a bomb scare made me late to an interview, agenda for meeting with a new boss, and more

It’s seven short answers to seven short questions. Here we go…

1. A bomb scare made me late to an interview

I had an interview on Wednesday for a job that is very promising for me. I left with what should have been time to spare, but the traffic and construction was pretty terrible, to the point that simply walking to the interview (which is about a 15-minute stroll) was difficult and I was about 3-5 minutes late to the interview.

It turned out that there was a bomb scare to a U.S. Congressperson’s office and because it was also around at least two other government buildings (including one that got a different bomb scare about two years ago), that backed up traffic because of all the detours, since both the police and FBI had to do an on-site investigation.

What do I tell the interviewers? Do I tell HR and have them pass along the word? I don’t want these people to think that I’m a chronically late person and I’ve been out of work for a while. I did apologize at the start of the interview and mentioned the traffic and construction delayed me and they seemed fine with it. The interview seemed to have gone great, they really appeared to like me but I worry about this one thing. Do I send them another email bringing up the bomb scare or will they think I’m making excuses?

Eh, I could argue this either way. On one hand, following up days later about a 3-5 minute delay could be taken as overkill. On the other hand, there’s not really anything wrong with saying, “After getting home on Wednesday, I learned that there was a bomb scare at the Capitol, and thats what caused all the delays that made me a few minutes late. I feel compelled to mention this because I’m neurotically punctual.” You’d need to say this in the context of a thank-you note though — it doesn’t warrant its own note.

2. Will filing for unemployment cause my former employer to vindictively back-date my insurance?

I just recently ended a messy conflict with my ex-employer. Long story short, they were trying to back-date my last day of employment to retroactively cancel my insurance (I was out on FMLA and then not able to return to work because I moved for my husband’s job). I spoke with a lawyer who said that my last day of employment for insurance purposes was the day that we spoke about me not coming back, and they immediately corrected the date and stopped trying to retroactively cancel my insurance (which I had used for my medical condition). They sent me a fairly nasty email though, afterwards.

I was told by this employment lawyer that I do qualify for unemployment in this state since I moved for a spouse’s job. However, I’m afraid that if I apply, my ex-employer will vindictively try to cancel my insurance again and make me retain the attorney I hired. Is it silly to be afraid to file for unemployment? I’m not sure if I’m being irrational to be so nervous that they might go after me. Should I just leave well enough alone? I’m looking for a new job and I’m already afraid that they’ll give me a terrible reference despite 7 years of stellar performance reviews and promotions.

There’s never any predicting what people will do, but in general an employer who has already back-tracked on X in response to a lawyer’s intervention is unlikely to try X again just because you file for unemployment.

3. Should I prepare an agenda for meeting with my new boss during my first week on the job?

I just recently landed a great position as an Executive Assistant for the COO/President of a great company, and your website has been extremely helpful during my job search over the last few months.

I am excited about this new role and want to make sure I hit the ground running. During our last meeting before I was offered the position, my boss mentioned that on the first couple of days, she would clear her calendar and we would spend time together to “ramp up.” One thing I am thinking about doing is outlining an “agenda” of sorts for this meeting. This would include something that outlines some questions I have regarding her preferences for various things (travel, meetings, etc.) as well as some ideas for organizational systems to put in place (she mentioned this was a top priority for me during our interviews). What do you think? Any ideas?

It’s a great idea to prepare something like this, but don’t use it as an agenda — since she may already have her own agenda for the meeting, and you don’t want to override that. But you can certainly keep it as a list of topics you want to be sure that you cover — you just don’t want to appear to be taking over the meeting if she seems well in control of it.

4. Covering a ton of qualifications in a cover letter

I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but I am agonizing over a cover letter. I’ve seriously spent 3 hours revising, researching online, and trying different styles for a cover letter for a really cool job. It’s a small community college job, and like a lot of those types of jobs, the “required qualifications” list is 15-20 bullet points because the job covers everything from student career advising to marketing. And I really think I have all of the qualifications, so I’m trying to cover everything between my letter and resume.

