coworkers are insensitive after a layoff, trimming down internship experience on a resume, and more

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

1. I was laid off, and my former colleagues want sympathy from me

I was laid off when my position was eliminated for business reasons, along with other employees. I was told repeatedly by the people doing the conference room session and my supervisor that this wasn’t a reflection on my work, I was a valued employee, and they really didn’t want to let me go, but it was an economic reality.

Other than crying the day I was let go, I’ve tried to take a mostly upbeat approach with former colleagues. As well as taking the high road. When I do talk/email with former colleagues, I ask how they are and talk about the steps I’m taking in my job search. What I’m finding is that they’re expecting me to sympathize with them. I realize it’s tough to have to let someone go and it’s tough to pick up the extra work. But they’re talking about how difficult it is for them, etc. to someone who has just been laid off.

Now, I’ve developed a good enough relationship with these people to know their intent is good, but I’m so tempted to say, “Well, how do you think it feels to be unemployed for the first time when you’re middle aged and the job market is bad?” But of course, I wouldn’t say that because it would burn bridges. Plus I think it’s more cluelessness on their part than any intention to hurt me or make me feel uncomfortable. Do you have any suggestions for a polite and professional way of stopping these comments or letting them know I don’t want to hear them?

Wow. That’s incredibly thoughtless of your former colleagues, although I’m sure you’re right that it’s obliviousness, not any deliberate attempt to harm you. If you’re close enough to any of the people making these comments, I think you’d be doing them a service if you nicely said, “You know, I’m sure you didn’t mean it this way, but I’d sure rather be in your shoes than mine.” But if you’re not close to them, then your only real option is to internally roll your eyes, change the subject, and remind yourself that it’s just cluelessness — and resolve to be more sensitive than they are if you’re ever on their side of the conversation in the future.

2. Would I be a horrible person if I kept looking after accepting this job?

I’ll be graduating with a master’s in May (which I regret ever starting, but that’s another story!) and I’ve been job searching since December. I didn’t realize it would be this hard to find ANY kind of job… my plan was originally to quickly find a part-time job that I could have while I searched for “real” full-time jobs which I knew would take longer to get. The problem is, it’s been impossible for me to land ANY kind of job. I’ve applied to almost 80 jobs and have only had a handful of interviews. I know most retail-type jobs don’t want to hire someone with an almost-master’s and (despite my education) I’m still pretty inexperienced for more serious jobs.

This past week I had an interview for a job that seems like a good fit. I’d be getting actual experience in my field. I have a second interview next week and I think there’s a good chance I might get an offer. The problem is it’s only 30 hr/wk at $12/hr, which is fine for now but I definitely can’t live on that long-term, and they specifically said they’re looking for someone “long-term.” I’m not sure how they expect people to commit “long-term” to a job like this… I guess it could work if you took a second night/weekend job (assuming you could find one) to make ends meet, but they still offer no benefits.

I don’t think there is much room for negotiating the pay or hours because the center is only open 30 hours/week and they seem pretty firm on $12/hr being the most they will pay (it was initially “$10-12” and I said I’d definitely require at least $12 considering that’s less than I’ve made at past part-time jobs and internships). I’m desperate for a job right now so my first instinct is to definitely take the job if it’s offered, knowing that I’ll leave as soon as I find something better (which could still be several months or even a year, I guess). Would this make me a horrible person?

In general, if an employer explicitly tells you that you’d want to stay long-term, I don’t think you should take that offer if you know that you’re going to continue to look; it’s acting in bad faith. That said, I also think that employers who offer low-wage jobs with no benefits are kidding themselves if they think they’re going to get loads of high-quality candidates who will really stick around if something better turns out. To be intellectually consistent, I feel obligated to say “don’t take it if you don’t like their terms” … but I don’t think anyone would blame you too much if you did.

3. Explaining why I’m looking for short-term work during a temporary layoff

I’m in an odd situation. I have a great job in the title research and certification field that pays well, with a great boss and coworkers I like. However, our biggest client changed the direction of their company and doesn’t need us anymore, we lost out on a potential major contract last year, and our smaller clients don’t seem to have any work for us at the moment. It’s a very small business, so we didn’t have many clients to begin with.

While my boss is looking for new clients, I’ve agreed to take a temporary unpaid layoff. My boss could call me back in a couple of months, or it could be another 6 months to a year. She’s encouraging me to find other work, and doesn’t expect me to just walk out on another job when she calls me back. She’ll give me glowing references. My boss will even allow me to use my office and equipment for any telecommuting type work I find, which means I can work “from home” in an actual office. I’m also eligible for unemployment for the next 6 months, which will pay the bills with some careful budgeting, but I’d much rather find some temporary work.

I’ve registered with a staffing agency and explained that I’m looking for temporary work. I’m hoping you have some suggestions for how I explain the situation to potential employers – or should I not mention that I may be called back to my former job at all? If I’m engaged for a specific period of time, I’d finish it, and my former boss would expect me to fulfill my obligations. Otherwise, I’d give two weeks notice.

I’m also looking for freelance work in proofreading/editing, but while I have the skills and the experience (although not actually in the editing/publishing field), my education doesn’t reflect that.

You can just explain that you’re on a long-term hiatus while your company regroups. But I think there’s a much bigger question here: Are you sure you should be looking for temporary work as opposed to regular jobs? You could certainly consider temporary work along with more long-term work if you wanted, but looking JUST at temporary work is going to be fairly limiting and it doesn’t sound like there’s any guarantee that your company will be able to hire you back or that the work will be stable when they do. (To the contrary, it sounds like they’re really struggling and might continue to.)

It’s great that they’re being so supportive of you, but I wouldn’t let that prevent you from conducting a full-fledged job search and taking something long-term if you find it.

4. Should I organize a baby gift for my new manager?

I just started a job in high tech and my new manager’s wife will give birth in a few months. I know that gifts are supposed to flow down, not up, in an office, but it seems sort of strange to do nothing to mark the occasion. Should everyone on his team sign a card or are there other appropriate ways to celebrate? It’s a relaxed environment and my manager has a pretty jokey demeanor. I don’t mind organizing something (most of my new teammates are a little more introverted), but I don’t want to, for example, bake a cake and get labeled “the mom.” Thoughts?

You could do a group card, or if the whole group wants to do more than that, you could do a joint baby gift. However, since you’re new, I’d stick with just suggesting a card, rather than getting into all the potential sticky dynamics around office gift-giving, women being the ones to organize it, etc.

5. Should I trim down the internship experience on my resume?

Basically I had a really impressive resume for a recent college graduate, but all of my experience/internships were in one field. My financial situation has made it impossible to live in a market where jobs in that field are plentiful, at least for now (read: I’m broke, have debt and need to live with my parents). I’ve been applying for local jobs in a field that uses a similar skill set since July with little luck. I think I’m doing a good job at tailoring cover letters, and after an interview today where the interviewer made a comment about my resume, I’m wondering if it’s actually my resume that’s the problem. Think about it: if you have four internships in a field that is not the field you’re applying to, no matter how good your cover letter is, it kind of seems like you’d rather work in that other field.

