wee answer Wednesday — 7 short answers to 7 short questions

It’s wee answer Wednesday — seven short answers to seven short questions. Here we go…

1. Received new hire paperwork without a job offer

I am moving out of state in a few weeks and have been interviewing with a large company to be a GM of one of their new concept restaurants. The interview process has been great — three phone conversations with varying people, including the operations manager, and an in-person interview next week at the restaurant with the corporate operations manager (who overseees 25 sites). Conversations have all gone well and the recruiter had told me they considered me to be “the strongerst candidate they have come across.” The OM had HR send over the information for a background check and a few days later I received a link to fill out new-hire paperwork, including a W4. Under job status it says “hired.” This seems like a backwards way to do things — to fill out new hire paperwork before having been extended a formal offer. Is this common practice?

There’s a good chance that they messed up and someone was supposed to call you and offer you the job, not simply send you new hire paperwork. Call them up and ask — just say something like, “I received what seems to be new hire paperwork, but haven’t been offered the job yet.”

2. Asking employees to be aware of how their absences affect others

I work at a small bank and am being asked to explain to our employees how and why they should be cognizant of how their taking time off affects others. It seems that many of our employees feel like if they have gotten their work done, they should be free to take PTO. What they don’t always realize is that when one person takes off, it affects someone else in the chain, i.e., if a loan processor is out, it affect the loan officer as they cannot complete the loan without the processor doing her part.

It is not that I don’t want anyone to take off, but I want them to be aware of who they could be affecting and communicate with those folks so nobody has to deal with the stress. Everyone needs and deserves time off but when you are going to be away you should communicate with those that your time away might affect, you should make sure there is someone else that will be filling in your duties if they are something that cannot wait until you return, etc.

You need to be direct about specifically what you’re asking them to do. If you just tell them to be more aware of how their absences affect others, you’re not being clear about the behavior you want to see. So instead, clearly explain that before taking planned PTO, they need to do A, B, and C. And when you approve PTO, you should inquire about what arrangements they’ve made to cover their work in their absence. Assuming you’re the manager, you simply need to explain how you want people to operate and then ensure that they do.

3. Career portals with a single cover letter

Many companies these days have career portals, which let you create you one basic profile and then any job that you apply to that company profile is reviewed or searched for screening. In this scenario, what kind of cover letter should one create? For example, If I am applying to a business analyst as well as a project manager role on the site, I have option for one cover letter only. What should I be writing in cover letters in these scenarios?

Will it make sense to mention that I am highly interested in working for your company and looking for these roles to expand my career? Instead of just talking about one particular position?

Your cover letter should explain why you’ll be awesome at the job you’re applying for, which means that you should avoid using a single cover letter for multiple jobs if at all possible with their system. If that’s not possible, think long and hard about whether you’re applying for roles that are so dissimilar as to raise questions about whether you’re resume-bombing rather than being truly selective about what role would be the best fit for you.

4. Email malfunction sent multiple blank emails to HR contact

I accidentally sent two (!) unfinished gmail messages to the HR contact for a potential job. I started both with his name, and when I went to hit enter on my keyboard (to thank him for letting me interview with the company), it automatically sent them right away. The second time, I was going to send the thank you, and it did it again! He now has two emails with just his name in the subject. This has never happened to me before on gmail. Should I send a third explaining my goof or let it lie? I have an interview Friday…well, hopefully I still have one.

Let it go, or send the email you originally wanted to send, with a mention that you apologize for the email malfunction that caused him to receive additional emails from you (no need to go into details beyond that). Either way is fine and this isn’t a big deal. (But you also don’t need to send an email to thank him for setting up this interview — send a follow-up to your interviewer after you meet.)

