives you an organic opening to bring it up. (In part that’s because you don’t want it to land too pointedly as, “I had more money to give you if only you’d asked, too bad!” … which could be a demoralizing takeaway, especially when the job is new.)

3. Recruiter asked me to re-take a test on camera

I’m in the middle of job hunting, and recently took a CCAT assessment for a job. The recruiter reached out for a first-round interview a few hours after I took the assessment and requested I retake the assessment on camera with another recruiter watching. I’ve taken the test before but never had this come up. Is this standard practice?

Nope. That’s a recruiter who for some reason thinks you might have cheated and is trying to verify that you took the test without help or cheating.

Feel free to say, “I’m happy to redo it, but was there a concern with my original assessment?”

4. Job opening gets reposted every month

Last year I applied to a job through a third-party hiring organization on LinkedIn. The job was for a company I know and respect. I don’t know the third party contractor, but they seem legitimate (I found them through a trusted aquaintance). I got a polite automated email several weeks later saying they appreciated my interest but were not going to interview me. No big deal.

I put an alert on that particular job title, since it was exactly what I was looking for. Since then, I’ve noticed that exact job posting gets posted every four or six weeks, only on LinkedIn, only by that third party. The opening doesn’t appear on the company’s website. Because it is an area with a high turnover rate (we live in a military town, and this is normal — not really a red flag), my husband suggested they like to keep a pool of applicants ready in case of an unexpected opening. My father, who works in a position where he often does hiring, suggested that it’s an automated system and nobody is looking at the applications at all.

Is this weird? Have you seen this before? I guess I could reach out to the LinkedIn page where its posted, but they’re a large company that has probably hundreds of postings for multiple agencies. I could technically reach out to the company itself, but I’d prefer not to look like a fool in case I end up applying there again. What’s your take?

They could indeed be keeping a pool of applicants if it’s a job they have to hire for frequently, either because of turnover or because they have multiple slots and/or keep increasing the size of that team. (I used to hire a for a position that was posted nearly constantly, because the team kept growing and it was hard to hire for, so we were willing to consider applicants all the time and hire anyone we found who was right.) It’s also possible, though, that this is a weird thing the outside recruiter is doing — that the company doesn’t consider this position currently “open” but the recruiter is advertising it that way to collect resumes … which could be for the legit purpose of being ready to pitch those candidates to the company when the role does open again or could be for the sketchy purpose of finding candidates to pitch to other companies for other openings, which is a thing that happens. The fact that it’s a third party posting and isn’t on the company’s own website, if their other jobs are, might point to that. But it could also just be a coincidence.

That said, I would just ignore the postings! You applied and they appear to have considered your application and concluded you’re not quite what they’re looking for. That can happen even when they’re continuing to actively (and constantly) search for other candidates. I wouldn’t worry about what’s going on with it or contact the company about it; just assume this position isn’t a match right now for whatever reason.

5. Should I send my references gift cards?

I’ve been interviewing for a job. The hiring manager wanted to hear from two past managers. For me, this means reaching 5+ years into my past and asking old coworkers who live in different cities to be references. If they were local, I’d take them out for coffee to say thanks, but they’re across the country. I want to send them a token of appreciation, but does it seem weirdly transactional to send them a coffee gift card?

Yeah, don’t do it! Giving references for colleagues whose work you respect is part of work life; if you offer a gift in exchange for doing it, it risks coming across as … not payment exactly, but not quite in the spirit of references either. Send an enthusiastic thanks and let them know if you get the job — that’s all people really want or expect!

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2 days ago
I am positive I didn’t used to get as many letters as I do now from people feeling guilty about leaving their jobs! I’m going to write a book called You Can Leave Your Job Without Guilt, and it will just be that sentence repeated in a variety of fonts for 200 pages.
Melbourne, Australia
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you should ask for more money when you get a job offer. here’s how.

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This post, you should ask for more money when you get a job offer. here’s how. , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Since a lot of people are changing jobs right now, here’s a round-up of advice on negotiating salary when you get a job offer.