I’m thinking that despite the incredible number of internships I’ve done, maybe one in this new field (as opposed to the full-time jobs I’ve been applying to) is the answer to getting some experience (and changing the direction of my resume). But that’s awkward to do with so many internships already, even if they’re unrelated. I’m wondering if maybe part of “tailoring my resume” is not including all of those internships. Three of them were done while I was in school still so it’s not like there will be resume gaps. I imagine possible advice would be just to tailor each bullet more toward the new field, but still so many internships in another field is kind of something hard to explain away, isn’t it?

What do you think about actually “trimming down” my experience for an internship?

If an internship isn’t strengthening your resume, there’s no reason you have to include it. Do you have impressive, distinct achievements at each of them, or is there some overlap? If there’s overlap between what you did at some or all of them, then yeah, it might help to remove one or two of them … or even if there isn’t any overlap, if you think removing some will help. There’s no rule that you have to include everything you’ve ever done; the only relevant test is whether including something helps you or hurts you, and if you think it’s more the latter, take them off and see if you see a difference in employer response.

{ 109 comments… read them below }

  1. Oh... Employment!*

    #5 – Are you sure it’s the internships themselves and not the descriptions/ achievements you are listing on your resume? You are saying they both use a similar skill set, so I wonder if you just aren’t tailoring your resume properly to reflect that. The best thing you can do is go through a job description and figure out how your previous experience and skills can relate to it and highlight that in your resume.

  2. OP*

    I think they’re all fairly different. I’ll tell you the fields for some perspective: Field #1 is journalism. Field #2 is marketing. I think the second issue is ironically also seeming somewhat overqualified (for internships), even if it’s not related experience. Would you think someone with so many internships is willing to do another and not be bored? In magazine journalism, esp. at the heavy-hitters in NYC, you’re expected to have 3-4 internships to be considered. You kind of take these little ones to build up to getting into a national mag. In marketing, I think having 3-4 internships kind of looks like no one will hire you (which isn’t exactly the case–it’s just in journalism there aren’t a lot of things to promote interns too; the idea of the “staff writer” died around the same time as the housing market, I think. Most magazines, even national ones, have interns, editors and freelancers. Nothing inbetween.)

    1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      FWIW, I hire for marketing and I wouldn’t take 4 internships journalism & marketing as a negative. The critical thinking necessary for journalism is a big plus for marketing in my book. Journalism is just plain good training.

      My current rising star was a journalism major that we hired as a writer and subsequently identified the skill sets to be a marketer so we moved him around.

      An employer who thinks 4 internships for a recent grad is a negative is living under a rock IMHO. I don’t think it should be necessary, of course, but I can’t read it as negative.

      1. OP*

        Y’know, it might have been completely circumstantial with the place I applied to that they didn’t like the focus on journalism. They’re a very traditional office focusing on an older demographic. Maybe it’s the type of journalism that turned them off. I think traditional news reporting is looked at more seriously than arts and entertainment (unless you live in a market where you would be covering a&e which I definitely do not).

        I think what I’m taking away from this so far is that I won’t exclude anything as a rule, but if I can’t spin certain entries into compelling prepwork for the particular position than I won’t feel obligated to include them.

        1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

          Here’s my take.

          Being an effective marketer requires a deep understanding of the products and services you are marketing and a deep understanding of your customer market. Journalism trains you to gather a deep understanding of the story/issue at hand and then pick and choose and structure so that the end result is easily digestible to the end reader (whom you are also supposed to understand).

          Highly transferable and arguably more practical skill sets than some marketing majors have.

          My only reservation with a writer would be that the person really wanted to be a writer and wasn’t interested in selling teapots, so it would be good to hear “I love the discipline and training I got from journalism and can’t wait to apply it to learning about and selling your lovely teapots”.

      2. Oh... Employment!*

        I agree… They are related enough that you should keep them on there. In journalism you should have great writing, interviewing and research skills, which will definitely help you in marketing as well. I’d also argue that going from journalism to public relations to marketing is actually a pretty standard career transition for some people.

    2. Laura*

      I went from 3 internships in journalism to a temp job in marketing – now do freelance marketing and struggle to find any other job but still – there are a lot of transferable skills and jobs in marketing often look for someone who can write, who may have a journalism background.

      I think both journalism and marketing are almost equally difficult to find an entry level job in (journalism a bit harder), so it’s probably not just you, it’s also the state of the job market. And 3-4 internships are not uncommon in marketing, so it actually doesn’t look as bad as you think . Also most people I graduated from journalism school with in 2012 are now in marketing, so it’s been done many times.

      Can you do some volunteering in marketing? I currently volunteer 15 hours a week writing web content, newsletters and press releases for a non profit. It’s less of a time commitment than another internship and it keeps me busy, while i can look for a job at the same time. There are less and less things to promote interns to in marketing as well, so those fields have that in common.

      One of the things that worked for me was to heavily promote my writing skills, because lots of marketing jobs need that. It helped that the newspapers I interned with had occasional supplements / sections that had advertorials , which is so much like marketing, and I’d had experience writing about businesses with teh goal of promoting them. Also if the marketing job involves media relations, well having worked in journalism you can say you know what the media wants to hear/needs to know. Plus you have the critical thinking/research skills that are essential in marketing. And you’re used to working under tight deadlines and being committed to accuracy – also important. It’s a very common transition from journalism to marketing, so they’re probably used to it. I mean, maybe it is something you’re doing, but finding an entry level marketing job is hard even if you studied it and have 3 internships in it , especially if you’re going more for jobs titled Marketing and Communications.

      1. OP#5*

        I feel spoiled getting all of this feedback from you guys. When you’re in a position like this, you have guesses as to why things might be the way they are, but it’s really nice to get a feel for other people’s experiences and understanding of the market.

        For whatever it’s worth–the place that made the comment about the “unrelated experience” on my resume still gave me an interview and I think it went pretty well (it was also with someone different than the preinterview who didn’t seem as bothered by my background).

        I still feel uneasy about having so much experience and trying to get another internship as to how people would perceive that, but I feel way less awkward about keeping it for a full-time job. I’m applying for both now (I’m a little antsy to just get back at something and if an internship has to be the stepping stone then that’s more than fine with me).

  3. Ann Furthermore*

    #4: If the group wants to give a gift, have everyone pitch in $5 or some other small amount and get a gift card. This is an easy thing to get, it’s a thoughtful thing to do, and doesn’t require any time to decide what to get, or find out where the registry is, or anything like that. And $5 isn’t much to ask from any individual, but added up will be a decent amount of money. Anyplace will work — Target, Walmart, Babies R Us, etc. Since your manager’s wife will probably have a baby shower, she’ll presumably be getting gifts from friends and family. A gift card is great because you can get exactly what you need.