5. Can I see my letter of recommendation?

I will soon be leaving my first job after graduation. The official jargon is that I was “let go” because of cuts in funding in my department; I was hired temporarily about five months ago. I have a basically good relationship with my supervisor and she has offered to write me a “great” recommendation, which I am grateful for. However, there has been tension between us in the past and she has a very passive-aggressive style that manifests itself in comments toward me. I am concerned that she might write positive but qualified things (i.e., “She tries really hard”) and so I would like to see the letter before she sends it, but I don’t know how to broach this. What would you suggest?

Letters of recommendation are pretty worthless in most fields (with academia and law sometimes being exceptions) because employers want to talk to your references, not read a letter, so I’d skip the letter altogether. That said, usually when people offer to write a recommendation letter, they give it to you, rather than sending it individually to all the employers you might apply to over the next few months/years. So if she does write it, you’re probably going to see it. But again, I wouldn’t bother with it at all.

6. Following up after an employer followed up

I’m a recent grad trying to find work in nonprofits, and I applied for an entry-level position at a nonprofit I would absolutely love to work at. The position seems perfect: it’s a great organization, the position is exactly the department I want to work in, and I even have some relevant experience I can point to in my cover letter. Two weeks ago, I received an email from the Associate Director saying they were interested in my resume and would like to gather additional information, then gave me a series of what seemed to be pre-interview “screening” questions — “how does this position fit into your career path?”, “where do you see yourself in 3-5 years?”, etc. I emailed her my answers and received an email back saying they would get in touch with me shortly.

Is it ever appropriate or recommended to email her to follow up? You’ve said in the past not to call hiring managers, that they’ll contact you if they’re interested. However, this organization did seem interested, and I would just be sending an email, not calling them. I just had a second interview at another company for a long-term temp job (which seemed to go well), but all things considered, if I had a chance to work at the first company I’d jump at it. I want to keep my options open, but if they’re still interested in my application, I’d really like to know!

If they’re interested, you’ll know, because they’ll tell you. Pretty much by definition, if an employer wants to interview you or hire you, they’ll tell you.

In this context, you can certainly send an email reiterating your interest, but it sounds like you just want to hear something faster than they’re currently moving, and there’s not much you can do about that.

7. Interviewing with a huge cold sore

I know you’ve covered similar topics about interviewing with some kind of impediment — just mention it at first like it’s no big deal and that will relax both you and the interviewer. However, I think I might be having to conduct an interview this week with a giant cold sore on my mouth. It is very noticeable and distracting, and there’s no way to cover it with makeup. It honestly looks like I got punched in the mouth and have a split lip.

I’m not sure what the cool thing to say here is — “don’t mind this, it’s just a little STD” doesn’t seem right, but neither does making something up (the airbag went off in my car and smashed my lip?). I’m interviewing to work with a pretty tough population of teenagers, so I do need to show that I can be thick-skinned and/or humorous about my flaws, since the kids would have a field day with this.

For what it’s worth, I’m not actually ashamed of my affliction. I’ve been to parties and even did some public speaking this week, but this situation is just beyond me. Do you or your readers have any advice, from being on either side of this?

Personally, I’d probably say nothing. Everyone has seen cold sores before and your interviewer is unlikely to be freaked out by it. But if I felt like I had to say something, I’d be more comfortable making a joke about “chapped lips gone horribly awry” or something rather than citing a cold sore … but this is really only if it’s both highly noticeable and potentially alarming.

{ 82 comments… read them below }

  1. AG*

    #1 happened to me at my last job. The hiring manager never called or emailed to tell me I had the job, I just got a call from HR to set up a time for new hire paperwork. Turns out it was pretty indicative of how disorganized the company and department was, but that’s not necessarily true in your case, it’s probably just an oversight.

  2. KarenT*


    I think it’s the kind of thing that feels embarrassing/like a big deal, but the HR person probably barely noticed. I know if I got emails like that I’d assume some sort of computer mishap.

    I know it’s too late now, but in the future you could avoid this by not typing the recipients email address until your draft is ready to send. I always, always do that with VIP emails.

    1. badger_doc*

      +1! I learned that the hard way. Always type the email first, proof read, THEN add the recipients email address. It has saved me from a few potentially embarassing situations!