My cover letter was getting bulky (still less than a page though), so I gave it 3 bold paragraph headings in the middle to make it look more readable, and bundle some of the related qualifications. When I hold it at arm’s length, it looks way better. Do you think headings in a cover letter is okay?

Sure, that’s fine. More importantly, though keep in mind that you don’t need to address every single qualification they listed in your cover letter. Plenty of that should be covered on your resume anyway, and you absolutely don’t want to just repeat what’s already available from that. If you try to cover 15-20 qualifications, you’re going to drain all the life out of your letter.

Also, don’t agonize. Get it written and send it out. You have no idea where they are in their hiring process, and your window of opportunity may closing while you’re agonizing. Send it today.

5. Why did this position suddenly become temporary when I was hired for it?

I began the hiring process for a well-known, mid-size international company in mid-May. After 2.5 months, the original position I had applied to was changed to a *temporary* position for half a year. The HR person encouraged me to apply anew to this position, which I did. Just a day later (a Saturday, mind you), she informed me that an offer was in the works, and indeed it came through a few days later. After some deliberation and despite the drawbacks of a temporary position, I decided to accept the offer. It’s the best option I have at the moment and is a position I’m very much interested in.

What I’m left wondering about is why the position suddenly became temporary. My hunch is that they’ve decided to try me out for 6 months, because though I do bring a unique body of knowledge to the position, my experience is lacking in other respects. However, in my conversation with the HR person, she denied that this was their intent and said that it was due to a restructuring in the company. I find this explanation dubious — the position is well-established at the company, in a growing field, and it would be a bizarre coincidence that the restructuring happened just as they were about to complete the hiring process with me.

Have you ever heard of such a six-month trial period? Is it conceivable that the HR person could not tell me that such a trial period exists (for example, because they don’t want to set a precedent)? Any other thoughts or comments you might have about my experience would be greatly appreciated.

Yep, companies do trial periods all the time, often without telling candidates they’re doing that OR that the job is only a temporary commitment. I have no idea if that’s the case with this job or not, but at least they were considerate enough not to mislead you into thinking it was permanent. (Well, as permanent as any job is.)

But rather than dwelling on this and trying to figure out their motivations, the fact is that it’s temporary, for whatever reason, and you can proceed with that knowledge in mind.

6. Do I need to be paid for my whole resignation period even if they have me leave early?

I submitted a resignation giving four weeks notice to my employer as requires in our employee handbook. They accepted my resignation. After two weeks, they told me that they moved up my resignation. Do they have to pay me through my resignation date?

They do not. They only have to pay you for the period you actually worked.

7. Did I ruin my chances of ever being hired at this company through too much follow-up?

Your blog has been equal parts helpful and terrifying to come across. I recently graduated from graduate school and I’m new to the job hunt, and I admit I fell for the follow-up with phone calls/be persistent advice — even though all the positions I apply to seem to have “Thank you for not calling” attached to it. There is this one place in particular that I would very much like to work for, and over the span of 2-3 months I have applied to four different positions in their organization. For the very first, I contacted them once by email. In their response, they said that all job postings are online until someone officially accepts the position, which I understood to mean the position might be listed even though they are past accepting new applications. Therefore, before I submitted my second application, I called multiple times to ascertain whether they were still accepting applications for it. I called 3-4 times to one HR person (I never got through; I left one message), and 2-3 to another HR person, leaving one message. I never got through to a person.

Once I learned that that was not the desirable thing to do I clearly stopped, but I fear that none of my other (more recent) applications will be looked at because of those earlier mistakes. Should I stop applying to that organization? Are those of us who have called in the past written off as undesirable candidates?

Nah, I don’t think you need to assume you burned your bridges, since you fortunately only left two phone messages (despite calling more than that). It’s not ideal, but if it’s been a few months, it’s entirely possible they won’t even remember you as the person who called.

{ 63 comments… read them below }

  1. Christine*

    #6 – They don’t HAVE to pay you for any time you didn’t work, but if they develop a history of moving up termination dates when people give them the four weeks’ notice they request, people are going to stop giving them four weeks’ notice. One way for them to counteract that is to pay out the entire notice period, even when they cut people loose early.

