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. Will my sister be judged by employers for being pregnant and unmarried?

My sister is pregnant and unmarried and just starting out in her career. I’m personally okay with the unmarried thing — she has a boyfriend and will probably will get married. If they don’t, that’s also fine with her (and me!). But what do employers and coworkers think about that? She started a position at the end of last year and while our industry is pretty accepting (tattoos, piercings, casual attire), I’m nervous about her only being junior level and needing to take maternity leave in the beginning of 2014 when she will only have been on board one year and only a college grad for two years. What are the thoughts around this?

Are you in a particularly conservative part of the country where people are known for judging this kind of thing? If not, this is going to be a non-issue. (Plus, if I’m doing the math right, she’ll be having the baby when she’s about 24 — which is on the young side for having a kid, but not shockingly so by any means.)

2. Can I ask for a pro-rated bonus when I’m leaving?

I work for a small but sophisticated organization (less than 10 people, almost all attorneys). Despite our abundance of lawyers, we do not have any formal employee policies or handbooks. We are paid an annual salary that, by my managers’ own admission, is under market, but they compensate for that somewhat with a 12% annual bonus and a lot of flexibility. It is not written anywhere that you need to stay the whole year to receive the bonus, but that’s the implicit understanding. At the same time, this is very much a place where people come for a few years and then move on. It’s not a forever type of organization, and they are pretty open about that. (In fact, I know that at least one person prior to me received a pro rated share of his bonus, though he stayed until August.)

I plan on giving notice next week and would like to strike a deal in which I give a them a month transition time instead of the customary 2 weeks, and do a bang-up job ensuring the smoothest possible transition. (I am quite senior and have a wealth of knowledge; my loss will not be easy on the organization), in exchange for a prorated piece of my bonus. I was thinking of presenting it as something like: “I have an offer that I plan to accept, but they are flexible in my start date. I would like to give you another month, during which I would be happy to train my replacement and ease this transition in any way possible. In return, I would like to be paid a pro rata share of my annual bonus.” I have a list of why I think this is the fair thing for them to do — including the fact that I only took 4 weeks maternity leave a couple years ago upon finding myself due right at my organization’s busiest time. Am I approaching this in a reasonable manner? I would love your insights.

Well, first, you need to understand that bonuses are a retention strategy. They have no incentive to pay it when it’s clearly not going to help retain you. So you need to make a different argument. Offering to help with the transition during your remaining weeks isn’t a good argument, but it’s assumed that you’ll do that as part of being a responsible professional who wants a good reference; implying it’s contingent on getting a bonus would be a bad thing. Connecting it to taking a short maternity leave a few years ago isn’t a good argument either; that’s in the past, it was presumably something you chose to do, and if they were going to reward you financially for doing that, it would have already happened. If you think they’ll want you to give four weeks notice instead of two weeks — want it enough to pay extra for it — then that would be a good argument. But that’s the only one I’d use. (Although you could also offer to be available for questions for a while after you leave, to sweeten the pot, if you wanted to.)

Of course, you could also just do a straightforward appeal of “I’ve worked hard while I’m here, I’ve done an excellent job, and I hope you’ll consider paying me the pro-rated portion of the bonus I would have earned had I stayed.” Some employers will respond to that, and some won’t.

3. Preparing to leave a job to move in a few months

I’ve been planning on leaving my job for about a year, and recently my wife accepted an offer in another city. We’re planning on moving around July 20. I’m not sure how far in advance I should give notice. I don’t expect to be told to leave as soon as I give notice, but I do expect to have to train my replacement or another staff member as my immediate superior doesn’t have the technical skills to do so.

I also have two follow up questions (if that’s okay): I know that my boss has had trouble finding desirable applicants lately and I wanted to offer to assist in the search for a replacement, but I don’t know if that’s a faux-pas. Second, I don’t yet have a job in my new city, but a company that operates nationally that we are partnered with for many projects has opportunities for work there. The manager there wouldn’t hire me without my boss’s blessing, is it alright to broach the subject when I give notice?

How much notice to gives depends 100% on how your manager and your company handle long notice periods. If you’ve seen that they handle them well and don’t push people out the door sooner than they wanted to go, then tell them now. Hiring takes a while, and if they want you to train your replacement, they’ll need to start the process now. (Alternately, though, if they had a track record of pushing people out early, they would have forfeited the right to a long notice period.)

You can absolutely offer to help search for a replacement; there’s nothing inappropriate about that offer. And you can also tell your manager that you’re interested in approaching the company they work with that has offices in your new city. When you’re leaving because you’re moving, this stuff isn’t generally taken personally the way if sometimes would be if you were staying in your same location.

4. Should I be concerned that my job is going to go away?

I work in membership for a large-ish trade association. Much of this job involves working with our organization’s AMS (association management system) to update records, enter new applications for membership and renewals, payment information, etc. Our organization’s operation is somewhat behind the times as far as associations go, but we’re about to change AMS vendors and work with a more lightweight system that has more potential for integration with our other services and more ease of use.

Here is my dilemma: my department is comprised of four people with mainly the same duties (one of us is our department coordinator and has more reporting and administrative responsibility). We are moving to the new AMS in August, and as we learn more about it I am finding that many of the tasks that we are responsible for are going to be automated, with plans to automate more of them in the future.

