I want to stop covering for my boss, reopening salary negotiations, and more

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

1. I want to stop covering for my boss

I work in a government agency as a division deputy director. My boss, the director, has a terrible family life. His wife was convicted of a white-collar felony and spent time in prison. They have two young kids. He was a single parent while she was away. She is home now and he is taking care of all three of them.

I feel so sorry for him, but I’m tired of covering for him, as he is overwhelmed by taking care of his family. He comes in hours late every day, takes extra long lunches, and leaves early. Whenever his boss comes looking for him, I say he should be here soon, then text him to let him know the boss wants him. He also spends most of the time while he’s here on the phone handling personal business. I basically run the division for him, day-to-day. I make sure things run smoothly so he doesn’t get any complaints. If any of my employees behaved this way, I would never tolerate it. I don’t want to be disloyal, but how can I in good conscience allow this situation to continue?

Well, you could stop covering for him. Stick to doing your job and let him handle his. If he doesn’t handle it, it should be apparent to people above him soon enough. And in particular, stop covering for him when his boss is looking for him. Instead of saying “he should be here soon” (if that’s not true), say, “I don’t know. I haven’t seen or heard from him today.” (Frankly, if you really want to get the point across, you could add, “He usually comes in around noon” or whatever is true. You’re not obligated to hide that fact; if it’s okay that he’s doing it, it should be okay for you to say.) And stop texting him to let him know his boss is looking for him, assuming that’s not part of your job to do.

If you want to, you could give your boss a heads-up that you need to pull back on the pieces of running the department that you’ve been doing: “As you know, I’ve been doing X, Y and Z in the last few months since I know you’ve been needed a lot at home, but it’s been adding a lot to my workload and I’m realizing I need to pull back from those. I wanted to give you a heads-up that I’m going to stop doing those things, in the interest of not burning out, so I hope you can take them back over.”

2. Asking for an application and a resume and cover letter

Is it unreasonable to expect applicants to submit a resume, cover letter, and application for a part-time job, even if all three are asked for in the job posting? I recently posted a part-time position in my department, and at the end of the post, I state, “To apply, please send a cover letter, resume, and completed XYZ business application found…” So far, none of the applicants have sent me all three pieces of information. Some have sent just applications, many have sent just resumes, and a few have sent me a resume and a cover letter with no application.

A coworker has told me that since it’s just a part-time job, I can’t expect applicants to take too much care with their applications. But it’s a well-paying, skilled part-time job, for a position where communication is very important. Further, after training, this new hire will be on many shifts without direct supervision. So I feel that if these applicants can’t follow a simple one sentence instruction, I really don’t want to hire them. Is it unreasonable for me to be holding the applicants to this standard?

If you clearly ask for those three things — none of which are terribly unusual — it’s reasonable to disqualify applicants who don’t provide them. However, I’d urge you to reconsider the application. It’s likely that you’re just asking people to repeat information that’s found on their resume, and frankly, the best candidates are going to resist doing that, particularly at this early stage when they haven’t had a chance to talk to you yet. If you’re finding that your applicant pool isn’t great, it’s possible that that’s because good candidates are turned off by that and aren’t bothering to apply.

I’ve never used a formal application with any job I’ve hired for — just resume and cover letters. There’s no reason you can’t hire that way. If you want someone to sign a form attesting that the information they’ve submitted is accurate (one of the big arguments for applications), you can still do that — you just don’t need to make them spend time repeating everything.

3. My mom wants me to ask to live with an employee of the company I’m interning with

I’m a law school student who has just accepted a summer internship position. The firm I will be working at is located abroad, in a fairly pricey city. The HR manager of the firm has offered to help me find accommodation, and I am also looking at roomshares/sublets in the area.

My mother insists that I should contact the HR manager and ask if I can stay with an employee of the firm for the duration of the internship – i.e., ask the employees of the firm (essentially my supervisors) if they’re ok with me literally living in their house/apt for almost two months. I feel like this is a terrible idea in every way possible. She thinks it never hurts to ask (she also wants me to ask for time off in the middle of the internship to visit her ). How do I explain to her why this is such an awful idea? Or is this actually acceptable???

Noooo. Your instincts are absolutely right. (See yesterday’s letter!) Asking to stay in anyone’s house — let alone a stranger’s — for two months is a huge imposition. It’s not a normal thing to ask of an employer, so it would come across as a little childish and naive and very presumptuous.

It would be one thing if the company proactively offered. But the fact that they haven’t is all you need to know.

The good news is that you are an adult (unless you’re a child prodigy who’s in law school already?) and you don’t need to convince your mom. You can just tell her, “No, I’m not doing that.” If you really want to say something more than that, you can say, “It’s not true that it never hurts to ask. In this case, it’s likely that I’d look out of touch with professional norms and presumptuous. I’m not doing that.”

4. Can I reopen salary negotiations now that I realize what my health insurance costs?

I recently accepted a job offer at a great company and, despite their offer being $5,000 less than my ask, I thought nothing of it because the decision to change jobs wasn’t solely about the money. I’ve been here three weeks now and realized my monthly health insurance cost is four times what it was at my last employer, effectively eating up much of the raise I received. I should have picked up on this during the offer process but didn’t. Is this something I can bring up now with HR and see if they’d work with me? Or perhaps during my year-end review? Or should I just let it go?

Unfortunately, you can’t bring it up now. You’ve already accepted the job at the salary they offered. Asking them to reopen negotiations now is going to be legitimately concerning to them — it will make it look like you either accepted in bad faith or without sufficient thought (the latter is technically true). They may have said no if you’d asked for more initially, and if that’s the case they’re going to be annoyed that you didn’t give them that chance then so they could offer the job to someone who would be happy with the salary, and now they’re going to have to worry that you’re working there for a salary that isn’t enough for you (which means that you’re a risk for quick flight, which alarming when you’re still investing lots of training in someone).

Even if they would have been willing to give you more if you’d asked earlier, they’re unlikely to do it now. It’s just not the way negotiating works; each side has to be able to trust that once everyone agrees, no one is going to ask to change the terms a few weeks later. (Imagine if they came to you now and said they hadn’t budgeted correctly and they wanted to lower your salary.)

However, you can absolutely ask for a raise at your year-end review! I wouldn’t make it about their health insurance costing more (at that point, it’ll seem like a pretty distant thing to bring up), but about your work deserving a raise now that you’ve been there (more or less) a year.

5. Asking about working remotely for a week several times a year

I’m currently a grad student and heavily interviewing. Several places I’ve interviewed at mention that remote work is a possibility – some for occasional situations (like waiting at home for the repair guy and working throughout the day) and others in more regular situations (i.e., every other Friday).

I am currently in a long-term, long-distance (transatlantic) relationship that for visa reasons will continue to be long-distance for probably the next year or two. I realize that taking on a new job requires me to sign on for at least 18-24 months to avoid the job hopping reputation. That being said, one of my potential employers is aware of my relationship situation (I am currently interning there) and has stated that they would be okay with me working remotely 3-4 times per year for a week or so at a time. This would be ideal! In the case that the job with that employer doesn’t work out, how can I ask if this is a possibility at other companies without letting on that my significant other is in another country? I feel it’s inappropriate to bring up in an interview, and also lets on that I’d potentially be moving away in two years. However, it is a big weight in whether a job is a good fit for my lifestyle.

Wait until you have an offer, and ask about it then. I’d word it this way: “I know you mentioned that you’re open to remote work at times. I have family overseas and ideally visit a few times a year. Would you be open to me working remotely 3-4 times a year for a week at a time?” (I think it’s legit to call a long-term significant other “family.”)

Read an update to this letter here.

{ 312 comments… read them below }

  1. Ann Furthermore*

    #3: OP, tell your mom that you’ll ask, and then tell her that they said no, nothing was available. She doesn’t have to know that you never actually inquired about this. I cannot imagine how awkward and weird that would be — not only spending all day with your co-workers, that you don’t know at all, on your best behavior at all times, but then having to watch your p’s and q’s in the evenings too when all you want to do is put on yoga pants and watch TV.

    My mom is always worried when she sees an update on my LinkedIn profile that someone I work with will see it, assume I’m looking for a new job, and then I’ll get fired. I am looking for a new job, but it’s not like my profile has my name plus “For the love of God someone please hire me” as my job title.

    1. Three Thousand*

      This is how I would handle it. Standing up to my mom or trying to convince her she’s wrong about something, no matter how calmly, does nothing but make her angry, hostile, and even more insistent that I don’t know what I’m talking about. I’ve figured out that she just wants to feel like I’m taking her opinion into account. I sympathize with anyone who has to deal with this.

      1. Fawnling*

        +1. This is how my mother is too, and I agree with the suggestion of telling her that you asked and said no.

      2. A.*

        Yes. Same here. I love my mom a lot and we’re very close, but she’s exactly like Leslie Knope. She would absolutely force someone to watch all 7 Harry Potter movies and say, “What?! You love Harry Potter! You’ve watched all 7 movies!” when they finally told her that they can’t stand Harry Potter. She’s strong and awesome and an amazing person, but she bulldozes like crazy and definitely always thinks she has the answer.

        I’m a big fan of managing upward at work and I really mastered it early on through dealing with my mom.

      3. Grey*

        If you can’t convince someone that they’re wrong, let them hear it from someone else. So instead of telling mom that she’s wrong, I’d say, “I talked to my boss and he said it was an odd question. It was an awkward conversation and he’s not too happy with me now”.

        “Prove” that mom was wrong a few times and maybe she’ll start trusting your judgment.

        1. M-C*

          I agree with Grey that bringing in outside expertise is a good idea. But there’s no reason to make it about a specific boss – just let the mother read these comments :-). Once again we can all scream with horror at the kooky ideas that parents come up with in job searching.

          But I see plenty of people consider their parents to be unreasonable and that the easiest solution is lying. That can be true in many cases, not all parents are quite sane and sometimes fleeing is the best solution, whether physically or mentally. But try to think of it a bit more long-term than that, OP.

          I invested in many fights with my own mother when I was in my 20s, to establish that I was grown-up, and while I was open to discussing reasons why I decided something, the final decision was mine, only mine. It took about 10 years for the topic not even to come up of whether I had to justify something, which seemed awfully long at the time. But now that I’m in my 60s, I have a much easier time with parents than my contemporaries who took the easy way of moving away and lying. Caring for an aging relative who’s learned over decades that they can just browbeat their children into anything they want is no picnic (even if the success of that tactic was an illusion all along). And both parties have missed out on a strong and respectful relationship all along.

    2. Ultraviolet*

      I think OP3 will do best to just figure out some neutral[ish] ways of deflecting her mother’s advice. Things like, “I’ll have to think about that,” “Thanks for the suggestion,” “Don’t worry, I’ll take care of it,” “I think it’ll work out.” Also, if it’s true that OP3 doesn’t want to live with her supervisors (I’m pretty sure that’s what they’re saying, but it’s a little ambiguous), maybe they could just tell mom that and bypass the issue of whether it’s okay to ask.

      1. Ultraviolet*

        Sorry, I made a potentially confusing mistake there–in my last sentence, both “they” and “her” mean OP3. I was trying to stick with “they” throughout but slipped up.

      2. Temperance*

        Her mother doesn’t sound reasonable. I’ve tried similar with my unreasonable mother, and it’s not about being heard with people like them, it’s about being right.

        1. Florida*

          OP is asking how to explain their decision to mother. But mother is saying that her advice (which was probably reasonable advice when mother was at internship age, at least 20-30 years ago) is sound. In other words, OP wants to know how to reason with someone who is being unreasonable. That’s not possible.

          OP can explain all of the workplace norms, but I don’t think that’s the way to go. I would say, “Thanks for the advice Mom. I will consider it.” and move on. When Mom brings it up again, “Thanks Mom, I have considered your advice, but I’m going to go this other route instead.” When Mom asks why, OP says, “This other route is just better for me, so I hope you respect that decision.” If Mom continues to push, OP does not to give a reason. If OP gives a reason about workplace norms, or anything like that, Mom will have a rebuttal that may or may not make any sense. It will just lead to huge amounts of frustration on both sides.

          1. Lily in NYC*

            I actually agree with telling the mom that she called and that they said no. I don’t think people who don’t have this type of mom realize what it’s like. I can envision another letter coming from OP saying that her mom went behind her back and called on her behalf.

            1. neverjaunty*

              Right. Same with “ask for time off to come visit me”. This isn’t parental nostalgia hangover for the days when you called about job applications or showed ‘gumption’; this is a mom who’s gotten a bee in her bonnet and doesn’t want to listen to good sense.

              1. Observer*

                The time of for visits is even worse. Anyone who has a child old enough to be doing law internships (assuming we’re not talking a child prodigy) is old enough to have grown up in a time when going away for the summer meant GOING AWAY. In fact, going to another country often meant limited phone contact, never mind visits.

          2. Artemesia*

            That was NOT reasonable advice 20 or 30 years ago. There was never a time in my lifetime when asking to crash at an employees home during an internship would have been appropriate. There are situations in isolated settings where organizations arranged housing and it might have involved rooming with employees — but even 50 years ago when I was doing an internship it would have been ridiculous to ask to be housed with employees.

            The mother is not advising based on her experience with internships (most probably). She is totally wrong headed and presumptuous about this. It is terrible advice now and 30 years ago. Unless Mom is the sort of person to call the OP’s boss (and I have known of a few of those) then OP has a big job ahead drawing appropriate boundaries and this is as good a time to start keeping her own council and sharing as little information as possible with her mother.

