I can do the job, mostly, really
April 23, 2013 6:20 PM   Subscribe

I have a tricky job-application scenario: basically, I can do all the requirements that were advertised, but I have excellent reason to believe they expect the person in the position to semi-regularly do something my health prevents me from doing at all. How do I handle this in the application/resume process?

The job description and situation, as advertised, is basically perfect for my skills, interests, and everything else.

The thing is, I know the person who had the job before was on-call 24/7, and sometimes had to drop everything (including sleep) and run off to take care of something (the something - it varied - could happen anywhere in a ~450 mile radius.) This only happened a few times a month at most, and I have no philosophical problem with it at all; in my younger and more foolish years, this would have been a plus, honestly.

Unfortunately, health reasons prevent this from being even a remote possibility for me - this is well inside in "my doctor will make me go see someone else if I sign up for this, because it really is that irresponsible" land.

So! I'm in a pickle. Two questions:

1. Do I bother applying?
2. At what stage do I let them know about my problem?

I don't want to waste anyone's time, but I would love the job as advertised. I'm reasonably confident they will let me interview if I send in a resume & application but do not disclose my issue. I also don't want to burn bridges with these people, because I would really love to do several of the jobs they may eventually have open (it depends largely on folks retiring.) Oh, and I'd really rather not my boss knowing I'm looking for outside work unless there's at least some shot I can get the job (and she will know if I apply - she knows all these people much better than I do, and they will call her, quite possibly before the interview stage.)

There are, as far as I can see, three options other than not applying at all:

1. Disclose in the cover letter,
2. Disclose in the interview, or
3. Disclose the first time they say "oh and by the way, here's the pager" (which might be during the interview.)

What are the pros and cons? As a hiring manager or HR person or other employer type, what would you recommend? Is it foolish to even try this?

I have talked with someone I know in the office (not the hiring manager, but someone who helped advertise it,) and she's pretty sure the position will still include the on-call stuff.
posted by Fee Phi Faux Phumb I Smell t'Socks o' a Puppetman! to Work & Money (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I wouldn't apply. You know what the job entails, and you can't do it.

If you really want the job, you should seek the advice of an employment lawyer. (The ADA protects people with disabilities who are qualified to perform the essential functions of the job. As with all legal questions, it can be pretty murky. IAAL, IANYL or an employment lawyer).

FYI it's pretty standard for job postings not to reveal that the hours occassionally suck.
posted by murfed13 at 6:36 PM on April 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

If the job requires you to be on call 24 X 7, something you can not do because of health issues, then in fact you will not love the job. The fact that they aren't advertising the on-call bit is not really relevant. If you could interview with no chance of negative repercussions it might be worth investigating further. However, putting your current job at risk to interview for a job you can't even do seems foolhardy to me.
posted by COD at 6:37 PM on April 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Is this position within your current company? I would be careful not to disclose anything you don't want getting back to your boss. In fact, unless you want to go the ADA route, I wouldn't mention health concerns at all. If/when it comes up, you can simply say that those hours aren't acceptable to you. It is a point of negotiation like anything else in the hiring process.

Is there any flexibility with the on call hours? Or is there someone else they could pass that responsibility to, if they wanted to hire you badly enough?
posted by payoto at 6:50 PM on April 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If the job, as advertised, interests you this much, I would certainly apply. And I would NOT disclose, unless at some point in the interview process you are told of these extra requirements. You really don't know for sure that the position still includes those responsibilities, as they could have been changed. If you apply and get to a point in the interview process where they tell you about the on-call requirement, you can just say it won't be possible, oh so sorry, had no idea, etc. Do not mention health issues. This way, you have your foot in the door, using the interview process to put your name and resume in front of the folks who count at this company. As for your current boss, you need to have an open and frank discussion BEFORE they call her, couched in ways to make it acceptable to her. "I'm happy here and not actively searching, but I found this one particular opening and I would like to go through the application process. However, I don't want to jeapordize my job here in any way. Would this create a problem for you and our working relationship?"
posted by raisingsand at 8:33 PM on April 23, 2013 [7 favorites]

Best answer: I agree with raisingsand. Being on-call 24/7 to drive somewhere 400 miles away multiple times a month is a pretty big requirement not to mention in the advertisement. I think it's fair game to assume that's not part of the job. Go ahead and apply (assuming you can do so without risking your current job) and act under the assumption that the job will be similar to what is advertised. If they bring up being on-call, let them know politely that that won't be possible for you (you do not need to disclose your particular health issue).