    1. Elise*

      I’m sure you mean “have everyone who wants to pitch in on an entirely voluntary basis and don’t make anyone feel pressured”. The forced, or seemingly forced, aspect of some of these activities is one reason why gifts to the boss are so offensive to most people.

      1. Laura*

        I agree….especially when that’s 5 less dollars you could have put towards groceries, or your internet bill, or even something you want, or a gift for someone you actually care about, rather than someone who you work for and may not even like personally. With asking a group of people for a contribution, there’s going to be at least 1 person who doesn’t want to do it, and it is hard to make it seem like you’re not badgering or pressuring them.

        1. Ann Furthermore*

          Sure, it should be completely voluntary, and no one should give any more than they can afford.

          You’re right that there will be at least one person who won’t want to do anything, but it’s also probably true that there will be at least one person who *does* want to do something, unless the manager is such a colossal ass that he has completely alienated everyone on his team. But from what the OP says, it doesn’t sound like that’s the case.

          So for those who do want to do something, the gift card option is an easy thing to do, and something someone can even pick up at the grocery store and not have to make a special trip anywhere. And it’s generic enough that it’s not crossing the boundaries of being too personal.

          We do talk alot here about how no one should be pressured to participate in office gift giving if it’s something they’re not comfortable with, or not something they can afford. And I completely agree with that. I’ve been in situations where spending just a few unplanned dollars makes a very big difference, so I am absolutely empathetic to that. And maybe I’m just feeling extra contrary this morning but if it’s true that a person should not feel pressured to contribute to a group gift if they’re not able to or don’t want to, then it should also be true that someone who *does* want to do something shouldn’t feel pressured not to. That’s why I’m such a fan of the gift card in situations like this — they are thoughtful without being too personal or crossing any boundaries, and easy to get. And to be clear, I’m talking about the “$5 or less per person” variety of gift, nothing like the $200 per person scenario we heard about around the holidays, where everyone was contributing to purchase a ski weekend for the CEO (or whatever that was).

          And I do agree with the OP that setting the precedent to be the office goody maker is not a precedent she wants to set. If you do it for the manager, then everyone might expect you to do that for every major life event for everyone in the group.

          1. Anonymous*

            As much as the OP feels like they need to do something, I would advise against it for a couple of reasons.

            1. In most offices, if you take on the role of baker/party planner once or twice, you have it for life. Unless you want to always be responsible, just don’t do it.

            2. The OP said they are new to the office. It’s possible that the office’s culture is so that they don’t do celebrations.

            3. If you do for one person, you should do for all. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen and people get their feelings hurt. I’ve seen way too people get upset because person A got a “better” baby shower than person B.

            4. The OP mentioned that it’s his boss’ wife that’s pregnant. honestly, if I didn’t work directly with the person, I’d be less inclined to do anything.

            I don’t mean to rain on anyone’s baby shower (really, I don’t!), but I’ve been the planner of way too many work events (without volunteering to do it btw) and seen way too much drama result from them, even with the best intentions.

            1. Dani S*

              I have to disagree with you on #4. Just because his wife is carrying the baby doesn’t make it any less important of a life event for the father. He’s still expecting a child.

              1. Anonymous*

                I don’t disagree with you that it’s just as important to the father, but that for me personally, I wouldn’t be inclined to give unless I work with the person directly. I guess I’m kind of old school (even though I’m in my early 30s) but I’ve never worked in a place that had showers for fathers. I would just assume that his wife’s friends and co-workers would probably be throwing her showers, as well as their families.

                1. Dani S*

                  I guess I don’t understand what you mean about not working with the person directly, because they do work directly with their boss and he is expecting a baby.

                  That said, yeah, I’ve never heard of showers for fathers (although I’m a fan of couples’ showers). I wouldn’t do a shower, just a gift or card or something. My dad’s office staff sent him a congratulatory balloon bouquet when my little sister was born.

                2. Ann Furthermore*

                  But I wouldn’t consider a group gift card the same thing as a shower though. A shower is organizing a cake, gifts, and all the rest of it, and yeah, for a guy, that would be odd. Just because it’s traditionally a woman thing.

                3. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

                  Not following.

                  Working with the father is working with the person directly.

                  Minimizing the role of the father isn’t old fashioned in some kind of quaint way, it’s reactionary in a way that isn’t good for anybody.

                4. Judy*

                  At one group at my former employer, the “shower” for moms or dads was a diaper shower. So one day, the person came into work and there were lots of packs of diapers on their desk, with a card signed by everyone. Usually there was a cookie tray, also.

                5. Ann Furthermore*

                  Judy, I like that idea! Diapers are one of those things you just can’t have too many of. :)

  4. Legal jobs*

    Response to 1:

    My situation is different in that my company decided to wind down my role over several months, which means I’m still there although the position finally will end soon. The stated reason is business. The real reason is that they didn’t want to deal with legal risk (their words) but felt I was doing a great job (also their words).

    The similar aspect of our circumstances is that executuves are whining to me about their work load increasing from having cut my position although they were the one’s who made the decision. I question the value of maintaining relationships like this beyond the need for references. Emotionally, if you are like me, you already dealing with the challenges of the job market. As for references, what should be concerning is whether the person you ask to give a reference may lack the ability to know how to give a good reference or will they make similar inadvertent statements? Just food for thought.

    1. ArtsNerd*

      I’m a bit confused. Can you elaborate on what you mean by not wanting “to deal with legal risk”?

        1. VintageLydia*

          If I remember correctly from a previous thread Legal Jobs’ employer doesn’t like the fact that he/she points out that some of what they want to do isn’t legal (or at least is borderline) so instead of doing things legally/ethically, they’re choosing to lay off the person who is telling them these things. So now they don’t have to deal with “legal risks” aka now doesn’t have someone telling them what they are doing is wrong.

          1. Legal jobs*

            You are right. Management wanted to bury their heads in the sand until a crisis or failure happens. There are also management intensive duties that I perform that cannot simply be ignored. They are attempting to manage them now without counsel.

    2. Graciosa*

      I’m fairly floored by this one, as I can’t imagine the level of insensitivity required to complain to a person you have laid off about the resulting increase in work load. For it to continue over a period of several months leaves me stunned.

      I can only hope you get through this to find something much better. Good luck in your search.

      1. fposte*

        I kind of understand it because my very nice father was horrible at sympathy and might have done the same thing, being utterly convinced he was comforting. In his head it would be “See how much you were needed? See how horrible it is for us without you? See how we’re still all on the same side and we still think of you as one of us?” and he’d have completely missed the whole “It’s not about you at all and don’t try to make it so” memo.

        1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

          This. What I’m imagining is people saying “wow, without you around, there’s just so much more to do, we’re practically drowning!” Etc.

          I don’t think there IS a good way for them to be responding. I think it would be equally as rude to talk about how amazing things are or how happy they are to still have jobs… That would be crass.