            1. Artemesia*

              I meant if Mom is that type of person to call behind her back then lying in the short run might be appropriate. But in the long run shutting down the information flow and moving 1000 miles away is pretty much what is required.

              1. Judy*

                At least back in the ’80s, employers with a large number of interns would either own or rent all or part of apartment complexes. I co-oped at an employer who didn’t have lots of co-ops, but some of my friends who worked for companies with 10s of interns in one location would arrange housing for them. The company would own or hold a long term lease and have students moving in or out as the year progressed. Think IBM, GE, GM, etc.

                1. Observer*

                  Even in the 80s that wasn’t the norm, although it did happen. But, it wasn’t just the number of interns. It was also the size of the company and the company culture overall. Also, there is a huge difference between a company offering a “dormitory” and sticking interns into the homes of existing employees.

                2. paramilitarykeet*

                  Yes, in the late 80’s Bell Labs summer students were housed at Reutgers and driven to work by bus. It was pretty great!

        2. Ultraviolet*

          I don’t think we can say from the letter whether it’s possible for OP to maintain boundaries with her mother. There’s not enough info in there to distinguish between someone who would accept the boundaries (angrily or not) and someone who wouldn’t. It’s not a foregone conclusion that her mother will react badly to the polite deflections I suggest, and I think that’s a better starting point than lies. If OP already knows it won’t work in her situation, she’ll just disregard my advice.

    3. PNWDan*

      I’m in my late 20s now. One of the most valuable things I’ve learned as I’ve gotten to this point is how to say “no” to my parents. Or even just “I appreciate the input, but I’m doing it this way” firmly but politely (and always respectfully!)

      1. One of the Sarahs*

        I think it’s Carolyn Hax who has a set of great turns of phrases for difficult people – things like “Thanks, I’ll definitely think about that” (and not do it) and so on

        1. BeenThere*

          This this this. I use it on my mother-in-law and my husband taught me it. I now use it on every boundary crossing, power hungry, controlling person in the workplace. Plus I teach it to all the junior developers who are too polite to say np, too inexperienced to pull rank and too blind too see they are being lead on a death march.

          It is the single most useful defusing phrase I have ever heard.

      2. Florida*

        Yes, this.
        I highly recommend that OP not tell parent he will ask, then say he asked and they said no. That is the easiest way to handle it, but not the best way.
        OP, now is a good time to set boundaries with your parents. It is hard, but you will never regret it.

        1. Lynn Whitehat*

          This is very dependent on the parents you have. With some people, all you can do is manage and handle them; they’ll never respect your boundaries.

          1. Florida*

            I agree with that, as I have that experience with one parent. I still recommend that OP start by saying, “Thanks for the tip, Mom, but I’m going to try to solve this problem another way.” If Mom balks, OP can say, “You know what? You might be right. But I’m going to solve this problem the way I think is best. If it turns out that my way doesn’t work, I will figure it out. I appreciate your advice based on your experience, but that is something that I need to figure out on my own. I need you to allow me to make this decision.”

            It is possible that what I just suggested will not work with OP’s parents, and when OP is 40 or 50, the parents will still be trying to control their life. But I definitely think OP should try it. I think it is a cop out to tell your parents you will do it, then not do it, without having tried to establish boundaries.

            Unfortunately, based only on the information in the letter, we don’t know if OP has tried establishing boundaries and determined it’s hopeless in their case, or if they have never tried. I agree with you that there are parents who will never accept boundaries, but I also think everyone needs to make a diligent effort to establish boundaries before assuming that that is the case with their parents.

            1. Fawnling*

              “I think it is a cop out to tell your parents you will do it, then not do it, without having tried to establish boundaries.”

              I am not OP, but OP may have parents like mine. My mother has narcissistic behavior and telling her I would do it, then not do it, is the *only* way that I could “say no” without risking my relationship with her. Some parents can never see their children as not being 7 years old, no matter how old they get.

              1. Florida*

                It sounds like you have tried to establish boundaries and it didn’t work. That’s reasonable. Sadly, that happens in a lot of relationships. My point is that it is shortsighted to lie to the mother WITHOUT having first tried to establish boundaries.
                You suggest that OP’s mother might have a mental illness like narcissism. That is *possible*, but there is nothing in the letter to suggest that, so I think it’s a fair assumption that the mother does not have narcissism or any other mental disorder.

                1. Stranger than fiction*

                  Eh the part about her expecting Op to take a week off in the middle of a mere two months away is a good sign of it. At the very least extremely overbearing imo.

                2. Florida*

                  OP’s mom might be overbearing, even extremely overbearing, but that is very different than having a mental illness. OP has not told us that her mother has been diagnosed with anything like that, as your mother has.

                3. Florida*

                  Oops, sorry Stranger. You are the one who said your mother has narcissism. It was Fawnling who said her mother had narcissism.

                4. Florida*

                  I can’t get this right. I meant Stranger was NOT the one who said their other had narcissism.

              2. Callie*

                Yep. My mother is also extremely narcissistic and this is the only way to handle her. It really does get her to move on from whatever it is. It probably wouldn’t work for actual reasonable parents.

            2. neverjaunty*

              It is not a “cop out” to use the best possible strategy to manage a toxic parent. I agree with you that, generally, setting and enforcing boundaries is a good idea, but if saying “sorry mom, I asked and they said no” is the only way to shut down a barrage of bad behavior, I vote for the cop-out.

              1. the gold digger*

                Yeah. The point here is just to get mom out of it the easiest way possible. And if lying to mom is the best way to handle anything in the future, I vote for lying. Drama with parents (or, in my case, with in-laws) is just not worth it. The only way you win is my minimizing their presence in your life. They will never admit they were wrong and they will never change.

                1. Hellanon*

                  Another vote for avoidance as a legitimate strategy! I had a therapist stare at me in disbelief after I explained how that worked. “So, you’re just going to avoid talking about this for the rest of their lives?” “Got it in one, doc.”

      3. Just Another Techie*

        There are some parents for whom “Thanks, I’ll think about that” followed later by “I appreciate the advice, but I did it X way instead,” will just. never. work. With a certain kind of parent it just leads to screaming, berating, humiliation, tears, drama, etc. I don’t like to advocate lying, but sometimes, that’s what you have to do to survive, integrity be damned.

        One of the most valuable things I ever learned was not to get sucked into battles that are just flat out unwinnable.

        1. Observer*

          And what happens when Mom calls the boss and finds out that what you reported didn’t happen? The fact that she’s pushing for a break in a TWO MONTH internship for a visit says that there are almost certainly some real boundary issues that go beyond “just” directly pushing OP into doing her bidding.

          From what we can see, which is admittedly limited, the OP’s first best bet is to start drawing some firm boundaries and shutting down information flow as much as possible. Definitely learning how to not get sucked into battles (walking out often works, if you have your own place, too.)

          Also possibly necessary – becoming financially independent and putting a large physical distance between herself and Mom.

    4. INTP*

      Yeah, I was thinking of a variation on this – ask the HR person, “What do interns usually do for housing? Are there any resources I should know of?” (Not because your mom is bugging you about it, but because it’s a good thing to ask about and they might know something helpful.)

      If it’s common for interns to rent rooms from employees, the internship coordinator/HR person will tell you, and you can honestly say that you asked HR about it and they said no – your mom never needs to know it was a no by omission and not a direct no. (Of course, how to handle this conversation depends on the OP’s relationship with her mom. I’d go with the white lie but other relationships might do well with a direct “nope, not asking that.”)

      1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

        Yeah, I think asking for general housing advice is totally fine and could actually be helpful. (What neighborhoods to avoid or go for, for example.) And sometimes my boss will send out an email saying “new employee X is looking for housing – if you have a friend with a sublet please let me know.” I wouldn’t ask for an employer to do that, but it might possibly happen.

      2. Dr. Ruthless*

        Yep. When Mr. Ruthless was an intern, he rented a room from a current employee at his internship, and then when we were younger, we rented a room out (now that I’molder, the exchange of cash for privacy is less appealing). All of this was facilitated by HR, which kept a list of employees who rented rooms (and other shortish-term housing arrangements). But I still wouldn’t ask HR if I could live with an employee (especially because that just sounds like I’m mentally adding “for free”). Ask HR if they’ve got any leads on short term housing. They either will or they won’t, and it’s a much more reasonable ask.

        1. Artemesia*

          This. Any internship program may well have ideas about housing and it is appropriate to ask — if that ask of HR or internship coordinator about ‘available local housing’ can be spun to say ‘yes I am doing that’ that works. But this age though young adults with toxic parents should have learned to provide very little information.

        2. TootsNYC*

          Or I suppose ask the HR person: “is there a company bulletin board, where someone would see an ad about subletting a room for the summer?”

      3. Annie*

        Yup, for one of my internships in college, my future boss made sure I wasn’t renting a house in the unsafe town, and instead directed me to a more safe and walkable town. Other interns ended up living in a pretty unsafe area, and I ended up renting a room in a house close to the very walkable downtown, which was much nicer.

    5. Merry and Bright*

      What made me smile here was the LinkedIn reference. The thought of my mum following my updates doesn’t really get off the ground!

    6. Katie the Fed*

      It really depends on your mother – some mothers are fine with “that’s not really a normal thing that’s done” and some will unleash holy hell on you or get into a snit because you think you’re too good to take their advice.

      Let’s just say I’ve also gotten really good at a little lie or deflection.

      1. Kelly L.*

        Or even ask behind your back. I feel like we’ve had a few letters about overstepping parents.

        1. Oryx*

          My mom is like that. I had applied to grad school and was waiting to hear back, she didn’t believe me when I told her they were still processing applications so she called the school herself.

          1. Kelly L.*

            At my work, we’ve had a few mom/dad calls of that nature, as well as a few spouse calls. Stop doing this, parents and spouses!

            1. the gold digger*

              A co-worker is engaged to a recruiter at a major (F500) company in town.

              She recruits engineers and other college graduates. She has gotten phone calls from the parents of candidates they have rejected. What are these parents thinking?

              (All she tells them is that she cannot discuss the issue with them. But she is, I am sure, rolling her eyes as she says it.)

              1. One of the Sarahs*

                When temping in our local authority (city council), I was *cringing* dealing with multiple letters from a parent wanting his daughter – in her 30s! – promoted. Every polite reply outlining Council processes met with more unreasonableness, with many underlinings on the “please don’t tell her I’m writing to the most senior people in the Council about this”. I felt so bad for her!

            2. ginger ale for all*

              We had a mom call our office about a student employee once. He was off his meds and she wanted us to know. It helped us take a different line with him than what we would have so there are circumstances where a call might be necessary, but it is a rare circumstance.

          2. Artemesia*

            How horrible. That calls for a complete future embargo on information to Mom, particularly information about places you apply to work. I can easily imagine such a call ruining chances for a job or for a promotion.

            1. Oryx*

              Oh, yes, 1000%. I’ve always played it close to the vest with my parents, but experiences like that make it doubly so. Only within the past, oh, 2 or 3 years after I started to volunteer information to her but even then it’s carefully cultivated.

      2. LW #3*

        My mother won’t necessarily get mad, but she will terminator-style continue to push something she thinks is correct. It will be brought up every time I see her in person. Emails will be sent. Texts to confirm I got the email. Calls to confirm I got the text. It never ends!

    7. Sadsack*

      I think this really depends on your relationship with Mom. Lying shouldn’t be necessary unless your parent has some real issues. What if you lie and she says, maybe I should just call them up, I am sure they will understand if I explain. You have to start setting boundaries and letting Mom know that you need to handle your own career, if you can.

    8. E*

      Perhaps the company has other interns that you could share a rented apartment with? Asking to stay with another employee is definitely not ok, but sharing a place with another intern might be feasible.

    9. Pwyll*

      I’m generally against lying to my parents needlessly, even though I could imagine a scenario where he would have attempted to call the company on my behalf at that age against my wishes. But I agree with you that she should tell her mom something. OP, you have no obligation to be 100% truthful, though. So, I’d recommend:

      “Hey mom, I spoke to the HR department today. Your suggestion unfortunately wasn’t workable, but they’re committed to assisting me to find accommodations.”

      The implication is that you asked, but you’re also not lying. And then just work with the HR rep who offered to help find a place to stay. Any firm doing international internships is going to have gone though this before, so take them up on their offer of help. Have a blast while you’re there!

      1. Pwyll*

        He, in the first line, being my father. My dad would have attempted to handle this for me at that age, almost assuredly to disastrous results.

    10. Callie*

      This is what I do with my mother who tries to helicopter me even though I’m 40 years old and on the opposite coast. I’ve come to realize that she’s trying to help, even though she’s horribly misguided, and she just wants to be heard. So if I tell her I tried it and it didn’t work, she’ll stop suggesting it, because she feels she contributed, she’s been heard, and she can move on.

    11. Rusty Shackelford*

      You know, it wouldn’t be a lie to say you asked about it (because you did, right here) and it turns out it’s not an option (because it’s not).

    12. TinyTim*

      This was my immediate thought. I’m in my 40’s and work in IT so my retired parents career advice is often horrible outdated. I just smile and say “Hmm…I’d never considered that. I’ll look into it.” and then forget it two minutes later.

