I don’t want to work in the office sick bay, letting an employer know you’ll be in their city, and more

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

1. Employee quit and won’t come back unless another employee is fired

This letter got so much interest that I made it into its own post, so that it didn’t overwhelm the comment section here.

2. I don’t want my office to be the sick bay

I work in a pediatric clinic as a claim creator (plus I do the deposits of patient payments, and have other various non-patient care responsibilities). We have receptionists who take turns answering patient phone calls up front in the reception area. My manager said that if one of the receptionists is sick, but not enough to stay home, they can work in my office area to answer phones. I’m going to be 63 years old in April. I told my manager that I object as why should I be exposed, but she said it wouldn’t happen that often. I feel this is very unfair to me. Can she do this?

She can, but you can push back. You can explain that you’re not comfortable having a system that’s based on exposing you to germs whenever a receptionist is ill, and ask if another option can be used. If the answer is no, then say that you’ll need to work from home or from a conference room on those days. If you feel comfortable with it, you can throw in something like “I get sick easily and don’t want to set myself up for days of illness.”

3. Letting an employer know I’ll be in their city and able to interview

I am looking to relocate to be closer to an aging parent, and hoping to find a job similar to the one I currently have. I applied to Job A a couple of months ago and Job B just last week. Today, someone from Job A called to schedule an interview that will take place about a month from now. Job A and Job B are about the same distance from me (about 600 miles), and not that far from each other. Would it be inappropriate for me to reach out to Job B and tell them I’ll be in the area next month, to see if they have any interest in scheduling an interview as well? Obviously I don’t want to come across as pushy, but given the distance it makes sense (from my perspective) to not have to make that trip twice if I don’t have to.

No, that’s totally fine to do! It would only be pushy if you framed it like “I want to set up an interview while I’m in town.” Instead, just email and say something like, “I want to let you know that I’ll be in (city) on (dates). If you’d like to talk, I’d be glad to meet while I’m there.” It may or may not get you anywhere (they may have conflicts with those dates, even if they’re otherwise interested), but it’s a perfectly reasonable thing to mention.

4. Is my college career center right about these two items?

I’m very close to graduating (terrifying!), and, in the process of updating my resume, I came across several experiences that my university insists should be included. However, your website has made me a little suspicious of advice from colleges/career centers, and I wanted to check if I should actually put these experiences on my resume.

The first is a university program where students have to log a certain amount of activities they’ve done outside of the classroom (attending campus events, completing leadership workshops, going to fitness classes, etc.). It’s heralded as something that ensures students have a “well-rounded” collegiate experience and prepares them for the real world. Students who complete it are inducted into an honorary society and get a special cord for graduation, but it’s widely seen as ridiculous by most of the student body. Among the 100-odd requirements are things like “demonstrate written communication skills” (write a paper?), “explore your sense of self,” and “reflect on an ambitious goal.” It’s a lot of work to log all of the requirements, but it’s also pretty easy to make most of the experiences up if you need to. Some students complete it because they assume it’ll be good resume padding, but I can’t help but think hiring managers will be able to tell that there’s no actual merit to it.

The second experience is a very selective program where students go to our state capital and spend a day learning about the political process from members of our state legislature. I do think it was a genuinely valuable experience and could actually tell an interviewer how it benefited me if asked, but it was also just a one-day program. Is this the kind of thing that belongs on a resume, or would it be more appropriate to include in a cover letter?

Yeah, definitely don’t include that first one. Employers will not be moved, for the same reason that you’re not.

The second one … eh. Very few things that only last a day are resume-worthy. I’d save this for a cover letter or an interview if you’re applying for a job where it’s relevant, but not your resume.

5. Can I ask if a job is full-time or part-time before applying?

I know it is usually discouraged to contact a hiring manager about details regarding a job posting before applying and interviewing for the position, but is this still the case when the posting doesn’t mention anywhere whether the position is part-time or full-time? Would it be rude to politely contact someone with this question, or should I simply apply now and follow up when they respond to my application? I’m not sure if I’m overthinking this.

I’m a recent graduate and will be relocating to my next job. Half of me says that it is not disingenuous to ask a simple question and would be more efficient for both me and the employer to clarify this point before applying, but the other half says that it might be irritating or that there is a reason for that information not being included within the original posting.

If it’s a professional job, assume that it’s full-time unless it says otherwise, since full-time is generally understood to be the default with professional jobs.

{ 109 comments… read them below }

  1. Susie*

    LW 3: good luck with your interview. No advice, but I understand moving closer to an aging relative and have been in your shoes before. Wishing you all the best!

      1. PennyLane*

        OP #3, I did exactly what Allison said when this happened (or rather, two companies were dragging their feet so I told them I would be in town and they hurried up and scheduled interviews). They appreciated me taking the initiative to reach out about my travel.

