parents who call in sick for their kids, interviewers who ask questions already answered on your resume, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. What to say to parents who call in sick for their kid (or want to know why their kid was fired)

I have frequently had young employee’s parents contacting me to call in sick for their child or to ask me why their child has been terminated/ask me to re-hire their child. I am absolutely frustrated with this. Do you have any advice or best practices for this?

I sure do. Similar to the advice I gave recently about being contacted by parents job-searching on their kids’ behalf, you should refuse to engage. That means saying:
* “I can’t discuss personnel information with someone other than the employee.” (when they want to know why their kid was fired)
* “We’d need her to contact us directly if that’s something she’s interested in.” (when they want you to hire their kid)
* “Oh my goodness, is she hospitalized? …. No? Then I really need her to contact me herself.” (when they call in sick on their kid’s behalf — you can also relay this one to the employee directly the next time you talk)

2. Why do interviewers ask me about jobs that are already described in detail on my resume?

For prescreening calls and at interviews, whoever I’m talking to always mentions they’ve read my resume and they then ask me to briefly tell them about what I did at the jobs listed on my resume. I’ve done a bunch of similar internships, and I feel like my resume conveys what I’ve done straightforwardly and in detail, so I’m not sure what else they’re expecting to hear about, and I always feel stupid answering because I mostly just rush through repeating a few things from my resume. Any tips on how to answer this question? Would it be okay to just ask, “Is there something specific you saw on my resume that you’d be interested in hearing more about?”

No. That will come across as … not difficult, exactly, but not particularly easy either. They just want you to answer their question. It’s fine if you repeat information listed on your resume; they’re probably assuming that you will. They just want to hear about those jobs in your own words, not in the carefully selected language that you crafted for your resume.

3. Mentioning family’s line of work in a cover letter

I’m in the throes of my post-grad school job search and have read pretty much everything on your site about cover letters, and have taken it to heart. I’m about to apply for a job at a multi-national PR firm, and have a question about the appropriateness of including a mention of my family’s business in the cover letter (that sounds so foreboding and mafia-esque). My academic/work background is in public policy, not marketing or PR. However, my father and mother own a marketing and PR firm, my aunt owns her own PR firm, and my grandfather was in advertising. Is making some pithy reference to this a good way to engage the reader and maybe bolster a resume lacking direct experience, or is it just totally inappropriate? I feel like I’ve written so many cover letters over that last month that I don’t trust my judgment any longer.

Inappropriate/irrelevant, unless you’ve worked for those businesses.

4. When to mention adoption-related maternity leave

My husband and I are pursuing an adoption of our daughter’s half sibling, due to be born in three months. I’m currently interviewing for jobs, but I’m unsure how — or if — I should tell potential employers about our situation and the possibility of needing a 6-week maternity leave sometime in the fall. (I say possibility because nothing is certain when it comes to adoption.) When do you think I should share the news?

Once you have an offer. At that point, you can explain the situation and try to negotiate the leave (since you won’t be covered by FMLA before having worked there a year).

5. New coworker’s title sounds more senior than mine, but she’s not

I was hired three weeks ago in a position that was created specifically for my skills. I had applied for a “coordinator” role, but it turned out that the actual position was much more administration than strategic, so the role was redefined. As a result, the title was changed to “specialist” and I am working directly under the head of department implementing strategy.

However, this left a gap in the team for an entry-level employee to handle department administration and to support my role and the team generally. The job description was written, the parameters were set (extremely entry-level, low salary), and yet the original title was kept: “coordinator.”

Which brings me to my concern! I’m worried that in the hierarchy of this company, the entry-level employee will be perceived as senior to me simply by inheritance of the title. All other departments are headed by a “coordinator” mid-career, and they are my equivalent across departments. The new employee is a graduate with incredibly limited admin experience, and their role is purely as an assistant. I guess what I’m asking is whether or not this is something I should bring up, especially as I’m only three weeks in. I don’t want to appear title-obsessed, but I am worried that this junior will (on paper and to the outside world) look like my superior. What do you think?

Eh, I’d let it go. I can see why you’re thinking about this, but I do think it would come across as overly status focused. Ultimately, unless it’s getting in the way of you being able to do your job and get what you need from others, or if it’s truly causing confusion, you’re not in a strong position to argue this, especially as someone new to the company. Moreover, they hired this other person with the promise of a particular title; switching it on her now to make her sound more junior would be kind of crappy.

And I wouldn’t worry about the outside world. I don’t think anyone really sees a major difference between “specialist” and “coordinator.”

{ 281 comments… read them below }

  1. Anon1

    For OP5, don’t fret titles especially between coordinator and specialist. One isn’t automatically “better” than another unless you work in a very rigid industry. When I moved from public practice to an in house job, I went from being a senior manager to senior specialist. Base salary was flat but had much better benefits – pension and variable pay targeted as a 10% of your base.

      1. Anonymint

        Same here – I think it’s pretty standard across project management teams.

        Coordinator, Specialist, Sr. Specialist, Manager… any place I’ve worked with PM teams has always followed that same ladder.

      2. shaky bacon

        Same for us, too.

        Titles don’t really mean anything; it’s the actual job content that truly matters.

    1. Enid

      What gives me pause, though, is that the LW seems to indicate that at her company, the standard hierarchy does put a coordinator above a specialist, and it’s just in the LW’s department that for some reason the titles are being switched around. If it’s that much of an anomaly, I don’t think it’d be unreasonable for the LW to point out the possibility that this will create confusion. But it would also be okay to wait and see if it does create significant problems, and bring it up at that point.

      1. Piper

        This is what I was thinking as well. If the titles are mismatched in the company, it could cause confusion for fellow employees. I’m currently dealing with this as my title is the same as people who don’t do what I do. And while, it’s more accurate of what I do and I’m more senior than the other people, it’s a grossly misunderstood title across the company and the other people are actually the ones who are more mis-titled than me. But because of that it causes confusion and results in people going to the wrong person for information/questions when they should be coming to me and I get saddled with the wrong type of work on top of my actual work/responsibilities because of my title because people are generally confused.

        Fortunately, my manager is working on a title change that will solve that issue and give me more credibility both within the company and to clients (with whom I have to interface as part of my job).

        1. Julie

          …saddled with the wrong type of work on top of my actual work/responsibilities because of my title because people are generally confused.

          Can’t you print them in the right direction instead of doing work that’s not part of your job?

            1. Sidney

              I laughed at this. Just imagine someone coming over to your desk asking you to do the wrong work. Then, instead of answering, you just print a sign off and hold it up: “Correct Person –>”

          1. Piper

            Not really…since it’s an SVP who seems to be the one who is confused. It’s not really a person I can say no to until the title situation is fixed.

      2. Sidney

        I actually interpreted it that Specialist is parallel to Coordinator, not above or below it.

    2. CTO

      As a person applying for a lot of “coordinator” type positions right now, I agree. Jobs with the titles of “coordinator” and “specialist” vary really, really widely in terms of experience and seniority. In fact, I just interviewed recently for a Specialist position on a team, didn’t get it, and am about to interview for a Coordinator position on the same team. The Coordinator position requires more experience than the Specialist position.

    3. Camellia

      In this case I must disagree. I think titles are very important in the business world.

      On resumes and when job hunting, titles can be critical. In my field of IT, examples of standard titles are Business Analyst (BA) and Business Systems Analyst (BSA). The job responsibilities can sometimes appear to be similar but the focus is different – a BA works on the business side and a BSA works on the IT side. One company where I worked didn’t use the full title of BSA, instead shortening it to Systems Analyst. So that is the title I have on my resume for that job. I have had recruiters beg me to change that title on my resume to Business Systems Analyst, insisting that a particular hiring manager is a stickler about titles and will reject me as a candidate because of it. I have refused in all cases, but this is just one indication of where the actual title is important.

      So even if it may not matter within her company, (although I agree with Enid’s comment above that it probably does), it may matter very much to the rest of the world.

      1. CdnAcct

        Why would you refuse to change your title on a resume? If the work you did is more commonly known as a certain job title, I thought it was fine to change it. Some companies have very general titles, some has very specific, sometimes company-specific, titles.

        1. Red Librarian

          It could be that if Camellia applies for a job under BSA and the hiring manager calls her work for a reference and finds out her actual title is SA, it could look bad for Camellia like she was fudging her resume or something.

        2. Sidney

          For example, if I were an overnight case manager and I just wrote case manager on my resume, it would be misleading. The overnight staff have fewer other staff to support/see what they’re doing, and they do less direct work with clients because the clients are sleeping.

      2. Piper

        In the case of changing your title on your resume, what I do in this situation (because I’ve had the unfortunate experience of being mis-titled for most of my career) is put my real title on the resume, then the actual title of what I really do in parenthesis and then follow up with my accomplishments, which clearly match up with the title in parenthesis and not the ridiculous mis-title from my employer.

        Example: Business Analyst (Business Systems Analyst)

  2. Anon Accountant

    “We’d need us to contact” is posted but was that supposed to be “we’d need her to contact us”?

  3. Kate

    I interviewed the other day for a job and when they asked me what caught my eye about the job listing I did mention that growing up my parents owned a company that did the same work (a specialized small industry). I hope that was okay. I wasn’t mentioning it in any way bolster my qualifications and I hope it came across like that.

    1. Elizabeth the Ginger

      I feel like there are things that are appropriate to mention in an interview that don’t belong in a cover letter. A cover letter is so many fewer words than any halfway-decent interview, for one thing! Unless you made it sound like your interest in the job was primarily because it was like what your parents did, I think you’re okay.

      1. Kate

        Thanks! The position was for an office manager so I really could work in most fields. I think they probably know that and didn’t assume I was trying for this job just because they do this type of business.