      I agree with OP’s mother that her suggestion would be ideal but this isn’t an exchange student situation. As a single person with a decent-sized home, I suppose I would consider hosting a foreign intern but I also adore my privacy so it would be a ‘no’. Plus, considering the person would know literally nobody, I would be afraid they would always be hanging around (worst case scenario for a private person).

  2. ginger ale for all*

    LW 1 – Plenty of people like single parents, sandwich generation people, etc. Have extra pressures at home and can still hold up to working in a responsible and professional manner. You have helped in a time of crisis and it is now time to get back to normal. Otherwise you will burn out both ends of your candle. Good luck.

    1. vivace*

      Yes, don’t continue covering for someone with a crisis that has no end in sight, or else the first crisis will just roll into another, more nebulous crisis, and so on. Since his wife has already been in and back out of prison, this has been going on for way too long already. Now she’s back home, but he is still MIA? If he can no longer meet his work obligations for the forseeable future, that is something he needs to work out himself.

    2. LL*

      OR, if she doesn’t mind basically running the department, she (assuming here) should ask for a raise (or additional vacation or other benefits) to match the increase in responsibilities. Because this guy either needs to get it together, resign, formally request some kind of flexible arrangement or leave with his own boss, or do everything in his power to keep LW so he can keep operating as is.

      “Joe, I understand you’ve been going through a difficult time at home and I’ve been happy to help by covering additional responsibilities during the past year/months. As you know, my role now includes X Y Z in addition to Q and W. This is a significant change, and I’d like to discuss how we can make sure my compensation reflects that.”

      1. Paige Turner*

        I’m guessing that since this is a government job and the OP is unofficially running things, that a raise or additional compensation is not an option, unfortunately.

  3. Dan*


    AAM is right, you’re asking too much early on. It would be one thing if you wanted them to fill out the ATS online, but a “paper” application that regurgitates their other materials? Only if I’m desperate.

    One other thing I’ve learned about applications with a lot of paperwork: when you’re on unemployment, you generally have to apply for two jobs every week. In the professional world, that’s not an accurate reflection of how I apply. When I’m desperate, I apply to jobs with lots of paperwork, and ditch some. If im not going to get hired anyway, there’s no reason to fill out everything properly.

    1. Ann Cognito*

      I agree with this – too much too early. At prior jobs, one of the things I’ve always streamlined is the application process (I’m in HR), by splitting it for all jobs, no matter what level or whether part-time/full-time. So, when people responded, they did so via the ATS, completing a one page form (name, address, tel #) and attaching a resume and cover letter. We then conducted phone screens, and anyone invited to interview face-to-face completed the application form online before the interview. I’ve tried doing away with the application form, but none of my bosses would agree with that part.

      Candidates didn’t mind doing it at that point, since they knew they were in the running. We didn’t have any complaints, but did receive plenty of thanks for making the actual applying part so quick. It definitely increased the number of applicants, and although that included an increase in those not qualified for the position, that was more than offset by the number of definitely qualified.

      1. Doriana Gray*

        My company has you apply with a résumé (a cover letter isn’t requested, but I sent one anyway), then they phone screen potential candidates. If you are brought in for a first interview, you may get called back for a second interview (each division does this differently – some don’t have second interviews), and then if they decide to extend you an offer, only then do they have you fill out their (fairly lengthy) online application. They use this information for the extensive background check they have our company’s investigative unit perform. I like this process because they’re not wasting people’s time who may not have a chance in hell of being hired, and they’re not collecting and storing the sensitive information of the almost-rans.

        1. Nighthawk*

          At that point in the process, the application is essentially part of the intake paperwork, so a candidate won’t mind much. They are already filling out all the government-mandated forms, so one more won’t be a big deal.

      2. Megs*

        Agreed with AAM and everything everyone else is saying. I’ve never applied for a job without providing everything they ask for (I don’t get people doing this!), but I have decided not to bother if the application process is overly time-consuming, which application forms almost always are. As an attorney, my “favorite” pointless request is a copy of my attorney license, which is a cheap piece of plastic that says absolutely nothing useful other than my ID number (which is on my resume already) and the fact that I was authorized at the time the card was issued. Up to date information is easily available online, so I’ve never understood employers who want to know the status of my license last October (when I renew).

    2. INTP*

      Yep. The paper application is almost certainly for the company’s records only, not for hiring/interviewing decisions, and irrelevant to most of the people who submit applications. It does send a message that the business would rather waste most of the candidates’ time than wait 10 minutes for the interviewees to fill out applications in the office. And that’s an attitude found more often in *lower* skill jobs than higher ones – for my professional jobs I’ve been asked to fill out an application either for the first interview or only for records after an informal offer.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Actually, I doubt many of them are intentionally wasting the candidates’ time. What concerns me as a candidate about that kind of redundant process is that it smacks of “well, we’ve always done it this way, so why should we change it [to be more efficient]?”. Because you know some poor soul who has had to deal with the mounds of paperwork has probably suggested ways to cut down on it without losing information.

        That is the kind of place that desperately needs someone like me, but would probably never hire me anyway. And if they did, they would probably not implement any of my suggestions. And if they did implement them, there would probably be a lot of passive-aggressive resistance.

        That’s why I generally don’t bother applying to companies that require redundant paperwork. (Unless they’re government, because a lot of time divisions can be efficient, but they are still required by a parent agency to do redundant paperwork.)

        1. Kelly L.*

          I successfully got my higher-ups to drop a paper application for a scholarship here–it was awesome. Previously, we had them fill out this paper application with their GPA, major, academic and job history, etc. Now the university requires them to fill out a global application in their online system, which automatically populates with half the stuff we were asking for, and asks them the other half. We realized we were essentially asking them the same stuff twice, and now our instructions just say to fill out the online system. Hooray!

        2. Ama*

          I manage grant applications, which is not the same as a job application, but one thing we’ve been trying to do recently is make sure our applications don’t require too much duplication. When I first arrived we were collecting certain information in three different places on the application because those three elements were all designed independently to fulfill the reporting needs of different groups reviewing the application — no one had stopped to think through how it affected the applicant’s experience.

          After we eliminated those duplicate collection points we started to receive not just more applicants, but higher quality applicants — I really think that, with grant applications taking a lot of time to complete as is, quality candidates saw our original application as a waste of their time.

          1. Lizzie*

            As someone who spends an incredible amount of time pursuing grants, thank you. My goodness.

      2. Hellanon*

        We require the paper app when they come in for an interview – they sign the paper app, asserting that everything in it is truthful, and it gives us legal grounds later if it turns out they’ve falsified their record. We don’t care about the address of your high school, we do care if you graduated or not, and if you actually went to the college(s) you listed. And yes, we do this because sometimes people lie on their resumes beyond fudging a few dates…

        1. M-C*

          I very much doubt that submitting a resume with lies has any less legal validity as cause for termination than a signature on an application.. While you’re totally right to verify the info given, you might also want to verify the competence of whoever is giving you this legal advice :-).

      3. GeekChic*

        Yes, I think that’s spot on.

        I think it depends a bit about the contents of the application – once they’d made me a verbal offer, my current job asked me to fill in a 4 page application form asking for years of job history, with start and end dates to the day, and all my exams from school. If they’d asked me to fill that in up front I’d’ve assumed they either:

        1) Had really weird and bad ideas about what information it was useful to have about a candidate
        2) Didn’t care at all if they were wasting my time

        I wavered about applying for the job even with a application process without that extra paperwork hoop to jump through, and if I’d had to fill it in up front I’d have probably given it a miss. But after I’d met the people I’d been working with and got a good sense for the company, I was much more invested, so I didn’t really mind having to look up start and end dates for jobs from old payslips and grades from old exams.

    3. (different) Rebecca*

      Totally agree. Also, if it’s a standard application, I’m not going to be too thrilled with certain aspects, for instance, I’m in the process of completing a PhD and you want to know the address of my high school? Why, exactly?

    4. M-C*

      An application could be appropriate for a low-skill job with low pay and a high turnover, just to help crank through volume. But if you’re looking for skills, people will have a resume. And forcing them to fill out an application with duplicate information is just behaving like a bureaucratic dictator before you’re even in a position to do so. What, you can’t extend candidates the courtesy to look at one page? No wonder people don’t bother to apply.

  4. Stephanie*

    #3: I sort of did this when I was an intern. I stayed in the spare bedroom of a FT employee. But the intern coordinator introduced me to the FT employee to chat about the internship (she was an intern the previous summer) and during our email exchange, she mentioned she had a room for rent. I think it did help that we only had a two-year age difference. (And we’re still friends today, actually.)

    Big downside was that I didn’t really have a clear divide between home and work. (The FT hire actually worked down the aisle from me…) At the time, I was 21 and in a new city, so it helped to have this built-in intern network of mostly transplants. I don’t know if I’d want the same experience now.

    But asking HR without any prompting on their end is a bit weird. Especially, if it’s somewhere like DC with a lot of college students, you could probably find some summer housing.

    1. Al Lo*

      I think this was a fairly common thing at my church when I was a teenager. We would often get interns from the affiliated denominational college for a semester or a year, and they would almost always rent cheaply or receive free room and board with a family in the church. It wasn’t typically a direct employer, but sometimes if, say, the intern was working with the youth group, the family would have teens who were part of the intern’s professional portfolio. Ideally these would be people who had a mother-in-law suite or something similar, but not always. I think most of the time it worked out pretty well, but I know there were a few situations that were a bit more awkward.

      The way I understood it, it was away for the church to provide beyond the meagre intern salary. They received a small stipend, but it wouldn’t be enough for all living expenses. This arrangement them to actually save some of their stipend, instead of trying to stretch it for rent and other expenses. Often, the church would also ask the members for a used car to be loaned for the year. If families were about to sell it anyway, sometimes they would donate it instead, and it would be used for an intern from out of town.

      However, as professional as working in a church can and should be, the sense of community surrounding it is different then most other employers.

      1. LizB*

        I think this may be more accepted in religious institutions – my synagogue hired a new rabbi a few years ago, and she stayed with a few different families from the congregation for a short time while she looked for a permanent place to live. When one of the major values of the organization is hospitality/welcoming the stranger, it changes the game a little bit.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Fun aside: That’s how they used to do it in the old-timey olden days in the US, when they had circuit riders–they rode around to different townships and organized congregations, preached services, etc. The small townships didn’t have a dedicated clergyman, so they would make rounds, so to speak. Local families would put them up. See Little House on the Prairie, Caddie Woodlawn/, and other fictional examples of this.

          1. LizB*

            Yep, my first thought when I heard about it was “Cool, just like in Little House on the Prairie!” :)

          2. S0phieChotek*

            or the apprenticeship route…even sometime if there were no sons, the male apprentice was expected to marry the daughter of the artisan to whom he was apprentised and then remain there and take on the trade…

    2. INTP*

      Yeah, it’s definitely something that happens at some companies. I think a good solution is just to ask the HR contact about housing in a more general way. “What do interns usually do for housing?” is not a weird question, and if it’s common for people to rent rooms or if someone has expressed interest in renting to an intern, they will tell you. (And if it isn’t done, they might still have good advice about where to find sublets.)

  5. StarGeezer*

    Would it be acceptable to ask to renegotiate if part of the benefits was not as advertised? For example, if one was explicitly told the insurance co-premiums were $X per month but they are actually $X per paycheck. Would that make it OK to request an increase after accepting the offer?

      1. Alanna*

        I once got a $2000 raise to make up for lesser health benefits. The HR person who did my initial interview told me that health insurance payment was 100% covered by employer – and that was true – for me. The premium for my husband and child was double what I had paid before. I emailed HR and told them I felt deceived and they should make it clearer to future recruits. They raised my salary by 2K to cover insurance costs in response – I hadn’t even asked for more money.

        1. TootsNYC*

          I know someone who lost all of her raise because the insurance was pegged for a single person, and she was the insurance-provider for her AND her husband.

        2. BeenThere*

          I refused to talk salary numbers until I had benefit costs at new job. Current job 100% covered spouse and self, new job however was expensive, 4k a year to get similar benefits. So I got that raise easy.

    1. INTP*

      Ethically I think it’s fine, but a lot of people barely go to the doctor or use their insurance, so you risk raising questions about why the cost of your copays is so important – do you have a serious health issue or do you just like to be difficult? (As in, that could be the perception – I know it’s not usually the case. I have a bunch of minor but chronic health junk so a $20 difference in prescription and office visit copays could add up to $1000+ per year even though most of the drugs are inexpensive. But I’ve spoken to an alarming number of people who think that a generally healthy young person simply does not need good insurance.)

      If their mistake is in the premiums, then I think it’s less risky to address, because that’s an expense you pay regardless of your health status.

      1. Liane*

        Co-premiums are the employee’s share of the insurance premium. Co-payments are what they pay for care.

      2. The Butcher of Luverne*

        The issue is not the co-pay. It’s the premiums, which one incurs regardless of whether one goes often for care.

        Which is really none of the employer’s business.

      3. Zillah*

        Besides the copays v. premiums thing, which others have pointed out – I have to say that while I can see some people making that leap, I have a hard time seeing a question or two about the costs of health insurance making most reasonable people think that two of the likeliest scenarios are that you either have serious health problems or just enjoy being difficult.