    1. UK HR Bod*

      Just in case the OP for 6 is not US-based (I wondered based on the 4 weeks notice which seems a lot based on this blog), they might have to in other areas. In the UK, if you give 4 weeks and the company asks you to leave earlier, they would still need to pay you for statutory or contractual notice (whichever is greater) and I think it would be the same elsewhere in Europe. If the individual wishes to go earlier of course they would only be paid for what they worked.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Worth pointing out, thanks! (Although four weeks isn’t uncommon in the U.S. is many professional positions — just depends on the field.)

    2. Bea W*

      #6 – Any chance of moving your start date up at your new job? Try giving them a call and ask if you can start earlier.

      1. Chinook*

        If your new employer can’t move up your start date, it might be worth changing your mindset to thinking of this as a surprise vacation and take the opportunity to enjoy the time off with no commitments. Yes it sucks to lose the pay, but now you have the time to relax, run those errands you never had time for and even give your home a thorough cleaning. Odds are you won’t be getting time off (paid or otherwise) like this for atleast 6 months. Now is the time to embrace not checking works emails or stressing about what is piling up while you are gone.

    3. JohnQPublic*

      Also if they have a history of paying the four weeks regardless of whether it is worked they may have patterned themselves into a condition of employment,depending on the laws of the area you reside in. Unemployment may also be available to you, because you were not let go for cause. Again, check with your local regulations. At the least you may consider going to HR (after having researched your rights and opportunities) and ask them to provide pay for the two weeks. You may find that HR didn’t know you didn’t choose to leave early (this happened at my employer a few times, until HR caught on and made mgmt stop). Now pretty much everyone at my job knows that we should go to HR first if we want to work our final days completely.

  2. Not So NewReader*

    For OP #2. The folks at unemployment are an amazing group of people. I suggest you tell them exactly what your concerns are and see what they say. Yes, they could blow you off. Or they might say “oh that employer does this all. the. time. and here is what to do.” Probably your answer will be somewhere in the middle of those two extremes. Perhaps the person you are speaking with will say something like “Yes, we hear this often but it seldom becomes a real threat.” I encourage you to go find out. I walked into unemployment years ago with my heart in my throat. I got answers and I landed in a good place. Recently a friend had a similar experience and she, too, benefited from talking with the folks at unemployment.

      1. Ruffingit*

        It’s helpful that you spoke to a lawyer previously and, I’m assuming, let your job know (or the lawyer did it for you) that what they were trying to do with back dating was totally not OK. Your previous company now knows that not only are you not afraid to seek legal help, but you’ve already got a lawyer who will go to bat for you should the need arise. This makes them less likely to mess with you. A lot of nefarious companies get away with this kind of shit because people can’t afford to seek legal help.

        You’ve already proven that you know your rights. That should be very helpful should anything arise with these jerks again, which I doubt it will. They already know you’re bringing your A game to the field.

  3. Anonymous*

    #5 – I work for a large international company, and things like that happen. It has nothing to do with the candidate and everything to do with people sitting around a meeting table crunching numbers and making business decisions about the head count. It could be that the company is reacting to a disappointing quarter. For instance, if the company saw losses, it may have led to a hiring freeze, and positions that would have normally been FTEs converted to contract “temp” positions.

    If you are still interested in the position but concerned about what the change means or are hoping to secure a permanent position at a later time, ask directly during the interview process, and don’t frame it any specific terms such as “Did this position change to temporary because you want a trial period before hiring someone on as a regular employee?” Say something more along the lines of “When I originally applied for this position back in May, it was for a full time permanent employee. What lead to the change from a permanent to a temporary position?”

    You also want to ask if the job is actually 6 months or if the contract would be renewed after 6 months. 6 months could mean either that the job is for a duration of 6 months or it could mean that the contract renewal period is 6 months, or the hiring manager was told s/he could hire a contract employee for this period, and an extension will depend on how the numbers look at the time.

