mini answer Monday — 7 short answers to 7 short questions

It’s mini answer Monday — seven short answers to seven short questions. Here we go…

1. Employer hired me under false pretenses

I recently accepted a one-year grant funded position at a university. The position requires a lot of irregular hours, travel, relationship building, and use of my personal network. I was told it was a one-year position because there was no guarantee the grant would be renewed.

When reading through the documents about the grant, I discovered that it actually ends in 2017. I inquired about this, and my manager, who turned red, said that after one year my position will be taken over by my current coworker — the one who actually applied for the grant. The grant she currently works under ends this year and thus she can secure employment by taking over the grant I was hired under — leaving me out of a job. I feel deceived. Everytime I do well on the job, this coworker looked jealous — well, now I understand why ! I certainly don’t feel like throwing all my resources into this program just to have it transferred to my coworker next year. Plus, how do I explain this to new employers? I can’t exactly say that the grant ends in a year because it doesn’t…

Wow. It would certainly be reasonable to go back to your manager and tell her that you’re disappointed that she wasn’t honest with you about the plans for the grant. What a horrible lack of integrity on her side.

But as for what to do tell prospective employers, you can simply say that it’s always been intended as a one-year position … since apparently it has been.

2. Is this line okay in a cover letter?

I’ve seen plenty of sample cover letters in which the author says, “I’m writing to apply for the position of __. I am confident that my training and experience in math, fast food, and child rearing will enable me to contribute significantly in this position.” To me, the second sentence offers a reason why anyone should read my cover letter and provides something of an outline of what is coming. However, at least one hiring person (in an academic context anyway) said that he does not like such statements. He will decide for himself if I would contribute to his department. Is this initial “sales” line good or bad?

Yep, I agree with your source — those sorts of lines are bad. They’re too much telling me that you’ll be good and not enough SHOWING me that you’ll be good. And plus, when I don’t know you or have any idea how reliable your self-assessments are, I put exactly zero weight on your belief that you’ll do well in the position, so it’s just a line taking up space, and doing so in a kind of cheesy, mildly annoying way.

3. Can I suggest I take on two jobs at my current company for more money?

I am salaried and work in customer service at a small company (15 people). My company just put out a job ad for a different department. They want to hire a part-timer who would work 10-20 hours a week. With a bit of shuffling of my daily routine, I could devote enough time to fill the needs of that position without taking away from my current duties. With the hourly pay they listed in the ad, they would be paying the part-timer somewhere around $10k per year. Would it be acceptable to set up a meeting with the owner (my manager) explaining that I would like to adopt the part-time job and would be willing to work early or late to finish the tasks for something like a $7k raise in salary?

If they want someone who will work up to 20 hours a week, they’re unlikely to think that you can do that on top of your current job without compromising one or both of the positions. In other words, you might be able to do both, but it’s unlikely that you, as one person, can do both jobs as well as two people would be able to.

You could potentially propose that you could do a smaller portion of what’s currently planned for the part-time job, plus an abbreviated portion of your current position, but you won’t look realistic if you suggest doing both as they’re currently envisioned.

4. Explaining why I’m leaving nonprofits

I would like your opinion about communicating a desire to leave the nonprofit sector. I began my career at what I thought were high-stress jobs and desperately wanted a low-key job. I have had that at a nonprofit now for more than three years, but the problem is “low key” means no one is motivated or held accountable! I have a tremendous amount of self-motivation and see that I need a work environment with slightly more competition and room for professional growth. I also am much better at managing my stress, so that would not be a problem for me anymore and I can focus on developing a career at one company.

Another factor is the cause I work on. It has become important to me, but I want to distance myself from it because it’s weighing on me more personally the longer I work here. I also cannot see myself making local nonprofits my career like the people I meet at conferences.

I know many people would love to work at a nonprofit, which makes me wonder how it looks to a hiring manager to see someone looking to leave a locally well-known nonprofit agency for a higher-stress job that is far less philanthropic. It was easy for me to say I wanted to “do good” and work at a nonprofit, but how do I say I want to do good as a donor or volunteer and not an employee anymore?

Well, first of all, not all nonprofits are low-key, so let’s not tar them all with that brush. You can absolutely find nonprofits that are fast-paced, rigorous, and hold people to a high bar. (Just like you can also find slow-paced, poorly managed organizations in any sector.)

Anyway, as far as how to explain this to future employers, it’s not like you built a career in nonprofits that you’re now leaving; you worked at one job in the sector. You’re unlikely to face demands about why you don’t want to do good anymore, but if you’re questioned about it, you can simply say, “I really enjoyed working at ABC, but I’m ready for something new, and the position with you excites me because ____.”

Just like you would if you were leaving any job in any sector. And you’re better off looking at it that way yourself too, rather than writing off the entire nonprofit sector on the basis of one bad organization.

5. Should I disclose freelance work to a new employer, and a new job to my freelance clients?

I’m a freelancer and am interviewing for full-time jobs. I have one or two freelance projects that I have to see through to the end, which will take 2-3 months. If I do take a full-time job, should I tell the employer about the projects I’m finishing up and/or the freelance client that I’m taking a full-time job? If yes, what should I say to either party?

There’s no need to tell the new employer that you’ll be spending the next few weeks finishing up freelance projects, unless they have a conflict of interest or other policy that would require you to disclose it. I would, however, let your clients know that you’re taking a full-time job so that they know that you won’t be available for further work after their current projects are wrapped up (and so they understand that you’ll have a new schedule for the remainder of these projects).