          I try to imagine how I would respond to a laid-off co-worker contacting me, and I honestly am coming up with roughly the same things that OP finds so objectionable. I feel like it would be really crappy to dwell on the layoff (especially after multiple months… I would probably express my sympathy one time and then presume that they don’t need to hear it again). And if the person wasn’t a friend, But just a co-worker, what on earth are you going to talk about that isn’t work? They’re probably having what they consider to be “normal” conversations in a direct effort to not talk about how much OP’s life must suck, etc.

          Maybe OP an clarify, but without some quotes I have a hard time believing the co-workers actually want sympathy and an easier time believing that they’re going with what they genuinely think is the LEAST awkward way to go about a conversation (apparently repeated multiple times over several months) that is an inherently awkward conversation.

          1. Legaljobs*

            I don’t see how it helps the OP to speculate. Its like attempting to guess what’s really happening regarding a company’s decision making about hiring. There is only so much one can know beyond what one is told. At the end of the day, what is most useful is not to have it interfere with the search for a job.

        2. Lils*

          Yes, I also thought that the still-employed people were being awkward because it’s an awkward situation. I could see wanting the laid-off person to know how much they’re missed, how crappy it is now they’re gone, how bad you think the layoff decision was. That could take the tone of “We’re so busy now that you’re gone.” Certainly the OP should gently point out how this makes them feel, if the friendship is close enough. If they’re not friends, I have no idea why there is this ambiguous, chatty contact.

      2. Dang*

        Is there a reason you have to keep talking to them? If it were me, I would limit my exposure to them. I’m sure you have enough frustration without listening to their insensitive crap.

        1. Legal jobs*

          No, its unfortunately not that type of job, but I have a thick skin. If anything, their comments just remind me that this is about their culture, not me.

      3. Anonymous*

        It’s happened to me. Our company closed our office. 1st round of layoffs happened 3-4 months before the closing, so some people got let go before others who were deemed necessary to close up the facility. I got let go in the first round and heard all the complaining about how horrible it was from those who stayed on longer.

        I would’ve given anything to have had 4 months more salary instead of unemployment!

  5. Dani S*

    #4 – Have you already asked around to find out if somebody else is planning something? Being new, this might be a good opportunity to find out how gifts and events are handled in this office. You wouldn’t want to step on anyone’s toes if, say, Phyllis is the unofficial party-planner and gifts person. Since there are still a few months until the baby is born, you could wait and see how birthdays are handled in the meantime, or you could just ask a coworker what the office normally does for birthdays/babies/major life events.

    1. ac*

      I was thinking the same thing. If the company has an established baby present/other special occasion protocol, and new employee just comes in with her own ideas and starts organizing , it could backfire.

      1. BossBabyOP*

        I’m the OP. I think the idea to wait and learn the office culture is a good one. There won’t be a turf war over the gift planning, though. My 4 teammates are all introverted young tech guys, while I’m a woman in my late 30’s. I think if I don’t step up, no one will.

        1. Anonymous*

          I’m not trying to sound like an idiot or insensitive, but if nothing is done, would it be a bad thing? I would assume that your boss and his family are probably going to have other showers and celebrations.

          1. fposte*

            I’m thinking the same. This isn’t really “stepping up,” because that suggests getting to someplace necessary. I think you may be feeling like your impulse comes from your being the one who knows what’s appropriate, and it’s possible that the people choosing not to do anything are actually acting more appropriately for this office.

            1. Anonymous*

              Excellent point – there are certainly offices were it’s expected to have celebrations but likewise, there are offices where it would be totally out of place and maybe even awkward.

          2. Laura*

            I’ve been in offices where nothing was done for birthdays/someone having a new baby/holidays, so I wouldn’t have the assumption that something must be done. I know people have showers/celebrations with their friends/family so I don’t know if they’d expect or even want another. That’s why I’d wait to see how things are done at a workplace before doing anything. I think celebrating things like this varies from office to office, just like what’s appropriate varies

          1. BossBabyOP*

            Good points, all. I think at this point I’ll just wait it out. So far, I’ve seen lots of going away parties, but no shower-y things. And I do want to avoid the “office caregiver” label.

        2. SevenSixOne*

          I still think it’s a bad idea.

          I imagine a lot of people would be annoyed if the newest member of the team approached them with her hand out expecting a contribution for a gift/party for someone who DOESN’T EVEN WORK HERE. “Who do you think you are?” is not the first impression you want to make.

          1. Anonymous*

            I think what you said is a big reason I have a problem with this scenario – the pregnant person doesn’t work in the office.

            I feel like you have to draw the line somewhere or it can get completely out of hand (and expensive).

          2. Elizabeth*

            “doesn’t even work here”

            If the boss’s wife is going to give birth, that means the boss is about to be a father. I’m not saying that therefore a gift is obligatory, but that is something to celebrate at least with congratulations! The same gift-giving or non-gift-giving should happen whether the boss is female and pregnant, male with a pregnant spouse, or any gender and adopting.

            Personally, I think bringing it up with other team members casually would be appropriate – something like, “Hey, are we doing anything for George to celebrate the baby?” – which might make someone else go, “Oh, good idea. Let’s ______.” Or, if not, the OP could suggest a card. I think that would make her seem like a nice person without being too much “the mom.”

  6. Bluefish*

    #2 Definitely take the job if offered and keep looking. It doesn’t make you a bad person, it means you are doing what you have to do to earn a living. You have to do what’s best for you. At $12/hr the company is certainly doing what’s best for them. Who could honestly say that they’ll stay in a $12/hr, no benefits job, long term? That’s just unrealistic. I see absolutely no problem with this.

      1. voluptuousfire*

        +1. If it comes up, take it. In the past few years, I’ve learned that you need to do what’s best for you to keep yourself afloat. You shouldn’t feel like a bad person for taking a job when you need it and what you’re looking for vs. what they’re looking for differ.

        Besides, the only people who would be in such a position long term are probably those who don’t necessarily need that job as a main income.

        1. Stephanie*

          +1 I was in this same situation 2.5 years ago, just graduated from Grad school looking for a job. I was offered essentially what you are talking about, a 30 hour/week $11/hour job. I turned it down because I thought I needed more to live on, and wanted a full time job with benefits and better pay. The market is HORRIBLE right now, 2.5 years later I still don’t have a full time job and have been filling in with part-time and temp/seasonal jobs that leave me in a constant state of flux. You don’t know how many times I wish I had taken that job that I thought was ‘too little’ because at least it was stable and year round and you’d be amazed at what you can live off of when you have to. I’ve made way less over the past 2.5 years than I would have if I had taken that job and I’ve survived. Take the job, because you never know how long it will take to find another one – and it will give you valuable experience in the mean time.

    1. Esra*

      Agreed. If you really want someone to stay in a position long term, you need to make that an enticing proposition, not a guilt trip.

    2. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      Eh, I think the idea that it’s crazy to expect someone to stay long-term at this job is inaccurate. There are plenty of categories of people who would love a 30 hour a week job who wouldn’t need benefits (people with partners with jobs, people in school part-time, people who have other part-time jobs, people who run their own businesses part-time… Heck, after college my boyfriend and I both worked 30 hours a week at our jobs, because we could. 60 hours between the two of us paid the bills and gave us more time to enjoy life).