    I can tell you, as someone who has more than one contract position open on account of the above scenario (and despite my actual employer posting gains – we paying for the decline in other divisions!), it’s as frustrating for us as it is for job seekers. I think most hiring managers want to be able to offer permanent positions up front, and smart department heads continue to actively fight to get them.

    1. Bea W*

      Ugh – def not a morning person, since you already accepted the position and are done with the interview process. Once you start, you’ll find out through your manager, co-workers, and the grapevine what the deal really is.

      One way you can look at it is that it is a 6 month trial period for you. Good luck! If your team is in the same position mine has been, they probably really appreciate you’re willingness to take a chance and accept the best they were able to offer at the time.

      1. OP #5*

        Thanks for the feedback!

        It is of course possible that the change to a temporary position is an internal numbers issue for the company (a “restructuring”, as the HR person put it to me). But I remain skeptical. For one thing, they could have just eliminated the position. Why go through all the investment required if it’s a position that will cease to exist come March? What’s more, they have to invest more than the usual in me, because as I wrote in the original post, I’m lacking experience in the particular field this position is in.

        Follow-up question: Am I likely to find out one way or the other after I start working? And would it be inappropriate to directly ask my boss? Though AAM says I shouldn’t dwell on the reasons for the temporary position, it would obviously be very useful for me to know and would at least to some degree change my focus (investing in the position vs. investing in looking for other jobs).

        1. Chinook*

          If you are a temp, you may be on a different budget line (I.E. Office expense vs. Salary). This can make a huge difference because your manager may control her own budget but not the salary budget. March is probably in a different budget year so she can then make sure they have room for you then. Also, they could be trying to make a business case to show what you can do for the company (which is exactly why I am on a temp contract right now).

        2. Kerr*

          From my experience working in temporary positions (albeit through an agency), I don’t think it would hurt to ask about the potential future of the position, once you’ve started working for a little while. At this point, you’ve accepted the job, so asking immediately might indicate that you’re backtracking about committing to the job if there’s no guarantee it’ll be permanent.

          Your boss may bring it up herself. If not, I might wait about a month or so, and then ask casually about what their plans are for the position after the six-month mark. (Anyone want to suggest a longer period of time? It seems like the first week would be way too early, but a month would be long enough to get a feel for the position, and to be looking forward to possibly staying there longer.)

          Also speaking from experience with “temp-to-perm” jobs that ended suddenly after budget cuts, I would keep feelers out, regardless of what you’re told. Budgets and plans can change *very* quickly, and you can be told that they won’t need you next week, after all. Or, you may find that they want to keep you in an open-ended “temporary” position, which usually means no benefits. It can’t hurt to keep your eyes open.

          1. TheSnarkyB*

            I totally agree with this. OP, I know you’re probably excited about the job as well as nervous about the temp thing, but your actions shouldn’t actually change based on what they tell you. It wouldn’t be prudent to trust a person who dangles the possibility of permanence in front of you bc you could very much end up with no job in March. Believe that it’s truly permanent and as said above, check with somebody once you’ve proven yourself a little bit.
            Also, some of your phrasing is coming across (to me) as too pointed or pushy. You’re asking a corporation to explain to oh their business practices about something that may have nothing to do with you and may be about things that they don’t want anyone to know (I.e. bad quarter). Being so direct and almost accusatory won’t get you the answers you’re looking for. (Maybe it’s not coming across this way to them, but I read it as a little too detective/sleuthy- kind of like you were accusing them of pulling the wool over your eyes)

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              I got a little of that sense too — OP, keep in mind that they don’t owe you an explanation. You can accept or not accept the job as it’s offered but you can’t force an explanation that makes sense to you if one isn’t easily forthcoming.

            2. OP #5*

              They may not have pulled the wool over my eyes, but they did basically eliminate the position I had applied for (and had interviewed for, etc.) and then reposted the same position as a temporary one without informing me. Call that you what you want, but I find it lacking in professionalism and courtesy. I swallowed it, of course, because I wanted the job, but that doesn’t make it ok.