6. Finding jobs working from home

Abbreviated version of my story for you- I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 1996 when I was 24 years old. I had just graduated from college with a B.S. in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing. I went through many rough years but am doing pretty good health wise now with one caveat — I can not drive.

I have been active in volunteer work, kept up to date on technology, got a certification in Religious Studies, and currently teach one night a week at a local parish. Here is my conundrum — I am bored. I have been working part-time jobs from home and close to my home for the past 6 years that are below my capabilities. Obviously I understand I am limited but it is hard to work at minimum wage jobs and I feel like I don’t have a “career.” I am currently expanding my knowledge in blogging, writing, looking for other at-home opportunities — anything I can do from home to supplement or replace what I am doing now . Have you any advice for work-at-homers/disabled to expand from the call center trap? I don’t want to seem unappreciative, I know I am lucky in my situation. There just seem to be other options!

In my experience, it’s hard to get legitimate work-from-home jobs unless you’ve already been working for the employer previously, but maybe that’s changing. I’ll throw this out to readers to see if anyone has good suggestions for you.

Read an update to this letter here.

7. I don’t think my new job is the right fit

What do you do if you are a few weeks into a new job and concerned that it may be a bad fit? Among the issues I’m concerned about are: (1) I seem to be spending way more time than I would like on a certain part of my job when I was told that my duties would be more spread-out, (2) commute is wearing heavily on me, and (3) company culture is not what I was hoping for.

Is it better to cut my losses now and leave (potentially omitting this job from my resume altogether)? Or should I stick it out and maybe move on a year if I’m still not happy? Does your answer change if I say that my last few jobs have had relatively short tenures due to family moves and companies going out of business?

It depends on (a) how miserable you are, and (b) how long it’s likely to take you to get another offer (which you hopefully know based on how long it took you to get this one). But yes, the fact that your last few jobs have been short-term is a point in favor of staying — but not for a year; you’d need to stay for a few years to counteract the perception of job-hopping. Which might be a deal-breaker in a job you already don’t like.

But jobs do often get better if you give them a chance.

{ 111 comments… read them below }

  1. Penny*

    #1- that’s is horrible, but the upside is that both you and your manager already know you’ll be job hunting eventually, so there’s no awkwardness and she can be a reference. Even though you may not want to use your personal network as much, work really hard to impress your boss and do a great job so she wants to give you a glowing reference and may recommend you if she hears of other openings.

    #6, that is very frustrating and I wish you well. As far as commuting, could you find a home near a bus stop and commute to a job? Also, depending on where you live, maybe you could find a Vanpool or carpool to work (you would just share in expenses). Can you not drive in the usual way, as in, would it be possible for you to drive if you could get the hand controls like a person without use of their legs would have? I can’t think of a lot of jobs that allow you to work from home without specific training (like IT). I have heard more recently about virtual assistants, so you could look into that. Not sure if that’s the type of thing that would interest you.

    #7- That stinks, but I agree with Alison. You may not be able to rush out and find another job fast enough to not explain a gap in employment on your resume. But if you stay, a year isn’t enough to avoid the appearance of a job hopper.

    1. Kay @ Travel Bug Diary blog*

      #1 – I would not be transparent about my job search. I’m getting laid off, and so is the rest of my department. I thought I could be transparent… but (without getting into details) my relationship with my boss and co-workers has gotten awkward as a result of my transparency. I actually did provide my boss as a reference, and now I’m really worried about what my boss might share. They’ll know you’re looking, but there’s no need to share the details of your search.

      1. Josh S*

        Wait–wouldn’t it be OBVIOUS that everyone in your department is job hunting, if they’re all getting laid off? Do your boss/co-workers secretly think that the layoff isn’t going to happen, or that you’ll all just magically land other jobs in the midst of a continuing poor job market?

        Of *course* you’re job hunting. Anyone who isn’t is being irresponsible. To have any sort of retribution for that is just beyond idiotic.

        Sorry that you’re having to deal with stupidity on top of a layoff.

        1. Kay @ Travel Bug Diary blog*

          That’s what I thought. Then my boss and my co-worker found internal positions. In my department. Looks like tptb created positions for my team – even though the larger department is being phased out. There was also an internal posting that really made sense for me, reporting to my current boss in her new capacity. I applied for it. I also told my boss I was close to an offer with another organization. The next day “my” internal posting was put on hold. So now it looks like I’m actually the only person on my team leaving the organization. If I had kept my mouth shut, and continued reiterating that I want to stay with the organization, maybe at least I would have gotten the internal interview. Instead, I’m just counting the awkward days left with my secretive team and praying the promised offer comes through.

    2. EngineerGirl*

      #1 is unacceptable. At a minimum I would be marching into my bosses office and having a “Now that you’ve lied to me how do we go on from here” conversation. Because really, how do you have a working relationship with someone willing to use you in such a manner?

        1. Adam V*

          Given that the OP expected it to be a one-year gig, I would probably stick it out for the full year, and have the conversation with the manager now to get on the same page about the situation – “here’s what you expect to have completed at the end of one year, and here’s what I expect when I’m job-searching toward the end of the ‘grant’ – including what I expect you to say about the one-year term, if asked”.

          If you leave early, you could (in some ways) justify whatever the manager might say as a reference.

          (Side note: given that the other coworker expected to take over that grant – why didn’t the OP take over the existing one instead, which *was* a one-year position (since it was coming to a close)? Wouldn’t that have been a better way to approach it, since the coworker would be there if you had questions or issues completing it?)

