how can I give back work I regret taking on, coming to work while recovering from a chemical peel, and more

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

1. How can I give back a role I regret taking on?

I’ve been at my small start-up company for nearly 10 years. About a year ago, I took on a role (marketing) because there was a big need for it. My main work is project management and I have no marketing experience, but we all wear many hats so I thought I could try my hand at marketing and help the company. I thought, “I’m a good writer, I can do this if I just take a few online classes, read some books, go to the local meetups, etc.” And it turns out that no, I can’t do it, and I don’t know how to give back the role.

My boss is consistently dissatisfied with my work and I don’t receive positive feedback. When I try to apply what I’ve learned in my classes, she tells me that I’m wrong, she doesn’t like it, that’s not what we need, etc. She doesn’t know much about marketing either and expects me to figure things out on my own. She then gets frustrated with me for doing it “wrong” but she gives no guidance on what she considers “right.” I now realize I made a mistake in thinking that I could take on a role with no experience and produce the professional-level results my boss seems to expect.

I am not the first employee who has experienced this — our last marketing assistant quit for the same reasons. I think the company can’t afford a real marketer, and they were hoping that I’d turn out to be a great marketer so that they don’t have to pay for another staff person. I don’t know if I’m terrible at marketing or if my boss is just very hard to please. But at this point, I’m miserable and regretting ever offering to help out (and I’m still doing my other work as well). I don’t want to spend any more of my evenings and weekends trying to improve my marketing skills. I no longer enjoy marketing at all. How can I gracefully say, “I know I said I would do it, but it turns out you need a professional and I don’t want to do this anymore” especially knowing that there is no one else in the organization who can take on the role, and there’s no money to hire a professional?

“I’ve given this a shot for about a year now, and I’m realizing that I don’t have the background to do this effectively. I was hoping that I’d be able to learn as I go and I’ve been putting in large amounts of time on nights and weekends trying to make this work, but a year in, it’s pretty clear to me that I’m not the right person for this. Truly, I think we need a professional marketer to do this well, but whether or not you decide to do that, I know that I shouldn’t be doing it any more. Can I return to project management full-time, which I do think is going well?”

If you get pushback, you can say, “I’ve been here 10 years and really enjoyed my work until this last year. I gave the marketing my best shot, but I know that it’s not for me.”

2. Going to work while healing from a chemical peel

I want to get a series of microneedling and chemical treatments done to my face. It would be once a month that my face would be extremely red and peely for at least a week. From what I understand, the healing process after each treatment can last up to a week and starts with redness (similar to the photo here) and ends with some peeling or flakiness. You can’t wear makeup during this time.

I don’t want to take any time off work to do these treatments. And I don’t have to talk to clients to get my job done. Will I look vain/unprofessional coming to work like this?

I don’t think the issue is necessarily that you’ll come across as vain. But if it ends up looking the way some peels looks (like this), it’ll be a kind of jarring thing for your coworkers to look at, particularly month after month. That doesn’t mean you can’t do it, though, and if you do, I’d just own it — “Sorry about my face, I’m treating a skin condition and the treatment is making me crazy red/peely. I’m going to be like this for a week next month too.” (Although if you’ve got any ability to work from home, this would be a good time to use it.)

3. Are we all obligated to order from a kosher restaurant because of a kosher employee?

I work for a small nonprofit, 15-20 employees. We have staff meetings once a week, for which we order lunch, paid for by the organization. It’s usually a group-style lunch (such as pizza, large salads, trays of falafel, etc.) I have two coworkers who keep kosher, but are happy to eat hot food from vegetarian restaurants or cold vegetarian food (like salads) from regular restaurants. There are also a couple of vegetarians, including myself. There are plenty of good options around town to accommodate everyone’s needs.

However, we have a new employee who keeps kosher, but will only eat from kosher restaurants. There is one in town, and it’s not very good, and it’s also expensive. When we order lunch, we’ve been ordering our regular lunches and also ordering for her from the kosher place. However, one of my coworkers says we are singling her out and that we should all be ordering from the kosher place. Do we have an obligation to all eat lunch from the kosher place?

No. You’re getting her something that she can eat, which is exactly what you should be doing. That doesn’t obligate the rest of you to all order from the same place. This isn’t “singling her out”; this is accommodating her religious needs.

4. Listing full-time caregiving work for a family member on your resume

I know you’ve advised against putting personal skills like running a household on a professional resume, but do you think there could ever be exceptions to that rule?

Not too long after I graduated college, my grandmother was diagnosed as terminally ill. Our family decided to do everything we could to keep her in her home for her final years, and since I was fresh out of school with no real career prospects (the recession was still in full-swing), the majority of the responsibility fell to me. As she began to deteriorate, my responsibilities grew until eventually I became less and less her grandchild and more and more a round-the-clock hospice nurse, and it pretty much consumed my life for the past few years, with the occasional piece of freelance work to keep my skills sharp.

Now that I’m re-entering the workforce (or more accurately, entering it for the first time,) I wonder if I should mention this somewhere on my resume. I’m not entering the medical field, so it doesn’t really apply (barring some transferable soft skills like time management and organization,) but my freelance work isn’t that impressive, and I’d like to show that the big gap in my employment history wasn’t spent lying around doing nothing. I’ve considered adding a section about volunteer work and mentioning it there to be explained more in-depth if I can finally land an interview, but reading your advice long enough has given me a little voice in my head warning me it’s a bad idea. Is there some way I can frame this to help me get to the next step?

I would normally say no, since generally the work you do as part of your personal or family life doesn’t go on your resume. Partly that’s because with things you do for your friends or family, you’re not accountable in the same way you would be at work.

But since you don’t have much of a work history, it makes sense to work with what you’ve got. If it was full-time work, I think you can list it in your work section as something like “in-home caregiver for elderly family member.”

I’m struggling a little to articulate why this is different from being a stay-at-home-parent, because I would not tell you to list that on your resume, even in a “work with what you’ve got” situation like yours. I think it’s that raising one’s kids is such a common experience that it just isn’t resume-worthy, regardless of the circumstances. But part of it may just be convention as well.

5. Recruiters email me and then don’t respond to my response

I’ve started applying for jobs and have been running into something I don’t remember from the last time I was on the market. I submit an application and a few days later get an email from an internal recruiter asking for availability for an HR phone screen. I reply within a couple business hours with my availability and then … crickets.

I’ve been sending one more follow-up a couple days later and then moving on, but this is happening often enough I have to wonder if it’s a thing that happens, or if I’m somehow offending these recruiters with my response? I usually respond with something brief like, “Thanks for reaching out. I’m available anytime Monday and Tuesday afternoon (the next two business days). Please let me know what time works for you.” And then on Wednesday, “I’d still like to connect, I’m available Thursday afternoon and Friday morning.”

For context, the roles I’m applying for are relatively high level — senior manager or director — and in a field with a tight labor market. I’ve heard of recruiters for jobs with tons of candidates emailing 20 people and only interviewing the first three to respond, but I don’t think that makes sense for this sort of position. What do you think?

Yeah, it’s just a thing that happens. Even for senior-level roles, some recruiters email a bunch of people who look qualified and then stop getting back to people after they have X number of people lined up to interview. Or they’re being hugely sloppy and emailing a large number of people without thoroughly reading their qualifications, but once they do, they realize you’re not the right fit and don’t bother to explain that.

Your response sounds fine; this is just the way of the world when dealing with recruiters.

{ 316 comments… read them below }

  1. The Pie Maker*

    If it’s any comfort, OP1, I definitely feel your pain and an in the same boat. Our company loves taking the “many hats” approach to hiring and have saddled a lot of writers and researchers for event organising and PR planning. Its not really the best way of doing things, and tends to cause a lot of errors and delays while everybody tries to struggle with training AND doing at the same time. and I really think companies should just hire event organisers if it turns out they are organising a lot of events

    1. SophieChotek*

      I came to say the same thing! Except for the fact that I know I didn’t write your letter, OP1, I am in exactly the same situation. Being asked to take on more and more sales/marketing — trying desperately to teach myself, trying to apply what I learned — but then being told “no, that’s not what we want” and “no, here’s why you’re wrong.” Sorry, no advice, just commiseration. I know my company is probably doing it for the same reason yours is — desire to save money and not hire a “real marketer” that has the expertise/experience they need.

      Hope you can push back and transition away from this role.

      1. Washi*

        It might not even be that OP1 is that bad at marketing, it may just be that her boss struggles to identify communicate what she wants. I’ve heard a lot of professional web and graphic designers complain about the same thing, that they follow the supposed parameters and still get told “I don’t love this.”

        I also had to do the many hats thing in a previous nonprofit and design marketing materials (which I have no experience in!) and usually I would produce 2-3 rough drafts for my boss to choose from. It was more work up front, but that reduced the occasions when she didn’t like anything at all, and even when she hated all of them, the variety of options at least gave her some language for identifying elements that she did like so I had something to go on for my next version.

        1. FormerAdChick*

          I used to work in Advertising and Marketing. Most agencies present more than one option so that is a good suggestion. However, if the boss isn’t able to articulate what she wants, what the goal of the marketing or communications piece is then it doesn’t matter how experienced the person doing it is, some clients are just bad clients.

          Beyond that, marketing is a skill set for a reason – not just anyone can do it. It sounds like OP has tried to get training so I don’t think its fair to say OP is bad at marketing – especially if OP has done well with the projects for class (not that class is the real world, but there is correlation for a reason).

          Just because your boss doesn’t like what you’re doing OP doesn’t actually mean that what you’re producing is bad. I had clients who insisted on God-awful ads with too much on them because their logo needs to be bigger, and everything needed to be over the top – and the ads didn’t work. Our advice was ignored and finally, you either fire the client or give them what they want even though you know it won’t work.

          I’m just glad I don’t have to do any of this anymore!

          1. MsChandandlerBong*

            I had clients who insisted on God-awful ads with too much on them because their logo needs to be bigger, and everything needed to be over the top – and the ads didn’t work.

            Bingo. Some clients take your perfectly good work and edit it so that it is completely awful, but then they won’t listen to reason when you explain why the edits are not good. Then it’s your fault when the piece bombs.

            1. Ozma the Grouch*

              So much this. I’ve been having issues with a department head who likes to edit deliverables after I hand them off to him, and then of course I get blamed when his “improved” designs aren’t up to par. I’m no longer caught off guard when I join him during meetings with clients and find that I am looking at something that isn’t quite my work and am getting stern questions about why I made such poor design choices and he just keeps his weaselly mouth shut.

              OP#1, Marketing is hard work and it sounds like you are doing way too much work in general. It also sounds to me like you may have a boss that needs to step back and let a professional take over. You said your organization doesn’t have the money to hire someone full-time, have they considered hiring an outside agency? It’s more money up front, but it would be temporary and it would get the job done. They would also set clear boundaries.

              1. Nanani*

                What IS it with clients who think they know better than the expert they specifically hired?

                In my field, have seen more than one translation get “edited” by someone with limited knowledge of the target language, but too much seniority for anyone to stop them. Usually the edits will be along the lines of Big Britches deciding that a word they don’t recognize MUST be wrong and changing it to something compeletely unsuitable.
                In my experience most bad translations (that aren’t directly spat out by a robot) are caused by this sort of “edit”.

                1. Ozma the Grouch*

                  I think a lot of clients see us as the “smart tools” they hire to execute their masterpieces or some other such BS. They are the geniuses, we are just proxies in which to manifest their visions. They could TOTALLY do our jobs. They’re just too busy doing more important work to be bothered.

                2. Julia*

                  This. Or hiring local and language experts and then doubting every word they say – and the opposite, my “favorite”, hiring people who say they know language X, but not checking.

        2. VC*

          Yup. OP, you might be doing great at marketing, but what your boss seems to want is a mind-reader.

          1. ArtsNerd*

            Yeah I’m a professional marketer-of-many-hats and my money is firmly on “your boss is unrealistic and doesn’t know what they’re talking about.” They sound like a client I would diplomatically refer to someone more hungry for freelance work than me…

      2. Karen Blue*

        Yep, also in a similar position. I didn’t realize how undervalued marketing and PR are (every senior manager thinks they are an expert, even my manager who has never used twitter or facebook) compared to journalism until I made the switch…

    2. Amber Rose*

      Yep, us too. I wear about 16 different hats, which is fine, but one of those hats was/is marketing, and I was glad to hand over huge chunks of that to someone else. I’m still in charge of the [expletive] Twitter account though, and promotional flyers. Thankfully we’re too busy to be running promotions right now, but I imagine it’ll come up again someday. I am not proud of what I’ve produced in the slightest.

      Event organizing was the least bad of those things, since the sales team handles most of the hard parts. I just designed and then emailed the invites, and then played bartender.

      1. Decima Dewey*

        The companies that do the many hats thing also hope that this time it’ll be different from the (pick number between 1 and 382) times they tried dragooning someone into handling marketing/events/HR/IT….

    3. Anonforthis*

      Also, you can hire event organizers on a per-event basis! A lot of retired event planners do this as a part-time thing. If you only have a handful or one big event per year, you don’t necessarily need someone the entire year.

  2. Engineer Woman*

    To OP#5: when I was job hunting, I had several recruiters reach out to me on LinkedIn with promising positions. I replied with interest to a few and the majority never got back to me. Nothing.

    But then, several months later – one recruiter reached out again and after a few phone screens and on site interviews later (as usual), I got an offer. So: you ever know.

  3. TGIF...except I work weekends*

    I actually don’t wholly agree with Alison re:OP2. I like her language, but I don’t think it’s something OP2 has to pre-emptively apologize for. Maybe I’m not wholly understanding the scope, but the image linked reminds me of a sunburn. I wouldn’t think much of a coworker coming into work monthly with something resembling a sunburn (as long as it doesn’t affect me – as in cleaning up after yourself with any flaking skin). However, if someone comments on it (e.g. “Ouch! That looks painful,” or, “Ow, too much time in the sun?”), I would definitely use Alison’s language – “Sorry about my face, I’m treating a skin condition and the treatment is making me crazy red. I’m going to be like this for a week next month too.”

    1. Willis*

      Or just “I’m treating a skin condition…” without the apology. It’s not really negatively impacting her coworkers (or impacting them at all).

      1. Catherine*

        Agreed. The apology makes me uncomfortable because it ties into the expectation that women make themselves pleasant to look at (rather than just the normal level of clean and tidy that we hold people to when they go out in public).

        1. Pollygrammer*

          Yup. I have a male coworker who spends every vacation and most weekends mountain climbing. More often than not he comes back with his face red and peeling from windburn. He’ll explain it, people will chuckle, and nobody has ever expected him to apologize or considered him “jarring” to look at.

        2. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

          Same. I have a coworker with a bad sunburn right now. If she apologized to me because she wasn’t pleasant to look at, I’d think she’d have lost her mind.

          1. LQ*

            I have a sunburn right now and definitely apologized twice yesterday. It was in response to someone’s grimace both time. “Yeah, I know, sorry. There isn’t enough sunscreen in the world for me to swim for 4 hours.” But I use sorry as punctuation so may not be a good example.

            1. samiratou*

              Were the grimaces because you didn’t have a pleasing appearance or because they were wincing in sympathy? If it were me it’d be an “Ouch! That sucks!” kind of reaction not a “Get thee from my sight, foul creature!” type of thing.

              That’d be my concern if I were here–people asking if it was painful, am I OK, have you tried this particular brand of sunscreen etc. etc. It would just get tiring.

        3. Coffee Cup*

          I don’t know if this is generally about women though – a man with a raw, peeling face would certainly stand out to me. I do agree that it is good form to give a heads-up about something that unusual – people will be a bit alarmed and curious.

          1. CustServGirl*

            I would think, though, that most adults would come from a place of sympathy or curiosity, not repulsion or horror as Alison’s response seemed to imply to many of the readers. It’s fine to say “Hey, I know I’m red and peeling, but don’t worry, I’m fine, it’s just temporary!” but I don’t think that anyone should need to apologize for it.

      2. loslothluin*

        It depends on how squeamish the coworkers are. Some people are fine and others aren’t. They can’t help it. I can’t deal with poop, and it’s one reason I never had kids nor did I ever change my niece and nephew’s poppy diapers when they were babies. My BIL’s thing is skin hanging, and he gags every time. It’s not something a person can control.

    2. Evergreen*

      Yes, I absolutely agree! OP, please don’t feel you should be working from home during this time! (I mean, unless you want to)

      I think on the off chance someone asks you can explain, but don’t apologise – your face is exactly that – yours!

    3. Mookie*

      Yes. It’s a temporarily red face (for paler folk), inflammation, and there’s probably going to be some noticeable peeling, and depending on your skin tone and color and texture, some scabbing and dark and light discoloration. There are many explanations for that and if you feel like offering one you can lie about / fudge it to suit your office’s culture if it’s easier. I’m working in a quonset hut this summer with a guy who consistently over-applies his high-concentration vitamin C serums and mixes them with incompatible stuff. Our heads get close, his face sort of has acquired that classic burn-y skin smell you get when you’re playing fast and loose with too many treatments, and his whole mug at the moment seems enveloped in a shiny brown halo. It’s not my business and I only know about it the details because we’re friends and we share sunscreen and breath fresheners.