        1. JayDee

          I think that’s the type of situation where what you said was likely to be helpful. Many different types of fields need office managers, so they want to know why you have an interest in their company apart from the obvious (“I want an office manager job; your ad said you were hiring an office manager.”). They want to know there’s something there to keep you from jumping to a different job in six months if the pay is better or the hours are more flexible or whatever. That could be previous work experience (this is a teapot shop and you’ve always worked in the teapot industry) or personal background (your parents used to own a teapot shop, and while you aren’t interested in teapot sales jobs, you are familiar with the teapot industry, so an office manager job at 1, 2, 3, Teapots! would be a good fit for you). Whatever it is that says “I don’t want just any job, I want *this* job.”

          1. Kate

            Thanks, and this is how I hoped I framed it. I can be an office manager anywhere (basically) but it really is a field I have fond memories of since it was my parent’s passion for so long.

    2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

      I was pushed over the edge to choose a candidate for a marketing position because of her mother’s long term, and very interesting, job doing contract merchandising in store for major brands.

      The job wasn’t on the candidates resume but she’d spent summers helping her mother out and could discuss the whys and wherefores of choices and logistics intelligently.

      We were about 25 minutes into the interview when the subject of her mother’s business came up. I said, “Why did you bury the lead?”

      I agree that it didn’t belong either on the resume or the cover letter but I most assuredly wanted to hear about it. This reminded me that I need to remember to ask the routine question, “Is there anything else you want me to know about you?” to give a candidate chance for something misc that doesn’t come up in conversation. I can see how there isn’t necessarily a natural spot to bring that up, but it mattered. Basically an unpaid, uncredited internship.

      1. Dan

        You know, it’s funny. During my last go on the job hunt, the company I was applying to (for an analytics role) was a company that had been a major client of mine for the three years that I was in a completely different job. I knew enough about the company where I could speak intelligently about their operations and some of their business problems.

        I tried and tried and tried to work that into conversation. I was up front about it, and tried to work my knowledge into some of my answers to their general questions. But I just couldn’t get any traction with it.

        They just weren’t interested in how my experience set me apart from the herd and made me a stronger candidate.

  4. Brett

    #1 Is there an age at which some of these rules change? I’ve had a few workplaces with numerous 14 year olds working, and worked in a couple of states where 12 year old employees were allowed in non-family businesses. We actually had a powerful state senator here making a push to eliminate all child labor restrictions in our state (not only defaulting to federal law, but eliminating all state level enforcement of those laws and record keeping requirements).

    So, if you do have a workplace with 12-18 year olds in it, is there an age or other point at which you do let the parent intervene on some of these matters?

    1. MR

      I think it depends on the situation. Part of a job responsibility is calling in sick yourself and not having a parent do it for you, unless you are in the hospital or something like that. If you are 12 or 14, it may not be unreasonable for the parent to have a discussion with the manager about why a kid that age was fired, but if you get fired at 12 or 14, then there are likely other issues that need to be addressed as well.

      1. Andrew M. Farrell

        I’m curious too. 12-year-old-me would have *loved* to have been able to get a job then.

        1. Chinook

          12 year-old me did have a job – I was a babysitter one summer for a working mon (for $10/day in the ’80’s, which even then was way below minimum wage but par for babysitters). I had Red Cross babysitter training and first aid and lived in a place where kids working was not unheard of for things like paper delivery, babysitting and yard work. I didn’t get a “real job” (one that has tax deductinos on the pay cheque) until 15 at a fast food reastaruant and, at 16, I was hired as a weekend receptionist and summer relief at a car dealership owned by family friends. I think small towns just roll differently.

          1. Melissa

            Now that I think about it, I lived in a small town where 12 to 14-year-olds did that kind of work, too. My sister earned money babysitting starting around age 12, and my brother would do anything people would pay him to do – largely yard work, shoveling snow in the winter, mowing lawns in the summer and raking leaves in the fall. He also did some basic handywork around the neighborhood at that age. He was really industrious, lol.

            1. Research Assistant

              My neighbors had a dog-boarding business and I started working for them to help walking dogs the month before I turned 11. I did it until I started high school when my dad made me quit to spend more time on school. The pay was next-to-nothing, but it added up and the work was fun.

            2. doreen

              It’s not only small towns- I grew up in NYC and until a few years ago, kids still delivered newspapers and circulars (you can get working papers for that at 12) and when my son was in Little League, they hired some of the players over 12 to umpire the younger kids’ games.

      2. Mints

        Yeah I’m surprised too. What are the 12 year olds doing? I trust most 12 year olds about as far as I can throw them
        Farm work maybe? Bussing tables?
        I’m surprised I was even allowed to babysit at 14

      3. ThursdaysGeek

        My older siblings were farm laborers when they were kids, probably 11 to about 15 years old. I was too young, so I was allowed to play at home while my father and 3 siblings picked beans, and probably other crops.

    2. Evan

      Personally, I think the situation is completely different if you are dealing with a minor.

      I am not sure I would share with a parent a termination reason unless legally obligated to do so but I certainly would not be concerned about a parent calling in sick for a 14 year old.

      Where I am seeing this most often is with recent college graduates. Parents trying to schedule interviews or cancel them.

      1. Sally

        In Nebraska you aren’t considered an adult until age 19. I feel if you’re responsible enough to hold down a job you should be required to call in sick yourself. This includes babysitting and paper routes. Parents these day coddle their children too much.

        1. Anon1234

          Children and children first, not employees- parents are their guardians not managers so they are due to know why the child was fired etc.

          1. money lady

            Life lesson-I am going to guess that in most instances the kid would know why they were fired.

          2. Colette

            Why?

            Parents are entitled to know that their child is working in a safe situation, but if the child is fired, that’s on the child.

          3. Lily in NYC

            No they aren’t. When I was a lifeguard in HS, my 15-year old coworker was fired for stealing all of the money from parking fees but never told his parents the reason. His parents called multiple times trying to get the scoop on what happened and the county (it was a county job) cited privacy concerns and were adamant that they were not going to give in.

            1. Del

              I dunno, not telling parents that their minor child committed a crime seems a little over the top where privacy is concerned.

              1. Colette

                Here’s the thing. Growing up is a process, not a switch. Ideally, children become progressively more independent and responsible for their own choices.

                If the child is not mature enough to handle that responsibility, the child shouldn’t be working – especially in a lifeguard position where they are literally responsible for other people’s lives.

                It’s not reasonable to expect that a parent will be involved in the work life of someone who is 17 years and 364 days, but that 2 days later they will have no involvement.

                As well, some teenagers become financially & legally independent before the age of 18, while others don’t, but deal with parents who are negligent/over-involved/controlling/abusive.

                If the child wants help or support (from parents who are able to provide it), they can ask – but that’s not something the employer should manage or facilitate.

          4. Ask a Manager Post author

            There’s no law that I know of that says parents are entitled to know why their minor child was fired. And a parent might hold that view, but nothing obligates the employer to see it that way.

            1. Brett

              Before I posted the question, I actually tried to locate a copy of the form that the parent and employer sign for a child under 16 to work. Could not find out for the states I looked for. To get one, the potential employee must pick it up in person from their location education agency with proof of age. But it was interesting to find out that in a couple of states formal employment contracts are _required_ for employees under age 18.

              Maybe spelling out the rights and obligations of the parent are part of those contracts and why they are required?

          5. Who are you??

            I was fired from a babysitting job when I was 12. Totally deserved it too…I told the little girl I was babysitting the entire plot with graphic detail of the movie The Exorcist. Her mom told me that they weren’t happy with my performance. I was upset but I didn’t divulge the reason I was fired to my mom until I was well into my 20’s. She always thought I quit because the little girl was bratty (which was why I told her the plot, LOL! I was a pretty mean kid!).

            1. hildi

              Don’t feel bad – I babysat one time for a family down the street and the mother never came home one night. So I was a 7th grader staying with these kids and I couldn’t get them to chill out (rightfully so – now as an adult I can realize there was probably a whole of wrong happening in that house). Anyway, out of frustration and immature stupidity I told the little girl that Barney (then was all the rage) was going to die if she didn’t go to sleep. That tactic didn’t work as well as I had thought. :)

              And the adult-me now feels so heartbroken for that little girl. Poor baby’s mom didn’t care enough to come home and then she had a rotten babysitter hating on her beloved Barney.

      2. Ellie H.

        Unfortunately I think one of my parents did call my work to say I was sick once when I had the stomach flu. I was 18 (right after high school so I was living with my parents). It was a pretty family-oriented local business where we all knew the family members of the other employees (very well in some cases) so it didn’t really jump out at me at the time but it does strike me as embarrassing now!

        1. Biff

          I really don’t think so. I’ve been completely out of it with the stomach flu and someone called in for me. I’ve also asked my spouse to call me in when I was sick with the flu and getting up seemed completely insurmountable. I think it’s a bigger problem if it happens a lot, or shows a lack of self-direction.

          1. Who are you??

            Absolutely! I had a case of mono when I was 19 and there’s a week of my life that I have no memory of. I was completely bedridden, feverish, and in no way capable of even picking up the phone, nevermind the dialing and talking that would’ve needed to have taken place to call myself out for my shift. My mother did that for me. It was the only time I’ve ever had someone call me out.

            I used to manage a retail shop and one teen employee would routinely try to have someone call him out: a parent, a teacher, a coach…every three of four weeks. My response to the person calling was “unless he’s in a hospital bed and incapable of speech right now, he’s going to need to call himself in.” He’d then call in ten minutes later, put out at the fact that he had to do it himself. Can you guess what he was fired for? ;)

        2. Bend & Snap

          I had my husband call in for me once when I had pneumonia and was too sick to talk or email. It’s okay when you’re really,really sick I think.

          1. Jen in Austin

            I had my husband call in for me once when I had pneumonia and was too sick to talk or email.