          1. Ann O'Nemity*

            Perhaps the nuances of this are unique to academia. There’s a huge difference between “one year position, extension contingent on funding” and “one year position, full stop.” Many grant-funded academic positions are the former, and most folks hope – if not expect – that their position will be extended.

            And it’s one thing to agree to pour your time and resources (including use of personal network) into a position that ends with you. It’s another to do so when you know for a fact that the fruits of your efforts go to your replacement. In addition, it could actually hurt the OP’s job history to show a one-year gig on a multi-year grant. It’s really not the same as a fixed one-year position; it’s more like being a second-class sub. For people who know the ins and outs of the grant world, this situation would not be easy to explain without making someone look bad.

            1. fposte*

              I think that this is a situation where it could be manageable, though (admittedly I’m in a field where it’s less of a problem than some, but still), especially if the OP is on the junior side: she would simply say she was hired to get the project up to speed for the first year until the co-PI came off another project and was available to pick up the reins. Treat it like they were transparent from the start about it and, as Engineer Girl notes, get management on the same page as you on this.

  2. jesicka309*

    OP#6 Perhaps think about going into online marketing/SEO optimisation, or even freelance marketing work? If you have sufficient space in your home to create a ‘home office’ and a suitable place to see clients, you may be able to do your own consulting etc. There are probably many local places that would be keen for a freelance marketer to do things for them on occasion, as opposed to hiring one of the big agencies. It would also allow you to control your workload a bit, which you might not get working through another company.
    Just something to consider if it’s appropriate to your circumstances.

  3. Kay @ Travel Bug Diary blog*

    #2. I have those lines in my cover letter. I agree they’re cheesy, but they’re stock line that get me into the meat of what I’m saying. What would you suggest replacing them with? Is there any place I could go for good cover letter examples? The reason those lines are so pervasive is that they’re in every single cover letter example I’ve ever seen.

    1. Penguin*

      I think the key is to tell them why you’d be good… ie not “my experience in chocolate teapot making makes me a good fit for your position as caramel coffeepot maker” but “As a chocolate teapot maker, I figured out a new design for the handle, resulting in 20% less breakages; combined with my passion for all different kinds of caramel, I feel I could hit the ground running…”

      1. Kay @ Travel Bug Diary blog*

        Ok. That’s helpful. But how do I start? My standard opening is: “I am writing to express my interest in the teapot consultant position posted on your website. I believe that my industry knowledge of cocoa and food sculpture experience would let me make an immediate contribution to your team.” It’s canned, but standard. How do I improve on those two opening sentences?

        1. Josh S*

          The way I start is to pretend I’m telling my friend about this awesome job I just saw, and write the way I’d have that conversation.

          “When I saw this Chocolate Teapot Design job, I got excited because it was exactly what I’d like my next job to be…” or whatever. You have limited space–don’t use that space repeating things they already know (like the fact that you want a job…that’s why you’re applying!) Instead, use the space to convey your history of achievement that makes you a good candidate for this position and your desire to get this job at this company.

          As an alternative, write the cover letter how you normally would, then delete (yes, just plain ‘ol delete) any sentence that doesn’t work toward those things.

          You end up just jumping into the meat of things instead of having filler, which tends to be much stronger writing anyway.

          1. twentymilehike*

            “When I saw this Chocolate Teapot Design job, I got excited because it was exactly what I’d like my next job to be…”

            I use this type of line, and I really like the tone it gives my cover letters. When I type it out it actually puts me in the mindset of, “wow I’d be so stoked to get this job!” and if I don’t feel that way … then I reconsider applying.

      1. Forrest*

        I’ve read the sample cover letters before but I constantly get confused on talking about achievements in cover letters without just repeating whats in my resume.

        1. Josh S*

          Your resume should be bullet points with your accomplishments. The cover letter can be a bit more narrative in style (but don’t be TOO wordy!) — the two should dovetail together.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Make sure, though, that the letter isn’t just putting in narrative form what’s in bullet points on your resume. The cover letter should not just repeat what’s on your resume — it should add new things (stuff that wouldn’t normally make it on to a resume, because it’s about specifically how you’re a fit for this particular job).

            1. Anonymous*

              In the cover letter, do you focus on the job description or on the job requirements, ie, education, experience, skills?

              1. fposte*

                It’s sort of both. Tell me the story of how what you’ve done will make you useful in the job we’ve posted. What we do in hiring is imagine how different people will be in the job–help us to imagine how you’d be in this job.

      2. Sniper*

        I’ve checked out the archives but it is still clear as mud for me. Part of my problem is that I hate talking about myself and another part is that I’ve done a lot of ‘big things’ that are hard to connect.

        Any thoughts on getting over this?

  4. Kay @ Travel Bug Diary blog*

    #4 Sorry to hear you had a slow experience at your non-profit. For context, I left a non-profit A to go to non-profit B a few years ago. I was working 60 hours weeks at non-profit A, with occasional 14 hour Saturdays. My work was critical and recognized, but I was burnt out. Non-profit B is much slower, more organized, and I’m starting to get bored. There’s a lot variability within the sector.

    1. Nonprofit Poster*

      Thanks for your take. I am unexperienced in the sector, I know, and I’m not as against the entire sector as I seem to have written. Mine is actually a nice, low-stress job at a place that is not organized or communicative.

      1. Anonymous*

        sounds like the NP I just left. The NP I work at not is high paced and more structured. I honestly perfered my previous NP experience, but I think it is nice to get a range of experience.