Should I be concerned, when it seems like a very large percentage of my job is soon going to become irrelevant? I’m having trouble seeing how they can necessitate a department of four people when many of our tasks are going to be going away. Management is pretty sure that our jobs are safe, but I am not sure how much faith I should put into them. Do you have any ideas?

Ask what the plans are for your department’s work distribution once the bulk of its tasks are automated. Do they sound like they have a concrete plan? Or do they sound vague? If they sound vague, that’s a danger sign — they either haven’t thought it through yet (and thus their assurances about keeping you all on are meaningless) or they’re not sharing information with you for a reason. And keep in mind that it’s very, very common for employers not to tell people they’re being laid off until they actually are — which doesn’t mean that’s happening here, but it’s something you want to be aware of.

Regardless, start searching. You don’t have to take an offer if you get one, but job searches take a long time, and by starting now, you’ll be ahead of the game if it turns out in the fall that you need to be.

5. What’s the best way to approach a mentor?

I have some questions about how to approach a mentor I’ve been matched to through my company’s career development program. I went to them because I know the type of work I’d like to go into, but not what actual positions and education that translates to. They connected me to a Very, Very Important Person at my company, who agreed to meet with me to chat about it.

I see people on AAM both frustrated with mentees asking too much and asking too little. Do you have any advice for striking the right balance of engagement vs asking for too much? I feel my questions are inherently a little broad and maybe even difficult, but the counselor said she thought this was the best person to ask. I’m intimidated and nervous of making a bad impression.

Start off by saying, “I’m worried my questions might be too broad to answer easily, so please tell me if that’s the case.” This is usually the best strategy when you have a worry like this — just put it on the table, so the person knows you’ve recognized it as a concern, and then you’ll look considerate and thoughtful if turns out to actually be one. (And even if it doesn’t.)

But questions about figuring out what type of specific positions and education match up with the type of work you’d like to do are precisely the sort of thing that mentors in your field can usually answer.

6. How to handle a contact who hasn’t gotten back to me

I’ve been unemployed for the past several months, and over lunch with an old supervisor, found a position I was interested in at a place this person use to work. He gave me a hiring manager’s name and told me to call and ask about the position. However, this person isn’t necessarily the hiring manager for this particular position. Anyway, the problem is that every time I call, I either get an automated message, or I am told she is out of the office and will get back to me. It’s been four days and I haven’t heard back. The position has been opened for a while, and I would still like to apply. Do I just address the cover letter as Dear Hiring Managers, or do I keep trying to reach this person?

On a sidenote, I was able to find this particular hiring manager on LinkedIn, so I’m trying to decide if it would be appropriate to go ahead and send in a cover letter and resume, and then try to connect with this particular hiring manager over LinkedIn?

Go ahead and apply and address it to “dear hiring manager” if you’re not sure of the name. You can continue trying to reach the contact you have, but give it a week before you try again. And if you don’t get a response to that, then give up. You’ll have reached out and expressed interest, and at that point it’s in her court, and it’ll be annoying if you keep trying.

As for connecting over LinkedIn, you can certainly try. I’m not a big fan of strangers connecting over LinkedIn because they want a job, but some people are fine with it, and it won’t hurt either way.

7. Mentioning a certification that I don’t yet have

I am currently working on a certification that is extremely relevant in my industry — most job postings have it as a preferred qualification (if not mandatory, in some cases). I am registered for all three exams and will be certified by November of 2013 (contingent on my passing the exams, but I don’t think that will be an issue).

Can I put that I am actively pursuing the certification on my resume, expected November 2013? Or would you recommend that I leave it off until I have passed all three exams?

Yes, put it on, with the date that it’s expected.

{ 120 comments… read them below }

  1. mako*

    Typo in answer #2 – something you chose to “due” instead of “do”. Though somehow fitting with pregnancy question.

  2. OneoftheMichelles*

    Hi OP #1,
    I’ve worked all sorts of places–corporate and non–and the only time I’ve seen this come up was ONE assistant manager at one business got all worked up about another employee being unmarried and pregnant. He didn’t approve because it was outside his religious ideas and actually argued with her that she was irresponsible for not getting an abortion–then refused to speak to her on the job! (speaking of irresponsible…)

    Plenty of people will be mature enough to handle it, even if it’s not how they would like the world to be. I expect the good employers want a competent employee, not a saint to worship around the office.

    Congrats on becoming an Aunt!

    1. Jessa*

      Exactly. Unless it’s a religious organisation or a company run by very religious people (I’m thinking but not accusing of this places like Chik fil a or Hobby Lobby,) I can’t see where being unwed would be a problem. It’s not really their business. But I’d Google the company and maybe some kind of search terms about conservative-ness or religiousness of leadership just in case.

      1. Not quite*

        Not quite. My wife works for chick fil a and they have several girls and guys who are single parents. They are not as judgemental as those who accuse them of such things. They have pretty consistently loved on the future moms and the little babies, at least at the three different stores she has worked at the past 5 years.