            Bring the phone into the bathroom while the sick employee is puking…. and hope the boss is an emetophobe. :D

          2. Winnie

            I managed a coffee shop with many 16 year old employees. Once I had to terminate one of them for chronic absenteeism and his father demanded to meet with me and discuss it “because he’s a minor.” Not knowing better, I did. He implied I terminated the boy because I was anti-Semitic. I found out later from our corporate HR department that the employment contract was between the company and the young man and even though a minor, I was not obligated to meet with any parent.

            The 16 year olds had no problem calling in sick or “sick” for themselves or just not showing up for any reason. Oh, so thankful to not be running a minimum-wage business in an extremely affluent suburb with no public transportation … so 16 year olds are the just about the only people who want to work there. Most of them were fine workers, though.

      3. Anne

        But even as a high-school aged teenager, most schools require a parent or guardian or other authorized adult to contact the school if the student is going to be off sick, in late, or leaving early. I could easily see some parents carrying this over to a teenager’s workplace, perhaps even doing so in an attempt to err on the side of caution (“Since the school requires it, Robby’s supervisor at the car wash might too”).

    3. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

      There’s good judgement exceptions. My husband had to drive up to the fast food restaurant where Son #1 works to tell them he was very sick and wouldn’t be in for his shift. Nobody was answering the phone and we wanted them to have notice a couple of hours before the shift started so they could call in a replacement if needed.

      Generally, parents of minors or very young adults have a responsibility to make sure that their kids aren’t being taken advantage of. One of those knife scams tried to ensnare one of our kids and we were on it like white on rice – but within the home, not yelling at the scam people and finger wagging. (Which you know I *wanted* to do.:p)

      1. R the Manager

        Oh good old Cutco….I threw the teenage version of a tantrum when my folks wouldn’t let me go to the “interview” I was invited to.

        [Literally, every member of my graduating high school class received a letter inviting them to schedule an interview.]

        1. Red Librarian

          LOL my parents still use the Cutco knives they bought from a friend of mine shortly after we graduated college.

          1. Kobayashi

            Yep, great knives :) I have a small collection. Dangerous, but good. Almost sliced off the tip of my finger once and didn’t even feel the initial slice.

        2. Ask a Manager Post author

          The 18-year-old me went to the first day of one of those knife companies’ training, became convinced it was an outrageous scam, and returned the next day with a hidden tape recorder, certain that I was going to figure out a way to blow the lid off the whole thing. I secretly tape recorded the whole day, but then couldn’t figure out what to do with my recording and just never returned (still harboring vague schemes of some sort of exposure).

          I really loved (my own ideas of) vigilante justice at the time. I still kind of do.

          1. Jamie

            You’re so awesome.

            My eldest got hoodwinked into agreeing to an interview just out of high school. As I was helping him prepare by advising him to google the company and do some homework his spidey sense went off and asked me to take a look.

            I hadn’t heard of them before – but yeah – cancelled the interview and they kept calling like crazy. At least we knew who they were by the time kids 2 and 3 graduated so they just shut them out immediately.

            I don’t know how those people sleep nights.

          2. Snork Maiden

            I’m so glad you channeled your thirst for vigilante justice into a management blog!

          3. holly

            haha, i went to one and my face must have screamed “i’m not buying into this” because the presenter took me aside and said this didn’t seem like the job for me. so relieved cuz i wasn’t sure how to gracefully get out of there. this was when i was 21-22. me-now would just leave.

            1. Rana

              Heh. I went to one too, and within 10 minutes was pretty certain this wasn’t going to work for me – when they said we had to pay for our own demo knife sets, pretty certain shifted to absolutely certain.

              The disturbing thing was that I was in a group interview/sales pitch with about 20 other people, and only two of us opted out at the end (and not without some pressuring by the sales guy to get us to stay). The other guy was an older man who was clearly desperate for work, and he was practically in tears because the reason he was opting out was because he couldn’t afford the demo set.

              Great knives, horrible business model.

      2. cuppa

        My mom called in for me at my high school job once. I had a bad migraine and called in myself, but my manager told me I needed a doctor’s note or I had to come in. I’m pretty sure he thought I was faking, even though I hadn’t called in before. My mom called in for me to prove that I wasn’t faking and ask that I could come back to work the next day without a doctor’s note.

        1. Juli G.

          I had the same thing except 102 degree fever and vomiting. My mom called and said, “Not sure she should be scooping ice cream.”

    4. Chloe Silverado

      It’s more understandable that parents may be more involved with a very young employee (12 is very, very young), but I still don’t think it’s necessary. I was a regular babysitter for a few different families at 13 and started working part time jobs at 16. I handled everything myself – applying, scheduling/calling out and resigning. I definitely asked my parents for advice, but I think being responsible for my own employment as a teen had a direct impact on me becoming a conscientious and responsible adult employee.

    5. Foxtrot

      I feel like a little leeway and a a gentle conversation is necessary if they’re close to high school age. Most high schools require parents call in absences as a way to fight truancy. I don’t see why kids wouldn’t assume this is the norm until told otherwise.

      1. Biff

        You know what’s really awkward — my high school required a note from my mother even after I was 18 (due to complications of moving districts, I was 18 my senior year.)

        I appreciate you recognizing that this could be seen as normal. Thank you.

        1. Kimberlee, Esq.

          Once I was 18, I had to give the school a note from my parents indicating that I was allowed to call in my own absences from there on out (I turned 18 at the beginning of my senior year). I was practically drunk with power. But it still seems weird that I needed the note at all… at 18, the legal power dynamic completely changes!

          1. Ask a Manager Post author

            At my school, it was an automatic switch once you turned 18; you could henceforth write your own notes. I had a glorious month and a half between turning 18 and graduating where I’d sit in class, decide I was bored, very ostentatiously tear a sheet of paper out of my notebook, scribble “I am excused from class,” hand it to the teacher, and walk out.

            1. C Average

              Now, what would be awesome would be if you could apply THIS technique to the unwanted meetings you describe in today’s other post.

            2. Bea W

              It was supposed to work that way where I lived, but the school didn’t get it. I went back to high school at 18 to try to finish, and not being recognized as being legally able to handle my own affairs was really frustrating. All paperwork and such went straight in the mail to my father, and he was only home to park his car to take the train into work in the morning and then pick it up in the evening. I tried signing things they handed straight to me at school, and they’d argue with me about it.

              I don’t think I even made it past the first week. One day between classes walked down the street, signed up for the next GED exam, came back, walked into the office, and withdrew. Apparently it was okay for me to do that on my own.

            3. Melissa

              Oh man, that is fantastic. I didn’t turn 18 until the summer after I graduated, and the school would call home every time I skipped a class, which was fairly often in my senior year (I was terribly bored and dating a college-aged boyfriend, lol).

          2. AnonAnalyst

            My school had that too and I also thought it was bizarre. My parents thought it was ridiculous but sent in the note. I turned 18 about halfway through my senior year so I only ended up writing my own notes a couple of times, but I remember that every time I did, whoever I had to turn the note into at the front office gave me a dirty look like I was somehow skirting the rules. I mean, really? They should have been happy I kept showing up at all at that point since I wasn’t learning anything!

        2. Chinook

          “You know what’s really awkward — my high school required a note from my mother even after I was 18 (due to complications of moving districts, I was 18 my senior year.)”

          In my first calssroom, I had a really awkward conversations with a grade 12 student who was absent the day of a scheduled test. I told him I needed a note from a parent/guardian to excuse him. He said he no longer lived at home and showed me his driver’s licence to prove his age (19 – 18 is adult in Alberta). My 23 y.o. self then lectured him about calling the school so we knew he wasn’t dead in a ditch somehwere when he doesn’t show up and mentally rethought ever going to the local bar because I had not clue how many of my students could be there.

      2. Payroll Lady

        Our school district still requires a parent to call an 18 yo student out, or to send a note if they need to leave early. My daughter had a very strange schedule her senior year, however I constantly got calls since the school couldn’t remember when she was suppose to be there. ( yes scary I know) Most of the year, I would say, she is 18, you want her to act like an adult, so treat her like one and TALK TO HER!!!!!!

    6. Elysian

      WOW. Now I want to know more about this proposed law – I thought that federal law was 14 for most types of work. 12 – I can’t even imagine doing ‘real’ work when I was 12.

      1. Youth Services Librarian

        I started working when I was 12 – it wasn’t THAT long ago and I don’t know what the laws in TX are/were, but even I thought it was ridiculous that they left me in charge of up to twelve kids, at least one of them with special needs, with no adult present!

        All my aides are pretty much high school students and I usually know their parents – small town library – but I’ve only twice had any contact about the employees with them. Once when a parent called them in sick (and they were in the hospital) and once an applicant’s parent came in to ask me about how to prep her child for the interview/more info about the job. But that one I passed b/c the applicant was younger than usual – just going into high school – and heavily involved in after school sports. I didn’t end up hiring them at the time (a few years ago) but I actually just called them back and hired them this week!

      2. Jamie

        I had a summer thing when I was about 12 which was called Safety Town. It was volunteer, but not showing up for your class was a big deal so had to call if sick. Pretty sure my mom would have made me call myself in, unless I was unable to speak.

        Old enough to do X, old enough to be responsible…yada yada.

        Anyone remember Safety Town? It was held at a school and they painted the blacktop with little roads like a town and we’d teach pre-schoolers the rules about crossing a street, and little play cars where we taught them about seat belts? It was really cute – lots of us pre-teen girls to work one on one with the kids but obviously there were actual adults there running the class.

        1. LeighTX

          I remember going to one of these! I was probably about 4–it’s actually one of my earliest memories–and I thought it was just about the coolest thing ever.