  5. maisie*

    I don’t know if it’s my imagination, but your posts seem to be up really early lately, AAM? Either way, from someone on the other side of the world, I appreciate it! I love getting to read your posts with my morning coffee now!

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I often post the short-answers posts right after midnight my time … I’m a late sleeper, so that way there’s content in the morning!

      1. Jessa*

        I’m like that I tend to get to read you very early in the morning, today is actually unusual that I’m getting to the post late. I like having another “up late like me” person on the blogosphere.

      2. jesicka309*

        I love it! My timezone is so far removed from yours, that Mini answers Monday comes up at about 3 pm-4 pm on Mondays.

        Perfect for reading when I have my afternoon tea break. :)

    2. Evan the College Student*

      And I stay up late, so I often see them right around midnight (in my time zone, at least) and read them right before bed!

    3. Jen in RO*

      I love that too! Posts show up around 8.30 AM my time, which is perfect for a short read just before I go to work.

  6. majigail*

    #6- Without knowing much about your city and the rest of your situation, I’d say to look for a job in your field- whatever interests you and figure out getting there when you get it. RideSharing programs, public transportation, biking if that’s an option. Check in with your state to see if you qualify for assistance in finding a job through the department of rehab, look to independent living centers in your area to see if they have suggestions on how others in your situation in your town deal with transportation.
    Good luck!

    1. Elizabeth West*

      Depending on what resources are available in OP #6’s state, Vocational Rehabilitation may also be able to provide job training. But in my experience (what I’m doing right now), it’s either/or–they do placement and job coaching OR education–not both.

      If you go for the job training/school option, you’ll have to tell them exactly what you want to do. Because they will ask “Well, what is it you want to train for?” That one was a real PITA for me–because I had no frigging idea!

      1. Jessa*

        Voc rehab if asked will partner you with a job coach person who can evaluate your skills and give you a starting point. But you probably have to point it up to them. My experience with VR is they are best when you can manage THEM rather than the other way around. Because well, low money available for them to spend on services coupled with huge caseloads, mean they respond better to pro-active seekers. They just don’t have the time and energy to go the very last mile unless someone asks. I think partly because if you are pro-active psychologically they’re more willing to help because they feel you’ll get more out of their limited resources than someone who just sits back.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Yes, this. Thank you. You said it better than I did.

          I’m in school now and at a job that fits right into it (for experience and perhaps a permanent career). The hardest part has been doing it around all the horrible personal crap. They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger–I think it just grinds you down.

  7. scmc*

    #6–look into your local government (or even local offices of federal govt). They have programs for hiring disabled workers, so they will probably be the most accommodating. And with public transportation, rideshares, etc, hopefully you can make it work. Good luck!

    1. Anonymous*

      Yes. The VA in particular is very accommidating to disabled workers not just veterans and is embracing the telework (work from home) concept when possible particularly the Office of Information and Technology(obviously not the VA health care jobs).

      I only mention the VA in particular because I work there, but I bet a lot of other national government agencies would be similar in accomidations for disability and the federal government is pushing the work from home concept.

      It is worth you looking into, but I’ll admit that in my experience even for jobs that could be full-time work from home from the start they tend to prefer brand new employees working from an office.

  8. Kay*

    To #6
    I work as an employment specialist helping blind and visually impaired individuals get long term employment. A lot of the people I work with are interested in the work from home options for exactly the reasons you listed. In my experience the biggest question you need to ask yourself about any work from home opportunity is if it sound too good to be true. That generally rules out most of the scams. Most legitimate work from home opportunities tend to require a lot of work (and self-motivation), and generally do not pay beyond 8-10 dollars an hour. The jobs that require more specialized training tend to pay slightly more, but need certification to get in to (I am thinking of medical transcription or telephone triage).

    I wasn’t certain from your letter if you were adverse to doing call center work, because there are certainly legitimate work from home opportunities in that field, but you have to be willing to put the hours in and, of course, make outbound phone calls.

    Basically what it comes down to is that most work from home opportunities require some research before jumping in to them, but after a little bit of googling, the scams tend to show themselves.

    This is an employer dedicated to employing people with disabilities, specifically for work from home jobs. They tend to have phone jobs, but it could be interesting.

    I have read the blog work from home adventures to get a better idea of what is out there, and what is legit or not.

    1. Jessa*

      Actually I had an inbound customer service job at home. The only problem is that the training is on site for about 3 weeks and maybe a day or so a month. I was able to work around the occasional coming in stuff (I made an ADA thing of it,) but the initial training you’d have to work with a group that can get you transport.

      Also when I started with it it was new to the company. It wasn’t long after that, that they started doing web based training things and phone training.

      So companies that do email response and other things also do home based stuff. It doesn’t have to be out bound.

  9. Jean*

    #6 – As per your comment “I am currently expanding my knowledge in blogging [and] writing…” would you be interested in learning more about copyediting, proofreading, and the graphic design software used to lay out newsletters, marketing pieces, and books? Based on my job-hunting experience the areas of editing (make sure the text makes sense and doesn’t have typos) and graphic design (make sure the information is laid out to look good, and that headers, page #s, and other design or formatting elements are used consistently) are merging. You can do these tasks freelance–in fact I’ve seen several ads stating that an established organization is specifically seeking a contract or freelance editor/designer. Also, the internet lets you work remotely so you won’t be limited to your local area in finding opportunities.