    2. jill*

      And I’ll +1 the other half – this kind of thing happens all the time, and unless it contributes to a pattern of carelessness on your part, the HR person would be pretty petty to take it into any kind of account.

      1. ABC*

        Me too. I copy the email ID onto the body of email or the subject field, and only when the body is final with attachments that I fix the To: & Subj:

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I write mine in Word (so I can keep them in case I can’t get online) and edit them there. Then I post in the body of the email. and then add the sender addy. I do the same thing with blog posts, in case WordPress eats everything.

    1. Lynne*

      I heart Undo Send. Not only for things like this, but also because if I’m going to forget to include something, I almost always realize it a moment after hitting Send…

      1. Elizabeth*

        Yes! I have a bad habit of sending emails that say “Here is the attachment you wanted” without the attachment, then realizing it immediately after hitting the send button.

        1. Lynne*

          If you refer to the attachment in your text, but don’t attach anything, sometimes* Gmail will pick up on it and ask if you meant to attach a file…yet another reason Gmail is awesome. ;)

          *It picks up on “See attached.” Not any other phrasing, as far as I can tell. They probably didn’t want to prompt you every time you use the word “attached” or “attachment” because there’d be more false positives…

  3. Anonymous*

    #6 – I would see a professional make up artist, you would be surprised what someone can do to camoflage any impurfection. while it may still be visible, they would know how minimize the appearance. anyway just a thought, regardless, good luck

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Blistex? Maybe there is not enough time for the stuff to knock the cold sore back, though. But that is what I have always had good luck with.
      It might be a little distracting but not the end of the world.

      1. anon.*

        Please get yourself to a CVS or similar store and buy a little tube of Abreva. It works although it takes a few days to a week depending on how far along you are. And next time you feel the telltale tingle, put in on right away! It’s about $18 but you can find it on sale for around $14.

        And next time you go to the Dr., you may want to ask about the anti-viral acyclovir cream (Zovirax). Again, you put it on as soon as you feel the tingle or as soon after as you can.

        Good luck with the interview! You’ll do fine if you don’t call attention to it.

  4. Sharon*

    #3, aren’t these annoying? My advice is that despite all the language saying that they search their databases for candidates, I really don’t think any company does that. Or if they do, it’s entirely ineffective. Why? Well, the software searches by keyword and we all know they require a pretty fantastically high match rate, and if your resume isn’t tailored for a specific job ad, you won’t get matched. So the profiles they make you waste time on are just that… a waste of time. I recommend just doing a bare bones profile and once a week search their job listings and send tailored resumes and cover letters specific to the job you’re applying to.

    1. m123*

      I know they are very annoying.
      But honestly what would a person who wants to change his career do. For example, if I have a past project manager experience and I want to move towards analyst n product management role.
      However, during my job search if I come across very nice PM role I would still want to apply to it along with analyst role.

      in this situation one cover letter doesnt help :/

  5. KellyK*

    I really like the advice for #2. Specifics are key. Vague generalities about “being aware that your PTO affects others” are likely to sail right over people’s heads.

    If there are specific groups of people whose days off are affecting each other in ways they might not be aware of, then make that clear to those specific groups. (To use your example, tell the loan processors that they need to let the loan officer know when they’ll be out and who’s serving as their back-up that day.)

    If there’s a schedule, and people are requesting days off, most people will assume “If it’s a problem, I won’t get the request approved.” On the flip side, if people are allowed to take days off whenever, without scheduling them with anyone, they might be assuming that that their days off won’t affect anyone else.

  6. the gold digger*

    you should make sure there is someone else that will be filling in your duties if they are something that cannot wait until you return, etc.

    I disagree with this. Yes, you should do it as you are able – leave an email auto reply that says, “Mary will be taking teapot orders in my absence,” but it is up to the manager to make sure there is coverage.