      I just dislike the assumption that employers that offer part-time jobs are inherently villainous, especially since in this case the villainy is being used as an excuse to say its fine to act in bad faith and screw them over.

      1. Anonymous*

        Kimberlee, not villainous perhaps, but they’re not being very realistic either. Especially if they hire someone fairly young and/or just out of college. OF COURSE they would be looking for a more full-time position and move up the career ladder.

        I’m just seeing so much of this in recent years because of the bad economy and job market. Part-time is all that is offered. Period. Employers can’t get mad if people move on because they’ve found something better.

        1. Editor*

          I worked many years in part-time jobs that were underpaid and didn’t offer benefits. And yes, I had a spouse who provided the bulk of the income and benefits, but he had the high-paying job because we agreed I’d deal with the sick children and the waiting for the plumber and so on. I chose the underpaid job because I didn’t want to be out of the job market entirely, not because I wanted to be underpaid. (And to be fair, sometimes I got paid market rates but lived where market rates were pretty low, even for the full-timers.)

          I think there’s unneccessary disrespect for part-time jobs and the workers who fill those jobs — and OP’s particular job shows why. The employer wants someone part-time but long-term, and isn’t willing to pay market rates even though there’s already substantial payroll savings if the job does not come with benefits. Even if the job comes with benefits, there is a potential savings because hours worked in addition to the first 30 hours won’t be overtime at time-and-a-half.

          I just read something recently saying there weren’t a lot of good part-time jobs available in some job markets and careers (the article was focused on parents, but plenty of people who aren’t actively parenting choose part-time work). But part of the reason there aren’t so many options for people who want part-time work is that numerous employers don’t plan for and budget part-time work appropriately, with pro-rated benefits such as paid time off and other benefits such as health insurance. It seems like a chicken-and-egg conundrum — part-timers don’t get respect because of the job circumstances, and because of the circumstances and their willingness to settle for less, the employer doesn’t respect the part-timers as much.

  7. Boo*

    #1 – yeah, I feel you. I got made redundant just before Christmas, and have had similar things with coworkers/managers. It’s not out of malice, more anxiety about how they will manage at the end of March (it’s the 4th consecutive year of redundancies and services have been cut to the bone) and just plain thoughtlessness. The fact that we’ve had so many redundancies year on year probably doesn’t help, as it’s become part of our culture. I’m afraid I can’t add anything to what Alison said, but I can totally empathise.

  8. TBoT*

    No. 1: It’s hard to say without knowing exactly what was said, but I’m not sure coworkers talking about things being tough are looking for sympathy. If it’s “How are things with the office?” “Really tough since the layoff,” that feels like an acknowledgment that the laid off employee is missed, not a plea for sympathy. Responding with “Oh they’re fine” seems like it could come off as dismissing the person who was laid off as having not actually been needed or missed.

    Thinking about it, I’m hard-pressed to come up with a response to “How is work?”-type questions that isn’t insensitive or dismissive in some way.

    Now, if it’s an extended gripe session, or unsolicited complaining by someone still working to someone who was laid off, that’s not cool at all.

      1. Ruffingit*

        This. It’s a perfect way of saying what should be said because it’s simple and honest.

        1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

          But how many times are you expected to say that? It sounds like this is an ongoing problem… At some point, when you ask former co-workers how things are at work, you need to be able to take a normal answer… Aka, one that reflects how things actually are for that person at work. Especially if they’ve expressed their sympathies before… I certainly wouldn’t express sympathy to a laid off person more than once or twice, because I’d presume they don’t want to be reminded of it in every conversation.

          1. fposte*

            I get what you’re saying in that eventually this becomes the way things are rather than recent tragedy. But I also think if you’re close enough that your contact with former co-workers isn’t just a one-off but a long-term thing, you’re then friends, and you can talk that very thing through. (And at that point if you don’t want to hear the answer, maybe stop asking about how things are at the workplace.)

            And in general, employed friends limit workplace bitching to unhappily unemployed friends, even if the latter didn’t previously work with the former.

            1. Legaljobs*

              I definitely agree. I would add that it is important for the OP to avoid negative situations (regardless of intentions) while searching for a job. I have been told by my one friend, who was out of work for a year, that its easy to fall into the trap of focusing on these experiences. As a practical matter, I have friends with whom I know I can share my trials, but others with whom I cannot.

            2. Ruffingit*

              Fposte nails it again. I’m not seeing this as an ongoing thing on either side – that is, that the employed friends continually say this and the unemployed one continually gets hurt if they don’t. I can’t see the “how is work conversation” always focusing on the “tragedy” of being laid off. You’d say this once or twice and then you’d move on and hopefully, if you’re close friends with the person, you’d have other things to discuss besides work anyway.

  9. jschhh*

    #1 Same thing happened to me. At least the guy complaining about having extra work is known complainer (I still don’t get how he has a job when all he does is complain about doing work and I don’t). I was only at the job for 3 months but they contacted me almost 2 months after the lay off (ie this week) to ask what my voicemail password was. Like I remember it? And if I did, I’m not sure I would tell them at this point.

  10. Dan*

    I’m going to break this into two posts, to keep it semi-manageable/coherent.

    I was laid off in October, unexpectedly, so I know how it goes. But there’s a social norms thing in this country that I never understand.

    I’ve met a few women who put an emphasis on “I ask how they are” or “they asked how I was doing” or some such. But the thing is, in this country, you’re *not supposed to answer that question honestly.* I’ll never understand that.

    My point here is that you asked how they were doing, and you’re complaining about their response?

  11. Dan*

    Continuing on…

    When I was let go, it was during round #3 of multiple rounds. I have to tell you, while I still had a job for rounds #1 and #2, it was actually pretty painful to watch how the company was treating people, and for that matter, wonder when my turn was coming.

    I actually had *friends* at my previous company, people who I still keep in touch with regularly. I recognize that friendship is a two-way street — I can’t expect them to just be there for me without doing the same for them. That means listening to them bitch about what’s happening since. And my previous boss was happy to remind me that he was not consulted about my layoff, and for the next four months his project was FUBARed :)

    This may or may not help you, but while I guess it’s better to have a job than not, I was actually *relieved* to get let go. I was planning on sticking around until the bitter end, but once I actually got my walking papers, I knew “it” was over and I didn’t have to worry and stress anymore. Then three weeks after I got laid off, I called by the top competitor in field (I never applied) and ended up getting a job with a 25% pay raise. I’m happy as a clam, and actually *thankful* I got laid off.

    All of that said, layoffs still suck and I’m sorry you have to go through it. It’s never fun. I’m just trying to show you that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

  12. Dan*


    I think Alison soft pedaled her response, so I’m going to be a bit more blunt: You don’t have a temporary layoff any more than I do. I was told “we will call you back if work picks up, but it likely won’t be soon.”