      3. Brett

        The bill was Missouri SB 222 back in 2011. The same senator was also responsible for our infamous Facebook Law (which, unlike the child labor law, was actually passed).
        http://www.senate.mo.gov/11info/BTS_Web/Bill.aspx?BillID=4124271&SessionType=R
        The key parts of the bill, from the summary, were:
        “It also removes the authority of the director of the Division of Labor Standards to inspect employers who employ children and to require them to keep certain records for children they employ. It also repeals the presumption that the presence of a child in a workplace is evidence of employment.”

        Because of that proposal, Missouri residents found out really quick that federal minimum is 12. Agriculture minimum is 12 in a lot of states, especially for corn detasseling (which is pretty hard work). Illinois actually allows detasselers as young as 10.

    7. Cajun2Core

      I have had co-workers spouses call my co-workers in sick because they spent literally (and I mean this in the literal sense) the last 6 hours in the bathroom and they had finally fallen asleep and the spouse was not going to wake them just to have them call into work. If a young adult that still lives with his/her parents is in the same situation, I see no reason why the parent can’t call the child in sick, even if it is a professional full time job. Of course, this should be the exception and not the rule.

      1. Andy

        I totally agree. There have been situations (friends, husband) where waking them up was just cruel. Frankly, the next call was to the doctor and I was going to make that one as well. We’re adults, but sometimes even the most professional among us have weakness and sickness hit us where it hurts.

    8. Melissa

      If a 12-year-old is mature enough to work in a non-family business, then they should be mature enough to call in sick or figure out why they were fired, yes?

      Also, holy cow, are legislators not required to take U.S. history or something? There’s a *reason* we have child labor laws.

  5. meetoo

    #5
    Don’t worry coordinator is the new word for admin. Generally coordinator is an entry level or administratively focused position. For example where I work the executive assistants are senior coordinators. Job title convention changes like fashion. Secretary became administrative assistant which became coordinator.

    This is why they changed the title for you it would not have reflected what you were actually doing and why you were unintentionally over qualified for the position you applied for.

    1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

      I’m out of the world of titles. I never know what any of them mean except there’s an awful lot of vice-presidents in the world…but “specialist” sounds higher than “coordinator” to me.

      1. Jen RO

        On the other hand, I’ve seen tons of “specialists” in IT companies that do entry-level work (support, etc). This is confusing as hell!

        1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

          We’re bad.

          Don’t tell Alison but, we don’t have titles. We let people make up their own titles. This is a true story.

          Now shhhhhhhhhh. Alison will yell at me.

            1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

              You could absolutely have that!

              Although we would make fun of you behind your back because we don’t cotton to fancy folks. :p

              1. Persephone Mulberry

                An acquaintance of mine works for a company with a similar policy; her official title is Aspiring Super Hero.

              2. LQ

                I would want my title to be someone else’s name.

                “When you worked at Teapots you were a Jennifer? What duties did that entail?”

                1. College Career Counselor

                  I know of someone who was an office manager with a great deal of client/public facing activity who had “Director of First Impressions” on her name plate. She was absolutely awesome at it, too.

                2. ZSD

                  I think that happens a lot anyway. At my last job, I was “the new Kevin” for several months.

              3. LJL

                I worked with a man who could choose his own title at a former position. He chose “Wizard.”

                1. Mrs. Psmith

                  EvilHR Lady wrote about this once: the CEO of Big Ass Fans has business cards where his title is “Chief Big Ass.”

          1. Audiophile

            Ok seriously, coolest company ever!

            I could learn to love the teapot industry and I promise I will pronounce your name correctly.

            1. Audiophile

              @College Career Counselor

              My role was just retitled as ‘director of first impressions’.

            2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

              Ha!

              Nobody picks avant garde titles though, it’s all practical.

              I don’t have a title, just my name. Internally people are known as “fred the seo guy” or “janet in marketing” and what they print on their business cards or sign their emails with, we don’t really pay attention to.

              We haven’t run into any negatives. The positive is that there has never one time been any squabble over or disappointment related to titles. Weirdly, we’ve never had an issue with someone grabbing an inflated title like a new person making themselves a vice president.

              A possible negative might be confirming titles on reference checks, since we don’t keep track of what titles people are using. That hasn’t happened but AAM has made me mindful that that might be an issue. Last thing I want to do is screw up somebody’s reference check so I’m going to look into that further with HR shortly.

              1. Audiophile

                In my case, it’s internal only, and certainly not something I would put on my resume or mention in an interview.
                They sent out a quick internal, department-only, email about the title change and having team members use it. I don’t think anyone will, which is fine with me.

          2. CAA

            I’m working on a project for a US Government agency that has us submitting materials to their “Jedi Team”, so I’m pretty sure you’re not the only ones making up your own titles.

          3. danr

            I would have loved your place. At one time I did so many different things that friends called Lord High Everything Else. But my real title had the word ‘specialist’ in it. Which is close. [grin]

          4. Tris Prior

            My company does this. Honestly, I picked a corporate title because I couldn’t think of anything creative like my co-workers did, and I was afraid having a weird title would hurt me in job hunts later. I know; I’m no fun!

            1. Leah

              As much as corporate titles can vary widely from company to company, even within an industry, if someone had “Chief Awesome Officer” on their resume, I would be skeptical they were hiding a low level of responsobility.

          5. Ask a Manager Post author

            I have no issue with you not having titles, as long as people have clear descriptions of their roles and their goals. As long as you do that, you can each title yourself after a Greek god for all I care.

            1. Chinook

              I call Hades! (which is where I will also send you if you don’t hand in your paperwork).

            2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

              Whew.

              FWIW, I’ve given a lot more thought to our structure since participating in AAM and we’re doing some things to help people be more portable.

              I’ve almost literally grown up in this casual structure and didn’t understand how important titles can be in the sort of, I don’t know, currency of job hunting. So, I’m more mindful that even though our culture doesn’t care, there are actual reasons to be thoughtful.

            3. Wren

              My actual job title was one Universal Agent. It made me want to wear a black leather catsuit to work.

          6. ThursdaysGeek

            I worked at a place where I was the team lead supporting a software system called SAMS. I was the SAMS Guru, and the two women working with me were the SAMS Gurettes. I think we even had business cards with those titles.

    2. The IT Manager

      Except for AAM, I have never heard of a coordinator as a job title. Why not call a job an admin if that it what they do? I’d assume a coordinators job was fairly low-level though.

      It kind of sounds like a liaison, but to me that implies that this person is in position to speak for their organization where a coordinator is not.

      TL;DR: Coordinator is not a universally understood title and unless it is very specifically defined in your industry, don’t worry about it.

      1. Judy

        In my engineering world, a coordinator is a tech (or maybe admin) who does things like parts gathering and prepping for engineering bulds, pre-pilot, pilot runs, etc. Basically gathering the materials needed for a build that is not handled by the normal production systems.

        So gathering (and keeping track of) 10 pieces of X, Y & Z based on the bills of material created by the engineers, where X, Y & Z are the changed parts from our current production.

      2. Melissa

        In my field (academia/research) a coordinator is an administrative/research hybrid. A research coordinator usually coordinates administrative aspects of the research process – helping to write grants, liaising with our office of sponsored research, coordinating meetings, helping professors and researchers in the lab with scheduling, scheduling lab space and experiments/participants, procuring materials and tools, etc. But they also participate in the research process – they sometimes collect data or run experiments themselves and often write papers or give presentations for scientific conferences. It’s a fairly “low-level” job wrt the university’s structure, but basically the lab would fall apart without them.

      3. Sidney

        There’s only one Coordinator at my office, and that person’s job is like a liaison with local community groups: conducting trainings, gathering data, attending meetings. The community groups affect our business and work with our clients, but aren’t our employees, so the Coordinator tries to maintain consistency and keep communication open.

    3. Chloe Silverado

      In my experience, coordinator and specialist are titles that are pretty frequently used in Marketing and PR. Which one is higher on the totem pole really depends on the company. Many of my friends work at a Fortune 500 where “specialist” is another word for admin, but I also have friends who are mid-level individual contributors who are Social Media, PR or Digital Marketing Specialists. My title is “coordinator” but my job role is essentially project management – we have 3 administrative assistants in my department who hold that title and perform that function. It really varies.

    4. Emily, admin extraordinaire

      At one of my previous jobs, I was the Training Coordinator, which was the more entry-level position, and the guy above me was the Training Specialist. On the other hand, where I work now, all the lower titles are specialists (in order of hierarchy, it goes Office Specialist, Program Specialist, Education Specialist) and the highest title is Education Coordinator. So it definitely works both ways.

      1. Mimmy

        This is why it is important to read the entire job announcement so that there is no misunderstanding as to where on the hierarchy a given job falls. I usually try to put words like “assistant”, coordinator” and “specialist” on the same wavelength in my mind until I read the full job announcement.

    5. Programmer 01

      My current job title is “Assassin”. All my emails are addressed as such. “Hello Assassins…”

      I work for a really weird company sometimes.

    1. UK Anon

      Not just parents! My partner recently found out that his current employer used to ring his mum up to ask if he’d work for them when he finished his degree. We found that quite weird.

      1. Chinook

        UK Anon, I don’t see it as weird for a potential employer to call up a parent to see if their recent graduate would be interested in applying, but i am from a small town and got every job I ever had there that way. My parent would then pass the info on to me and then be hands off. In a small town, that is called networking!

        As for calling in sick, if this is a first job for the oldest, I can definitely see this being an honest mistake because it is what is required by schools. Allison’s wording is the perfect wording to correct the behaviour but I wouldn’t expect the worker to immediately call back because the notice has been given (and if they are sleeping due to illness, a teen could be even less coherent if woken up and handed the phone).

        1. Tina

          It’s not common for a potential employer to call someone’s parents. First, how do they know who the parent is and how did they get their contact information? That’s just creepy. Second, why wouldn’t they contact the candidate instead of the parent? That could be seen as manipulative.