              As for whether my actions should or shouldn’t change, I honestly don’t see how they *couldn’t* change. One option is to treat it as a temporary position and have no second thoughts about leaving the office for interviews for other positions. Maybe even be upfront about telling them I’m going out for interviews. Another option is to treat it as permanent and be more selective in what I do during work hours and tell others. It’s not clear to me which of these (or other) options you suggest I choose.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                That is … not uncommon. It’s not really rude at all. If you see it that way, you’re going to go into the relationship with a soured outlook from the start, and that can hurt you. They didn’t do anything wrong here. Positions change; it happens. They don’t owe you anything until you’re actually hired.

                Treat it as temporary because it is.

              2. Kerr*

                Treat it as temporary in your own mind (because it is), but I’d hold off on actually saying that you’re going on interviews, etc., unless you get a very clear statement from them that they don’t ever expect this job to go permanent. Yes, it’s temporary, but you would like to work there permanently if they decide to go that route, right? I wouldn’t advise being too up front about your other job hunting. Keep your cards to yourself, and don’t give them any reason to think of you as an uncommitted waffler who’s itching for a chance to skip out midway for another job. Although any reasonable person would probably expect you to be looking, there’s no reason to talk about it right off the bat.

                Of course, if you’re well into the 4th-5th month and/or they’ve clearly indicated that they’re not going to be keeping you on, then you have leeway to be more obvious.

          2. Ruffingit*

            Absolutely agreed on keeping your eyes open and keeping the resumes flowing out. Right now, you need to go with what you know, which is that this is a temp position. Sure, it may turn permanent and that is best case scenario, but the information you have now says it’s temp. Treat it that way.

  4. Bryan*

    #7 – You might have hurt your chances though applying for four different positions depending on how similar or different the positions are. I have former classmates who really wanted to work for a certain organization and then applied for jobs in vastly different departments.

    1. Seti*

      Are you then saying that applying to similar positions in the same organization are alright? They are all (social) research assistant positions dealing with family well-being and children’s development, but they focus on different aspects of this spectrum (e.g. pre-k age group, high school and post-secondary group, or qualitative vs. quantitative research focus).

      1. Bryan*

        It depends. If you do them all at once it looks bad regardless of whether or not the positions are similar. I think the closer the positions are to each other you can apply for all of them but only if they’re posted several (purposely ambiguous term) months apart because it looks like resume bombing.

  5. B*

    #3 – For the organizational systems to put in place. Sure, you can have ideas but until you are there are a bit to see how things work I would not assume to change everything. You may be able to fine tune something instead of overhauling. Then again, it may need an overhaul. However, you will not know that until you see the reason behind it.

    1. MS*

      Thanks, B. That question was mine. I agree with you about not wanting to change everything from day one. Just trying to be as prepared as possible.

  6. ReeseS*

    Normally Alison’s advice is spot-on, but on #4 academia can be a weird exception. Throughout the last five years I served on hiring committees at a large state university, and (at that school) the job ads ask for a response to each qualification, so there’s no ambiguity when committee members interpret the resume differently. HR requires the committee to assign a numerical score of 1-5 for each qualification, then HR determines who to interview by who was “most qualified” according to the scores.

    HR asks committees to mark an application as “Incomplete” if it doesn’t specifically address every qualification. So it’s most helpful if the candidate sends both a cover letter and a “Statement of Qualifications.” That way the committee can’t disagree on whether an application was “Complete.”

    Any time a candidate listed each qualification in bullet points, our reaction was “Yay – someone read the directions! This one will be so easy to score!” and definitely not “ick, what a boring cover letter.”

    We could choose to score “Incomplete” applications, but viewing one incomplete application necessitates viewing all of them, including ones with major errors (such as forgetting to send a resume). Most often we would discard the “Incomplete” applications.

    This HR department does fall on the doctrinaire side, but having been on the other side of this question, my advice for anyone applying to a public university would be to send exactly what the job ad asks for; don’t necessarily assume conventions of a private-sector employer apply.