    That is, it is not the employee’s responsibility to make sure the work is done in her absence. What if there isn’t backup? Does that mean the chief teapot die maker can’t ever go on vacation? It is the manager’s responsibility to re-direct the work flow. It is the manager’s job to manage.

    1. fposte*

      I disagree–it’s the employee’s job if the manager says it is, and it’s pretty common for that to happen–lots of places with shiftwork, for example, require you to find somebody else to cover your shift, and you should be taking more responsibility, not less, if you’re higher in the chain. Sure, the buck stops with the manager if something goes wrong, and the manager should be able to help you if you can’t find a way to take a break otherwise (I say hypocritically, knowing that wouldn’t happen in my field), but it’s ultimately the employee who’s responsible for the tasks with which she’s entrusted, and her responsibility doesn’t end because she’s out of the office. That doesn’t mean I’m unhappy with Fred if he had Lisa cover for him and she sucked; it does mean I’m unhappy with Fred if he didn’t arrange for Lisa to cover for him, because that is his responsibility and he dropped the ball.

      1. the gold digger*

        And if you can’t find someone to cover your shift? No, I do think it is management’s job to schedule people and to make sure there is coverage.

        As far as higher level jobs – my husband spends half of every vacation on email because there is nobody to cover him. Is that a vacation? It’s one thing to make sure everyone knows what to do in your absence – that is your responibility – but it should not be the employee’s responsibility to make sure the work gets done while he is gone. People should be able to go on vacation and leave their computers and phones at home.

        1. Jamie*

          I think that really depends on the position. In most cases, yes, people should be able to unplug on vacation.

          However, in IT for example, if you have a one person IT department it’s not realistic to expect other co-workers to be able to cross train much of those duties – because the level of training would be unreasonable. That goes along with the job and I don’t know anyone who takes a position as a one person IT department who would expect to be able to cut off communication on vacation.

          However, it is incumbent upon the employer to enforce the definition of what an emergency is which will limit how often they need to work on off-hours.

          1. Scott M*

            I completely agree with ‘gold digger’, but the reality is often like what Jamie describes.

            I work in IT and it’s not unreasonable to cross train other coworkers to cover for you when you are on vacation. However, it doesn’t usually happen, because management doesn’t make it a priority. Management won’t delay deadlines on projects for training, or allow for work to be done less efficiently by the ‘trainee’, so the training doesn’t get done.

            But then I tend to think that management is often too hands-off. What I would consider normal management is sometimes looked at as micromanagement by other people.

            1. Jamie*

              There are too many IT emergencies that are one offs, or weird anomalies that crop up and without a strong foundation of how your database system or network functions I don’t see how you can possibly cross train non-IT people for coverage.

              1. Jamie*

                And because I hit submit before I was finished I’ll reply to myself. The other thing is because I know the intricacies involved in my job if management just wanted to toss the admin passwords to someone who had a little training – I’d never take time off because I would be too afraid of the damage that can be done by someone who doesn’t really know what they’re doing.

                And to fposte’s comment below I agree entirely – you can train people to cover for reception and answer the phone, but some things will need to wait for the CFO to come back. Not everything can be crosstrained without redundancy.

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  Yeah — I’m thinking about my last job as the chief of staff for an organization. I made some arrangements when I went on vacation (X can sign checks, Y can approve documents, etc.), but I certainly wasn’t able to cross-train people to fill in on managing managers, hiring, etc.

                2. Anonymous*

                  The other thing is because I know the intricacies involved in my job if management just wanted to toss the admin passwords to someone who had a little training – I’d never take time off because I would be too afraid of the damage that can be done by someone who doesn’t really know what they’re doing.

                  I don’t remember the source, but there’s a quote to the effect: “I’ll marry you. I’ll father your children. But I will not give you root on my boxes.”

                1. Jamie*

                  Oh – well if you were referring to co-workers who are also in IT then I agree with you, you should be able to take the time because you have the redundancy.