  2. Receptionist also*

    If someone who works in a medical clinic is ill they should not be around patients. I’m not clear if the receptionists OP2 mentioned come into contact with patients but if they work in a building that sick people visit, it’s a horrible policy to not let them take sick time and stay home when they are sick. I hope your boss comes around OP2. They should not have to use your office or be around other patients at all.

    1. Casuan*

      It’s difficult for those who are quite susceptible to convey the ramifications of being exposed to germs to those who aren’t as susceptible.
      Often the time to recover is at least twice as long as the norm & if one goes back to work before being fully recovered there’s a greater chance of relapse.
      It’s odd that any physician would be so cavalier about this, especially a paediatrician!

      1. Jeanne*

        I am immune suppressed and understand being susceptible. But we don’t know that OP actually is more susceptible. Many 63 yr olds do not have any increased issues and OP mentions no other illnesses. Just a general worry. Worry is understandable but may not convince anyone.

        1. Hrovitnir*

          Actually your immunity is absolutely lower by 63 in all cases. How much that affects you will vary but aging innately weakens your immune system. It sucks.

        2. Jessesgirl72*

          Someone who is immune suppressed shouldn’t be working in a pediatrician’s office! Dr’s offices don’t have the kind of air filtration system hospitals have (that still don’t work perfectly!) and the OP is sharing doorknobs, elevator buttons, etc with both her sick coworkers and the little germy children.

          1. Relly*

            And little children are just walking germ factories. I work with kids. We get absolutely everything that goes around. Usually twice.

          2. aebhel*

            Sure, but not wanting your workspace to be hosting every sneezing coworker in the building isn’t limited to people who have compromised immune systems. I’m half OP’s age and have a very robust immune system, and I’d still be pretty annoyed about that.

        3. Liane*

          “Is OP really immune suppressed?” is not really relevant here–other than it would make the setup more dangerous for OP if she is.
          **No one** wants to be deliberately exposed to illness, no matter how good their immune system is, or how fast they are likely to recover. More to the point, deliberately exposing someone is wrong–and that is exactly what OP’s employer is doing.
          I think AAM’s advice to insist on WFH (see below) or work out of another room is good. It would be better to give people adequate sick time though.

          Since Jessesgirl72 brought up the good point about HIPAA
          Yes, actually, it IS possible to WFH & be HIPAA compliant. Many medical transcriptionists (& transcription QA/editors, like I was) are 100% WFH. A friend in the health insurance field says many of their customer service reps are remote & many other people are set up to WFH when they need to.
          Now, it ISN’T something that can be done spur of the moment; you have to be set up for it. I had to have not only a private space, but a *dedicated* computer with all the necessary software and security. So OP wants to suggest WFH, she needs to get buy-in from the practice and have everything set up and tested ASAP, before a receptionist comes in sick.

          1. Justme*

            If you work in a pediatrician’s office, you’re going to be exposed to germs. Kids are petri dishes of nastiness. (I’m not mad that my kid gave me her cold, not at all)

        4. Artemesia*

          A pretty reliable factor in aging is reduced immunity; this is why seniors have special flu shots with twice the dosage of people who are younger. But whether she is 63 or 35, she should not have to be subjected to sick workers; calling it the office ‘sick bay’ is just right and she should do that and request that another office be made the ‘sick bay office’ or that she be moved to a different space.

          It is one thing to occasionally be exposed to a co-worker with a cold because that just happens; it is entirely different for your office to be filled with a series of sick people. I am guessing the OP doesn’t have unlimited sick leave when she gets the inevitable infections and of course while she is recovering from the first cold, she will be much more vulnerable to catching the next one.

        5. JessaB*

          Not only am I immuno-suppressed but so is Mr. B. So the net result of this is, I get it. I give it to him. I get better. He gives it back to me (because he’s a few days behind me in symptomology,) wash, repeat like a class of beauticians/barbers in school. I would be finding a new doctor if at minimum he didn’t have them wear surgical masques when anywhere near patients.

      2. Noobtastic*

        Based on my own personal history, I seem to be more prone to relapsing than getting sick, in the first place.

        Typical for me: Someone in the office gets sick. I get sick. I stay home for three days, with a doctor’s note, and go back when the doctor says I can go back. I wake up the next day, praying for death to end my suffering. I stay home for three days with a doctor’s note, and then go back to the doctor for another doctor’s note, because I’m still sick. After a week off, I go back to work, because my doctor said, when writing the note, that surely I’ll be well by then. About lunchtime, I start craving arsenic and cyanide, and go home, and stay home for the next two weeks, with a trip to the doctor every three days to convince the doctor that no, I’m really not better, yet.