    1. fposte*

      Wow. I work for a state university that I thought was bureaucratic in the extreme, and even we don’t do that! I wonder if it’s less academia than the state system you were in; we definitely respond less well to a cover letter that’s just a regurgitation of the min quals. The OP could certainly try to find somebody who’s dealt with this particular school’s system, but I would expect a “small community college” to less doctrinaire than a big state school, and I wouldn’t over-fit to the qualifications list unless you knew that was exactly what they wanted.

    2. Anonymous*

      The way cover letters and resumes are evaluated in much the same at my smaller private uni that I work at, except it’s not required by HR. But every person on a hiring committee still decides on some scale they choose whether or not the candidate meets all the qualifications. So in this case AAM is probably wrong, and you need to somewhere either in cover letter or resume you meet all the qualifications. And it’s not unusual for either resume or cover letter to be several pages long in academia.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I know academia plays by its own (weird, inexplicable) rules, but is the above true for non-faculty jobs too? This sounded like a staff position.

      1. 11:42 anon*

        Yes, even for some staff positions, especially ones with a hiring committee, they want every qualification covered, and that ends up with longer cover letters and resumes. I think it’s a direct effect on how faculty is hired, and the requirements needed there then spread to other positions (and no this doesn’t make sense, nor is it needed for those positions.) This doesn’t apply to everyone who works in academia, hourly workers and lower level admin jobs have more normal requirements, and the advice posted would be correct for those positions.

        1. Elise*

          Do the job ads reflect this? I have seen academic and government jobs posted that specifically state that you must address all qualifications, so at least the applicant has fair warning.

        2. Ruffingit*

          Some of the job requirements I’ve seen for academic staff positions are totally insane. For everyone from the person who maintains the grounds to the provost, there are 1001 requirements in the job posting. It really is out of hand and completely insane in a lot of cases.

      2. fposte*

        I actually think staff positions are often treated *more* rigidly than faculty, especially at a state university where there’s the possibility of civil service equivalence. We don’t ask applicants to hit the points the way Reese’s school does, but search committees definitely have to quantify the applicant’s ability to meet various qualifications. My impression is that the goal is anybody going back to look at the paperwork should be able to identify the reason X got offered the job, Y was a plausible if X didn’t accept, and Z was rejected.

      3. Kristi*

        I would have the same question re: non-faculty and staff positions. The postings can include so many duties, how many accomplishments can you include that illustrate your qualifications? Alternatively, I’ve seen postings from the same school for pretty much the same position / different department, and its a substantially shorter in detail. So if I choose to apply to both, do I go the long route for both or adjust as needed?

        I have also seen some institutions includes supplemental questions which seem to ask the applicant to simply go into more detail than space allows on resume/cover letter. The questions can range from basic “where do you see this job posting” to “are you experience with X, and describe your experience.” (Maybe the supplemental questions have become a necessary evil because applicants aren’t showing these accomplishments in their original materials.)

      4. Editor*

        I applied for a freelance “job” at a two-year community college fairly recently, and the ad listed about 20 qualifications and wanted a cover letter that addressed each bullet point in the same order as the original bullet points, point by point, including whether my home office had a dedicated fax line.

        I think academic hiring practices for faculty are seeping into staff positions (or freelance, in this case) because faculty members don’t know any other way to hire and perhaps, because they don’t ask about or research the best practices for nonacademic staff.

    4. Stephen*

      Not just academia, either. I work in government and its the same. If there are ten essential merit criteria you better explicitly adress all ten in your cover letter or you’ ll be eliminated before the interveiw stage.

    5. Sophia*

      Wow, I’m on the job market in the social sciences and have never heard about structuring the cover letter that way. Perhaps it differs by field? I mean there are things you should include: what writing samples you include, what you’re applying for, etc but that seems different than what you’re saying. The job ads I’ve seen also aren’t very detailed. PhD required, a specialty, perhaps teaching areas and then what to include: CV, writing samples, research statement etc

    6. OP #4*

      Wow, thank you for all your suggestions. The job announcement really emphasized a couple qualifications, so I hit those hard in the cover letter with some related qualifications from the list that aren’t obvious on my résumé, then highlighted an extra qualification I think they’ll want based on the job description. Feeling a lot more confident about just sending it in now!