                  But yes, I’ve got 100+ users and I’m the only IT – so I was just speaking for the many people out there who are running one person IT shops.

                  And just to throw this out there because maybe some manager will take this into account when crafting their own policies toward IT time. If your people take PTO but have to work for a portion of that…those hours should go right back on the books. If I take a day and end up working 4 hours via remote…only half a day should be deducted from my vacay accrual.

                  And when you are hiring for a one person IT position take into account when you determine the compensation budget that this person is on call 24/7/365. Pay them appropriately to compensate for the fact that they will never fully unplug. Also structure comp time appropriately – and I’m speaking about salaried positions here. There are certain things that have to be done on weekends, holidays, and other times without users in the system. Make sure this time, because it’s non-0ptional, is comped with either additional PTO banked or money. And (last one, I promise) if you expect your IT to put in significantly more hours than your other office employees…make sure they are happy on payday is all I’m saying.

                  And that’s my PSA for the day – hopefully one manager will read this and some new IT somewhere will get a better deal as a new hire than they would have otherwise. :)

          2. fposte*

            Right, the “people should be cross-trained” statement isn’t something that works out in practice in offices where there isn’t department redundancy. You really don’t want surgery carried on by a cross-trained transcriptionist.

            And if you complied with advance notice requirements for a vacation and can’t find someone to take your shift, then yes, it’s the manager’s obligation to figure that out. But it’s fair to make the first effort at coverage the employee’s, and I would expect to hear that an employee made attempts to handle the situation before she came to me.

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I agree with Jamie that it depends on the position. In many positions, it’s reasonable and normal for the manager to delegate to the employee making arrangements for their work to be covered while they’re gone — which doesn’t necessarily mean ensuring the work is getting done while they’re gone, just covered. In other words, ensuring people know who to go to with important stuff that might come up, that arrangements are made for anything time-sensitive, that your away message directs customers to someone else if relevant, etc.

          Now, if you can’t reasonably do that stuff, then you talk to your manager about how to handle that, since the answer isn’t “then don’t go on vacation.” But the point is that it’s reasonable to put the onus on your employees to think about this stuff and be in charge of raising it if there’s no obvious solution.

        3. fposte*

          And sometimes the choice would be “We’d need to use some of the funds allotted to your salary to pay any backup–would you rather that or handle coverage while you’re away?”

    2. EJ*

      Assuming that the Manager isn’t micromanaging the team, the person who knows best whether something urgent might come up while they are away may very well be the employee themselves. So it would be up to that person to either make sure that item can be done without them, or raise that item with the Manager to have them ‘manage’ coverage for that item.

      That said, I have worked in environments where if you couldn’t arrange coverage, you were strongly discouraged from taking time off. That’s not right – in that context it is certainly up to the Manager to find a way to distribute work load so that everyone gets time off. But I don’t get the impression that was the issue here.

      1. Scott M*

        I know this is a bit of a tangent, but I don’t consider knowing-what-your-employees-are-working-on as micromanaging. That’s normal management. Seriously, what exactly are these ‘managers’ managing if they are just expecting employees to handle everything?

        Having said that, I think Allison’s suggestion is spot-on. Managing means providing your employees with specific instructions, which is what she suggested.

        In my mind, what’s happening here is that the management is out of touch and isn’t providing the correct procedures and structure for the employees. Management hasn’t initiated training to make sure there is coverage. Management probably isn’t approving PTO, or is just ‘rubber-stamping’ the PTO requests, without ensuring there is coverage.

      2. Erika*

        +1 “Assuming that the Manager isn’t micromanaging the team, the person who knows best whether something urgent might come up while they are away may very well be the employee themselves. So it would be up to that person to either make sure that item can be done without them, or raise that item with the Manager to have them ‘manage’ coverage for that item. ”

        This has been my problem from day one at my current position. 90% of my job is not time-sensitive, so having someone sit at my desk and play in my files while I’m gone generally just creates a headache for me (partially because of who management chooses to fill in). The other ten percent of the time, there does need to be someone to cover for me, but it’s certainly not reasonable to expect someone else to spend all day doing my job when they can be called over on an as-needed basis.