          1. INTP*

            I didn’t mean asking at all. I meant, say, asking for a raise to the agreed upon salary because the copays turned out to be $30 instead of $15. I think that would be fair, just might come off as odd to some people. (I had a reading comprehension fail and ready copay instead of copremium.)

  6. Rey*

    OP #2, as someone who is currently applying for a lot of part time jobs, I can tell you that it’s fairly common to be asked to submit all three things and it is also incredibly, unbelievably frustrating, especially when the application asks for the exact same information that is included in my resume. I have spent so much time that I will never get back filling in pages and pages of job applications that are 90% redundant. Obviously you get to design your own hiring process however you want to, but I would strongly suggest taking a hard look at your application and thinking about whether you really need a resume, too.

    1. Sadsack*

      Yep, I have closed out of some applications when I realized that I needed to fill in all the same info on my resume, especially those that ask for many years of employment history. Is that really necessary at this stage of the process. I am telling you my skills in my cover letter and resume. Do you really need all this info in duplicate and my entire work history to decide if you think you should talk with me about the job?

      1. B*

        I have done the exact same thing for full time positions. It is frustrating making someone fill out the application when all of the information is right there. I take it as a sign the company is a) behind the times b) does not care to have the applicant waste their time and c) just over and out. So if you do not care about my time at this super early stage I assume this is how your company operates and would rather not be there.

        1. Charlotte Collins*

          Or if you have an online system but it’s so bulky and antiquated that I wonder what day-to-day processes would be like…

    2. Lily in NYC*

      And then half the time they make you fill out the same exact application in person when you arrive for an interview. I was so pleased to read that Alison doesn’t require them.

    3. themmases*

      I agree. It may not seem like much but these systems can be unbelievably time consuming, with a surprising amount of thought and effort required. Most involve required responses to questions that are irrelevant or none of the potential employer’s business, forced choice between options that don’t fit, and fighting with text boxes of arbitrary size. I keep a plain text version of my CV and it’s still a pain to keep updated and to get differen application systems to accept. It’s a lot of effort to basically just repeat yourself.

      Also, at the initial contact stage I don’t want to be forced to be forced to describe 6-month jobs I left off my CV for a reason, just for the sake of being able to honestly sign the form at the end. I might start filling these out but if *anything* goes wrong, I’m out.

    4. Searching*

      Yeah, if everyone who applied is not submitting all three I would imagine there has to be some redundancy and its either confusing people or weeding them out. And online applications that make you regurgitate your resume are THE WORST. If I was applying for a pt job and the system was awful, I would definitely stop applications in the middle. Especially when they are “don’t hit refresh” applications and it loses all my stuff. Just not worth it. You either get my effort with an application system OR with a well tailored cover letter and resume. NOT BOTH.

      I would also see if things are getting lost in your system! That has happened to me more than once. Honestly, follow up with people you’re interested in if they’re missing the application.

    5. Jen S. 2.0*

      ” taking a hard look at your application and thinking about whether you really need a resume”

      I think that should be the other way around, that is, whether you really need to ask applicants to supply information in a unique-to-you format (an application) that they all already have in another format (a resume). Most everyone can cut and paste or attach a resume in one action. Filling out an application is a pain in the caboose whether or not you then ask for my resume, because I am taking the information piece by piece from a document already in existence, instead of…just giving you that document. You are asking me to paste from that document AND provide the document, which is doubly annoying. I would always, always rather provide my resume versus an application that forces me to cut and paste the same information, let alone both. Tell me what critical information my resume should include, and I will take it from there.

      Note: I once did not get a job because I was asked when I arrived to fill out an application. When I offered my resume instead, was told that the application was required. I sighed quietly and sat to complete the form, and it took 20 minutes to hand-write exactly what was on the several resumes I had neatly prepared and brought with me. The HR person actually told me (!) that I had been the best candidate, but the manager was a little picky. She had been discreetly watching me arrive (which, okay, she was hiding in the lobby?), and she rejected me because of that sigh. She thought it indicated lack of interest in the position. NO, it was lack of interest in 20 minutes of hand-writing before an interview!!!! I suppose it was meant (not) to be, but for sure I have learned never to do anything but smile big and comply in an interview situation if I want the job, no matter how dumb the request.

  7. Jennie*

    #4 make sure you check out the visa rules in the country you will be visiting! I now live in the UK, and spent five years in a long distance relationship while living in the US. Technically, when I was visiting the UK on a tourist visa, I was not permitted to do work of any kind. Even remotely for a US job. Especially if you want to move there later, I would just make absolutely certain of the rules as they change all the time and can really come back to bite you!

    1. swedishandful*

      I have a feeling this is an over interpretation of the rules. Who would ever find out if OP is working from a couch for one week here and there. When OP could literally be anywhere in the world, and the office is not sending money to an account in the UK, then I can’t see how this would ever matter.

      1. Daisy Steiner*

        Well, just because you almost certainly wouldn’t get caught doing something, doesn’t mean it’s not against the rules. OP #5 can weigh up whether they want to take a risk – but it’s nice to know beforehand whether it IS a risk. I think Jennie has raised an excellent point here.

        1. Jen S. 2.0*

          This. “It doesn’t matter” is different from “you can’t get in YUUUUUGE trouble for it.”

      2. Aella*

        Given how stringent most visa rules are, it really isn’t. And the consequences if you’re found out could be very serious indeed: Is working from your couch for a week worth not being allowed back into the country?

      3. Monique*

        I agree with Swedishandful, to be honest. I don’t think the rules are applied quite that strictly – otherwise anyone answering a work email while sightseeing in London would be in trouble. It doesn’t affect the UK economy in any way, and is not part of a broader attempt to provide yourself with an income while living in the UK full time.

        1. One of the Sarahs*

          UK immigration is SO political these days, that a lot of that doesn’t matter. Now, of course, the political aspects mean that (shamefully) a white USA person is not going to be as scrutinised as a non-white person in the same situation visiting from another country, but to me, it’s not worth hoping to get away with it, especially if the OP has a plan to move here permanently.

          1. One of the Sarahs*

            (Not making assumptions about the OP’s nationality/ethnic origin BTW, just that these things do make a huge difference, illustrating for emphasis)

      4. OP #5*

        Hey there. I’ve spent the last 30 minutes looking into this after reading those comments…and it is actually something we should be concerned about. An occasional email/phone call is no big deal according to UK immigration, and yes, I wouldn’t get caught “working from the couch.” However, I’ve visited the UK enough times to know what kinds of questions they ask when I enter the country, and each and every time I get drilled on the dates of my most recent few visits. It’s been easy so far to explain that I am a grad student so I have regular school vacations and therefore have the time off to go to the UK somewhat often. However, once I’m working full time and they ask about that at the border (and I start answering honestly) I can’t repeatedly say that I’m on vacation. Immigration wouldn’t believe that I have that much vacation time – or at least I can’t count on them to believe that and risk getting denied entry (and potentially denied a spousal visa in a couple years if they were to figure out what I’d been doing all along).

        So yes, it’s unlikely that I’d be caught just by doing the work abroad – it’s more that I’d likely be caught at the border when being questioned.

        1. Jennie*

          Exactly! And then you have to apply for a slightly different visa every time you want to visit from then on, I think. Plus, of course, being sent home. (If you haven’t seen it yet, the U.K. Yankee forum is a good place for this sort of information.) pps good luck with everything! I moved six years ago, and the process was aggravating then; it has only gotten more complicated!

          1. OP #5*

            Yes, that’s where I’ve been doing some preliminary research! Glad to hear it worked out for you :) thanks!

    2. hbc*

      I’m not going to advocate breaking the law (well, maybe it’ll sound like it after I finish typing, depending on what the law actually is), but I’m pretty sure the intention of those laws is to prevent you from dodging taxes and taking jobs away from locals. Someone who is simply continuing to type on their computer from an apartment for four non-consecutive weeks is not going to be a target. It’ll be clear that they’re not stealing a job or setting up residence. It’d be like worrying about checking your work email when your cruise ship pulls into a port.

      That’s before you get into how the heck anyone will find out who would act on it. Millions of American citizens pull in money while gone for a week or two overseas without having a residence change on file. Is someone going to go tracking down employers of these visitors and demand to know whether the money was for actual work or for vacation? The only reason I can imagine it becoming an issue is if OP runs afoul of some other law and someone starts digging into the details of the stay, but at that point, it’ll be small potatoes.

    3. AnotherFed*

      It really depends on the country and industry! Some places are much more strict, and monitoring is absolutely dependent on race and national origin in some countries. You may also find that high tech industries are unwilling to let your laptop out of the country to certain destinations, because customs/security/IC in those places has a habit of seizing, cloning, or bugging computers.

      1. blackcat*

        My university has a designated set of “These computers go to China.” A week or so before the trip, people can ask for one. They are told to *only* put the files on it that they absolutely need. Every time the computer comes back, IT does some sort of hard reset on all of the hardware. Not that I intend to go to China, but it’s nice to know the university has a plan in place.

          1. SL #2*

            In case something got installed on the computer (spyware, malware, tracers/trackers) while blackcat or their fellow employees weren’t looking. It’s… well. Not uncommon when you go to China (especially as a foreign national) and especially not uncommon when you’re using wifi there. When my parents were there for 3 weeks, I explicitly told them to not check their bank accounts or credit accounts using the bank apps, I would check them remotely from the US to make sure everything was normal.

          2. AnotherFed*

            To get rid of viruses and programs intended to capture secure data – keystroke loggers, programs that tap the camera/microphone, etc.

        1. Noah*

          My company is the same. You check out a computer anytime you are going to certain countries, and China is definitely one of them. You only load the files you absolutely need on there, no Dropbox to other things like that allowed. They wipe everything when it comes back.

        2. Marcela*

          When my husband’s coworker, a scientist, went to China to a conference, he was told to never leave his laptop alone in the hotel. Because if he did, it was surely, 100%, going to be hacked. He was told it was better if he took a machine that could be erased and checked and reinstalled, but he could take his own device as long as he knew the consequences. I don’t think he was told that the actual consequence was that his laptop was going to be erased anyway, but that’s what he understood, so he didn’t take his laptop to China.

        3. periwinkle*

          My org has laptops set aside for those going to China on business. It’s not a safe country for intellectual property and other trade secrets! I’m not sure if there are similar restrictions for other countries although I do think you have the option to borrow export-friendly electronics just in case. You are also not allowed to bring company mobile phones into China for security reasons.

        4. BeenThere*

          Yep, I work it tech and this is soon common. You have to check where you are travel before you travel with work devices.

      2. Judy*

        At one time, there were computer programs that were not allowed to be taken out of the country. I’m not sure if that is still the case. In the early 2000s, my husband had to uninstall certain programs from his computer and defrag his disk before going to a particular country. One of the programs didn’t have an international version, while two of the others had a version he could then install.

        1. Kyrielle*

          Still the case. Programs that can’t be exported, and also some of us work on things that can’t be worked on abroad. Presumably the company would advise the OP that they couldn’t work remotely if that sort of thing was in play as part of their job, though.

          1. Ineloquent*

            Assuming the company even knows.

            ITAR/EAR compliance is actually a huge part of my job. Some commercially available items, such as high powered personal computers and gaming systems, are actually powerful or versatile enough to be used in military grade technology. A lot of technical information is also very export controlled. My company, and many other large companies, will provide loaner laptops for international travel to avoid the risk of an inadvertent export of controlled hardware/tech to an unauthorized foreign person or entity. The consequences of inadvertent export can be quite… severe.

      3. Jennifer M.*

        Well, also there are US export regs related to taking company property out of the country (regardless of where) even if you plan to bring it back. I had to fill out a form for each trip for my company-owned laptop and Blackberry that listed the serial numbers and models, where I was going and when I was coming back. We didn’t submit the forms anywhere, but they were on file in case the gov’t requested them. I was free to bring my own personal tech without any such forms as well.

    4. Aimlesstraveler*

      I was going to say exactly this! And yes, they can find out. They might be suspicious at the border and search your bags and then search your laptop–yes they can do that!–and realize it’s a work laptop, etc.

    5. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      I came to mention this as well. Also, while some countries they will wave you through even if you have consecutive visits for personal reasons, the UK is really starting to crack down on this and if you have to go through heavy immigration questioning and they request to search your bag etc. it could be a real issue and lead to complications for when the poster goes to apply for the real visa (which is getting uglier by the month it seems). Likelihood is low that they will be “caught”, but the risk is there especially with this political environment.

      Don’t discount border agents – I *legally* spent quite a bit of time in Sweden in 2014, with a legal Swedish partner who is my legal EU family member on all documentation, and I *still* get questioned at the Swedish border in 2016 about how much time I had spent in Sweden, if I am trying to live there illegally, if I was counting my legally allowable days, etc etc. Practically everyone and their mother is literally walking into that country right now, but I was an easy target to catch on legal grounds (and I was close to my 90 days in 6 months limit). Its not fair, but if the stats need to be improved for political reasons and cracking down on one type is easier than another.

      1. M-C*

        There are jerk border agents everywhere. My passport clearly shows I was born in France, and yet my claims to be on vacation visiting family still get the terrorist suspicion treatment every time. And my name’s not even arabic..

