Saturday, April 02, 2005

When It Rains... 

Though it is, admittedly, a pain in the butt to be trying to find work and having a baby almost simultaneously, much of what's so frustrating about the jobsearch is that I'm new at it. I'm 32 years old, and until now I've been lucky -- every time I needed a job, one just sort of came along and offered itself to me.

Heck, even my current 7 year stint was a lucky one-shot. We saw the ad in the paper, answered it on a whim, and had an offer within a week.

I'm certainly not complaining -- I know that this unusual history makes me the envy of many who have suffered the stress of what is turning out to be an intensive, full-time process. But notably, my lack of experience leaves me with very little practice in the ups and downs of the interview process.

Every scenario I encounter is comprehensively new and unfamiliar. Where others my age have been toughened to the obstacle course that we call "looking for work," I cannot compete. With no experience in the simultaneous pursuit of multiple opportunities, I have no instinct for managing the unexpected.

Which brings us to today's dilemma.

I have been invited down to New Jersey for a full day job interview at School A plus half-day tour with a real estate agent, with all costs -- flight, car rental, and housing -- paid by the prospective employer.

I serendipitously recieved a call today from a second school in the same area, and had a lovely hour-long interview with the associate head of School B, who (hopefully) will contact me by email this weekend to discuss the possibility of a visit. While I'm already down in the area. On the other school's dime.

The question, then: what are my obligations -- financial, informational, or otherwise -- to each school in this scenario? For example, if School B does not generally pay travel costs for visiting prospective faculty, should I call School B, explain the situation, and offer to split the costs with them? If School B does pay travel costs, should I figure out a way to charge each school with one leg of the trip -- for example, ask one to pay transport one way, and the other to pay transport back home?

Yeah, I know: after weeks of little to no job prospects, I'm lucky to have such problems.

Nonetheless. Please advise.

posted by boyhowdy | 9:35 PM |

This is a really interesting situation. You should feel rather fortunate because most potential employers don't even pay for travelling expenses or accomidations (at least in my field).

Remember, I just had to travel from CT to upper VT for a job interview only to find out, after travelling over 300 miles one-way (on MY dime), that I was going to be making 200.00 a week (flat) for a 60+ hr. a week job. If I had known about this beforehand, I wouldn't have made the trip. But alas, everytime I asked the potential employer how much salary I would be making, he would waffle worse than a whole box of Eggos.

I think you should consider what school "A" is doing as a "gift". They're paying for all of this, but really there's no strings attatched. You could be visiting your Cousin Melvin in your free time while your down there. In fact, if it really bothers your conciense so much, you could go down there w/o taking school "A's" gifts.

Also, I would kind of keep quiet about all of this just in case school "A" or "B" just happens to read this blog here...
"Also, I would kind of keep quiet about all of this just in case school "A" or "B" just happens to read this blog here..."

Hmm. While I continue to protect the privacy of all prospective employers by not naming names, explicitly describing open positions, or mentioning school locations, this is an issue that I suspect is no big deal.

I mean, if a school is offering to pay for me to come down, it's because they want to see me. Period. The fact that I am looking for work more geenrally -- i.e. that there may be other schools I interview at, whether I happen to be there or here -- doesn't affect the fact that I will be giving them my full attention. After all, I wouldn't accept the offer if I wasn't seriously interested in pursuing the position.

After thinking further, then, I think the only moral quandry here is what happens if other schools offer to pay for my visit after I have already accepted one school's offer for reimbursement. I can't in good conscience say "no need -- I already found a different school willing to cover the costs." That's where the moral issue comes in.

In the meanwhile -- if it happens -- I have been informed of how this practice is handled in other businesses, so I am confident that I now have ready a solution which will serve everyone, whether or not I actually get offered a visit to the second school UNnamed herein...
How is this handled in other businesses? The suspense is killing me!

Best of luck with the interviews.
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