        Really, two relapses are fairly standard for me, and three relapses is not at all unheard of. I literally relapse more often than I get sick in the first place. And I’m only in my forties, now, and not *technically* “immune-compromised.” There is no known medical issue I can point to, to say, “See? This is an expected outcome.” And so, every time, I am optimistic that I’ll be well on the doctor’s schedule.

        I am also very well acquainted with my office’s short-term disability process.

    2. Lori*

      If someone is sick with a cold, etc. that they should not be around patients, why can’t they answer phones from home? Their office computer could have a soft phone on it and they can answer all they need.

        1. Anon MD*

          There is at many health care organizations. Doctors on call answer calls and access computerized records from home with great frequency. Source: I am an MD who has done this for several health care organizations.

        2. Liane*

          Yes it is possible. See my post above at 10:27.
          TL;DR: it has to be set up ahead of time & requires, among other things, a secured, dedicated computer.

        3. Sigrid*

          I access patient records from home all the time using a secure connection to our EMR. It’s incredibly common.

        4. Jessesgirl72*

          I didn’t mean to say you couldn’t do any medical work from home.

          But the receptionists aren’t doing only computer work. They are making phone calls. There is no way for the clinic to ensure that the phone calls are being made with no one else in the room. Even if they make it a rule, if the receptionist disobeys, the clinic is the one liable for the very hefty fines.

          1. Natalie*

            That’s not unique to working from home though – there’s no way to ensure they don’t gossip to all of their neighbors about everyone’s medical issues, either. With HIPAA the company is always relying on their employees to comply with the law.

          2. Jessie the First (or second)*

            HIPAA doesn’t actually require that you be alone in a room whenever you make calls. (Think about it: a receptionist in a waiting room at a doctor’s office – there will be people waiting, in ear shot, while front desk makes calls.)

            HIPAA does have things to say about making an effort to not be overheard with PHI, but it does not involve needing to secure a person-free environment for talking.

          3. Anonymous Commenter #3847*

            My company has many WFH employees who are regularly on the phone discussing PHI. They aren’t hired unless they can fully comply with HIPAA–including having a work space where no one can see, overhear or otherwise gain access to PHI.

            1. JessaB*

              Same with Mr B he works from home with medical information, they came to the house and verified that he had a secure computer connection and a door between him and the rest of the house. If he didn’t they wouldn’t have sent him home. The company data is on a separate computer also. He is not allowed to mark anything down that he can’t put in our shredder.

        5. Suz*

          It’s not difficult to be HIPAA compliant while working from home. You just need the right security precautions and sufficient staff training. For example, you can’t save anything on the local drive on your computer. Everything has to be saved on the secure network. And we’re not allowed to print anything on home printers. You can’t even install the print drivers for your home printers. I work in clinical trials and my entire team works from home 2 days a week.

        6. Jen*

          Not true, medical offices outsource billing (the kind of work OP does) all the time.

          If the infrastructure isn’t in place, there is still some work that can happen depending on the software the office uses.

          –i run medical billing for several companies.

    3. Jeanne*

      I guess we have to know sick prob contagious or sick prob not contagious. The doctors could give advice. You’ve been home 2 days and can do work now but you still look like crap and your cough is more of a bark. You’ll scare the parents bringing their kids in but the docs think you’re ok to be at work. Or are you dragging yourself off your death bed to still get paid so the docs say just sit in the back office. Either way, the best way to push back might be to say that it is difficult to concentrate on your work when someone is in your office constantly making calls and other noise. It seems there should be a better way to handle this. Look around and see if you can propose another out of the way corner where they could put a small desk and a phone.

      1. (different) Rebecca*

        I was going to say pretty much this. Like, a lingering cough isn’t going to be harmful, but it’s not exactly good for front-facing jobs. And if the OP wants to make doing her job the action item instead of ‘protect me from getting sick’ they may get more traction.

  3. Mike C.*

    OP4: Do the one day at the legislature thing, not because it’s good for a resume but because too many folks don’t have a good understanding of how their local governments work. I high school I was able to participate in a similar program through the American Legion and it was incredibly fascinating.

    The cord thing sounds like utter garbage and there’s no way anyone will care about it the day after you graduate. If you want cheevos, play some video games instead.

        1. Mike C.*

          Nope, but it wouldn’t surprise me if the people I see using the term on the internet are!

        2. Antilles*

          Nah, cheevos is a fairly common video game term here in the US too.
          Most games in the past few years have achievements. They’re little boxes that pop up when you do something noteworthy or interesting. They vary based on the game, but there’s usually some you get naturally by progressing through the game (“beat the first dungeon”), some for doing optional content or side quests, and a bunch for doing things in oddball ways (e.g., “kill the final boss without firing your gun”).