          A related conversation came up here a few months ago, in response to that Pepsi (or was it Coke? I don’t remember) conversation about the administration contacting families. Many people said it would turn them off from that employer, because they’re adults and the company should be interacting with them directly, not their parents.

          1. fposte

            I think in a small town family structures can often predominate until the younger generation is well established in adulthood. So the way that your parents’ friend might have asked them if you babysit at 12 eases into asking them if you handle bookkeeping at 22.

          2. Leah

            If the employer already has a contact with the parent, it’s not so weird but anything else would have me running for the hills.

          3. Judy

            At least when I was in college (before cell phones and much use of email), you listed a “Campus Address” and a “Permanent Address”. If that is still done, that’s how they got the parents information.

            I got several calls within 6 months of graduation at my parents phone asking if I was still looking for a job, I had talked to them at a job fair on campus and now their hiring freezes had been removed. Mom told them I had a job at graduation.

    2. Lora

      A couple of times when I was still married and either in the hospital or on the way to the hospital, Spouse did call my boss to tell them I wouldn’t be in. And one of those times, the boss did indeed irritably demand to speak to me and yelled at him that I should call in myself, until the nurse grabbed the phone and said I was unable to speak due to the hospital not allowing cell phones in the ER.

      Embarrassingly, now that I’m divorced and my elderly mother moved in with me as she is no longer capable of living alone, she probably would be the person calling my boss if I was in the hospital and couldn’t call myself…

  6. Evan

    #2: Interviewers often ask questions because they want to hear how you answer. We understand that a lot of the information is on your resume and YES we read it before we asked you to come in for an interview.

    That being said, as a frequent interviewer I often start with a fairly broad question about your background because I am interested in what parts of your background you choose to highlight or how you choose to describe it. You shouldn’t worry about the overlap with what is on your resume.

    Please don’t say something like “Have you read my resume? That information is all there”. This usually doesn’t work out in your favor.

    1. GrumpyBoss

      If I’m interviewing someone who says something along the lines of what #2 suggests, they have pretty much eliminated themselves. At that point, I’m just going through the motions for the rest of the interview.

      I actually had someone do this a couple of months ago. It was a full day interview and I was scheduled 4 out of 6 to meet with him. When I asked him to tell me about his experience at XYZ, he sighed and said, “I’ve gone through this with 3 people now. It’s on the resume.” I was so shocked by the rudeness – who tells these people that this behavior is OK? I should have excused myself from the interview right then because I knew there was zero chance of us bringing him in.

      1. Worker Bee (Germany)

        Sometimes I wonder how little people prepare themselves in terms of hiring processes..
        Sadly I hadn’t one complaining during an interview.. That would have saved my time and money.
        But I encountered another situation via email, where I would have loved to reply in the same rude manners.
        We advertised a sales position and very lucky to fill it very quickly (on of our freelancer decided to join after seeing the add) So I send out the “thank you but we hired somebody else / better fit…” The rude answer I got was: If you already hired someone why did you post the add and stole (!) my time to apply for this postion. You could have saved all the applicants time and money.
        I just wish I could have answered in the same snarky way: Thank you for proofing that we made a great choice for not picking you, since you have no understanding of hiring and professionalism. Oh and by the way if we could have saved ourselves the expensive add, believe me would have..” Oh and this was NOT a young professional he was a manager himself before…
        Instead I let it go…

        1. chewbecca

          We once interviewed a guy who apparently thought an interview guaranteed him the position. When he was notified that he didn’t get the job, he was LIVID. He called the woman who interviewed him, our HR manager and me (the receptionist) multiple times ranting about how we wasted his time and it was rude to ask someone in to interview and then not give him the job. I also think he accused us of misleading him.

          It got bad enough that my boss pulled me from the front desk because we were worried he might come in and start something in person. Luckily he didn’t, but I was grateful that my boss took the precaution.

          1. nyxalinth

            I have had a few times where I felt like my time was wasted (most recently was taking a 70 minute bus ride for an in person interview that lasted 5 minutes with questions that could have been handled in a phone screen) but i would never do this! I know the world is harsh and times are stressful but what are people thinking when they do this sort of thing? “Oh gee, sir, you have sufficiently quailed us into giving you the job! We’ll notify the one we did hire that you scared us into submission and they can’t have the job anymore right away!”?

          2. OP #2

            “We once interviewed a guy who apparently thought an interview guaranteed him the position.”

            That’s insane. Did he actually get every single job he’s ever interviewed for before now or something? Sorry you had to deal with him. :\

            I always just think of interviews as being practice since I realize getting an interview doesn’t mean much in terms of actually getting the job. :]

      2. Rat Racer

        I never would have had the guts to do this real time, but that would have been a great segue to say “Well, I guess if everything you want me to know is on your resume, then we can save each other some time and conclude this interview.”

        In real time, I would have been too shocked and taken aback to do anything but continue awkwardly, however.

        1. GrumpyBoss

          And that’s exactly how it went down. Then I spend the rest of my life playing coulda woulda shoulda with zingers I came up with after the fact.

      3. Red Librarian

        Seriously? Did he not understand the purpose of an interview? I can’t imagine saying that to someone I’m trying to convince to hire me.

      4. Rachel - HR

        The candidate was out of line with their response, but you should seriously look at your hiring practices if you’re having 6 people meet separately with each candidate and they’re all asking the same questions. I can certainly see why the candidate was frustrated.

        1. LBK

          Gotta say, I agree – 6 interviews in a row, all with people asking me the same questions? I would be pretty annoyed myself as a candidate. Why can’t you all sit in the same room and we’ll just do this once? Honestly, I’d self-select out of that company if that’s a sign that I’m also going to have to repeat everything I do at work 6 times for 6 different people.

        2. Mints

          I’m not sure I agree. I’ve had interviews of a couple different people separately (not 6 tho) and the well organized ones will have each person focus on different things, like one nitty gritty admin, one behavioral about tough situations, etc. But they’ll often start out with similar general questions (tell me about your last role)

          And even if they’re not well organized, they’re definitely checking if you get along with everyone

          1. LBK

            All in a row, though? Multiple interview rounds where you get asked similar questions is normal to me, but not all on the same day so you’re literally repeating yourself once an hour.

            1. Mints

              Yeah, like two or three back to back. The good ones would focus on different things, though, so I might repeat myself a little, but the interviews didn’t feel like exactly the same over and over. Six does seem like it wouldn’t work as well though

    2. Graciosa

      I am kind of surprised that candidates are not understanding that this is an opportunity. An OPPORTUNITY!

      Like others, I start interviews with kind of a softball question (for prepared candidates) along the lines of tell me a bit about your background and what interested you in this position. Successful candidates can always answer this pretty easily (it’s kind of a warm-up question), and recognize that I’m giving them a chance to show me something!

      I prefer interest and evidence of intelligence to apathy and evidence of poor manners, but I am paying attention – even though yes, I have read your resume.

      Positions in my department require the ability to communicate verbally and otherwise interact with actual human beings. The candidate benefits from demonstrating these skills in the interview. What I observe myself will be much more credible than writing “excellent communication skills” on your resume.

      1. twig

        We had someone reply to the “tell us about your background” question by pointing to his resume in front of the hiring manager and saying, “It’s all right there.” That was the beginning of the end with that candidate.

      2. OP #2

        “Positions in my department require the ability to communicate verbally and otherwise interact with actual human beings. The candidate benefits from demonstrating these skills in the interview.”

        Another interesting/helpful take on the purpose of the question. Thanks!

    3. nyxalinth

      I admit, I didn’t understand the reasoning for this but even if I thought it, I would never say those words! I usually just assumed they were wanting to see if I added in extra details, or maybe they themselves hadn’t had time to do more than skim it.

    4. OP #2

      “Interviewers often ask questions because they want to hear how you answer…interested in what parts of your background you choose to highlight or how you choose to describe it.”

      Thank you for explaining that. And now that you’ve pointed it out, it definitely makes sense and I can imagine how what someone chose to highlight and how they described it would say a lot about them as a person/candidate. I will keep this in mind when asked to describe the jobs listed on my resume in the future!

  7. kas

    #1. Pfft, if I asked my parents to call in sick for me or find out why I was fired, they’d look at me like I was crazy. How do people think this is okay? I’d be extremely embarrassed if I found out a parent called my employer.

    #5. I tend to think a specialist is more experienced than a coordinator but based on the job postings I’ve been seeing lately, it’s the opposite. I see specialist roles asking for anywhere from 0-4 years experience and coordinator roles asking for 5+ years.

    1. Artemesia

      A common complaint of young wives in the MIL groups is that the husband’s ‘Mommy’ still makes all their appointments and such. This is where that sort of thing leads.

  8. E.T.

    #1
    I never had my parents call in sick for me, but my husband called in sick for me before. One time it was because I had strep throat, had a fever and could barely talk. The other time I had food poisoning and was huddled miserably in the bathroom.

    Based on my experiences, I think it’s case by case. I can see some instances where an employee wouldn’t be hospitalized but a parent (if the employee lives with parents) may call in sick for the employee.

    However, in my cases, I’ve always called the office as soon as I started feeling better, just to let them know if I would return to work the next day or if I needed to stay home longer. So, my opinion is that I’m okay with parents calling in sick for the employee, as long as the employee follow up with the office later when they are on the mend.

    1. Jessa

      Exactly. But that’s a different circumstance. I have voice problems and I’ve been known to have my husband call in. Sometimes I’ll dial and rasp out – talk to Him. And he’ll give details. Or if I can’t breathe. But that’s not the same as what’s happening with the OP. I bet when you’re NOT too sick/ill to call, you make the call yourself, like I did.