      It’s not unprofessional to have skin issues, it’s nobody’s business how you address the ones you have in the manner you want. I know that there’s a school of thought that advocates covering up temporary zits and such during interviews or when you’re fresh on the job, but the LW is not in that situation. Her co-workers will survive and so will her reputation. This species of “vanity” is a highly overrated character “flaw” that, as Willis and Catherine and Evergreen say, needs no apology.

      1. Specialk9*

        I had to look up quonset hut, so that’s the name for those half-buried tube buildings.

    4. Emilia Bedelia*

      I agree with you, I don’t think it needs to be mentioned unless someone brings it up. I had a very similar experience to the LW when I started using a very strong prescription retinoid that caused me to peel/flake and have painfully dry, inflamed skin for a week or two. I felt really self conscious, but literally only one person asked me about it, and I said “I’m trying out a new skincare routine and it’s causing me to react. I’m hoping it’ll clear up soon!” It wasn’t a big deal at all. Unless it’s truly disruptively noticeable (like…oozing, or bleeding, or something), I don’t think you need to preemptively bring it up.

    5. Cristina in England*

      My jaw dropped at this line: “it’ll just be a kind of jarring thing to ask your coworkers to look at” and also at “Sorry about my face”. I suspect that the response would be different if it were a medical treatment instead of a cosmetic one and that is not sitting right with me. Apologizing for the condition of one’s body is definitely not an ok thing to suggest!

      1. I Herd the Cats*

        Agreed. I have a coworker who’s occasionally treated for cancerous and precancerous lesions on his face, and he’s wound up having Mohs surgery a couple of times. So he’s had that sunburnt look periodically, plus the flaking, plus (when the bandages come off) some sutures and surgical scars. I don’t look at him and think, ugh that’s disgusting. I think, poor guy.

        At the same time, there are three others in the office (I am one of them) who get regularly lasered. I addressed it the first time in a small staff meeting by announcing “I’m fine, I’ve had a laser treatment” and that was that.

        OP if you’re having a series of these you may discover that you peel badly the first time or two, and that subsequent treatments mostly just leave you looking sunburnt.

      2. New Job So Much Better*

        I commented below, but forgot to mention that without that top layer of skin, your more vulnerable to infection during that time. Either way it’s a medical thing, IMO.

      3. Someone else*

        Sometimes, but not always, the redness and look of a chemical peel IS jarring and a lot more intense than the look of a sunburn or what I’d just describe as “redness”. Having seen that, I don’t think the suggested script is off-base. Obviously, when it happens, if OP finds it does just look like a sunburn or something less intense…they don’t have to say as much or anything, but if it looks like what I’ve seen, this was a very reasonable script.

        1. Lexi*

          Yes I think this picture was the best you could look not the norm. Most peels look worse the day after and there is a lot of peeling the picture didn’t show that. Most people I have seen their face looks scabbed almost and can’t control the flaking skin.

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Yep, I should have asked for a different photo, because what I’ve seen of chemical peels — and what I had in my head when writing the answer — is way worse than a mild sunburn. I’ve modified the answer to include what I did have in my head (linking to a photo someone else here just provided).

      4. Unprofessional*

        Yeah, I was pretty surprised by that, especially from someone who doesn’t usually expect women to apologize for existing.

        It could be argued that it’s jarring to make my coworkers look at me because I’m so fat. But do you really want to go down that road? It doesn’t lead anywhere good.

        1. Washi*

          I think it’s maybe the frequent, dramatic changes in skin color? (although the example picture doesn’t look that dramatic to me.) Like if OP’s face was always red, I don’t think Alison would have called that jarring. I think the script itself is good so the coworkers don’t wonder why OP has a horrible sunburn every month, and agree that the OP shouldn’t worry too much about what they will think.

      5. Nita*

        If it means just really red skin, sure. If there’s peeling and scabbing involved… yes, it’s a little jarring. It’s not like acne, when someone comes in with scabs people’s mind will jump to “something’s wrong” and “is it infectious?” It would help to have some kind of explanation ready, even a vague one.

      6. Miso*

        Yeah, this is the first time that I thought “What the hell?” at Alison’s response and not the original letter…

      7. SheLooksFamiliar*

        I once interviewed with a big ol’ black eye. I was horsing around with my nephew and he headbutted my eye by accident. 4-5 days later I interviewed for a project with a major employer in my area, and had a purple-black shiner that was impossible to cover up or ignore. I’m a woman, and could imagine what the interview team would think – I’d think the same thing! I called the hiring manager and told her I had a black eye, so she wouldn’t be taken completely by surprise. On the day of the interview, you could hear a pin drop when I was seated in the conference room. I explained but didn’t apologize, and I got the job.

        OP, when it comes to ‘jarring’, I don’t think a chemical peel is so awful. And you don’t need to apologize for the aftermath, either.

    6. Myrin*

      Yeah, before clicking the link, I expected some horrendous temporary disfigurement, not just the redness and slight swelling that turned out to actually be pictured. I probably wouldn’t think much at all if one of my coworkers came in like that, other than a passing “oh shoot, Bumblenella must have a sunburn!”.

      1. Kat in VA*

        I was thinking I’d probably want to know where she was getting her dermatology done if it all came out good (obviously only if I knew her very well). Because peels and microneedling can takes some serious years off your face!

        I’m one of those very low-maintenance people (no mani/pedicure, no fancy hairstyling, waxing, any of that stuff) but my one vanity is Botox in the frown lines between my eyebrows…which I get on my lunch breaks. The needles are very fine, but once in a while they do leave little dots that might last a few hours.

        I decided rather than cover it up, if someone asked, I’d be up front. The response wasn’t horror or “you’re so vain” but interest in the procedure and the cost. You just never know. (The question about my face wasn’t a rude OMG WHAT HAPPENED TO YOUR FACE but an honest question to ask if I’d been bitten by mosquitoes…in March… :P )

        1. En vivo*


          I have chemicals peels on a regular, and sometimes I’ve stayed home for the deeper ones, but usually I go to work. I don’t want to waste my leave when I’m perfectly fine. Sure, my skin is dry and burnt looking, but it’s never oozing or anything like that, so I’m not exposing my colleagues to anything gross.

          No one has ever said anything, because I walk around as if nothing is out of place. If someone were to make a comment, I would simply say that I had a dermatology visit without much more explanation. I certainly wouldn’t apologize. For what?

          BTW: chemicals peels and tretinoin have worked wonders for removing sun damage! Yay!

          1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

            Really? I know nothing about these procedures but I do have a bit of sun damage like brown spots and seemingly permanent tan lines. I’m curious about what kinds of things you can have done. Do they do anything to mitigate your skin cancer risk?

            1. En vivo*

              The best thing to do is consult a dermatologist. In the wrong hands, these procedures could cause serious damage, but in the right hands… whoohoo! Different skin types and colors respond better to different treatments. For example, most lasers and deeper peels are a no-go for brown skin/ pigmented skin even though some derms are starting to use certain lasers on skin of color. If your skin is very fair, you have more options with the various lasers and deeper peels.

              Yes, some treatments mitigate your skin cancer risk.

              Tip: If you’re a gambling woman check out Hanacure. I just knew it was a gimmick, but it worked! It’s not on the level of chemical peels, lasers and such but it might be a good start for you. There are thousands of testimonies! Good luck :)

              1. Kat in VA*

                I was looking for a real-world comment on Hanacure! (Then again, I’m a sucker for Korean skincare…I may or may not have tons of Hada Labo and Benton in my cabinet *cough*)

                I’ll definitely consider one of the lighter-weight peels to ease into the regimen. Then again, I have to get the husband on board as well. ;)

                1. En vivo*

                  BTW, I did the treatment every 3 days for a month as done in the trial, and I noticed a marked difference after the 5th treatment.

              2. Anonforthis*

                Definitely consult a dermatologist – these treatment can do wonders for sun damage, but they can also do mad skin damage in the wrong hands.

                Hanacure is awesome, and I just tried Drunken Elephant’s Babyfacial and it is amazing. Dr. Dennis Gross makes an at-home peel kit.

                Those will help with making your skin smoother and brighter, but to effectively get rid of sun damage and hyperpigmentation, you really need to go to a pro, and it may take a while.


                1. En vivo*

                  Sunscreen: yes! everyday, every season, rain, snow, shine- even in your house if you spend a lot of time by the windows. This sounds over-the-top, but it’s a must if you want to get rid of sun damage.

              3. Specialk9*

                I went to a dermatologist and they had NO CLUE on lasers and such. They told me to ask their secretary, who had worked for someone who did that. (!!!) I’ve asked 2 other derms and neither of them do cosmetic procedures. So I feel stuck with dubious “spas” instead of actual medical centers.

                1. Former Employee*

                  While some dermatologists do everything, it is not uncommon to find one doing strictly treatments of skin conditions (medical) while another essentially does laser work, Botox, fillers, etc. (cosmetic).

                  I’m in SoCal and I figured it was that way in any major city. However, if you are in a smaller city or town, you might have to travel because it’s possible that no one in your area can afford the equipment – lasers are expensive!

        2. Persimmons*

          I would also be asking for a recommendation! That isn’t the kind of procedure I trust to Yelp reviews, so seeing someone experience it first-hand would be valuable.

        3. Ellex*

          I got “OMG WHAT HAPPENED TO YOUR FACE” once after an encounter with a newel post and an unhappy cat that left me with slight bruising and swelling across the bridge of my nose. But that person was well-known for making mountains out of molehills and rude remarks. Everyone else said they probably wouldn’t have even noticed if the rude coworker hadn’t made such a fuss.

          There may be one or two nosy people who just have to know why OP’s face is red and peeling. Odds are, the majority of coworkers are going to figure it’s a sunburn or chemical peel and not even bother to ask or comment.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yes! This is much more what I had in my head. I should have linked to something like that (I used the one the OP sent me but wrote my response with this kind of thing in mind).

        1. Cat Herder*

          Even if it looks like this, why should OP apologize? They don’t need to say anything, truly, but if they feel they must, or would feel better about themselves doing so, I’d stick with something like, I had a dermatology treatment.

          No apologizing for one’s looks.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            That’s fair. It’s how I would say it and I don’t think it’s so much apologizing for one’s looks as it is just acknowledging “hey, this is odd and unusual” but there are certainly other ways you could word it if that language doesn’t feel right.

    7. Jesca*

      I actually agree. I basically have a skin allergy to almost everything. If I go without make-up, my face is red for the good part of the day just from washing it with soap. If I screw up or suddenly just develop a reaction, then my face looks exactly like this. It is so common for me, that I would not be able to take off work every time it happens. I only take off when extreme swelling occurs. I just politely say that I am having a reaction and move on. I think OP can get away with this.

      1. anycat*

        i’m having an allergic reaction to something right now so my eyes are red, puffy, and swollen, almost as if they are bruised. if someone asks i just say i have an allergy.

    8. Angelinha*

      Yeah, this is hardly “a kind of jarring thing to ask your coworkers to look at,” judging by that picture! Women are already expected to be apologetic for a billion other appearance-related things…do not add this to the mix!

      1. Kat in VA*

        Ever have a day when you forget (or honestly, just skip) a part of your makeup routine and people start asking if you’re sick, or tired?

        Amazing how eyeliner or mascara can make a difference. But some days I don’t want to hassle, or I’m running late, or whatever. I’m older, so I’m judged doubly for not looking young AND not “taking the time to look presentable” (whatever that is).

        I’m relatively blunt, so I’ll just reply with, “Nope, streamlined the makeup application this morning!” which serves the double purpose of “No, dear, I don’t look like this every day”, and also reminds them that passing judgment on someone’s looks isn’t cool to do in the first place.

    9. Sarah*

      The picture OP provided is one of right after the procedure. The day 2 and 3 are the bad days where you are constantly applying cream and cleaning up peeling skin that sheds everywhere, and while its different for everyone (the amount of peeling) this is the first time op is having this done. The first time is also the one with the most peeling because you have not had it done before so you have more to slough off. That doesn’t mean she can’t or shouldn’t go to work but that the picture is misleading of how day 2 and 3 will be. This picture is more representative of how day 2 &3 will look.

    10. LQ*

      I had a coworker do something similar. A lot of people were worried about his health (it looked really angry red and not like a sunburn on him). But, a shrug and it looks worse than it feels or I’m doing well was all most people needed. I think some people will comment just because it is a thing that is sort of …not exactly small talk, but to some people it will seem like small talk because it is obvious. So treating it sort of casually with a no big deal it’s supposed to rain tomorrow attitude will be good over all.

      No partway decent person would care beyond wanting to make sure you are well and if not can they show they care about you and conversationally, if anyone does or gets weird, they have moved out of that category.

      1. AnotherAlison*

        That’s what I’m more familiar with. Being a very fair-skinned person, some of my relatives have had this done, and their faces look magenta, not likely to be confused with a bad sunburn. I know there are different types of peels, but if you go to this level, people are going to ask about it.

        I had MOHS done on my forehead a couple years ago, and I just wish people would not ask because it was much worse than I expected (it’s fine now). I don’t ask when someone shows up with random stitches on their face. I guess I assume it was MOHS.

    11. Formerly Arlington*

      I would just say, “I had a facial peel.” Maybe I happen to live somewhere where some sort of Botox/peel/etc. activity is pretty normal? I have had plenty of coworkers and friends get these done and they just say, “It’s a peel” and it’s no big deal. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a little self improvement and don’t see this differently than I do teeth whitening or hair highlights!

    12. DivineMissL*

      A few years ago, I had Mohs surgery for a skin cancer on my chin. For a couple of days I had a big bandage on my chin, which caused many people to jokingly ask me if I got in a fistfight, etc. After that, I loosely covered the actual stitches (which was pretty scary looking, if I do say so myself) with a smaller, less obvious band-aid, which still garnered the “fistfight” jokes. I was pretty matter-of-fact about the explanation, and most people just ignored it after I explained. It seemed silly to use a bunch of sick days when I wasn’t really “sick”, just had a mark on my face. It had nothing to do with me being a woman; I think a man with an obvious bandage would have gotten the same remarks.
      I think the redness and peeling OP is describing would get the same types of comments, and then after the explanation (not apology), most people would just ignore it. Stuff happens!

    13. Barbara*

      I disagree with the “Sorry about my face” part though. OP doesn’t have to apologise for the way she looks.

  4. M from NY*

    OP#1 I think the language offered is too passive and is assigning blame to you for failing vs where it belongs with your boss and the business for attempting to get over instead of hiring professional experienced personnel.

    You don’t have to apologize for not wanting to continue volunteering on marketing projects. Be matter of fact – “it’s clear that boss is not happy with your suggestions or output so as of Date they should plan to have someone else take over duties.” Period.

    Company not wanting to pay someone is NOT your problem. The time you’ve been volunteering for free is time you could have been working a second job. No need to feel bad or assume company can’t afford the expense. Even if they can’t they need to adjust expenses to cover the true cost of doing business. The boss will never make the necessary changes as long as you are there doing for free.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I think that language is more likely to come across poorly — it’s more likely to be taken as a little bitter/sour grapes (“you’re not happy with my work so never mind,” basically). The OP did volunteer for this and say she thought she could master it — which isn’t her fault, but it’s not going to be constructive to go into the conversation with this kind of approach.

    2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      I worry that even if delivered in a kind tone, that line sounds a bit like OP has a chip on their shoulder (i.e., it reads as petulant), instead of sounding firm or constructive. Because OP wants to stay at their job (I think), it seems better to smooth the explanation instead of focusing on who’s to “blame” for the mismatch.

      It’s also not clear that OP was “volunteering” their time? I suspect they’re salaried, in which case all that extra work was something that fell within OP’s job and was compensated. It’s totally ok for OP to jettison the marketing, but I don’t think it will help OP to come into the conversation with an aggrieved tone/feeling.

      1. Artemesia*

        And there might not be enough work for her otherwise. If she has been moved off one type project presumably that work is not being done by someone else or need not be done. It is not ‘volunteer work’, it is part of her workload and she can’t necessarily just drop it, although of course she can try to renegotiate here.

        1. Specialk9*

          Except they said they did marketing at nights and on weekends. It sounds like they’re drowning.

    3. Kiwi*

      I wonder if what’s happening is that there’s one dish that coworker can eat and a large selection of dishes everyone else can eat. So people wander round talking to each other about the shared food and bonding over it. In that case, I can see her being left out, in a subtle kind of way.

      If that’s what’s happening, I don’t think the solution is to make everyone eat the same, but maybe people could make sure they include her in the conversation. A bit of “oooh, that looks like interesting food, what is it?” could go a long way there.

    4. OP#1*

      OP here. The wording is probably a matter of organizational culture. Alison’s wording will work well in my tiny company, which prides itself on diplomacy and harmony. In other environments I’ve worked in (like one position I had in the legal industry), the more direct approach M from NY suggested would be more appropriate.