    It *is* nice that they are being supportive, but you need to look out for yourself. The advice Alison gives to job seekers wondering about “reading between the lines” is “You don’t have a job until you have a signed offer letter. Until then, forget about it and move on.” The same really needs to be true for you here — apply for anything and everything reasonable, take the best you can find, and if you do get called back, make a decision at that point.

    What you asked about and Alison didn’t respond to directly: Should you mention the “temporary” nature of your situation during interviews? Absolutely not. Because your situation isn’t really temporary. The only thing you would possibly, and I mean possibly, need to watch out for is getting yourself into a contract situation and then getting called back. You’d have to deal with that when it happens.

    But for all intents and purposes, you’re looking for a full time job that you won’t be leaving anytime soon. Because you probably won’t. And if you do, well, such is life and employers are used to it.

    1. ellex42*

      Hi there, I’m LW #3. I’m not concerned about the business failing or about being called back. I may seem overly optimistic, but I’m well-educated about the state of the field in which I’ve been working, and 100% certain of both my recall and my boss’ ability to find more work. I took the layoff voluntarily so that two other employees, whose financial situation is less stable than mine, could be kept on through this period, and I’m on the same page as my boss regarding wanting to keep them. In fact, I’m the one who brought up the notion of my taking a temporary leave in the first place.

      I do realize that this is an unusual situation, and few employers have proven themselves as loyal as mine, so naturally I want to show the same loyalty.

      That said, I do think that Alison is right – in a job search, I need to behave as though the possibility exists that I might not be called back. The job market is not as bad where I live as elsewhere, but it’s still not great. Also, until this job, I’ve never had an employer who deserved my loyalty to the point of deserving any more than a two week notice. I don’t expect to find another one!

      1. Dan*

        I’ve read the responses to you elsewhere in this comments thread, but I’ll give it another shot:

        You don’t need to justify yourself to us or convince us that you’re doing the right thing. It’s your life, not ours, and we’re trying to help you take the blinders off about the realities of your situation. Yes, it’s always easy to say that you have more information than we do, but we can also say that you’re so entrenched in the situation or have biases that you’re not aware of that keeps you from seeing the big picture clearly and end up leading you to screw yourself over.

        In order to approach your situation in the best way possible, you first must define what “short” term is. If it’s only a month, and this were over the holidays, you might get a seasonal job at a retail store. But we’re in March now, so that’s probably out of the question.

        If it’s a couple of years, that’s “short term” in the grand scheme of things, but in the employment world, most industries would call that “normal” and not look at you funny for moving on. I.e., no need to make special considerations about “short term”.

        If you had a return to work date, it might make things easier with the unemployment office. They might waive work search requirements and things like that. You’d also know what kind of work to be looking for, without having to worry or burn bridges.

        But you don’t have a return to work date, which is why the rest of us are telling to drop the “short term” aspect of your job search.

        BTW, are you still in your 20’s? You seem awfully confident about the future, which is something us old farts have learned that you cannot predict with any accuracy. If any 25 year old kid in my industry told me that he’s “confident” about his ability to predict the future or the success of any given company in our industry, I’d just laugh.

        In the real world, you have to make the best decisions you have with the information that you can access. Right now, there are two facts that are on the table that far surpass your “confidence” in terms of their importance on your choices about your first. First, you have no job, and second, you have no return to work date. You can talk about confidence, gut feelings, and intuition all you want, but a “short term” layoff of a few months is NOT something that you are facing. You are facing the prospect of finding a new long-term job that you MIGHT leave IF your old job got their act together.

        I’m sorry this comes across as harsh, but you are going to harm yourself economically if you treat this as a short term job search. You’re either going to get rejected from better paying jobs that don’t want you leaving in the yet-to-be-defined “near” future, or you will be limited to jobs that simply don’t care, such as retail and food service, that don’t pay worth jack. And then you’ll find out that you have no job waiting for you, and you’ve opportunity-costed yourself out of a fair chunk of money.

        Americans are very good about findings ways of saying “no” without using the word “no.” Those small clients who have no work right now may very well never have more work. If your boss told you they were going to land a new contract in three months, I might believe her, but fully expect the date to slip or a snafu to happen. But your original letter says that “it could be a year”. I guarantee you that she has absolutely no clue what is going to happen in a year, so you could be waiting for two or three or forevermore years for her to call you back.

        Bottom line: Forget about your old job. Your confidence in your boss’s ability to pull things through isn’t paying your bills right now. Find a gig you expect to be in for the long term, and if your old boss calls you back, consider yourself lucky.

      2. Anonymous*

        OP #3 It sounds like you’ve answered your own question then. You know you want to go back to the company and that you have very good reason to believe you WILL be called back.

        That being the case, at least at this point, you should probably concentrate on contract/freelance or consulting type gigs instead of more permanent positions. It seems this arrangement will best fit your situation currently.

  13. seesawyer*

    #1 – a shorter version of AAM’s suggested phrasing, which might give you a better chance at maintaining a non-angry tone, might be, “want to trade places?” in as gentle/joking a tone as you can muster (or with joking emoticons, in email). Still only to be used if your relationship with the person is good enough.

  14. The Clerk*

    I feel for #1, because my landlord’s husband did something similar a few days ago. He needs the basement to start up his new side business and so I’ll have to move in a couple months. What rubbed me the wrong way is that he said he wants this so he doesn’t have to be away from home so much; his local clients dwindled “because of Obama.” Gee, I’m so sorry you made $120K instead of $125K last year and had to travel to do so. I’ll pray for you when I send in my $10K tax return from 2013. And yes, that darn Obama.

    But at the same time, I think he was really dreading telling me this. I was actually kind of relieved because I wanted to move anyway, it’s just poor timing. But I think when people assume you’re upset, they subconsciously think that you won’t feel so bad if you hear that they have “problems” too. That might be what’s happening here, although in your comment upthread I was stunned that someone who made the decision to cut you (not just some random coworker) thinks you’re going to feel bad that his workload is now heavier.

    Most people I’ve worked with know I have a sort of wisecracky sense of humor, so if it were me I could get away with saying things like, “I’ve always told you you wouldn’t last a day without me, but did you listen? Nope.” If that’s how your place is, maybe you can let a tiny bit of steam escape that way; if not, maybe play the part and say very sweetly that oh you just hate to leave them in the lurch like this. You might not want to actually list them as a reference later, but they could still get called, so I’d say take the fake-sweet/jokey way out if you can.

  15. Artemesia*

    #3 — This job is gone. You aren’t on a temporary layoff. Your company is either badly run or has no viable market or both. The rainmakers are not able to make rain. The boss is wishful thinking but is probably facing bankruptcy down the road. IMHO you need to be undertaking a serious job search for a permanent job that uses your skills and if those skills are not widely in demand, adding to your skills.

    Even if you get called back, it sounds like the company is limping along and is likely to go under.

    1. Katie*

      + one million.