    3. SJ*

      I thought this was along the lines of everyone can’t take lunch at the same time because we need front desk/phone coverage. You don’t need to be perfectly cross-trained but the office can’t shut down because you took time off. During the week between Christmas and New Years, most people in my office are taking some time off. Because I know there will be a couple of days where I know the rest of the department will be gone, I can pull out documentation for processes I technically know how to do but don’t do often.

  7. Anonymous*

    #7 Have you tried using Abreva? It’s expensive, and it comes in a little tube (which really makes it more expensive). But it works. I thought I had a cold sore coming on because I felt the tingling there. I bought some and put it on. If I was going to get a cold sore, I never got it. Someone else I know was starting to develop one, and I showed them the Abreva. They tried it, and they did not get the full-blown sore they normally do. You don’t have to put a lot on for it to start working; just follow the directions on the tube. It works best when you notice the onset, but it will work beyond that.

    1. AG*

      I don’t find Abreva helpful, but you can get a prescription for Valtrex or Famvir or another antiviral (cream or pill) which actually helps.

      1. Erika*

        I get terrible cold sores and know exactly where you’re coming from. There are prescription creams out there that can bring that sucker down to manageable levels in a day or so. Can you get in to see either a dermatologist or a dentist in the next day or so?

      2. Anonymous*

        Everyone’s different. But my main message is for her to perhaps looking into medication (either OTC or Rx) to help the situation instead of trying to cover it with make-up.

        1. OP 7*

          Historically, I can pop a Famvir when I feel one coming on, and that heads it off. Lately it seems like the virus has evolved to outsmart the meds–I don’t have the telltale tingling, I just wake up to one in full effect. It’s terrible!

          1. Erika*

            Have you tried Campho-Phenique? It’s the only thing that works for me once it “blooms,” but somehow I’d never heard of it until I was 23 or 24.

            1. OP 7*

              I’ll look into that, thanks. I’ve actually had good results with aloe straight from an aloe plant–still looks gnarly, but no swelling and no pain.

    2. Anonymous*

      Abreva is fantastic when they first pop up, and will help speed heeling a little bit if used later, but to cover the sore up it’s not much good. For emergency cover up, a little bit of liquid bandaid (please use common sense and don’t get it in your mouth) can make it possible to use make up. Also, if it’s “exploded,” campho-phenique works better than Abreva to minimize it’s appearance.

  8. ES*

    #7 perfectly illustrates one of my pet peeves in life – cold sores on the face do not necessarily indicate an STD. They come from the herpes simplex virus, which can be acquired by having the chicken pox, or drinking from the same cup as someone who has it. A large, large percentage of the population has it, but just shows no symptoms. There’s nothing “sexual” about the transmission.

    1. Kristen*

      THANK YOU. It drives me nuts how people think this–I have been getting cold sores once every couple years or so since I was a little kid. I honestly wouldn’t think twice about calling it a cold sore because it’s really not a big deal to have one. Even so, I personally wouldn’t say anything unless the interviewer brought it up.

    2. Just curious*

      And I was under the impression that cold sores were indeed related to cold/flu… In my native language they are called “fever sores” and I only had it once, as a child, when I indeed had the flu and was running a fever. Or perhaps it’s not the same thing?

      1. fposte*

        They’re caused by a very, very common virus–herpes simplex I (which is a different herpes than herpex simplex II, which causes genital herpes, so it’s not an STD). Stress and lowered immune response–common with illness–can make you likelier to have an outbreak, but it won’t happen unless you actually have the virus in your system.