    As for breaking into a new field, the usual applies: take a course, practice on your own, and find or create your own (often unpaid) internship. Perhaps the organizations in which you are already volunteering would welcome your copyediting skills. You’ve already proved your ability to take initiative, to keep going even if things get tough, and to reach out when you feel stuck. Good luck to you. I hope you find a satisfying new source of income.

    My disclaimer: I’m not a career counselor–I’m commenting as a plain old person who has been looking for copyediting jobs in my area (DC & Maryland) over the past 9+ months.

  10. Anonymous*

    #1 I get her not wanting to explain the full extent of the situation to a prospect but lying. Plus isn’t most grant information esp at a University public record–I could be wrong. She could have just said we need to fill this position temporarily for a year. I would make it a point to be a transparent, model employee and stick it out the year. That will be her loss not yours.
    This grates me because we experienced budget cuts and it was blamed on lack of grant funding. No biggie –budget cuts happen. However when we started to dig further and ask questions about the one had a clue and our supervisors flat out lied about having any knowledge of who even sat on the board. –Their credibility hit the sewer when we discover their names were on the board’s roster as members and their names appeared in the minutes.

    1. Anonymous*

      just want to clarify ‘the transparent, model employee’ part.

      Since you accepted the employment on the terms that the reason the position was ending in a year is because the grant may not be renewed. Then I think it’s reasonable, to be transparent about searching for a job and I *feel* she should reasonably accomodate you through the transition, since you’ve now learned that you will be out of a job regardless. Now whether she will do that is another question.

      1. Anonymous*

        My position is grant-funded, and this goes against almost all the normal behavior with grant-funded positions. Yes, usually they are limited term, and yes if you know where to look you can usually find some specifics about a grant, including how much is allocated for payroll versus other expenses (this is a pain to do, so almost no one ever does it). Almost all of the time you are told when you start how long the grant last, how long the funding for your position lasts (not always the same), and what else is covered under the grant. What is also the norm is knowing that if you work continues to be “good” that often that will be included on another grant, and your position will be extended, even if job duties change somewhat. What this person did was shady at best, at worst is might actually violate some rules and regs at the granting agency or what the university. For example at my uni, all job openings have to be posted, and it states that they follow equal opportunity guidelines, so even if there is a candidate in mind, the hiring manager has to at least look like they will consider other candidates. This comes very close to violating the hiring rules at my employer, and could at the OP’s university. People in grant-funded like to stay at the same position, but will change jobs due to who has a grant, but tend to stay in the same field, and they tend to talk their job situation a lot (my grant is ending, how long is your grant?) So everyone in the OP’s department will eventually learn of what this person did, and it’s likely they will find it very difficult to hire internal candidates after this. Or even external candidates depending on how close the field is.

        1. Ann O'Nemity*

          Very good points. As someone who has worked in academia and on grants, the OP’s situation sounds awful. One year of busting her butt and she will have very little to show for it. It’s really not comparable to a one-year position at a for-profit.

        2. Waiting Patiently*

          I think we have all agreed that this was shady and a bad situation. The question is what should the op do?

          1. 4:10 anon*

            Start looking for another job. Probably not at their current place of employment, unless there is someone else employed there who can give a good reference. A lot of jobs in academia (excluding tenure-track professors) come through personal references.

    2. EngineerGirl*

      The problem with the scenario as presented was that the OP took the position with some hope that the grant would be renewed if s/he did the right things. But there never was hope. And on top of that, the OP is utilizing personal contacts for the benefit of an unscrupulous department. I’m saying department here because there were at least 2 people here that chose to carry out deceit.

      1. EngineerGirl*

        To clarify: I would have a hard time using my personal contacts to advocate for a bunch of liars. When I use a personal contact, it is essentially an endorsement. So the firm I endorse reflects on my reputation. I now know they lied on at least one thing. Are there similar lies elsewhere? Because really, people willing create a deception that was pre-planned and coordinated are likely to deceive about other things too.

        1. Waiting Patiently*

          It seems like the op is considering staying til the end of the year–so she will either have to put real effort into her work or leave asap.

          While I understand the op not wanting to pour all her resources into the position because clearly her manager lied and it does makes you wonder what else she would be deceptive about, but I *think* the manager viewed this is a “little white that wouldn’t hurt anyone” ,a lie of omission, and the false ‘loophole’ she created would help her colleague secure her position once her grant year ended. The position probably had to be filled at the time or they might would have lost funding if the manager waited for the co-worker’s grant year to end or whatever the reason could have been.
          The op said her manager was red– *mostly likely* embarrassed that her lie was found out which is why she proceed to offer up the real reason. She probably felt a sense of loyalty to the colleague who applied for the grant. I’m not saying what she did is right— because it’s not. It sounds like office politics–. Also judging by the co-workers jealous attitude, the op is a real threat to her position. I’m a believer in karma. Just because op laid some groundwork for her…can she really keep the ball going?

          *the above anonymous was me* I was on the computer at my bf’s house and had to get my AAM fix in and didn’t won’t to leave my name in the field…

          1. 4:10 anon*

            This manager must have been really new to grant-funded positions, because this isn’t a “white-lie” this is a major violation of what is considered “acceptable” in these kinds of positions.

            Also this manager might have tanked the OP’s ability to network at the new job, because of the co-workers bad-mouthing or the inability of the manager to give a good reference for the OP, because it would look bad to others if the entire situation was explained (and if it ever got out it could tank the manager getting help from anyone else in that department, because is/appearing to be not-trustworthy on grants).