        1. Marmite*

          I think Chick-Fil-A are franchised. If so, the conservativeness of management and employees will likely vary greatly by franchise. The views of the president of the chain are known to be anti-gay marriage, but there was a franchise in California, for example, that responded to the company president’s “traditional family values” statements by offering free meals to gay marriage supporters.

          1. What?!?!?!*

            They are indeed franchised. But corporate chooses who gets a franchise. And Chick fil a does NOT discriminate based on Sexual Orientation. Some people can separate their personal beliefs from their corporate ones. Mr. Cathy does that. He does not believe in Gay Marriage, does not mean that he will not treat gay people with respect in his stores.

            1. Joey*

              Come on now. I dont know of a fast food chain with a significant number of franchises that hasnt settled or lost a number of discrimination cases. Its the nature of a low wage uneducated work force.

            2. Anonymous*

              If you don’t support my equal rights (especially when you say that my right to get married is invited God’s condemnation on the whole country) you are not treating me with respect. I believe what you mean is “probably won’t say he believes gay folks are inferior to their faces.”

              Further, Chick fil A has made donations to conservative organizations that oppose same-sex marriage, so, so much for separating personal beliefs from corporate.

              1. The IT Manager*

                Chick-Fil-A has never been about separating personal beliefs from coporate ones. All franchises are closed on Sundays because of religious beliefs despite the fact that they must lose them a good bit of business that way. I respect that the man is willing to lose money for his (religious) beliefs because so few people are these days. I certainly disagree with his opposition to gay marriage.

                1. Emily K*

                  IIRC from the one on my college campus *mumble* years ago, they also print a Bible verse on the bottom of all their cups and packaging. (Nothing hateful, John 3:16, I believe.)

                2. Forrest*

                  But if they’re franchises, then its not really him losing money – its the franchise owners and the low paid already workers.

                  Because lets be honest – Mr. Chick-fil-a is probably salaried, already weathly and isn’t working on Sundays regardless. Could he be richer? Sure but its like he’s really making a great scarfice.

              2. Jessa*

                @Anonymous – exactly. And just because a company doesn’t necessarily PUBLICLY treat someone badly because they’re gay, a single parent (who is unwed as opposed to widowed/ered, etc.) Does not mean that it is a comfortable place to work for them.

                Most people I know who are gay wouldn’t WANT to work for him because of his beliefs and the fact that he very publicly puts his very large amount of money out there to support them, so I’m not sure how they’d be subtly treated in his stores or franchise stores.

                Yes Chik fil a is not Cracker Barrel, but still I can’t see there not being a kind of quiet “OMG she’s pregnant,” thing with SOME franchisees.

                1. What?!?!?!*

                  Right!?! That is why the employee turnover rate is 60% yearly compared to 107% for the industry. Because it is such an aweful place to work. Guess I need to go into the three stores that I mentioned earlier and have a talk with the gay people working there because they do not fit your view of what should be working there! SMH, sometimes the bigotry of the left amazes me.

            3. Marmite*

              If corporate choose who gets franchised AND they don’t discriminate then, as I said, it’s highly likely that the conservativeness of management at different franchised locations will vary greatly.

              1. EngineerGirl*

                So lets evaluate this data within the whole.
                #1 – they do careful screening to ensure a match with company culture. That’s good business practice.
                #2 – EEOC issued a right to sue. Based on digging of other websites she may or may not have a case. But a GLBT website may have a biased view. Look deeper.
                #3 – In 24 years they’ve had 12 lawsuits. For a company that size it is an amazing track record, and well below normal. Other companies can only wish for data like that.

                I’m not sure what kind of point you’re trying to make. If it is to prove Chick-fil-a is discriminatory you’ve failed.

                1. Job seeker*

                  I agree. I am a Christian and although I do not eat Chick-fil-a food, I think they have a right to their policies and opinions. Why is it that only the liberal think they have rights? If you are the owner you should have the right to decide policies and principles you support.

                2. Cat*

                  Job Seeker, of course they have a right to have opinions. Other people have a right to not give money (however indirectly) to people with those opinions and to denounce them.

                3. Lindsay J*

                  @ job seeker.

                  Nobody is saying that the owners of Chick-fil-a should not have the right to support whatever principles they want to support. They are just stating that they do not agree with the principles on a personal level, and that they might not want to work there themselves or if they were a member of a group that Chick-fil-a might not support.

              2. Jamie*

                Among hourly workers turnover is 60%, compared with 107% for the industry. “We tell applicants, ‘If you don’t intend to be here for life, you needn’t apply,'” says Cathy, who opened his first restaurant in 1946.

                I’ve never been in one – almost tried it but learned of the politics (here, in fact) and to each his own but I prefer my lunch to be sans political statement.

                Anyway, I found the quote above from the first link fascinating. How on earth do they staff a fast food place if they are requiring a lifetime career commitment before you get to see the deep fryer? A lot of fast food workers are kids – high school, college, earning an honest dollar as they finish their education.

                Who makes that kind of commitment at that stage in their career? I wouldn’t make it at any stage, personally, but I am really fascinated by how they find people to go along with that nonsense.

                1. Laufey*

                  I can tell you from personal experience that there are loads of high school and college students working there. We certainly weren’t interested in doing that for life.