      OP#3, you need to start looking for jobs aggressively. You’re unemployed. Maybe start collecting unemployment to get yourself through this period?

      1. ellex42*

        I’m already collecting unemployment. My former boss and I deliberately arranged the layoff so that I could do so.

    2. ellex42*

      I admit that my loyalty to my boss is unusual these days, and I tried to keep my letter to Alison succinct, so I didn’t reveal much about the specific field I was working in, or how confident I am about my boss’ ability to find more work or that I will be called back.

      But I’m well-educated in the current state of the field I’ve been working in, and business is booming, particularly in my state.

      Long story short, I’m not concerned about the business failing, or about not being called back. I’m only concerned with how best to present myself to potential short-term employers. I registered with a local staffing agency recently, and they seem confident in their ability to find short-term employment for me. Like Alison, however, they recommended that I keep my intention of returning to my former job to myself.

      1. Sharon*

        I think what were all trying to tell you is to stop focussing on short term. It’s not. You need a new job. This one has a snowballs chance in heck of coming back. (Sorry)

      2. Daisy*

        If ‘business is booming’ why have you been laid off? You don’t have a definite return date, therefore that’s not a temporary thing, you’ve been laid off. I can’t see any reason why your job search shouldn’t be for permanent jobs (especially since even you admit it could be ‘up to a year’).

      3. R*

        I think it’s great that you’re loyal to your boss and are optimistic– but I strongly urge cautious optimism. I think it’s possible to be loyal to someone without sacrificing your own career and quality of life. If you find a new, permanent position, you are not being disloyal, especially since it sounds like she is encouraging you to look elsewhere (and even giving you space and resources to do so!)

        From an outsider’s perspective, it sounds like you must be a great employee and team member– but don’t forget that you have to take care of yourself too. In this situation, you’ve volunteered for a layoff because of others’ needs, and are limiting your job search out of loyalty for your boss. Where are your needs in all of this?

        Good luck!

      4. Not So NewReader*

        Did I read that you volunteered to take this layoff?

        This part concerns me.

        One time I volunteered to take early layoff from a seasonal job. What happened next was the employer learned that they were okay without me. (I did tasks that no one else would do.) They also did not call me back at the beginning of the new season as quickly as they had in the past.
        I have never volunteered for a layoff again. It sends a covert message to the employer. And this was THE job of my life. I loved the work and absolutely loved my employer. Boy, did I mess up on that one. I got down graded to second string (ok tenth string) employee. I was devastated. I had a 9 week long migraine. It’s been decades. I have never had a job that I loved as much as that one.

        No doubt in my mind that some of the comments here were a little tough to get through. But ethically, the posters and Alison have given you the correct response to your question. (Frankly, I wish I had these people around me years ago. Their advice would have saved me lots of heartache.) Going forward in the future if anyone asks you a similar question, you have the ethical responsibility to tell them to keep their eye peeled for a new, permanent job. People do what they think best in the end.

        1. Ruffingit*

          (Frankly, I wish I had these people around me years ago. Their advice would have saved me lots of heartache.)

          +1 million. Me too!!

  16. TL*

    Hey I had a little scrolling “one-question survey” go across the center of my screen when I came down to the comments. Did you change your ad services?

    It was about queso, so probably not a survey of yours.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Grrr! Someone else reported that this week and I thought they had it fixed. Occasionally something gets through on the ad network that shouldn’t. If you ever see it again, would you send me a screenshot? (Ideally one that also shows the normal ad that’s displaying at the time in the righthand sidebar so they can see what it might be connected to.)

      And I know this is a lot to ask, but they say it also helps them track it down if you can tell them (through me) what the first few questions of the survey are. (I apologize for asking for that, but apparently it helps.)

      1. TL*

        If I see it again, I will definitely screenshot and try to remember survey questions.

        But all I remember was it asking something about queso, sorry!

  17. Nicole*

    Regarding # 1 – I think perhaps two things might be happening here. First off, they are being honest when asked how work is going. Secondly, perhaps they think by complaining how hard it is they think it will make you feel better about not being there. I’d chalk it up to clueless-ness and not let it bother you. Be the biggest person and move on to better things.

  18. HarryV*

    #1. I can also see it as they value the work that you did and not so much of wanting you to sympathize with them. Also, did you get a package? If so, that may explain why they feel ok to express their opinion. Keep in mind you are trying to benefit by keeping in touch for future referrals and potentially rejoining the company. So I’d be cautious as to how you respond about this issue. To me, it’s a non issue.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Yeah, I can see the annoyance, but I would not expect to pick oranges off an apple tree. These folks are not capable of giving OP a sympathetic ear. Don’t expect it. Look for other folks to talk with. Coming up with a cute one-liner as mentioned above is ideal.
      “Awww, does that mean you miss me lots?”

      I run into people from an old job and they are in h-e-l-l. It is all about how miserable the place is. I used my two good feet for walking. They can, too, if they choose.

    2. Emily K*

      I was thinking this too–that it may be their way of trying to express how valuable she was to their team.

  19. Legal jobs*

    Can someone explain the comments that think the job seeker will obtain anything from someone who is even inadvertently acting in a clueless manner? I’m not advocating burning bridges.

    1. Elsajeni*

      Well, for one thing, there is the potential need for references — it sounds like OP#1 is getting clueless comments mostly from peers, but if those peers are still working with the OP’s former supervisor, burning bridges with them might also affect the relationship with the supervisor. Plus, depending on the specifics of the industry/company/level of seniority, the peers themselves might be valuable network connections that the OP doesn’t want to lose while they’re in the middle of a job search.

      (On a less directly “what can I get from them” note, it also sounds like some of these might be people OP considers friends — I know some people are more willing to cut friends loose than I am, and maybe that’s where you’re coming from, but I usually think it’s worth trying at least once to correct a behavior that bothers you before you ditch the entire relationship over it.)

      1. Legaljobs*

        I am not advocating either cutting bridges or ending friendships. I am advocating realizing the limitations of what one can realistically expect given the insensitivity. Maybe I am wrong, but my instinct when I see or hear someone doing something even inadvertently inappropriate as the OP described is to question whether the person acting inappropriately can help, even if they are sincerely trying to do so. May be I am more sensitive to this after my recent experiences, but I am definitely looking more closely at personalities involved.

  20. Ruffingit*

    #2 – Take the job then leave when you find something better. There is no way they can expect anyone to stay for $1440 a month, which is what $12/hr at 30 hours a week translates to. You just couldn’t do that long-term. It’s a jungle out there and that money could help you stay afloat while you continue to look. I see nothing wrong with doing that in this instance because the employer is living in a fantasy world to think good (let alone great) candidates would be willing to accept such low pay long-term. There’s just no way.

    1. OP #2*

      Thanks. And actually, after taxes and everything it comes out to way less than even $1440/mth (I had a depressing reality check when I while playing around on the other day).