          1. Jadelyn*

            My friends and I call them “achievables” – I don’t actually remember where we got the term from tbh.

    1. Antilles*

      Agreed on both counts. I’ve done state legislative days and it’s very interesting how the process works. You can’t put it on a resume (unless applying to a political job), but it’s definitely worth doing just for your own knowledge.
      You probably don’t realize just how much impact your state/local governments have on your life – as much, if not more than Congress on a day-to-day basis even though you probably know nothing about your state representatives.
      And employers likely wouldn’t care about the cord thing even if this particular society *wasn’t* a joke. There are dozens of national college honor societies and thousands of regional/college-specific societies like these – just so many that your interviewer will completely ignore it since they have absolutely no way of judging how legitimate/serious it is.

    2. Allison*

      “I high school I was able to participate in a similar program through the American Legion and it was incredibly fascinating.”

      Boys State, right? I did Girls State through my state’s Auxiliary!

  4. Artemesia*

    There are tons of these ticket punching college programs; I would include those that require hours of community service (but not real service-learning where service is actually integrated into academic study). I’d never put that on a resume or even bring it up in cover letter or interview. Same with one day experiences of any sort.

    On the other hand there may be aspects of the academic programs that belong in the cover letter especially if it provides community or work experience that builds skills related to the job being applied for.

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Agreed. The one-day experience can come up in an answer to an interview question, but I think raising it on the resume or cover letter makes it look like you don’t have other significant experience—extracurricular, volunteer, paid, or otherwise. And I definitely wouldn’t include the first program because it signals nothing about your skills and likely has no impact on whether employers are more likely to pick your resume out of the pile (and may hurt you if they know/think it’s a fluffy, somewhat nonsense program).

  5. Dizzy Steinway*

    #3 I’m surprised by the advice here. Because even though it’s completely genuine, this could sound a bit like one of those contrived reasons to contact hiring managers – which in reality annoys people – that we were talking about the other day. For that reason, I’m unsure about the second sentence.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Well, you do it by email, not by calling, and you word it in such a way that they don’t even need to respond. But if I’m interested in an out-of-town candidate, I appreciate knowing they’re going to be in town.

      1. Casuan*

        Alison, would you assume the candidate is implying she is *only* available on those dates [based on your suggested wording to the OP]?

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          No, definitely not — just that she’s already going to be there and so if they want to interview her and can do it during those dates, it will be particularly convenient for everyone.

      2. ThatGirl*

        I definitely got a job once because I happened to be in the region already and a friend-of-a-friend who worked there let the hiring manager know and I got an interview. In retrospect I should have let more places I was interested in know that, but I was young and dumb.

    2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      I think it’s ok to do and very sensible. Email is preferred, but there are circumstances where calling could also be ok (e.g., as Turanga noted, in certain law jobs it’s common or more appropriate to call to let someone know you’ll be around). The trick is to keep your tone humble/gracious and to sound conscientious, not pushy or overbearing/unaware.

    3. OP #3*

      This concern was exactly why I asked for Alison’s advice. I would only contact them by email though, so they wouldn’t be put on the spot to respond, and hopefully with enough lead time to give them a chance to review my application and decide if I’m a viable candidate or not.

  6. Turanga Leela*

    OP #3: For what it’s worth, this is exactly the advice I got when I was applying to work as a judicial clerk. You apply all over the country, and when you get one interview, you call the other judges in that city to politely let them know you’ll be in town. Some will jump at the opportunity and have you come by to interview.

    Good luck!

  7. paul*

    Oh, that sick bay situation *sucks* and I’m sorry. Do they not let people actually call in sick or something? That’s crappy.

    1. JustaTech*

      Well, there’s stay-home sick, work-from-home sick and “keep to myself and use a lot of hand sanitizer” sick. And if you’re working reception I can see that for the last one you can’t really keep to yourself at the front desk. But that doesn’t mean you should be stuffed in someone else’s office! Then the sick-ish person should be in a conference room, not the original owner of the office!

  8. Casuan*

    re Q5: Until now, I never realised that I can’t really answer this…
    Where is the line for “professional job” in the context of the OP’s question? I can think of some grey areas.
    managers & executives: Professional
    sales clerk & fast food: Not professional
    “help needed in a busy office”: Probably implies part time…?
    office clerk & receptionist: Professional…?

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Regardless of which definition of “professional” you use, I read Alison’s advice to say that job postings will generally specify that they are for part-time work and that when they do not provide guidance, the default is that the position is full-time employment. I have a feeling “professional” was used to distinguish from things like work-study employment or internships, which often provide explicit guidance on the hours required.