    2. UK Anon

      Exactly. I think that it’s ok to have someone call/email for you in the first instance when you are feeling awful/can’t do it for some other reason, but you should also do the follow up, or at least acknowledge it when you get into the office (if you’re only running an hour late say).

      Being fired on the other hand… I guess it depends. Because it’s young employees, they could be genuinely concerned about something that’s gone on (although this will be a very small number of cases – and depends on age) so again I think that there could be a strictly defined set of circumstances where this is ok.

    3. BritCred

      The only time I have had someone else call is when I can’t – panic, loss of voice or actively out at the hospital/doctors. But then I usually follow up with a call later.

      I have on many occasions *emailed* into work due to depression or odd hours – say I’m awake at 2am and know I’ll be asleep during the official call in period.

      A friend had severe depression and part of that was a lack of ability to put sentances together. He emailed in one time and got a raft of abuse from the boss insisting he had to call in at a certain time. HR hauled the boss over the coals for it since his condition and effects were well documented.

      1. Case of the Mondays

        Interesting. I have a (subordinate) coworker leaving shortly who still hasn’t told me she is leaving. She told her immediate boss and HR but gave her official 2 weeks via email. I helped her get this job and I think she is doing herself a disservice leaving with nothing lined up but she just “can’t take it anymore.” She doesn’t have a bad boss or anything like that she just doesn’t want deadlines. I thought it was so odd she hasn’t told me that she is leaving and I haven’t brought it up to her because it seemed she didn’t want to talk about it. I wonder if this avoidance is depression/anxiety. If it were you, how would you like me to respond? I think not addressing it is making her anxious too. Maybe the best would be to email her and say “I hear you are leaving, sorry to see you go” and leave it at that.

        1. BritCred

          If there is any handover of matters that you jointly cover then I’d start with the idea of sending an email asking for a handover discussion and saying that its been very nice working with her.

          If not then an email saying “Its been nice working with you and I wish you the best in your next endeavour, do stay in touch.” wouldn’t be taken badly.

          It may be depression or guilt on her part that she hasn’t spoken to you about it – especially since you helped get her the job.

          Alternatively if you have a close enough rapport that you can get away with it how about a lunch invitation? Make the invitation as normal and her response will enable you to see if bringing it up verbally will be ok with her. Mention it at lunch and see where it goes?

    4. Nea

      Thank you, E.T., I was hoping someone would bring the voiceless up. I’ve called in for a housemate for the same reason – the person who needed to report was too ill to speak, whereas I could be asked via note to do the speaking for them. Were she living with her parents instead of me, presumably she’d ask one of her parents to do it without it being creepy parental overinvolvement.

      1. OhNo

        I’ve done this for a friend as well, except in my case it was because we had just gotten in a minor car accident and she (as the driver) was dealing with all the requisite insurance and police stuff. She just handed me her cell phone to call in. I had met her boss before, so when I called in she was really understanding about the whole mess.

        The important part of doing it though, whether you are a parent or not, is to make it clear that the only reason you are speaking for them is because they can’t at the moment. And, of course, to have the employee follow up somehow when they are able to do so.

        1. Connie-Lynne

          I think it makes a difference if the person calling in already has some kind of relationship with your manager, too. I’ve emailed for my husband before when I knew his daily meeting was at 9am and he was asleep after being sick all night.

          But I had met his manager at various company events and when I dropped by the office. Also, I cced my husband on the email. I think it just makes it more natural if you’ve met.

          1. Connie-Lynne

            (Oh, and my husband also emailed for me once when I was in ER. For obvious reasons.)

    5. Kate

      I went through a period of having my husband call work for me. I was getting severe migraines where I would vomit if I even moved and I often had blackouts. Then the doctor/clinic /hospital would give me a shot and I would be out for 12+ hours. He called twice while I was in one of these 2 stages. They also knew this stuff was happening and I doubt anyone cared who called. Also it was retail so the hours were set and no one to email.

      1. cuppa

        You can get a shot for that?
        I had a migraine like that about six months ago. I was able to e-mail from my phone, but I cut it off pretty abruptly as the effort made me so nauseous. Ugh.

      2. nyxalinth

        I get them too, thankfully not to that degree, or as frequently! So far it only gets as bad as the ‘Can’t move or it will hurt with occasional barfy episodes’. I’m sorry to hear they were so uncaring. Business is business, but it doesn’t hurt the bottom line to show some compassion.

        1. fposte

          It sounded to me not like the workplace was uncaring, just that it didn’t matter to them who informed them of Kate’s absence as long as somebody did.

    6. Lynn

      Where I work, sending an email is perfectly acceptable, as long as it’s sent before the work day starts… this pretty much eliminates most excuses not to take care of it myself. I do realize not all work places function this way…

      1. A Teacher

        Um, that might work in some places, not in either that I worked at post college. I’ve only had my mom call in for me once and that was the day after I had minor surgery on my elbow and had taken pain meds–which always make me loopy. I did follow up later in the day with my supervisor but at 7 am, I was out of it so she handled it. I can honestly say its the one and only time its happened because even with my migraines I’m able to deal with it myself.

        1. fposte

          Why the “Um”? We generally do email notifications here too, and I have colleagues in places with similar policies. It’s not that uncommon.

          1. StarHopper

            I prefer email as well. When I call, I feel like I don’t sound sick enough, and I get anxious thinking they will think I’m faking. (Plus, weird phone aversions.) With email, I am very matter-of-fact, and I can copy everyone who needs to know and attach my sub plans (another teacher here!) for the day. Convenient!

            1. VintageLydia USA

              I have a, to me, weird speaking voice. I’m like another person when I get on the phone (I attribute it to a combination of my general phone aversion/nervousness and working retail for 5 years where I NEEDED to sound professional and competent on the phone whenever a customer called no matter how I was feeling) so when I called in sick, unless I was literally about to vomit, I sounded down right chipper on the phone. I could feel absolutely awful with 100+F fever but I would still have to “fake” sounding sick to be believable.

            2. BritCred

              I also have the “can I actually make sense” issue when ill. generally if I’m too ill to work then I’m too ill to have a decent conversation. lol

          2. Leah

            +1 That has been preferred in all of my jobs since college. In a number of my jobs, people didn’t always check voicemails first thing but had to run off to meetings or court. Supervisors always had blackberries so they could check mail remotely and see my message.

            The one time I called in, I wasn’t sick but stuck on a train that had broken down on an elevated platform between stations. I left messages for multiple people because smartphones weren’t really a thing then. Why was everyone no picking up their desk phones? They were having a surprise brunch party for me that I missed entirely. womp womp!

          3. Diet Coke Addict

            Yes. Email can be sent at 6:30 am or in the middle of the night, as long as the boss knows ahead of time. I don’t think this is a particular unusual policy.

          4. Amtelope

            Yep, we do email here, too. When I’m out, I need to notify my main boss plus the project managers for the projects I’m working on, and it’s much easier to send one email to everybody than to leave a bunch of voice mails. (I’m on our earliest schedule, so my normal start time is before anybody I’d need to call is in the office to answer the phone.)

          5. A Teacher

            The um from me was because to me the poster seemed to be saying email is the universal rule, it hasn’t been in any of the places I’ve worked. Just like anything else on here nothing is universal. Old job you called no matter what, current job we have a time keeping system we log into and unless it’s after 6 am on that day you don’t have to email anyone, the system takes care of it. After 6 am you’re expected to call and not email. It wasn’t a personal attack fposte, and was just a general comment pointing out nothing is universal, which we all know if you’ve rea this blog long enough.

            1. fposte

              She started with “At my work” and ended with “I do realize not all workplaces function this way,” though. Seemed pretty clearly non-universal, which is why your response surprised me.

              1. Lynn

                Thanks, fpost! Definitely was not trying to present email as the best or all-applicable method. It just hadn’t been mentioned yet when I posted and has been a helpful alternative to calling in.

              2. A Teacher

                I probably just read it different than you, nothing personal in it. I try not to get personal when I so post, which is pretty infrequent since I was attacked for a comment I made some time ago. Anyway, parents calling except under pretty specific circumstances is odd, that we do agree on.

      2. Allison

        I’ve done that too. For me an e-mail or text is actually preferable even if I can talk because then I’m not trying and failing to reach my boss, or playing phone tag while he might be in transit or otherwise unable to answer his phone. I can just send the e-mail or text and go back to bed.

        Calling works for retail/service jobs because there’s always someone who can answer the phone and there’s usually a manager present. In an office setting, especially one with flex hours, things can be a bit crazy.

      3. Lia S

        I work in a branch office, and my boss is in a different time zone. I wouldn’t want to call him 2 hours before he gets to the office just because I won’t be making it in that day. I always email in those cases.

      4. sapphire

        Same here with the email.

        Many times I’ve emailed my boss in the wee hours of the morning, saying, “I just got home from the emergency room and I’m going straight to bed,” or “I’ve been up half the night with stomach flu and I’m not going to make it in,” and I’ve never had any response other than “Hope you feel better; don’t forget to turn in your absence form when you come back in.”

        Of course I’m also a little older and don’t look like a wild partier, so there is that. ;)

        1. fposte

          Yeah, I really like not having to deal with a phone at 3 am and just emailing that I’m not coming in. And then I can go to sleep.

      5. ThursdaysGeek

        I prefer email too, since I can send it when I get up earlier and then go back to sleep. Plus I can send it to my boss out of state and some co-workers around my cube, so it’s well known I’m out. But if I’m contacting a boss who gets a lot of emails, I try to call as well, to make sure they’ve actually noticed the message.

    7. aebhel

      This. I’ve had my husband call in for me when I had a migraine; I don’t need to go to the hospital, but I’m in so much pain that I’ll puke if I move. I can definitely see situations where a person would need to have someone else call in for them without being in the hospital.