    6. OP #5*

      Hi there! OP #5 here. So I might as well cop to it – I’m a US resident in a relationship with a UK resident. (I always love hearing about other couples that have done it too – makes me feel a little less crazy!) That’s a really interesting point, I hadn’t even considered that working while there might be an issue. I’ve actually done it before, but again, it was casual (working from the couch for a few days here and there). I doubt it would ever come up but given that some of my potential future work might be US government contract work, these concerns might be more relevant. Thanks for your input! I’ll keep it in mind!

      1. M-C*

        Use VPN, pretend to be in the US. Neither side will be able to prove anything against you, or that you were doing anything more nefarious than sharing a forbidden netflix movie with your sweetie (although that could be worse than working in some countries).

  8. Kera*

    LW2: part of the way I screen companies I want to work for is how their expectations are communicated in the advert – and a cv, letter and application form, unless they contain dramatically different information, imply to me that the company has unusual, onerous expectations before we’ve even spoken – can I be bothered to apply (as an experienced, applicant with other options available to me) if this is what they’re going to be like to work for? Probably not. Obviously, different industries have different expectations, but if your competitors aren’t asking for this paperwork, I’ll prioritise applying for them.

    Is there unique information in the application form that’s essential to capture at this stage? Could it be collected by asking candidates to address a specific question in their cover letter, or is it a case of reformatting information in their cv? – in which case, pick one.

  9. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*


    The question is, how is it working out for you?

    To hire well for a job, you need the best pool of qualified applicants available. If literally nobody has applied for the job the way that you asked, you’ve already had your answer. It’s not working out for you at all.

    I think your process has been spoiled and you need to start over. The applicants you do have either didn’t read your instructions or ignored them. That doesn’t mean they are bad applicants, but it means you’ve already weeded out the applicants who did read and said “hell no, I’m moving on to the next ad”. Your best applicants could be in that group.

    1. Colette*

      When it comes to part time jobs, you have two groups of applicants:
      – people who are looking for part time work because that’s what they want
      – people who will take part time work because they can’t get full time

      If you are clear about what hours as required, people in the first group may be willing to jump through hoops to apply. If not, people who want part time to work around family, school, or other jobs may not want to spend a lot of time applying.

      Is the pay clear in the add? It will only encourage people to apply if it is.

    2. Rob Lowe can't read*

      Yes, exactly. I’ve run into this with both short-term/part-time jobs and full-time positions, although in my field it’s usually essay questions rather than applications. (Although the first time I applied [unsuccessfully] at my current employer, I had to submit both an application and essay questions in addition to a resume and cover letter.) Those jobs always immediately went to the bottom of my priorities list. Not only could I quite reasonably expect to apply for two or three other jobs in the time it would take me to do all that extra work, but I also knew that some of those jobs would probably receive many hundreds of applications – and even with the strengths I brought to the table, I didn’t like those odds enough to take the time.

      1. Charlotte Collins*

        I recently had a place send me an assignment in response to an application! They weren’t going to even schedule any interviews (even initial phone screenings) if you didn’t “do your homework.” There was less than a week to do it (it was sent after 5:00 pm on a Friday and due before 8:00 am the following Friday), and I ended up self-selecting out. If they had asked for just plain writing samples/portfolio, that would be one thing. And I would have been fine with it if it had been after a phone screening. But I didn’t have time during a holiday week to put everything aside and work on it in the off chance that I might get an interview. (I had injured myself earlier that week which made me less receptive to this idea.)

        Also, I thought about it and remembered that I had had to deal with this company as a customer years ago when I worked in a different part of the country – I had never liked them then. Why would I want to work for them now? They might have improved in 15+ years, but their application process seemed to indicate that they didn’t mind wasting people’s time.

    3. Grey*

      Right. The one’s who ignored the instructions might not be bad applicants. Some people are already employed and don’t need the job you’re advertising. They might still consider a new job but they have no reason to jump through hoops to get it. I’m not going out of my way to buy a new Cadillac if I’m already driving one. You’ll have to convince me it’s worth my time.

      Instead of thinking “hell no”, I usually just pass along my resume and cover letter. It’s everything they need to know. There’s no way I’m filling in redundant information or taking one of those 90 minute personality/skill tests before I even know what the job is all about. If they reject me for skipping any of that, it’s not a big deal to me.

      1. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

        When hiring, it’s a mistake to over value the job you are offering or believe the headlines about how tough the job market is and imagine you’re doing the world a great favor by posting an opportunity. Unless you have a damn sexy job (editorial assistant at Vogue) or high payer ($25 an hour entry level), at ad stage, you’re the one doing the asking so you can assemble best pool.

        After that, be as picky as you need to in order to winnow the candidates.

        Is what I think.

        1. I'm Curious*

          Spot on. I was trying to find a way to say that first sentence without suffering the wrath of commenters.

    4. LQ*

      This is a really good point. I think the OP is trying to find quality candidates by having checks in place like can you follow directions. But the problem is missing the fact that the high quality candidates likely will just say, eh, I could just look over there instead.

      The barriers you want to put up are good screening, good interview questions and procedures, and good reference checking. Those are effective barriers to low quality candidates, but they are ones that aren’t putting so high a burden on high quality candidates that they won’t bother to jump the hurdle.

      1. M-C*

        These barriers are also effective for really low-skill work, where people might not in fact follow directions when needed, and that’d be a bad thing. But if you need people to occasionally think on their feet, as the OP claims, then they’re totally counter-productive.

        This reminds me of a pilot friend who points out the crash/death rate went way down at her work when they stopped hiring guys straight out of the army – because the army guys did know how to fly but just didn’t have a procedure for those ‘oh shit!’ moments, and not a single one ever pushed the red button that might get them safely over that electric line/hill. Sometimes the most precious employees don’t follow directions, because it’s impossible to think of -every- case in advance.

    5. Searching*

      If the application is different and essential or even just necessary for some internal reason, what about sending it out only to candidates you like from the resume/ cover letter? When you’re inviting them to interview? I’m much more motivated to fill out something extra if the company has already shown interest. (But if its the same info as my resume I would side eye it but probably still grudgingly fill it out).

  10. mander*

    It’s irritating but very common in my experience to have to do all three things when applying for jobs. Virtually everything I have applied for in the last few years required a CV/resume, then an extensive application form, and a cover letter / personal statement that required detailed answers for every single item on the person specification. Maybe this is a British thing? It’s annoying as heck in any case!

    1. One of the Sarahs*

      Oh, interesting – I’m British and I’m totally used to the extensive, irritating application forms, but I’ve not seen app form + CV. I wonder if it’s industry-specific?

      (And now I’m having flashbacks to impossible app forms from a university, where they genuinely asked the same question in 3 different ways. I knew people in the department, and apparently it was because the 3 people pulling it together from the drop-down menu of options couldn’t agree on which version of question was the best, so they used all 3…. And then they were surprised they got so few applicants…)

      1. Carrie in Scotland*

        I was coming to ask if it was (another) way in which the UK is different to the US?

        I’ve been applying for jobs and universities often ask for a CV and cover letter to be uploaded during the application process. The application system I’m using the most gives you an opportunity to ‘parse’ your CV so some of the information is automatically filled.

        TBH, I don’t find it that bad an application process.

        1. One of the Sarahs*

          Oh, I like application forms, but I’ve been mostly Public/VCS sector, and for some reason, annoying application systems seem to be the norm for Local Authorities…. Could be regional/coincidence!

    2. Xarcady*

      Oh, no, it’s not a British thing. It’s also a US thing.

      LW #2, I’m joining the rest of the chorus on this. As I’m job-hunting right now, it is incredibly frustrating to spend time crafting a version of my resume and cover letter tailored to a specific job, and then have to spend more time cutting and pasting info from both into an application. Because it is the exact same information. Why, oh, why does the company need it twice over, in two different formats?

      (And that’s not including the time spent going back and changing answers on those forms that let you see only one question at a time, and you get half-way through the form before you realize that what you thought Question 4 was asking is really what Question 22 is asking, and now you need to go back and change your answer to Question 4, and you can only hope that when you start hitting the back key that the system retains your answers and you don’t have to re-input all the info, again.)

      Unless there is information requested in the application that would not normally be included on resume or cover letter, please consider dropping the application. If you really need the application, please consider dropping the resume requirement.

      I agree with the other posters who are saying that applicants are self-selecting out of your application process.

      1. Spooky*

        This. And that’s not even mentioning that most systems are set up to only accept American information, like “select your university” drop-downs that only list US schools, “list your salary” fields that won’t let you note that it was in a different currency like British pounds, and “reference phone number” fields that won’t accept international numbers. Even if I wanted to provide my accurate information, I quite literally can’t thanks to the stupid system.

          1. The Alias Gloria Has Been Living Under, A.A., B.S.*

            Do you know how long I went wondering if my backwards high school was just doing things differently because we didn’t have majors?

        1. the gold digger*

          And then your college isn’t even on the dropdown. (Really, people? You know there is a University of Tennessee, a University of Florida, an Oklahoma University, but it doesn’t occur to you that there might not be a University of Texas? Check to see if every state is covered. There are 50 of them.)

          And the only option for a BA in English is “English Studies.”

          1. Rachel*

            Or the dropdown menu has all the regional campuses of your school listed, but not the main campus – where you attended. (True story! The dropdown in question had all the regional Indiana University campuses included – IU-Kokomo, IU Northeast, IUPUI, etc. – but NOT Indiana University – Bloomington or even just Indiana University listed.)

            And there are so many where my major (Journalism) isn’t even listed as an option.

        2. Pwyll*

          Yes, this always drove me insane too. These things always miss the smaller colleges, too. I’ve always wondered if it wasn’t some kind of signal that they’re really only looking for “elite” candidates (which I think is generally silly).

      2. Lowercase holly*

        Or the forms that ask for dates and “present” or leaving blank isn’t an option. Then what??

    3. Anxa*

      I think the only two jobs I’ve applied to that didn’t have an application along with their request for resume/cl were the the past two I’ve gotten.

  11. Evie*

    Is the application used to cover questions usually not a resume like eligibility to work in the US, criminal histories, etc? Could you create a short 3-4 question part and ask people to fill that out? Filling out duplicate information is annoying but that most people will understand.

  12. Katie the Fed*

    #1 – I’m sure you know this is could turn into potential IG investigation of timecard fraud. Do you want to be part of the investigation because you’re helping him cover it up? As a deputy director, you’re probably a GS-14 or GS-15, right? You’re too senior to plead ignorance – you have a sworn responsibility to uphold the rules and regulations of the agency, and be a good steward of taxpayer money. Most likely they’ll just bust him, but you really don’t want to deal with all of that, do you?

    I think you need to be frank with him – “Joe, I’m not comfortable covering for you when you’re out. Going forward I’m just going to tell your boss that you’re not in yet. Please don’t ask me to lie – I have an ethical responsibility here.”

    Put it in an email or document it too, because if he retaliates you’re going to need to go to the IG.

    1. Brett*

      I was wondering if this was state government instead of federal because of the juxtaposition of titles; seems in federal that division heads in departments are administrators and in independent agencies, division heads are assistant directors (with the director at the head of the bureau).

      The reason this would matter is that division director at the state level is typically a patronage position appointed directly by the governor and outside most of the regulatory rules for state employees. They don’t have a timecard or specific office hours, so the decision to punish for something like this would just go straight up to the governor.
      Deputy director is typically a merit position, not a patronage position. But it is the highest level merit position, often being groomed for patronage, so political discretion might be in order. Ultimately, in a state government situation the director is exposing the governor to potential embarrassment even if their actions might be legal, and that still makes being frank with the director critical.

      1. LQ*

        I could see this being different things even from state to state. For us Department director would be the governor appointed position. Division director would be a “merit position” and not even the highest level merit position and that actually depends on the department I believe. I could see this happening here and nearly no concern about the political exposure of the governor, but a high possible exposure of the program specifically which is also worth considering. I think that goes more toward being honest with the boss’s boss and not protecting the boss in this case.

        1. doreen*

          It’s definitely different state-by-state , and in some states agency by agency. For example, in my agency , there are “serves at the pleasure” positions at the same level as my civil service position, everyone with the possible exception of the commissioner (the head of the 30K+ employee agency ) and deputy commissioners fills out a timesheet and although my level and above do not have set schedules , we are all required to work a minimum of 37.5 hours a week. Everyone with a “director” title has at least three levels of management above them and a decision to discipline one of them wouldn’t get anywhere near the governor.

          Back to the OP’s situation – I once supervised someone who was the only supervisor at a remote office. Whenever I called him, I would get “he’s down the hall” or “he’s on the second floor” from the support staff and I’d get a call back from him within 20 minutes or so. I was absolutely certain they were covering up for him not being at work, although I couldn’t prove it. Although discipline wasn’t an option ( lack of proof) , it certainly colored my opinion of them. It’s entirely possible your boss’s boss will figure out what’s going on, if he doesn’t already suspect.

    2. Former Retail Manager*

      YES! All excellent advice and I second the recommendation that you be frank with him and create a paper trail of the conversation. However, I will slightly disagree with Alison’s comment that you give him a heads up “if you want to.” Regardless of whether or not you ever should have covered for him to begin with, the fact is you did, and he has become accustomed to your doing so. To abruptly have an attack of conscience or decide you’re fed up and tell the truth to his boss, without any advance warning that you will be doing so, isn’t quite fair to him. I think most people in the Boss’ situation would appreciate a heads up that the person who has been covering for you will no longer do so.