      To answer Princess Consuela Banana Hammock’s (I smiled while typing that) questions, yes, I’m salaried and most of the work I’m doing evening and weekends isn’t like client work or anything, but rather the educational pieces like online classes, meetups, reading books and watching marketing videos online, etc. As for whether I’d like to keep my job … well … I’d rather leave due to having another job lined up, rather than quit abruptly or get fired. So I’ll just say that for now, I definitely want to stay at this job.

      1. M from NY*

        Point taken Allison.

        OP If you’re looking for job and can stick it out a few more months then do that. Diplomacy doesn’t mean that others never feel uncomfortable. As others pointed out you may have pitched the perfect plan but your manager has been unwilling to try anything new. That is not your fault. Document your activity otherwise wording the lack of success as your failing will only delay the changes your boss needs to make.

        Here’s a softer approach “I’ve been working on this for a year including evenings and weekends and none of my suggestions have been implemented. At this time it’s best to hire a professional to conduct an overview of companies needs and offer a few options on how to execute in a budget friendly manner.” If it makes you feel better throw in “your schedule has changed and you’ll no longer be able to volunteer your time on these tasks.” It reminds boss that this was volunteer and its ultimately companies responsibility to address.

    5. StellaBella*

      +1 for this reply. I had a burnout when I took on the job as IT admin on top of communications manager. I left after a year of intense chaos and doing these tow difficult jobs was a bad decision. In my case it was a small non profit and we could not afford an IT admin because the boss’s salary was 1/3 of the grant budget, sadly. Still an issue there, and her nephew does this job now for a lot less money. Totally not worth your physical and mental health, OP1, and don’t accept blame. If you can point out good feedback you had in the beginning when they loved you and this idea, and then point out how you tried to work within nebulous or non existent plans, I’d do that and instead of being the one to say you failed be the one to say you did your best, put in a lot of extra hours and effort and that you want to hand the duties back. Or, start looking for a new gig and leave.

    6. Dram*

      But here’s the thing: Depending on tge workplace, OP could be said by management to be everything from not a team player to insubordinant to flat-out not doing her job. While this was not her original job, she’s been doing it a year, and most job descriptions include either explicitly or by implication “other duties as assigned” or somesuch. I feel bad for OP.

    7. Ozma the Grouch*

      While I COMPLETELY get the sentiment and agree with your analysis of the situation, this is clearly a case of “you catch more flies with honey” scenario. To get the desired outcome OP needs to be strategic. They took on a job they hoped would help their company and allow them to learn a new skill. That’s not how things worked out. Instead they spent a year working long hours and realizing how difficult their boss is to please. Being humble is the right move. It allows the OP to give insight into the needs of the position and to nudge the boss into hiring real help. Whether that be a full time employee or an outside agency that does work on a per project basis.

  5. Observer*

    #3 – As a person who would only eat from the Kosher restaurant, let me first say Thank you for being accommodating and gracious about this. But there as long as no one is making a big deal about her eating kosher and having a separate meal, please don’t feel obligated to take on the extra cost of feeding everyone Kosher. It’s just not necessary, and I suspect that she’d be mortified at the prospect.

    1. Liza Bennett*

      As another kosher eater I second the idea that s/he would be mortified to force anyone else to order kosher!

      1. Tuesday Next*

        I also keep kosher and I think it’s great that you’re providing kosher food for your colleague. I too would be uncomfortable if everyone was forced to eat “not very good” kosher food. If you had an excellent kosher restaurant or caterer in town it might be something to consider, but even then you’ll have people who want to know why they can’t have a ham and cheese croissant any more. If you had a colleague with a gluten intolerance you wouldn’t force everyone to eat gluten free and this isn’t any different.

        1. NoMoreFirstTimeCommenter*

          And you wouldn’t even force everyone to eat food from a place that prepares reliably gluten free food. It’s perfectly OK to order from a different place for one person. I know it’s sometimes annoying to get all the nosy questions when I’m eating something visibly different, but I feel a lot worse if everybody’s food choice is restricted by my diet and the whole situation that way ends up being too much about me. (Unless someone manages to get some food that everyone can eat and it’s really genuinely awesome.)

      2. HannahS*

        Yeah, I’m having nightmare visions of expensive kosher food arriving and having people ask me the good ol’ “So, what is kosher, anyway?” “So can you eat _____?” “I had a coworker once, and he wouldn’t eat _______!” “No shellfish, ugh, how does THAT make sense?” Or worse, having people resent me because “We can’t have XYZ because Hannah keeps kosher.” Please, people, eat whatever food you want. If you quietly and without fanfare provide something I can eat I will be very grateful.

        It’s awesome to accommodate your team’s dietary needs. Ordering a special meal for her is already more than most people would do, and it’s super! Sometimes being different means you stick out. It’s ok.

        1. Rectilinear Propagation*

          Or worse, having people resent me because “We can’t have XYZ because Hannah keeps kosher.”

          OMG, this!

          I don’t think the person who made the suggestion realizes that this would happen, especially with a restaurant whose food isn’t good.

    2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Definitely agreed. The colleague’s “singling out” comment is strange and not apt in this situation. If I were the only vegan in the office and my orders came from a different restaurant, I would be pleased that my workplace was willing/able to accommodate my needs—and that’s not even a religious accommodation. I wouldn’t demand that everyone in the office also eat vegan-only food so I wouldn’t be “singled out.”

      I think OP’s approach is thoughtful and inclusive, and it certainly satisfies the spirit and letter of religious accommodation. That deserves praise, not criticism.

      1. Mookie*

        Yeah, this is “singling out” only if you ignore the usual parsing of the phrase; it acknowledges and fulfills a need based on an important distinction, not drawing attention unnecessarily or in a hostile way. It’s okay to acknowledge difference. Feigning figurative blindness to it functionally erases it, and that’s not good.

      2. JeanLouiseFinch*

        It wouldn’t be “singling out” at all if you got kosher food for the other 2 kosher-eating/keeping-kashrut employees at the same time. The only time you might have problems is during Passover, when you can ask the 3 employees how they want to handle it. Chances are, they will bring their own food during this time because most kosher restaurants close during Passover. Also, most of my friends don’t really want to trust that other people’s food is kosher for Passover, even though I’m Jewish and play by the same rules.

        1. Canarian*

          But there’s no indication the two other coworkers want food from the kosher restaurant. Especially if the only kosher restaurant in town really isn’t that great, as the LW indicated, or if it has a restricted menu with just one type of cuisine. They might even be annoyed that they’re being expected to eat the kosher restaurant food instead of food they’d find acceptable from a non-kosher restaurant like they’ve always eaten.

        2. Kerry*

          OP here – thanks, we thought about ordering “kosher for 3,” but honestly the other kosher folks would rather eat delicious falafel from the awesome vegetarian restaurant than a meh sandwich from the meh kosher restaurant. :-)

      3. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesInYourHouse*

        Being vegan is not less than religious. Both are a lifestyle choice. If someone chooses to eat vegan or eat kosher, it’s a choice they make. It should be respected. But not eating something because of religious reasons is not better/more lofty/more special. Both vegan and religious reasons are lifestyle choices.

        1. ZK*

          Except that by law, companies are required to accommodate religious practices, they don’t have to (but should anyway) accommodate vegans for their lifestyle choice.

          1. Fiennes*

            Exactly. “Lifestyle choices” could be used to refer to any number of things, the large majority of which employers have no legal obligation to consider.

          2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            This. I drew the distinction because one diet is protected by law (religion), while the other is not (veganism). My goal was to emphasize that accommodating an employee’s dietary restrictions—even if it were not legally required—is admirable.

        2. E.*

          Yeah, the law (in the U.S.) pretty much exactly says that doing something for religious reasons is special.

        3. Atheist Vegetarian*

          Legality aside, since other commenters have addressed it, there is certainly a difference between making a “lifestyle choice” because you believe it is ethical or simply prefer it, and living a certain lifestyle because you believe you are asked or required to do so by a divine being who created you. Honestly, I find it a little difficult to characterize keeping kosher as a lifestyle choice for many of the people who keep that diet.

          I’m part-time vegan, but when I can get eggs from a friend with backyard chickens or honey from a beekeeper I know who is committed to making a positive environmental impact, I will certainly eat them. There is much more element of choice in those decisions for me. If I believed that eating honey would threaten my eternal life or offend God, it would be far less of a “lifestyle choice” and more of a duty and an obligation.

          1. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesInYourHouse*

            My point is it is totally a lifestyle choice. People keep kosher/don’t eat pork/whatever for religious reasons–but it’s a matter of belief. I chose to be vegetarian and to me, yes, there is a sense of duty–but it’s my choice. Just like religion is. All a matter of belief. And sincerely held beliefs–religious or not–should be respected but not kowtowed to. (If X can’t eat ham and cheese due to religious beliefs, cool, but that shouldn’t stop Y from eating it. I just don’t like the idea that religion is “more special” than any other reason.

            1. SavannahMiranda*

              The legal and compliance side of US employment practices puts veganism and kosher in two different buckets though. Whether it should be that way or not, the statutes and the rules do so.

              An employer is legally required to respect the religious observance of an employee who kosher, if asked to.

              An employer is *not* legally required to respect the observance of veganism, no matter how zealously the employee adheres to it. Many employers do, but not because they have to.

              Whether kosher and vegan should be looked at the same or different in a philosophical sense, or a social analysis sense, or any other comparison/contrast sense, can make for an interesting conversation.

              But the moment someone puts on their HR hat and goes to work, they must be legally compliant in providing kosher meals if asked to for religious observance, but are not legally required to provide vegan meals.

              That said, many employers do. Simply because the discussion of why they won’t or don’t is too exhausting. But some employers simply don’t. They say nope, not religious purposes, too much work, won’t do it.

              This is why some people will claim religious or medical-dietary purposes for food habits that may or may not be religious or under doctors orders. Because trying to have their diet agreed to otherwise depends on difficult social persuasion rather than cut and dry legal compliance.

              Annnnnnd that is why most employers will just order vegan food for the vegans, even though they’re not legally required to, because they don’t want to invite resentment, frustration, potentially creative reasons for being vegan, making employees get doctors orders, or whatever. It’s not worth it. No one wants to be the food police.

              Kosher/kashrut/halal – legally protected.
              Gluten free – arguably medically protected as disability/medical need.
              Vegetarian/vegan – not legally protected, absent religion or medical need.

              1. Barbara*

                Vegetarian/vegan diets are often religious too. Many Hindus are vegetarians and the Jains are vegan. In this case, this is legally protected.

                I personally don’t have a religion but I believe in God/Higher Self, and I believe that killing animals for food when I don’t need it to survive is a crime that will lead to negative consequences. In this case, I feel this should be legally protected too.

                1. Julia*

                  I think this is a tough thing to defend. I kind of feel the same way you do, and I often wonder in a kind of philosophical way why some beliefs are considered more valid just because there’s an imaginary sky being or a big following attached to them, and others are considered odd, but it doesn’t seem like we’re going to answer that. But as long as we all get to believe what we want, and eat what we want, I don’t get into it too much unless attacked.

              2. Kerry*

                OP here – I think this is a really interesting discussion. As a vegetarian and an Atheist, I too feel as if there’s no difference between my choices and the choices of religious folks, meaning that’s what they are – “choices.” But, it is an important distinction that choices made for religious reasons are protected under anti-discrimination laws, whereas choices made for ethical or health reasons are not.

        4. Aaron*

          I think the religious reasons are actually much less lofty/special/worthy of consideration (outside of a legal perspective). People may be vegetarian for health reasons or their bodies may be used to it, or it can be an ethical choice regarding the rights of real animals. Nobody who keeps kosher will be harmed in the least if they accidentally have a non-kosher meal. It’s a complete lifestyle choice. I don’t eat fish or seafood because I don’t like it, and I *like* it when coworkers accommodate me to some degree, but I would certainly never expect it. Same for kosher. I don’t want my coworkers imposing dietary restrictions that are entirely due to personal choice on me. I would never, for instance, agree to refrain from bringing non-kosher food to the office during passover because it offended colleagues. Not a reasonable accommodation for their own freely made choices about food.

        5. Ellex*

          Your username made me smile and reminded me that I need to catch up on my podcast listening.

      4. Tuxedo Cat*

        I agree. It’s also important to note that the person receiving the Kosher meal isn’t bringing this up. I suppose it could be her indirectly complaining, but there’s no proof it is. While certainly not the same, I’m vegetarian. People in the past have tried to stand up for me by asking about why we aren’t ordering from a vegetarian only place, when I’ve been perfectly okay with the food. For me, it felt weird and like they were treating me more like a child than a capable adult who can advocate for herself if needed.

      5. some random person*

        I just wonder if the “singling out” is more of the people ordering the food are creating a fanfare around it. If the person getting their kosher food is made aware that they got a “special order” they feel singled out because everyone got their food no problem but for their food it was a *big deal* to get a unique order. If that’s the case maybe they felt comfortable confiding in the others that keep kosher who took it upon themselves to try and fix the problem.

        1. Lindsay J*

          This is what I was wondering and the only way the “singled out” phrasing makes sense to me is if something like this was happening.

          If a production is being made about ordering or giving her her “special order” from this specific restaurant it could certainly be alienating in a way that it wouldn’t be if it was done quietly and treated as nothing out of the ordinary.

    3. Kiwi*

      I wonder if what’s happening is that there’s one dish that coworker can eat and a large selection of dishes everyone else can eat. So people wander round talking to each other about the shared food and bonding over it. In that case, I can see her being left out, in a subtle kind of way.

      If that’s what’s happening, I don’t think the solution is to make everyone eat the same, but maybe people could make sure they include her in the conversation. A bit of “oooh, that looks like interesting food, what is it?” could go a long way there.

      1. TL -*

        But I also think that’s a natural consequence of having a restricted diet and I think it’s absolutely okay.
        It’s just like if everyone was into Game of Thrones and you don’t like violent shows; everyone might talk about it without you. There will be other ways to connect that do involve New Coworker’s interest.

        Also…my lunch tends to be incredibly predictable, even if I’m ordering from a restaurant. I absolutely don’t mind (and often laugh along) being ribbed over it, I would find it incredibly weird if a coworker was trying to bond over my very redundant meals. They make me quite happy but they are boring. Find something else to chit chat over.

      2. NYWeasel*

        As someone who can’t tolerate most (but not all) dairy, I think this solution is far better than forcing everyone else to eat food they dislike, or worse yet, not making any accommodations. At our last team offsite, every single dish served had a cream sauce. When I asked if there were any dishes I could eat, I was given one choice: fish. I happen to dislike that particular fish so my meal consisted of a couple of rolls and some iceberg lettuce. I would have loved to been given a menu where I could select an appropriate meal, even if it came from another restaurant, and would have felt included, not singled out.

        1. EPLawyer*

          this is the difference between including someone by accomodating their dietary restrictions and singling them out. Including means you make sure there is something they can eat. Singling them out means they have to figure out what they can eat from what you offer everyone. So then people ask “why are you only eating a roll and lettuce.”

          1. FormerAdChick*

            +1000 Major food allergies & dietary restrictions. I would not want everyone to eat the way I have too and I feel included as long as there is something I can eat beyond lettuce!

          2. OyVey*

            I once went to a volunteer appreciation dinner and was promised a vegetarian main course option at the buffet (I keep relaxed kosher – will eat anybody’s vegetarian food quite happily). Not only did the caterer forget the vegetarian main dish, she laughed about the mistake. A whole bunch of us were left eating ceaser salad, rolls, and a very lightly dressed pasta dish in lieu. Could have been worse.

        2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Yes! I agree with this and EPLawyer’s comments about singling out v. including. As another person with food allergies, I never expect there to be food that I can eat at company events or conferences (and I would never expect someone to impose my dietary restrictions on everyone else). But I’m very touched and appreciative when they attempt to include me by providing options that I can eat.

      3. EvanMax*

        Just to chime in, maybe they could ask her about something else, like how her week is going, or how her kids/pets/neighbors/favorite TV characters are, or the like.

        Asking her about her food, when A) it’s what is separating her out and B) she didn’t cook it or anything, she’s just eating it, is a great way to make her even more of an “other” in the situation, rather than including her back in with the group.

        Also, people with dietary restrictions (religious, medical, etc.) get asked about their dietary restrictions all of the time. It’s not such an interesting conversation to them after a certain point.

      4. Millennial Lawyer*

        Unfortunately that’s pretty much expected – people who keep kosher strictly usually understand this. Also, I doubt that kosher food would be terribly more interesting than non kosher food, so that’s a bit awkward.

      5. Lindsay J*

        Or “ohh that looks like interesting food, what is it?” could emphasize that what she is eating is not the same as what everyone else is eating, make her feel like her food is being treated as strange (so strange her coworkers don’t even know what it is), make her feel like she has to explain what being kosher consists of, and make her feel more excluded and alienated than just leaving her alone to eat her food in peace would.

      6. President of the Lutheran Sisterhood Gun Club*

        I have celiac and I am often in situations at work where I am given a pre plated meal while other people are eating from a buffet and I am 100% fine with it. Especially because it often results in me getting my food without having to wait in any lines and I don’t ever have to worry about other people’s fingers and snot getting all over food from the buffet table.