  7. AB*

    OP #5: Ideally you would clarify the intention of the company before accepting the position, because it looks like your interpretation (“they want 6 months as a trial period and if all goes well I’ll be hired”) may actually be more optimistic than the reality.

    Like others said, it’s entirely possible that the company was unable to approve a permanent position, and that in 6 months the contract will come to an end, leaving you without a job. Now, I think the best you can do is to be a great performer and hope that regardless of the original intent, this does turn out indeed to be a temp-to-perm situation, and before the end of the trial period they come back with a more permanent offer for you.

    I’d not count on that offer materializing, though, so during these 6 months, I’d be actively networking, and closer to the end date, making sure my contacts know I’m about to finish a contract and looking for my next challenge. Good luck!

    1. OP #5*

      Thanks for the comment!
      See my response to Bea W above – I think that if this really were a temporary position due to restructuring, they would have hired someone else and not me.
      Please share if you have any thoughts on my follow-up questions or further comments.

      1. fposte*

        I think you’re thinking of the situation like an applicant :-). If my money for a permanent position evaporates and all I can do without that budget authorization is a temp position, I’m not going to start the search all over again; I’m going to stick with my top choice and hope that in six months I can change the position to permanent. (Though I would also make this clear to the candidate.) I’m sure not going to do without the position entirely, because that would state to the Powers That Be that I don’t actually need that budget line anyway and doom my chances of getting a permanent employee any time soon.

      2. AB*

        See, what you say is possible, but at this point it’s just speculation. What fposte says also makes sense. They may have found a way of hiring a temp because it comes from a different budget — this is very common; in my previous job I was hired as a contractor and shifted to full time employee in a couple months, against my wish, because their budget for contractors was depleted but they did have approval for additional full time employees (under a different budget).

        The danger, here, is to start believing that this position will become permanent. Even if they told you they have high hopes of that happening, you can’t count on it because priorities may change. Instead of speculating why they are doing what they are doing, a much healthier approach is to take the situation at face value: right now you have a 6-month contract that may very well never be extended or transformed in a full time position, regardless of how great you are in the role. So plan accordingly, and you should be fine!

  8. Cathy*

    #2 — Under FMLA, if you resign for a non-FMLA reason while on leave, the employer is allowed to collect from you the amount of health care premiums paid on your behalf during the entire leave. Your employer canceled your insurance, but apparently they didn’t bill you for it, which they could have done. The fact that they backed down when you got a lawyer involved doesn’t mean they did anything wrong; they probably decided it would have cost more to go to court than to just wash their hands of you.

    Unemployment claims are filed in the state where you worked, not the state where you live, so you have to look into the rules for the original state.

    1. FiveNine*

      I couldn’t figure out why No. 2 is so concerned about this supposedly resolved messy issue — all I could think was maybe OP wanted to file for unemployment back to the date the employer had originally tried to cancel the insurance at.

      1. OP #2*

        No I definitely wasn’t intending to backdate my unemployment. The employer did actually bill me for the health insurance and I paid it; they were going to retroactively cancel it so that all of my doctor bills, tests, etc. would be unpaid by the insurance company.

        1. Cathy*

          Yeah, if you submitted your resignation to the company before you moved out of state, then they were wrong to try to back date your resignation and the most they could do would be to collect the cost of the medical benefits, which is what they ended up doing. If you had moved while on leave and hadn’t notified the company until after the move, then they could probably say you abandoned your job on the date of the move and back date the resignation to then.

          My other point about filing for unemployment still stands though. You have to file in the state where you worked and your case will be decided there, because that’s where your employer paid unemployment insurance for you.

  9. OP#1*

    Just wanted to clarify that it wasn’t in DC, I live in Baltimore City. And I had already sent off the Thank you note right after the interview so I may just go with not saying anything and hope they watched the news or drove past it and put two and two together.