        1. AG*

          This has nothing to do with the question, but I hate when people spread misinformation: “STD” only refers to how you got a disease. You can be HIV+ but the virus wouldn’t be considered “sexually transmitted” if you got it from, say, sharing needles. That said, Herpes I & II are pretty similar viruses and cause similar sores – it’s more common to have I orally and II genitally, but it’s not exclusively so. So you could have a “cold sore” Herpes II or “genital herpes” from Herpes I.


          1. fposte*

            I don’t think that’s actually the common use. You’re right, of course, that you can have herpes II orally or herpes I genitally, but it’s actually treated as a general disease classification for diseases commonly transmitted sexually regardless of an individual patient’s infection pattern. So people who acquired HIV nonsexually still have an illness in the category of sexually transmitted disease, even if their disease isn’t sexually transmitted. It’s about categorization, not patient history.

            1. Xay*

              Actually, HIV is no longer grouped as an STI because so much of the transmission is non-sexual. Hepatitis B was also moved out of the STI category for similar reasons.

              As for herpes, there are many, many herpes viruses. Either HSV I or II can cause oral or genital herpes (or herpes of the eye or any other area that comes in contact with the virus). Genital herpes is defined as an STD because of the location of the infection, not the type of virus because genital herpes is almost always caused by sexual contact. If you have oral herpes, it is not classified the same way as genital herpes unless you contracted it from someone with genital herpes.

              1. fposte*

                Interesting. CDC is still listing HIV as a sexually transmitted disease; part of this may be a question of who’s doing the listing.

                I think it’s kind of a pointless category, frankly, that seems more about old-school judgment than contemporary medicine, especially now that so much sexual contact isn’t PIV anyway. The individual patient history is more relevant. As you say, if you know the strain and where it is, that pretty much tells you what you need to know.

                1. Laura L*

                  “especially now that so much sexual contact isn’t PIV anyway.”

                  I would guess that having non-PIV sexual activity isn’t a new thing. :-)

              2. KayDay*

                I just saw an article on CNN about some guy who died from cytomegalovirus, and against my better judgement, started to read the comments (oh how CNN comments make me want to toss my computer out the window). Someone mentioned cytomegalovirus being an STD, which I thought was strange, as according to the CDC website, it’s transmitted basically every way imaginable (as another commenter there mentioned) (everything from touching something to sex), but then I looked on planned parenthood and saw it listed as an STD there?! That’s like saying the flu is an STD!

                And cytomegalovirus is actually a member of the herpes family (along with chicken pox and mono and a bunch of other things). And I need to stop looking things up on the CDC’s website–i’m beginning to think I’m coming down with hemorrhagic dengue fever at this point.

    3. Ivy*

      Yep… tis the season of cold sores. I am battling one myself at the moment. I had an interview once with a cold sore. I covered it as best I could with makeup (which of course is not very affective), and then proceeded to forget about it. I wouldn’t say anything OP because it’s really bringing unnecessary attention to something that doesn’t matter. I mean it’s different if the interviewer asks you, but I doubt she will.

    4. OP 7*

      Thanks for noting this. I’ve actually had cold sores since I was a kid (long before my first kiss!), so mine isn’t an STD. I just assume that’s what people think when they see a cold sore. But you’re right, I shouldn’t continue to spread misinformation!

      1. Sunday's Child*

        OP7, Please comfort yourself with the comments that others have made about cold sores. Lots of people get cold sores and many people have their first experience as children. So my first reaction when seeing someone with a a cold sore is just, “Oh, a cold sore…that must be uncomfortable,” not, “OMG STD.” I’m going to generalize and say most, or many, others think something similar. And most people get nervous anytime something affects our appearance before a special event, such as a job interview, first date, first day on the job, etc. It’s understandable to feel that way. Choose to expect that people will be sympathetic, not judgemental. I hope you heal quickly and feel better soon. Good luck!

        1. Carrie*

          Good response, Sunday’s Child. I would never instinctively think that someone with a cold sore on their mouth was manifesting an STD. It wouldn’t even enter my mind, since I am so used to having them myself (since I was a kid) and to friends and family who have always had them.