You should ask about it at some point in the interview process: "I know that when Lorna had this job, there was a big on-call component, which wasn't mentioned when I applied. What are the expectations for that?" I do not have a good sense of when in the process would be best to ask that. For that matter, can you just ask your contact who had this job before whether it's still part of the job and whether that's negotiable?
posted by pompelmo at 10:22 PM on April 23, 2013 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: OK, thanks for the overnight answers everyone!

1. There are many reasons that I can't do on-call-overnight, and one of them is that I'm apparently really kind of stupid after 8pm. It's a 450 square mile area, not radius. Typically a 45-minute drive from where I live. Not that this matters much, but it bothered me to leave it up like that.

2. This is the only person in the office that has the pager; lots of people (at least ten) could do it, but for whatever reason the guy who was in the job was the guy who had the pager. It is sort of connected (in a subject-matter-expert kind of way,) but the main qualification for being "the guy with the pager" is "being from this office," not "having this exact job."

3. They absolutely will know all about my health issues within days, if not hours, of me starting work (even if they never think of handing me the pager.) My current boss already knows all about the health stuff.

4. Part of my question (sort of the core of it all) is really: Is it OK to ask this hiring manager if this is a negotiable part of the job or not?

5. You all have no idea how happy it makes me that this isn't cut-and-dried to the MetaFilter community. I was getting really annoyed with myself for going back and forth on this all weekend.
posted by Fee Phi Faux Phumb I Smell t'Socks o' a Puppetman! at 4:53 AM on April 24, 2013

Best answer: Since the on-call requirement is not listed in the actual job description, I would go ahead and apply. Assuming you interview, I'd wait until the "Do you have any questions for us?" section and then bring up your concerns, something like "I know when [friend] had this position, [he/she] was on call frequently, but it's not in the job description. Is this something [he/she] chose to take on, or something that's a job requirement?" You can broach the question initially without getting into talking about health information, which is something an interviewer is forbidden to ask about and, for that reason, probably doesn't want to hear about during the interview.
posted by duien at 7:18 AM on April 24, 2013 [7 favorites]

Best answer: Yes, ask if it's negotiable. Good luck!
posted by the young rope-rider at 7:18 AM on April 24, 2013

Best answer: There are, as far as I can see, three options other than not applying at all:

1. Disclose in the cover letter,
2. Disclose in the interview, or
3. Disclose the first time they say "oh and by the way, here's the pager" (which might be during the interview.)

I would go with either #3, or after they make you an offer but before you accept. If they don't bother asking you during the interview process and get to the point of making you an offer, then it's their fault for not ensuring you're actually able to do it if it's really that important for them (especially considering they could just ask anyone else in the office.) I think you'd be safe not even telling them then and waiting until they ask after you're hired (again, if they don't bother mentioning it earlier then it's on them, not you)... but if you'd feel weird about that, then you can basically wrap it into the negotiation over salary, benefits, etc (and they might actually be glad to assign that to someone else in exchange for a real or perceived sense that they're getting off easier on the $ front with you as a result.)
posted by EmilyClimbs at 3:49 PM on April 24, 2013

Response by poster: I basically marked as "best answer" all the people who said to do what I actually did, because I didn't feel like it was right to leave someone out. Application is in; we'll see what happens in the interview (assuming they want to interview me, obviously.)

Thanks for the input, everyone. :)
posted by Fee Phi Faux Phumb I Smell t'Socks o' a Puppetman! at 6:40 PM on April 24, 2013

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