    4. Enya*

      It is pretty much standard practice everywhere to order the kosher keeper a separate meal. People who keep kosher are grateful for that, and would never expect the company to order kosher for everyone. Even in Israel– my friend is the only one who keeps kosher at his smallish company. The company sometimes orders food for everyone from a kosher restaurant, but they often order non-kosher food, in which case they order him a separate kosher meal. No big deal.

    5. Temperance*

      I work with people who keep kosher, and they’re always happy to have their needs met and don’t expect others to follow their dietary restrictions. I always *ask* what the preferred kosher restaurant is before we order or have anyone order.

    6. Millennial Lawyer*

      Adding on here – it is absolutely standard and expected for a kosher individual to receive an individual kosher meal.

    7. Annie Moose*

      It seems to me that this would only be an issue if it’s the kosher-eating employee herself who feels weird about it! It’s kind of other people to think of her feelings, but unless she actually feels uncomfortable or singled out… then it’s not a big deal.

      (mind, if it was something where people kept commenting on her food choices, or a big fuss was made when ordering food, or everyone else got huge meals and she was given something tiny, that would be a problem. But it doesn’t sound like that’s the case)

    8. stitchinthyme*

      Seems to me like if the kosher-eating colleague had a problem with it, she’d say something. She’d still be wrong — it’s never okay to force one’s own food choices on others — but the colleague who complained has no standing and therefore should be ignored, in my opinion. It’s not her problem. And it’s not “singling her out”, as Alison said; it’s accommodating her needs. If anyone “singled her out”, it’s the kosher person herself — she made a choice to eat a certain way, and her workplace is being pretty nice to accommodate that.

    9. Beancounter in Texas*

      I worked for a Jewish family and one member would only eat food he knew was prepared to standard; certified kosher restaurants only, his own kitchen or a trusted source. Since eating out as a company was more of a challenge (because we all got tired of the one kosher restaurant repeatedly), we’d eat in on New Year’s Eve. He’d make chili (award winning, no less) and we’d bring pre-packaged sides from the store – a veggie tray, a fruit bowl, tortilla chips of a brand he said was kosher, Cokes, etc. I also brought sour cream and another coworker brought shredded cheese. It worked well because we were such a small group.

    10. Totally Minnie*

      I think OP3’s coworker is stuck in the fallacy that equal always means the same. It’s not equal or fair unless everyone has exactly the same thing. But that’s not how life works on a practical level. Frankly, I think “everyone gets the same meal” is far less equal or fair than providing everyone with a meal that they can eat. The equality is not that everyone got exactly the same thing. It’s that everyone is now satisfied after having a meal and can focus appropriately on the tasks at hand.

  6. Leela*

    LW #5 – former recruiter here. It’s possible (but many things are) that they want desperately to respond to you but are having a hell of a time hearing back from the actual people they need to set you up to interview with. This was a very, very frequent problem for me when recruiting (both in house and from an agency) for a large online teapot , tea, teapot boxes, everything online retailer.

    They’d post the job to me, I’d get some candidates and respond with their times, and it was like herding cats and pulling teeth to get ANYTHING back from those interviewers once I’ve sent the candidates and times. I do find it surprising they wouldn’t at least touch base with you (but if they know that they’ll have to do it several times they might feel like it’s more likely to turn you off if every three days they’re having to apologize and reiterate that they’re waiting if that’s what keeps happening in the pipeline). Even after the interview, it sometimes took me over two months to get feedback from the interviewers which was insanely frustrating (not just “here’s some specific feedback” but yay or nay not even being decided for two months after they stopped interviewing).

    And many recruiters are forced by old school managers to blast everyone they can find that could sorta, kinda, maybe work for the role, in the hopes of getting responses back from solid candidates, while ignoring ones that aren’t strong matches but they should have known that from the beginning and not wasted their time. It’s very difficult to have that discussion with older recruiting managers who are used to that working well for them, back like ten to twenty years ago. Please trust that the actual recruiters know that this is awful! I tried desperately to change my manager’s viewpoint on that but because she made a killing twenty years ago when the internet wasn’t nearly what it is now and candidates weren’t nearly as empowered as they are now to learn about companies, use LinkedIn, Glassdoor, etc to learn about companies. She absolutely refused to update her strategies, or let us, because of it.

    Whatever the reasoning, it’s extremely frustrating to experience this and I’m sorry you’re going through it. I’d write them off and then allow yourself to be pleasantly surprised when/if they respond and you’re still interested. Good luck!

    1. Kat in VA*

      (this isn’t directed entirely at you, so please don’t take it personally)

      I’m genuinely curious – do they feel they have all the time in the world and can waste potential employees’ time because they don’t really need the job filled? Or they’re so important that they can’t stoop to spending a few hours a week interviewing potential candidates to get this job filled? I assume the job is important enough to pull in a recruiter to set it up, why are they so laissez-faire about following through? Are they even real jobs, or a form of “let’s kick the tires and see what’s out there” which is RIDICULOUSLY rude to people like me who’d like to get a job today, thanks very much, not some nebulous maybe-down-the-road-someday position that may never happen.

      This is intensely frustrating for me, as a job seeker, because I assume that companies and their staff are putting in at least, say, 50% of the effort that I am in meeting halfway with regard to interviews and such. Now I’m hearing they can’t even be bothered to tell you if they’ve made a decision up to TWO MONTHS after they’ve interviewed the first candidate? Who does that? And why would they think anyone would hang around months and months after they’ve done an in-person or phone interview? If I haven’t heard anything good/bad/indifferent after 1-1.5 weeks, I move the heck on.

      There was a recent article on LinkedIn where companies and their recruiters were moaning about how horrible it was that THEY were being ghosted by candidates. All I can say is, “Karma sucks, huh?” What was hilarious was they kept whining about how unfair and unprofessional it was that a candidate they contacted would never get back to them, or would change their mind on a job offer and disappear, or whatever other shameful behaviors that corporations have been displaying for decades.

      While I think ghosting of any measure is unprofessional, I will admit to more than a tiny bit of schadenfreude that now the shoe is on the other foot and companies (and their staff) are being made to bear the brunt of being ignored (being that it’s an employees’ job market for a change).

      I’m sorry you’re dealing with it, but coming from a job seeker’s perspective, keep emailing/calling your potential candidates to keep them in the loop…even if it’s just to tell them you’ve identified more qualified candidates but “Thanks for responding to me”. It’s very exciting to have a recruiter reach out, and very demoralizing to hear nothing – ever again – after THEY reached out to YOU. Even if you feel like a jerk, even if you feel like you’re stringing them along, at least maintain some kind of contact so you’re not “yet another recruiter who got me all jazzed up and then disappeared in a puff of smoke.”

      1. MLB*

        +1 I’m currently not job seeking but I’ve been there and it sucks. You would think if a company was really in need to fill a position, they would put a little more effort in to work with potential candidates. Most people are already working, and can’t just drop everything at their current job to interview.

        I get emails ALL the time from recruiters that are not even relevant. I realize most probably use some sort of filter to pull resumes from a giant pile, but put in some effort and actually LOOK at the resume before you reach out and stop wasting people’s time. I once got an email for a developer role for a specific language. Not only had I not been a developer for 10 years, but I had ZERO experience with the programming language – it just happened to be the name of one of the companies I had worked for, so the clearly the recruiter hadn’t even bothered to look at my resume.

        1. Kat in VA*

          Oh my gosh, same here with the pings from recruiters about utterly irrelevant to me positions.

          Why anyone would think that an Executive Assistant would have Ruby on Rails, PERL, Java, C++ or any other languages under her belt when it clearly notes she’s an Executive Assistant on her resume, her profile, and everywhere else is utterly beyond me.

          But here we are – another email regarding a dubious six month contract in an locale 50 miles from me (which is a *significant* distance in the DC area), “Please send us your resume and salary requirements” and straight into the recycle bin it goes!

      2. Allison*

        The hiring manager might be ridiculously busy, hence needing an additional person on the team to take on certain tasks. And sometimes I suspect that the people who claim to be “too busy” to do something recruiting related are either incredibly disorganized, or they just like the idea of being too busy for any task they view as trivial and beneath them. If the recruiter could just magically pick the perfect candidate without the hiring manager even being involved, I think a lot of hiring managers would like that.

        I’ve been on both sides of this, and it does stink. I had a recruiter get all excited about me and then ghost me when we were in the process of setting up an interview – did a meeting with a relevant decision-maker not go as expected, or did I do something to change his mind? The world will never know because he never told me, he just stopped responding to me. I’ve also had to tell candidates I’ve reached out to that actually the job requirements changed, or there’d been some miscommunication and I wasn’t informed of one of the key requirements for the job, or they’re simply too busy with active candidates to take on any more or were actually making an offer to someone (and naturally, no one had bothered to tell me). This is why, as a sourcer, I tell recruiters I work with that my MO is to find a batch of passive candidates and send them to the recruiter, and the recruiter can either contact them his or her self or I can contact the ones they like, but I don’t like getting someone’s hopes up only to tell them “oh hey never mind, the recruiter doesn’t agree that you’re qualified for the job, good luck!”

        1. Kat in VA*

          That and I’m finding more and more reliance on “hiring by committee” or “group hiring” methods of interviewing. You’ll talk to a recruiter, then HR, then five or six or seven different people… then lather/rinse/repeat for anywhere from 3-5 candidates. Then all of THOSE people have to get together and hash it out before they make a final decision. And even then, sometimes you have to chase the recruiter to find out what’s happened. I’m on tenterhooks between two positions right now, and one of them includes the scenario I just laid out…which resulted in a *significant* amount of my time and energy.

          It’s exhausting, it’s stressful, and it’s annoying. And if someone is so almighty buried and stressed out that they need someone to fill the position, you would think they would be HIGHLY motivated to fill that position ASAP so they can get some of the workload off their plate!

          1. WalkedInYourShoes*

            So, I can chime in with my experience in recruiting and hiring for various positions at several privately owned TeaPot companies as well as sharing with you my current status in interviewing to transition into a full-time role.

            I agree with Kat in VA. Most TeaPot companies in my area are consensus-based hiring which I know frustrates so many people, e.g., hiring managers, teams, and executives. How it came to be this way? I believe that it can be contributed to the FANG companies where many executives and hiring managers are bragging about “World Class Recruiting” team. So, other TeaPot companies are trying to copy that and it affects how many recruiters, sourcers, and recruiting coordinators are needed. Well, professionally, there are times when I know that in reality companies who state that they want to hire “quickly” actually don’t. Some hiring managers have impacted schedules that really affect all recruiters, e.g., board meetings, executive presentations, etc.

            If you do not hear back from a recruiter, don’t panic. Many times, their main focus is “sourcing” or reaching out to “potential candidates”. Think about it as practice. So, when the right opportunity comes along, you are an expert in dealing with the process.

            As for myself, I am interested in 0pportunities to lead and grow a recruiting team, because I want to change this frustrating strategy. I know that I hear complaints about it all the time from candidates and hiring managers. So, I want to make a change by leading a new strategy where it is an engaged recruiting effort and giving companies a great employment brand. Wish me luck. There have been two companies in the past where I almost received an offer, but again, things can happen where a candidate who was recommended by the board at the last minute and the TeaPot company just hires the candidate. I will keep you all posted. Still networking and interviewing :)

      3. Leela*

        Yes I read that article and hi-fived the author from miles and miles away!
        Some of it was definitely people couldn’t stoop to manage their candidates, they are all important managers/programmers/whatever! Some of it was people being out on holiday and not responding, some of it was major burnout from ridiculous production schedules, etc.

        As far as the advice to keep e-mailing/calling….advice to recruiters is great but it’s like complaining to the cashier about store policy. They may be the people you see but they really can’t do anything about it except absorb your frustration in the moment then go back to what they were doing. Recruiters have managers like everyone else, and like everyone else we’re likely to be put on a PIP/fired if we don’t do what they say, and we have limited capital to push back on them/bring it up if we don’t have receptive managers.

        Recruiters are also put on a ridiculously busy and tight schedule. Most of the positions they have, every other recruiting agency in the area has, and it really is a race to the hired candidate and every second they spend not pushing whoever’s closest is time the managers view as costing them money. It would be awesome if recruiters at agencies could work like in-house recruiters do (only go after really strong candidates, wait until you find people who could all be “right” for the role), but they’re usually forced to just churn through candidates like mulch to make their numbers so they can stay employed. If it makes you feel any better:

        1)I got fired from the agency recruiting job for refusing to do the following:
        -I was told to bypass every candidate with a foreign (read, not white) sounding name because if they needed a visa they would be a waste of our time. I called anyway to find out
        -I was told to call candidates who weren’t even job searching at 6 AM so we’d be the first person to reach them. This was goign to result in them wanting to work with us, I guess?
        -I was told to use a candidate’s wife to get to him because he wouldn’t respond to us, and had a manager sit next to me and track her down online through her personal websites
        -I was told to call candidates 6 times in a row if they didn’t answer

        2) Recruiters have to deal with all this crap too when we’re job searching

        1. Kat in VA*

          Oh, I wasn’t saying to completely change the way you do things when I suggested you call/email candidates. Heck, even the two jobs I’m waiting on…both recruiters emailed me today to let me know they don’t have anything yet. At which point, I thanked them for the reply, told them to have a great weekend, and “I’ll talk to you next week!” I know you have to do things the way your bosses tell you to. I was just suggesting that even no news is good news, and prevents that sinking feeling by candidates of getting ghosted…yet again. It’s a small thing, dashing off an email or leaving a voicemail.

          For the record, I don’t get snippy or grumpy with recruiters who have to repeatedly say – “I got nothin’ for you yet.” I appreciate they took the 30 seconds to one minute to let me know that I’m not struck off the list or dropped entirely. People who get snippy or grumpy with recruiters who literally have no new information are being unrealistic buttheads. I just like to touch base every couple of days, even to hear, “Yep, still in holding pattern.” It’s better than dead silence, at least to me.

          The list of things you got fired for…dang.

          1. I have an absolutely English married name, but it’s odd enough that people ask on the regular, “What country is your husband from?” (He’s American, I’m American, but the name is just odd enough that it doesn’t register as “typically American” – like Smith or Jones or Foster or what have you). However, every.single.job application I have filled out using standard ATS asks (1) are you authorized to work for any employer and (2) do you require sponsorship visa now or in the future? Some, because we are heavy on defense contractors here, take it a step further and want to know if you’re a citizen and if so, can you prove it? You’d think they would have realized right away that people are going to have to answer those questions. Bosses, man.

          2. Calling people at 06:00…yeah. That sucks. Even when I was working, 06:00 was when I was in the shower getting ready for my job!

          3. Tracking down a candidate using his wife…that’s just creepy.

          4. I have been on the receiving end of the multi calls by a recruiter, even though I’ve already told them politely that I don’t want the job (due to distance, pay, not a great fit, whatever). Was the idea to…wear them down over time, or something?

          1. Ozma the Grouch*

            Just as an FYI. I’m pretty sure it is now standard protocol for employers in the US to ask about citizenship and visa/sponsorship requirements as part of the application process. I used to only see it asked sporadically but now I see it everywhere.

        2. Julia*

          Wow, thank you for that insight! I’ve had some really weird issues with a recruiting agency lately, and I was wondering what the heck was going on. Basically, I applied for a specific job in a specific city and they kept contacting me about a different job in a different city that I’d be such a great candidate for, and ignored (!) my request to get put in contact with the job I wanted until a week and a half later, when they told me the job was probably filled already. (No sh*t.) Joke’s on them, because I contacted a different recruiter who got me an interview for that job.
          Apparently, they thought I was a good candidate, and the job they wanted to force me into was for a huge client, so they risked losing me all together to satisfy their big client. Seems pretty stupid to me…

      4. myswtghst*

        “I’m genuinely curious – do they feel they have all the time in the world and can waste potential employees’ time because they don’t really need the job filled? Or they’re so important that they can’t stoop to spending a few hours a week interviewing potential candidates to get this job filled?”

        While it’s certainly not universal, my personal experience has been that this usually happened when we had one (or more) really good employees leaving during a busy period, and ended up in an “all hands on deck” situation where the hiring manager would unfortunately focus on dealing with the short term problem (by stepping in to help) at the expense of the long term solution (hiring more employees).

        1. Kat in VA*

          I’m wondering if the “hiring by committee” process slows things down too. If you’re busy enough to create a new EA position (as is the case with both jobs), then having to get a bunch of C-suite executives together to hash out likes/dislikes of multiple candidates would be incredibly time consuming. Given a large portion of my job is scheduling (and rescheduling, and rescheduling) those C-suite executives, I’m well aware of how difficult it is to get all the cats into one box, so to speak.

  7. Engineer Girl*

    #4 – I think one of the big differences between elder caregiving and stay at home parenting is that elder care is a LOT more technical. You have drug management, usually condition management, safely moving a larger person, and coordinating endless doctors appointments. If you were to compare, it would be closer to a special needs child than a regular child.
    Anyone that has done caretaking for an elder (especially hospice) would understand how time consuming it is.

