Dear J.T. & Dale: My company has been doing really well, and to reward us, we are all being taken to a resort in Florida. My husband is furious. He doesn’t want to go, and he wants me to stay home, too. He also wants me to ask my boss for a bonus in place of the trip. Can I do that? — Sophia
J.T.: No. The trip is not part of your employment agreement; it’s a special gift from your employers, given at their discretion. Therefore, you can’t ask for a bonus instead of a trip.
DALE: To ask is to insult. It’s like a colleague inviting you and your husband out to dinner and you responding with, “Could you just give us a hundred bucks instead?” So please tell your husband, for me, to shut up and pack his swim trunks. Or, if he’s going to be whiny, tell him to stay home and you’ll send selfies from the beach.
J.T.: While your husband doesn’t have to go, if you decline without a good reason, it could hurt your career. You’ll be seen as dissing the company’s reward, and that will not soon be forgotten. Plus, you’ll miss out on valuable team-building time.
DALE: I know that people complain about these things, using expressions like “mandatory fun,” but team events are a chance to broaden your connections within the company or spot advancement opportunities. Be grateful that you’re part of a thriving company that cares about morale.
J.T.: However, I wouldn’t be as flippant as Dale about your husband’s attitude. I would spend time with him and rationally talk through his concerns. Invite him to consider the long-term implications of going or not. If you really don’t want to be part of this team — if management’s values and beliefs don’t align with your own — then I would suggest finding a new employer.
DALE: I’m not sure what such a new employer might look like: One that is not thriving? Not concerned about sharing success with employees? Not working at creating teams and building camaraderie? So, Sophia, go and have fun, or go and work at advancing your career — but go.
Dear J.T. & Dale: I recently asked my boss for a meeting to discuss a raise. I was shocked when she told me she feels I’m not serious about my career. When I asked why, she said, “You dress like a sloppy college student, and I can’t promote someone who doesn’t care about his appearance.” Why should how I dress matter? Can she discriminate against me like that? — Jesse
J.T.: Yes, she can. If you’ve read this column for a while, I’m sure you’ll recognize one of my favorite quotes, this one from Doris Day: “People hear what they see.” That’s the lesson your boss is trying to teach you.
DALE: First, let’s stop with accusing your boss of “discrimination.” She isn’t trying to hold you back; she’s trying to mentor you. This is a wonderful opportunity to have her involved in your success. Grab it.
J.T.: If you change your appearance, your boss will see that you are taking her advice seriously, but also the company will see that you are taking your career seriously.
DALE: There is a look (and an attitude that goes with it) that announces, “I care about my career, and I care about how I represent the company.” The dressiness of that look varies by industry and by geography, but all you have to do is look at the successful people to comprehend the standard. It could be subtle. By the way, this is a great chance to make better connections with executives in your organization. Find the ones with the style you admire, and ask them about it. They’ll be flattered and eager to offer advice. And they, too, will feel a part of your advancement.
J.T.: That means, Jesse, you have two choices: Continue dressing the way you do and find an employer who appreciates that look — good luck with that! — or show your boss that you listened to her by upgrading your wardrobe, and then get that promotion.
Dear J.T. & Dale: I am so frustrated with my job search. I have applied to hundreds of companies, and I never hear back from a single one. Why are companies so rude? — Nanci
DALE: There was a time when companies made an effort to respond. I once did consulting work with a big brewery that sent a nice reply to every job applicant, including an invitation to a special brewery tour. However, over the years, applying for jobs got much, much easier — no classy stationery needed, no trip to Kinko’s, no typing up a custom cover letter, no postage — and the burden of responding grew along with all of those easy applications. Eventually, during one economic downturn, eliminating that function became an easy choice.
J.T.: Yes, it’s not companies being rude but rather the sheer volume of applications that makes it impossible for them to respond to every one. Let me explain the magnitude of the problem: A recent study showed that the average job posting gets more than 200 applications, with the first one coming in within 200 seconds of the posting.
DALE: And that’s got to be for an unknown company. Imagine the size of the problem for larger companies. Let’s put “rudeness” in perspective by personalizing the issue. Picture an email marketer sitting at his desk and thinking: “We’ve sent Nanci 20 offers for great deals on a new parka, and she hasn’t said squat in reply. That Nanci is so rude!” So just stop expecting a response to your applications. That way, if you get one, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
J.T.: Or just blame your job-search process. Stop applying blindly online and then sitting back and hoping, because you have seen the results of that. Instead, focus on identifying companies where you’d love to work and networking your way to making connections with people who work there. Remember that 80 percent of jobs come through referrals. I always tell my clients, “Your network is your net worth.” n
Jeanine “J.T.” Tanner O’Donnell is a professional development specialist and the founder of the consulting firm jtodonnell. Dale Dauten resolves employment and other business disputes as a mediator with AgreementHouse.com. com. Visit them at jtanddale.com, where you can send questions via email, or write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St., 15th Floor, New York, New York 10019.
(c) 2016 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.