      1. OP#5*

        OP5 here – Alison’s advice was definitely good to know – it’s my first time ever applying for jobs after university and I worked my way through in a job that is flexible (ie. I can never be sure how many hours I’ll get, from 20-60 per week for the last 4 years.. definitely a source of stress both at the low and high ends of that range). The posting in question is at a small non-profit and when I saw the word flexible used relating to skills required, I must have read too much into it due this experience.

        1. Parenthetically*

          I would never naturally interpret the word “flexible” to mean “between 20 and 60 hours per week depending on the employer’s whim,” but rather “full time but with the flexibility to adjust your own schedule as you need to.” Is this common parlance in that field.

          1. SarahTheEntwife*

            For job postings in my field, “flexible” frequently means “full-time but we will require you to work weird hours that change frequently”. It seems to vary considerably by position and industry whether flexible means “we are flexible about scheduling around your other commitments” or “we require you to be flexible”.

          2. paul*

            Maybe I’m a touch bitter but when I see ‘flexible’ hours listed, I just assume they mean they expect full flexibility from me and none from them.

          3. OP#5*

            Also very good to know! Clearly I’m new at this. And no, it’s not too common but I put up with that to pay tuition in a small town with high unemployment and many casual/on-call underemployed workers (probably how my employer got used to this kind of “flexible” labour model). When it’s overwhelming I think of it as penance for a debt free degree, but I’m definitely looking forward to having a professional job.

          4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            Oh, I understand why you were worried, now! At least in my nonprofit experience, “flexible” often means “able to work evenings, weekends, and sometimes unusually long days,” but it’s often implied that you’ll be working at least full-time hours. It very rarely refers to flex-time (i.e., you can adjust your own schedule as you need).

            That said, I don’t know if that meaning is true for where you are, OP? (I saw the “ou” in “labour” and presume we’re not talking about the United States!)

        2. CM*

          I think if “flexible” is used to describe skills, and not hours, they’re signaling that they want somebody willing to do a wide range of activities and not somebody who will complain that some activities are not part of their job description.

      2. k*

        In my experience, when a non-student level job is part-time they tend to make that clear in the posting and hiring process. They don’t want to hire someone that really wants to work full-time but will take what they can get now, only to jump ship in a few months when they find something better.

    2. Erin*

      If it’s restaurant or retail, I’d call and ask. I’m a retail manager, I don’t mind answering a 1 minute phone call for a simple question about the job or application processes. Just don’t call during busy times like a Saturday afternoon or dinner rush.
      I don’t want candidates wasting their time and my time for a job they already know they don’t want or I can’t hire them for.

    1. k*

      That’s a good idea in theory, but I imagine in practice it may cause issues. If she’s interacting with patients in person, seeing the mask might make them uneasy. When I think of someone wearing a mask outside of an operating room, I think of the masks people wear when there are outbreaks of serious illnesses (think bird flu).

      1. Sadsack*

        Eh, masks are everywhere now. They made me put one on in the waiting room at my doctor’s office when I had a cold. I am more concerned that an employee is coming to work at all where she may be around patients that have compromised immune systems. A minor cold can be a big problem for them.

  9. Richard*

    OP#4: My answer to both of these is a question – what else do you have to put on your resume? If you have something more compelling to talk about, list it. If you have four things that are more compelling, don’t demean them by listing something lesser with them. On the other hand, if you can combine them into a bullet that tells a theme, that’s a way to make short-term experiences tell a story.

    If you really don’t have anything else – if you’re going to end up having blank space vs. mentioning these – then I think you’re better off having them. You need something for hiring managers to ask about other than your classes.

    1. Tomato Frog*

      Yeah. When I was just out of undergrad, I definitely could not be picky about what I put on my resume if I wanted to fill up most of a page.

      I would probably put the one-day political program in a section with awards or poster presentations or similar — treating it as a marker of the fact that I’m hard-working and serious and engaged, rather than treating it as something that gave me useful experience in its own right, like a job or volunteer gig would do.

    2. katkat*

      I agree with this sentiment in terms of the day at the legislature option, but I still think I’d leave off the “extra curricular” one.

      Based on OP #4’s description, I believe I went to this same school, and completed this same program (because why not, it was easy to fill out since I was already doing most of the required extra curricular activities anyway), and I’m having a really hard time thinking of how you could display this particular program on a resume in a way that doesn’t have an employer saying “oh she obviously just put that on there to fill space”

      I agree that you don’t want to have blank space on a resume, but I’m wondering, what do employers think about seeing a resume where blank space was replaced with something that is obviously solely ?
      I would say don’t do it, but what do others think?