    1. OfficerAerynSun*

      *I’m struggling a little to articulate why this is different from being a stay-at-home-parent, because I would not tell you to list that on your resume, even in a “work with what you’ve got” situation like yours.*

      In addition to the technical aspects Engineer Girl has mentioned I wonder if it’s about the maturity required. Having kids as an adult is in general in line with what we expect and doesn’t say anything particular about a person’s maturity. Providing hospice care for a frail and vulnerable relative requires a fair bit of maturity which we don’t necessarily expect young adults who’ve just graduated from university to have.

      On a slightly separate note I want to say that LW#4 seems to be handling this incredibly graciously. That kind of care is seriously hard and they must have sacrificed a lot in a personal sense and has also clearly sacrificed a fair amount professionally in terms of getting started on their career. I really hope that their family appreciate that level of sacrifice.

      1. Yvette*

        “I’m struggling a little to articulate why this is different from being a stay-at-home-parent, because I would not tell you to list that on your resume, even in a “work with what you’ve got” situation like yours.”

        I think also because it is the normal course of things, people are expected to care for their own children at some level, full time stay at home or otherwise. Kind of like (hate to come off sexist but I used to hear this ALL the time) when fathers say “Oh I babysat the kids on Saturday”. No, no you didn’t. Babysitting is something you do for someone else’s children, either as a favor or for money. What you did was be a parent. Your kids, your responsibility. No one expects a recent college grad to devote several years of their life caring nearly full time for a critically ill family member. It shows a level of commitment and responsibility that is way outside the norm. You are to be commended.

        1. Mookie*

          Partially as a consequence of my own experience providing care to a dying relative at the expense of practicing a profession or taking an income, I’ve met others who’ve done so, and one trait most of them share is a learned instinct to own one’s job and own one’s workplace and own one’s mistakes.

          As a mechanism for coping with really mercurial emotions bound up in the health and lingering existence of someone you care for, you either need an emotional and/or physical outlet for the feelings you can’t let get in the way of being efficient as a caretaker (you can’t yet grieve, you can’t express frustration AT them, you have to keep your despair a secret, you have to embody the kind of person you’d want to be taking care of them if you could afford the very best for your relative) or a change in perspective that makes things, more or less, livable irrespective of the chaos. Often that’s just submerging your identity into the role and trying to feel pride and accomplishment when you succeed, even temporarily, at staving off trouble or solving a problem or sussing out a mystery or learning a new, sorely-needed skill. You have to become a lay expert in what you’re doing, or at least an untrained and untested acolyte, and you have to invest the intellectual time so you can fully exploit the resources of whatever medical or health professional might pass your way in the course of navigating your relative’s health status. You have to make informed decisions you have no qualifications for or experience in making. You have to own them no matter the consequences. It’s… frightening. Intimidating. And, as one would expect, sometimes really dull.

          It doesn’t translate perfectly in the real world, but it can turn someone into a very conscientious worker, capable of turning off negative emotion and juggling competing and often deeply unsavory tasks that truly feel life-or-death. Everyone I’ve met who was of working age was anxious to start full-time work immediately the care-taking ended, even if they weren’t psychologically ready. But the need was there to jump headlong into something productive and busy to keep you from gnawing at yourself. So there’s passion there, commitment, a desire for stability and fulfillment, sometimes a need for isolation or sometimes people are just hungry for a barrel full of sociable, amenable co-workers. Those aren’t skills, but they can describe the personality most hiring managers are looking for in unskilled, entry-level roles, people with fortitude and the ambition to do something and do it well, without fuss and without ticker tape parade-levels of grandiosity.

          I can’t say that I’ve become that person, but it sounds like the LW is, and she is capable of great things, and I hope this is her head-start towards her next great thing.

          1. Artemesia*

            An inlaw did this and did her terminal masters at a much less distinguished program than she should have or merited in order to care for a grandparent in her final years. It did hamper her career a bit, but she has overcome the slow start and the defects of a less than prestigious degree and part of that is probably the character and quality that this kind of sacrifice represents. I’d be really impressed with someone who did this straight out of school; not many people rise to this occasion. And while a young mother might say if asked why she has not been working the past 5 years — ‘I took the time to care for my babies and they are in day care/school now’ — someone who has taken on the task of care of an aging relative might proactively mention that in the cover letter. It is a very admirable thing to do and speaks to character.

    2. Persimmons*

      Caregiving teaches you a strange conbination of skills you never expected to need together. I can see why an applicant would want to convey that information.

      I’m one of several siblings who provided end-of-life care for a parent with dementia. It requires an endless well of patience, and also a moderate level of self-defense skills for when they reach the violent stage. Caring for someone who won’t stop swinging and kicking at you, yet who is incredibly frail and bruises like a peach, required a level of tolerance I never before needed.

      The interview question “tell me about a time you dealt with a difficult boss” now makes me roll my eyes, because nothing I’ve dealt with in the workplace even registers on my aggravation meter anymore.

    3. Armchair Analyst*

      I would also add that it is usually seen as a sign of maturity – you are old enough and capable enough to take care of an elderly person, and manage all or much of their estates and paperwork, etc. In contrast, watching and even teaching extremely young person is so severely undervalued in our society that the actual people who do it with certifications and degrees often make close to minimum wage. This makes me angry. But it is true and won’t change anytime soon. Ugh.

    4. JustaTech*

      The one intern my dad ever hired was hired partly on his cover letter where he described spending a year (between high school and college?, in college?) as the primary caregiver for his grandfather who was dying of Alzheimer’s. He was a great intern and a great employee. (Now I’ll have to ask my dad what exactly it was that showed how great a person the intern was.)

    5. Gumby*

      Since OP4 doesn’t want to move into health care, the transferable skills might be harder to come by/justify putting into a resume. What she did was hard work – definitely emotionally and possibly physically and I cannot even imagine the wherewithal it has taken. I find it extremely admirable and were I hiring, it would be a plus in my book (if nothing else it speaks to an entry level employee’s reliability). But on the resume I would almost treat it as explaining a gap in employment. So I would list it but probably not expand much. It can definitely be a point of conversation in an interview, but I wouldn’t treat it as work experience per se. It’s also admirable that while taking on the care of her grandmother she found any time or energy to freelance.

    6. JSPA*

      The average baby (if there is such a thing) has a lot of wants, but by and large, parents only have to answer to their own sense of what needs to be done (unless their standard of care is so bad that CPS gets involved). Most babies are not in constant pain. They’re relatively easy to transport. When they explode out of both ends, their range is (thankfully) limited. You get to choose their sleeping and sitting and diaper-changing surfaces. Their nutritional needs are generally pretty straightforward. As they grow, their tolerances and abilities increase. Their appointments are important in the sense that they should get their shots and their checkups, but in most cases, if you’re a week or a month late, that isn’t a big deal. Except for the fact that they’re a little person, and your own flesh and blood, it’s not that deeply different from caring for a young pet. Messy, loud and stinky, but still open to considerable planning and control, with high hopes for an overall good outcome.

      None of that applies with in-home hospice care. There’s something additional that’s worse / more difficult / more pressing , every week, then every day.

      As of three years ago, when I last helped pay for in-home hospice nurse’s aides, they made ~$18-$26 an hour (midwest / midatlantic, a small city where in-home babysitters for newborns were making around $9-$11 an hour).

      Plus, the aides are not responsible for scheduling appointments, paying bills, etc (which is personal assistant stuff). That’ personal assistant stuff.

      Plus cooking for someone who is dying (or for that matter, living with a serious illness) can be incredibly demanding, if there’s a list of what they can’t have, must have, can no longer tolerate, and just plain don’t like.

      Deep cleaning houses is it’s own thing, and a noble (if undervalued) profession in its own right.

      So I’d highlight that this is actually at least four jobs: P-A, hospice care, specialized cook, and specialty cleaning (assuming you were doing all of those things).

      Basically, ask not just what, but whom you’d have to pay, to get the same jobs done, if you were hiring people. And claim those skills, as well as all of the adjacent soft skills.

  8. CatCat*

    Is it necessary for #4 to mention that the person being cared for was a relative on the resume?

    1. Gatomon*

      I think so. If it wasn’t for a relative that makes it more of a job/career in my mind than working informally for family. Some professional caregivers work directly for the families instead of going through agencies so it might be confusing/unintentionally misleading if it’s not called out directly.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Not really, which I know might be counterintuitive. It’s because the assumption is that family isn’t likely to hold you accountable in the same way that a regular employer would and that the arrangement could be a lot more informal, even if there’s pay involved. You don’t want to list it in a way that sounds like traditional employment and then have it come out that it was for a family member, because that would be likely to look intentionally misleading.

            1. CatCat*

              Is this true for people who work for relatives in capacities other than care giving? If it must be “in-home caregiver for elderly family member” then should it also be “administrative assistant to relative at relative’s company”?

              Just trying to understand where the line is here in what needs to be disclosed on the resume in “working for a relative” contexts.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                Interestingly, no! I almost included that in my comment above and then was too lazy to type it out, but now I have to. So, the standard is different if it’s something like full-time receptionist at your aunt’s business, where you wouldn’t need to disclose the family connection on your resume. I can’t defend this, but I think maybe it’s because there’s an assumption that there’s way more informality when you’re at home taking care of a relative than when you’re working in a business somewhere. Again, I can’t defend it; it’s not entirely logical.

                1. JamieS*

                  I think part of the reason is there’s accountability beyond a sense of familial duty when working for one even if it is for a relative. This accountability stems from it being a source of the relative’s livelihood so it directly impacts the relative where they eat and also the relative’s responsibility to others involved with the company whether it be investors or other employees.

                  Also, if you’re being paid anywhere near market rate and not producing, or being paid below market but you’re costing more than you’re saving the relative, the relative will likely eventually replace you with someone competent since it’d cost the same. By contrast, it’s likely someone is a relative’s caregiver because a professional isn’t affordable so the family may have to settle for “good enough” and won’t “fire” a relative as the caregiver.

                2. Mallory*

                  How about the line being if you work for an actual company? If this OP was a CNA employee by a home health/nursing company owned by her aunt and the patient she provides 24/7 care for happened to be her grandmother, I would think that’s resume worthy. Just like being an accountant at aunt’s office.

                3. Chinookwind*

                  “I can’t defend this, but I think maybe it’s because there’s an assumption that there’s way more informality when you’re at home taking care of a relative than when you’re working in a business somewhere. Again, I can’t defend it; it’s not entirely logical.”

                  I can using the logic of the Employment Insurance policy in Canada to defend your stance, sort of. Basically, you pay into EI if you work for a relative in a job that, if you weren’t there, would still exist for a non-relative and be compensated at a similar rate (i.e. your connections got you the job but didn’t create it) But, if the job exists only for a relative and/or you are paid an amount that is not logical for the position, then you don’t pay EI and you are not eligible to collect if you are laid off.

                  Example: When my dad collects money for shoveling my mom’s store’s walk or cleaning the floor, he is paid as a custodian (in order to be covered by worker’s comp for potential injury) but doesn’t pay EI because she would do it herself rather than pay an outsider to do it. But, if he works the cash register for a shift, he does pay EI as the job he is doing is the same as her other employees (he is just covering for them when no one else is available).

              2. JamieS*

                I’d say the line is whether you worked for an actual company. Although I’m not really sold on having being a relative’s caregiver on a resume. No doubt it’s difficult work but raising children, planning a wedding, painting a house, etc. are all difficult but you wouldn’t be able to put down being a SAHP, planning your own wedding, or painting your house last summer on a resume.

                I can see it going on a cover letter but resume just doesn’t seem like the place for it.

                1. Engineer Girl*

                  The consequences of planning a wedding painting your house etc. are significantly less. There is also a duration issue. Taking care of an elder is day in day out.

                  I suspect that since you are comparing it to these things you’ve never done elder care or hospice.

                2. JamieS*

                  Engineer Girl, the comparison was things that can be jobs but wouldn’t go on a resume if just done in your personal life not a claim those examples are exactly equivalent to hospice care. I know hospice care is more intense and day in and day out. Regardless, there’s still not any accountability to outside parties beyond just a sense personal accountability and duty to friends/family. This is true of any personal endeavor whether it be hospice care or raising children (which I’d argue has just as high stakes) or any other example that can be thought of.

                  Plenty of people are lousy caregivers but continue to act in the role because either other family members aren’t keeping track of their performance as a caregiver or know they’re not very good but they’re basically the only options.

                3. Engineer Girl*

                  Actually there is accountability. Social services almost always gets involved in hospice. They have inspections. Visiting nurses come in too.

                4. Temperance*

                  Engineer Girl, I don’t think that’s correct. Social services *may* get involved in hospice, but it’s not overwhelmingly true.

                  I agree with Jamie S. It would be like me listing on my resume that I babysat/helped raise my younger siblings for years. While true, it’s not really relevant unless I was trying to get a job in the care industry.

                5. Washi*

                  Have worked for a hospice, and while there is a lot of formal accountability for hospice workers, there isn’t really for family members. Adult Protective Services (is that what you mean by social services?) is rarely involved unless there is suspected neglect.

                  That said, I would also probably put the caregiving on my resume in this situation, although maybe it wouldn’t raise as many eyebrows in an “other experience” section?

                6. JamieS*

                  Engineer Girl, and CPS gets involved if a child is abused (at least theoretically) but that doesn’t make SAHP resume worthy. Accountability in this case means the accountability an employee would be held to not being held accountable if you cause harm to another. Nearly everything we do comes with that level of accountability. Visiting nurses and home visits protect against abuse/neglect. They don’t ensure a relative is as good a caregiver as an outside person employed to be the caregiver which is what the comparison is since we’re discussing it going on a resume.

                7. Engineer Girl*

                  Social service involvement might be by state? I do know that they showed up every few weeks to make sure there was support.

                  I must state that those who compare end of life caregiving to babysitting or or SAHP or anything similar are showing that they have never done it. No one who has done it would ever make that comparison. It’s laughable.

                8. JamieS*

                  Okay Engineer Girl, articulate how being a relative’s caregiver is different in terms of being held accountable for doing as good a job as a professional day in and day. What evaluation is there? Who evaluates the work? What competence does the evaluator have in determining whether someone is doing as well as a professional?

                9. Engineer Girl*

                  The consequences are a big indicator. Give the wrong dosage of medicine or at the wrong time? You get an ambulance ride to the hospital. Move them wrong? You end up with a 911 call for paramedic aid.
                  As one other person put it – caregiving is a career in and of itself. It’s not the same level as babysitting and this is reflected in the pay.

              3. HA2*

                Maybe the difference between different types of working-for-family could be much accountability people assume for that role, as Alison said?

                Stay-at-home parent – everyone assumes no accountability. Regardless of whether you’re good or bad at it, nobody’s gonna “fire” you from parenting your kid, so the fact that you did it doesn’t say anything about whether you did it well.

                Opposite end of the spectrum would be something like accounting. If you do accounting for the family business, folks will assume you were probably expected to do the job well, and would have been replaced if you did it poorly.

                The closer a job feels to the “no accountability” side of the spectrum, the more it seems like you need to disclose that it was for family.

                Dunno, I’m just trying to figure out the rules, I don’t make them either.

                1. schnauzerfan*

                  As someone who is caring for my mother while working full time, with the assistance of some paid caregivers… Care giving is the toughest job I’ve had in my 40 years or so of working life. I’m pleased to go to my “real” job as a break from care giving.

                  That said, as someone who hires people, I want to see the “what you’ve been up to” in at least the last 5 years or so on your application or resume’, especially if you are early in your career / lacking a substantial work history. If your materials show up on my desk and the last job you list was 8 years ago, I want to know what you’ve been up to and why you think my job would suit you. (in part this is because it takes a looong time to get a new employee up to speed) I’d like some idea that you didn’t just drift in and will be drifting out again in 6 months. So as far as I’m concerned list that caregiving time, the stay at home parenting time, the gap year seeing the world, time dealing with a medical issue… seeing those things is important. On your ap, in your resume’, in a cover letter. You don’t have to go into more detail than you are comfortable with, but don’t leave me thinking you’ve spent your time being a troll in your folks’ basement,
                  “I held several part time fast food positions while dealing with family issues, can provide dates of employment on request…”
                  or “2010-16 full time caregiver for family member, 2017 was a sabbatical year of sorts, I traveled, visited all 50 states, Canada and Mexico. Now, I’m eager to get to work full time”

                  Don’t say “now that Mom has FINALLY died, I can please myself…” (true story bro)

            2. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

              That’s an interesting point and I was going to comment a similar question, because here in the UK you can get paid a “carer’s allowance”, which is actually a sort of social security payment from the government that you are working as a carer of a relative instead of being in the regular workplace. Would that make a difference? A carer’s allowance and job seekers allowance differ in terms of amount and eligibility criteria, but both are payments in lieu of wages.

              1. Engineer Girl*

                Some caregivers in the US also qualify for caregiver payments from Medicaid. This is in lieu of sending the person to a care facility.