            4. Jessa*

              He does however have franchisees who do. And he doesn’t come down upon them very hard for it either.

            5. Xay*

              Yes, Chick-Fil-A is so good at separating their personal beliefs from corporate beliefs that they regularly include Focus on the Family material in their kids’ meals.

            6. A*

              I know from first hand experience that this is not always the case. Once again, one experience is not universal. Just as I wouldn’t say that ALL Chik Fil As discriminate (although I have a friend who won a lawsuit against them for getting fired when she came out), you should be careful about saying that ALL of them respect different sexual preferences.

              On a side note, I also worked law enforcement in a part of the country that has a lot of Chik Fil As and we dealt with several incidents related to mistreatment of people in the LGBT community by franchise owenrs – some of which were customers and some of which were employees. It definitely does happen.

        2. Jessa*

          Which is why I said thinking of but not accusing. I realise a lot of companies have reputations different from their home management, especially when separate store managers/franchisees are involved.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I dislike their food, which makes it easy to avoid them. It’s not anything special–just fatty chicken sammiches.

          1. Elizabeth*

            The only thing really special is that they brine their chicken in pickle juice. And I can do that at home!

    2. Kelly L.*

      What weird logic–most of the denominations that have an issue with unwed pregnancy also theoretically have an issue with abortion, but evidently he was more worried about appearances! Eye roll.

      1. Chinook*

        The newest Pope actually took his priests to task for this hypocrisy when he was a bishop. He publicly told them that you can’t refuse to baptize the child of an unwed mother and that all deserve to be loved. If you don’t believe abortion is right, then you must welcome every child with open arms.

        1. JuliB*

          Chinook – it’s a little more theologically complicated than that. When you baptize a child in the Catholic Church, you are promising to raise them as practicing Catholics, and that you are one as well. It can be said that if you are not going to change your lifestyle in the future, that you are not abiding by the rules of the Church. My guess is that the Pope has suggested to error on the side of mercy since it is nearly impossible to read the heart of a person – perhaps the mental desire is there, but the flesh is weak – who knows… (and by ‘flesh’ I mean it in the theological sense – we’re all sinners, can do better, etc. but being human makes our intentions imperfect. I’m not referring to sexual sin although it could be read that way).

          So really, it’s not quite hypocrisy – baptism is a big thing, and a serious parental/familial responsibility. If you are a nominal Catholic, and don’t intend to raise your kids believing in all of Catholicism, not just the parts that sound nice, do yourself a favor and get your child baptized is a non-Catholic church. There are plenty of them.

          1. Liz T*

            But does the Church hold that, say, Protestant baptisms have the same affect on the soul’s afterlife? I’d assumed that Church doctrine would only count Catholic baptisms as “real” baptisms, and that anyone else is not getting into Heaven. (I’m asking about official Vatican doctrine, of course–not about the beliefs of the average Catholic.)

            1. the gold digger*

              The Catholic church recognizes all baptisms in Christian churches as legit. If a Presbyterian wants to become Catholic, he does not have to be re-baptized. He just has to be confirmed in the Catholic church.

              (Slightly tangential: Mormons who want to convert to Catholicism, I have heard, must be baptized and confirmed.)

              1. Anonymous*

                The key for the Catholic church to recognize a baptism performed in another denomination is that is has to be done in the trinitarian format: i.e., I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit/Ghost.

            2. JuliB*

              What’s really neat Liz, is that anyone can baptize in an emergency/life and death situation and have it be valid, as long as it is done in the trinitarian formula. So yes, even an atheist can do it.

              1. Jamie*

                Is that kind of like you can write a check on anything in an emergency and as long as it has all the information a bank has to cash it?

                Or is that urban legend?

                1. Chinook*

                  I can’t speak for cashing the cheque, but it is true about anyone being able to baptize. When catologuing books at an old mission, I came across an old textbook from the early 20th century explaining to school children how to do an emergency baptism. I also had a school principal with no middle name because he was baptized by a nurse when he was born because no one thought he would make it through the night.

                  As for an atheist doing it, the only reason I could see atheist like YMMV doing it is because they knew it would be important to the other person or their parent (in a case similar to the one mentioned above).

                2. Chinook*

                  And sorry for thread-jacking. I don’t often to get to debate theology with anyone older than 14 and I didn’t realize what I had started when I made the comment. On the plus siden if any of you have questions the next open thread, you know that you will get 2 sides from me and JuliB as we have different points of view from within the same Church.

          2. Chinook*

            But JuliB, the Church also practices forgiveness (never mind the fact that the second may not have been consensual). If you have the intention of living according to the ways of the Church, it is not the place of anyone else to judge them based on past events.

            As well, baptism is the cleansing of a soul and a way to mark someone as a child of God, not just a sign of the parent’s intention of how to raise them. I agree you shouldn’t do it if you don’t believe in it, but you also shouldn’t go to one of the other denominations unless you believe their teachings as well. They are more than the “also ran” religions – treating them as such also shows a lack of respect for them and the children.

            As for Liz T’s question, Catholics believe that a baptism is a baptism regardless of who did it. If you convert from a Protestant church to a Catholic one, you don’t get “redunked.” Instead, you do a confirmation of your baptismal vows.