Before the Offer Stage

Salary Expectations

Salary History

Negotiation Tactics — Theirs

Negotiation Tactics — Yours

Bringing Up Salary Yourself

Once You Get an Offer

What to Say

When to Say It

The Number

Other Stuff

Success stories

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22 days ago
Melbourne, Australia
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How I Experience The Web Today

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a short demo of modern web annoyances #
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22 days ago
Melbourne, Australia
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Mortification Week: the county lock-up, the disrupted town hall, and more

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This post, Mortification Week: the county lock-up, the disrupted town hall, and more , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

It’s Mortification Week at AAM and all week long we’ll be revisiting ways we’ve mortified ourselves at work (pulling comments and letters from the archives).

Here are 10 stories of other people’s mortifying moments that have been shared here over the years.

1. County lock-up

“A while back, we had a huge visit from our friends up in the C levels. One of my coworkers asked a VP if they had met before … at the county lock-up … in front of our CEO. Our boss looked like he was torn between strangling him or just crawling into a dark dark hole to die.”

2. The pep talk

“While sitting in the corner of a room, prepping for a client meeting, my friend witnessed the owner of the business pace into the room and begin a passionate self motivation ritual (i.e., ‘you can do this sh**, you’re the f***ing best, now get out there and win!’). And then he left – my friend froze as if he was hiding from a T-rex. Thankfully he lived to tell the tale.”

3. The spit cup

“My boss was in a meeting where the general made a big gesture and knocked his chewing tobacco spit cup into the lap of the admin assigned to take notes. My boss didn’t know generals could apologize that much! The general gave her the rest of the day and the next day off and he would clear it with her boss. And she was to send him the cleaning bill and if the outfit couldn’t be cleaned to send him the receipts for any replacement items.”

4. Not that

“I was in a departmental meeting once when our CFO said something about being really anal retentive and an older coworker piped up from across the room, ‘Oh, anal’s great! I love anal!’ It’s been at least a decade but every time I think about it I laugh so hard I see spots. Bless her heart.”

5. The technique

“I was 19 years old and working as the manager of a spa. Part of the massage therapist interview process is giving the management team a massage to demonstrate their techniques. This super buff, blond, surfer-dude type is practicing on me and I ask for my glutes to be worked on, as they are a problem area for me. He proceeds to take the sheet, pull it back to fully expose one cheek, and uses his hand to wedge it down my crack. Needless to say, that is not a normal draping technique and clients would have definitely come to me over that… We hired him, but he got a lot of draping training before he was allowed to work on clients. Definitely the most awkward day of work ever.”

6. We can’t date

“When I was 23 I was promoted into a leadership position. My then boyfriend (now husband) had been on that team for several years. To be up-front, I asked my boss if my relationship would cause problems with my new role. He paused and thought a bit before telling me that no, it’s still okay because we don’t supervise the same department or work together in a way that would be impacted by a relationship. He went on to explain that really in this role, I could date anyone at the location I wanted to except for him. He and I would just never work. I think he saw me start to laugh at the thought (he’s considerably older and I was 23!). Seeing my almost reaction, he made a comment about having a very busy dating life anyway. He’s still my boss several years later.”

7. The fire

“A coworker of mine was heating up a microwave meal and walked away while it was cooking since she could hear the ding from her desk (small office with a kitchenette). Well apparently she accidentally hit an extra zero on the time (think 50:00 minutes instead of 5:00) and after a while smoke ended up pouring out into the entire office. We all had to evacuate while the fire department showed up, but the real kicker was that our office was attached to a hotel and the entire hotel had to evacuate as well.”

8. The town hall

“The head of HR for a 16,000 employee company has a ‘town hall’ for all of HR – about 250 people. (I was one of them.) People dutifully call in and the meeting goes like this:

HR head: ‘So we’re really happy with our recruiting numbers—’


248 people on call: ‘Could everyone please mute themselves??!!!’

HR head: ‘…so as I was saying—’


(Now everybody is filling the chat with, ‘PLEASE everyone mute your phone!!!’ Literally a frantic avalanche of chat messages.)