    3. J*

      I’m not quibbling with the meat of your comment but I don’t think this person necessarily works for the federal government. Could be any level of government or outside the US entirely.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        Yeah Brett pointed that out too. For some reason I thought OP said federal but when I looked back through it you guys were right. There go my biases!

        But yeah – anytime you’re being paid with taxpayer money there are lots of rules in place and violating those is a Really Big Deal.

  13. Afiendishthingy*

    #5- I would be most concerned about negotiating a decent amount of vacation time at the offer stage. If you only see your SO a few times a year, do you really want to be trying to work at the same time? I think working remotely can be a great option for the day you get back – you can sleep for in and then get stuff done without worrying about going into the office. Flexible jobs are great, but just be aware that many people find it challenging to work from home at least at times. I would be very cautious about trying to work-from-vacation.

    1. Tsalmoth*

      The catch here is that unless OP5 is applying for a very high-level management position (which sounds unlikely), the vacation days at most places probably aren’t negotiable, since that’s a central HR thing (and a lot of places do vacation time purely on a seniority system). Working from home, otoh, is at least something that can probably be discussed.

      1. Beezus*

        That hasn’t been my experience at all! Vacation variances seem pretty common, and it’s an inexpensive thing for companies to be flexible about, compared to other benefits. For anything above bare entry-level, a lot of companies need to be flexible in vacation offered to attract experienced employed external candidates who are getting mid-career levels of vacation time at their existing jobs – if you offer 1 week in the first year, someone with 10 years of valuable experience from another company who currently gets 3 weeks is going to think hard about that, and that candidate will be a lot easier to attract if you can offer vacation that closely resembles what they’re already earning.

        In my company, a new person would have a much easier time negotiating extra vacation time than a work-on-the-road arrangement.

      2. OP #5*

        Hi there! OP #5 here. Yes, this isn’t very high-level, so I don’t think I could get enough vacation time to make it work. Since I’ve been in grad school, we see each other about every 7-8 weeks for 10-14 days at a time, because my schedule is really flexible right now. I’ve done it before where I travel and work during the day, and it works pretty well (like the comment below about it being more “normal”).

    2. Security SemiPro*

      I actually have a similar thing where I work remotely for about a week or ten days every other month to visit family and I have an employee who is remote a week a month. You do your work during the day and then have evenings and a weekend to visit and play. It makes long distance relationships feel more ‘normal’ rather than all of the time that you spend with them is ‘vacation’ or playtime. It really establishes that your distant family is a normal, usual part of your life and that your daily patterns fit with theirs.

      I’d rather have more of this habitual family time than use a ton of vacation time. (I take actual vacations too, but these trips are not for vacation, they’re for relationship maintenance and they have to be sustainable in my life.)

      It’s not for everyone though – my husband finds remote work difficult so he doesn’t come with me on every family visit trip. They are much harder on him than they are on me.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        It’s a bit harder to do that when you have a significant time difference, however. When I worked remotely while abroad, I had to do it at night so I would be online at the same time as some of my coworkers with whom I work collaboratively. It made for some long days.

      2. OP #5*

        Hey! OP #5 here. You hit the nail on the head – we are trying to create a sense of normalcy, so it works that he can go work all day and I can work from the couch, then have the evenings and weekends. We’ve done a lot of vacations together and as great as it is to gallivant around the world, we need to have real lives too. Thanks for your comment! It gives me some confidence!

  14. jlv*

    Just say “I’m not sure”, “I don’t know” etc. You do not have to answer for his absence. Get on with your job and be honest. Eventually it will catch up with him.

    1. Charlotte Collins*

      This. I had a boss who the department had to cover for in terms of job tasks (she was very good at placing blame on others, and some upper management loved her). However, when people would ask where she was, we would answer honestly. “I don’t know” was often the honest answer. (She got away with it for a bit, because there was an office in another building that she could be expected to be in. However, people started putting two and two together and noticing that no one knew where she was much of the time. She was removed from her position. It took a few more years in a few different departments for her to lose her job. Con artists can be very charming.)

  15. I'm Curious*

    To OP#2:

    Have you objectively looked at your application to determine if the resume and cover letter are needed? In other words, does your application ask for what is provided on the resume and vice versa? If it does, what is your motivation for requiring both? Also, what kind of part time position requires one that person to train another person? What does your Teapot company do?

    1. LW #2*

      Just objectively looked at the application, and there are only a few things that our application asks for we aren’t otherwise getting with a resume and application, so I’m thinking we can move it to a different part of the employment process.

      I’m not sure where I say that a part-timer would be training anyone? As to the industry, I work at a public library. It’s fairly typical in my region and at this time for many of our positions to be filled with graduate students or recent grad school graduates who work in part-time positions (sometimes balancing two in different libraries), as full-time positions have gotten rarer (a reflection of changes in a post-2008 funding era). Once my employees finish their training process, they’ll start handling shifts in the department on their own, and some of those shifts will be in evenings or weekends when a direct supervisor will not be there (there’s always a staff member designated Person-In-Charge in case of emergencies, of course).

      1. CM*

        I’ve had jobs where I was asked to fill out a formal application after it looked like I was about to get an offer, because that was part of the company’s required paperwork. At that stage, I didn’t mind.

        1. Kelly L.*

          I had one where they had me fill it out at the interview. (It was long, boring, and awkward. I don’t recommend this method. Let them fill it out at home, no matter when in the process it comes! LOL)

          1. Meg Murry*

            I’ve had multiple where I’m asked to fill it out at the interview, and I never have a lot of the information, like the full mailing address and phone number from 3 jobs ago, or it asks for my reference’s contact information which I didn’t bring with me (or I only have in my phone, which I left in the car or have turned off). After a couple incidents like this, I made myself a neatly typed up sheet to put in my padfolio with my reference’s contact information and the addresses for past jobs.

            Plus, my handwriting is not especially neat, and these applications often have teeny tiny lines. Giving people the opportunity to fill them out at home or to type them is a favor to all involved.

      2. I'm curious*

        In the second paragraph you stated:

        “But it’s a well-paying, skilled part-time job, for a position where communication is very important. ”

        But I completely breezed over your working in a public library. :-)

      3. Meg Murry*

        And if your application does have information that is directly applicable, you can ask people to address it in the cover letter. As in “please answer the following questions in your cover letter” or “please reference any experience you have with A, B and C in your cover letter”

        And along the same lines, if the application has information that you honestly don’t really need, tell people that when you give it to them. For instance, do you really need the mailing address of their high school or job 5 years ago, or is just filling in the city enough for you?

  16. TotesMaGoats*

    OP#3-I don’t want to be alarmist but given all we’ve read over the years about parents, I would make sure that the contact information for your new job is not readily available or laying around. I would hope that your mom wouldn’t overreach like that but we’ve seen it happen and worse.

    1. Julie H.*

      +1 This concerns me a bit too. Even if her google-fu is minimal, she could still probably find the number for the main switchboard. Better to convince her everything has been done (ala responses above)

  17. Random Lurker*

    #5 – is this a deal breaker for you? If so, I would have to respectfully disagree with Alison’s advise, and inquire about it prior to the offer stage. I’ve had it happen, and it is very frustrating when someone drops a new requirement on me after I’ve extended an offer. However, if it’s just a “nice to have”, I agree with Alison, and ask for clarification on the policy and how you’ll be able to use it.

    I will add – working remote for a day to wait for the cable guy is very different than working remote for a week from (presumably) a different timezone. I’ve worked some places with flexible remote policies where this would be OK, and others where it would not. As a manager, I would be inclined to see how you perform on the job a little bit before I’d be OK with you working remote for a week. Some employees work great while remote, where others are just not as efficient/effective. I would be uncomfortable making a large commitment of a week multiple times during the year without understanding the risk – especially since once I do it for one employee, I’ll have others making similar requests.

    1. OP #5*

      Hi there! OP #5 here. Yes, these concerns are basically why I emailed Alison. The time difference is 5 hours, which I know can be an issue (it’s enough of an issue for my SO and I to get on Skype at the same time, so it can really be difficult for a business day…). I don’t think it would be a deal breaker as we could adjust around it (SO would have to come to me more often, and he has flexibility around that) but it would be a big factor in whether I took the job. My biggest concern is yes, how do I convince an employer to trust that I can work remotely? Do you have any suggestions of what might alleviate those fears for you, since you’re a manager? Thanks!

  18. hbc*

    OP1, was the conviction and prison term the worst example of his terrible family life, or the only bad thing he’s got going on? Because there is nothing about the situation as described that should cause so many problems. Even if his young kids are in counseling because of their mother’s absence and she’s not allowed to drive them anywhere, that wouldn’t explain all of the time off and personal business at the office.

    I have the feeling that there was a lot of upheaval around the time of her arrest/trial that understandably drew his time and attention, but he’s continued that past the point where he needs to because there hasn’t been a negative impact for him. Stop absorbing that impact.

    1. Dot Warner*

      +1. I was also wondering why he still needs to be away so much when his wife is out of prison and presumably able to do at least some of the childcare, etc.

      1. fposte*

        Yes, I didn’t get why he needed to be at home to take care of her as well as the kids. I think hbc may be right–that he’s spending that much time at home because he can. It’s understandable that he’d want to, but it’s not fair that it’s on your back.

        1. doreen*

          That’s possible (although I think it’s unlikely with a white collar felony conviction) but it still doesn’t explain why he needs to be at home when his wife is presumably there. Lots of single parents manage to work full-time jobs without coming in hours late every day, taking long lunches and leaving early.

    2. I'm a Little Teapot*

      Yes, I was wondering just the same thing. Why does he need to take care of the wife as well as the kids? Yes, she went to prison, but she is a grown woman who can presumably pull her weight and take care of herself, not to mention the kids!

    3. One of the Sarahs*


      For example – last year a friend’s wife got pneumonia and complications, was in hospital for months, and then lived with her parents to recover fully, while he lived at home being a single dad, and dealing with the visits, and the young kids’ response to their mum’s near-fatal illness. He had to get his work hours shifted around, and allowances for certain days made etc, but he could still perform his job etc.

      There are 100s of variations on this kind of thing that happen every day, and are super-traumatic, so while you’ve been a great person to help him out at this very hard time, it has to stop, and you need to put limits on how long this lasts for – and while her crime and punishment seem to still be impacting on *him*, stopping them impact you too.

  19. LW #2*

    I’m the letter writer for #2, and I’m hearing all the feedback you’re giving me. To clarify, because I feel that a lot of you envisioned one of those length online submission portals, our application is a two-page fillable PDF, which is fairly standard in my industry. With that said, many of you have asked what information the application asks for that isn’t coming via the resumes and cover letters. After a quick perusal, I would say that the primary thing we’re getting from the applications is availability, because unfortunately, despite posting the position’s shifts, we often get people who can’t work all of the hours necessary (these positions require at least one daytime, one evening, and the occasional weekend, and we often get applications who can work day, but not night, etc.).

    Since the application is currently part of our employment process, and is required by our HR/Business Office, I believe I’ll start asking for the application to be completed at the interview step of the process. However, do any of you have suggestions to weed out those without necessary availability before this step? Other departments and myself often have fantastic interviews, only to discover that the applicants can’t work in the times advertised, which unfortunately are usually unchangeable.

    1. 2Fed2Furious*

      If the shift availability requirements are clearly stated in the posting, why is that not the first thing you ask at the beginning of the phone screen? “As mentioned in the job posting, this position requires regular availability to work Thursday mornings, Wednesday evenings, and weekends. Will you be able to work that schedule?” I’m surprised that you are making it through entire interviews without confirming shift availability.

    2. Sarahnova*

      Do you do phone screens before interviews? I think that would be the ideal time to check their availability and decide whether to move them to interview. It only needs to take 10-15 minutes and doesn’t necessarily have to be done by the hiring manager – a jr. person could check it.

    3. Lizabeth*

      List the shift requirements in the ad, in bold caps with the words “If you can’t work X, Y and Z times, this job is not for you.” Might be worth trying out a couple of different ways of wording it (I tend to go blunt but…) when running the ads to see which one people notice and respond to properly.

      1. WIncredulous*

        That could work. I’ve done A/B testing on emails before, and certain phrases generate more “opens.” (However, my email list is about ~100 people!)

    4. Observer*

      Replace the application form with “Please state your hours and days of availability.”

      It’s a simple, straightforward question. It’s clear to any good candidate what you need, and it should be fairy simple to do.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yes — or if you have an ATS, program it to ask those questions along with uploading a resume and cover letter. Or tell them to address it in the cover letter. Lots of options!

    5. Missy*

      Ask people to include availability info in their cover letter. Put the availability requirement front and centre in your ads, making it explicit what you need.. And do phone screens with the best applicants to double-check before bringing them in for in-person interviews.

    6. J*

      I work in a public library and we specify the shifts the employee will work in our job postings.

      Tuesdays 4-8
      Thursdays 10-1
      Every third Saturday 8:30-1 on a rotation

      1. LQ*

        Something like this seems much more appealing than 1 day, 1 evening, and sometimes weekends. It is very clear and doesn’t seem like you’ll be continually changing and not letting people know until the last minute. Something clear like this will both let people weed themselves out if they can’t do it, and will let people know that it isn’t going to have a lot of flexibility or a lot of expectations for the employee to change all the time.