  11. Steve*

    #6 – can you move to a city and walk a fair bit? I lived right outside of boston in my 20s, and half of my friends didn’t have a car.

  12. Josh S*

    #3: Adding a part time job to your duties.

    In addition to what Alison said, I think that if your boss(es) thought you had the capacity to do the extra work, they’d probably add it to your plate without giving you more pay for it. It’s particularly unlikely that they’ll be “hiring” you for a “second” position, so much as just adding the duties on to your current job.

    So be careful what you wish for. If you express interest in doing this new position, you might end up getting all the work and none of the pay (or the expectation that you finish that job during your normal hours so they don’t have to pay you overtime, etc).

    1. Anonymous*

      “In addition to what Alison said, I think that if your boss(es) thought you had the capacity to do the extra work, they’d probably add it to your plate without giving you more pay for it. It’s particularly unlikely that they’ll be “hiring” you for a “second” position, so much as just adding the duties on to your current job. ”

      Agreeing and I was just about to post…

      #3 don’t do it. While in theory it sounds good it could also be a nightmare and a bit arkward situation for you and others depending on the type of role you now have and the part-time role you would be fulfilling…

  13. (The daughter of) Josh S*

    7’2llllllllllllllllllllllllllllfjgyddddsddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddcdcsedsa1e`111b fn,vx v fbgghiiiiiiiiieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeedcooooooooooooooooooooooooooooool

    (Sorry for the odd, off-topic nature of this post. Alison’s youngest ‘reader,’ aka “The daughter of Josh S”, really wanted to add her thoughts. Unfortunately, she’s not the strongest keyboarder at this point in her 20 month old life. I’m sure she’ll have more insightful things to say in a month or two…)

    1. Elizabeth West*

      Has the cat been teaching her how to type? ;)

      Seriously, that’s cute. Made my day.

      1. Josh S*

        Well, I no longer let the cats use my buttwarmerlaptop, ever since I had to clean my old one out and saw how much cat hair was under the keys…ew. So I don’t think she learned it from them.

        But the little one climbed/crawled into my lap and started poking at the keys. I think she wanted to be like daddy, which makes me happy.

          1. Josh S*

            I really am lucky. (Which I need to remember as I attempt to zen out the next time she throws a tantrum because I gave her the “wrong” type of cheese, even though it’s her favorite, or any of the other things you might see at Reasons my Son is Crying… )

  14. VictoriaHR*

    #6 – if you have marketing experience, you could look into recruiting. Many national staffing firms have remote recruiter positions available, and some of them have entry-level. Recruiting involves a fair amount of sales skills, so if you have those you might be able to get in at the bottom level at a remote position and work your way up.

  15. (The daughter of) Josh S*

    #5: Freelance and regular work

    This is why it’s also useful to write into your freelance contracts the ability to terminate a contract by either party with 2 weeks notice (while being paid for work done). All my contracts contain such a clause, and while I’ve never exercised it, I’m glad to know that if a super-awesome full time job came along I’d be able to “give notice” and end the contract. (Of course, like you, my preference would be to not leave anyone in the lurch, and I’d most likely spend nights/weekends finishing it. But having the option is nice.)

      1. Elizabeth West*

        LOL I’ve done that when posting under something else.

        That’s a very good point. It would also be useful in cases where the job wasn’t working out, i.e. the client is a @*#!, there was some kind of issue, etc.

  16. Seal*

    #1 – In addition to talking to your manager again, you should also talk to HR – they need to know about your manager’s lack of integrity. The fact that this woman got flustered when you asked reasonable questions about the future of the grant and your position speaks volumes. There was certainly no reason for her not to have told you up front about her plans for your position, particularly since it’s obvious your coworker is in on it. If she’s lying about a grant-funded position, what else is she up to? Best case scenario is that this was a lapse of judgement; worst case is that her actions might jeopardize the grant. Either way, HR needs to know.

    1. fposte*

      While HR may be relevant here in some universities, it wouldn’t be in mine. Unfortunately, that means that there may not be anybody who actually does cover the personnel component–you can mention it to a department dean (especially if you have student status), a relevant executive admin, or a PI and see what happens.

      1. Ann O'Nemity*

        Agree with fposte. In my experience, university HR wouldn’t touch this with a 10 foot pole.

      2. 4:10 anon*

        I posted above that it comes close to violating my uni’s rules, but I know in similar situations with bad manager’s they’ve done nothing about the situation.

  17. #7 Poster*

    Person who wrote in with question #7 here! Well it sounds like there are no optimal solutions here. I plan to talk to my manager about my concerns regarding the duties, but if the job is what it is (and that means it’s different than what I was led to expect when I accepted), could I actually start job searching? How on earth do you legitimately job search when you only have a couple months at a position on your resume? Or would I need to leave completely?

    1. Noelle*

      I can definitely sympathize, I once left a job after only a month because it was a terrible fit and I was miserable. It was a little different though because I had had at least a couple years of experience at my previous positions and I was able to return to my former job. You should definitely start by talking to your manager and see if there are ways you can work to improve the job. If that fails, and you’re really unhappy there, I think you should start looking.

      It probably will be harder to get a job with only a couple months at this position, but I’d advise networking. Alison has recommended that for people who have a history of job-hopping, and it allows you to explain in person why you’re leaving and avoid some of the questions that go along with it. Many people will sympathize with having a job that just isn’t a good fit and won’t hold it against you.