            1. JuliB*

              Chinook, you missed my entire point, I think. My main issue is that you called the priests who were concerned about not baptizing the children hypocrites (a tad judgmental language, it seems). I pointed out that there were real theological concerns, not just ‘hypocracy’.

              And I did say not to judge the internals, change going forward, blah blah blah. But, one is not prohibited to judge actions as conforming to the Church’s doctrine or not.

              As far as looking elsewhere, with no insult intended to any denomination, if you would persist in thinking that pre-marital sex is ok – again – not talking about one’s internal struggles, but thinking that the Church is wrong in this real doctrine, then how will you raise your children? There are many other churches out there that believe that sex outside of marriage isn’t a serious sin, etc. It’s just a matter of being honest with oneself.

              1. Chinook*

                I stand by calling priests who refuse to baptize the children of unwed mothers hypocrites (especially since Mary is the most famous one. She was technically engaged but Joseph was in his rights to divorce her under Jewish law). I don’t use that term lightly – if you believe in the value of a life from conception onward, they you need to practice that belief by allowing all equal access to baptism, which Catholics believe is necessary to mark you as a child of God (not doing so doesn’t send you to hell, BTW, but I don’t want to get into that debate here). A human life is a human life, regardless of how it starts. And, Catholics are taught to love one another, so refusing baptism to an innocent child seems to be the opposite of showing love.

                1. JuliB*

                  I’ve repeatedly said that there was more than one valid opinion (esp in relation to Canon Law 868) yet you insist on insulting priests who stand by this and believe in it to be hypocrites. And no, Mary wasn’t an unwed mother as we think of it – marriage occurred in 2 stages. The betrothal part was completed. Chinook, your replies to me are awfully close to being strawmen. Regardless, if you care to debate any other point of theology, you can find me at with the screen name sheeniac.

          3. EngineerGirl*

            My church refuses to perform infant baptisms. According to the church doctrine, baptism is something you do to publicly declare yourself a follower of Christ. Which of course means the ability to understand what that all means.
            Babies get dedications, with the parents agreeing to teach the child in the way of the Bible and the congregation agreeing to support them in that effort.
            In both cases there is an expectation that those involved will follow the doctrine outlined in the Bible.

            1. the gold digger*

              EG, that is the function of confirmation in the Catholic church – for the accountable, adult person to choose for herself to be a member of the church. It usually happens in high school.

              To get super theological, it is my understanding that infant baptism is to get rid of original sin.

  3. PEBCAK*

    #7: The sooner you can get the first exam knocked out, the better. If it’s just three exams, and you’ve done none of them, it puts you on shaky ground to say it’s “in progress”. Passing the first one makes a huge difference, IMO.

    1. KV*

      First exam was passed on Friday! Thanks for all of the advice – I greatly appreciate it.

    2. just another hiring manager...*

      I have to disagree! In many industries where tests, certifications, or other such requirements need to be met, it is VERY common to include them on your resume as in progress. Back when I was a college career counselor, on-campus recruiters and employers in areas like accounting, education, health care, and even some entry level legal positions regularly requested this type of information from my students… Know thy industry!

  4. Not quite*

    It is possible, especially if the test is given by a gov’t agency, that the test is given only certain times of yr and you have to be approved to take the tests. If that is the case, listing as approved to sit for test should suffice.

    1. Victoria Nonprofit*

      Some credentialing organizations actually have addressed what you can call yourself at various steps along the way, e.g. “Level II CFA Candidate” once you’ve passed Level I and registered for Level II.

  5. Runon*

    #4 I’d certainly ask. They may have a specific plan. Like when we free up these 4 people 2 of them will work on x and two will do y and we really need people to be doing that work. If that is the case and it is a very concrete plan then I wouldn’t worry too much about it. But if they have anything vague I’d start looking for something new.

    I will also say that while the tasks will be automated someone will need to work the program, run reports, do the manual fixes (there are always fixes needed). And if that is something you are interested in, express that interest early.

    1. Emily K*

      There’s also the possibility that after automating their basic tasks, rather than cut staff, they’ll want to expand their capabilities by training the staff on new tasks that they previously didn’t have the capacity to do because so much staff time was allocated to the tasks they’re now automating.

      One company I worked for had an IT guy who spent a great deal of his time going from office to office asking each team to describe any routine, automated tasks that they did on a regular or repeated basis. You would tell him, “Every day I generate a report that produces Excel File A. I remove all rows where Column B starts with X, create a new Column F that calculates Column B x Column E, then use a lookup function to match Column F to the corresponding value in a table in Excel File B.” And he would write a program for you that automated that process so all you had to do was drag and drop File A and File B onto his program and it spit out the completed file instantly. He saved us loads of time by writing these scripts to automate our routine tasks, but my workload didn’t get any lesser. It just freed me up to spend more time on work that required a bit more judgment and couldn’t be automated.

  6. Joey*

    #1. She’s more likely to run into employers who will have a problem with her needing time off. But ,how exactly would they know she’s not married? Most hiring managers I know don’t look for wedding rings when they interview.