    7. Meg Murry*

      I agree that you should ask people to address this in their cover letters, and then confirm it via a phone screen or when setting up interviews. I’ve also worked places that sent people they were interested in interviewing something to fill out in SurveyMonkey, Wufoo, Google Forms or similar that just asked you to fill in name, email, phone number and then 1-2 basic questions (in this case, you could make it checkboxes that said “availability” and then listed “mornings” “afternoons” “evenings” “weekends” etc).

      For your open positions, do you already know the exact schedule (i.e. Tuesday and Thursday 10-4, Wednesday 4-8, every other Saturday) or is it just hte vague “one weekend, one daytime and one evening shift”? Because I think that is always going to be something you have to juggle – you might find a great candidate, but when you get down to actually hiring them you need someoen for Thursday nights, which is the one night a week they have a commitment, etc.

      Can you ask other libraries in the area how they handle this, or look online to see what they have as requirements?

      1. I'm a Little Teapot*

        Yes! A vague “one day, one evening, and one weekend shift” will pretty much eliminate anyone who has another job or other scheduled commitment, which is likely to be most of your applicant pool for a part-time job.

        1. LQ*

          I agree. This seems like hard shift requirements for anyone with any kind of commitments. I have no commitments basically in my life and I’d have a hard time with this. Are they standard? Scheduled in advance?

          Who do you see being your target person to hire for this job? It will help you target reaching out to people. (And I totally agree that creating a simple form (fillable pdf whatever you want) that just asks for availability is a good way to handle this. But it kind of seems like you want someone who is always available.)

          1. I'm a Little Teapot*

            Yeah. I once interviewed for a job where they were hoping for open availability, and the job itself was a few hours a week on-call which could be any day at short notice. The interview panel told me I was one of ten applicants total. Amd I was only there because I was unemployed and it was *something* – if they’d offered me the job, I’d have kept looking and been gone as soon as I found something more substantial. And if you don’t specify the hours or you expect open availability from someone very part-time, that’s what you’re going to get – very few applicants and anyone you hire is likely to be gone fast. Unless you really luck out and find a retiree, stay-at-home parent with very flexible childcare, freelancer who wants a bit of supplemental income, or person who doesn’t actually need to work.

        2. TootsNYC*

          I agree! That’s a really hard-to-accommodate set of shifts. Personally I’d want to be open to the idea of getting someone who always works that weekend shift,a nd someone else who always works the Tuesday day shift, and someone else who always works Wed. & Thurs evening shifts.

          If it’s part-time, paid hourly, does it matter how many people you get? You just need the shifts filled, right?

    8. One of the Sarahs*

      Could you go to application form only, instead of cover letter + CV, with a good space for a personal statement, for people to add in the things they’d put in a letter? If you only need the information once, this is no more onerous than a good candidate re-doing her resumé specifically for the job, and writing that letter – and you can add all the shift-requirements you need?

      Although I talked anti-application forms upthread, that was about *bad* app forms – when they’re done well, they can make everything easier.

    9. HR Caligula*

      As others mentioned, phone screening is a great tool.
      For my office:
      Hiring Manager drafts the job ad from our templates.

      I post and screen resumes/cover letters forwarding to the HM potentially qualified candidates. Our ads note schedule, location, wage, specific required skills, and if we require testing at time of interview.

      HM tells me who to follow up with.

      I send emails noting we wish to do a quick phone interview offering proposed flexible schedule (yes, I even offer Saturdays).

      I contact those responding and spend maybe 15 minutes clarifying the information posted in the ad and verifying understood. I don’t evaluate skill level nor answer specific job related questions deferring both to the hiring manager.

      I screen (or they self-screen) out anyone that does meet the posted requirements. Sometimes its as simple as not willing to commute from Bellevue to Seattle or can’t be in the office by 8:00 AM. I also note if they have researched our company and industry and get a general impression of their professionalism and communication skills to share with the HM.

      Finalists are called in for 1st and 2nd interviews, once hiring decision is made the application is included in our new hire packet w/ I9, W4, direct deposit info, etc.

  20. I'm Curious*

    To OP #1:

    Respectfully, everybody at every job has “something” going on. Your boss’s situation IS sad. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, I would suggest, just answering questions truthfully. “My boss is not here.” If more questions are asked answer honestly.

    However, I do wonder can you reverse the dynamic you’ve created by giving him a “head’s up” text when people are looking for him. Anyone have any thoughts on that?

    1. Florida*

      I like the idea of telling him that you won’t do it anymore and stopping completely.

      But another option would be to do it less frequently. Skip it sometimes, and if he mentions it, just say you were too busy to send him the text or you were caught up in something else, so you forgot.That would be a nice opening to say that you aren’t going to do it anymore. I like the idea of quitting it all at once, but I wanted to mention this as an option.

      1. Observer*

        No, that’s just passive aggressive and doesn’t solve anything for anyone. It just prolongs the problem and creates a whole new level of drama around each encounter.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I really think the OP can just stop the heads-ups. It’s unethical to be doing in the first place and doesn’t require notification that she’s going to stop, unless the boss has specifically asked her to do it in the past.

  21. Erin*

    With #2 – I’m a bit on the fence because it really depends on what’s in this application and how long it takes to complete it.

    I have seen short applications with questions like, “What would you do in X situation” or “Is Y or Z more important to you in a work setting” – I think these are good questions that wouldn’t be duplicated in a resume or a cover letter. If this is the type of application you have – and again, it’s not too long – then I think that would be fine.

    On the other hand. I’ve also seen applications that are the exact same information that’s in the resume/cover letter, and I’ve seen them be too long. I have literally stopped filling it out partway through because I feel like the company is wasting my time, and/or I see something red flaggy.

    On the surface, not knowing the contents of the application, I’d say, yeah, if they can’t complete the three things you ask then I wouldn’t consider them. But, if literally no one is completing all three then it’s probably time to reevaluate.

    1. Searching*

      I don’t know. I HATE those “what would you do” questions too and I’ve really only seen them in retail situations. For a professional job, those strike me as questions much better answered in an interview.

  22. Temperance*

    DO NOT TAKE OFF TIME IN THE MIDDLE OF YOUR SUMMER ASSOCIATE POSITION TO VISIT YOUR MOTHER. You’re only working for two months. This will make you look flaky. This is doubly true if your firm has Hunger Games style hiring.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        “Fine. If you want to listen to a COMPLETE STRANGER instead of your OWN MOTHER.”

        (sniffs dramatically)

        1. neverjaunty*

          “A complete stranger didn’t throw out my Magic: The Gathering cards ‘by accident’ when I was in sixth grade, MOM.”

    1. neverjaunty*

      It’s an internship rather than a summer associate position, so the stakes aren’t QUITE as bad as for summer associates, but otherwise agree 100%. OP’s mom needs to back the hell off with, well, all of her terrible advice here.

        1. LW #3*

          I mentioned this above but my mother will just constantly push for what she wants – she’ll email links, text me, etc. until she gets a reaction that she likes. I think it I reserve housing and go past the point of no return (by making a deposit or something similar) she’ll drop it because what’s done is done.

          1. Ultraviolet*

            My mother has some of those tendencies. I recognized that bit you shared above about getting a bunch of texts, and emails to confirm you received those texts, etc….

            I actually meant to ask about whether she had let go of the idea of you visiting her partway through your internship, since I thought that might have some bearing on how to handle the housing issue with her. But it sounds like you have a plan you’re feeling good about, so that’s pretty promising! Good luck.

          2. Bunny*

            When I was your age, kid, I made a great career move (it involved moving out of state) and informed my incredibly overbearing mother that was packed, ready to go, and would be leaving in 48 hours.

            It’s been 20 years, and she still pushes, but she knows the line.

            What you’re feeling is guilt. It is not real. Make her contact in your phone Do Not Disturb and check ALL her messages later. Block her on LinkedIn. That is your professional site. Blame a computer glitch. Read up on narcissism.

            Go and learn and have fun. You’re going to do great.

  23. Brian*

    #4 While the answer is correct I think it doesn’t take into account the fact that the employer seems to have made an offer of salary but did not explain how the healthcare works at the time they made the offer. I have encountered this many times where the employer considers the salary to be part of the offer and the health insurance to be something that’s taken care of after you start. But since some employers pay 100%, and some only pay a portion, it behooves the employer to provide as much information to the candidate is possible when they are considering an offer. I have had to argue, sometimes vociferously, with the people responsible for HR in the companies that I’ve work for to make sure that when an offer is made, which is usually verbal, that it is followed up in writing with a detailed explanation of all the benefits, the employee’s obligations for each of those, and the employer’s contribution. It’s everything: sick days, vacation days, which particular national holidays the company observes, dental plan, health plan, retirement plan.

    Huge amount of goodwill is lost, as it was with this OP, when they arrive at work and find out that they’re not taking home what they thought. It’s a simple fix to tell people everything upfront. An offer should not just be the salary- it’s all of the employment conditions and benefits.

    1. CM*

      That’s true, AND I think job seekers also need to keep this in mind and factor in cost of health insurance and other benefits before accepting an offer. But I agree, it would be great if this was a standard thing that HR did.

    2. Persephone Mulberry*

      Agreed, and agree with CM above me. My new employer was super proud of the fact that they pay for 75% of the employee’s health plan and pre-fund their HSA, but no mention was made about my actual out of pocket cost, much less what it would cost to add on my family. I didn’t ask, because I have stellar insurance through my husband’s job, but if that weren’t the case I would definitely be probing more deeply for some hard numbers.

    3. J*

      I agree! I was able to self-select out of a hiring process because the org was up-front about the employee’s coverage being excellent but I would have had to pay 100% of the cost of adding my spouse and child. And since my spouse is a stay-at-home-parent that was outside of what our family could afford. The org was very gracious about this and I wound up taking a job that does cover my family at the same rate it covers me so everything worked out well.

  24. Not Karen*

    #2: If you decide you *need* the application filled out, consider whether or not you need it at the initial application stage. I applied to my current job with a standard resume and cover letter, and then once I got to the interview stage they had me fill out the application.

    #5: Why can’t you use your vacation time to visit your SO? Why can’t they come to you instead?

    1. Noah*

      If they’ve started the visa process, and depending on which route their going, her SO may or may not be able to enter the US. Even if they are coming from a VWP country, the customs officer can still deny entry if they don’t think you’re going to leave.

    2. OP #5*

      Hi there! I’m guessing my vacation time may be quite limited right when I start. He can come to me, but he runs his own business and can’t work remotely like I potentially could in my field. So if I can in fact work remotely, it works better for us both.

  25. JC*

    OP3: Would you be relying on your mother to pay for your summer housing? That’s one situation where you would need to convince your mom that this is a bad idea rather than blowing her off.

    1. Temperance*

      If LW is working at a firm, she’ll be getting compensated.

      Even if her mother is helping out, which would be a terrible idea, mommy dearest doesn’t get to tank this young woman’s career before it starts. The legal community is very tight-knit, and the sort of impropriety of asking a firm to house her with one of the attorneys would absolutely get around.

      1. neverjaunty*

        Additionally, the OP said the firm’s HR is helping her with housing, and there is nothing in her letter suggesting Mom is worried about her own pocketbook.

      2. I'm a Little Teapot*

        Yeah, I would explain to my mother that this was a terrible, grossly inappropriate idea and why. But maybe I am unusually blunt with my parents. I love my mom, but occasionally she gets crazy ideas in her head for things I should do. She tells me when I say something dumb; why shouldn’t I do the same?

        1. Temperance*

          I have a feeling that LW#3’s mother is a battle axe/steamroller/etc. who only hears what she wants to hear. I have a similar mother. It’s endlessly amazing to me how I can say “hey mom, I’m doing X” and she hears “Temperance is doing Y, because that’s what I want her to do”.

          Booth and me were together 8 years before getting married, and because we didn’t marry quickly, she decided that we were just roommates (?) and that I would move “home” after law school. As a spinster. At 30. She started googling legal jobs in Scranton to “help” me in my goal of moving “home”. Even though I said that it would never happen, and I had another job lined up. And my industry doesn’t exist there.

          1. neverjaunty*

            Somebody posted an excellent link to a piece on ‘Sick Systems’ yesterday, and the same author has a fascinating series of posts on exactly this kind of dysfunctional parent – the one who doesn’t hear anything other than “Yes, Mom/Dad, I agree and will do what you say” and who want to believe reality bends around their whims. It’s geared more toward the issue of parents whose children have finally cut them off, but it’s got a lot of great insights.


      3. Sigrid*

        Yeah, I hate the “it never hurts to ask” mentality, because if asking makes the person you are asking mentally mark you down as “out of touch and potentially high maintenance”, it can very much hurt to ask. Especially if said person talks. Reputation can matter quite a lot, even — maybe especially — when you are just starting out.

    2. LW #3*

      Yup. I should clarify that it’s a placement through a program my school does, and it’s up to the firm as to how much assistance they want to offer. Some of the firms do cover expenses – just not mine.

  26. apopculturalist*

    Question re: Q4 – How would one go about getting detailed information about benefits and health insurance before accepting an offer?

    I’m assuming it’s at the offer stage, of course. But whenever I’ve looked for jobs, this info isn’t readily provided by the employer, so it does come as somewhat of a surprise after starting a new position. Would it have been ok for OP to say, “Thank you for the offer. Before I make my decision, do you have more detailed information about your insurance plan /401k/profit sharing/etc. you could provide?”

    (Writing that out, it sounds totally reasonable, but it still feels somehow unusual.)

