by Nanako Kodaira
Listing your boss as a reference
It is commonly believed that in order for you to secure a job, you cannot avoid listing your boss as a reference whether you like it or not. Otherwise, you can never find a job. But wait! Is this really true? What if you do not want to list your boss as a reference for various reasons, such as you do not have a trusting relationship with him/her, or worse, s/he is the main reason you are looking for another job! It would be ideal that the main reason you want to find another job is not just because you have a crummy boss, but for some other reasons, such as to advance your career, however sooner or later you may face this sort of situation in which you simply cannot afford to list your boss as a reference!
So what should you do? Who should you list as a reference when you do not wish to list your boss as a reference?
Typically, prospective employers ask you to provide three references and unless explicitly stated in their job ad , you do not have to list your boss as one of your references. Instead, you could list your colleagues (desirably professional librarians) that you do have a trusting relationship with or if you are still in library school or have only graduated in the last couple of years, you could even ask your advisor or library supervisors that you have worked for while in library school to serve as a reference. If the library HR office believes that all of the references that you have listed have given honest and consistent comments about you, then chances are, they may never ask you for your boss as a reference.
It is quite true, however, that they could always come back to you and ask you for your boss as a reference. If this happens to be the case, then you could handle the situation by explaining that the people you have listed have a closer working relationship with you than your boss and thus they will be able to give a more thorough reference about you and your job performance. Or if you feel absolutely comfortable with your prospective employer and have nothing to lose, then you can even explain to them the truth about your situation with your boss. You may be surprised that this happens more commonly than you can imagine and your prospective employers may take it quite well or may even become very sympathetic with your situation. If you decide to go with this latter strategy, one crucial point to keep in mind is that to make sure you explain your situation with your boss diplomatically, meaning never get too emotional or gossipy. Of course, it is up to your prospective employer to decide if they would still like to consider hiring you for the position you have applied for, but you never know what the outcome might be unless you try. So, you should never feel intimidated to drop out from the race unless the job you have applied for is something you do not really care for at all.
Salary negotiation issues
Your phone rings and you pick it up, the person on the other line is calling from the library HR office (the very place where you have just had an interview) and tells you that they ARE indeed offering you a JOB! You are so exited and flying so high that you are now not even paying attention to any other information the HR person is telling you, including the most important issue, the salary. You simply keep saying yes, yes, yes! Finally, you hang up the phone and calm down a little bit, and then you suddenly realize that you have made the biggest mistake ever for not negotiating your salary at all with them!
This is one of the most commonly made mistakes that we can fall into, especially for our very first job offer. It is very natural for you to feel that you need to secure your job, however, as intimidating as it may seems, it is quite important to negotiate your salary before you make the final decision to accept the job offer. In fact, it is the only time you can negotiate your salary. The rule of thumb is that you should not make an instant acceptance right away, but rather ask them to give you a couple of days to think about it and then you should study the blue book, meaning what is the maximum salary that the particular institution could offer you for your position. If your job happens to be in an academic library, they usually have a rank or career ladder for librarians and within each rank there is sometimes a little room for negotiating. For this reason, you may end up contacting the library HR office multiple times while deciding on a final salary. The people in the library HR office are very use to receiving inquiries regarding salaries from prospective employees and you should never feel intimidated to contact them.
Another issue you also need to consider is how much of the moving expenses would they be willing to offer you. This is crucial, particularly if you are moving across the country. If you hire a professional mover for even just moving your belongings, it could cost you as much as several thousand dollars moving across the country and this could be a crucial factor to consider as well.
Sometimes you may get multiple job offers and then you are in a really good position, because you have even more control over choosing the job that is best for you! If you happen to be in this situation, take even more time and carefully compare each job that you have been offered from their various aspects including, but not limited to, money matters. You may even want to make a comparison chart and list all the factors that you think would be crucial when choosing the job that is just right for you. And then, you may want to call each prospective employer for your salary negotiations and other questions that you may have.