                It doesn’t sound like the OP was paid though, or even filed for it.

                1. schnauzerfan*

                  Payments from medicaid, state hhs etc., depend on household income. Mom needs 24/7 care. Mom’s pension is too much for assistance, but too little to live on and pay for fulltime care givers too. She pays the caregivers for the 55 or so hours while I’m at work and commute, and I keep a roof over our head by working. Then I take the rest of the nights, weekends, etc.

                2. Robyn*

                  are you american? It doesnt sound like you hve a good grasp of our healthcare and social services here in this country. Hospice care? yeah right. voucher for caregivers? nah.

                3. Engineer Girl*

                  Yes I’m “American” (USA) and yes they do hospice care (one of my parents) and yes they do vouchers in lieu of nursing homes.
                  I suggest you google it. Or just go to the website.

                4. Engineer Girl*

                  “As of April 2018, all 50 states and D.C. have at least one program that provides assistance to elderly individuals living outside of nursing homes, be that at home, in adult day care or assisted living. Most states offer multiple programs. ”


            3. JSPA*

              Depending on the type of care provided, and where you are in the world, you can also need to be licensed and/or have clearances to do the job. OP would not want to imply that she had those things, nor that she worked without having required licensing and clearances.

    2. A username of extraordinary originality*

      I think it’s important information to include… otherwise people could assume that the OP has qualifications related to caregiving.

  9. Gatomon*

    OP#4 – I think it’s actually quite common to have a family member drop out of the workforce to take care of someone else. But I think it’s more acceptable to list “caregiver for relative” on a resume because people usually get empathy and support for being a caregiver. Being a stay at home parent can generate all sorts of reactions, depending on the person and their personal beliefs around raising children.

    Logically I know it shouldn’t be any different, but at least in the US we have a long way to go before these things are equated.

    1. A username of extraordinary originality*

      I’ve been thinking about why the two provoke different reactions. I think caregivers get (or should get) a lot of empathy because they’re dealing with a lot of uncertainty: nobody knows how long they’ll be required to be a caregiver, and the only thing they do know is that their job ends when the person is admitted to hospital/a care home, or dies. A stay at home parent can usually identify a moment when they’re able to begin looking for work again, i.e. when the child(ren) start school.
      Another difference is that people assume (emphasis on “assume”: I don’t want to turn this into a huge derail on parenthood and children: as Gatomon said, this issue generates all sorts of reactions) that stay at home parents have chosen that role, because they chose to start a family, but nobody chooses to have a relative get sick.

      1. Turquoisecow*

        I think it’s partly because of the dying part? Caregiving for an elderly relative is with the unspoken understanding that the task will end soon. Things will get harder as the person gets older and sicker and less able. It’s the opposite with kids – they slowly need less care and supervision as they grow up.

        I personally wouldn’t put this down on a resume as a “job.” I know caregiving is difficult work, I watched my mom take care of my grandmother. She practically drove herself into the ground, as did her sisters.

        But it was a volunteer thing. She wasn’t paid. She chose to spend almost every weekend sleeping at my grandmother’s, getting up in the middle of the night, helping her with food. Even after they broke down and hired a professional, that woman had weekends off and my mom still chose to take on those duties in a way that a professional caregiver would not have.

        Sure, there’s accountability, but it’s still not a job in the traditional sense, so unless you’re planning to work as a caregiver or in the medical field, those practical skills don’t translate in the same way. Put it on a cover letter, mention it in an interview as a reason why you haven’t been in the workplace. Maaaaybe a line on the resume? But I wouldn’t list it as a job, with accomplishments and such.

        1. Turquoisecow*

          And there’s an emotional attachment to being the caregiver of a relative. There isn’t an emotional attachment to most types of work in the same way.

        2. Natalie*

          It sounds like the OP doesn’t have much more to list, though, so it’s not like this would be taking the place of other actual jobs. Younger less experienced people sometimes just have to work with what they have.

    2. WS*

      Also, being a parent is considered to be rewarding in itself, whether or not that’s the case for any individual parent. Being a caregiver for an adult, particularly an elderly adult, is not considered rewarding, even though it can be, again, depending on the individuals involved. There’s a real difference in the way we treat the two roles.

    3. ..Kat..*

      As a nurse, I want to say that this level of care giving by a relative – round the clock hospice care until the patient dies – for YEARS – is not that common in the USA. Especially without the assistance of paid home health care attendants or other relatives. This isn’t just home health care – it is HOSPICE care. It is grueling and intense. To do it for a loved one for years is an amazing gift.

      1. IndoorCat*

        Yes, this.

        All four of my grandparents have passed away. Both sets had five adult children and at least a few adult grandchildren when they started becoming too sick or elderly to really live on their own.

        With my maternal grandparents, their home, land, and vehicles had to be sold to cover the cost of nursing home and then hospice care– on top of any savings they had. My paternal grandmother had more resources; the last ten years of her life she lived in a high end transitional center where she went from assisted living to nursing home care to hospice care in a single space.

        We all loved my grandparents, but like most Americans who could afford to, paid full-time professional care was the chosen option. Unlike OP #4, nobody in either family wanted to take on the role of full time career, and in retrospect that was probably a wise and practical choice.

        It’s a huge, challenging thing to take up and I think it’s more than fair for OP 4 to put it on her resume even if stay at home parents can’t.

        1. Temperance*

          I’ve seen it happen all too often where the person caring for the elder will actually end up dying before the person they are caregiving. Your family did it the right way, IMO.

          My great-grandmother didn’t want us to see her as a burden, so she happily used visiting nurses until she needed more care than she could receive in her home. Then she went, by choice, to a facility that was better equipped to handle her limited mobility. She liked still being a part of the family while no one was forced to provide care to her.

      2. Washi*

        Hmm, I actually read the letter and assumed that there was hospice involved towards the end. In my experience, it was relatively common for there to be both a full-time caregiver (usually a spouse or child) and hospice, since insurance usually just covers ~16 hours/week of home health aides for hospice, and the dying person generally needed a lot more care than that.

        Not to take away from what the OP did! It IS grueling, intense, and therefore not the same type of “expectation” for a relative, which I think is what makes it different from being a SAHP, where the assumption is that you had children on purpose and therefore you would obviously be taking care of them.

      3. doreen*

        I’m sure round-the-clock care for years without help is not that common – but what’s the difference between home-health care and hospice care? I ask because when I’ve seen “hospice care” defined, it usually refers to someone with a terminal illness with a lifespan measured in months – and I’m not sure how that is automatically more grueling than caring for someone who can’t walk, turn over in bed or feed/bathe herself for years but whose condition is not due to a terminal illness.

    4. Nita*

      I think all the responses above really hit the nail on the head. It’s very, very different from child care. And another difference, I guess, is that unlike child care, end-of-life care forces you to “act professional” a lot more. When you’re caring for kids you can wear your heart on your sleeve to an extent. When you’re caring for an elderly relative, you probably don’t want them to see a lot of the emotions you’re experiencing – grief, fear, exhaustion, feeling out of your depth, despair at seeing them like this… you have to hide them and basically be like a professional nurse.

      OP has given her relative a great gift. I definitely think it should be on her resume, possibly with details of the technical skills she learned. Hopefully she’ll find potential employers understanding just what a difficult and responsible thing she’s done, and how this would make her a great employee.

    5. Emi.*

      Yeah, to me a huge part of the difference is the judgement that some people heap on stay-at-home parents.

      1. neverjaunty*

        And let’s be honest that it’s stay-at-home mothers most of the time. In the US, at least, it’s well-studied that indications a candidate is a mother make it MUCH less likely they’ll be hired.

    6. AnotherAlison*

      I don’t think it’s that common from my own observations, but I suppose there are regional differences, socioeconomic differences, and it probably depends on the age of your peer group.

      My family kept my maternal grandfather at home for 2-3 years after my grandmother passed. He had Alzheimer’s. My aunt provided full-time care evenings and overnight, my mom did the weekend shifts, and they had an outside employee during the weekdays. My aunt was retired and working in a second career, which she was able to retire from again to focus on the caregiving. I think one of the big differences here is that the OP was young, and this was a grandparent rather than a parent. My grandfather’s care required diaper changes and bathing. I was in my mid-30s at the time and wouldn’t have been able to handle that.

  10. Tuesday Next*

    OP1, I like Alison’s script. The important thing to remember is that you’re under no obligation to provide your company with marketing capability. That’s your boss’s job.

    Your boss sounds like part of the problem here. She wasn’t happy with the efforts of the last marketing person either so she probably doesn’t know how to provide a proper marketing brief or useful feedback. You might find that in a different environment and with the right support, you’d enjoy this role and be good at it.

    Unfortunately it’s common to underestimate the complexity of “other people’s work”. I’ve worked in pretty large companies that have made similar mistakes. They’ve tried to turn project managers into scrum masters and business analysts into product managers and UX designers with limited training (or none) and no mentoring, because they assume those new roles are similar enough, or not especially complex. The results have been… not good.

    1. OP#1*

      Thanks, Tuesday Next. You’re spot on with all of your comments. But I do feel obligated to continue with the marketing stuff–they did write it into my work plan, which I signed. I think that’s part of my stress, not to mention the fear that they’ll just fire me. Fortunately there’s one senior leader who understands my situation and agrees with me, so at least I’m not completely alone in this.

      1. Engineer Girl*

        I think you may want to frame it as “this isn’t working for either of us”. You are both frustrated. You could point out that someone else could provide more of what the boss wants. You could also emphasize how much value you bring to the company in your other role. It’s about using people efficiently, which is more important in small start up companies.

      2. Lara*

        I think some people can have unrealistic expectations of marketing. You did sterling work for the company for 9/10 years in your other role so I hope they’ll let you get back to that.

      3. (Different) Rebecca, PhD*

        Too sleepy/lazy to go upthread to check if anyone’s said this, but I think you could use language like “let’s work together to create a new work plan that accurately reflects my abilities and removes the marketing aspect going forward.”

      4. En vivo*

        I have no constructive advice, but I offer commiseration. I can understand why you feel obligated; it’s been recorded as part of your job duties. That makes it even more stressful for you.

      5. Pollygrammer*

        What if you set a specific date? If you could hang on for a couple more months, you could suggest a milestone, like “at the beginning of the fall quarter, OP #1 will transition out of the marketing aspects of her role.”

      6. Ozma the Grouch*

        I realize that you feel this is all on you right now and that you have a moral obligation to stay beholden to this role… but I am telling you. DON’T. You have more than put in the time and effort. You are NOT the right fit and you are doing NO favors for your company, your actual role, or the marketing role by staying the course. It really doesn’t matter that they’ve written it into your plan and you signed a piece of paper. Jobs change ALL. THE. TIME. I agree that all the evidence is there that you need to approach your boss in a strategic way to get things corrected. But ultimately this needs to get off of your plate. Because you are going to burn out HARD. And I highly doubt you’ve been rewarded in the slightest for any of the extra effort you’ve put in over the past year… am I right? You need to bow out of this position gracefully. And, you need to advocate that the company either come up with the funds to hire someone full time, think about maybe making it a part-time position (there are still plenty of people out there who do want that), or hire an outside agency/freelancer that do work on a project basis. All have their pros and cons, but seriously, your company needs to get their sh*t together.

  11. Detective Rosa Diaz*

    Honestly read OP1 and thought it sounds like every marketing job I’ve ever had and I have a master’s degree in it!

    Marketing people are crazy

    1. MissDisplaced*

      People, even executives, seem to think it’s magic. Or confuse marketing with other related things.

      1. Escapee from Corporate Management*

        Or think it’s super easy (spoiler alert, it isn’t). Remember the Dilbert cartoon with the sign “Marketing. Two Drink Minimum”?

        1. Lilz*

          Thiiiiis. It drives me up a wall when my career and expertise is summed up as “anyone can tweet.”

      2. the gold digger*

        Ha! In a meeting now where they started talking about solenoids. I messaged my marketing colleague that they are talking about some Dark Magic and that needs to be our new campaign theme.

    2. esra*

      Right? I’ve got a decade of experience in marketing design, and ‘ceo/president/vp who doesn’t know anything about marketing but knows they hate what you’re doing’ is part and parcel half the time.

      Why don’t we look like *insert Apple/Nike/any brand with actual marketing department*, leader? Maybe because we have 0-2 marketing staff and you expect campaigns to be turned around in 48 hours.

      1. Susan Sto Helit*

        A friend of mine once told me about a job where every single piece of marketing copy/artwork had to go through an approvals process that involved twelve people. All of whom had the option to either accept/reject/accept with amendments.

        Agile, it was not.

      2. The Original K.*

        Yeah, this was my life in my last role. My boss had no idea what she wanted and didn’t even understand marketing or communications AND wasn’t really interested in learning, so even a question like “What are your goals?” wouldn’t yield an answer. Do you want more leads? Better quality leads? To establish subject matter experts as thought leaders? More media coverage? What’s the strategic plan so I can figure out how to support it? It was very, very frustrating.

    3. Mimosa Jones*

      Yes, OP, I think you have more marketing skills than you give yourself credit for. You’re trying to apply what you’ve learned and your boss doesn’t like what you’re producing but they don’t have any marketing experience or education either. And your lack of experience makes it easy for your boss to reject your ideas. Same with the marketing assistant. I think your company needs a marketing professional who can provide strategic planning as well as implementation. Or hire an outside firm. I know this is a long shot, but could you restructure your marketing responsibilities to be a project manager and contract out the actual work?

      1. Mimosa Jones*

        You could also propose hiring someone to create the plan and then you implement it. I can understand if you never want to use the word “positioning” again, but this sort of mid-way solution might be easier for your boss to accept than having you drop marketing entirely. And sometimes bosses respect the advice of outsiders more than that of their own staff.

  12. Maddie*

    In-home caregivers can get paid from the state making it a legitimate job to list on a resume. You don’t have to put “for family member”.

    1. Sarah G*

      It is true that in-home caregivers can get paid by the state (or by private home health agencies), and that it’s a legitimate job, but she still should mention it was for a family member. Because that details is bound to come out at some point, for example when checking references, and if she doesn’t tell them upfront, it will seem like she was hiding this detail.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        In addition, she isn’t looking for work related to nursing, so “why do you want to work in X when your experience is all in Y?” is a natural question.

        1. AnotherAlison*

          Although, that would be about the easiest “why are you changing careers” answer ever. Even if it wasn’t a change due to a relative who had passed, in-home caregiving is very difficult work, and definitely isn’t for everyone. I’d happily accept from a candidate the reason that it was too difficult to watch someone deteriorate at the end of their life.

  13. Sarah G*

    For OP #4, I work as a social worker for a gov’t agency that administrates Medicaid-funded in-home care services — we evaluate and assess clients’ needs, and also have a registry of care providers. Anyway, I some insight and suggestions to add to the conversation.
    First, to address Alison’s quandary regarding why this is different from being a stay-at-home-parent, I think there are a number of reasons:
    • This is young person, recently out of college, who took on a HUGE responsibility that was not inherently hers. With parenting, the default assumption is that your kids = your responsibility. But full-time caregiver for a grandparent is not an inherent responsibility like this.
    • Caregiving for an elderly, terminally ill adult is a whole different skill set from parenting. Yes, there are similarities, but aside from the all the soft skills, she may have had to learn paramedical skills like medication management, IV administration of medications and/or nutrition, wound care, and other skills that require a great deal of attention to detail. Also, full-time caregiving also requires a tremendous amount of patience, endurance, and problem-solving skills. Caring for adult with failing health, who needs personal care assistance and is also grappling with mortality and loss of agency, is not the same as caring for a child, and not as instinctive — it’s a skill set.
    • I know OP said she is not entering the medical field, but these skills could be transferable to any field that requires strong interpersonal — customer service, education, child care, client-facing roles, etc.
    • OP may want to consider looking for part-time or interim work a professional caregiver; I know that our provider registry greatly values experience like OP’s in caregiver job applicants! If she is interested on finding interim or part-time work, this could build some professional references, and the great thing is that caregiving work is inherently flexible in terms of schedule, hours, etc. If this interests OP, if she is in the U.S. she should look up her local government In-Home Supportive Services agency, or other Home Care agencies (probably similar in non-U.S. countries, but I’m not sure.)
    Anyway, just trying to reframe this a little because I think that, depending on what field OP is in, this experience can be framed in a way that is a boon to her resume while she builds up more experience. And in the meantime, she could use the experience if necessary to get work as a professional caregiver for a non-family member, which would be be even better in terms of building up her resume and references.

    1. Mpls*

      Another thought is that caregiving is a profession in a way parenting is not. You can hire people to be professional caregivers, but you can’t hire someone to be a parent. Yes, you can hire people to take care of your kids, but that’s not the same as being a parent.

      So if you are doing the work of something you could otherwise be paid for (professional care giving), it goes on a resume.

      1. Sarah G*

        Great point! I was kind of circling around that, but it didn’t occur to me to frame it this way, which really summarizes and encompasses what I was getting at in a nice neat package.