    1. Ruffingit*

      I wouldn’t say anything. Why draw attention to it again? I think it’s fine and that they understood the reason for the delay.

    2. LPBB*

      I was going to ask if you were from Baltimore! It was pretty hard to avoid news coverage of that event, so they probably did hear about it. Whether or not they put two and two together is a different story.

      But….when you mentioned traffic and construction, were you referring to the closure of N Howard to replace the water main and the associated mess on MLK? I heard about the planned closure and thought to myself, thank God I’m going to be working from home for the next three months. I think anyone that works in the area or has to take either road to get to work (and MLK is a pretty major way to get around), will understand you being 3-5 minutes late.

      So, short version, I agree with Ruffingit. Since you already sent a thank you, I wouldn’t worry about it and all you would do now is call attention to it.

    3. Chinook*

      Since you are in area with known terrorist threats, I would think that just mentioning it would not be a big deal and that HR probably already knew. When I was in Ottawa, using an excuse like Obama was in town or the Tamils were protesting again (or even I got caught during the changing of the guards but that only works during their first week) was valid because it goes with living in that type of place.

      For the record, when you live near a base, getting caught behind marching troops or being stopped by passing tanks is also valid.

      1. Gjest*

        I used to live in Alaska. A moose in the parking lot or in the doorway to the building was an acceptable excuse for missing a meeting :)

  10. Bob B.*

    re #3: I had a similar (but not the same) situation. I am low-middle management. My long time boss got a promotion to upper management and his replacement lateraled over to assume my old bosses duties (upper middle management). He was from the same branch so he had a general awareness of what I and my team do, but no specifics. I proactively scheduled a meeting with him as soon as he made his calendar available, letting his secretary know my meeting could be bumped if needed for my new boss’s other priorities. But it went on as scheduled. I came to the meeting with a written list of discussion topics (brief info on my staff, our projects, recent history, previously approved plans for the next year, etc.). Before going through them, I asked if there was anything he wanted to start with, but he said he wanted to hear me first. I quickly went down the list, checking several times to ask if he had any questions and answering the few he asked. Then, when I finished, he had a good understanding of what my group was about and what we were doing. I then stated that I understood it was entirely possible that he had other directions he wanted us to go, and that I understood our function was to implement management’s direction. So I asked. It turns out he did have a few, what I would call “tweaks” to the existing plan…ones that actually made things a bit better for me and my team going forward. And I got the distinct impression that he really appreciated this first meeting and the approach I took. In the almost year since that meeting, he has treated me respectfully as a professional peer with valuable expertise. I think the combination of that “issues list” and a clear willingness to follow new directions right up front made my life at work these last several months quite satisfying.

    1. MS*

      Thanks, Bob. The reason I want to be prepared for this is that during our meetings one of the things she indicated she wanted was a “take charge” assistant and not an “order taker”. My experience is much more the former and this role is in many ways more of a “Chief of Staff” role than a traditional EA role. I have a good feel for her style and what she wants, just need to make sure we are on the same page.

      1. Jessa*

        Then I think the way Bob handled would work really well for you. You want to come with the list like Alison suggested, but make sure that your boss is okay with everything and that they don’t have their own agenda first.

  11. HRAnon*

    OP #6- If they do not pay you for the full notice period, you may be eligible for unemployment benefits for the remainder. Depends on your state rules, but worth checking.

  12. [anon]*

    OP #1, if you’re in DC start building in “bomb scare” time to all your travel and commutes. There are “suspicious packages” (i.e. forgotten cameras and lost lunches that send security into a panic) somewhere in the city at least three times a week, and every last one of them badly snarls both traffic and transit.

    (In fact if you’re using Metro, and it’s something critical like an early morning meeting or interview, I would add a full 45-60 minutes of padding to whatever time sounds necessary. Been burned by that too many times. Leave at 7:00a only to be late for a 9:00a meeting “45 minutes” away? Ah, DC.)

    1. [anon]*

      (Oops, just now caught the addendum comment that it was Baltimore. Ah well. Still useful advice for anyone in DC, haha.)

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