    8. CAA

      As a boss, I’ve never heard from anyone’s parents (about anything), but I have occasionally heard from wives / girlfriends saying that their partner was sick. This doesn’t particularly bother me, and I don’t think it would if it were a parent calling in either.

      I only called in for my husband once, and it was right after he had a late night emergency appendectomy. Of course, I reached the boss’ voicemail and didn’t find out until days later that boss was on vacation so he didn’t get the message and everyone else was wondering where DH was.

      1. Blue Anne

        “I only called in for my husband once, and it was right after he had a late night emergency appendectomy.”

        Exactly the same situation here. Luckily I did manage to reach his boss!

    9. Kelly L.

      I also had a BF call in sick for me once when the ailment was laryngitis. If I’d called, it wouldn’t have been audible. :D

  9. Gene

    I admit to having my Mom call in for me once. Of course, it was in ’81, before cell phones. And I was broken down on the freeway between Tucson and Phoenix. And the only way for me to contact anyone was the State Patrol Emergency phone out in the middle of nowhere.

    Mom answered the phone and the official sounding voice on the other end asked if she was my parent, then immediately segued into, “Don’t worry, he’s not injured. He would like you to call work for him though.”

    1. V.V.

      I really hope no one had a problem with that.

      Even in ’81 all told that was a dangerous stretch, so I am glad it ‘s just a funny story now.

      1. fposte

        I’m a Midwesterner and I encountered that stretch for the first time this year. It was still pretty daunting to me now.

        1. Gene

          At that time I was probably driving Phoenix-Tucson at least twice a month. It was 123 miles from my driveway to the parking lot where I stayed. Those drives are a great memory; at the time I was driving a ’69 Buick Wildcat convertible and night drives in the desert with the top down are blissful. Best time I ever made was 62 minutes, door to door; Yeah, I was young and stupid.

  10. Chocolate Teapot

    1. To quote the late broadcaster and journalist Ian Wooldridge, the only excuse is if you happen to suffering from an accute case of death.

    5. It’s amazing how the same job can have so many different titles. Although I would personally feel Coordinator and Specialist were 2 quite different things.

  11. Hoo Hah

    #5. Hierarchically speaking, I always thought the title of Specialist was above Coordinator, though I can only speak to my industry (luxury consumer goods). Coordinator sounds administrative, while Specialist implies years of experience–to me, anyway.

  12. Anx

    #3

    Is it appropriate to mention family business experience when you weren’t technically (legally) employed. My parents owned a retail shop and I’ve worked there in some capacity for about 10 years. For 4 I was actually a legit helpful employee. It’s pretty much my only experience on a register.

    I stopped when we closed when I was 16. How can I reference this experience without being tacky?

    1. Jessa

      Put down the work you did. If they ask about salary or issues, you can explain that it’s a family business, you worked for 4 years officially and for 6 intermittently helping out because you’re related. I don’t see where you need to mention how you were or were not paid there.

  13. Flora

    #5 I can’t speak about other industries, but in marketing, Specialist is definitely more experienced and senior than Coordinator. Specialist jobs often require 3-5 years of experience (with some exceptions). Specialist’s job duties are a mix of marketing strategies and implementations, they are expected to be experts in whatever facet of marketing that is in their title. On the other hand, Coordinator positions are very entry level (1-3 years of experience) and generally involve the coordination of marketing assets, reporting, researching, collecting data, and sometimes social media. Coordinators are more like facilitators.

    1. Laura2

      I think this really depends on how each company uses it. I’ve had specialist in my title at an entry level marketing job, and I currently have coordinator in my title even though I don’t coordinate or facilitate anything.

      It’s a way for companies to differentiate jobs and/or job levels without actually creating a hierarchy of senior-junior.

  14. Christine

    ‘Specialist’ is a step below management in my world. It basically means you have the experience and project workload of a manager without the direct reports.
    ‘Coordinator’ is actually two steps below ‘specialist’ in my company, ‘analyst’ is between. Coordinators are very entry level and mostly do tactical work.

    1. HM in Atlanta

      It’s interesting, because my company has the same kind of structure with analyst and specialist switched (the common description is that both have the deep technical knowledge, but the analyst can do more with it).

  15. Allison

    1. Seems like some parents are under the impression that work and school are the same: that you can call to check on your kid’s performance or inquire about failure, like in school; and like with school, you can call for the kid about an absence. Or maybe they think it’ll sound better than the kid calling, more legitimate.

    3. Reminds me of how in some countries it’s standard practice to list your parents’ occupations on your resume, and sometimes people who’ve moved or are trying to find work in the States will leave that information on their resumes. But it’s not a normal thing to list on your application materials, and including it might not be a dealbreaker, but it might make you seem a bit clueless.

      1. Allison

        True, but going off the language the LW uses I’m guessing they’re referring to high school kids working summer/part-time jobs.

      2. Sabrina

        Not completely true. I turned 18 while still in HS and my dad still had to call in for me if I was sick.

        1. fposte

          Calling in sick isn’t a FERPA thing. Checking on their performance is a FERPA thing.

          I suspect most schools just have the student sign a permission on that anyway, but technically, once you’re eighteen, your parents don’t have the right to your educational records unless you allow them to.

          1. Allison

            I vaguely recall having to sign something giving my parents access to my educational records in college. Or at least having that option. Fairly certain I did grant them access though, feeling like I didn’t have anything to hide to there wasn’t any reason to keep my grades a big secret.

          2. EAA

            Exception to FERPA is if the student is still in high school. Still treated as minor. And my daughter was 18 her whole senior year.

        2. De (Germany)

          Yep, for me, too (they even had to sign later that I was really sick). Catholic high school with a contract between me, my parents, and the school.

  16. Audiophile

    I’ve never had my mom call in for me. I’ll begrudgingly admit she did kind of get me my first post college job. But that was because I took her less than stellar advice and turned down a job.

  17. Lily in NYC

    #5 – To me, specialist sounds higher level than coordinator. I’ll be honest, when I see the word “coordinator” in someone’s title, I tend to assume that the person is an admin (obviously there are many exceptions – I’m talking about my own industry). We have three “project coordinators” here. It’s a totally fake title – all three are admins who want to get promoted but aren’t qualified to be project managers. So they were given these new titles in order to try to keep them happy, but their duties have not changed at all.

  18. C Average

    Re: #3

    This is one of the few times I find myself disagreeing with Alison.

    I think in any line of work where there are industry-specific norms, lingo, and unwritten rules, it would be a huge advantage to have grown up surrounded by that industry. PR definitely seems like it would be like that. Growing up among PR professionals could easily help a young person understand the importance of discretion in certain situations, the idea that sometimes lawyers need to be involved in conversation, the sense of urgency around controlling a story, concepts of image and damage control, and other important elements of the trade.

    If I were on a hiring panel for two otherwise equal candidates and one of them noted that a parent had worked for my company, I’d be interested in that. I’d suspect they had some awareness of company culture and norms that the other person might not have, and those can be hard things to teach. Someone arriving with that knowledge, assuming she had the other required qualifications, might be very attractive to us.

    Of course, the “otherwise qualified” part is huge. But I don’t think a quick mention in the cover letter is inappropriate. Like mentioning that you’re bilingual because you grew up in another country, it’s a piece of information about your background that potentially says something about your skill set and/or outlook.

    1. Artemesia

      I think in the cover letter it could creep in in talking about why you were interested in the job and certainly it could come up in an interview, but it seems really out of place on a resume.

    2. Graciosa

      I think it could come up in an interview, but I can’t see it on the resume or cover letter. It would strike me as if the candidate was trying to get credit for the expertise of his family members (who are not likely to be volunteering to perform the job for him). Also, if the candidate had a lifelong interest in PR from the time he was dandled on someone’s knee, why did he study public affairs instead of marketing or communications?

      For me, it would be more of a negative than a positive, but I can understand if others have different reactions.

    3. SherryD

      “Growing up among PR professionals could easily help a young person understand the importance of discretion in certain situations, the idea that sometimes lawyers need to be involved in conversation, the sense of urgency around controlling a story, concepts of image and damage control, and other important elements of the trade.”

      I don’t know. Many people going into PR, advertising and marketing have college education in those areas. Surely those things you mentioned would have been discussed ad nauseum in the classroom, no?

      A lot of interviews include some form of the question, “Why are you interested in this job?” Mentioning growing up with family members working in the field could come up then.

      Anyway, based on the OP’s letter, they seemed to want to present it in a jocular manner. You know, “Granddad was an ad man, and Mom was an ad man, and if I want to get invited to family reunions, I have to be an ad man, ha ha. But seriously, let me really tell you why I’d be good at this…”

    4. FarFromBreton

      Yeah, I’m curious about this as well. My mother worked at a social worker and in nonprofits throughout my childhood. Before I built enough of my own experience to reference, when applying for jobs working with similar populations in the same city, I’d mention how growing up around her work had given me awareness/knowledge of those issues and populations that most people around us lacked. (For example: barriers to care in the city, being comfortable with and sensitive to people struggling with mental illness or addiction, how bad some of the problems are in the city’s systems, etc.)

      1. fposte

        I think it’s fine to explain interest, which means it’s fine in an interview. I don’t think it would be convincing as expertise, so I don’t think it belongs on a resume or cover letter unless you’re doing some really unusual connection or transition that needs framing (“I realize that my background in spout design may not be usual for a position in nonprofit water management in Malawi, but my mother’s extensive work on Zambian wells inspired me to consider the social applications of hydraulic technology”).