      1. Artemesia*

        Surely by the time a person graduates they have done some sustained community service or work, or had some jobs. A college program with special features may be something to discuss in the cover letter or interview but doesn’t belong on the resume. For example some colleges do work/study semesters where the work relates to the major; others have lots of community based service activities integrated into the academic study (not just ticket punching); others have foreign study components. These are all things that might make someone a good candidate for a particular job and can be mentioned in interview or cover letter where they fit.

        Even class projects with applicability make sense in an interview. I would not put that I had developed a marketing plan, or a program evaluation for an organization as part of a class on the resume, but it would be good to discuss when showing you have skills relevant to the job as a newbie who might not have comparable professional skills from an actual job.

  10. Murphy*

    OP#2: That is ridiculous. I’d object as well. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask for another workspace that day and for the office to be cleaned before you return.

    1. Noobtastic*

      But if OP can have another workspace, wouldn’t it make sense to put the sick person in the other workspace, so you’re only moving ONE person, instead of two?

  11. eplawyer*

    #2 definitely push back. You should not be exposed to a sick person who doesn’t want to miss a day of pay, thus meaning you miss a day or have to use sick days. It’s ridiculous that a doctor’s office policy is just to shuffle sick people around.

    #4 for the cord thing, the school wants you to list it so they can justify it. If you get a job, they will claim it was because of their silly program. If you do list it, you will get a job in spite of it, not because of it. At best, it’s a neutral factor. I wouldn’t reject you because you listed it. But I wouldn’t hire you because of it either.

  12. Rebecca*

    #2 – I can tell you exactly how this would work out with me. Sick coworker would be put in my office with me, in close proximity, I’d catch the cold for sure, then spend the following weekend laid up and would have to go to work with a nasty head cold or use sick days, all because my employer didn’t feel that it was appropriate for someone else to stay out of the office when they were sick. This is really unfair to the person in the “sick bay” office. He or she definitely needs to push back.

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      Yeah, this makes no sense to me whatsoever. It shouldn’t be okay to expose the LW to germs either and risk them getting ill/missing work.

      If they are worried about coverage for the phones when the receptionist is ill, could you offer to help with that coverage instead of exposing yourself to potential illness?

      1. Matilda Jefferies (formerly JMegan)*

        I would say even more than it not making sense, that it’s incredibly disrespectful to the OP. Definitely use Alison’s wording about a system that’s based on exposing you to germs whenever a receptionist is ill. The word “system” is important, because it demonstrates that they’re basically planning for the OP to get sick at work, and saying that it doesn’t matter if she does.

        Good luck, OP, and I’d love to hear an update when you have one.

        1. Casuan*

          Agree re “system.”
          This word addresses the policy in general, as opposed to the OP asking for special accomodations.
          All businesses should have standards in place in regards to an employee coming to work when one is ill. A standard of “the one with germs should work from the 1-person office down the corridor” is not a standard at all.

          re comments on if one has symptoms yet might not be contagious: Without labs &or proper treatment it isn’t possibly to know if one is truly contagious. Also some people are carriers yet don’t get ill themselves.
          If a colleague’s family all have the flu & the colleague has symptoms?
          Please take preventative measures.
          If the colleague has no symptoms?
          Hopefully the colleague will try to be extra-considerate by using sanitiser a bit more than one normally would. And I’d expect business as usual.

          If the office in question is a medical office?
          Everyone should take strict precautions, especially during cold & flu season.

          1. Noobtastic*

            Yes, on the “not contagious” thing.

            I have had coughs and such, and known I was not contagious, because my doctor told me “You are not contagious.” In such cases, I will tell everyone I meet at work, “My doctor says I am not contagious.” Adding the “my doctor says” bit gives a whole different response than the too-frequently heard “It’s OK. I’m sure I’m not contagious.” Of course, for a cough, you’re still spewing saliva all over, so I act as if I am contagious, with the covering and the hand-washing, and the sanitizing surfaces, but if a friend wants a hug, it’s OK.

            I also have another chronic health issue, and if I’m having a flare-up, I can say, “This is a chronic issue for me, and I know for sure I am not contagious.” Again, different from a casual, “Oh, I’m sure it’s not contagious.” If I didn’t want to admit the chronic issue, I could again say, “The doctor says…”

            Adding a few words to confirm that the contagion issue HAS been tested really eases people’s minds, because waaaaay too many people think that if they say they’re not contagious, that makes it so, even though they caught the bug from someone else, and it’s going around like mad.

            Yes, it’s true that a lot of illnesses are actually more contagious before you show symptoms, and by the time you show symptoms, you’re past the contagious stage. But that is not true for all illnesses, and there are oodles of illnesses that are, indeed, highly contagious during symptomatic stages. But someone, somewhere, started spreading the “once you show symptoms, you’re past the contagious stage” story, and now everyone who does not want to miss work (and pay) and all the managers who want full coverage, will trot it out whenever anyone tries to say, “Sick people should stay home and keep their germs to themselves.” It sucks.