    1. The Snarky B*

      Yeah, they do. Especially when she talks about needing time off for a baby, many interviewers’ eyes will flash to the ring finger, maybe even unconsciously. It happens to women a lot more than men. I know some women who don’t wear wedding rings in salary negotiations so the other party can’t assume “you’re a supplementary income for your family, we can pay you less.” And it’s a legitimate concern.

      1. Ellie H.*

        I am an obsessive noticer of wedding rings, but I’ve never assumed whether or not a pregnant woman was unmarried based on her not wearing a wedding ring; I’ve heard from several women that they found their rings uncomfortable to wear while pregnant due to retaining water or whatever. But I realize that not everyone would have this in mind (and I have no idea what percentage of women actually do find their rings uncomfortable during pregnancy).

        1. Kathryn T.*

          when I had to take my wedding rings off because my hands were swelling, the difference in respect that I got was so palpable and obvious that I finally put them back on a chain around my neck because I was sick of dealing with the opprobrium of strangers while I was aggravated 3rd degree pregnant.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Don’t you love how people come up and stick their face in other people’s business? And think that this is okay? :P

            1. EngineerGirl*

              Many African tribes use earrings to denote status:
              Earring with chain going to necklace – Married
              Earring with no chain going to necklace – Widowed
              Earring holes and no jewelry – husband has divorced you ( very bad and much shame)

              When I work over there I go without earrings. As a mzungu, they have no way to interpret it. That makes me more approachable.

              1. CaffeineQueen*

                That’s fascinating! Where in Africa (mzungu makes me think East Africa)?

                For the first few months after I got engaged, I didn’t have a ring and everyone told me, “Well, people won’t think you’re really engaged without a ring.” I would respond, “People are stupid.” Or start singing Salt ‘N Pepa’s “None of Your Business.” Double standards……….

        2. Jamie*

          I don’t know what the percentage is but with all three of my pregnancies my rings went into my jewelry box until after the babies were born.

          It’s not just weight gain it’s the increase in water. A pregnant woman is retaining way more fluid and that makes for swollen fingers (not even talking about to the point of excessive edema – just normal stuff.)

          The extra fluid also completely screwed up my glasses prescription each time. Something about the fluid changing the shape of the eye and if you have a severe astigmatism it jacks up the cornea wave…blah blah doctors…all I know is I had to get new glasses each time I was pregnant.

    2. Amanda*

      But OP’s sister is not job-searching at the moment. She’s been at her job for sixish months so it’s likely she’s casually referred to a “boyfriend” as opposed to a “husband.”

      But I doubt her unmarried status will be an issue though (pregnancy discrimination is always something to be concerned about but that’s true for married women too).

      1. fposte*

        Right. This is somebody they already know and, presumably, value, who’s going to have a baby. Generally at that point most workplaces are just excited (or complaining about being hit up for baby showers).

      2. OP #1*

        Thanks everyone. Yes Amanda you’re right, she has been the company for awhile and they know she has “boyfriend” not a husband. It doesn’t seem like it will be an issue because of their lax attitude (I obviously don’t know for sure because I don’t work there but we are in the same industry with similar companies and I don’t think my company would be anything but excited) but I was just curious about Alison’s and other readers thoughts.

        1. V*

          At my company of roughly 50 employees… we have 3 pregnant women and only 1 is married. To top it off, one unmarried pregnant woman is having another coworker’s child and most of us didn’t even know they were dating… There are a lot of theories going around, but I wouldn’t say anyone is being outright judgmental.

          Most of my coworkers are 20 and 30 something, so they understand that times are different now and the traditional family doesn’t exist. It really depends on where she works, but in most places she should be okay.

      3. Lindsay J*

        +1, one of the girls I work with (who is 19 or 20 and unmarried) is pregnant and due in August.

        My managers are both very religious (one is the son of a preacher, and the other goes to church and small prayer groups for church multiple times a week) and they’ve been nothing but supportive and excited for her.

  7. Emily K*

    #6 – I’m concerned that LW says “every time I call” and then mention that it’s “been four days.” In four days I would think (in this scenario) you really shouldn’t have called more than 2 or 3 times, assuming there was the option to leave a message with a secretary or voicemail service. Calling once a day would be reasonable if you were a vendor or client with a pressing matter that needed someone’s approval. Calling once a day, or heaven forbid more, seems excessive when you’re asking for someone’s help or a favor. Especially if you’re doing that thing where you hang up when you get the voicemail and try again later. We all have caller ID; sometimes we’re too busy to answer the phone and be put on the spot, but we see that you’re calling and we suspect you’re trying to game the odds by catching us “live” instead of having to hope we’ll return your voicemail. Personally, my job doesn’t require me to answer the phone for anyone, so whenever it rings I know it’s 99% likely a sales call or someone I don’t work closely with or owe anything to, so I send all calls to voicemail so that I can screen to see if it’s actually worth my time to handle the call or if it’s just a sales call or misrouted call that I can ignore.

    1. Emily K*

      (IOW, if you leave a voicemail I might call you back if I don’t think you’ll waste my time. If you don’t leave a voicemail, you’ll never reach me.)

    2. Jane Doe*

      I agree. Also, 4 days is a small enough period of time that the hiring manager could just be out for the week.

