DEAR HARRIETTE: I just started a new job. I am a salaried employee, which means I don’t get paid anything extra for any overtime hours. When I accepted the job, I was told the hours varied based on how much work you get done each day, but generally I'd work from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
I’ve been working here only a week, but every day, most the office stays past 6. I feel awkward getting up and leaving at 6, considering I’m the only one and I’m new. Do you think I should talk to the CEO to go over my hours again? -- Leaving Early, New York City
DEAR LEAVING EARLY: I can tell you the legal reality of your situation and also what’s practical. Legally, if you do not get paid overtime, you do not have to work extra hours. You are working the hours that were specified for you when you were hired.
That said, in my personal experience, I have always worked the extra hours, coming in early and leaving late. Nobody told me to do this, but it served me well. I know that this has been true for other people, too. If your job is one that has space to rise up the ladder, you want to show your boss that you are a team player who is willing to go the distance.
For now, I recommend that you follow your boss’s work schedule. Arrive before or at the same time he or she arrives, and leave when your boss leaves. Your dedication to the work and obvious interest in being a team player will be noticed. It may take time before you are rewarded financially for your commitment, but chances are it will come. Patience is key here. If you are able to be patient and learn the ropes as you prove your value to the company, you will create the opportunity for you to soar.