    2. Anna Held*

      Or apply to work at a nonprofit or other position that is elderly-related. Even if you’re not, you can apply this to entry-level jobs in certain companies. If you’re in marketing, for the example du jour, you could work this nicely into your cover letter for a pharmaceutical company or a real estate firm that caters to retired persons. Not many young ‘uns have experience with the elderly, plus it demonstrates maturity and dependability. Dealing with medications? Attention to detail! And if you dealt with the insurance companies and doctors’ offices yourself, you’re pretty well prepped for a role in HR. A small company might jump on you because, frankly, you’d probably be cheap but have a lot of soft skills you’d only expect from an older person.

      Side note — I hope you and your family are taking good care of you. This was an amazing thing you did, and you deserve all the best.

  14. IO_BIO*

    For OP_#1: see if you can hire a consultant to ease your transition back to project management. Reasons to hire a consultant include:
    + softening the message that you’re not going to do marketing anymore by providing a solution to at least the immediate needs for marketing;
    + bringing in a person with the right skill set whom your company may not have the budget for as a full-time employee;
    + having someone with marketing experience respond from a stance of confidence to your boss being potentially too hard to please.
    + If the company is paying by the hour and your boss is being vague, there’s a built-in penalty for being vague.
    + It will give your boss/your company a chance to figure out if it would be worth creating a new position for marketing. A good marketing consultant should (depending on the exact nature of the project) be able to show metrics for how the work benefits the company.

    Give yourself credit for trying something new, working hard, and knowing yourself well enough to be able to say “no thanks, this isn’t for me”. I hope your company shows gratitude that you stepped up, and graciously lets you transition back into project management. Good luck!

  15. RoRoJoJo*


    Hi, I’m an esthetician. Treating your skin is another way of taking care of your body, like going to the gym or eating fruits and veggies. The skin is the largest external organ that we have and sometimes people don’t realize that they haven’t been taking proper care of their skin until there is some kind of visual problem, which then becomes a question of superficiality for them (when in reality, it’s just another way of taking better care of yourself). Anyway, what you’re describing is a series of monthly sessions, for what I’m assuming is a specific purpose, not just because you feel the need to plump up your face and throw away a few hundred dollars. That is not vanity, you are taking an opportunity to improve a certain quality about your skin, and if this is the way it needs to be done then there’s no shame in doing that. If you do not want to take any time off for this, which you shouldn’t need to, I’d consider a few things.
    1. Schedule the appointment for as late in the week as possible and use the weekend to recover. The first 48 hours will be when the skin is the most inflamed and in the process of re-healing itself.
    2. Schedule the appointment for later in the day, so you are not missing out on work or you can at least wrap up whatever you can early enough to go to your appointment. In my experience, these sessions are no longer than 45 minutes but I have no frame of reference for how your dermatologist works. All I can say is that keep in mind how long the session will be and schedule your work day accordingly.
    3. Be comfortable without having makeup on and be comfortable with how your face might look should redness, flaking or peeling occur. It varies from person to person, and over time your skin will adjust and the affects of the treatment will be less severe going forward, but it’s going to be a process.
    4. Treat this like you would having a tooth removal or an x-ray or any other doctor appointment, because that’s what it is. And when talking with your boss or coworkers, explain it to them in this manner too, because that is what you’re doing. You’re treating an issue(s) with your skin and it takes longer than just one visit.

    The point I’m trying to make is simply that how you perceive something is not necessarily how others will read it unless you make a clear statement about what that thing is. Your skin is in a condition that you are not satisfied with and you are taking the steps to amend this. This amendment is not going to interfere with your work ethic and the quality of your work, it is just something you are temporarily in action of taking care of in adjacent with your work.

    Bottom line: You do you girl, go on a Friday afternoon and wear a hat outside, it’s gonna feel like a sunburn.

  16. ..Kat..*

    For OP4, I am a nurse. I work in a Pediatric ICU. What I am going to say may sound like criticism or hair-splitting – I do not mean it to be so. In fact, I would like to start by recognizing that you gave your grandmother a wonderful gift – the gift of living the rest of her life in her home, with the dignity and support that a granddaughter can give. This is amazing. And it sounds like you did not get the support you should have gotten from other family members (or even paid home health care attendants) if you were giving around the clock care. This was incredibly hard work. And incredibly difficult (physically, mentally, and emotionally) for you to do as an untrained caregiver. And you did it for YEARS! Hospice care is a specialized field where professionals can burn out in just a couple of years. Again, wow, you did an amazing, hard, kind and grueling thing for a loved one.

    So, my suggestion: please don’t call yourself a hospice nurse. You provided home health hospice care for someone, but you were not a nurse. Nurses are highly trained, have college degrees, are licensed, and have to adhere to professional standards.

    Another suggestion: what you did was incredibly difficult. If you are having trouble dealing with what you have been through or what you had to deal with, consider therapy.

    Thank you for taking the time to read my input.

      1. Myrin*

        I think ..Kat.. is referring to this part of the letter: “eventually I became less and less her grandchild and more and more a round-the-clock hospice nurse”, but I agree that I don’t thinkt that means that OP thinks she’s actually a nurse or plans to present herself as such – I took that sentence as a verbal shortcut to help us get a mental picture of what exactly she did during that time.

        1. Caregiver*

          I don’t think she actually thinks she is a nurse but saying I was “a round the clock hospice nurse” is not accurate and is going to sound naive, especially in the health care industry. I was a caregiver for my dad and it was hard work but it is more equivalent to a nursing assistant or aide than the high level care and judgement required for nursing.

          1. Pollygrammer*

            The letter is titled “full-time caregiving work.” I don’t think she’s trying to claim any professional qualifications, only explain what she was doing for that period of time.

            The key part is “full-time,” IMO. Not so much what she was doing, but that she was doing something.

          2. Luna*

            She’s just using it as an example to give a sense of what she was doing. It seems really unnecessary to be nitpicking over one word this much.

            1. Detective Amy Santiago*

              I disagree. Nursing credentials are very difficult to obtain and the word carries a lot of weight and preconceived notions. It would be disingenuous for the LW to refer to herself as a nurse.

              1. bonkerballs*

                I think it is such a common thing for people to use the word nurse colloquially for way smaller things than years of round the clock care that this thread is just coming across as pedantic and nitpicking. I don’t think anyone is confused by the difference between an RN and someone who says they stayed home this weekend to be nurse for their sick boyfriend who had the flu.

            2. Mimosa Jones*

              I think it’s good for her to know to avoid that reference when talking to employers. It does make a good analogy but she’s better off finding a new one.

          3. Natalie*

            I’m not entering the medical field, so it doesn’t really apply

            I don’t think the OP is going to be explaining this to anyone in the health care industry.

          4. Myrin*

            Well, I don’t think OP is planning on saying that verbatim to an actual employment prospect; that’s what I meant by “I took that sentence as a verbal shortcut to help us [ie the AAM commentariat] get a mental picture of what exactly she did during that time”.

    1. WillyNilly*

      I think there is an issue with the word “nurse”. You can find a baby bird and nurse it back to health and set it free. Perfectly legit and correct usage of the word.
      A mother can nurse her baby. Perfectly legit snd correct usage of the word.
      A co-worker can come along tuto happy hour but spend the whole time nursing their beer. Ok, somewhat slang usage, but still common enough.
      And then also one can be a professional nurse (such as an RN, or NP), which is an official professional title requiring formal education in the field, and licensing.

      The OP did nurse their grandparent, but moreso in the vein of the first example of the word use than the last. Conversationally its a 100% legitimate usage of the word. And since OP is not seeking employment in ant sort of healthcare field less egregious in a professional conversation, so long as the context is clear.

    2. Nita*

      But… OP didn’t say anywhere that she’s even thinking of representing herself as a nurse on her resume! In fact, she says she doesn’t think the skills she learned even apply to the resume (which is not necessarily true, but that’s another story). Why the comments that imply she’s planning to use her selfless act to mis-represent her employment history? I’m not trying to single you out, several people have posted something similar, and it seems just a shade unkind to someone who’s been through a difficult experience.

  17. Mookie*

    LW4, I don’t have any productive advice to give you*, but I was in the same boat as you for about a decade (dropped out of school, dropped out of work, dropped out of life, and at a time when there really weren’t too many prospects for jobseekers my age to begin with), and I want to wish you the best of luck while sending every available good vibe your way. As Alison says, it’s true that caring for children, if not raising them full-time, is a more universal human experience (which some can afford, which some can’t but do it, anyway, which some can’t so they make do however they can). But in certain communities caring for adult relatives who otherwise lack access to whole, professional care is an inevitable duty cum burden that almost invariably falls on the shoulders of marginalized women (and girls!), and the price of sustaining that burden, even when it ends, can be enormous in the long run. And though these sacrifices are rarely celebrated, the inequalities that necessitated them rarely acknowledged, I agree with Gatomon and Sarah G above that, subconsciously, most people understand, process, and interpret that kind of employment gap much, much differently than they do for a SAHP. I’d prefer neither situation was stigmatized to the degree it is, but we work with what we’ve got.

    *I’ve tried and mostly succeeded at excising that part of my life from my memory, so I don’t entirely recall how it was I landed my first job after long-term unpaid employment but that it felt like a miracle

    1. ..Kat..*

      Also, most people seriously underestimate what is required and what it takes to do this level of care.

  18. RAT*

    Op1: Off topic, but serious thought, is it really a “startup” if it’s been 10 years? They’re an established business now, right? Maybe it isn’t off topic, as maybe it’s part of the problem – that after 10 years, an established business should recognize when a new staff member is needed and how to they can afford and make room for the role. Just a thought.

    1. WillyNilly*

      This was exactly what I came to post!

      After 10 years its a “struggling small bussiness” that hasn’t been a “start-up” for 8 years or so.

    2. Millennial Lawyer*

      I totally came to this post to say this! How can it be a “Startup” for 10 years without money for a MARKETING person? Where exactly is this business going?

    3. Manders*

      Yep, I’m currently working in marketing at a startup, and this sounds like it would be a bad situation even for someone with the training and drive to create a great marketing plan. No clear direction from the boss about what she wants + a company that’s still in startup mode after 10 years + not willing or able to hire someone with previous marketing experience for this role = my worst nightmare.

    4. plynn*

      For me “10 years at a startup” is the crux of the whole issue. Startups are supposed to be lean, unconventional, flexible, inherently unstable, but with potential and energy and an aura of glamour. The benefits of latter are supposed to make up for the ways the former can be a total mess to work in. Companies that cling to the “startup” claim five or even ten years in are trying to convince themselves that they still have all that potential, and trying to convince their employees that bare-bones chaos is a virtue.

      A 10-year-old startup is a very small, generally struggling company that is understaffed and managed according to the whims of an individual with unrealistic expectations. Hence, project managers become the marketing department in their spare time. Why hire someone with marketing experience? We’re out of the box thinkers here!

      I know I’m being pretty harsh, but I work at a 6-year-old “startup” and this is my life. I am pretty done with getting inspirational speeches instead of adequate staffing and new chairs.

      1. Kat in VA*

        But, but, but…we have ping-pong tables and beer Fridays! That should TOTALLY make up for the lack of the most basic office essentials everyone needs to productive! /s

      2. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

        I’m laughing at these comments… It seems we are all having the same experience! Nope, the free beer and snacks don’t make up for the burn-out and lack of resources. I don’t let anyone get away with claiming the start-up excuse anymore… As soon as I hear “start-up” at work, I jump on it, and explain that my employer does not qualify as a start-up by any definition.

    5. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

      I was solely going to comment on the “10 year old start-up” as well! Red flag. In my opinion, there is no such thing as a 10 year old start-up company. Small companies love to claim “start-up” as an excuse for their deficiencies, especially under-staffing. Beware the start-up excuse.

  19. Bookworm*

    #5: This is increasingly common. Recently I’ve been applying for jobs way less senior than yours but same deal. They reach out after I apply, I respond within a few business hours and then that’s it. I’ve had one person email me to inform me the job was filled (after I called to return her phone message) but she didn’t ask if anything else interested me or encouraged me to keep trying or whatever. I don’t bother after that first response anymore, but I suppose if I was more senior and/or it was something I really wanted it might be worth trying or maybe I have a connection somewhere I can leverage but otherwise it’s a waste of time.

    It seems to be a trend: I found that even with dealing with an organization directly it’s quite possible that I’ll never hear from them, even after an interview or they wait until their first choice agrees before sending out a rejection. I know it can be a gamble but I find it really disrespectful not to hear anything after putting in the time/effort and even money for travel for an interview. It’s annoying for a recruiting call because I don’t know if I need to change my schedule for a call that might never happen or be like 10 minutes if it ever does. It’s tough for recruiters and organizations who don’t have a HR manager but it can be super obnoxious.

  20. Sarah*

    OP#2 I had fractional lasering the first one you get you really want to make sure you have the option to stay home on day 2 &3 afterwards, you may not need it you may be ok with it. Maybe I am just vain but it was a little jarring to see my face in the mirror once the peeling started, I’m not comfortable enough to leave the house day 2 & 3 after the peel. It feels like a sunburn but it peels like nothing else, and you are constantly applying the cream. Figure out how comfortable you are in your own skin, and how you will be when other people see you and begin asking questions. I’m not saying you will feel the same way but give yourself options.

  21. New Job So Much Better*

    #2— I had a coworker go through that. Her entire face was bright red for at least a month, and she had to keep her hair pulled away, no makeup, etc. It was shocking at first but we got used to it. Luckily she didn’t have to interact with customers, just employees. I hope it works for you– her skin came back the same way it had started. Good luck!

  22. Jessica*

    OP #4: You did a wonderful thing for your grandmother and family. If you are a woman and are at all interested in going back to school, I’m part of an organization that offers scholarships to women who have taken at least two years off from school but want to go back for a degree that would help their career. It might give you a bit of a clean slate and make your “gap” less important. Search for “P.E.O. continuing education scholarship” and you’ll find more information.

  23. The Other Dawn*

    #1: This was my life for the most of the 12 years I was with a startup bank; I was there when it opened and there when it was closed. Since we were so small and not yet making money (we actually never did), I was told I was going to take on network admin duties: adding, deleting, changing users; resetting passwords; adding rights, maintaining the core processing system (I actually loved that part), etc. Well, that turned into me spending a lot of time–when I was supposed to be preparing for a Board meeting or handling a crisis in one of the other many areas I managed–literally crawling around on the floor, in my dress, trying to fix hardware; reformatting a computer after the blue screen of death struck one too many times; replacing internal computer parts; replacing equipment; troubleshooting ancient passbook printers (so ancient they’d long been out of support); and anything else you can think of that involves the machines within the bank. It was great experience, BUT, along with everything else I had to do, it burned me out bigtime. My company, too, said there wasn’t money to hire an in-house professional (we outsourced the IT stuff that really required a pro, like network architecture and things like that). That’s really code for, “We have bodies here. Let’s throw one at this problem and if it works, we’ve saved ourselves a ton of money and this Band-Aid is good enough. We’ll get by until the next crisis. ”

    All this to say, OP, I totally get it. You wanted to learn more and help out. Great experience (usually), but you’re now miserable. You need to talk to your boss and make a business case for why they need to hire someone to do this stuff. Just about everything ties into a company’s reputation and image, but marketing is especially important. They shouldn’t, and shouldn’t WANT to, skimp on that. You say there isn’t money to hire a professional. Maybe that’s true, but it’s a cost of doing business. If they can’t afford to do business, well…

  24. MissDisplaced*

    #1 Well bless you for trying! This is why marketing and communications is a completely separate field with separate and unique skills. But begore you go to the owner, I would suggest researching 2-3 local marketing agencies or consultants she could meet with as a solution to hiring another staffer. It will ease the “I’m not doing this anymore” part considerably.
    And the owner does have an issue if they don’t know what they need/want. What is the goal for the marketing? More leads? More visability? More website traffic? A good marketing professional will help define that, but still the owner needs to put some thought into this to get better results and it sounds like that isn’t happening.

  25. 653-CXK*

    OP#5: Yes, this has happened to me. I’ve signed up with three recruiters and two of them have fallen off the face of the earth (or so it seems). The other was not a good fit at all (very pushy).

    The thing I’m going to ask from now on is, “I’m thrilled that you took the time to look at my resume…what part of my resume stood out the most?” If they explain in detail what it is that prompted them to call me, that’s a sign they did their research. If they don’t, can’t, or aren’t willing to, they get the polite “Thank you for your consideration – I’m not interested.”

  26. Caregiver*

    OP #4
    Whatever you put on your resume or say in an interview, please refer to yourself as a caregiver and not “a round the clock hospice nurse” I was a caregiver for my father in his final months. Caregiving is very hard work but you were a caregiver not a hospice nurse.

    1. Quickbeam*

      Thanks for bringing this up. (RN here). It’s actually illegal in most states to represent yourself as a nurse if you are not one. Plus it is super annoying to those of us who are.

    2. Fiennes*

      She never said she intended to represent herself that way on a resume. She only used the term to give us an idea of the kind of responsibilities she had.

