Thursday, August 9, 2012

bad jobs: the one that got away

I went to an employment agency and was sent to interview for a job as assistant to an architect. He had been a friend of the employment agent's late husband, as I recall. I had a first interview with someone other than the boss - maybe the assistant who was leaving or an office manager or HR person. She indicated that the boss was very particular and not easy to work for. The salary was what I used to call "combat pay": a high wage in line with the difficulty of the boss. But I was up for it.

Then I interviewed with the boss, who was not exactly warm and fuzzy, and he was very clear about what he required and the performance he expected. It went well; I was offered the job, told the salary, and a start date was agreed upon.

About a week later, the employment agent called me, practically in tears. It seemed that someone the architect had wanted to hire in the past stopped by to see him, and he hired her instead.

This is why, even with the nicest employers, I ask for a hire letter when the job is offered. If I had had a hire letter from the architect, I surely would have sued him. I was particularly upset about the potential job-hunting time I lost because I thought I was starting a job in a couple of weeks.

And speaking of combat pay...I had a first interview for a combat-pay job, working for a famously difficult publisher. I never got to meet the publisher. The HR woman deemed me "too nice" to work for her.

I should mention that I worked for many years at NYU, back in the days when university pay was way lower than private-industry pay. (This is no longer the case - university pay and bennies are now better than many jobs in the private sector.) So when I left NYU, I was interested in a substantially higher salary than I'd earned there. (Ironically, the salary I was earning when I left NYU in 1998 is $5K less than I'm earning now.) This is why I had the many flirtations with corporate-type jobs, like the family-office thing. I wanted more money. Silly me. I am breathlessly happy these days with less money and a great work environment.

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