      However, is it possible that the OP’s contact (the supervisor) did not give the hiring manager a heads up that they had referred someone to them? I can see a scenario where the hiring manager is getting unexpected phone calls and messages about an open position and is baffled that someone contacted them about it, especially if they are not the hiring manager for this position. Depending on the size of the company, they may not even know the position is open or who is doing the hiring for it.

    3. Nikki*

      Hanging up when you get voicemail, DON’T DO THAT! You don’t know if the person has caller ID. Leave a brief message and give time for a returned call (24-48 hours or more).

      When I go to lunch, or heck to the ladies room and get back to my desk and I have a series of missed calls from the same number, seconds, or minutes apart…it doesn’t endear you to me.

      Plus, the voicemail may actually have important information on the whereabouts of the party, or when they will return calls. My voicemail clearly states our office hours. You can call every five minutes on Sunday afternoon, but I am NOT in the office, so listen and leave a message.

      1. Flynn*

        I hate getting voicemail. I always hang up instantly, as a sort of kneejerk reaction. But if I know I’ll get it, I can then ring back and listen and leave a message.

        1. Nikki*

          I completely understand why you hate getting voicemail. What I don’t understand is when people hang up and call back five or six times in a row…
          Or worse, leave a message, then still keep calling back.

        2. Lynn*

          I confess, I do this too, even though I know it’s bad. I didn’t have a whole voicemail speech prepared, and I figure it’s the lesser of two evils to hang up and call back when I’m more prepared, versus leaving a long rambling message that doesn’t even address exactly what I wanted to address.

          1. just another hiring manager...*

            Not trying to be snarky, but, um, how is preparing for a voicemail any different from preparing for a phone call should they actually pick up? Shouldn’t you have the same information at the ready regardless if they pick up or you get their voicemail?

            I, too, hate leaving voicemails, but the same preparation goes into it, doesn’t it?

          2. Nikki*

            It’s not so bad to hang up just once and call back *later*. But five times in five minutes? Yes, this happens.

        3. Your Mileage May Vary*

          I’m actually the opposite. I always expect voicemail and when I get a person live, I’m flustered for a moment.

      2. Colette*

        I was once on a call on a group line, and one of my remote colleagues called my direct line over and over again. I almost lost my mind – and even when he called again after I was off the phone, I didn’t answer, because I don’t want to reward that behaviour. (If he’d left a message, I would have called him back as soon as I was off the call.) That sort of thing is very unacceptable, even when it’s coming from someone you know. From a stranger who was job hunting, it would definitely not strengthen her candidacy.

        1. Jessa*

          OH thank you Colette. It’s like dealing with children and bad customers, if you reward them for calling steen million times, they will ALWAYS do that to everyone. Thank you for NOT rewarding someone that DUMB.

      3. -X-*

        Calling repeatedly without leaving a message is bad. But I think it’s reasonable to hang up if you only call once, and follow-up instead with an email.

        I often don’t want to do phone tag – a phone discussion may be ideal, but email exchange is a good second-choice.

    4. Anonymous*

      I wrote the question, but though this could use some clarifying. The comments are helpful so far, but I certainly agree that calling non-stop is annoying. Anyways – my old supervisor use to be the manager for 8 years at this particular place, and left for another position at another place, and left on good terms. I showed him the position, and he gave me a contact name, and told me to ask her if she knew anything about the position, whether it was still open, and to name-drop him. He didn’t give her a heads up, and wasn’t aware of the position until I showed it to him.

      I called twice in one day, and received an automated message both times – no place to leave a voicemail. I called the following day, and someone connected me to this hiring managers voicemail, and I left a message. I still haven’t heard back. In my opinion, I wasn’t really calling excessively, but wasn’t sure how much was too much, and if it was worth it to still apply, etc.

      Anyways thanks for comment and help!

      1. A*

        Ah. Ok. If there wasn’t a voicemail option initially I would have done the exact same thing. I don’t think it is excessive since you ceased once you were able to leave a voicemail.

  8. darsenfeld*

    AAM, I’m surprised you said 24 is young to have a child. By modern standards maybe, but I’d think conservative employers may welcome that over a 30 or 40 year old having a first child lol..

    1. Anonymous*

      Sorry, but why do you think a conservative employer would welcome a 24-year-old with a child more than a 30-40+ year old?

      1. KellyK*

        Because from a particular conservative Christian (and maybe other religions, but I can’t speak for those) point of view, a woman’s primary purpose is to be a mother, so a woman who waits until she’s 30 or 40 hasn’t been doing what she’s “supposed to”?

        1. JR*

          No offense guys, but I think you are mistaken. I grew up in a really conservative Christian church and we had a lot of people attending church who were living together and weren’t married and had kids/were pregnant. Nobody really judged them, they basically viewed this as normal… maybe not “ideal” but very accepted. And nobody there believed a woman was “supposed” to have kids early in life or even late in life, like that was their sole role on earth. This comment is just plain insulting and ignorant.

          1. Katniss*

            On the other side, I grew up in a very conservative church and a 24 year old pregnant woman would have been considered a failure because she should have been married and pregnant sooner. There are some very intense fundamentalist churches out there and it isn’t ignorant to acknowledge that.