      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        I don’t know if I’d go so far as to say it’s disrespectful to OP, but I’m a little boggled that a pediatrician’s office would not provide a receptionist with paid sick leave (I’m not saying I haven’t see a situation like this—I have—I just find it counterproductive and frustrating). Moving the receptionist to another room makes it much worse for OP, but it also fails to eliminate the threat of exposing that receptionist’s germs to patients who, by definition, have greater susceptibility to infection. It’s dangerous for patients and for OP and other coworkers.

        1. Matilda Jefferies (formerly JMegan)*

          Probably not deliberately disrespectful – I don’t think it’s anything more than thoughtlessness. The boss is trying to answer the immediate question of how to keep the receptionist at work when she’s sick, and hasn’t thought through the implications to the OP or anyone else. So the impact is disrespectful, if not the intention.

          Hopefully OP’s conversation with the boss will shed some light on the way he handles sick days in general, because it sounds like the whole policy could use a bit of an overhaul.

        2. Anna*

          I don’t know. It implies the OP’s job is so inconsequential that exposing them to germs is all right, but that the receptionist is so important, exposing someone else to their germs is acceptable. That feels disrespectful to me.

  13. cobweb collector*

    Re: OP #2. Work from a conference room? C’mon – since when do medical offices have conference rooms.

    1. Natalie*

      I’m sure plenty of them do, even if patients never see them. People in medical offices certainly have meetings sometimes.

  14. Abby*

    OP #4 I would just like to point out that something can be worthwhile as a learning experience even if it isn’t resume worthy.

    1. Lala*

      This is exactly what I was coming here to say. Too many college students seem to forget that you’re not going to college for the grades (or the honor cords, or etc.), you’re going to learn. It’s the learning that’s important. That’s what your diploma is supposed to represent, and you do yourself a disservice if you don’t realize that. Getting a B or C in a class that challenged you or taught you something new is a lot more useful than an A in a class that didn’t. Don’t spend all that money just to get a piece of paper. Spend it to get what that paper is supposed to represent. Especially since no one is going to care what your GPA was after a few years.

  15. LawCat*

    OP #3, it’s totally appropriate and best of luck! :-)

    A funny tale: I sent a similar email to my Job B (I would be traveling 2,800 miles for an interview with Job A). I had had a positive first interview over the phone with Job B and since I was going to be in town, I emailed the hiring manager to let her know. I did not hear back before or during the trip so I assumed the Job B hiring manager was not interested. But I heard back from Job B after my trip and it turns out the hiring manager was extremely interested, but my email had slipped through the cracks and she discovered it when cleaning up her inbox. She was mortified and set of a Skype interview because it would have been unreasonable to expect me to turn around and fly back (not only because of the time such a trip takes, but because I would be paying for it, government position and they don’t pay to fly candidates). I ended up getting hired at Job B (I had a final third interview in person that coincided with another trip to Job B’s city the following month). So you never know how this kind of thing will turn out! ;-)

  16. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

    I’m a little surprised by the answer to #3. In my experience as a hiring manager, there is a relatively set schedule for a hiring process. If a candidate emailed me to tell me they would be in town in at some (random to me) date it wouldn’t have any value to me.

    The only circumstance I can imagine it being meaningful would be if the candidate happened to be someone who was “on the bubble” (of whether or not we would ask them to an interview), and who we were leaning toward not inviting because they weren’t local, and the date they suggested happened to be within a few days of when we planned to do interviews.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Some employers use set schedules for interviews, but it’s not uncommon to interview strong candidates on a rolling basis or just to have more flexibility in the process. (I nearly always talk to people on a rolling basis.)

    2. Us, Too*

      It really depends on the company and the role. In tech it is not uncommon for software engineers to be hired in “pools” with a new pool starting every few weeks in a bootcamp followed by a team selection process. So, they are hired as generally capable software engineers and when they start their job, they don’t know what team they will work on. That’s established later.

      In a scenario like this, it doesn’t actually matter when someone interviews since a new “batch” starts every few weeks. And in that scenario, it’s helpful to know when they’ll be in town and just throw them in that recruiting pool/window/batch.

      Personally, I wouldn’t bother to talk to someone “on the bubble” at all – it’s a waste of time.

    3. Taylor Swift*

      And what if the person happens to be there during that window? If it’s not information that’s useful to you, there’s no obligation for you to do anything with it. But it seems better to have and utilize if necessary.

    4. fposte*

      Sometimes it has value to me and sometimes it doesn’t, but I’m never insulted by the question.