    1. Not Karen*

      Yes, it is perfectly reasonable to ask about detailed benefits at the offer stage in addition to salary. Both are part of the compensation package. Last time I was offered a job they gave me all the information proactively.

    2. ThatGirl*

      I agree with Not Karen, but I’ll also say that I’ve been given standardized benefits packets at the majority of jobs I’ve interviewed for, just as part of the interview, which typically outline health insurance and other benefits. They didn’t always include costs, but had I gotten to the offer stage, you better believe I would have asked for that. My current company has a whole packet with a chart of employee costs for the various options.

      1. apopculturalist*

        Thanks for both of your responses. I’ve experienced a lack of detailed information at two companies; the first was a complete clusterF*&* kind of environment where such a request would have been gawked at, while my current company is just small and lax on this kind of thing. Sounds like I just ended up at two atypical places.

  27. YSL*

    Re #1: My fiancé’s federal government department had a scandal recently. It was uncovered that a group of people were coming in early, leaving early, taking extra-long lunch breaks, and covering for each other. They were fired are now being investigated for defrauding the federal government.

    Stop covering for your boss. You don’t want to be implicated in a crime because you were trying to be compassionate. Your boss needs to work out an arrangement with his boss.

      1. YSL*

        My fiancé works in a different division and was fairly new when it happened.

        After a quick google search, I found an article about it for you:


        Not sure how great that website is, or the organization’s reputation, but a quick scan of the article confirms its pretty accurate when compared to the info my fiancé got directly from the Census when the scandal happened.

  28. CR*

    #3. Ohmygod. No. Nonono. Why is your mother that involved in your career?? The fact that you even wrote a letter to Allison about your mom speaks volumes to me about the kind of relationship you must have with her. You’re an adult. Say “no” and move on.

    1. LW #3*

      Ironically, my relationship with my mother right now is about ten thousand times better than when I was in undergrad.

      1. Anon Moose*

        Just an FYI, if the exp of my friends is any guide, it may get worse when you’re job searching. Here’s to you finding housing and getting a job offer from your summer firm placement!

  29. Allison*

    #2, I get annoyed when I have to fill out an application form in addition to sending in my resume and cover letter, which are usually also tailored to the job I’m applying to, especially when the application asks me to write out information already covered in my resume. It’s like going to the doctor and having to tell 4 different people what’s wrong – you know, “just to verify things.”

    THAT SAID, if you need details about a candidate that aren’t normally covered in a resume, like their authorization status, you can have them fill out a form at the point in the process when they’d need it. Don’t make people fill out ALL the possibly necessary paperwork early on in case they turn out to be good, you’re wasting people’s time.

  30. animaniactoo*

    OP#3 – I feel really bad for you, because you and your mom have a hell of an adjustment period coming up.

    Honestly, your mom is pretty clearly way too enmeshed in your life. The good thing is that it looks like you see this – and you have a strong dose of common sense, enough to realize that what she is asking doesn’t sound right.

    No, there is no way that it should be a big deal for you to be out of physical contact with her for 2 to 3 months. The idea that you would fly home internationally – and take time off from such a short stint is purely absurd and would absolutely make you look delusional/entitled.

    However, it’s unlikely that your mom will accept this – even with Alison’s suggested comment about how it DOES hurt to ask sometimes. I mean, sure – go ahead and use it. But I think that you will need a far different coping strategy for an adulthood untethered from your mom and not having to fight hard to enforce your boundaries on every hair she takes off on.

    I think your best bet it to develop your skills at obfuscation a la some Aes Sedai (Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series) truth: “The truth one speaks isn’t the same as the truth that you hear”. So when mom says “You should do X, and I want you to do Y” and you know even asking for it is likely to hurt, the truth you give is “I’ll see.” She does not need to know that who you’re consulting with is AAM, respected friends/colleagues, your own internal thought process, etc. Likewise, when you come back and say “I looked into doing that, and it’s not going to work out/that’s not going to happen”, she doesn’t need to know who gave that answer that you’re standing behind. And you don’t explain. “Mom, I’ve already done what I can about it, no I am not going to give you blow-by-blow details, it’s not going to happen/be possible/whatever”.

    Your goal is always to remain calm and reasonable when agreeing to check (with “somebody”), and when you give the answer. If she won’t let it go – this is where the hardest adjustment period is going to come from. Because a lot of the time, that obfuscation will get you around it, but if it doesn’t, that’s the hard part. The point where you have to enforce the boundary and leave the conversation. “Mom, I’m not going to keep talking about this, so let’s move on to something else.” “Okay mom, I’m going to go now, I’ll talk to you later when you’re calmer/willing to leave this alone/etc.” and hang up, leave, whatever you gotta do.

    Good luck to you and nj on getting that internship!

  31. Ruthie*

    OP #2, I just ended a job search, and applications were a major deterrent for me unless I was very, very, very interested in the job. I work in digital communications and am tech savvy, and even I got frustrated and confused with every application I needed to fill out. I have yet to come across an application without bugs and poorly designed sections, and it’s really frustrating to repeat information that’s already in my resume. I was applying for full-time, skilled, professional, managerial positions, and I still felt like it was asking too much of me. I would have been much more happy to go through those hoops if I knew I was a finalist for the position.

    It’s important to ensure candidates are thorough and detail-oriented, but if the initial application process itself seems like a test, it’s a big turn off for me.

    1. Bee Eye LL*

      I so agree with this. In another comment I mentioned our application being clunky. I do actually see it as a test, sort of like part of the screening process. And the whole reason for making people do it is because HR is too lazy to take resumes and key the info in themselves.

  32. animaniactoo*

    OP#4 – On a guess, you’ve moved from a company who was partially paying health care costs for your spouse/children, and you’ve moved to one which does the *entirely legal* thing of picking up their mandated portion of your healthcare and allowing you to have your spouse/children on their plan at the full payment rate. If that’s the case, you might research some other available health insurance that’s not through your job. Be very careful about the plan options – most lower cost plans have really high deductible rates and extensive approval processes for anything outside of “normal office visit”.

  33. animaniactoo*

    OP#1 – I think part of the question you’re asking is “How can I do this and not feel like a jerk to somebody in a bad situation?”

    Careful thought to this – but do you think it would be possible to say to him “Listen, Jack, I know you’ve had a lot on your plate, and I’ve been as supportive as I can be. I feel like this has gotten to a point where I’m going to get in trouble myself if anyone else becomes aware of what’s going on, and I need to stop. I can keep covering for you for a few more weeks to give you time to make some other arrangement, but after that I’m going to stop for my own protection.” When I say “possible”, I mean you’re not going to be caught in retributive hell for saying it. Obviously, it will still be a risk, it’s a question of weighing how much of a risk it is and whether you feel comfortable paying for the results if it goes sideways.

    Worth noting however: If you evaluate this and come up with a better than 5% likelihood that you’d catch retributive hell for saying it – think about who you’re giving your loyalty to and why.

  34. Bee Eye LL*

    #2 – I work for a city government and we use an online application system. It’s rather clunky and nobody really likes it, but the purpose of it is that people’s applications go directly into a database where they can be saved for months at a time. It prevents HR people from having to key them in manually (making mistakes, etc.). By doing this HR can also run reports based on education level, different types of eligibility, etc. This very same database is used to keep track of other user functions so although a hassle, it does serve a purpose.

    1. animaniactoo*

      Wouldn’t it make the most sense then to contact only the candidates whose applications match what they’re looking for to move on to the next round and formally submit a resume/cover letter at that stage?

      1. Bee Eye LL*

        When they fill out the application online, at the very end there are boxes for them to attach a resume and cover letter, which then get uploaded into our database. It lets them do it all at once.

        1. Xarcady*

          Yes, that’s nice that the system lets applicants do everything at once.

          But that still doesn’t change the fact that if your application is asking for pretty much the same info as on a resume, it feels like a lot of extra, duplicate, work on the applicant’s part.

          1. Bee Eye LL*

            Exactly. Someone in HR could get the resume and key that stuff in, but they don’t want to.

  35. Missannethrope*

    LW #1 here. Thanks for all the feedback. I believe my boss has always operated in this way and i suspect he’s been accommodated a lot because he’s an affluent white male in a female-dominated profession. I have decided to simply say “I don’t know” when higher-ups come looking for him, and try to work on letting go of my resentment and worry.

    1. Observer*

      I used “Not your monkeys, not your circus” yesterday on my daughter who was complaining about a workplace issue. It made her laugh, but she acknowledged it and it helped her let go of her resentment.

      You’ve taken a good first step here by taking one major piece of pressure off yourself. Prepare a script for yourself for when your boss asks you “why didn’t you…?” Use that script and keep repeating it like a broken record.

      Also, start re-arranging your work. You do your job and help your boss as much as you can – and more than that. If your boss asks you to do something that’s really his job, use one of Allison’s scripts for asking him to prioritize. As your boss he CAN ask you to prioritize his job over yours, but you most definitely want that to be out in the open. Get it in email or writing. Even an email to him saying “as per our conversation blah, blah blah.”

    2. One of the Sarahs*

      Ah! I did wonder if there was a gender component in this (my friend I mentioned upthread had people act like he was a living saint for doing things single mums, or mums in the equivalent situation, do every day) but I didn’t want to start a war of the sexes, after the menstrual products/toilet threads!

      Good luck! I feel you on the “letting go of resentment” thing – just remember not to beat yourself up for letting it go on, etc, and update us!

  36. LW #3*

    Thank you for all the wonderful advice everyone! Unfortunately, I do have to rely on my parents to cover the housing. The firm I’m working for isn’t covering any costs, and the HR manager’s “assistance” turned out to be a link to a list of hotels that run about $180 a night. Nevertheless, I think I will have to go the deflect, deflect, deflect route – as some commentators accurately guessed, my mother will simply not take no for an answer. Luckily, she knows next to nothing about where I’m working, and I’m about 90% sure she wouldn’t go as far as to call the workplace (although there’s always a small chance…). As soon as I do secure housing, she will probably back off on this idea.

    1. animaniactoo*

      On the HR’s assistance – I would definitely reach back on that and say something to the tune of “Unfortunately everything on the site that you sent me to are hotels that are nightly rentals which are doable for a short term stay, but not for a stay of 2 (or 3) months. Do you have any information on where to look for short-term rentals for places that are relatively decent and do month-to-month or week-to-week?”

      (Actually, I would double-check the hotel link HR sent you to first – some of those maybe “extended stay” type places which do weekly rental rates which are much lower than the nightly.)

    2. Searching*

      Do you know the other summer interns? I’d look to your peers for this, not the partners. Likely you’re not the only one looking for housing. You may be able to go in on a sublet to get a better deal. Or they may have secured housing already and could give you some tips.
      Also, check out internship housing listings on your own. And craigslist sublets and rooms and shares. If its a pricey city with lots of young people- NY, DC, LA- it likely has lots of interns in the same situation as you and a lot of movement on housing.

      1. Searching*

        Also- you’re a law student. Ask your internship coordinator at the school. Ask students who summered there last year or who will this year. Or recent grads who live there now (and improve your networking at the same time)! “How on earth do you find housing?” is not an uncommon question! I have given advice to younger people moving to my city- DC- in the past because finding even semi-affordable housing can be a gauntlet. But in short, there are so many other resources that are way way more appropriate than your employer and then you can tell your mother you’re firing on all cylinders and hopefully she’ll stop.

  37. Searching*

    #3 Another do NOT listen to your parents about job hunting or internships or entry level jobs. They often simply do not get the lay of the land or often *they* think you’re worth a million and deserve all the things but just can’t see why the rest of the world isn’t convinced.
    No one is going to put up unpaid interns (or even paid ones). There is no reason a firm would offer that for an intern. If they have firm housing, its for clients and partners (and many firms and companies are paring down perks and extras like this). And no lawyer working 80 hours a week in big law is going to want stranger interns in their home. It would be beyond out of touch to request that. You need to get a sublet like everyone else. The *only* request I could see was trying to see if they could put you in touch with other interns in the firm who may also need housing so you could possibly find something together. Or maybe they have a pre-existing “look for housing here” list (but also, so does google).

  38. LW#4*

    LW#4 here – thank you for the responsiveness and great advice, it’s most definitely appreciated! It was my own fault for overlooking the insurance information, as it was provided to me during the hiring process – albeit my understanding of the Health Insurance World being very fuzzy. While my company does pride itself on its insurance offering and benefits, perhaps I may simply be shocked at how expensive insurance has become and annoyed at myself for not factoring the extra expense into my budget.
    I’ve fought very hard to get where I am today since graduating during the recession and upping my earnings to meet my value in the process over the last 5-6 years and I think the realization of a not-as-high paycheck sent me into a temporary “not again” moment due to my own oversight. The upside to the situation is, this being one of the few “real” jobs I’ve had since college, learning about the differences in company offerings. As a late twenty-something, I never stopped to think about health insurance much in terms of it being compounded against my salary until now; this is something I’ll consider in the future if the need arises.

    That being said, I’m grateful to have received a raise, better position, and to be working for a great company with great people (which is something my last employer severely lacked) even if my paycheck isn’t what I expected.

    I’ll definitely be following AAM’s advice when it comes to discussing my raise! Oh and the random moments of workplace PTSD I experience on a daily basis. Although not a laughing matter, it does help to speak lightly of it. ;)

Comments are closed.