      2. The Snarky B*

        I wonder if darsenfeld is talking about the intersection between the age and the single-ness. 24 isn’t young to be pregnant if you’re married (in Conservative or observant Christian communities), but if you’re unmarried, I think it can be seen as too close to teen pregnancy.
        Just a guess

    2. Anonymous*

      Average age of first time mothers is now 25, so I would say that this person is average, not young to be having her first child.

      1. Jamie*

        Is it really? I had mine at 23, 25, and 27 and people are always telling me how crazy it is that my kids are so old. Most people my age have much younger kids.

        It’s weird – I worked with some0ne who was a couple of years older than me but his kids were toddlers and I had 2 in college one in high school…it made me feel like I was so much older than he was. Not that it matters – but just that the other people with whom we worked who had kids in college had a good decade on me, age wise.

      2. Anonymous*

        Yes, but it’s still notable that the age of first time mothers have been steadily increasing, so it really depends on her demographics. For most professional, educated women, having a child is becoming increasingly NOT the norm. Not saying that’s wrong or bad or anything (not at all!), just that factually, it’s becoming less and less likely that an employed and college-educated woman will have a child in her early 20s. For instance, I’m a young professional in the DC area and it would almost certainly be seen as unusual for someone my age and in my role to be pregnant or already have a child.

        Again, 24 isn’t a crazy age to have kids or anything, it’s just becoming increasingly less common and that’s reflected in attitudes/conceptions, even if it’s technically still closer to “average” than, say, a 30 year old (which at least feels more like the “average” of first time motherhood within my peer group).

      3. Natalie*

        The average doesn’t seem like the most “accurate” state for this particular subject, given how it would skew.

        Unfortunately I could not find the modal age of first childbirth for the US population as a whole, but I did find it broken down by education level:

        Did not complete high school – 18
        Completed high school but less than 2 years college – 20
        Completed a 2 year college degree or more – 28

        Given that, as a college grad who is probably working with a lot of college grads, the OP’s sister is a bit younger than is typical.

        Much more information in this paper:

    3. A*

      The national age for marriage is 26… AAM was right on the money. 24 isn’t ‘too young’ by societal standards, but it is on the young side.

      And in regards to the whole ‘if I wait to be a mom until I’m 30 I’m missing my purpose in life’ thing – ew. Just… Ick. I am more than just a womb and frankly, a lot of my friends who had kids in their early 20s are struggling now (late 20s) and most have expressed that they wish they had a waited a little bit.

  9. Anlyn*


    We have the same thing going on in our department. They are automating a lot of our manual work. When asked what this means for our jobs, they tell us “you will be free to do actual security analysis”. When asked what THAT means, they say “you will be involved in many projects.” And when asked what projects, they say “you know, projects where you will have to do security analysis”.

    It’s very vague, and I don’t know that they intend to lay a bunch of us off, but I won’t be surprised if that’s what happens.

  10. some1*

    IME, even people who have moral issues with out of wedlock pregnancies and would relay their opinions to a family member or a social contact who is expecting and unmarried are generally smart &/or professional enough not to say something to the mom-to-be in the workplace.

    1. KellyK*

      Yeah, most people have more tact than that. (Though if *everybody* was smart or professional, half the questions posted here would never happen.)

    2. The Snarky B*

      Right, but the issue isn’t whether they will say anything to her, but whether they will judge her for it.

      1. some1*

        I still think the answer is the same, that most people won’t judge her in a professional context. I have co-workers who have opposing political beliefs, hobbies I abhor, and very different taste in everything from food to books to choice of friends and significant others, and I could not care less. I might not seek them out as a friend, but I would not let it color my professional opinion of them.

        1. just another hiring manager...*

          there are folks out there who think of themselves as professional but would let their personal options consciously and subconsciously influence how they treat an unmarried pregnant woman…

        2. The Snarky B*

          I disagree- I think the people that would have negative opinions about it would judge her in a professional context as well. People generally don’t compartmentalize the way you’re talking about, in my opinion.

  11. A teacher*

    It is interesting that the single mom thing comes up as much as it does. I have numerous friends (30-35ish) that are a part of the single moms by choice movement going on. There is actually a support/networking group for the women makin this decision. For my friends its not about wanting to avoid marriage but that they haven’t found the right life partner and they will want kids. I’m in a more liberal Midwest state so maybe that’s why it’s just more accepted.

  12. periwinkle*

    #3 – I’m in preliminary talks about a new position. If it all works out, it would require moving to another part of the country this summer. It would also require that my husband start job hunting there! He has already given his current boss a heads-up about the possible relocation, and she expressed appreciation for receiving this advance warning. As Alison pointed out, resigning due to spousal relocation is unlikely to be taken poorly by a (sane) employer. On the contrary, helping prepare for a smooth transition to your replacement will enhance your reputation, and you’ll be able to job-hunt very openly (like with the current company’s partner).

    #4 – Develop expertise with the new system, especially in the advanced functions (writing macros or queries or whatever contributes to automation in this system). This adds value to your continued employment at this company, or a marketable skill to take elsewhere should your workgroup be downsized.

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