      2. Miss Displaced*

        I wouldn’t worry about it too much OP, just cover it as best you can. If the interviewer is in any way polite they will overlook it just as they would a pimple, mole, wart, bad acne, etc., etc.

        Oh, and I did see that Abreva has some type of new cover up “patch” made specifically for cold sores.

    5. Yuu*

      I came to post the same thing! Most people who have them get them when they were kids & being kissed by an adult who had it.

  9. Wilton Businessman*

    #2: I think you have a bigger management problem than explaining how absences affect other people. If your process relies only on one person to do a particular job, then it is time to cross-train so you can cover all parts of your business.

    1. Anon*

      Depending on the exact process and staffing, it may be that she CAN’T cross-train due to internal audit concerns, e.g. someone can not originate a loan and approve it or something.

    2. Scott M*

      This! However, management sometimes won’t allow the time for people to cross-train, so then you are stuck.

  10. #4 OP*

    Thanks for answering my question! I went ahead and set up a delayed send on gmail. If it comes. in the interview, I’ll contribute it to email error.

  11. KayDay*

    #3: –can only submit one cover letter: I would suggest writing your cover letter for the higher level position. Either in your intro or concluding paragraphs say something like, “I am also interested in your XYZ position, should you feel that my skills are a better match for that position.”

    1. Mints*

      Ooh I like this.
      Lots of times I’m applying for similar but different departments or something for entry-level positions. And I’m not an exact match for anything.
      I’m thinking I’d first address the better fit, then say your line.

  12. Worker Bee*

    #6 since you have something else lined up, the only thing you can do is ask for their estimated timeline.

    1. Author of Question #6*

      OP of question 6 here! I just wanted to clarify, I don’t have anything concrete lined up. As AAM says, you don’t have a job offer until you have a job offer. I believe my second interview went well and all, but there’s no guarantee I’ll receive an offer. I agree with you though, it doesn’t sound like I can do much in regards to the other organization except ask for their estimated timeline. Unfortunately, I’m not the most patient person, and this is an organization I would LOVE to work for, so I’m anxious to hear back.

      For those who say it’s okay to follow up on their estimated timeline and/or reiterate my interest, any recommendations on how I should phrase the email? I’d like to keep it short and sweet, but I’ve never done this before.

      And of course, to AAM: thank you for responding to my question! This is the first time I’ve written to you, so it was cool to see my question published.

  13. Diane*

    #2: It sounds like people are leaving early when their work is done, so the issue is proper notice and a protocol or checklist that addresses your business needs. If people work in teams, have the teams develop the checklist. It might range from emailing all team members or updating the in/out board in a common area to checking with X to verify paperwork isn’t on its way. I agree that telling people to “be aware” is far to vague to get any sort of result.

    #3: I’ve run into these portals that accept one cover letter and one resume, with no customization allowed. It’s maddening and really stupid. This isn’t ideal, but I’ve written a letter that addresses skills and accomplishments for both jobs, with a very solid paragraph about your fit with the company. I don’t reference each job as I normally would.

    #5: If you need a letter for grad school, offer to draft a letter with key points you want addressed. With those letters, you aren’t supposed to see them, but you can try to steer them in a positive direction. As others have said, in most cases, a letter isn’t necessary–but you could have a professional-sounding friend call your director asking for a reference to see what she’ll say about you (I think this was discussed yesterday).

    1. m123*


      would it be possible to send me copy of your combined cover letter. I have been looking for a sample but couldn’t find one :/

      let me hope, help will be highly appreciated!!

  14. Chris Hogg*

    #5 – While employers do want to talk to references, having a written letter can come in handy when a former reference moves on (happens fairly often these days) and cannot be contacted.

    #7 – For cold (fever) sores, there is an over-the-counter supplement called L–LYSINE. I’ve found that taking two 500mg tablets as soon as I feel a sore coming on, and then one tablet every 12 hours, is very effective in minimizing the severity and duration of the outbreak.

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