    3. CM*

      OP#4 was saying her role was more like a nurse than a grandchild. I didn’t see any indication in the letter that she’s actually trying to say she IS a nurse. Let’s give her a break here.

  27. Marthooh*

    A question for Alison regarding OP#4: Isn’t this the kind of thing that belongs in a cover letter? Along with something like “I look forward to transitioning from part-time freelancing to full-time work.”

  28. Stellaaaaa*

    OP1: Small business owners are notoriously unrealistic when it comes to marketing. They have no patience for the rollout or trial & error of a campaign. They think all you need to do is set up a Facebook page and they should double their profits…while not wanting to pay the salary of someone with real marketing expertise. I had to stop volunteering to do marketing at my small business jobs because the owners had unrealistic Mad Men expectations of what marketing can achieve for a small company.

    1. Delta Delta*

      So much this. I think sometimes people can’t understand that marketing and the different facets of marketing take actual skill and training.

      I worked at a small organization that needed photos for a website. Boss hired his neighbor to take the photos (where “hire” means $50 and some pizza) because neighbor had just bought a spiffy new dslr camera. The problem is that neighbor is not a photographer, neighbor takes photos of birds as a hobby. None of the headshots he took were any good, which isn’t his fault – he doesn’t really know how to do it or what he’s doing. Boss wailed, “how could it be so hard to take a picture? He has a digital camera!” So, our already sub-par website (made by Boss’s 16 year old daughter – it was a good job for her but not a professional website) had weird, off-kilter photos because Boss couldn’t be convinced that paying someone for their actual expertise to make a good product was a good idea.

      I could write a whole novella on the weirdness of this boss.

    2. ThatGirl*

      All of these comments (not to mention the original letter) are making me really glad I didn’t take the other job I was offered last year. It was digital marketing in a smallish business; while I had experience working on a large digital marketing team, it was more in the copywriting/editing arena. It became apparent to me during interviews that what they really wanted was an entire marketing team in one person – would have been a lot of work, a lot of stress, and not something I was fully prepared to take on. Bullet dodged.

  29. Mr Grinch*

    I don’t think caregiving belongs on a resume. Lots of people do caregiving and there’s no way of knowing if you did a good job.

  30. Hey-eh*

    OP #2: I have a few skin issues. Right now I’m battling my moderate-verging-on-severe eczema, some of which is on my face. During a recent flare up on my eyelids/under my eyes a couple people asked if I was okay; they thought I had been crying! People will more be worried that you’re okay, and less worried that you’re some vain person. Please don’t apologize for how you look. I have acne scarring and discolouration and would love to one day have something similar done.

  31. Amelia*

    There’s something about “thank you for reaching out” that I’m not loving. I think because that’s often how emails from non-interested candidates start.

    I asked my husband (a recruiter for big NYC investment banks) how people usually respond. He said – short and sweet.
    He just placed a woman at an SVP role for $500K a year. He said said she just responded “Interested. Call me.”

    And he tries to get on the phone with them instantly. No waiting around until later in the week.

    I’m sure it’s frustrating for a job seeker but he receives about 500 emails a week, sends about 100 and it’s all very fast paced and with a lot of volume. A little tweak in language might be meaningless but it could also nudge the process a bit, which is all the LW needs.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I don’t see how the LW’s email wasn’t short, though. Sounds pretty concise to me. “Thanks for reaching out” is just… I don’t know, standard business language. If the SVP had written, “Thanks, I’m definitely interested. Please give me a call on Tuesday or Thursday,” would that have turned off your husband because it’s too long? That doesn’t sit well with me. If a recruiter wants to talk but I’m in meetings all day, it doesn’t make sense that I would be passed over simply because I can’t get on the phone right then and there. Fast-paced, I get, but it just sounds like a no-win scenario.

      1. Amelia*

        I don’t like it because it starts like an auto-reply / away message.

        In theory, of course, no one would say they are turned off by it. It seems ridiculous. But in practice? With a high volume of emails that people are constantly glancing at and swiping through on their phones? It may not be an ideal opener.

        And if something hasn’t been working so far, there’s no harm is trying to massage it a bit.

    2. Julia*

      I literally just last week had several recruiters reply to my applications with long emails like “thank you very much for your interesting application” – granted, none of those were in English, but they don’t seem that off to me?

  32. Quickbeam*

    Re#4….I’m an RN and I think based on OP’s description, she could breakout concrete skills from full time caregiving…negotiated with vendors on durable medical equipment, assured coverage by insurance carrier, hands on physical care x hours per day, scheduled and provided transport ot provider visits. etc. There are tons of measurable skills that go along with caregiving.

  33. Manchmal*

    RE: OP#3: I think it would be nice to extend the offer of the kosher-meal-from-a-kosher-restaurant to the two other kosher-keeping employees as well. I know plenty of people who keep kosher to a certain level, and that they will eat vegetarian/pescatarian food from nonkosher restaurants. But they do eat meat, and probably wouldn’t mind having a full meat meal once in awhile if it were kosher. It may very well be that they were willing to do vegetarian to get along, but if they see another employee getting something they perceive as better, they may want in too. So I would offer it a few times and see how they react. If they always say no, and go with the falafel–great. But they may surprise you and take you up on it.

  34. NewBoss2016*

    OP2, I wouldn’t worry about coming into work if you aren’t client facing. I can think of 4 employees off the top of my head that had chemical peels/microdermabrasion/fillers, etc. that left their faces red and or slightly bruised for multiple days. We carried on as normal. I know my boss would make sure she scheduled it to make sure she wouldn’t see clients or vendors during that week, and all of them gave a heads up that they were getting a skin condition treated and would be red, etc. for a week or so.

  35. MassholeMarketer*

    #1: As someone in marketing, your boss’s thought process drives me absolutely insane. So many people think that marketing is easy and that anyone can do it. Before I started in my role (Marketing Coordinator), the sales team did all the marketing with guidance from the VP of Sales. Sure, sales people do marketing in their role… but if you want a real marketing strategy, you need to shell out the money for a real marketer. Definitely bring this up to your boss and let them know that your expertise would be better elsewhere. I applaud you for sticking it out this long!

  36. CustServGirl*

    “…it’ll just be a kind of jarring thing to ask your coworkers to look at…”

    Ummm… OP would be coming in with redness, maybe some peeling/flaking. It’s not like she will be coming in with fresh stitches or massive black eyes! Also, I hate when people are shamed for the condition of their skin. I am a woman with acne that chooses to wear makeup to conceal it, but many women and men do not wear makeup, even with particularly visible conditions like severe acne. If someone considers pimples (or redness, or peeling) an affront to their vision, they can [censoring myself because this made me really upset].

    Allison- you are normally very sympathetic and encouraging, but your advise to this OP seems way off.

    1. Anon for this*

      Yeah. My face is jarring to make people look at every day, never mind month.

      1. Julia*

        I’m sure that’s not true.
        But I did think, oh, so I definitely have to cover any breakouts now lest I scare my co-workers? Would men have to do that as well?

  37. Addison*

    OP 4: I know you said you aren’t entering the medical field, but honestly, unless you’re already set on a career path or have something in mind/in the works, you might just have a foot-in-the-door moment going for you here. I’ve been in the medical field since I was 19 or so and I started out at a home health care agency. It was entry-level and pretty basic, and I actually ended up working with special needs children instead of the elderly (mostly because I specifically asked for that — after taking care of my progressively ailing great grandmother for most of my adolescence I was kinda Over old people at that point), but my background helped me secure a spot and I did pretty well because of it. They’ll expect you to get certified in stuff like CPR and first aid, and you may even want to check out phlebotomy for shots/drawing blood etc? But it’s a great starting point and one of the few occasions I can think of where stuff like “cared for sick grandma” or “cared for special needs sibling/child/etc” will boost your resume.

    Just a suggestion!

  38. CM*

    OP#5: sounds like you are only giving your availability for the next few business days? I’d suggest giving your availability for the next two weeks. That way if a recruiter doesn’t get around to your email for a day or two, they don’t have to go back to you again for more dates.

  39. Canarian*

    This isn’t “singling her out”; this is accommodating her religious needs.

    I love this reframing. So succinct and accurate.

  40. E.*

    Re OP #2: Add me to the list of long-time AAM readers who are totally shocked by this advice and language – “it’ll just be a kind of jarring thing to ask your coworkers to look at” and “sorry about my face.” I know nothing about peels, so when I clicked on the link, I was expecting something horrific… not the equivalent of a sunburn! I suspect this advice would be very different for a man considering taking up a new outdoor hobby that would result in a bad sunburn every weekend.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      No, my advice would have been exactly the same for a man. But as I explained above, the image I had in my heads of peels was very different than the one the OP sent in and I should have specified that. I’ve modified the answer accordingly.

  41. Gloucesterina*

    Part of this, I think, is the notion that having children automatically means signing up for a life saturated with love, joy, and beauty 24/7, 365 days a year. So being a stay-at-home parent–and especially a mother–means not doing any real work, just enjoying the sunshine and rainbows all day as your children frolic about and warm your heart.

    And because we are a culture of contradictions, parenting is also the hardest job a person can ever do. (Unlike, for instance, being an underpaid, vulnerable agricultural laborer or winning a Nobel Prize.)

    1. Gloucesterina*

      Oops, meant to thread this into the discussion about why doing eldercare might be perceived as more akin to a job than being a stay-at-home parent!

      1. Temperance*

        I think a large part of it too is that I’ve seen women try and compare SAHM-ing to paid work in really tone deaf, cringey ways. (No, you are not a “project manager” for minding your children and making them 3 healthy meals and snacks each day.)

  42. Bea*

    I’m all about wearing as many hats as possible but it burned me awhile back when the owner decided my inability to be flawless in each space meant I’m a slacker and a fraudster.

    So I’m praying that your boss is understanding and figures out a way to not take you handing back the duties as a personal attack and utter failure.

    I asked for help and the response was a crazy writeup of how much I suck…despite having nearly killed myself and saving a lot of money for a failing shtshow company.

    I’m sorry you’re dealing with this, OP. I know my situation was due to having a delusional boss so I’m hoping yours is much more human and appreciates your efforts.

  43. Autumnheart*

    I’ve done a bunch of peels (50% glycolic, and 15% TCA) and I try to do them on a Friday if at all possible. Since TCA in particular requires one to wear antibiotic gel (e.g. Neosporin) for the first couple days afterward, then you can spend the weekend all gooped up and not have to worry.

    The peeling doesn’t start in earnest until about day 3 or 4. You will look like a super flaky-face for a good couple weeks after your first peel. Subsequent peels, however, will create less peeling because you won’t have the same amount of dead skin on your face that you would have for the first peel. Your skin will still be tight and flaky but you won’t look nearly as much like you’re molting. But, depending on how your skin responds, you really will look like a mild sunburn for the last couple weeks after the peel, if that. It won’t be very noticeable.

    With microneedling one allegedly doesn’t peel.

    I prefer to do my peel series in the fall and winter, because I live in a northern state with a very cold winter. Not only is there considerably less sunlight to contend with, but everyone is dry and flaky in the winter so I don’t stand out nearly as much. *heh*

    1. Autumnheart*

      Oh, also: you can wear eye makeup (basically any makeup that isn’t on the treated surface) and honestly, foundation and concealer on the peeling skin would just emphasize the peeling. Moisturize frequently and keep something to blot with (if you have oily skin, I do) and your flakes won’t be super apparent.

      If you have a desk job and spend 85% of your day in a cube looking at a screen, people just aren’t going to see you often enough for it to be a major issue. If you DO work in a customer-facing job, that would be different. I would strongly recommend taking the first week off post-peel until the majority of peeling is complete. And if people ask, just tell them you’re having a series of chemical peels! Chances are very good that they’ve heard of doing it, know someone who’s done it, or is interested in the process themselves. And personally I don’t think it will be any more jarring than someone showing up with their leg in a boot because they broke their ankle skiing. It will occasion comment at first but quickly become old news.

  44. AarthiD*

    Hey OP1, I’m an experienced marketer for startups (6 years startup experience) looking for a new gig, if you’d like to suggest/refer a replacement…

  45. Tata*

    for OP#2. I do chemical peels & microdermabrasions regularly. I usually have chemical peel on Friday which gives me the weekend to allow for the redness to calm down. I’ve been asked before about my peeling face but not a lot of questions. It looks like a sun burn and in Texas not a big deal. I wear eye makeup and a little bit of facial powder after first few days. Remember to stay out of the sun!

  46. Taylor Swift*

    If your company can’t afford a real marketing position, then your company can’t afford to stay in business.

  47. LW #4*

    Thanks everybody for your input regarding my question. You guys have framed this in ways I never thought to and helped me see this in a new way.
    A few things I want to mention:
    1. It’s interesting how everybody seemed to default on the assumption I’m a woman. I’m not, but I was raised by some pretty amazing ones, so I’ll take that as a compliment.
    2. For those that were concerned, don’t worry, I have no intention of presenting myself as a nurse in any way (I have several nurses in my family, so I understand the reluctance to how casually I used the term, and for that, I do apologize.) If anything, this experience has proven that nursing requires a level of integrity and nerve I don’t quite have just yet. Like a few people said, I just used that as a kind-of shorthand to convey that what I was doing was a bit more involved and all-encompassing than what the term “caregiver” usually implies (at least, to me.) If and when I figure out where to put this in my work history, I won’t refer to myself as such.
    3. I think I’ve just decided I’m in “nothing left to lose” mode and I’ll try it a few ways. I’ve been only mentioning it in my cover letter, but I think I’ll promote it up to my Volunteer Work section. I ended up doing quite a bit of that- on the odd occasion when I could- for the sake of my mental health.
    Thanks again, everybody. It was very heartening to hear reminders of how the past few years had value considering what the demoralizing slog of the job hunt has done to my self-esteem. Back to my resume I go.

    1. Nursey Nurse*

      One of the site conventions is to assume OPs are female unless they explicitly state otherwise in their letter. What I think you might be taking as gender-based stereotyping is actually Allison’s attempt to push back against the default assumption that people, especially people we are viewing in a professional context, are male.

      I’m a nurse (RN, BSN) and what you did was very difficult work. Maybe this is only because I work in health care, but I would be impressed to see it on a resume. I don’t see how it could hurt you to include it.

    2. Traveling Teacher*

      I just wanted to say bravo to you, LW, for doing an amazing thing for your grandparent. In this day and age, that is a rare and beautiful gift, especially from someone so young. And, I’m sure that a good employer reading your letter will see the great compassion and character that you have for committing to that over many years. Best of luck to you!

  48. not Lynn Davis*

    re OP4: Some commented above that there is less accountability than in a real job. The accountability shows in the outcomes of your planning and meal prep and balancing meds and crisis prevention and convincing Grandma to cooperate: Grandma did not die today, did not go to ER today, did not have diarrhea today, did not have dangerously high/low blood sugar today, did not require extra visits from/calls to visiting nurse or hospice nurse, etc, etc.

    (I spent a year doing the same as OP4. More than that… and so young … oh my. I was lucky to go back to my old job right after, but it took about 4 months before I felt like doing much more than go to work and veg on the couch. If you can manage it financially, please be patient with yourself.)

  49. Lonnete*

    Hey Alison (and everyone),
    Long-time lurker first time commenter. Just wanted to point out re: question #4, that your struggle to articulate what’s different about caring for an elderly family member at home vs. leaving the workforce to care for/raise children might also be driven by the pregnancy discrimination that exists in many professions. In my opinion, there isn’t much of a difference between the OP’s situation and a person who has left (or not gotten started) professionally because of the needs of his/her children at home. Your reference to “convention” may reflect this climate. I don’t think you’re wrong to advise avoiding mentioning parenting in professional application materials- I think it’s appropriate. But I also think your advice may be coming from an accurate (if subconscious) assessment of the existing discrimination faced by pregnant people and, in particular, mothers, which is an overall attitude with real economic costs that accrue (mostly) to women. It’s important to be aware of this attitude and the ways we all respond to and experience it because it needs to change if we as a society want to both a) encourage everyone to participate in the economy to the best of their abilities and b) replace ourselves so we don’t overstretch our social safety net and implode societally in a generation. Some food for thought that I wanted to call your attention to.

  50. HigherEdPerson*

    OP 3 – just make sure that you (or whoever is setting up the meal) leaves the Kosher meal fully wrapped and sealed as delivered! That will ensure that it stays Kosher and undisturbed. Just in case you didn’t already know this :)

  51. Internationalist*

    LetterWriter2: Last year I had a series of 3 microneedling sessions. Each session increased in intensity. I always had them done on a Friday afternoon so I could heal all weekend. For microneedling at least, you can’t wear make-up for only 24 hours and they encourage you to buy a serious medical grade sunscreen. For a week, you can only wash your face with Cetaphil (or something similar) and use a good moisturizer (Neuturagena Hyaluronic Acid, Extra Sensitive Moisturizer). Your face might peel, but for me it honestly wasn’t that bad. If you’re not having it done at a dermatologist office, I would be more concerned about the results and aftercare. Good luck!

Comments are closed.