  19. Duncan

    #2 –
    It can definitely be exhausting to summarize my entire background for an interviewer but I usually just jot down some key points while preparing for the interview that I want to emphasize or expand on. Then, if I’m asked “so tell me about your background”, I already have some ideas in mind on how to sum up my experience without just regurgitating my resume.
    I have to add too since it’s sort of related… My biggest pet peeve is interviewers asking me questions about very specific things that are NOT on my resume (i.e. a certification)… and I honestly want to say, “Do you see it on my resume? Then no, I don’t have that certification/training/etc”
    It is frustrating especially when they tell you that they’ve read your resume and then ask about something not on it. I know they read tons of resumes but it always makes me feel somewhat incompetent when they ask if I have XYZ certification and I have to reply, “No, I don’t have one.” I’ll sometimes add that while I don’t have XYZ certification, I am certainly interested in obtaining it in the future. But sometimes that isn’t the answer they’re looking for and I just sit wondering why they called me in the first place. *sigh* (And just to add, certifications are NOT required to do anything related to my field.)

    1. fposte

      You’re thinking like an applicant :-). They ask because another candidate they like turned out to have XYZ and they want to see if you’re still competitive. They ask because somebody realized they might need XYZ coming up and they want to see if that might be something you could bring to the table. They ask because people leave stuff off of resumes all the time.

    2. Dulcinea

      Get this! Right after I took the bar exam (thus, several months before I would know whether I would be admitted), someone I had met at a conference called me and asked if I was interested in a job at their organization. I said yes and we had a nice chat about what I was up to (post bar exam vacation) and how glad I was to have the exam over with. I submitted my resume which clearly stated my graduation date and the fact that I had *just* taken the bar exam.

      At the interview I was interrogated by this same person about whether I was admitted to the bar, didn’t I realize that bar admission was one of the qualifications for the job, etc. It turned out this was a “tactic” on their part to see how I reacted to pressure/negativity or something.

  20. CAA

    You would probably be shocked and surprised to find out that most resumes do not include all the education and certifications that the candidate has or is in the process of getting and that I might find relevant. About 80% of the time the answer is either “yes”, or “I am working on it”, or “I am planning to start it soon”. All relevant and interesting information. There’s no way for me to tell by looking at your resume that you’re in the other 20%, so I ask.

    Also, every question doesn’t have a “right” answer. It’s just a conversation, and I’m developing an overall impression of how you interact with me and trying to predict how you’ll interact with others on the team if I hire you.

      1. Duncan

        I understand and I guess what bothers me more is that I truly haven’t left it off my resume… I really just do not have the certifications/trainings/etc and I’m left feeling inadequate when I have to say “no.” But I do understand why interviewers ask and I’m sure people leave things off all of the time. I actually do really enjoy interviewing and like the conversational aspect of it. This is probably the only thing that does actually bother me in the scope of interviewing.
        And like I mentioned, there are NO certifications that are required in my field however, some hiring managers get hung up on them despite a candidate’s education and experience (not even just speaking from my personal experience).

        1. Red Librarian

          They may not be “required”qualifications but they could be “desired” qualifications and they are just asking to see if it’s something you’re working towards or have an interest in pursuing in the future.

        2. SherryD

          I think I know what you’re saying. With a lot of interview questions, you can take them and spin them to showcase why you’d be good at the job. With that certification question, the answer is just, “No.” What else can you say, other than that you’d be willing to go out and get it? As the interviewee, it’s almost impossible to have a gold star-worthy answer to that! So that’s frustrating. :)

        3. OP #2

          I’ve gone to interviews where I’ve been asked if I have experience/knowledge of A, B and C, when nothing at all related to A, B and C are on my resume. Makes me feel inadequate/discouraged to give a bunch of “no” answers to these questions too.

  21. Bea W

    #1 My mother did things like this for her second husband, even after she divorced him.

    #2 It’s useful to hear what comes out of a candidate’s mouth compared to what’s on the resume. Use the question to highlight the most relevant experience. There may be things you’ve done that would be really relavent to the job but aren’t in your resume or may not have stood out.

    The questions about things that aren’t on your resume, if everything else looks great but certain things seem missing the hiring manager may ask anyway just in case for some reason those things were omitted or it may be a segway into probing if you’d be interested in getting a new certification or skill if hired.

  22. soitgoes

    The kids probably don’t know if their parents are asking why they’ve been fired (subtext: the parents refuse to believe how difficult it is for young adults to hold onto jobs in industries that presume a high level of turnover). I wouldn’t hold this one against the kids – they usually don’t know their parents are doing this.

    1. Career Counselorette

      Seriously. I have a mother who always thinks she’s “helping” by surreptitiously passing my and my sister’s information along. My sister, who does Pilates and bodywork, got a call from someone saying that [my mother’s name] said she “specializes in teenagers and anxiety.” (No she doesn’t.) I am working as a career counselor now, and I will frequently get calls from people requesting my “organizing” services. We’ve told her repeatedly that this isn’t helping.

    2. GrumpyBoss

      I’m with you on this. I can see a kid asking mommy to call in sick on their behalf. But if mommy’s unique snowflake has been fired, lookout. She’s a force all on her own.

      I love hearing from my friends who are teachers just how different and overbearing parents are now compared to a generation ago. And by “love” I mean “feel really sorry for teachers who don’t get paid enough to be abused by these parents”.

      1. YoungProfessional

        GrumpyBoss – In high school one of my classmates’ parents would call the school every single time he got a grade below an A. It was always the teacher’s fault. Junior year, he started getting death threats from the kids who earned their straight A’s through hard-work. He wound up transferring.

  23. Bea W

    #3 Picture this conversation where Wakeen wants to hire a teapot designer.

    Wakeen: I see you have a background in marketing and PR. What training and experience do you have in chocolate teapot design?
    Bea: My parents are teapot designers, and my aunt owns a teapot design business.

  24. NavyLT

    Anyone old enough to have a “real” job (i.e., not cutting the grass/shoveling snow/whatever for the neighbors), is old enough to handle discussions with the manager. And I don’t get why the parents of adults would think that just because they called the school when the kid was sick, that they should call the employer. That doesn’t make sense. Did their own parents call in sick for them?

    1. Jillociraptor

      I can imagine, though, a high school aged worker worrying that their boss will think they’re just skiving off work unless their parent calls. It could be a way of saying, “No, I’m legitimately sick.” That was how it worked for school, sports, extracurriculars, etc. If in most other situations in your life, you’re expected to have confirmation from a parent, why would someone assume a job is any different?

      Of course, it is, and the kid needs to learn to do this stuff herself, but I absolutely get the possible logic.

      1. NavyLT

        Oh, I can certainly get the high school kid worrying about that–but I think in that case the parent needs to explain that work is different from school in that regard, rather than call. The kid might not know better, but the parent really should.

  25. Camellia

    RE #1 – My first thought was “force of habit”. When a child is in school they are not allowed to call the school and report themselves sick, etc. A parent or other responsible adult has to do it. And as someone earlier said, growing up is a process. I would simply tell the employee when they return to work that they need to be the one to call next time.

  26. MM

    #2 Keep in mind as well that the recruiters are probably asking all the candidates the same questions, so while a particular question may result in a repetitive/redundant answer for you, it may not necessarily for the other candidates. They may be trying to be consistent in asking all candidates the same basic questions.

  27. Ruffingit

    #2 reminds me of a couple of interviewers I’ve had who were scattered and when I mentioned experience from a job they said well why isn’t that on your resume in a shocked or condescending tone. It is. In fact it’s the first thing listed. I’m polite when I point it out but still…it’s like they didn’t even read the resume. And the condescending tone is something I could totally do without.

    1. Anx

      That’s the worst.

      “Well you should have let us known this was volunteer work”

      Resume:

      “Volunteer, This Organization
      -Thing I did that I’d have to do in the job
      -Thing I did so that professionals could focus on their job which is similar to this job
      -Thing I did which shows I was exposed to this job

  28. Lucky

    Re# 4, how should a candidate address adoption from foster care, when there’s no due date/arrival date and the age of the child (and amount of post-arrival care and leave time) is unknown?

    1. fposte

      You’re talking about adopting an older child, right, and not adopting a child you’re already the foster parent of? I think the advice still pretty much goes–in general there’s still a timeline to the process, so it’s not completely mysterious, and with an older child you may be able to offer a workplace a little more availability rather than seeking a straight-out block of leave when you haven’t earned FMLA.

    2. Jerry Vandesic

      Do companies typically give a six week leave for adoption? No company I have worked at has offered anything close — some were no leave for adoption, but others had two weeks.

      1. Lucky

        My prior employer offered the same amount of leave for adoption as for birth of a child, but only for the adoption of a child 2 years old or younger. However, the way it was written, the right to leave was only triggered by finalization of adoption and not the placement of the child in your home, and finalization could take anywhere from six weeks (the minimum under my state’s laws) to several months or years.

      2. fposte

        You can’t legally give no leave for adoption ever, though–FMLA includes adoption as a qualifying event. The company may not choose to pay for that leave, and it may not extend that leave to employees who aren’t eligible for FMLA, but an FMLA-eligible employee gets to take time off for adoption and can’t have it be held against him/her by the employer. Were you maybe adopting in the pre-FMLA days?

  29. Kat M

    #3, I feel like a family business is an appropriate thing to cite in your cover letter is appropriate to mention as a reason for your *interest* in PR, but not why you’d be a good fit. Mentioning that you saw X and Y about the field growing up, and those are some of the reasons you’re interested in making the switch from public policy seems perfectly reasonable.

  30. hayling

    #2 Just because it’s on someone’s resume doesn’t mean they can talk intelligently about it.

  31. Sidney

    At OP #5: It sounds like your workplace might have a lot more structure to titles than mine does, but here’s my two cents. Where I work, there is frequent shuffling between departments, who you report to, who reports to you, etc. For example, we have one chain of command that goes (top to bottom) Director->Manager->Director->Senior [Title]. So being a Director doesn’t always tell you that someone is at the top of the ladder.

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