HR Head: (tries to be funny) ‘Ummmm…sounds like someone is having some medical issues – could you please mute all phones…hahaha…’

This went on for a few minutes until someone figured out how to mute all callers. We figured that someone was on their cell phone talking to their doctor’s office while also having an open line into the call.

Most people knew who the voice was, and it was a really cranky person who was not well liked. Funniest part – some of the men were traumatized – same ones who constantly told dirty jokes.

We never had another HR town hall.”

9. The overshare

“A new coworker was introducing herself during a web conference. She went into great detail about her son’s relationship with his wife, how they had courted instead of dating, and went into great detail about what that meant in terms of intimate activity. I never found out exactly what others’ reactions were, but I was cringing all over.”

10. The pizza thief

“I used to work at a place that had more volunteers than employees, so parts of the building were open to the public. One day a coworker’s lunch was stolen from the kitchen, and it was some kind of specialty pizza that she was really craving. When she realized it was stolen, she was furious and asked the building supervisor to look at the security cameras. He agreed and then word went around the office at lightning speed that someone was about to get busted, so we all gathered around his computer to watch the footage.

At first we saw multiple volunteers in the kitchen. We all recognized all of them because they’re regulars. Then one by one they left until one guy remained, and at this point I started getting nervous because I knew the guy veeerrrrry well. But I thought surely he would never steal food. No way. He disappeared from the camera lens for a few minutes and I thought, oh thank god it wasn’t him. But then he juuuuuuust leaned back into the frame for a few seconds – just enough that you could clearly see him stuffing his face with a piece of pizza. And I wanted the floor to swallow me whole, because the culprit was MY DAD.

I just stood there in shock while all the other employees around me busted out laughing (except the pizza victim. she was still pissed). I took a lot of ribbing over this. The building supervisor took a screenshot of my dad’s face stuffed with pizza and people made all kinds of work-related memes with it. It was hilarious/mortifying. I’ve never had the courage to bring it up to my dad though. One day I will… Pizza victim confronted him though. I didn’t have to witness that, thankfully.”

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35 days ago
Great series. #4
Melbourne, Australia
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Britney Spears’s Conservatorship Nightmare

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How the pop star’s father and a team of lawyers seized control of her life—and have held on to it for thirteen years.
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68 days ago
Melbourne, Australia
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An incomplete list of skills senior engineers need, beyond coding


For varying levels of seniority, from senior, to staff, and beyond.

  1. How to run a meeting, and no, being the person who talks the most in the meeting is not the same thing as running it
  2. How to write a design doc, take feedback, and drive it to resolution, in a reasonable period of time
  3. How to mentor an early-career teammate, a mid-career engineer, a new manager who needs technical advice
  4. How to indulge a senior manager who wants to talk about technical stuff that they don’t really understand, without rolling your eyes or making them feel stupid
  5. How to explain a technical concept behind closed doors to a senior person too embarrassed to openly admit that they don’t understand it
  6. How to influence another team to use your solution instead of writing their own
  7. How to get another engineer to do something for you by asking for help in a way that makes them feel appreciated
  8. How to lead a project even though you don’t manage any of the people working on the project
  9. How to get other engineers to listen to your ideas without making them feel threatened
  10. How to listen to other engineers’ ideas without feeling threatened
  11. How to give up your baby, that project that you built into something great, so you can do something else
  12. How to teach another engineer to care about that thing you really care about (operations, correctness, testing, code quality, performance, simplicity, etc)
  13. How to communicate project status to stakeholders
  14. How to convince management that they need to invest in a non-trivial technical project
  15. How to build software while delivering incremental value in the process
  16. How to craft a project proposal, socialize it, and get buy-in to execute it
  17. How to repeat yourself enough that people start to listen
  18. How to pick your battles
  19. How to help someone get promoted
  20. How to get information about what’s really happening (how to gossip, how to network)
  21. How to find interesting work on your own, instead of waiting for someone to bring it to you
  22. How to tell someone they’re wrong without making them feel ashamed
  23. How to take negative feedback gracefully

Enjoy this post? You might like my book, The Manager’s Path, available on Amazon and Safari Online!

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94 days ago
Melbourne, Australia
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