Inc.com columnist Alison Green answers questions about workplace and management issues--everything from how to deal with a micromanaging boss to how to talk to someone on your team about body odor.

Here's a roundup of answers to five questions from readers.

1. Should recruiters tell you up-front what a job pays?

How common is it for recruiters to disclose salary range for positions when they reach out to you? I've heard colleagues who have professions that are highly technical and in-demand talk about how recruiters have disclosed salary ranges to them for the openings they are recruiting for. This has helped my colleagues ask for more money. One even told his boss, "I have recruiters on LinkedIn offering me $XX more." This helped him get a substantial raise last year. I, however, haven't had much luck, and while my profession isn't as highly sought-after as theirs, it's still pretty hot. I always hear the typical "It depends on experience," or "We're focused on finding the ideal candidate," etc.

Green responds:

It does indeed vary by industry; there are some industries where it would be laughable to try to recruit a candidate without talking about salary, and others where the kind of coyness you're hearing is still the norm.

Frankly, our conventions around salary discussions are in real need of change--there's no reason that employers should play coy about salary, when salary is a main reason (or the only reason) most of us work. Employers in all fields need to be more transparent about salary right up front, so that people can self-select out rather than investing time in a hiring process if they're not aligned on salary.

And that's especially true when a recruiter is approaching you (as opposed to you applying for a job). It's pretty obnoxious to try to entice someone into spending time interviewing when they weren't actively looking if you're not even willing to tell them what the job pays ... and it's perfectly reasonable to say to a recruiter who contacts you, "I'm not actively looking, and I'd need to know the salary range before spending time talking further."

But like everything in job searching, it also comes down to how many options you have and how willing you are to walk away. If you know that you'd secretly want to interview regardless, then it's more difficult to take a hard line.

2. My boss doesn't want to let me quit

I am working as an educational consultant, and this is my first job. I've been here three months, and I wasn't prepared for how much of the work would be selling the program. Unfortunately, the more days I spend on the job, the more I want to quit as soon as possible.

My supervisor is very nice and supportive. When I've tried to resign, she keeps saying that she loves me and has considered me as her little sister. I have told her several times I'd like to resign, and she has declined my oral resignation. She finally said that she would probably let me leave a few months from now. I really want to quit the job as soon as possible, but her top weapon to make me stay is the word "responsibility." Should I wait a few more months like she wants me to, or should I stick to my own decision to quit immediately? 

Green responds:

You don't need permission to quit. Your manager doesn't need to "accept" your resignation. You get to quit whenever you want, whether she accepts it or not! You can simply say that the job turned out not to be the right fit for you, and you are resigning. Period.

These are the words to use: "I've decided that I need to move on, and my last day will be in two weeks, July 30." If she pushes back, say this: "My decision is final. Shall we talk about what you'd like me to complete during these two weeks?" And then you stick to it. She can't make you change your mind. Keep saying, "It's not up for discussion." And if it gets uncomfortable enough, you'd have reason to say, "I'd like to work out my final two weeks, but I need you to accept my decision. If you can't do that, it would be best for both of us if today is my last day."

Also: It's super weird that your manager is telling you she loves you--ever, but especially after three months. She sounds manipulative and rather horrid. Get out of there.

3. Can I direct employers to my LinkedIn recommendations in lieu of references?

Is it worth it to ask my references to leave recommendations on my LinkedIn profile that would be visible to potential employers? Then I could say something to employers like, "My references have vouched for my ability on LinkedIn, if you want to take a look there first. To protect their time, I'd prefer they only be contacted directly as a last step before extending me an offer, as I don't want them to spend that valuable time more than once."









Green responds:

Nope. Employers don't usually put a ton of stock in LinkedIn recommendations, in part because they're public (and so it's unlikely they'll say something critical about you there), and in part because the value of a reference lies in being able to ask specific, targeted questions and not just reading a pre-written statement. References aren't just about vouching for you being a generally competent person; they're about probing deeply into your strengths and weaknesses, how you work best, what kind of management you do best with, and so forth.

4. Getting an employee to sign paperwork when she's always too busy

I'm in HR and have an employee who gives me a very hard time when it comes to signing any new policies or procedures, evaluation forms, or notes. It is draining to constantly follow up with her regarding her signature, and she always says, "I'll do it later, I'm so busy right now." How should I work with this employee to be able to get her to sign the forms?





Green responds:

Well, it's possible that she's genuinely busy with higher priorities, and you don't want to appear to be valuing paperwork over actual work. That said, if stuff needs to be signed, it needs to be signed. I'd say this, "I understand, but we do need to get these signed. What's the earliest I can get a short block of time on your calendar to deal with these? It should only take X minutes." Or, "What's a five-minute block you have open this week when I can bring this stuff by and get your signature?" Alternatively, assuming you're acting as HR here and you're not her manager, you can ask her manager to make sure this gets done on your behalf.

But also, it sounds like there's an unusual amount of stuff that needs to be signed. I'd take a look at whether you're requiring signatures more often than you actually need to.

5. I was invited to interview--but they hired someone else before I had the chance to come in

I recently applied to an administrative assistant position online, and someone from their HR department emailed me on Monday and set up a phone interview with me for that Thursday. On Wednesday, I received this email: "I am sorry to do this, but I will need to cancel our phone interview scheduled for tomorrow. We have offered the position to an exceptionally qualified candidate and she has accepted. Thank you so much for your interest. We will keep your resume active for six months, but please also feel free to reach out to me should you see a position of interest on our careers site."

Is it just me, or is using the phrase "exceptionally qualified" kind of demeaning to a job seeker? Should I respond and say I would have loved the opportunity to interview? Not respond at all?

Green responds:

It's not demeaning to explain why they decided to short-circuit the interview process and hire someone before finishing talking to everyone they intended to talk to. I know it's tempting to analyze every word employers choose to say to you in a hiring process, but this is just someone trying to explain a decision in a way that they hope will be understandable to you.

Respond and be gracious (which means you shouldn't say you would have loved the opportunity to interview, which sounds a little too let down or even like chastising them). For example, you could say: "Thanks so much for letting me know. The job sounds great and I'm glad you were able to find the right person for it. I'd love to remain in touch and hope we might have an opportunity to connect in the future."

Want to submit a question of your own? Send it to alison@askamanager.org.

Published on: Jul 22, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.