  18. Susan*

    #6 – work at home opportunities–have you looked into indexing? UC-Berkeley has an online course that I took a few years ago; I started marketing my services; and have indexed many, many books since then. Also check out ASI (American Society of Indexers) for more details. Good luck!

    1. Rana*

      Seconding this recommendation, at least if you’re the sort of person who enjoys the particular sort of mental work involved in indexing. (I do, but I have colleagues who tried it and loathed it.)

      However, one disadvantage of freelancing is that you’re the entire show – there’s no back-up, and in addition to the particular skills and services you’re offering to clients, you’ll need to get up to speed on things like keeping track of your business finances (and taxes – freelance taxes are a scary, scary thing), marketing, filing, etc.

      If you can pull it off, it’s great, but it’s also something with a steep learning curve and a lot of unreliable years in the beginning.

  19. Elle*

    #1 – One of the greatest assets any person has is their reputation. I would start looking for another job and I would be letting everyone in my wider network know about the job switch. Blacken their names. Because they have no integrity and people should know it.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      Yeaaaaaah, no.

      That would only make the OP look vindictive. It’s best not to have something like that following you around, because you never know who you’ll end up working for, who they know, etc. That could bite her in the ass but good.

      1. Waiting Patiently*

        #1 – One of the greatest assets any person has is their reputation.

        And that would be all the more reason to not stoop to their level by bad mouthing them.

  20. Elizabeth West*

    #3–two positions

    Wow, there is no company I know of that would pay someone two salaries to do two positions. What usually happens is one person does the work of two for the same salary. That’s the post-recession norm. Good luck with that one!

    #7–new job sucks

    It usually takes me six months at least to settle into a new job, but I’ve known in as little as two whether or not I could continue. It really depends on what is happening there.

    I’d give it a bit longer, really. A few weeks isn’t much to go on unless something egregious is happening.

    The thing you’re spending way more time on may be something they want to make sure you can do perfectly. At NewJob, I have a thing that is maybe 20% of my job, but it’s extremely nit-picky and we have spent buckets of time making sure I have it right. Once they know you have the hang of it, they may introduce more of the other stuff.

    As for the commute, books on tape? Maybe a different route (if the current one has crazy traffic, etc.)? Not sure if you’re driving or using public trans. If the latter, bring a book or something? I like listening to my favorite music in the car on the way to work, especially when I can sing really loudly, because it helps me wake up. Sweeney Todd FTW! :)

  21. Liz in the City*

    I’m going to reiterate some things people have already mentioned:
    –SEO writing
    –Social media / community manager for brands (you’d oversee their Twitter, FB, blogs, Pinterest, etc. accounts) — a friend of mine just got a job doing this that’s completely work from home (She had her own blog and Twitter account to point to as experience).
    –Copy editing or proofreading, especially if you have ANY medical background.
    I hear you on the MS. I’ve got it too.

    1. Jenny*

      Yep it isn’t fun. Somedays you feel normal and like you can conquer the world and then a little flare up can knock you on your but. My main problem is depth perception. So I still (luckily) can do a lot-but not drive!

  22. Marina*

    Maybe I’m missing something, but I wouldn’t be that bothered by #1. You were told it’s a one year position, and it is a one year position. Obviously the manager shouldn’t have misled you about the reason for that, but your job and future plans shouldn’t have changed significantly.

    1. Cassie*

      I kind of agree with you. It’s a one year position that the OP was offered and that’s what she accepted. What happens with the position and grant after the one year is up, well, it’s not her job to worry about. Also, just because the end date of the grant says 2017 doesn’t necessarily mean the funding is guaranteed.

      Of course, the manager shouldn’t have told her that the grant was ending in one year. It’s a weird situation so I’m not sure the truth would have been that much better. I don’t think HR would care to get involved, and as for a dept chair or dean? Depends on the individual but they might not care either. (It’s not clear to me whether this is a research type of position or an admin position).

      For the OP, she should just do her best at her current job, and when her one year is close to being up, start looking for other jobs then. Who knows what’ll happen in a year – it’s possible her coworker may be offered a better job elsewhere, or get involved in yet a different project, or the grant could be cut. But at least she’ll have had a year’s experience that she can use to springboard to another position. I think it’s sufficient for the OP to say it was a one year contract position because that’s what it was. I don’t think employers are going to go pull up grant records (some are public, some aren’t) and verify when the expiration date was.

  23. Mel*

    #6–I work for an online start-up and hire people from all of the time. Native English speakers are especially in demand. You can also try

    1. Sniper*

      I’ve applied for a bunch of things on odesk…haven’t had any luck yet. Must not be applying to your company ;)

      1. Jenny*

        I have thought of and odesk. I was also starting thinking of starting some form of blog. I went to Ezine to see if they would accept papers I have written but I don’t have a blog or website to promote yet. Which came first the chicken or the egg?

  24. Anon*

    #4 Can we trade? At my non-profit, it’s crazy. No one ever stops and people who arn’t hourly usually work at least 50 hours a week if not 60. Almost everyone feels stressed out all the time.

    And here I thought all non-profits were crazy because they were under staffed :D

    1. Nonprofit Poster*

      Strangely, we are understaffed, but hardly anyone feels the fire beneath them. I don’t get it.

  25. Garrett*

    Just to reiterate on what has already been said on #3. If you ask for the job you are indirectly telling your boss that you don’t have enough work to do and that can be dangerous. If the skills are something you want to add to your resume, you can certainly inquire about the work to gain the experience but don’t expect to be compensated.