  17. LizB*

    OP4: Just wanted to give you kudos for asking this question! It sounds like your judgment about what to be skeptical about is good. I totally agree with Alison’s advice – don’t bother with the first thing, and leave the second off your resume but feel free to bring it up in an interview or on a cover letter if it demonstrates a skill or piece of knowledge relevant to the job.

  18. katkat*

    OP 4: As soon as I read your description, I knew the program you were talking about – I believe we went to the same school! I graduated recently and also competed the “extra curricular” program, but I opted not to take the cord for graduation and left it off my resume. I went to the program’s completion ceremony and got the REAL reward *ahem the quarter zip jacket ahem* ;)
    So no, I wouldn’t put this on your resume. The career center will tell you that it’s essential to put on your resume, but employers honestly will not care at all. In my opinion, most of the things required for this program are things a “well rounded” student should already be doing anyway, so it’s not like you’d be showing an employer a whole lot of extra initiative by noting that you went to basketball games, worked out at the gym, signed up for “leadership training”, etc. If you get into an interview and employers ask you what you’ve done outside of your school work, I think you can mention it then and go into details if you feel like it, but I don’t think having it listed on your resume will get any extra attention. For what it’s worth, my same advice goes for that specific “leadership training program”, if you know the one that I’m talking about. I also did that, and I don’t think it was an extensive enough training to be able to set me apart from others who hadn’t taken the training.

    Good luck with your job hunt and congratulations on your upcoming graduation!!!

    1. irritable vowel*

      A lot of universities are launching this type of program – “badging” is very in right now. The place I work is developing one and I wasn’t sure whether it was my Gen-X slacker mentality that was making me think “why would anyone actually want to do this,” but it sounds like from OP4’s perspective she and her peers also consider it rather silly.

      1. katkat*

        Oh, definitely. As I said above, most (if not all) students here openly joke with each other that, for this program, the real reward is the apparel you get from completing it.

      2. HigherEdPerson*

        OMG digital badging is so hot right now. What a PITA to figure it all out. I sat on a state-system wide planning committee for this and it was a true cluster. They are looking to do it as a way to “prove” that students can show competency in all of NACE’s Top 10 skills, because anyone can say “I gained leadership skills!”, but the hope is that earning the badge will be proof. I had a lot of issues with it…

        That said, my advice is to list the honor society ONLY if it’s a national honor society. And list it in Awards/Honors, if you have that section. For example, Omicron Delta Kappa has members all over the world, so it can be a nice like “Oh, cool! Me too!” moment when someone is viewing your resume. Other than that, I agree with just being ready to talk about the skills you learned in a cover letter or interview.

    2. Student*

      If an employer is going to have to do an internet search just to figure out what you’re talking about, it probably doesn’t belong on a resume, regardless of what it is.

      Resumes are supposed to be a quick and easy screening mechanism. If I’ve never heard of some jargon buzzword from a different industry, a minor reward from a specific university, or some weird university-specific word for a curriculum topic, then the odds are very good I will assume it is something irrelevant or stupid you’re padding out a resume with. I’m not likely to research the weird term / award / etc., and I’m not assuming it is a useful accomplishment I can judge you on if you can’t describe it and its benefits to me succinctly.

    3. OP #4*

      If you got a quarter zip, then I’m 99% certain that we went to the same school! You’re absolutely right in that most of the requirements are things that the average student (i.e. someone who isn’t a complete shut-in) would complete anyway; the hardest part was logging in all of those activities. I honestly only did it for the quarter zip and the cord (which makes my parents happy, at least), but I really wanted a second opinion to confirm that it’s as useless as I suspected. I wasn’t able to do the leadership training (too time consuming), so I’m a little relieved to hear that it wasn’t worth it in the end

      Thank you for the well wishes! I’m super nervous about the job hunt because there’s been so many changes lately in the field of public service/federal government, so I appreciate your saying so!

      1. HigherEdPerson*

        Hey that 1/4 zip is nothing to sniff at! Those things are EXPENSIVE!

        ::says someone who just ordered 600 of them for the Senior class::

  19. Sarah*

    For OP4, if the second thing was selective enough that it came with some sort of award (i.e. under an Awards and Honors section, listing “McSteamy Scholar, New York State Capital” or whatever), I think it could be reasonable to mention. Other than that I would keep it to a cover letter if relevant, such as: “One of the experiences that inspired me to seek this type of work was…”

  20. RP*

    #4 – I work at a college closely with career services. the things you mentioned I would file under awards and/or accomplishments – not experiences. I would say the way the first one could be helpful is if those individual experiences were developed into some portfolio or allowed you to work on larger career goals. Don’t waste your time reaching for that honors title – that is not enough. Some Universities use these as steps to build pitches, portfolios, online websites, etc.

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