      I recently had my 2nd interview for this job and should hear back within the next week. If I’m offered the job, I will take it and just continue to search out better paying full-time jobs that offer benefits. I really liked the two people who interviewed me , but I know they MUST know that whoever they hire will likely not be there for the long haul… in fact, I suspect they actually DID hire someone who quickly left. This was a job I applied to back in January, in response to a very vague Craigslist ad. It took them over a month to contact me after I applied, so I suspect they might have have hired someone right away in January and then that person didn’t work out or quickly left, and now they’re looking again.

      I had another interview last week for a job that really IS full-time with benefits but I’m not really expecting an offer… and the pay is still pretty bad. Well actually, I may have shot myself in the foot/seriously lowballed myself by my response to their question about minimum salary requirements (yes, even after reading all of Alison’s awesome advise on discussing salary in interviews… :( ). It’s hard being a new grad with lots of education but not a lot of work experience…

      I truly appreciate all the feedback. I love this blog! :)

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

        If you offer $12 an hour with no benefits, the only people you will retain are people who work for the love of the job and also have health insurance elsewhere.

        We have two lower entry level depts that pay $15 an hour with benefits + offer internal advancements and it’s never occurred to me to expect longevity as something that is due to me. What I expect is people to show up for work and give two weeks notice if they need to move on.

        I just lost an employee I would have rather retained, after only 6 months, to a $20 an hour position. A couple months of that time was training but what are you going to do.

        (Your potential employer sounds terribly naive, btw, having such a lengthy hiring process for what is likely to be a high turnover position. )

        1. AB Normal*

          “I just lost an employee I would have rather retained, after only 6 months, to a $20 an hour position. A couple months of that time was training but what are you going to do.”

          Actually, someone in your company should go through the process of calculating the cost of the high turnover (in recruiting, hiring, training, getting the new employee to a point of becoming productive), and perhaps raise the salary to $20/h or more in order to SAVE money, because when you look at the data, turnover can be extremely costly.

      2. Ruffingit*

        Don’t kick yourself about lowballing the salary thing. It’s all part of learning to navigate the employment waters. You’ll do better next time! Just wanted to say that because people are hard on themselves about this stuff and you really shouldn’t be. It happens, move forward, do better next time!

        1. ThursdaysGeek*

          Salary negotiation is not part of my regular job, and something that I only do once every 3-8 years is not something I’ll have a chance to get very good at, especially if it’s something I’m not very good at to begin with.

          1. Ruffingit*

            You don’t just get good at it when you have the chance to practice it with employers though. You can get better at it by practicing before you get to the negotiation stage so that when you get there, you know what you need to do. This would include understanding the general salary for your job in the area you live in, knowing what you will accept as your floor, being able to ask questions about benefits, etc. that tie into the salary and so on. Practicing with a mentor, a friend, etc. what you will say and how you will say it is helpful. It’s sort of like the interview thing. You don’t just get good at it because you interview in front of employers. You get good at it by researching and practicing beforehand.

    2. Biff*

      I agree with you…. but… I don’t know that I’d describe them as living in a fantasy world so much as being fairly out-of-step with how much the cost of living has changed. Personal example to illustrate — my boss has owned a home for 5-6 years, having bought as a good time. Buying the same home today would cost at least twice as much. He’s shared with me that he didn’t have student loans and I believe he’s also mentioned his car is paid off. He really does NOT conceptualize that getting started is a lot more expensive than maintaining.

  21. Chaz*

    #2 – Take the job and keep looking! It’s only business. There are legions of horror stories about candidates who’ve accepted offers, resigned and found out the offer was rescinded before the start date.

    Other new employees are released after days/weeks when the numbers don’t justify the manager’s bonus. (Costs are cut by layoffs so bonuses can be protected.)

    This employer won’t show you loyalty; they’re going to make the best business decision. You should do the same. Take the job, cash the check and keep looking!!

    1. Anonymous*

      They may be a perfectly fine employer. But honestly, at just 30 hours a week and $12/hour pay, and zero benefits, how long would anyone stay?
      Granted, there are many people who would be fine longer-term with that arrangement, but likely not a younger, recent grad.

  22. Anonymous*

    I’m in somewhat of the same situation as OP#3 and I am treating it as a regular layoff, even though I still do work for the company from home. I guess the decision to look for permanent work depends on a) how badly do you want to return? and b) can the company recover?

    Don’t limit yourself. But if you really want/intend to return, then by all means stick to freelance and consulting type work.

  23. EvilQueenRegina*

    #3 – agree with all the others, treat it as a layoff and look for permanent work. You never know, it may even be that when you start somewhere new, you might decide you prefer it there and don’t want to go back to Old Job after all?

    I found myself in that situation recently when I got moved teams in a restructure and then found out a couple of weeks later that someone was leaving my old team and I could therefore get my old job back. At one time I’d have gone for it, but by the time it became a definite option, I wasn’t so sure. I went over and over all the arguments for and against it, but in the end I decided that since I didn’t feel as tired and stressed in New Job I wasn’t sure I wanted to go down the Old Job route again. From what I’d heard since leaving Old Job it didn’t sound like anything there had improved, and one day I saw someone who’d been moved across to my old team, and thought how tired and ill she looked, then wondered if that was how I’d looked in Old Job. Another thing was that after two weeks I wasn’t sure I’d been in New Job quite long enough to make an informed decision.

    That experience also sort of touches #1 as well. While it wasn’t technically a secret that I hadn’t asked to move roles, it was something I didn’t want to make a big deal of in front of people who were going to be laid off, as I didn’t want to rub their faces in it, but one of my new coworkers, Hermione (who was being kept on) announced to Ginny (who was being let go) “EvilQueenRegina didn’t want to be moved!” before I had chance to shut her up, and I felt really guilty that this had happened. Another coworker, Luna, also really didn’t want to be moved and did make a big deal of this in front of Ginny, and I cringed when she did as I did think this was insensitive. With the next person I met who was being laid off and had to train me to cover some of what he’d been doing (Harry) again I tried to keep it quiet and the coversation didn’t really come up with him, but his friend Cho did ask me at one point “You didn’t want to move, did you?” and I felt guilty again – I really didn’t remember saying that to Cho and wondered if I had but had forgotten, or whether she’d read between the lines of something else, or Hermione had told other people. I felt horrible enough about the redundancies without that.

    (In the end Harry has been offered a better job and Ginny is definitely being extended for another six months to allow for the person who’s taking over her work to be trained by her without having to cut her secondment short, and may even have got the job with my old team – interviews were Friday but I don’t know the outcome – so the happy endings did make me feel a bit better.)

    Anyway, my point was that I did interpret Hermione’s actions as her just not thinking, rather than any malice. I really think it’s the same with your ex-colleagues. It really might be that they are unsure quite what to say to you, whether to play it down or be honest – I think Kimberlee Esq said it all so I won’t repeat it, but Kimberlee I do agree with you.

    How does it come up – are you asking after the workplace or are they volunteering the information? If the first, would it be easier not to ask?

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