  26. Jenny*

    I am #6.

    Thanks all. We all seem to be on the same page- I worked with VR, did Call-a-Ride to other non work at home jobs, now am working with My Employment Options which also helps with home based jobs. In fact I am late to the party because I started a new job today and have been in training! Voc. Rehab- well it is a good idea and necessary channel for Ticket to Work. The two companies I was outsourced to were just not that good. I asked once if they could help with finding at home work and just basically said no. I am not a HR rep or social worker but within 4 minutes Googled found My Employment options and contacted them. Call a Ride was a problem for reliable transport-they would get me to places before building was unlocked or late for shift. I am in St. Louis (THE SUBURBS OF ST. LOUIS!!!) and we are sorely lacking in reliable and safe public transit.

    I also have been looking into blogging, website design and other more self starting opportunities (that’s how I found Ask a Manager!)-but I will be honest, it is scary. And yes, maybe I don’t have enough faith in myself. It seems daunting and time consuming. And also, well the fear of failure. Thanks to all for the responses and I am open to any ideas. You all basically intoned what I was thinking!

      1. Jenny*

        Yes, St. Louis is not equipped that well for mass transit in suburbs. I actually got a call back from a local liturgical company in sales and media and had to decline because though it is only 10 minutes from my house Call a Ride will not cross the bridge into the St. Charles area because of jurisdiction issues!

        1. Trisha*

          You should check out Bender Consulting. They promote current openings for people with disabilities. I would imagine that companies that are actively recruiting those with disabilities, they may be more flexible in terms of working from home.

  27. likesdesifem*

    With respect to number 2, it’s not my intention to be rude, however I think a good employee resourcing/recruitment manager would laugh out loud at that line.

    “fast food”? “child rearing”? What does “fast food” mean exactly? Cooking burgers or fried chicken? Mopping the floor in a Subway restaurant (technically it’s a job in the fast food industry, even if it’s not directly cooking food or serving customers)? As for child rearing, well raising children is natural and requires no true effort. Many people in the world are evidently parents, and this cannot per se be cited as applicable career experience. To be succinct, these descriptions are too non-descript. The examples per se are not bad, but they are bad in the manner they’re stated.

    It may be better to say HOW these roles will make recruitment managers select your for interviews and/or positions. Even if the fast food job was putting together burgers per customer orders, you could say “my experience in Burger King/McDs/Wendy’s made me appreciate the value of quality, and aligning products to meet customer requirements. With these traits, I am confident that I can ensure all work I produce will meet organisational requirements and serve to ensure products accurately meet customers’ needs.”

    This may seem a stretch, but technically it’s true. Making burgers obviously must be done in a clean environment, using the correct ingredients, and in a manner that the customer will value. So my aforementioned point makes sense, despite it seeming too abstract.

    Also, leave off the child rearing thing. I would say that natural functions and to some extent hobbies and interests cannot be used as career experience. I say to some extent, since (for example) if one organises paintball tournaments in one’s spare time, this could be used to denote how people skills, general organisational skills and customer value has been developed. It obviously depends on the nature/extent of the hobby.

    1. anon...*

      “.. raising children is natural and requires no true effort.”

      you obviously have no children and have zero
      clue what you are talking about!

  28. Meghan Magee*

    #6 Give the ‘call centers’ a try! That is how my company usually brings people in for higher positions. It helps new employees really understand, from the ground level, the face that the company presents to the everyday customer. I’ve been working from home for going on 6 years now and my experience with this company started (13 years ago) with an on site call center that has since been made 100% remote.

    1. Jenny*

      Hello Megan!

      I started training with a company yesterday for a temp/contract WAH agent on Monday. I was surprised because all 4 of the trainers, HR etc. started in the same position. Do you have any tips or trade secrets on how to stand out?

      I was surprised because when I looked up this company on LinkedIn and Glassdoor one of the complaints was lack of opportunities for growth!

  29. Danielle K.*

    What state does #6 live in?

    I have a friend in MA who cannot drive due to MS. She gets “The Ride” (a state funded transportation vehicle for elderly & disabled) to take her to and from work every day.

    Is there something like this offered in #6’s state?

    1. Jessa*

      The problem with this is there is no guarantee of it being on time. Friends of mine have lost more jobs because the stupid transit company does NOT care that they can be fired for being late. Now this was in Florida and Ohio it may be different in other states. But I would never depend on them to get me somplace on time every time. And they usually don’t go early enough to say “okay I need to be there at 8 I’m gonna tell them 7.”

      1. Jenny*

        Yes Jessa that was a problem. My best friend owned a Gooey Butter cake store that shipped to the continental U.S. and I worked as a manager of the shipping department until it was not feasible for them to keep that department. It was perfect though-I worked from home about 10 hours and then had her pick me up for in store/office days. I also had a younger woman and a younger cousin hired there. So I did have a carpool set up at one time!

  30. Hannah M*

    #6 – I am currently sans transportation, so I am working at home as well. I’m been working with, an online content mill, for about a year now. You are given an “author rating” of 2, 3, or 4, based on the quality of your articles. Authors get paid a certain price per word based on their rating. If you are a decent writer with a good grasp of grammar and get a level 4 rating, you can easily make a decent amount – certainly more than, say, minimum wage. (Your author rating is reviewed regularly, so if you are rated a 3 at first, you can always work your way up to a 4.) I am currently averaging around $20 an hour. It’s the best low-hassle online writing job I’ve found.

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